Healthy eating takes time. We’re not simply taking a frozen dinner and popping that in the oven. A healthy diet means you’re eating more whole foods, and they take a little more time & effort to prepare. Luckily, with the right tools, you can drastically reduce the effort and time needed. In this article, you’ll read about my top 5 must have kitchen gadgets. These tools not only make the job easier, but they make healthy cooking kinda fun too.
I Actually Use These…All The Time!
I’m a stay at home Dad to 3 awesome kids, and I prepare 3 healthy meals a day (and snacks sometimes too). The must have kitchen gadgets on this list are the 5 tools I personally use most often. In fact, most of them I use every single day.
If you’re making a healthy shift in your diet and do not have any of these handy tools, do not run out to buy them all at once. They are not cheap, so don’t break the bank by buying new supplies for your kitchen. If your family is on a tight budget like ours, these things make great gifts! With the exception of one, each of these must have kitchen gadgets were given to me as Christmas gifts.
*If you do decide to purchase any of these handy dandy tools, you will be supporting this website and my family by using my affiliate links included throughout.
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets #1
This handy dandy tool is the only one on this list that I have bought for myself. It was on my wish list for years. I finally bit the bullet and spent the $300 to purchase one. BEST PURCHASE I HAVE EVER MADE!!! I use this bad boy at minimum 3 times a day, but more often 6-8 times a day.
The Vitamix is a high-powered blender, but it’s capable of doing so much more than just blending. Homemade nut milks, nut butters, frozen ice cream, and even soups can be made in the Vitamix. What separates the Vitamix from other machines is it’s high powered motor, it’s ease of cleaning, and the patented tamper.
Ice Cream in Minutes
The motor is powerful enough to transform any ingredient. Take almonds and turn them into almond butter or turn frozen fruit into a delicious frozen soft serve like ice cream. One of our favorite summer time desserts is adding frozen pineapples with just a bit of water and transforming that into pineapple ice cream. A homemade “Dole Whip” for you Disney fans out there.
You Can Make Do, But…
We made do with a cheap $40 Oyster blender for years, but I would get frustrated by its’ limitations. I’d always have to add more liquid/water than I wanted to get it to blend. With the Vitamix, I do not have to worry about that. Thanks to the tamper. The tamper allows you to push the ingredients toward the blade while it is still spinning. No more adding extra liquid, or turning off the blender several times to stir it up.
So Easy to Clean
My favorite thing about the Vitamix is how easy it is to clean. It’s all one piece, so you can simply take the pitcher over to the sink and spray it out. If you have a really sticky mess, then just add water and blend until the sides are clean.
We personally use this must have kitchen gadget many times a day. Here’s a sampling of things we use our Vitamix for:
- Bulletproof Coffee
- Breads & Pancakes
- Homemade Veggie Purees and Sauces
- Cauliflower Mash
- Homemade Mayo
- Sunflower Seed Butter
7 Year Warranty
This little investment has become ingrained in our lifestyle. Of all the must have kitchen gadgets on this list, this is the one I can’t go without. It’s so entrenched in our lives that we sometimes bring it with us when we go out of town. We’ve had our Vitamix for about 5 years, and it is still going strong.
Another great thing about this tool is it’s warranty. It comes with a 7 year warranty, so even though the price tag is high, you can be confident you’re buying a quality machine that will last and make your healthy cooking much-MUCH easier.
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets #2
A REALLY Good Knife
When you cook 3 healthy meals a day, you have to do an enormous amount of chopping, slicing, and dicing. It’s oober helpful to have a really good knife. Not only does having a good knife keep your arms from getting tired and save you time, it makes you feel like a fancy Japanese sushi chef.
When No One is Looking
Sometimes, I like to toss up a carrot or apple and slice it in half whilst it’s midair (#imsimplyaninja). Of course, I only do this when the kids aren’t around to see this and want to do it themselves, but they may or may not here me say, “hiyah!” from the other room. (true story) I couldn’t do that with a stock knife that comes in the sets.
Don’t Be Scared
If you’re new to cooking, you may be intimidated by a really sharp knife. My wife certainly is, but more cuts and injuries happen from a dull blade. Sharp knives will go right through whatever you’re slicing, but dull edges can slip and then you end up cutting yourself. Don’t be nervous around sharp knives, just slow down and tuck your finger tips under as you chop. My knife skills aren’t the best, but I don’t cut myself now that I have a decent knife.
I typically use one knife for all my food prep no matter what the job. I’ve been using the Victorinox 8-inch chef’s knife. It’s comfortable enough for me to use with smaller projects like slicing apples or dicing onions. At the same time, it’s strong and sharp enough to slice through a butternut squash and cut it into “fries”.
