Gifts for the New Cook: Weight Loss Starts in the Kitchen

When people ask where to start with weight loss – I say the kitchen. Today we open five times as many restaurants as we do grocery stores, a reverse trend from the 1960’s.  The result is that people eat out more, tend to “clean their plates,” and are eating larger portions then ever, leading to obesity. For 25 years having been in the field of weight loss the one common theme about successful patients it they change what and how they eat. But even more significant, they learn to cook.

Cooking means you take the fate of your food into your hands. There is less food-borne illness, fewer strangers handle your food. You learn what good food is, you learn new foods, and it truly changes what and how you eat.

With that in mind- if you are thinking of weight loss, think this: you need to start cooking. So here are my top six things for the new cook.

Sous Vide
Did you have dry white meat for Thanksgiving- well, the turkey wasn’t cooked Sous Vide. For everyone who is starting to cook, I recommend cooking by this method.

While Sous Vide sounds “fancy” or “Modern” sous vide cooking is the most reliable method of cooking.

Sous Vide provides precise temperature control.  Think of this- ever over-cook something (like the Turkey)? Are you afraid of going into the kitchen? Are you afraid of where to start by cooking, and it seems easier to “go out” or “order in.” Sous vide will allow you to make any number of great foods from chicken breast that is moist and juicy to the perfect steak. And next year you will be doing your turkey via Sous Vide. Units are inexpensive and some are pretty fancy.

Last year my son helped me cook a turkey breast Sous Vide – here is the video

JJ Cooks: Turkey Breast Sous Vide from Producergirl Productions on Vimeo.
The prices of the units range from $170 on up, depending on what features you want. If you have limited space, or are cooking for one then I recommend the Codlo unit you can see it from my blog: Adapating slow cookers and rice cookers to sous vide.  The photo below is a rice cooker that has the Codlo adapter to it – so for small spaces, this unit is great. It is also great if you are cooking for one.


Now you can use your rice cooker or slow cooker as a Sous Vide with this simple device.

Now you can use your rice cooker or slow cooker as a Sous Vide with this simple device.

Food Processor
Cauliflower mashed – there, I said it. Make it easy with a food processor. If you haven’t seen the video check it out here.

Cauliflower Mash from Producergirl Productions on Vimeo.
There are many things that a food processor is good for – and you will find it does a great job of chopping, pulsing, and becomes a great tool in the kitchen as you learn to do things.


You need a good chef’s knife that is sharp, and perhaps learn to cut a few things like onions, garlic, etc. Of course you can buy pre-minced garlic in jars (I do) or pre-cut onions (I don’t because they spoil faster). But a good knife is key. You can spend a lot of money on a knife, and you will need to learn a few skills about how to use a knife to cut various items.  I recommend a Chef’s knife, a serrated knife (best way to cut tomatoes) and a pairing knife to start out with.

A good knife set is something you can pass on to your children. Better yet- pass on the joy of cooking also.

A good knife set is something you can pass on to your children. Better yet- pass on the joy of cooking also.

Some like the super Ninja but I like the Vitamix. These are great for making soups, or protein shakes, or good smoothies. Vitamix has a stronger power source and is the unit that most chef’s use in professional kitchens. If you like your morning smoothie- this is the machine you want. If you ever have to go to some form of a liquid diet for a bit, this makes it easier.


When you commit to this you want a blender that has the horsepower to do the trick. Vitamix has the horsepower and variable speed


Non Stick Pan
A good non-stick pan. The work horse in my kitchen. You can get inexpensive ones, and they will last from one to five years. I have about six of these and use them daily.

A good non-stick skillet like this All-Clad will last a lifetime. I use mine daily

A good non-stick skillet like this All-Clad will last a lifetime. I use mine daily

 Instant Read Thermometer
These thermometers can read quickly the temperature of your food. They are much better than the old fashioned dial thermometer, more accurate, and give you a reading in just a few seconds. If you oven-cook you cannot rely on time, but must check the temperature.

The instant read beats the old fashioned ones.

The instant read beats the old fashioned ones.

You can find my favorite tools on Amazon.

The most important thing is to start cooking. But as long as you are going to be in the kitchen get some good stuff from Santa.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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