You know the old saying, “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with other successful people.” Well it’s no different in the kitchen, you’ve got to surround yourself with the right tools in order to create and succeed with healthy eating habits. But just having the tools is the easy part, knowing how and when to use them is key.

Here’s a sneak peek at my kitchen arsenal:

Share pictures of your kitchen aresnal for a chance to win. (see below)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case it’s worth a thousand dollars. Yes, this is nearly $1,000 worth of kitchen equipment. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be cheap, but what you get from these tools is worth 10 times that in the long run, I promise. Here’s why:

Food Scale

This is by far my favorite tool in my kitchen and an absolute must-have in any kitchen. More often than not people will underestimate weight, calories and other measurements associated with food. Heck, many people even underestimate their own body weight and fat, hence the reason why many of you own a scale - to monitor your weight. Personally, I’d throw away the bodyweight scale and get a food scale, stat.

Here’s an example of how it works. Lets take a juicy hamburger... Did you know that you lose an ounce or more of weight after the raw meat is cooked? Don’t skimp yourself on the meat! If you want an 8 oz. burger, the food scale can tell you exactly how much raw meat to cook to make sure you are getting the quantity you are looking for – nothing more and nothing less. Not only does the food scale help you eat the right portion size, it helps you better understand food labels across the board. Tips and things to consider: • Amazon.com is a great place to compare a variety of scales. • Grab a scale that weighs in both grams and ounces. • Get one that is easy to clean and doesn’t take up the entire counter top. • Be sure to grab one with a large surface scale area so you can place a large enough dish on top for larger measurements. (see mine above)

High Powered Blender

(SPLURGE #1) – I should’ve become a sales person for Vitamix, I love it so much. If you don’t know Vitamix, watch some of their videos here, http://www.youtube.com/vitamixvideos or visit www.vitamix.com - these things grind bricks into liquid, no joke. They are the Rolls Royce of blenders. All kidding aside, everyone should have a high-powered blender and it doesn’t have to be a Vitamix. Whichever one you choose, make sure it can emulsify vegetables and other dense foods and doesn’t just stir things up. Trust me, that green shake won’t taste nearly as good if you’re trying to choke down a cup of pulp.

Here are a few of my favorite treats that I usually blend up throughout the week. The Real Deal Iced Coffee: 8 oz of black coffee 8 oz unsweetened coconut milk 1/2 - 1 tablespoon coconut or hazelnut oil, or a combo of both 1 scoop chocolate protein powder

The Fiberus Filler 12 oz water 1 - 2 handfuls of spring mix salad blend 1 handful of cherry tomatoes 1 serving frozen blueberries 1 tablespoon instant coffee OR 1/2 cup black coffee 1 serving of almonds or almond butter 1 – 1 1/2 scoops chocolate protein powder

Post Dinner Sweet 8 oz coconut milk 1 scoop vanilla protein powder 1 - 2 tablespoons shredded coconut 1/2 – 1 serving frozen strawberries or blueberries

Blend, pour in glass bowl, put into freezer, and allow approx. 15 minutes to settle and lightly freeze. Pull from freezer and garnish with a few fresh berries.

Yes, a good blender will make all of your dreams come true. ☺ This is one of the three items where I encourage you to splurge. Tips and things to consider: • Counter space. • Does it do everything you want? • Warranty on the motor or blade? Vitamix offers guarantees starting at 7 years. • Easy to clean?

Pyrex Tupperware and Cooking Dishes

After you weighed your meat, cooked a few more ounces than you can possibly eat, you decide you’re going to take the leftovers with you to work (so you don’t eat out at that crap place around the corner from your office). You’ve got to have a good place to store the goods. Plastic is out, it’s been linked to increasing estrogen in our bodies (guys, no good). Choose glass instead. It doesn’t retain food odor, can be used for reheating and let's all do our part here and help the environment. Pyrex dishes are multidimensional and can be used to bake in the oven or store in the freezer. Pick up an assortment at Amazon, Target or Walmart. My favorite size is the 9X13 baking dish because I can lay down the marinade and chicken hours or a day before, pull it out of the refrigerator, toss it right in the oven to bake, pull it out, dump the marinade, and place it right back in the refrigerator for leftovers without washing a single dish. They are also affordable and easy to clean when the leftovers are gone. Tips and things to consider: • The bake and store assortment is a good value for your money: http://www.shopworldkitchen.com/pyrex/bake-and-storage-set-1088216 • Invest in one designed for transporting fresh greens http://www.shopworldkitchen.com/pyrex/smart-essentials-mixing-bowl-set-1085308

Frying Pans

(SPLURGE #2) – If you’re going to splurge, make sure it’s on a damn good set of All-Clad stainless steel pans. If you’re anything like me and hate buying the same thing twice, then look no further. In particular, you’ll want to go big and get a large frying pan and a small sauté pan to blend up the perfect meal. If you prefer nonstick, you’re in luck. Nonstick pans have come a long way over the last few years and finally got rid of Teflon as a nonstick protector.

Side note: If you’re still using Teflon nonstick pans it’s time to toss ‘em and add a new set of All-Clad to your Christmas list. “According to researchers at the University of Toronto, fluoropolymers, the substances used to make Teflon, release persistent gaseous breakdown products when heated to high temperatures. The released compounds include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), trifluoroacetate, (TFA) and polyfluorocarboxylic acids (PFOs).”

The greatest dimension to a good fry pan is that you can take it right off the stove and put it right in the oven. Guys, take note, this is the secret to the perfectly cooked steak, burger, or filet of fish. Tips and things to consider: • Warranty • Cleaning ability • Oven safe up to 450 degrees

Measurement Cups and Spoons

Not that hard, get them and use them often. Tips and things to consider: • Stainless steel is king

Cutlery

(SPLURGE #3)– The third and final splurge item. I too laughed when people told me that a set of knives were so important, then I watched Top Chef and got my priorities in order. A good knife set makes a huge difference. Tips and things to consider: • I’m no expert here. We own Global and I like ‘em a lot.

For all of your kitchen needs, I absolutely love http://www.surlatable.com and could easily spend as much money there as the US Mint could print me. For the DC’ers, we have one in Friendship Heights and Pentagon Row. I suggest you line up a field trip in the near future.

We want to see what you’re working with and the tools you’re using in your kitchen. Share pictures of your favorite kitchen tools on the Ambitious Athletics facebook page! One lucky winner will receive a prize to compliment his/her kitchen arsenal.

Dedicated to your health, Carmen