If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, cooking is a must. Cooking allows you to choose exactly which ingredients, and which energies, go into your food. It’s is an act of self-care that can be rewarding and even sacred, but #reallife—in the form of competing obligations and pressed time—can complicate how we experience it. By planning ahead and getting organized with the right tools, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the time you spend in your kitchen, while also providing yourself with the necessary energy to live your best life. And isn’t that what we’re all here for?
I became a cook after an illness twenty years ago. The rewards were so great that I never looked back. I’d love for you to have a great experience in the kitchen, too, so I’m sharing my list of ten essential kitchen tools for healthy cooking. These are the gadgets beyond basic pots, pans, and utensils, that got me healthy, kept me cooking, and helped me fall in love with food again and again. These tools make cooking more interesting and fun, save time, and will ultimately help you get more delicious, healthy food onto your table.
1. Food Processor
Once you start playing around with a food processor, all kinds of new avenues open up. This handy dandy appliance is great for making all sorts of easy, healthy-ish desserts that don’t require a stove, like vegan ice cream, vegan brownies, and energy balls. These kinds of desserts make avoiding processed sugar easy (I promise!). A food processor is also great for grating vegetables and cheese, and making cold soup, pesto, salsa, vegan cheese, dip, and nut butter.
Fresh vegetable juice is a great way to get a huge shot of vitamins, minerals, and plant enzymes, and it’s easily digested by most of us. The newest masticating slow juicers yield more juice, preserve more plant nutrients, and are quieter than older centrifugal models. And if you find yourself with a refrigerator full of vegetables and little time on your hands, your juicer will become your best friend. (Check out these recipes to get you started!)
3. Slow Cooker
A slow cooker makes cooking , , and effortless. Plus, its gentle, sealed cooking mechanism preserves nutrients. Using a slow cooker can be simple: put everything in, turn it on, come back later, and it’s done; other recipes require two separate additions of ingredients. But either way, you don’t have to worry much about tending the pot or overcooking, and the results are succulent and delicious. There’s only one caveat: In the past, some slow cookers were found to contain that could potentially leak into food. At the moment, don’t show up on the FDA’s of lead contaminated products. However, if you’d like additional assurance, along with faster cooking times and more options, go for a cooker with a (my personal favorite). Clay versions and other have added options like rice, yogurt, steam, sauté, warming, and pressure cooking.
4. Immersion Blender or Blender Stick
This is wonderful for blending soups and sauces right in the pot. You don’t have to worry about transferring soup to a blender, or finding a blender with a safe glass jar for that matter. Also, please remember to choose an immersion blender with a stainless steel arm to omit concerns about plastic leaching into your food, and always be careful of the sharp blade.
5. Salad Spinner
This device not only makes cleaning and prepping leafy greens easy, it will help make your vegetables cooked-to-perfection delicious. You can rinse, dry, and store vegetables in the refrigerator for later use, all in the same bowl. Well-dried vegetables are a must for salads and sautéing. Even a small amount of moisture will diminish flavor: it prevents dressing from sticking to salad leaves and makes sautéing impossible. If you try to sauté moist vegetables, you’ll inadvertently end up sweating them, which is fine, just not when you mean to sauté.
During spring and summer, a steamer is particularly useful. After a diet of heavy, in the winter, those of us who eat seasonally welcome the cleansing foods of spring, followed by the lighter foods of summer.As the earth warms with the changing seasons, gently steamed foods feel just right for the body. If you’ve ever steamed garden fresh cabbage, carrots, and scallions with a little ginger, and adorned them all with a generous dollop of coconut oil and some good salt, you’ll know exactly what I mean.I love double decker stainless steel steamer pots, but inexpensive collapsible stainless steel inserts are also great.
If you love nuts and seeds, try this appliance. Nuts and seeds contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. These anti-nutrients can interfere with digestion and nutrient absorption. neutralizes these anti-nutrients. A dehydrator is also great for making and and —and just like with some of the multi-cookers I mentioned above, you can make yogurt in the larger versions.
8. Three Sharp Knives
This is a small thing that makes a huge difference: sharp knives will make your life in the kitchen easier and more pleasant. After all, no one wants to wrangle a watermelon with a dull knife. Plus, with sharp knives, your food tends to look prettier. And it should come as no surprise that we humans tend to gravitate toward and are more satiated by nice looking food. A large, good quality chef’s knife, paring knife, and bread knife are likely all you’ll need, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. Choose high-quality knives and you’ll have them for the rest of your life.
9. Mortar & Pestle
When we buy spices, it’s hard to know how old they are. Grinding your own spices makes it more likely that you’ll end up with potent aroma and flavor. You can use a coffee grinder but you have more control with a mortar and pestle, plus the option of grinding a small amount if you wish. This is one of those tools that won’t necessarily save you time but will add to the richness of your food. Many great cooks believe fresh herbs taste better when ground by hand for dishes like pesto and guacamole.
10. Safe Storage Containers & Wrap
Plastic contains chemicals like phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) that contaminate food and end up in our bodies, potentially disrupting our endocrine systems. In order to lessen body burden, store food in glass and choose a plastic wrap alternative whenever possible.
Thanks for reading! Did I forget anything? What else would you add to this list of ten essential kitchen tools for healthy cooking?