Lindsay Maitland Hunt

Blog

Not just another food blog.
Posts tagged healthy eating
Healthy Cooking Essentials: In Praise of Rimmed Baking Sheets

While writing Healthyish, I went back and forth about whether to include a list of tools to keep in your kitchen. When there are so many general cooking books offering similar advice, I wondered whether I should add to the noise. Do I really need to provide a list of what to have in your kitchen, when almost every cookbook offers one? In the end I decided no—Healthyish was about encouraging people to cook, not about making them feel like they needed to buy a bunch of kitchen equipment.

Now that I am writing a cookbook about gut health, I see the value now in giving a simple list of essential tools, because an easier, more streamlined experience in the kitchen makes it easier to commit to a new way of eating. It’s fine to wing it when you’re boiling pasta and topping it with butter and cheese, but a soggy salad because you don’t have a salad spinner? That’s a shame. Or maybe you can’t rinse your beans or grains because you don’t have a large fine-mesh strainer? It just makes healthy cooking feel like a chore. The right tools can save you money, too, as in the case of my all-time favorite lemon squeezer, which gets 20% more juice out of every lemon.

After almost a decade working in test kitchens and my experience reviewing kitchen tools at Real Simple Magazine, I’ve developed the expertise to know what’s worth buying (and what’s not), and which brands make the best version. I’ll be sharing one tool at a time, then eventually rounding these up into a guide to stocking a healthy kitchen on my website. And, yes, there will be a guide in my next book, and probably every one after that.

Today we are starting with rimmed baking sheets, which are the key to amazingly delicious vegetables.

6 Reasons Why Rimmed Baking Sheets are a Healthy Kitchen Essential

It wasn’t until today while hanging out at my sister’s apartment watching her roast three batches of cauliflower in a single 9-by-13 baking pan, that I realized I had taken the ubiquity of rimmed baking sheets in professional kitchens for granted.

If you don’t own rimmed baking sheets already, I think they’ll make a revolutionary difference in your cooking experience. Too far? I don’t think so. I rely on these baking sheets to keep pancakes and waffles hot in the oven so I can serve everyone at once, I use them to toast nuts and seeds, and when I decorate sugar cookies, I do it on a the small, quarter-sheet size, so that sprinkles and icing don’t run all over the table.

If you have another way you make use of your rimmed baking sheets, please let me know in the comments!

  1. Less Mess: A rimmed baking sheet prevents little bits from falling into the oven, making it easier to toss roasted vegetables, granola, or allowing any juices to slip down onto the oven floor.

  2. Streamlined Recipe Prep: You might have seen these types of prepped trays on cooking shows with the “mise en place” of a recipe’s ingredients. The rim keeps everything from sliding around as you move the tray. If you’re the type of cook who discovers you don’t have an ingredient half way through a recipe—try this tip.

  3. Avoiding Soggy Grains: Spreading cooked grains (e.g. brown rice, barley) and grain-like seeds (quinoa, millet, etc.) on a rimmed baking sheet after cooking and draining helps them cool quickly, avoiding them becoming soggy.

  4. Corralling Ingredients in the Fridge: I use the smaller quarter sheet pans to keep like-ingredients together in the fridge. For instance, condiments or prepped salad ingredients.

  5. You Can Set a Wire Rack Inside a Rimmed Baking Sheet: Why does this matter? Well, you can roast meats on top and catch the drippings below, or when drizzling chocolate on caramels or cookies, the mess is easily contained.

  6. Easy Handling of Hot Dishes: I set almost every baking dish onto a rimmed baking sheet, whether it’s a casserole dish, pie plate, or springform pan. It’s much easier to move a hot pie in and out of the oven when you can grip a rimmed tray, and you don’t risk sticking an oven mitt into the food.

Shopping information:

Rimmed baking sheets aren’t too pricey considering what a kitchen workhorse they are. Avoid ridged or nonstick ones if possible, since I find they steam rather than give vegetables a nice caramelized edge.

My favorite brand is Nordic Ware, and I recommend buying 2 Quarter Sheet Pans ($23 for both) and 2 Half Sheet Pans ($20 for both) to start.

How to Make Perfect 6-Minute Soft-Boiled Eggs
 
img_9616.jpg

I come from a family that loves citing new studies to rationalize behaviors. Red wines are high in antioxidants so go for that refill! Blueberries are a superfood so load up on the muffins! Any new report can be twisted to support what we want.

So, when my dad alerted me to a recent study reporting that eating a high-protein breakfast will "reduce food cravings throughout the day and boost dopamine," I was more than ready to justify my morning egg habit. But, it turns out the reasons for eating a protein-packed breakfast (read: high in fat) are actually legit.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that not only helps control impulses, it acts like an all-purpose brain booster affecting general well-being, alertness, and creativity. The bottom line is, protein is essential to good brain function. (For more dietary sources of tyrosine, the amino acid in foods that create dopamine in your brain, check out the links above.)

Back to why you should be eating eggs in the a.m.: The research also suggests that skipping breakfast correlates with an increase in body weight! All the more reason to set fifteen minutes aside for an easy, protein-packed meal.

I'll be sharing more ideas soon for sneaking protein into traditionally sugary morning meals, like smoothies and even granola. For now, I suggest starting with a slice of your favorite toast, two perfect soft-boiled eggs, and ample amounts of butter. And, more good news on the fat front: butter isn't bad for you!

(Please note that if you have special dietary needs that preclude you from eating this type of breakfast, I am in no way suggesting you ditch the doctor's orders.)

Perfect 6-Minute Soft-Boiled Eggs on Toast

Ingredients: 2 large eggs 1 slice bread (New Yorkers, my favorite is from She Wolf Bakery) 2 tablespoons salted butter Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a small pot of water to boil over high heat. Gently lower the eggs into the water. Lower the heat so it is at a simmer and cook for exactly 6 minutes.

Remove the eggs from the heat and run under cold water until they are comfortable to handle. (Now is the time to start toasting your bread.) Tap each shell on a hard surface, then roll to crack the shell all over. Don't roll too hard, just enough to create a web of cracks, this will make it easier to peel. Peel the eggs and discard the shells.

Slather the toasted bread with the butter and top with the eggs. Slice open with a knife, season with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!