I’m not gonna lie, eating clean and healthy is a lot of work. I cook most all my meals at home and make all my own snacks and desserts. In an effort to avoid GMOs and processed poison as I like to call it, I even make a my own condiments like salad dressing, ketchup, spice mixes (taco, sloppy joe, ranch dressing), nut butters, granola bars and pancake mix. You get the idea.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, having the proper tools in the kitchen really help make the job easier and more fun. Here are my essential kitchen gadgets and how I use them.
My most frequently used kitchen tool is a high speed blender. I have a Vitamix and I cannot express my love for this appliance enough. I use it for smoothies at least twice a day and frequently for sauces for dinner like pesto, salsa, and chimichurri. It’s essential for making nut butters and makes awesome fruit juices, apple sauce and my favorite, “ice cream” from frozen bananas. It will set you back a pretty penny, but in my opinion, it is very worth the investment. The seven-year warranty is top notch. When mine started making a strange noise and the rubber gasket started to shred, they sent me a prepaid shipping label to return it, fixed the base and sent a brand new container. It was the longest two weeks of my life being without my Vitamix. There are some things a food processor or emersion blender just can’t do. They sell them refurbished and you can get a good deal on one. I’ve also seen them at Costco on occasion. BlendTec also makes a great one. Here’s a great comparison: http://simplegreensmoothies.com/blendtec-vs-vitamix
One of my all-time favorite kitchen tools is a Spriralizer. It turns vegetables into noodles, amazing. I use zucchini noodles (zoodles) in place of pasta and also in my salads. A girl can only eat so many spinach salads, and let’s face it, leafy green salads get boring. I’ve figured out how to make a salad without any leafy greens, just raw vegetables. You could also use a julienne peeler for a similar affect. This just makes vegetables more fun. There are other, larger versions with multiple blades on it but I don’t have the cabinet space for that one. Mine reminds me of an old school pencil sharpener. You can find them on Amazon and at Bed Bath & Beyond. This is the one I use:
This is one of my favorite salads to make using zucchini noodles and corn (the dressing is amazing):
I use my George Foreman grill several times a week. I have the one with the interchangeable plates (grill, griddle, waffle iron) and with the plates being removable and non-stick, cleaning it is a breeze. Chicken breasts only take 5-6 minutes and you can even throw them on there frozen for a super quick dinner. I also love to make egg waffles for dinner, stuffed with veggies of course. Breakfast for dinner is usually a Friday night meal at my house since it’s quick and easy and provides a great opportunity to use up leftovers from the week. Veggies, meats, eggs, you can cook virtually anything on a Foreman and since it cooks from both sides, it makes for quick work. The slanted plates allow the fat to drip off and you even get nice grill marks. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all the great things you can use the waffle iron for. A few of my favorites are bacon, hash browns using spaghetti squash or potatoes, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, crab cakes, grilled cheese, burgers, cakes and brownies. I use the griddle for sandwiches, I’m crazy about cuban sandwiches, and I just can’t eat a plain old sandwich, it must be grilled or at least toasted. Think outside the box, a Foreman grill is a very versatile tool, and allows you cook healthy foods in interesting ways.
A FoodSaver vacuum sealer comes in super handy for storing food. We buy meat at Costco, then portion and freeze it. It’s great for freezing leftovers or pre-made meals for ready-to-go dinners when I’m in a pinch. Mine came with canisters which is great for storing bulk pantry items and dry goods. It really is worth the investment and helps extend the life of your food and protect it from freezer burn.
I never realized what a difference good knives could make until I had them. My husband bought me a set of Cutco knives for our anniversary one year and Oh. My. God. I struggle with grip strength from carpal tunnel and it was actually painful for me to cut through meats and hard vegetables. Having sharp knives makes cutting not only easier but faster. I probably still would not have good knives had I not seen a story on TV about carpal tunnel and the issues workers in a chicken factory were having. The problem was so wide spread among workers who were cutting and deboning the chicken that it was impacting productivity. They discovered that by sharpening their knives every two weeks, the problem virtually went away. That was when I said I must get some better knives. Do it, you won’t be sorry. I also took a knife skills class at one of the local grocery stores which really upped my game in the knife wielding arena. Cutco knives are primarily sold by independent distributors but I have seen them at Costco as a special promotion.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know weighing and measuring your food is critical to success. A digital kitchen scale is the way to go. It’s not only useful for weighing my meals but for cooking and baking as well, especially if the recipe uses the metric system. Math is not my thing and converting grams or kilograms is not an option. There are two features to look for, the first being the unit measurement that allows you to measure in ounces or grams. The second is a zero out feature that allows you to put your plate on the scale, zero it out and load up on your protein or whatever you need to measure. No extra dirty dishes, yippee.
This last one isn’t really essential or even necessary but more convenient and fun. Full disclosure…I love straws. And since I like my smoothies really thick I use a milkshake straw. I’m usually drinking one for breakfast on the go and it’s difficult to drive and drink from a giant cup. Plus, getting hit in the face with a big glob of smoothie and dribbling it all over myself before I even get to work is not how I like to start my morning. I get mine at Bed Bath & Beyond or on Amazon. They’re cheap, colorful, fun and I reuse mine so one package lasts me forever.
I've been eating clean for 6 years and continue to be amazed at the chemicals and additives that are allowed to be in our food supply. Really, it's quite unregulated and food manufacturers are doing all kinds of scary things to our food that is neither nutritional nor healthy, and in some cases, harmful. Their concern is the bottom line, not our health and wellness. It is up to each of us to be informed and let our voice be heard by where we spend our dollars. Clean eating is not easy or cheap, but a lifestyle I have chosen for myself. There is so much to learn about eating healthy and finding optimal wellness and I continue to try new things to find what works for my body and my lifestyle. I hope these tools will help you on your path to wellness or at least help you save some time and have some fun in the kitchen.
What are your essential kitchen gadgets? What is worthy of your counter space?