There’s a popular saying that your perfect body is made in the kitchen and not in the gym. The truth is it’s actually a bit of both but neglecting your diet may hinder your attempts to build a healthier, happier you (according to Jamie Oliver at least). But help is it hand. We’ve lined up the very best healthy kitchen tech so you can cook, blend and juice yourself fitter, safe in the knowledge the tech is the best price you can find and popular brands like Morphy Richards and Kenwood ensure quality.
Steaming is easy, no-fat cooking that produces solidly edible and crisp results and keeps nutrient levels high, giving virtuous yet tasty results across everything from fish to broccoli. You’ve two choices here. Electric steamers take up a lot of space and aren’t necessarily the sexiest tech ever, but let you cook an entire medieval-style banquet in one go (but a healthy, low-cal one).
Alternatively, go low-tech and get a metal or bamboo steamer and sit it over one of your saucepans.
These make juice. Amazing but true. We reckon slow/masticating juicers of the type pictured here are better for a number of reasons.
Unlike the more popular centrifugal type, these slowly grind the juice out of produce without using heat, leaving more nutrients intact. They tend to be easier to clean, produce juice that’s less pulpy and are quieter too. They’re also very versatile, being able to juice anything from soft fruit to fibrous stuff like kale and grasses.
On the down side, they do tend to be pricier and, obviously, slower. Our top tip: whatever type of juicer you buy, get one with the widest chute you can find - there’s nothing more irksome than having to dice up fruit and veg in order to cram it into your juicer.
If juicing seems a bit wasteful to you, try a smoothie blender instead. These come in varieties from cheap and cheerful handheld ones to NASA-grade, over-engineered produce pulverisers the size of a small dog.
Blenders give similar benefits to juicers, letting you consume large doses of raw fruit and veg in one go, but as you’re getting the whole fruit and veg, there’s more in the way of fibre and less suspect-looking vegetable matter to throw away afterwards. Remember to add enough water to prevent your smoothie congealing into a viscous lump that so thick you practically have to chew it. Unless that’s what you want, obviously.
Blend and Go Machines
A massively popular sub-set of the blender world, these replace the normal jug with a sealed container so you can, quite literally, “blend and go”. Of course, Nutribullet kicked off this trend by the cunning means of taking a decent enough product and then flogging it incredibly aggressively, everywhere from QVC to John Lewis. We’re now inevitably seeing rival blend-and-go machines, such as Kenwood’s Sport2Go .
Take a saucepan and cross it with a hairdryer. Voila: you have a healthy way to “fry” food, the Air Fryer. The likes of Philips Airfryer, Tefal Actifry et al use hot air and a grill element to cook food in its own fat, so you get results that are similar to frying and roasting in terms of taste and texture, but with fewer calories and less fat.
Mainly, they’re great for chips but you can get some interesting results with meat as well, especially if you like dry curries. On the down side, they tend to look like spaceships, and be about the same size.
Thank you, George Foreman. Health grills let fat from food run off, so it’s healthier. They’re not the most sophisticated devices, or the most fun things to clean, but there you go.
If you prefer to cook even lower-tech, and have a decent extractor fan, a decent grill pan has the same benefits, gives better flavours (so long as you heat it up to approximately the temperature of the sun) and can then be bunged in the dishwasher.
The cooking technique of the future or nouveau boil-in-the-bag? Possibly a bit of both, but if you’re looking to expand your arsenal of bulky kitchen gadgets with health benefits, sous vide is worth considering. You use a vacuum sealer to pack your protein (you can do veg in a sous vide, but it’s main use is meat and fish), then immerse it in a water bath at a constant temperature.
It’s another way to get incredibly tasty results without adding fat, and the relatively low temperatures involved should minimise nutrient loss. Another side benefit is that meat can be kept in the sous vide for hours after it’s finished cooking (it’s held at the same temperature so can’t overcook), which can be a lifesaver at dinner parties.
Having a bit of a resurgence of late, this 1970s staple is another way to cook for minimum fat and maximum flavour retention. Because only a small amount of water is used, little in the way of nutrients are lost as well, and as an added benefit, the pressure cooker ensures things are also ready very quick.
Led by the likes of Nutritab and Situ, these app-connected kitchen scales are a relatively new way to watch your calories. You weigh ingredients on them as usual, but an app on your phone or tablet of choice then tells you exactly what the calorie and fat content of that pile of quinoa, sugar or lard.
Terraillon’s Nutritab, available from summer 2015, will even let you scan the barcodes of ready-made products to help you get to the bottom of their nutritional content.
Perhaps the ultimate low-tech solution. No, we’re not joking; smaller portions are the classic way to lose weight, and if you can’t fit as much on your dinner plate, you’re going to eat less. As long as you don’t go back for seconds (and thirds and fourths) anyway. Also, remember the golden rule: green veg should take up more room on your plate than protein, carbs, or chocolate cake.