It took me some time to build up my kitchen, but I finally feel like I have some essential tools that make cooking and food prepping efficient and enjoyable.
Of course I’ve been tempted and have given in to buying random cooking gadgets, and unfortunately many of these seemingly magical appliances now live in the backs of drawers or hidden in cupboards. Now, whenever I think a new specialized apparatus will work wonders, I stop and imagine what a clean, clutter-free kitchen feels like...and that usually brings me back to my senses.
Here are my top five kitchen tools that I actually use and have been well worth the purchase:
#1 Microplane grater
Great for garlic (way better than a garlic press) and for zesting. Most commercial salad dressings contain low quality oils (canola or safflower), high sugar, and preservatives, so I always whip up a homemade one. Garlic is almost always a mainstay in my dressings and the microplane really allows the flavor to release and fuse with the other ingredients. I literally use this tool every couple of days.
#2 A *sharp* knife
Captain Obvious here! Seriously though, you don’t know what you’re missing until you experience the power and freedom behind a tool that can mince, slice, cut, shave, julienne, and cut with pure ease. Your knife is like the extension of your hand, and you don’t want to limit yourself or stop the flow! Your knife should be so sharp that it easily cuts through the skin of a tomato, or when you hold up a newspaper page, it cuts right through. While having a full set of quality knives would be glorious, I just have one handy 6-inch knife and I use it for ev-er-y-thing, even opening coconuts. When choosing a knife, it’s important to try a few out and see what feels comfortable in your hand. There are several styles that vary in handle shape, blade length, and weight. I would highly suggest going to a store and trying out the variety of styles.
#3 Hand-held mandoline
This is a super handy tool that I might not use every day, but it really is perfect for when you have to do a lot of chopping, or want to have uniform slices. It’s great for making a chopped rainbow salad, for instance, and can expedite the process if you haven’t completely mastered speedy knife skills. I also love it when making a raw apple pie and slicing all the apple layers super thin, or for making a raw lasagna and using zucchini slices instead of pasta sheets. I have a small hand-held one that has three options for levels of thickness. I’ve also owned other styles that stand on their own but the hand-held one, for me, is easiest to use and store.
#4 Vegetable spiralizer
This is by far the funnest tool that I have. It’s the BEST for replacing pasta with zucchini noodles or adding colorful strings of beets and carrots atop a salad. There are several different kinds out there (I’ve tried three different ones) but the one I like best is the Paderno Spirooli (I’m sure other brands are great too). This one seems to give the best thick noodle (great for raw spaghetti) and also has two other blade sizes, one for thin angel hair, and another for thick rounds. This tool was a life saver when I was eating only raw foods.
#5 Vita-Mix blender
This machine is hands down the most frequently used tool in my kitchen. I won’t tell you all the amazing facts about the motor, the warranty, and what it can do, but I will say this: once you start viewing it as an investment for your health, you realize how worth it this machine really is. You deserve blueberry and kale smoothies without little seeds or pieces of green stuck in your teeth, as well as perfectly creamy, pureed soups. I mainly use my machine for smoothies, soups, salad dressings, hummus, and nut milks.