There is no doubt that having a range of "healthy eating equipment" can make your life easy when cooking low fat meals. Those hooked into a healthy eating life style know that getting the right tools will help them cook their meals with as little fat as possible (but with the maximum possible flavor).
There are many kitchen appliances and gadgets to choose from and, unless you do your homework thoroughly, instead of buying the best healthy eating equipment for the best value, you may end up with a lemon. But if you do your homework, you may end up with a healthy cooking appliance that will do the job properly, and will last you for a long time.
That's where I can hopefully offer you some guidance. You see... I've done the homework for you already!
Today, I want to talk about one item that has been surrounded by market hype in the last couple of years: The Low Fat Electric Grill.
The low fat electric grill (or BBQ) has been relentlessly pushed to the consumer as the ultimate healthy eating appliance mainly via TV infotainment.
You know the drill: You are watching late TV (for whatever reason), and watch some man or woman (typically slender) telling you that buying this or that product will change your life because of its almost-magical properties to get rid of excess fat:"Ring now, don't send any money!" Sounds familiar?
The low fat BBQ has been advertised as the latest development in healthy eating equipment and low fat cooking.
They show you how, when grilling meat and vegetables in these BBQs, you get rid of a large amount of fat that otherwise may have ended in your buttocks or your waist (or all over your body!).
This is normally followed by testimonials of gorgious looking people saying that - in the past - they were overweight, and that since they started using this state-of-the-art healthy eating piece of technology, they started losing weight... almost instantly and effortlessly.
Should you buy one? Would it "work" for you?
It all depends!
In reality, there is no much difference between using one of this wonder electric BBQs and using your own oven broiler. Depending on the amount of fat that the piece of meat you're about to cook has, you would probably end up with the same amount of fat either way.
So, if you want to purchase one of these electric BBQs because you think your meat will contain less fat when cooked, you are right. But you would have the same result in a normal broiler. If that is the only reason for you to buy one of these healthy eating gadgets, you will be better off saving your money and using what you've got in your kitchen.
Another important point to consider is that meat cooked in these electric broilers do not end up tasting like "real barbecue" meat .
You see, the peculiar flavour you can taste in properly cooked meat comes from the smoke and the flame typical of fuel barbecues. Electric grills do not produce flames or smoke (unless you let your meat burn to charcoal... by the way, I don't advise it, as this won't enhance the flavour. ;-)
On the other hand, from a convenience point of view, getting your hands in one of these grills may be a good idea: They are "portable" and easy to clean, and they do the job in any event (although, as I said earlier, not better than what you've got in your kitchen already).
Ok. Let's say that, for whatever reason, you want to go ahead and buy a good electric broiler. What features do you look for? How do you choose what's best for your needs?
To answer these questions, you should start by finding out what's available.
There are 2 types of electric broilers: Grill Presses and Open Grills
In my opinion, if you are going to buy an electric grill, the Press option is the best for you because it is the most versatile model: you can use it as grill or as a sandwich press.
When looking for an electric grill at a store (or online), you should ask the following questions:
1. Has it got a "heat-protected" handle?
Although it is logical to think that an electric grills get very hot, it is amazing how many manufacturers (and consumers) do not often give due consideration to this feature.
A good design will include a heat-proof handle so that you do not burn your fingers when using it (ouch!). But, as I found out during my research, many manufacturers rely on you using a kitchen mitt to handle a hot grill. The problem is that not many people remember to do this... till they burn their fingers.
2. Does it have a removable drip tray?
This is an important feature as you want to be able to remove the tray and empty its fatty contents as you cook. A fixed tray is still good, but will be uncomfortable to use in the long run.
3. Can it be stored upright?
Storage is another feature not many folks give sufficient consideration to. If the grill design does not allow you to store the gadget upright, you may find it difficult to store it in your cupboard. Saving space in your kitchen should always be compulsory, as it is likely that you'll keep getting other useful "healthy eating equipment" later on.
4. Has it got a temperature control knob?
Most electric grills come with fixed temperature. That's ok if you want to use it for press sandwiches, foccacias, turkish bread sandwiches, and the like. But if you want to make the most out of your buck, you are better off with a grill that has a variable temperature control.
5. Has it got a flat section and a grill hotplate section?
Remember: you want your electric grill to be as versatile as possible. You use a flat plate to cook eggs and sandwiches, and the rigged/grill plate section for meat and sausages. Having one and not the other is not fatal, but having both is very convenient.
6. Are the plates "removable"?
Not many electric grills have this feature. Most of them have fixed plates. However, if you find a brand and model with detachable hot plates, this would be a "plus" tick, as cleaning is much easier when you are able to separate the plates.
7. Is it "dishwasher safe"?
And speaking of cleaning... this feature is only applicable if you have a dishwasher. There qreactually 2 questions you must ask: First, whether it is dishwasher safe, and second, whether it fits in your dishwasher!
Personally, I don't like the idea of washing electric appliances in a dishwasher. I'm always mindful that it may kill the gadget, or kill me by electrocution! But, believe it or not, some new models are entirely "dishwasher safe" (and their warranties protect you against any malfunction arising from washing them that way). And if using your dishwasher is important to you, this would be a big "plus" for you.
But you also have to mindful of the grill's size.
A friend of mind did not think of that, and bought the biggest electric grill he could find, and he even made sure it was dishwasher safe. However, after using it for the first time, he found out he could not fit it into his dishwasher because of its size! Of course, that's not a valid ground to ask for an exchange or refund. He's stock with it.
I hope this guide helps you find a good grill model for your needs.