In this post I will share my recent purchase (aka–my secret weapon) of how I am cutting calories even more, and getting even more healthier with my diet. In my last post, I posted a picture of my lunch (I’ll re-post the pic in this post). I talked about how it was only about 260 calories.
I have been using 3 kitchen tools to help me with my diet. 2 of these are common household things that most people use. But the one I am going to share in this post is not quite as common. Here is the secret weapon #1…
Cutting Calories With My Secret Weapon
So I eat meat a lot, but the problem is that when you cook it you often have to use oil, butter, or some high calorie non-stick ingredient. This was becoming a hassle because:
- Olive oil is very expensive (that’s what I used)
- Olive oil (and other oils) are very high calorie
So I tried to brainstorm ways I can reduce this 200-300 calories I would be eating every day in just olive oil/cooking oil alone. This was hard because at first I thought I could boil all my meat. This works for chicken okay, but not so much for fish.
Then I thought about baking it, but you really need to add oil to the pan or else it will stick. So I kept trying to find a way to cook my foods (meat especially) in a way so I could reduce calories even more.
I also thought about grilling it, but the problem here is that you have to buy lots of charcoal (or propane), and it takes a long time to clean a grill, get it ready, etc. Not to mention the fact that charcoal will put about as many carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) in your food as about 1 entire pack of cigarettes. So I am not a huge grilling out fat.
Then, I stumbled upon an idea: Steam it!
Aha! I could steam all my foods. I could steam chicken, I could steam veggies, I could steam boil an egg. As I researched this idea, I became more intrigued. It turns out that steaming food retains a whole lot more of the nutrients than boiling it. Plus it is a whole lot easier to steam foods, because if you buy a good steamer, you can cook all the foods at one time within the same steamer.
So I began researching steamers.
Types of Steamers on the Market
There are a few main types of steamers on the market. First, you have the plastic steamers. Here is a picture of a plastic steamer:
The pros of a plastic steamer is that they often have 2-4 “tiers” that you can cook, and they are a bit cheaper at around $20-40. The cons are that they don’t last very long. Some of the reviews I read said that the lid had already cracked within a few months. Another “con” is that some people speculate that cooking in plastic contains may not be very safe (ie, cause cancer or something). Another con is that even thought he steam pots are removeable and washable, the base typically isn’t. I was concerned about food leaking down and not being able to clean it.
So I passed on the plastic ones, even though I came close to buying it for the “cheap” factor. You can browse some plastic steamers on Amazon (most have free shipping if you spend at least $25).
There were also a couple of bamboo/wooden steamers I found in my research. While some had good reviews, I decided it wasn’t what I wanted. For one thing it didn’t seem like it would hold up over time. Also, wood can harbor bacteria and be hard to clean, and I didn’t want to mess with that. So I passed on it.
Stainless Steel Steamer
Finally I learned about stainless steel steamer options. I really like stainless steel because it is very durable, and pretty easy to keep clean. If you take care of stainless steel, it will probably outlast you.
The only problem was that most of the stainless steel steamers I could find only had 1 steaming tier. In other words, you would have to steam everything on 1 tier together. Also, many were small, and didn’t look like they would hold much food. This is when I found my solution: The Joyce Chen 3 tier Steamer.
Joyce Chen 3 Tier Chinese Steamer Set Review
So after researching and shopping steamers, my wife and I finally decided that the stainless steel 3 tier steamer by Joyce Chen was the one we wanted. So we bought it. When we finally got it and used it…we were thrilled! Wow, this thing is AMAZING.
Pros of This Steamer:
- Durable, and will probably last my entire life.
- Can steam 2 levels of food. Also comes with a lid that fits each tier (you can use only the pot, 1 tier, or 2 tiers on the pot and the lid fits all of them).
- Nice size–My wife and I cook more than enough food for both of us with plenty of room to spare.
- Saves time–I steamed my salmon meal in exactly 13 minutes. It was all at one time too.
