Pro Tips On Getting Your Kitchen Ready For Healthy Holiday Cooking And Entertaining

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As the weather gets cooler and daylight hours get shorter, our thoughts start turning toward the holidays. There are 65 days until Thanksgiving! This inevitably makes us think about our holiday entertaining plans. How many people should we invite? What should we serve at our table? What changes should we make to our kitchen in light of previous experiences hosting holidays? And how much will it all cost – both in terms of dollars aand dings to our health regimens?

These are significant questions – and time is running short to decide on your answers. Three professionals have provided their suggestions for large and small kitchen items. Each was sent questions to elicit email responses, shared here.

Wellness Impacts

“Everything you eat impacts your health,” declares functional medicine practitioner and author of Eat to Treat, (Atria Books, October 2023) Maggie Berghoff. She says that the good news is you can control what you eat by cooking at home. “Food should be nourishing, healing and give us energy versus causing us to be bogged down, anxious, bloated and feeling sick and tired.” What you cook and how you cook can have an impact – particularly at hectic times of year like the holiday season when you’re already stressed and vulnerable.

Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design at The Home Depot agrees. She says that the foundation of a healthy life begins with our choices in the kitchen. As Northern Virginia-based kitchen designer Anna Gibson notes, “Coming into a clean and organized kitchen helps bring the joy of being in the space and makes it much easier to prep and cook.” There’s no more important time of year than the holiday season, when you and your home are both stress-tested.

Large Appliances

One of your most important categories for a kitchen that facilitates healthy cooking, entertaining and eating is your cooking appliances. Gibson says that for the past few years they have converted clients to induction cooktops and stoves. She says that induction is not only greener, but also faster and more healthy, particularly for families with children and elderly people. The designer advises that homeowners should ensure they have enough ventilation when choosing a cooking surface. Fishburne recommends ranges that have double ovens and air-frying capabilities to prepare healthier food. Many cooking appliances have healthy cooking modes such as air frying or steam cooking. “Steam cooking gently cooks the food without destroying its nutritional value, and some studies have found that cooking with steam may actually boost the nutritional value of our food,” Gibson adds.

Berghoff is bullish on freezer capacity, she says. “I could actually use a refrigerator-sized fridge freezer.” This is possible with a large freezer. Ample freezer capacity supports this.

If you’re not remodeling your kitchen – and it’s doubtful you could complete a full project in time for the holidays – you can add a spare freezer in your basement or garage.

Small Appliances

Berghoff also likes her multi-cooker for easy, healthy meal prep, plus an electric frother and blender for healthy drinks, she says. Fishburne suggests two countertop appliances that are useful for healthier meal preparation. The air fryer can be used to make holiday side dishes that are popular with less fat. “This small appliance is great for baking, frying, roasting, dehydrating, reheating, toasting and grilling your favorite dishes, all at an unprecedented speed,” the retail executive comments.

“When it comes to healthy cooking, a rice cooker might not be the first choice that comes to mind,” she adds. The rice cooker is a versatile appliance that offers more than just its name. Some models are great at preparing soups and oatmeal, while others excel at steaming veggies. This hardworking small appliance also makes it easier to switch out white rice for heart-healthier choices like quinoa and barley.”

Fishburne also suggests a slow juicer, which offers more benefits compared to standard models, she says. The juice is better preserved due to the slower juicing method, which produces less heat. As a result, you can typically store this type of juice in the refrigerator for three to five days, while still enjoying its quality.”

Other Tools

One of the unfortunate byproducts of this busy season, with kids in school, and more guests and germs circulating in the house, is potential illness. Fishburne says that installing a touch faucet will stop the spread of germs when washing hands after handling meat. It can also stop cold and flu germ transmission, as both of those viruses can live for extended periods on hard surfaces.

Even hands-free faucets can dispense less-than-healthy water, as a recent federal study pointed out. She says that Gibson recommends whole house filtration as a solution. “This way, all the water coming into the kitchen, including the water dispensers and ice maker, are now double and triple filtered.”

Berghoff wants home cooks to use healthier tools. If you haven’t yet done this, it makes a huge difference. She recommends replacing all plastics with glass in the kitchen, including food storage containers, bottles of water, and even baby bottles or sippy cups. Replace non-stick pans that are made of cast iron or ceramic with those that are. Opt for stainless steel baking sheets and baking grade silicone.” Even things like parchment paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap have healthier, non-toxic versions, she comments.

Beyond health-enhancing countertop appliances and cookware, Berghoff is a fan of organizing tools. Berghoff is a fan of organizing tools. She believes that a well-organized, clean kitchen will make you feel refreshed, clean and energetic. She says you should get rid of all kitchen clutter. This includes expired food and items that don’t contribute to your health goals. Clearing out your fridge, freezer and pantry before starting your holiday shopping seems like a smart strategy.

Fishburne adds, “If someone wants their healthy cooking and eating and New Year’s resolutions to stick, one excellent item to consider is a digital kitchen food scale. By incorporating a food scale into your cooking routine, you gain control over portion sizes, calorie intake, and the nutritional quality of your meals, making it easier to stick to your healthy eating resolution.”

Last Words

We’re moving into the season of temptation, a tough time for those committed to healthy eating. Berghoff says that setting yourself up for success will make it easier and faster to achieve your goals. The healthier you are and the better you feel the more you will want to do.