When we begin to become more aware of proper nutrition for optimal health, one by one many of our habits begin to change. As we make these changes, most of us are drawn back to our kitchen to re-establish the relationship of making home prepared meals. We begin to rely less and less on take-out food, fast food, and grocery-store-bought processed food and instead opt for making our own wholesome goodness.
One of the biggest factors in how successful we will be when it comes to healthy meal preparation is the state of our kitchen. While there are many aspects to kitchens that make them more or less user friendly, one of these that we will talk about today are the kitchen appliances we should have. Basically put, we need the right tools for the right job.
Although switching over to natural, wholesome, home-made meals may mean that we need to invest a little more time and money in our kitchen, the benefits are well worth it. In the long run, having the right appliances can save us time, increase our efficiency, and help us easily create nutritionally wholesome meals that benefit you and your whole family’s health and well-being.
When my journey into optimal health and nutrition began, a blender was the first—and still is to this day—most useful small kitchen appliance. I started off with a middle of the line, Black & Decker blender, which served its purpose fairly well. That was until I learned about the Vitamix blenders. Since then my kitchen, nutrition and eating have been completely transformed.
A blender is in my opinion a must for creating great, whole food meals because it allows us to create smoothies, shakes, sauces, and various other meals or meal additions that take the place of a lot of processed food. Green smoothies alone, which are a great way to get greens into your day, are reason enough to get a good blender. Blenders allow us to make quick meals from whole foods, and are also extra beneficial if one has babies or young children. As Jessica Seinfeld outlines in her book Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, smoothies are one of the easiest ways to pack in lots of various nutrient-dense foods, that your kids would not eat otherwise.
When it comes to the Vitamix, as much as I enjoyed my previous blender and thought it was “good enough”, I didn’t know the potential of a blender until I got a Vitamix. It is an industrial grade blender that has unsurpassed power. I can now make the smoothest smoothies, hummus, sauces, fresh nut butters, nut milks, soups, purees, spreads and even non-dairy ice-cream from frozen fruit alone! I really cannot say enough good things about this machine, and although it is pricey, which is in my opinion its only downfall, it is so well worth it, and I know the machine has paid for itself many times over in just the year and a half that I owned it. I use my Vitamix 2-3 times each day. In the morning I make a green smoothie, sometimes a fresh nut butter. For lunch and/or dinner I normally make a fresh salad dressing, or sauce, or spread or dip, or hummus. And of course there are those days when I make a dessert or some kind of a soup. All of these take minutes literally and allow me to incorporate so many amazing tastes, consistencies and food choices daily. The machine also acts as a juicer and food processor and as much as I love it already, I have so many more food ideas to get creative with when it comes to this unit. It is because of how much versatility I have found in this machine, how much benefit and how much it transformed my eating, that I also became an affiliate for it, and if you are ever interested in purchasing one yourself, you can get free shipping when you order a Vitamix using this link, which includes the free shipping code.
2. Food Processor
Next to a blender, a food processor is another super versatile and very beneficial small kitchen appliance. It can quickly chop your fruits or vegetables into various sizes or pieces. It can mix, puree, and blend all sorts of food items, for all sorts of meal ideas. Next to a blender, a food processor was the next first thing I bought, when I became aware of optimal nutrition and preparing one’s own meals from wholesome, natural food. I went with the Black & Decker Power II Pro 800 watt food processor, and not because I favor Black & Decker products, but simply because they are good enough quality to get one started in the kitchen, at entry level prices. And although this is no phenomenal food processor compared to the high end ones that are out there, it has served me well for the past 4 years and is still going strong.
So although I technically do not need a food processor having the Vitamix, I kept this one on and I probably will get a high end food processor (something probably from Cuisineart) when this ones retires. Either way I like to have a separate food processor unit for the various food combinations I make, as some things are easier to make in a short, wide vessel. I use my food processor the most for shredding vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and beets, and also for making all sorts of raw, vegan desserts. It literally takes minutes to use it and quickly provides various meal creations for us.
