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TECH: Healthy Cooking Devices
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altThe modern world has become the perfect environment for obesity. Access to affordable high-calorie processed food, less physically demanding jobs and hobbies which require very little physical exertion are all attributed to causing obesity. This comes as no surprise considering that junk-food and nutritionally poor alternatives are often more readily accessible and affordable. The cost of eating healthily is becoming more difficult each year. With the added burden of preparing food from scratch, many people turn to these unhealthy choices out of pure convenience.

The evolution of technology has also played its part, minimising manufacturing costs, increasing the ease of cooking and has lead to the vast array of media channels for advertising products; not to mention advances in public and personal transport which means that we no longer have to walk long distances like our ancestors did. Our daily routines have changed radically. We use social media networks instead of meeting in person, we play computer games instead of sport, and we can order take-aways at any time of day or-night.

With so much of our lives built for convenience, it is little wonder that we no-longer receive adequate nutrition or exercise. However, technology can also be used in a productive way to help us live more healthily. These following devices can be used to enhance our lives and try to make living healthily more convenient. 

 

George Foreman Grill

This device is probably the most famous healthy cooking instrument on the market, with former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman as spokesperson for the brand. The patent for its design was filed in 1995. Since then the manufacturer, Spectrum Brands, has sold in excess of 100 million units worldwide in various shapes and colours. 

The basic design is a dual sided non-stick grill. Both sides are ridged and angled downwards, to act as an outlet to drain off excess fat from the foods cooked. Although this device is used mainly for grilling meat, it can be used to cook vegetables and some fruits. The drained fat is collected in a drip tray to be discarded when finished. The grill comes in different sizes- some big enough for only a few items of food, others can cook a meal for an entire family simultaneously. They are very reasonably priced and available online or in many stores.

Ceracraft Pans

The Ceracraft range of pans, by JML, are a new twist on the non-stick pan. They employ a ceramic coating which creates what they describe as an ‘ultra-non-stick surface’. The pans are constructed from aluminium with a stainless steel plate base and the ceramic coating covering the cooking area. They are available in many flamboyant colours making them a very stylish modern kitchen accessory. JML states that these pans are PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) free, oven safe, and work with electric, gas, halogen and induction cookers.

 

Oil Mister

Olive oil has been the subject of many studies, and subsequently its health benefits have been widely publicised. Olive oil in particular contains monounsaturated fats. These fats can decrease the amounts of unhealthy cholesterol whilst also promoting good cholesterol within your body. This means they can help decrease your chances of suffering strokes and contracting heart disease.

This kind of oil also contains polyphenols. These are antioxidants which combat free radicals (damaging molecules which attack healthy cells). These free radicals can cause cancer, cognitive or immune system decline and heart disease. With this in mind, it seems obvious that olive oil should be a part of a healthy diet. However, these health benefits are offset by some lesser known facts. For instance, olive oil has a high calorie content, and therefore when used in excess can lead to weight gain.

Moreover, studies show that when used for cooking, the health benefits are decreased as the oil breaks down and the useful fatty acids deteriorate. If the oil reaches its smoking point then it becomes even even unhealthier. With this in mind it appears prudent to moderate our intake- especially if weight loss is the goal.

Oil Misters allow you to moderate your intake by spraying a fine mist of oil, allowing a coverage area not possible with such a small amount of oil without such a device. Misters can be used to cover salads- creating a dressing, or to coat a pan for cooking. They are usually handheld, electronic or manual pump-action devices which you fill up with your oil of choice.

Crisp/Chip Makeralt

Crisps or chips, depending on your country of origin, are a favourite snack food the world over. With so many flavours and so much availability it's no wonder that we buy packs by the dozens in economy multipacks. However, their calorie and fat content is so high that they are very unhealthy. In addition, the amount of salt is extremely high in certain flavours.

By utilising the microwave and this simple device you can make homemade, fat free crisps and also control your salt intake. As microwaves work by exciting the water molecules within food to cook them from the inside out, rather than frying them in oil or heating them from the outside like an oven, no external fat is needed as the moisture required for microwaves are contained inside the potato. This means that the only calorie or fat content is from the potato itself, which is relatively low. Thus you can make a healthier snack than commercially available potato chips/crisps. You can also add your own flavouring to taste and know exactly what's going into your snack!

These devices work in two steps. Firstly they chop your potato into thin slices, normally using a push-down bladed system which you press down onto a potato and the arrangements of the blades cut it into segments, or a guillotine type slicer. These potato slices are then put on a rack, which separates the pieces, and microwaved. This process leaves the potato crispy- just like the ones you have bought before, just healthier.

Ethylene Absorbers

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the staples of a healthy lifestyle. However, the cost of these items is ever rising, and buying in bulk to reduce expenditure is not possible as the food will go off and rot. Having said that though, there are ways to keep our food fresher for longer using knowledge gained from scientific research.

Fruit and vegetables expel a gas known as ethylene as a catalyst for the ripening process. This gas is naturally emitted even while your produce is refrigerated. Using chemistry, it is possible to absorb this gas, thus slowing the ripening process down. This of cause allows your food to be fresher for longer by staving off the deterioration.

Air/Dry Fryers

Air or dry fryers are a recent addition to many kitchens. They offer the ability to have the taste and texture of your favourite fried foods in a healthier way.

These devices are comprised of a grill with a strong fan mounted on it and a food container normally which features a couple of compartments for different foods underneath. The machine doesn't fry in the traditional way, by heating and dipping the food into the boiling oil. Instead the grill-fan combination blows super-heated air around the food- cooking it by exposing it to extreme heat of around 200 degrees. This allows for a fried effect on food. However, as there is no oil or fat involved, the overall fat content is reduced by 80%. Oil is not required for many foods but a small amount can be added for taste when cooking chips/fries, for example.

This technology is becoming more prominent, and due to this the prices are decreasing; although they are still quite high at the moment. But given that the technology allows us to cook seemingly unhealthy food in a healthy way, many cook books can be purchased to accompany this device which show you how to modify your favourite food recipes by utilising the air/dry fryer and enjoying its health benefits.

Summing up

As we all strive to live a healthier lifestyle we could use a little help to make cooking a bit easier. Hopefully this article has shed some light on a few of the devices which could facilitate a change in your eating habits. Using the healthier option doesn't always mean more inconvenience. Some of these devices are quicker and easier to clean than the conventional methods of cooking!  
 

By Stephen P. Aston
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