Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The West Bend Steamer; What a healthy meal looks like
We have previously discussed the West Bend Vegetable Steamer. It is wonderful and a real asset to anybody trying to adopt or maintain a whole plant food based diet. It is particularly beneficial for anybody trying to lose weight. Here is a picture of the unit.
There is a small vent on the top lid, which should always be in place. The upper trays can be added whenever. This enables Farley to give the lower tray (in the pictured case, potatoes) a head start, so that everything finishes at the same time. The unit includes a plastic container used to cook things like rice or leftovers in the uppermost section. The steamer works perfectly.
The electronics is what make this steamer special. The unit is protected from overheating or running out of water. In fact, the first unit we received incorrectly sensed that the water level was too low. The manufacturer quickly replaced the unit with one that worked perfectly.
What makes the steamer convenient is the timer and auto-warm feature. You set how long you wish to steam your food (a supplied manual has suggestions). After steaming for the selected time, the unit automatically goes into a warm mode for up to an hour. You can also delay the start of steaming for many hours. This is useful, e.g., for lunch. You can chop your food at breakfast time and set the timer so that the steaming is done for lunch . . . or dinner. It is great to return home to healthy food that is warm and freshly cooked.
Let's face it, eating healthy is more work than going out for fast food. This tool helps level the playing field. We use it all the time with our rice cooker. We set both to finish at the same time.
Another great thing about this product is that the three trays are quite large, as you can see. When we used our second rice cooker to steam vegetables, we could not fit enough vegetables in there. I could easily eat an entire rice cooker/steamer basket of vegetables. I would guess that each of the three trays could hold at least three time the maximum amount of veggies in the rice cooker steamer basket - probably more. The product is easy clean and the trays are safe in the dishwasher.
What makes this steamer so great for weight loss is that vegetables are typically very very low in calorie density. You can stuff yourself with them and lose weight by doing so. This allows a person to conveniently increase their vegetable consumption. Further, steaming increases the water content of the food, and as nutritionist Jeff Novick [check out this guy on Facebook, he is a genius] teaches, water increases the satiety of a food.
It can also cook or warm rice, but we used it only for warming, which works great. You can also use the warming tray for beans, or anything else you might want to eat with your vegetables.
I have never seen this product in the stores. I found it by research, and then on amazon here:
The Amazon customer reviews are all quite positive for this product, and I agree with all those reviews posted to date. The only disagreement is that one reviewer found that stacking the trays was inconvenient. I am not sure what the problem was, since it is very quick and easy to stack them.
The cost was under $80, which seems a lot for your money considering that we have used it every day since we bought it for at least one meal. [See below, it is available from Target.com for $55.] In my next post, I will show a picture of a meal made in timer mode with the steamer and the rice cooker. Farley can answer any particular questions in the comments, since she is the operator. But it has made a large impact on how often and easily we eat lots of vegetables.
Marcela at the McDougall Board was kind enough to post a link to an aluminum steamer that holds even more than the West Bend. It is also cheaper, and she has had great luck with it. Here is the link: http://importfood.com/stacked_steamer.html
This lacks the timer and warmer and safety features, but would be a great option for those more interested in cost and/or capacity and simplicity. Marcela's comments are below.
Naomi confirms below that the same steamer is available from target.com for $55.