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May 11, 2014

Consumer Reports: Gadgets speed healthy meal prep

Stocking your kitchen with fresh, healthy ingredients is important, but it’s not the first step to eating better, notes ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports. You need to start with the right cooking tools.

Having the correct gadgets on hand can speed prep times and make the most of the nutrients in the foods you cook. To find out which tools are a nutrition must, ShopSmart polled health-conscious cooking pros, plus its own experts. Turns out, the same 10 items made everyone’s go-to lists. Here they are, plus some pro tricks to help you get the most use of each gadget.

• Garlic press. Using this time-saver is a quick way to get heart-healthy garlic into your diet. Bonus: If you use a press, you won’t have to clean up a cutting board. Cookhealthy tip: Use a garlic press to finely mash olives for a tapenade and to press ginger to saute with chicken or season a salad instead of using salt.

• Nonstick pan. These pans are a cinch to clean and make it easy to cook with little or no fat. Cook healthy tip: Even when using nonstick pans, pros rely on a few other tools for keeping added fat in check, such as using a silicone pastry brush to lightly coat food in oil before cooking.

• Baking mat. Nonstick mats are handy for more than baking cookies. They save calories and fat by letting you prep meals without cooking sprays, oils or butter.

• Julienne vegetable peeler. Though chefs may use a more expensive mandoline to make those paper-thin strips of veggies for salads and other dishes, you can use this peeler to make the same restaurant-style dishes at home. Cook healthy tip: Make tri-colored carb-free “noodles” from carrots, zucchini and yellow squash, and toss with fresh tomato sauce or pesto.

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