The Gear Your Kitchen Needs for the New Year
Maria Marlowe serves up her must-have tools for sticking to your “eat-in-more” resolution.
From Maria: Have you made a resolution to cook more and eat healthier in the New Year? Having the right tools is half the battle—if meal prep is easy and fast, then you’re much more likely to do it more often! Here are my top seven gadgets, gizmos and guides for your kitchen, to help you eat healthier in the 2017:
1. A really good chef’s knife
Chopping vegetables with a dull knife can make meal time arduous enough to consider scrapping it and ordering takeout. A good chef’s knife will make chopping, slicing and dicing a cinch—and perhaps even a pleasure! A good knife can be pretty pricey (they are easily well over $100), but I’ve recently become enamored with the Misen Chef’s knife, which works like a dream for just $65.
2. Stainless steel pots and baking sheets
Non-stick pans have become popular, but studies show pans coated with Teflon may pose health risks when overheated (which, a Good Housekeeping test shows, is relatively easy to do). When the pans overheat, the coating can begin to break down (at the molecular level, so you probably won’t see it), and toxic particles and gases, some of them carcinogenic, can be released. Additionally, using metal utensils that scrape or break the coating can also release these chemicals into your food. Instead, I prefer using stainless steel pots and baking sheets, which you can pick up at a restaurant supply store or online. They won’t chip or break off, and are still easy to clean. I'm partial to the American Kitchen brand; they use the sought-after 18/10 stainless steel interior, which gives you better durability and stain-resistance.
3. High-speed blender
Life won’t be the same after investing in a high-speed blender. Beyond the smoothest, creamiest, soups, smoothies and sauces, you can also use it to make fruit-based ice creams and sorbets (like this chocolate almond butter banana ice cream), turn nuts into flour, nut butters or nut milk, beans into delectable dips and spreads (like hummus or this fava bean bessara), veggies into rice or bread, and fruit into smoothie bowls, like this gorgeous matcha green tea bowl. There are a number of high-speed blenders on the market, but I’ve personally been a huge fan of the Vitamix since my first time using one in cooking school five years ago. I immediately went home and purchased one, and I’ve used it regularly since then.
As I’ve mentioned before in my How to Get Picky Eaters to Eat Their Veggies post, a spiralizer is an inexpensive gadget that turns veggies into spaghetti-like strands—and who can say no to spaghetti? It has become a go-to in my kitchen for quickly creating sweet potato, beet and carrot noodles which I then season, sauté or bake into entrees or side dishes. This is one gadget that will help you consume more vegetables. I’ve tried a few, and find that the ones that use gravity to spiralize the veggie downward versus sideways, like this one, are easier to use.
5. Glass storage containers
Smart home cooks reduce their time in the kitchen by pre-prepping ingredients and making larger batches of food to be used as leftovers, which also makes eating healthy at home infinitely easier. Don’t believe me? Check out this post and see how batch cooking will change your life. Get a mix of stackable square or round glass containers, as well as quart-sized mason jars (which are great for these beautiful Mason Jar Salads as well as soups, sauces and smoothies). The benefits of using glass instead of plastic? You can warm up leftovers in them, as they are microwave and often oven-safe; you don’t have to worry about BPA or other chemicals found in plastic leaching into your food and you can throw them in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
6. The Real Food Grocery Store Guide
All the kitchen gadgets in the world won’t do much for you if you don’t have the delicious, nutritious ingredients to cook with them! When you learn how to select the best ingredients, you’ll realize you don’t have to do much to make the food taste good. Real food—the whole, minimally-processed foods found in the periphery of the grocery store, such as fresh produce, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and organic animal products, not only taste better, they’re generally more nutritious then their highly-processed and refined counterparts. My soon-to-be-released book, The Real Food Grocery Store Guide will teach you exactly how to select the healthiest foods in every aisle of the grocery store (even packaged foods!), without going broke. It will also help you draw the connection between what you eat and how you look and feel. It’s a practical, easy-to-use guide, and a must-read for anyone who does the grocery shopping for their family. Pre-order The Real Food Grocery Store Guide here. Happy cooking!