Gift ideas encourage healthy cooking

Article Published: Dec. 1, 2011 | Modified: Dec. 1, 2011

December is the time when gift buying is at the top of our to-do lists. Here are a few gift suggestions that will help those you love make healthy food preparation a little easier:

A pepper mill adds fresh ground pepper to salads and other prepared dishes and reduces the desire for salt.

A mortar and pestle for crushing or blending whole spices and fresh herbs adds flavor to recipes without sodium.

Stainless steel steamer is used to enhance the flavor and preserve nutrients of fresh or frozen vegetables.

Corningware type baking dishes with lids for cooking vegetables in the microwave is quick and preserves nutrients.

A fat separator removes fat from meat juices for making gravies, sauces and soups.

An oil mister allows you to coat a baking pan or spray a skillet to sauté with less fat.

Scales assist with portion control of meat. Measuring ingredients by weighing ensures quality for baked items.

Colored cutting boards, one designated for meat products and one for fruits and vegetables will help avoid cross-contamination.

Utilizing a slow cooker is an excellent way to have a hot, healthy meal at the end of a work day.

Thermometers (oven, refrigerator and freezer, food) reduce the risk of food borne illness by ensuring appropriate storage, cooking and food temperatures.

Fruit and vegetable peelers keep food waste minimal.

Fruit and vegetable brushes reduce the risk of food borne illness.

Juicers encourage more fruit and vegetable consumption.

Loaf pans are essential for baking whole grain bread and sweet bread.

This recipe includes whole grain flour and is lower in fat than most sweet bread recipes. For a quick breakfast, top with reduced-fat cream cheese and sliced fruit.

Banana-Nut Orange Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 ½ tablespoons grated orange rind
3 tablespoons orange juice
½ cup roasted walnuts

Oil in mister
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife. Combine with baking soda and salt and stir.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, orange rind and juice and mix until blended. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until moist. Stir in walnuts. Spoon batter into a loaf pan, 8 ½ X 4 ½ inch, coated with oil. Bake in preheated oven for one hour and 5 minutes, or until inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with NC Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups., (828)264-3061.

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