My 5 Go-To Kitchen Tools for Healthy, Plant-Based Meals

My 5 Go-To Kitchen Tools for Healthy, Plant-Based Meals

Having the right kitchen tools can make your raw food diet successful by keeping it simple and fun.  Having inadequate tools will turn it into a chore.

We often underestimate the impact that being properly equipped has on our success.  If something is uncomplicated and easy, we are far more likely to do it.  Having the right tool for the right task can make the difference between staying in and getting take-out.

I won’t lie.  I’m a kitchen tool addict.  Some of my favorite family “heirlooms” live in my kitchen – a Le Creuset dutch oven, an electric citrus juicer, and two old glass quart-sized jars with “juice” embossed down the side.

Still, it is the handful of items that I use every single day, multiple times a day, that have the biggest impact on what I eat.  With the following five items, I could set up a raw food kitchen anywhere and eat quite happily.  Here are the tools that I wouldn’t want to live without in my own kitchen:

1. Quality 9″ Chefs knife

This item changed my world.  The simple act of having a sharp, sturdy knife will absolutely make you chop more often.  Smaller knives are not as versatile; I’m not a chef by any means, but 8″ or 9″ is a good size for anything I do.

The knife I currently use and have been happy with is the Wusthof Grand Prix II Chef’s Knife.  A quality knife from a reputable manufacturer might run you over $100, but it is really the only knife you need on a raw or plant-based diet.

My Wusthof chef's knife and bamboo cutting board in action.
My Wusthof chef’s knife and bamboo cutting board in action.

I personally keep it simple and only ever use the one knife – I can just as easily mince a small clove of garlic as chop giant collard leaves.  You can skip the full set, thus saving you money.

If you take proper care of it and store it in a wood knife block or magnetic holder (and not loose in a drawer!), it will last you years.  I’ve heard great things about ceramic knives but have yet to try one.

2. Large Bamboo Cutting Board

I’m embarrassed to say that I ruined an expensive knife by routinely using it on a glass cutting board.  Your cutting surface must have some give.  Slamming a knife down on unforgiving glass or ceramic day after day is going to take a toll, the result being a blade resembling that of a butter knife.  I have also used plastic boards, but it doesn’t take long to build up grooves, making it hard to clean sufficiently and trapping bacteria.

A wood board makes a nice thunk when you hit it and is sturdy enough to stay in one place.  Get a full-sized board – you need some elbow room to properly cut anything.

I currently use the Totally Bamboo Malibu Groove Cutting Board, and I actually have two so my husband and I can chop side-by-side.  Romantic, I know.

If  you are using it to prep only plant-based foods, you avoid any contamination worries – plus bamboo is naturally antibacterial.  A wipe down with a soapy wash cloth will clean it fine.

To avoid cracking and warping, don’t soak the wood.  If it warps anyways, and it probably will at least a little, you can put a dish towel underneath to keep it from rocking when you cut.  To keep it in top shape, oil it regularly. Just coat it with a thin layer of oil and let it soak in overnight.

3. Knife Sharpener

When I’m in other people’s kitchens and use their knives, I realize how important having a sharp knife is to the enjoyment of food prep.  I love chopping, and it’s really easy with a sharp knife!  Paradoxically, sharp knives keep you safer while cutting because they are less likely to slip.

If you own a knife, you should own some type of sharpener; you can use a simple metal sharpening steel, sharpening stone, or a more expensive electric sharpener.  I opt for the combo of inexpensive and easy and use a manual sharpener like the Wusthof Precision Edge 2 Stage Knife Sharpener that I can just slide my knives through without having to worry about the correct angle.  For instructions on sharpening your knives with the classic sharpening steel, go here.  Or, you can just take your knife to get it professionally sharpened.

4. High-speed Blender

I can’t even put into words the love I feel for my Vitamix.  There is not a day when I don’t use it at least once.  Breakfast smoothies, salad dressings, creamy soups, banana soft serve, nut pates for wraps… But, it took me a few years of pining after it to finally make the big purchase.

Until then, I used a Tribest Personal Blender, similar to the Magic Bullet.  It’s less expensive, making it a great gateway-blender.  It’s small – the largest cup they carry is 24 oz – so it’s hard to make a large enough smoothie for a full meal, but it’s great for mixing up creamy salad dressings and will definitely get you started.

My Tribest blender protein shake.
My Tribest blender protein shake.

The blade screws into a cup so when you make a protein shake you can drink it right out of the blender container. This also makes it so fast to clean. My old one finally gave out after two years hard use, but I liked it enough to replace it.  In the past, I have even brought it to use in hotels on road trips!

5. Large Salad Bowl

Chances are your idea of a salad bowl is about the same size as a cereal bowl.  Forget about that – a full dinner salad for a high raw diet fits in a bowl big enough to hold a pound of chopped greens.

It can be a mixing bowl or serving dish you already have in your cupboard as long as it’s big.  Wood or metal is nice because it won’t be as heavy if you like to sit on the couch and hold it in your lap while you eat like I do.  If you eat strictly at the table, you could use a glass or ceramic bowl.

My giant calabash bowl that holds a pound of greens just for me and makes a salad feel like an occasion!
My giant calabash bowl that holds a pound of greens just for me and makes a salad feel like an occasion!

My Pacific Merchants Calabash Bowl is 12″ diameter and 4″ deep, and it holds just one dinner salad, all for me.   It is made out of acacia wood so I look forward to making my dinner salad just so I can use this beautiful bowl.  I also love using the mixing “hands” that I bought with it.

I also keep a 5 quart Squish bowl at the office – it works perfectly for prepping my lunch salad, and then flattens for storage in a drawer.

Salad fruit with kindle
I take my Squish bowl to work and traveling because it flattens for easy storage. No excuses to fore-go a salad!

Really anything that makes you want to eat a salad is moving in the right direction in my book.  These were my own special gifts to myself which I use every day – you can certainly re-purpose something already in your kitchen.

6. Spiralizer

Surprise, there’s a 6th tool on the list!  I had to throw this one in because even though I don’t use it every day, it is essential for creating zucchini pasta, one of my favorite ways to reduce calories and increase nutrition while keeping meals yummy!

For a simple $20 investment, the Saladacco Spiral Slicer can turn “salad” into “spaghetti”.  The texture change makes a world of difference, and it’s really quick and simple to use on zucchini, cucumber, beets, and carrots.

My basic entry-level spiralizer.
My basic entry-level Saladacco Spiral Slicer.

A spiralizer isn’t really necessary, but for an inexpensive price, it can add a little excitement and variety to your meals.  Just like traditional wheat spaghetti, once you make your pasta, it’s all about the sauce.  Check out my delicious recipe for making Zucchini Noodles with Chunky Raw Marinara.

Now it’s your turn.  What are your favorite kitchen tools?  Post in the comments below.

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