Gosh, those trousers certainly do seem to have shrunk during the festive season - how come the waistband's got a little tighter? If healthier habits and weight loss are among your New Year's resolutions, here's some advice on the best table-top small appliances for some lean - yet still mouth-watering - cuisine.
With an electrically heated grill, the clamshell design simultaneously grills the top and bottom surfaces of your food, eliminating the need to flip it over. Each grilling surface is indented, angled and covered in a nonstick coating, which minimises direct contact with the food so that as much fat as possible can be drained. This is collected in a removable drip tray clearly showing the amount of fat and grease produced. There's no need to use any oil to grill your favourite food - and of course, your food doesn't sit in its own fat as it cooks.
A blender is an invaluable kitchen appliance to invest in if you want to up your intake of fresh fruit and veg. Blenders can be used to make soup, smoothies, blend mixtures, granules and/or liquids thoroughly, and help dissolve solids into liquids.
The blending container is generally shaped in a way that encourages material to circulate through the blades, rather than simply spinning around. The 'big daddy' of blenders is made by Vitamix®. The Vitamix® 010231 Blender is not cheap but, actually, it's probably a bit unfair to classify this as a blender as it also cooks soup, grinds whole grains to make flour, and kneads dough too. It's powerful, with laser-cut blades that tear down the cell walls of fruits and vegetables, making vital nutrients more readily available for your body to absorb. You can blend fresh fruits and vegetables into tasty, fibre-rich whole food juice in just 60 seconds; even the nutrient-packed peels, pulp and seeds of many types of produce can be pulverized and blended into healthy and nutritious recipes.
Blenders will also make smoothies, but if all you need is a juicer, this Dualit 88305 Juice Extractor will get the job done in no time at all.
A steamer is used to prepare various foods in a sealed vessel that limits the escape of air or liquids below a preset pressure. Steaming works by boiling water continuously, causing it to vaporise into steam; the steam then carries heat to the nearby food, thus cooking the food.
The food is kept separate from the boiling water, but has direct contact with the steam, resulting in a moist texture to the food. Overcooking or burning food is easily avoided when steaming, and no cooking oil is required, resulting in lower fat content. Steaming also results in more nutritious food as fewer nutrients are leached away into the water, as they often are when boiling.
If you're looking for a smart steamer, consider the Morphy Richards Intellisteam Food Steamer, Black . The multi-compartment design gives you enough space to cook a variety of dishes at once, be it fish, vegetables or rice. An intelligent timer system ensures that each dish is ready to go at the same time, taking the guesswork out of cooking times. An auto keep warm function prevents food drying out for up to 40 minutes.
For tasty, easy to cook rice why not try the Crock-Pot CKCPRC6039-060 Rice Cooker? You simply add a quantity of rice and water to the bowl, then the mechanical thermostat turns off the cooker when the water’s boiled off, leaving fluffy perfectly cooked rice. This is ideal for those who have a busy lifestyle as a meal can be made in up to 25 minutes. Perfect for risottos, paella - even and rice-/oat- based desserts - this is the ideal kitchen companion for a busy, healthy home.
An air fryer is the equivalent of a high-tech deep fat fryer. Unlike a conventional fat fryer that submerges the food almost completely in fat, an air fryer uses a unique combination of fast circulating hot air plus a grill element to fry the food with little fat. In fact, only a spoonful of oil is normally required.
Delicious fried food, snacks, chicken, meat and more, are produced in a fast and easy way. And of course there's much less smell too! Philips is currently the only company using this clever technology. Its Philips HD9220/50 AirFryer, White is suitably futuristic. Its sleek white body and elongated handle will complement your kitchen worktop perfectly. The integrated timer allows you to pre-set cooking times of up to 30 minutes with the auto-off function including a "ready" sound indicator. If you're cooking an entire meal, the AirFryer's separator accessory is a handy way to fry multiple dishes at the same time, but prevents the flavours of different foods mixing with each other.
And if you're keen to check the progress on your new healthy regime, then we've a number of body scales that will measure both your weight and body fat index.