Good health starts in the kitchen, by preparing healthy home cooked meals that nourish our bodies. When you cook for yourself you know exactly what has gone into your dish, you can avoid harmful chemicals and tailor meals to your exact health goals. But as well as needing high quality ingredients and choosing the right kinds of foods to eat, a well-stocked kitchen with right tools and equipment can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to cooking. Learning to love cooking and food preparation, and developing a passion for creating meals that are good for you is extremely beneficial life skill to have. If you’re new to cooking or just want to improve your skills, here are a few things to add to your kitchen in pursuit of becoming an amazing home cook.
An Extensive Spice Rack
Herbs and spices have been important to food since the conception of cooking. With a well stocked array you can add all kinds of ethnic twists to your food, add layers of complex tastes or simply balance flavors. Herbs and spices are also good for your health, for example turmeric has anti-inflammatory benefits and cayenne pepper can aid digestion. Amazingly, just one teaspoon of oregano contains the same amount of antioxidants as three cups of spinach! Learning how to use different combinations will make every meal exciting and means you don’t have to rely on unhealthy salt, sugar or oils for flavor. If you’re still only using the basics, then build up a collection of herbs and spices to experiment with. When a recipe calls for a pinch of this or a dash of that, you will already have it on hand. This gives you the flexibility to create lots of different dishes with just a few basic ingredients.
A Set of Sharp Knives
Chopping, slicing, dicing, julienning- as a home cook you will learn to use a number of knife skills on any given dish. To work with precision and cut cleanly, a set of good quality knives is essential in any home cook’s kitchen. You’ll be able to prep your ingredients quicker, and you won’t damage delicate ingredients by having to apply brute force from a blunt blade (ever tried cutting a tomato with a blunt knife? Exactly). Contrary to what you might think, sharp knives are actually safer than dull ones too. This is because a blunt blade is less predictable, as it can easily slip off an object and then onto your fingers. A sharp blade on the other hand gives you much more control. Decide on the best chef knives for you, and invest in a knife sharpener to keep them at their best.
A Meat Thermometer
It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to decipher when meat is cooked just from looking at it. Whether you’re cooking for friends and family or just for yourself, it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re following all safety advice and making sure meat is cooked to the correct temperature (62C for beef, lamb and pork and 74C for poultry). Raw meat can harbour numerous bugs, half of which you’ve probably never heard of and are barely pronounceable, but can cause severe illness and even death in some cases. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and anyone with a health condition is even more likely to be affected but it’s something that can strike down anyone. Take the guesswork out it completely and always use a meat thermometer. That way you always know meat is 100% safe when serving it, and you won’t have to overcook it and ruin the texture just to be on the safe side.
A Slow Cooker
No matter how great you intentions might be for cooking every day, sometimes you just won’t feel like it. Maybe you’ve had a busy week or just want to put your feet up one evening without having to prepare a meal from scratch. Don’t even think about reaching for that takeaway menu! Plan ahead and invest in a slow cooker. You can throw all of your ingredients into the pot in the morning and go about your day, by the evening you have a delicious dinner ready to go. Because slow cooking renders meat you can use cheaper cuts too, you’ll save money and it will still be deliciously tender at the end of the cooking process.