Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Having these 14 Kitchen Tools Helps Me Eat Healthy

Do you have the right tools to cook healthy? I like when recipes come with a list of tools at the very beginning. Having the right tools help. These are basic tools I use every day to cook plant-based meals.

The Wok – The most effective pan for cooking vegetables is the wok. Once you use this and use it often, you will be amazed at how much you use it because what you throw in it. From tofu to eggplant, to broccoli, rice, and noodles, it cooks everything quickly and thoroughly. Say hello to the wok. Just don’t forget to get the wooden flat spoon if you don’t have one.

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Rice cooker -- This makes any grain as they say, “perfect every time.”  Add your white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, sticky rice, barley, assorted variations of quinoa and even veggies and walk away. When time is of the essence and you’re focusing on creating your dish, your rice cooker helps.

Boil basket -- Are you tired of eating rice and quinoa all the time? Welcome, the boil basket. One way to make your quinoa, barley and rice taste uniquely flavorful is with the broth. Whether it's tomato, vegetable, garlic and onion, a good tool to have is this basket. There are so many variations of broth to use to cook your grains. This drops in a pot with the hook hanging out to pull out. Fresh herbs are great to add too.



Spaghetti Spoon – Is not just for spaghetti anymore.  I typically use this for rice, stir-fry, vegetables and anything I need to scoop out of a pan or a bowl. Spoons don’t work as well. We’ve used this so much that the spoon has broken off from the handle. Yep, get the spaghetti spoon.

Slicer – there are two variations I have for this including a mandoline slicer. I like cooking tools, I admit, but I bought one for a friend of mine and she said she really loves it.  Let’s face it, a lot of us don’t have time to carefully slice our onions very thin and if we did, not even chefs do that. They almost always have a slicer.

Rubber spoons – When using non-stick or even sauté pans, I reach for the rubber spoon. These spoons are heat resistant and gentle to plant foods. When you create sauces, these work perfectly from stirring gently to scoop curry sauce out of the pan. Wooden spoons don’t work the same. Thank you, rubber spoon.




Sharp knives – If you have dull knives you should just delay your healthy diet plans.  A sharpener is good to have too.

Pairing knives – These are great to slice small stuff but also with precision. I have been able to slice strawberries, mushrooms, peppers large and small, herbs, tomatoes for bruschetta and speaking of bruschetta, olives too. You minimize cutting yourself if you have a nice set of pairing knives. And yes, get a set of them if you can. You will cry if lose the only one you have.



Electric Teakettle – Wow what a game changer this was. Once I started drinking teas often, the electric teakettle helped my daily routine. I would have pulled my hairs out if I had to wait on my teapot.

Bowl / Basket – A lot of veggies are better left out like tomatoes, avocados, garlic, lemons, limes, bananas, apples, pears, etc. You have to have something to put them in to leave them out.

Grill – This gives roasted veggies a lot of flavors. You don’t have to have a BBQ - just a grill big enough to make one plate full.  Even if you’re trying to grill the chicken instead of frying it, a grill brings a new flavor to your foods. With a light avocado or coconut spray, you will have healthy and great tasting roasted food.




Blender – Great for smoothies but it can do a lot more. I’ve made salad dressings, soups, and sauces in a snap.

Glass Storage Containers – When my sister was throwing them out, I gladly took them. I store beans, barley, teas and polenta that I buy sometimes by the pound. My goal is to have a beautiful pantry with nothing but glass jars filled with dry foods.

Plenty of chopping boards– I use at least 3-4 every single day. I have wooden ones and plastic ones and even had the very thin ones although those didn’t last long.  You will need a chopping board when it comes to fruit and vegetables. Have plenty. One is usually in the sink, in the dishwasher or sitting by the sink all at the same time.



When I listen to people say how challenging it is to eat healthy, my first question I have is if they have the right tools. Whatever those tools are for you, those are the right ones.  Sometimes I find these at thrift stores and flea markets. I found a nice skillet at a flea market for $10 bucks that I use. I also peruse the kitchen stores and even Barnes and Noble to see if they have a solution to any recipes I'm working on. 