Another small kitchen appliance that helps us optimize our nutrition in the healthiest and most efficient way, is a juicer. Many people still rely on store bought juices, which no matter how natural are each processed in their own way. From various additives in them, to being pasteurized, nothing replaces the richness and health benefits of fresh, whole nutrients, and especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. When it comes to juices, the other concern is that they try to provide the benefits of fruits and vegetables, while being stripped of their fiber. This is why in an optimally healthy diet, juices are most often and only consumed from vegetables. This way we avoid the problems of juices that come with the simple sugars alone and often empty calories.
Today, many people on a health journey are well aware of the concentrated benefits of vegetable juices. A lot of people use regular juice cleanses or juice fasts, or simply enjoy juicing to easily add more vegetable servings to each day. In this sense, juicers are a wonderful addition that can quickly and easily provide us with delicious products, packed with vital nutrients. In the end, no store bought juice can ever compare nutritionally to a fresh, home-made juice.
Not being a fan of fruit juices, but rather preferring to eat whole fruits or fruits in smoothies with its fiber, I have thus far avoided getting a juicer. However, in the last year especially I have fully understood the benefits of vegetable juices and began to research a good, top of the line juicer. The journey was not easy, as each one seemed to come with its own pros and cons, a wide array of price tags. In the end, I put off my search for now, as the Vitamix technically works as a juicer too. It blends everything to the cellular level, and comes with a nut milk bag, which is then used to strain the blended liquid through it, only allowing out the juice. Yes, this cab be a tedious process, but it all depends on one’s needs and what one gets used to. Nevertheless, whether you get a juicer or not, the benefits of fresh vegetable juices are certain to be a great addition to an optimally healthy lifestyle.
4. Toaster Oven
When it comes to ovens, they are really good at doing 2 things. One, is wasting a lot of energy, thereby shooting your energy bill up nicely and two, nutritionally killing your food. Oven cooking also takes a long time in most cases and is just not efficient no matter how we look at it. Although I own a stove, I have yet to use my oven. When we needed to buy new appliances last year, knowing that I would not be using my oven also allowed us to save lots of money, as I was only interested in a decent range top. This is however where a good toaster oven comes into play.
A toaster oven can have 3 versatile uses for helping us create great home cooked meals. It can toast whatever you need toasted, thereby eliminating the need for a toaster. It can re-heat certain items, helping to eliminate the need for a microwave. And finally if you really need to, it can cook things for you like an oven, minus the huge energy surge and bill (of course assuming it is not some huge food item). I have owned a simple Black & Decker toaster oven for about 4 years now and have gotten so much wonderful use out of it. There are weeks where I may use it several times a week, like for toasting a home made pizza. Then there may be times where I don’t touch it for weeks. Either way it is a relatively inexpensive and very useful small kitchen appliance to have around.
This is another super useful kitchen appliance, but one that I normally would say should be the cherry on top, where purchases of small kitchen appliances go. Many who make all of their own natural, home-made meals and those in the raw, vegan community swear by these machines and how they increase their ability of food production and preservation. You can make your own dried fruits, instead of eating the sulfured, oiled, artificially induced ones from the stores. You can make your own vegetable chips, crackers, crisps, breads and a whole slew of other food ideas—all which of course are considered raw, keeping their nutritional integrity in tact.
However, the downside to these machines is that they can be pricey, take up a fair bit of space, be loud and use a lot of energy. So before you get one, make sure you know what it is that you will be using these most for and whether the pros outweigh the cons. I, for example, do not own a dehydrator at this point and am not sure if I ever will. I thought several times of buying one as yes, they would have made eating some grain products in their raw form more convenient and allowed me to get even more creative with my food. However when I considered what I would need it for and weighed all the pros and cons, I realized that I either don’t need to eat those products in a dehydrated form or can make similar substitutes in other ways, such a sun-drying something. So again, this one won’t be a make it or break it item in the kitchen where optimally healthy meals go, but if you do have the resources for it, it can definitely be a wonderful addition. If you do end up going with a dehydrator, upon my research it appears the Excalibur line of dehydrators is the best way to go.
In the end, I definitely hope that you have as much fun in the kitchen getting creative with whole, natural food, as I do in mine. I never thought this would have been my path, where I have a wonderful love affair with making wholesome, delicious meals. But this is what happens when we fall in love with real food, our bodies and health to enjoy life in optimal wellness, vitality and joy!