Pro Tips for Prepping Your Kitchen for Healthy Holiday Cooking and Entertaining

As the weather gets colder and daylight hours shorten, our thoughts begin to turn to vacations. (After all, there are only 65 days until Thanksgiving!) This inevitably leads us to think about our holiday hosting plans. How many guests should we invite to our table? What should we serve? Should we make any changes to our kitchen based on our previous holiday hosting experiences? And how much will it cost – both in terms of money and in terms of the impact on our health plans?

These are important questions – and time is running out to decide your answers. Here are product suggestions for large and small kitchens from three professionals with relevant expertise. Everyone was sent questions for answers via email, shared here.

Impacts on well-being

“Everything You Eat Impacts Your Health,” Says Functional Medicine Practitioner and Author of Eat to enjoy, (Atria Books, October 2023) Maggie Berghoff. The good news, she points out, is that cooking at home gives you complete control over what you consume. “Food should be nourishing, healing, and give us energy instead of making us feel bogged down, worried, bloated, and feeling sick and tired.” What and how you cook can have an impact, especially during hectic times of year like the holiday season, when you’re already stressed and vulnerable.

Sarah Fishburne, director of trends and design at Home Depot, agrees. “The foundations of a healthy lifestyle begin with the choices we make in the kitchen,” she emphasizes.

It starts with having a well-planned, well-equipped, and well-organized space to create healthy meals. As Northern Virginia-based kitchen designer Anna Gibson notes: “Walking into a clean, organized kitchen helps bring joy to being in the space and makes prepping and cooking much easier. » There’s no time of year more important than the holiday season, when you and your home are both put to the test.

Large Appliances

One of the most important categories for a kitchen that makes cooking, entertaining, and healthy meals easier is your cooking appliances. “In recent years, we have converted our customers to the use of induction ranges and cooktops,” shares Gibson. It’s not only a greener solution, it’s also faster and healthier, she observes, especially for households with elderly people and children. (Whatever cooking surface you choose, the designer urges homeowners to pair it with ample ventilation!)

Fishburne suggests ranges with air frying capability and double ovens to help you prepare healthier foods at the same time. There are many cooking appliances with healthy modes such as air frying and steaming. “Steaming gently cooks foods without destroying their nutritional value, and some studies have shown that steaming can actually increase the nutritional value of our foods. » Gibson adds.

Berghoff is optimistic about the capacity of the freezers, she said. “In fact, I could use an entire freezer the size of a refrigerator. The reason is that I am a very busy working mother and it would be very beneficial if I had more space to prepare healthy and anti-inflammatory meals, snacks, breakfasts and even desserts at store in the freezer, take with you throughout the weeks and months. .” She notes that you can make and freeze packets of smoothie ingredients, mini zucchini or egg muffins, casseroles, and healthy, organic nuggets to defrost as needed for meals and snacks. A large freezing capacity takes care of this.

If you’re not renovating your kitchen—and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to finish a full project in time for the holidays—you can add a spare freezer in your basement or garage.

Small devices

Berghoff also likes her multicooker for preparing easy, healthy meals, as well as an electric frother and blender for healthy drinks, she says. Fishburne cites two popular categories of countertop appliances as being useful for healthier meal preparation. One of them is an air fryer oven, which can prepare popular holiday side dishes with much less fat. “This little appliance is ideal for baking, frying, roasting, dehydrating, reheating, broiling and grilling your favorite dishes, all at unprecedented speed,” comments the retail manager.

“When it comes to healthy cooking, a rice cooker may not be the first choice that comes to mind,” she adds. “However, beyond its name, a rice cooker offers versatile features. Many models excel at steaming vegetables, while some have settings for preparing foods such as soup and oatmeal. This highly effective little device also makes it easier to replace white rice with more heart-healthy choices, like quinoa and barley.

Fishburne also suggests a slow juicer, which offers more benefits than standard models, she says. “Thanks to the slow and gentle extraction process, which generates less heat, the flavor and nutrient content of the juice are better preserved. Therefore, you can usually store this type of juice in the refrigerator for three to five days and still enjoy its quality.

Other tools

One of the unfortunate consequences of this busy season, with kids at school and more guests and germs circulating around the house, is potential illness. “Installing a touch faucet stops the transfer of germs in cases such as washing hands after handling raw meat,” Fishburne comments. It can also stop the transmission of cold and flu germs, as both of these viruses can live for long periods of time on hard surfaces.

Even hands-free faucets can dispense less-than-safe water, as a recent federal study highlighted. Whole-house filtration is a solution Gibson advocates, she says. “This way, all water coming into the kitchen, including the water dispensers and ice maker, is now double and triple filtered.”

Berghoff wants home cooks to use healthier tools. “If you haven’t made this change yet, it’s crucial and makes such a difference. Get rid of all plastics in your kitchen and replace them with glass,” she advises, citing food storage containers, water bottles, even baby bottles and sippy cups. “Replace traditional non-stick pans with cast iron or ceramic pans. Opt for stainless steel baking sheets and pastry-grade silicone. Even products like parchment paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap have healthier, non-toxic versions, she comments.

Beyond countertop appliances and health-boosting kitchen tools, Berghoff is a fan of organizational tools. “I feel like if you walk into a clean, aesthetically pleasing, organized kitchen, you feel clean, refreshed, and energized.” This allows you to have a mentally fresh state of mind when you’re cooking something, and a pleasant environment in which to work. You need to get rid of kitchen clutter, she explains, which includes expired items and food that doesn’t fit. to contribute to your well-being goals. Emptying your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry before you start your holiday shopping seems like a smart strategy.

Fishburne adds: “If anyone wants to stick to their cooking, healthy eating and New Year’s resolutions, a great item to consider is a digital kitchen scale. By integrating a food scale into your cooking routine, you control the portion size, calorie intake and nutritional quality of your meals, making it easier to stick to your healthy eating resolution.

Final words

We are entering the season of temptation, a difficult time for those committed to healthy eating. “Preparing yourself for success makes things much faster and more motivating,” advises Berghoff. “The healthier you are, the healthier you feel, the more you want to make healthy choices and it just keeps getting better and easier when you stick with it.” This also sounds like a recipe for a successful New Year’s resolutions launch!

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