Are you a health enthusiast but have a busy lifestyle? Want to cook healthy meals and don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered with our 3-part series about how to equip your kitchen with essential gadgets to make your life both easier and healthier.
Here are our favorite kitchen essentials that will go a long way in your healthy cooking endeavors:
1) Good chef’s knife [0:15]: this is a multipurpose knife, for tasks such as chopping and slicing. The only caveat is paring may be best left to another knife. Also, a sharp knife is safer than a duller knife, because you don’t have to apply as much pressure and risk it sliding and injuring your hand. Some brands we recommend are:
a. Victorinox Chef Knife
b. Wusthof Knife
2) Cutting mats or boards [1:01]: the mats have some advantages, despite being plastic or silicone. Here are some pros to having cutting mats:
a. They tend to be bigger than boards, therefore they offer more workspace.
b. They fold and you can dump ingredients into pan (no spills, no frills).
c. Can have designated ones for different food groups, and can easily be stored after use.
d. They take up very little room and can save space in a small/cramped kitchen.
e. They are easier to disinfect and reuse than wood/bamboo boards.
f. They won’t dull your knife like a glass or hard metal cutting board might.
**If you only use your cutting board for plant-based meals, then a wood or bamboo board may be a better option in terms of sustainability. The cleaning/disinfecting tends to only be an issue with raw animal/fish products, which may harbor bacteria.
3) Pot, wok or large saucepan (with lid) [2:10]: useful to make large quantities of veggies at once. Introducing a lid will enhance cooking by steam in addition to the source of heat at the bottom of the pan. Since not all the food will make contact with the heat surface, the meal won’t come out browned, but more like a stew. We recommend stainless steel or copper as a sustainable and health-conscious material for this cookware. (More on this in our next segment, stay tuned!)
4) Steamer [2:31]: it’s cheap but essential for healthy steaming of veggies. Simply place in a pot filled with a couple fingertips’ worth of water at the bottom, and cover with lid to trap the steam as it evaporates upon boiling. Turn stove on and cook until the food is cooked to a soft consistency, adding more water as it boils off, if necessary. Again, it’s best to go with stainless steel for this one.
5) Colander / strainer [2:50]: basic, but essential to wash your produce before cooking or prepping! Use it for:
a. Washing berries, grapes and any other produce (chopped or whole).
b. Rinsing beans and grains (rice, etc.).
c. To catch noodles/pasta when pouring excess water from pot after cooking.
*Budget tip: you can use your steamer as a strainer!
6) [Mixing] Bowls [3:46]: are definitely essential items in a kitchen! Use stacking bowls of multiples sizes for easy storage, or stick with a large bowl if you must pick a size. Bigger is better since you can fit more food in it, and it can serve for a wider array of uses. You will need bowls to:
a. Prep food
b. Mix ingredients/sauces, toss salads or massage salad leaves
c. Serve salads, soup, main dishes, desserts
7) Measuring tools [4:46]: namely spoons and cup(s), so you can follow healthy meal recipes to a T!
a. Square-shaped spoons are more convenient for getting into spice jars.
– Norpro Square Measuring Spoon Set
b. Clear measuring cup with markings for batch cooking, and a lid to double as a shaker/blender.
– Multi-Unit Measure-n-Pour Cup w/ Lid
8) Food processor or blender [7:19]: a food processor is better suited for pastes and more solid spreads, while a blender is best for more liquid blends and shakes. Having at least one of these will be helpful for a variety of dishes, including:
a. Nut butters
b. Spreads: hummus, tapenades, pestos
e. Soups and sauces: handheld/immersion ones also good tools for these
f. Baby or elder food
Bio for Marina and Nataliya
Marina Buksov (a.k.a. Dr. Marina Book at RawFork.com), is a registered Doctor of Pharmacy, Health Coach/Nutritionist, Clinical Herbalist, and lifelong learner of the Healing Arts. Marina uses her multidisciplinary background to educate and consult patients about the least invasive and most natural methods for healing the spirit-body-mind. When she is not studying, Marina likes to dance, paint, and tinker with various concoctions (tea blends, meals, DIY projects).
Nataliya Ostrovskaya is a tutor of many disciplines, from high school English and Math, to Test Prep, to Accent Coaching for adults. She has followed a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet for six years — including a brief stint producing her healthy Date Me! truffles and snack bars. Nataliya loves sharing tips and hacks for how to incorporate healthier eating habits and a healthier overall lifestyle for the busy, everyday person.
Marina and Nataliya’s paths crossed at an adult gymnastics class in Brooklyn. Given that neither of them goes down conventional paths, they vibed immediately. Nataliya invited Marina over for a pot of lentil soup one evening after class, and the rest is history.
Originally published in Jejune Magazine.