Make cooking easy with the right tools

NutritionI spend much of my time coaching and encouraging patients to eat healthy and a major part of that is learning to cook nutritious meals at home. Cooking healthy homemade meals can seem daunting at first, but it is simply a matter of learning basic skills and forming new habits.

April 2012 is my 10 year anniversary of eating right for my type (which has evolved from type O to type O nonsecretor to Hunter) and over this decade I’ve gone from eating primarily toast, milk, fast food, and packaged food (can you believe it?) to learning how to prepare healthy meals at home.

One of the keys to successful food preparation is having the right tools! So, I would like to share the most valuable kitchen tools/appliances I own. To equip yourself with all 4 tools will cost you about $126.96. To me, for years of cooking assistance and time savings, this is well worth it.

1. Hand blender

Cost = $63.99 (at Kitchen Stuff Plus, which I find to have very low prices)

Back in 2004 I got a Cuisinart Smart Stick hand blender and it is still going strong today after daily (and sometimes twice daily) use! Last year it started to make some disturbing noises, so I bought a new one on sale (because I feared getting stuck without my morning companion), but I haven’t had to open the new one yet since my old one has hung in there!

Long story short, I think this is one appliance worth a $50-$60 investment. I would recommend this brand over others – I previously owned another handblender brand that only lasted a year or two and was made of plastic rather than stainless steel.

Use your handblender to make a daily superfood smoothie, as well as blending sauces, dips, etc. Use the chopper attachment to chop veggies or grind nuts for homemade nut butters. Finally, use the whisk attachment for beating eggs to make healthy brownies at home!

2. Steamer basket

Cost = $6.99 (small) to $8.99 (large)

This one is new within the last year or so. Before owning a steamer basket, I just boiled or blanched veggies. However, steaming uses less water, is much faster, and retains more nutrients in your food! Simply place the steamer basket in a pot, add water to just below the basket, bring it to a boil and add your veggies. Steam for as long as you like to achieve desired texture. I now do my broccoli and kale for about 1-3 minutes to get the same texture as blanching.

You can steam literally anything quickly and easily! I find the steamer basket gives better results than an actually steamer appliance (which I find less even) and if you use a large steamer basket in a large stock pot, you can steam enough greens/veggies to keep in the fridge to eat all week. It’s all about efficiency and convenience!

3. Rice cooker

Cost = varies (at least $13.99)

Kitchen Stuff Plus has more expensive ones, but I bought my small rice cooker from Canadian Tire for about $10 on sale (regular price $13.99)

This is another recent addition to my kitchen (bought within the last year) and honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t get one sooner! My rice cooker makes perfect rice, quinoa, lentils, etc every time with no work! Simply measure the right amount of rice (or whatever), water (or use vegetable broth for extra nutrients), and seasonings, turn it on, and when it’s done it stops cooking.

Extra bonus: you can make oatmeal in a rice cooker and even steam veggies in some (if they come with a steamer basket)!

4. Indoor grill

Cost = varies (at least $49.99)

There are a lot of different grills on the market today! I think my dad has the Cuisinart Griddler ($99.99 at Kitchen Stuff Plus), I have a George Foreman grill they don’t even make anymore (with a temperature control, which I really like), and there are lots of great indoor grills available via Canadian Tire or Kitchen Stuff Plus.

I’ve now owned 2 George Foreman grills and I couldn’t imagine my life without it! You can use the grill for burgers, steaks, fish, veggies, etc… The temperature control is nice for having more control over what you are cooking, and the cook time is really reduced since you cook both sides at once. For example, a bison burger generally takes about 7 minutes total to cook from frozen. They are also pretty easy to clean – I use only water and a special sponge that works perfectly to wipe the grill down after using and then I just dry it gently with paper towel.

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