This knife runs about $30. It was given to me for Christmas 2 years ago. It worked wonderfully that first year, but once I had to have it sharpened, it doesn’t seem to keep it’s edge very long. I’ll be looking for an upgrade. People love their Cutco knives, and their free sharpening for life leads me to believe they hold their edge much longer. These knives are easily over $100, so I’ll probably be asking for a Cutco knife for my next birthday or Christmas. Until then, my Vitorionix will do just fine.
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets #3
Clean Pots and Pans
This must have kitchen gadget is not as fun as the first two. When I say clean pots and pans, I don’t mean ones that you just scrubbed clean. I’m talking about toxin free pots and pans. They are must haves because chances are the majority of the food you eat will at some point be in a pot or pan.
You’re spending the extra money for good, healthy food and taking the extra time to prepare it. The last thing you want to do is sabotage your efforts by allowing toxins to leach from your cookware to your food as it cooks. Sadly, a large majority of the cookware you’ll find at the store will be full of toxins. Aluminum, lead, cadmium, nickel, and toxic chemicals from teflon coatings are just a few of the dangers lurking in our cookware.
This Can Be Frustrating
I have to be honest here. This is easily one of the more frustrating things about living a natural lifestyle and trying to reduce the toxins I voluntarily expose my family to. I read about one brand being safe, but then the next article tells me that same brand tested high for lead or cadmium.
I’ve been using Le Creuset cookware based on recommendations from a friend that actually tested various pots and pans. I bought the same ones my friend tested, so I’m confident they are safe. However, even this brand isn’t without it’s controversies though. Apparently, the presence of lead or other metals can vary depending on its origin of manufacture.
If you walk down the cookware aisle at Target, it’s likely 95% of the pots and pans are not safe. Problem is, what can you really do? Well, you do the best you can.
We know for sure that the following materials can be unsafe and should be avoided.
- Aluminum Pans
- Teflon Coated (Anything Nonstick really)
- Copper Pans
In addition, throw out anything that has been scratched or nicked in any way. Most cookware is coated with some type of sealer that prevents or reduces leaching, but once that coating is scratched all bets are off.
Your Best Bet
If the Le Creuset option is too much for your budget, the old fashioned cast iron will do just fine. Sure, it’s heavy and harder to clean at first, but your family’s health is worth it. The only thing pure cast iron cookware will leach is iron, which is actually an essential nutrient. There are a small number of people who need to be concerned about having too much iron however. An easy way to ensure you’re not accumulating too much iron is to head over to the Red Cross a couple times a year and donate blood. Simple fix.
*I’ve linked a few articles on this subject at the end of this post. Check them out if you want to learn more.
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets #4
A Great Big Slow Cooker
The ultimate easy dinner tool for us busy parents! Just throw your ingredients in the pot before you head off to work and dinner is ready when you get home. Too easy! I love my slow cooker, and I use it at least 3 times a week.
Whenever I want a no fuss dinner, I turn to my 8-quart crock pot. I prefer the bigger slow cookers because I can make enough to have leftovers the next day. This must have kitchen gadget is incredibly versatile. Of course, you can make soups, chilis, whole chickens, and roasts. I also use mine to make homemade bone broth, and I even use it to render my own beef tallow (beef fat from my local farmer). Another reason, I prefer the larger cookers.
Word of Caution
Just like the pots and pans, slow cookers have the potential to leach heavy metals. They are made from ceramic or stoneware. This means they are made from clay which comes from the earth. Sounds great, right? Well, anything that is made from clay mean there is a potential for the clay to have heavy metals in it. There are many reports of different metals like lead and cadmium being present in ceramic cookware. Slow cookers are no different.
I delayed buying a new crock pot for months because I could not find a specific model that universally tested heavy metal free. Eventually, I gave up. I decided to take my own advice, and do the best I could.
The best I could do is make sure I am gentle with whatever slow cooker I get. As long as I keep it from getting scratched, I am minimizing the potential leaching of metals into my food. It’s my understanding that the seal or coating on the ceramic will not allow (or at least limit) leaching. Therefore, I’m always careful washing the pot, and I never use metal utensils when serving from my pot.
Don’t Do It
If you decide to cook in your slow cooker, whatever you do, don’t use those cheap plastic liners. Sure, they make clean up a cinch, but they’re also pouring plastic chemicals into your food. Fact, plastic leaches when it’s heated. Fact, slow cookers get hot. Avoid heating anything plastic with your food.
Go ahead, and buy yourself a new slow cooker. No need to buy a fancy digital one or one that you can turn on from you iPhone. You don’t want to add anymore more wireless signals or EMFs to your house anyway. Just buy a cheap $30 Crock Pot. They all cook the same.