- Dishwasher safe–throw it in the dishwasher when you are done for easy cleaning
- Sturdy botttom–it has a flat bottom (great for flat top stoves) and has encapsulated aluminum inside the stainless steel for more even cooking.
- Eliminates the need to add olive oil or cooking oils.
- No non-stick (possible cancer causing) teflon cookware needed.
- Cleans easy since food isn’t touching the burner directly and is only steamed
- Food retains much more nutrients than boiling or other cooking methods
- You an use the stainless steel tiers as strainers for spaghetti and other meals if needed.
Cons of This Steamer:
- It does cost a little more (around $80 or so)
- Some steam can come out of the sides, but this is a common thing with most steamers
Joyce Chen Steamer Pictures
Okay, so here is what this “secret weapon” looks like in person. This was taken today as I cooked my lunch. First, you add some water to the bottom pot. Add just enough so that it produces steam, but not so much water so that it will bubble up into the first tier. Here is what it looks like:
Okay, so after the water is added, I add the first steamer tier. This is where you put the food that requires the most steam/heat. So I put salmon, chicken, or whatever meat I cook on the bottom tier. Here is a picture of my salmon and my wife’s pollock fish. As you can see, I could easily put many more pieces of fish/chicken, or whatever.
Next, I added the top tier (it has 2 steaming tiers total, and one base) on top of this. I took some frozen veggies directly from the freezer and dumped them on this top tier. Then, I put on the lid, set the timer for 13 minutes, and I walked away. It took about 2 minutes to put this on the stove and get it ready. Simple! A time saver too. Here are the veggies on top:
So there you have it. Put some water in the bottom pot, turn on the burner, add some meat in the first tier (recommended dethawed for quicker cooking), and add some frozen or fresh veggies to the top tier. Put on the lid, set the timer, and walk away. It takes me about 10-14 minutes to steam fish (depending on the size and how thawed it is).
This is so easy. The food pops right off of this steamer–no sticking because it isn’t being burned on by the burner. It comes off nice and steamed. Add a little seasoning, lemon juice, and yum… an easy 260 calorie meal. Doesn’t get much healthier, low calorie, or easier than that does it?
Check out Amazon.com for some great stainless steel steamer (again, I recommend the Joyce Chen, or at least 2 tier equivalents).
Again, 2 tbsp of olive oil is about the same calories as this whole plate of food. I am not good at cooking, and even I can use this thing. My wife and I love it. We have been telling everyone in our family about it. When you are done, it is really easy to clean. Pop it into the dishwasher and clean the whole thing, or wash by hand soon after use for really easy cleaning. The salmon and fish just flakes apart and is so juicy and tender.
So there you have it. This steamer is awesome. It has helped me reduce my calorie intake (by reducing cooking oils), it minimizes dirty pots because you can cook an entire meal in it, and it minimizes cooking time. An entire meal start to finish takes 10-20 minutes. How easy is that?
So if you are looking for ways to reduce using cooking oils, or ways to cook food in a different, way, check out steamers!
More Information Coming
That’s all the posts I think I can get out today. Whew. Tomorrow I will continue this series with some low calorie snack ideas. Then, I am going to talk about the 1 other nutrition thing I was doing wrong (this is important)–I suspect many of you may be doing this wrong too.
I may also share some recipes soon. I want to spend a few more posts talking specifically about nutrition and some tips I have learned, and then I am going to talk A LOT about exercise. I may even post some before and after pictures pretty soon so you can see how my visceral fat is starting to drop down.
Hopefully I can wrap this all up within the next week or two and be finished with this series. Stay tuned…
NEXT POST: Low Calorie Snacks
This was yet another post in my recent series of posts how my cholinergic urticaria went from being very severe to tremendously better (basically gone now). If you have not yet read my previous posts, then I strongly urge you to read them first so you can know exactly how this has progressed: