Kitchen-tools

10 Cooking Essentials Everyone Needs In Their Kitchen

Starting your kitchen from scratch can be a terrifying but exciting time, especially since there is so much variety both in-store and on the internet. There is a chance to start fresh and invest in kitchen and cooking utensils which reflect your own aesthetic, but also need to work well.

We have outlined the top ten items everyone needs in their kitchen, without resorting borrowing from family and friends.

RELATED: Chilli and Prawn Spaghetti Recipe

1. Mixing bowl

While this is probably self explanatory, a mixing bowl should be one of the first things you need in your kitchen. Why? It can be used for almost anything; baking, marinating, and even storing leftovers such as watermelon and other large fruit. A medium sized bowl is perfect for a growing kitchen, and will be used more than any other size.

2. Measuring cups

If you don’t want to guesstimate each serving size, then measuring cups are probably a good idea for your kitchen. They come in a variety of colours and sizes which are suited to your particular aesthetic. Make sure your measuring spoons are both microwave and dishwasher-safe before purchasing.

3. Wooden spoon

Another must-have for the modern kitchen is a wooden spoon; inexpensive and will always find its place. Not to mention how easy they are to clean and store away!

4. Silicone spatula

A good spatula is a cooking essential because it helps to scoop, scrape, and mix together almost anything. Invest in a silicone or rubber spatula if you want to use it with hot mixtures since it won’t shed, unlike wood.

5. Cooling rack

Don’t go past a cooling rack or tray if you love to bake, since your kitchen will be lost without it! A stainless steel cooling rack is the best option since they are really easy to clean (by hand, and in the dishwasher), and won’t rust over time.

6. Measuring spoons

Measure anything from spices, and other ingredients with these easy-to-wash utensils for your kitchen. Available in a number of different sizes and finishes to suit your particular aesthetic.

7. Cutting board

Get your kitchen organised by using a wooden chopping board which is so easy to maintain. Clean it regularly with olive oil to maintain it’s shine, and keep from discolouring with extended use.

8. Can opener

Have you ever tried to open a can without it? This is an absolute must-have, especially if you are constantly using canned fruit and vegetables for your meals. Better safe than sorry!

9. Springform pan

If you enjoy baking cakes, brownies or even the occasional casserole, then a springform pan should definitely be on your list. The round tin is ideal for beginners, since it creates an even looking mixture with minimal effort. The sides can also be removed from the base, so it can be easily transferred onto a cooling rack.

10. Rolling pin

Similarly, if you love to bake desserts and other sweet treats, don’t miss out on a rolling pin. Our favourites are the French which are small and compact, but also come with handles for easy grip.

Image via Domestically Speaking

January 19, 2015

Is Your Kitchen Damaging Your Health?

Forget sharp knives and boiling water: our kitchens are full of dangers that could be affecting our health. Naturopath and author of Digestive Solutions, Michèle Wolff, looks at the nasties hiding in our kitchen and how to avoid them.

Aluminium
The metal-food reaction with aluminium can produce aluminium salts that are absorbed into your body and may be associated with impaired motor coordination and chronic inflammation which can result in a number of health conditions. Aluminium pans get thinner over time, and the only place for it to go is in your food.

Tip: Buy baking paper to wrap your beetroot, fish or potato or put your food in a glass casserole dish.

Teflon-coated vessels
Over time, Teflon can get scratched off into the food. The fumes can also be toxic when cooking in these pans at high temperatures. Never leave Teflon pans on the stove unattended; the toxicity becomes worse with overcooked or overheated foods. Although these non-stick pans are popular there are alternatives that do not harm your health.

Tip: Look for chemical free cookware, such as pans with an ecolon coating which is ecofriendly and chemical free, such as neoflam.

Microwave
Although seen as a speedy and convenient option, microwaves release electromagnetic waves that cause friction and heat to your food. Nutrient damage also occurs and there is a concern with plastics coming into contact with food.

Tip: Do not put breast milk, plastics or metal into a microwave. Exposed to microwaves, breast milk will lose lysozyme (an enzyme with antiseptic action) and antibodies, can foster the growth of pathogenic bacteria, and result in uneven heating which may cause burning in a baby’s mouth. Metal and plastics can create toxic fumes which can cause serious injury.

Barbecue
There is a danger of cooking meats at high temperatures which uses the production of Heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Research has show that these are the carcinogenic chemicals formed when amino acids (from protein) and creatine (a chemical found in muscle) react at high temperatures.

Tip: Avoid medium-well or well-done meat to minimise health risk.

High temperature cooking
Grilling or pan-frying can still cause high amounts of HCAs if the temperature is high.

Tip: Frying is fine, as long as you use the right oils. Cook with ghee, coconut oil or rice bran oil. Coconut oil is slower to oxidise and is not chemically altered when heated at a high temperature. These are the best oils to use when stir-frying as the nutrients in the foods are not compromised by the oxidising oil.

Antioxidants
The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture published a study done on the effects of antioxidants in different methods of cooking. In varying amounts, there was a reduction of antioxidants in all methods of cooking:

Microwaving: 74-79% loss

Boiling: 66% loss

Pressure cooking: 47% loss

Tip: Ideally, it is best to cook in stainless steel, ceramic or glass pans and to cook at low temperatures to conserve nutrition.

Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her new book ‘Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally’ is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au.

January 6, 2014