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets #5
A food dehydrator is a nice tool to have for your healthy kitchen. It’s certainly not a must have kitchen gadget the same way the others are, but it sure is handy. I use mine at least once a week to make homemade yogurt.
A couple years ago, I decide to ask for a nice Excalibur Dehydrator for Christmas because I wanted to make veggie chips and because I wanted to start properly preparing nuts and seeds.
You can take a variety of veggies and slice them thin and throw them in the dehydrator until they crisp up. I’ve done this with onions, zucchini, carrots, and more. (although the carrots didn’t really get crisp). This is a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies.
Properly Preparing Nuts & Seeds
When I really got serious about using diet to properly promote healing for myself and for my son with autism, I knew I had to change the way we eat nuts and seeds. Thanks to high levels of phytic acid, these foods are tough on the gut and can leach minerals from your body.
Soaking nuts and seeds in salt water can drastically reduce the amount of phytic acid. However, you’re left with a bunch of soggy nuts. Who wants that? Luckily, you can dehydrate them after they’ve been properly soaked. They regain their crunch, and I even prefer the texture of dehydrated nuts to their roasted counterparts.
Can’t I Just Use My Oven?
This was one of my last big wants in the kitchen. I assumed whatever I could do with a dehydrator I could just do my oven. While you certainly can use an oven instead, it’s so much easier to use a dehydrator. You get more consistent results, and there’s less risk for overcooking, burning, or ruining what you trying to make. Remember that time your wife caught the oven on fire? No, is that just me?
I often take plain coconut flakes and transform them into flavored coconut chips in the dehydrator. My wife tried to replicate this in the oven and SHE STARTED A FIRE!!! Apparently, after a half hour the coconut burnt and caught fire. I tell this story for two reasons. #1 to embarrass my wife 🙂 #2 and more importantly, to demonstrate how closely you have to watch things in the oven.
With the dehydrator, you can turn it on, and let it go. Even if you forget about the food and let it cook for an hour or 2 longer than you want and it won’t effect the result too much. You can’t do that in the oven. The temperatures also get much lower. It goes as low as 101 degrees, which makes it perfect for homemade yogurt.
Helping Kids Eat Their Veggies
Dehydrators are great tools to help you make a variety of healthy snacks. I make cauliflower crackers that are really delicious and crunchy! They do take a bit of work, but my son ate an entire 2lb bag of cauliflower rice after they were transformed into a cracker!
I’ve even dehydrated cauliflower rice and then grinded up the crunchy rice into cauliflower flour! Talk about a sneaky way to get veggies into your kids. Cauliflower flour is an easy way to do it.
I’ve made a ton of different snacks in my Excalibur. Here’s a few more ideas for you:
- Veggie chips
- dried fruits
- beef jerky
- fruit leather
- dried herbs
- homemade nut flours
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets:
The 5 must have kitchen gadgets listed above are the ones that I personally use regularly. However, there are 2 other gadgets that I know people love, so I have to mention them here at the end.
Kitchen Aid Mixer
Anyone that has a fancy Kitchen Aid Mixer seems to absolutely love it. It’s not cheap at around $300. For me, my Vitamix makes whipping up a batch of cookies or pancakes so easy, I’ve never really felt the need to buy one. Having said that, I have found myself wanting one. They have a ton of attachments for things like grinding meat, spiralizing veggies, and making pasta. You can even make ice cream in them. While this is not one of my must have kitchen gadgets, it is for many others.
Here’s another of the must have kitchen gadgets that I don’t actually have. However, it seems like I am continually reading about how much people love this gadget. The Instant Pot is essentially a fancy electronic pressure cooker. According to the company, it can do the job of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute, steamer, and yogurt maker all in 70% less time.
It’s the time feature that I think most people are loving about this appliance. You can essentially cook a whole chicken or roast in just a half hour. This can be done in your slow cooker, but then it takes 6-8 hours. Not a problem if you start your roast right before heading off to work, but a big problem when you forget.
I may be adding both of these must have kitchen gadgets to my wish list some day, but for now, I’ll stick with what I already have.
Remember, these must have kitchen gadgets make great gifts!
Remember, don’t feel like you have to run out and buy all of these must have kitchen gadgets. You can be a good, healthy cook with just quality whole food ingredients and proper cooking. The tools here just make the job a lot easier. Work with what you have and add these handy dandy must have kitchen gadgets to your birthday or holiday wish lists.
Must Have Kitchen Gadgets:
What’s Your Favorite?
Do you have a favorite tool you use in your healthy kitchen? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment.