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    Healthy Cooking Tip #1: Stock your kitchen. continued...

    Basic healthy cooking tools:

    • good set of pots and pans
    • vegetable steamer/rice cooker
    • soup pot
    • food processor
    • grill
    • crock pot
    • good utensils

    Basic healthy cooking ingredients:

    • fresh fruits and vegetables (just an amount you'll be able to use before spoilage)
    • frozen vegetables (They're fairly equal to fresh veggies in terms of vitamin levels, says Lola O'Rourke, a Seattle-based dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.)
    • yogurt
    • cheese
    • eggs
    • low-fat cuts of meat such as chicken breast or pork tenderloin (both fresh and frozen)
    • rice (brown, red, black and mixed rice varieties)
    • pasta (preferably whole grain)
    • whole grain bread and/or pita
    • beans (pinto, black, white, etc., both dried and canned)
    • canned chopped tomatoes
    • salsa (fresh, if available)
    • vegetable or chicken stock
    • garlic
    • onion
    • olive oil
    • vinegar
    • herbs and spices (fresh, if possible)

    Healthy Cooking Tip #2: Plan ahead.

    Simplify dinnertime prep by making as much as possible ahead of time, O'Rourke suggests. Make double or triple the amount the recipe calls for, and freeze the extra for future use. (Be sure to label and date each item). Minestrone soup is a great example of something that freezes well and thaws into an instant healthy meal, says Carol Hildebrand, co-author, with her brother Bob Hildebrand, executive chef at The Three Stallions Inn in Randolph, Vermont, of 500 3-Ingredient Recipes, 500 5-Ingredient Desserts and 3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Comfort Foods.

    For example:

    • Clean and chop vegetables.
    • Peel and chop potatoes and store in cold water in the fridge.
    • Cut chicken breast into strips or bite-sized pieces for stir fry.
    • Make vegetable or chicken stock to use as a base for soup.
    • Prepare a basic marinara sauce for use over pasta or with polenta.
    • Cook a big batch of beans for minestrone, chili or beans and rice.
    • Cut up fruit for quick snacks. (According to research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, it's just as nutritious as fruit cut directly before eating.)

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