Tools and Gadgets Needed for Your Diabetes-Friendly Kitchen
If you don’t own an egg cuber, razor-sharp pizza shears, a culinary torch, a Swiss corn zipper, and a truffle shaver, you will never make the cut as an Iron Chef. Fortunately, the equipment standards for a Diabetes Meal Champion are considerably less complicated and way less costly.
Measuring tools are the most essential devices for healthy eating. Americans suffer from what nutrition professionals call portion distortion, where years of super-sizing and ever-larger dinner plates have contributed to eating the wrong amounts of the wrong foods.
It’s simply necessary to measure the weight or volume of the food going into your mouth. You measure what goes into a recipe so the final product is what you want. Think of your meals as a recipe for the blood glucose levels you want.
A kitchen scale is how you weigh appropriate portions of protein foods like fish or chicken, and carbohydrate foods, like potatoes, that don’t fit into a measuring cup.
Kitchen scales don’t directly measure grams of protein or carbohydrate in a particular food, although there is at least one model that allows the user to enter a specific code assigned by the manufacturer to produce a nutrition facts label for any of the coded foods. Instead, you learn that a 3-ounce piece of white potato is 1 carb choice, giving you 15 grams carbohydrate. It’s the 3 ounces of a white potato that needs to be weighed.
Kitchen scales range from less than $10 to more than $50. Some are simply mechanical and have a dial; but the battery-operated scales have an electronic or digital display. You can find affordable food scales online, at large retailers, at specialty culinary shops, and maybe even at your grocery. Whichever scale fits best into your budget or décor is perfect — managing diabetes with diet only requires some sort of kitchen scale.
Another great way to ensure that you eat just one serving is to get a kitchen scale with a tare feature. You put your bowl on the scale and press the tare button. The scale returns to zero and you can measure your one serving.
Measuring cups, scoops, and spoons
Measuring cups are essential tools that you probably already have in your kitchen. Measuring cups allow you to portion cooked grains like rice, starchy vegetables like peas and corn (you have liberated from its cob with your corn zipper), and dairy products such as milk or yogurt.
Measuring scoops are more convenient, and less messy, for getting to foods in a larger container like oatmeal or dry cereal. Measuring scoops have a handle just like regular scoops, but they’re sized to scoop a specific measure.
Of course, a set of measuring spoons is a must have too, although you’ll be glad to know that very few food portions are measured by the spoonful.
There are a few kitchen utensils that just make healthy eating more convenient. These aren’t must-haves for diabetes self-management like measuring devices, but there’s a lot to be said for convenience. Here’s a sampling:
Oil mister: An oil mister not only lets you make your own nonstick spray for a fraction of the cost of the store-bought kind, but more importantly reduces added fat to foods that need an oil coating, like roasted vegetables. Simply fill the mister container with oil, and you can pump to spray a fine mist over food or on cooking surfaces.
Salad spinner: A salad greens spinner is the most efficient way to wash and dry salad fixings. Chopped greens go into a slotted bowl, and you can run water liberally over the mixture.
Then, the slotted bowl fits into a gear in a larger, closed bowl equipped with a lawn-mower-like rope pull that spins excess water off of the greens. Even if you don’t particularly mind wet greens in the first place, spinning the bowl is kind of fun.
Food and cheese graters: A variety of graters come in handy for adding shredded cheese or vegetables to dishes. And, a microplane grater is great for fabulous flavor additions like fresh ginger or lemon zest.
Steamer baskets: Using either a stovetop or microwave steamer basket is the quickest and most flavor-preserving way to prepare fresh or frozen vegetables. Steaming your vegetables, as opposed to boiling them, preserves more of the nutrients because steaming uses less water.
Microwave cooking had been under suspicion in this regard after a 2003 study found flavonoids depleted in microwave-cooked broccoli, but more recent results from Spain showed baking and microwave cooking preserves more nutrients than water-based cooking.
Vegetable peeler: A good vegetable peeler takes the work out of preparing fresh vegetables and fruits. Vegetable peelers come in a variety of space age designs, but the truth is the old fashioned metal one with a slightly pointed end for digging out potato eyes has never been topped.
Sharp knives: You don’t need an expensive set of cutlery to do basic food preparation, but a few knives, kept sharp, can make a huge difference in the work involved. A 10-inch, curved-blade chef’s knife is best for chopping, mincing, and slicing through tough foods, and the one knife where spending a little extra money and purchasing a sharpener can pay off.
A small paring knife gets the assignment for smaller or finer work, like peeling fruit or trimming the extra fat from cuts of meat. You can top off your knife collection with a long serrated knife, perfect for slicing bread and for vegetables like tomatoes that bruise easily.
Food thermometer: Every kitchen should have a metal-stem food thermometer on hand for food safety. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 48 million Americans are sickened every year by food. Cooking potentially hazardous foods, like meat products, to the proper temperature can help reduce your risk for illness.