Please comment on what tool or appliance you use that helps you make incredibly delicious healthy recipes. I’d love to know!    




Monday, April 4, 2016

Top 7 Beliefs That Lead To Consistent Weight Gain

Are you dieting every few weeks when you live without all your favorite foods and work out like mad just long enough to lose those extra pounds?

Wouldn’t it be nice that no matter how much you eat, you never gained that much weight?  Isn’t that how Weight Watchers works?  You can eat all you want including bread and dessert and you can still manage to lose the weight.  How simple is that?

Here’s the problem.  

You can lose all the weight from any diet program; any discipline and feel great but are you really healthy?  Have you heard the naysayers who say that we have been eating the same foods we are today for thousands of years and why should we have to change what we eat?  Everything you eat is good for you.  Right?  

Then why are you on this viscous cycle of always gaining lots of weight by eating all the foods that are good for you? Why are you always on a “diet” again and again?





Here’s why.  

It’s not really what we are eating as much as it is our beliefs about it.  Our beliefs deceive us.  Our convictions are what put us into a cycle of food weight gain.  

Let me explain.  When we eat "healthy" to then go back to gaining the weight all over again, isn't it because we put ourselves in a position of having to make those hard choices like trying to decide salad over a sandwich? After that, don't we then suffer in the gym all over again?  Does it really have to be this hard?  How do we end up in this cycle to begin with?

If you believe that meat and dairy are absolutely necessary for your diet, you’ve already lost the battle before you started.  

I am recently being coached on a project about the decisions we make early on to guarantee our success in the long run.  Our success is determined from the very beginning of any project.  Once the decisions are made, success progresses because the right choices have been made.  It’s just pure execution from that point. 


The same goes true for the way we eat.  Your beliefs have to change in what you eat or you will fail over and over again.  Your beliefs have to change if you want to keep the weight off.

Here are my top 7 beliefs that lead to consistent weight gain:

1)  Meat is the only protein.  
We don’t even call it what it is.  Somehow, meat is now  called protein.

2)  Dairy is good for strong bones and teeth.  
Are you sure that’s the only food that has calcium?  Is drinking dairy the only way to strong bones and teeth?

3)  Your body has to have meat or you will starve.  

If we’re talking about malnutrition, are you comparing yourself to those who live in third world countries that are truly suffering from malnutrition?

4)  Meat (protein) fills you up for a long time.  
I lived off this presumption too.  As long as I was satisfied for a long period of time, I'd curve the cravings and not have the impulses to snack, (and I would presume bad snacks). However, isn't it really helpful to not be hungry for hours or should you be eating four to five times a day?

5)  Without meat or dairy, there is nothing else to eat.  
Could this be because you don’t know how to cook without meat or dairy products?

6)  We’ve eaten meat for thousands of years.  
How much meat have humans consumed in one seating for thousands of years?  Why was the purest of animals with presumably the best meat sacrificed to the Gods?  




7)  People who don’t eat meat lose the color in their faces.  
I agree.  I’ve lost a lot of color in my face from not eating so much meat but I’m glad the rosacea has gone away. 


I hear these myths all the time but I’m not sure if people realize what they are saying or better yet, know their beliefs are what making them fat.  

If we can only abstain (or at least try to abstain) for 26 days without meat and dairy, how would we feel?  Will our taste buds change?  Will our moods change?  Will we be forced to learn how to cook more vegetarian dishes?  Will we get used to eating a lot more of it? Will we have to stretch ourselves to find what is really healthier to eat or will we be convinced it’s too hard? 

I like Tai Lopez’s TedTalk about how everyone wants the good life but not everyone gets the good life because not everyone is willing to do what it takes here



It’s painful but is it better to suffer for 26 days and be done with it? Or is it better to hold onto our beliefs and eating habits for good and suffer every 26 days?

What steps do you need to take to change your beliefs?  Are you willing to change your beliefs in 26 days?

Let me know your beliefs below.

Find me on Twitter @cncastrosIdea and thanks for reading!