One of my best pieces of advice for people who are new to clean eating as seen in our 10 Tips to Crush Our Nutrition Challenge article is to make sure you’re comfortable in your kitchen.
Sometimes this means spending a little extra money. No, you don’t have to have a kitchen straight out of Martha Stewart’s magazine or spend thousands of dollars to eat healthy. But trust me when I say that spending $50 extra bucks to make your life a little easier is worth it.
As I’ve said before, the more you eat healthy, the more time you’ll spend in your kitchen. It will become a place to not only prepare nourishment, but a place where you and your family will spend time together and a place where you will want to feel at home.
I have a handful of gadgets and products, some of which I’ve had for years and some of which I’ve acquired as I’ve gotten more interested in cooking healthier meals that make cooking easy, fast and even fun — all of which is a must in our household. Most of them are inexpensive and unobtrusive tools that help me prepare my meals from day to day with minimal fuss. Let me know if you have any to add to the list!
8 Products to Make a Happy, Healthy Kitchen
1. Bench Scrape
I got my bench scrape as a wedding gift two years ago, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure I’d use it. However, back then, most of my involvement in the kitchen included grabbing another soda or warming up restaurant leftovers. Now that I cook every day, this little thing makes my life so much easier.
I don’t have a ton of counter space at my house, especially close to my stovetop, so I often use our island to chop vegetables. When you have three dogs, dropping vegetables between the island and the skillet just isn’t an option — there are some things water doesn’t wash off. I use this little doodad to scoop up my vegetables and dump them in my pot or skillet without any hassle or mess. You can buy mine online for around $16 directly from Rachael Ray’s website, but I found these cheaper options on Amazon and Target.
2. Mix ‘N Chop
Every woman in my gym is a Pampered Chef consultant, or so it seems. This is great for me because I love Pampered Chef and the opportunity to help my friends but not so great for my pocket book. However, I try to make it to every party and order at least one or two small things.
Pampered Chef is great for making cooking easier. Some of their things are a little over the top — some things are simple enough as is — but for the most part, I have always enjoyed my purchases. One thing I’ve bought recently that has been a lifesaver is my mix ‘n chop.
Picture this scenario: You come home from the gym and you need food in your belly stat. But, you forgot to thaw out meat or prepare at all. Even in your mid 20’s, it’s like you sometimes still forget you have to eat everyday. Oh, wait, is that just me?
Anyway, so you grab a pack of ground beef and throw it in the microwave to defrost but it’s taking forever and you’re about to succumb to the call of the McDonald’s down the street if you don’t get a plate in front of you pronto. Go ahead and throw that still semi-frozen meat in, because your mix ‘n chop will break it up, helping it to cook evenly and feed your belly. It’s also great for scrambled eggs and frozen veggies. And the cost for making life a little simpler? A measly $12. Do yourself a favor and grab one.
One of the hardest parts about eating healthy for me, especially at first, was giving up pasta. I grew up in the Ramen generation and LOVE any and all sorts of pasta, so it was a tough break. But imagine my surprise when I found out you could turn vegetables into a pasta substitute that was still pretty dang yummy.
I bought my spiralizer off of Amazon for less than $10, but this is one tool that I would like to upgrade soon. The one I have now is handheld, which will run you anywhere from $8-$15. I have my eye on this one from Williams Sonoma but, again, don’t feel like you have to spend a ton of money to make your life easier. Grab a cheap one like this one and if you see that you use it all the time, upgrade down the road.
Also, just a tip from someone who spiralizes a lot — if you’re using zucchini, be sure to pat the noodles dry after you spiralize them. The moisture in the veggies can sometimes make the noodles soggy if you skip this step.
4. Misto Olive Oil Sprayer
. Go out and buy one of these now. They are $9.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond and I probably use mine twice a day.
I’m all about healthy eating because it’s good for me. However, as someone who has struggled with her weight in the past and who comes from a long line of obesity, I do watch my weight. I love to use olive oil while I’m cooking because it’s a good fat, but I still count macros and don’t want to overdo it on the oils and fats.
One of my go-to things for dinner every night is baked veggies. Whether it’s zucchini, squash, okra or Brussels, I love baked vegetables. I use this spritzer to spray just enough olive oil on them to keep them moist, sprinkle on some salt and pepper and boom — deliciousness.
5. Electric Grill
This is one of the pricier items on my list. Even the cheaper electric grills like this one at WalMart are going to be upwards of $30. I got this one from De’Longhi as a wedding gift and I use it probably two to three times a week, especially in the winter.
So many things taste good on the grill. It’s perfect for cooking fish, chicken, kabobs, vegetables and more. It gives you a whole new platform for preparing food without using an oven and we all know that when it comes to eating healthy, options are always a good thing!
6. Food Chopper
Whether you go with the cheap $10 version or a nicer version of a food chopper, get one! It makes EVERYTHING easier, whether it’s dicing onions and garlic, making a salsa or just getting a more finely-chopped mix of meat and veggies. If you want to save you, your knives and your forearms some pain.
Tip from the experts: Don’t use this on a sweet potato. If you’ve ever fired a gun that was twice your size, the recoil is similar. With sweet potatoes, you’re going to have to tough it out with a sharp knife and a strong cutting hand.
7. Scoop Loop
This little devil is another one of my many purchases from Pampered Chef. It’s not that cleaning out bell peppers is really hard, it’s just that the Scoop Loop makes it so easy. It can also be used for other veggies as well, like cleaning out spaghetti squash. You can even use it for fruits as it makes slicing things like cantaloupe and watermelon out of the rind quite simple.
Also, it’s just fun to say, which is always a plus!
8. Cast Iron Skillet
I don’t care if you call your grandmother or drive to Target, you must have a cast-iron skillet in your kitchen NOW. Once you’ve successfully seasoned your skillet, the depths of flavor it will add to your meals is astounding. A cast-iron skillet will make your kitchen arsenal more versatile and can seriously cook just about anything and make it taste better.
Be sure not to wash it with soap and to make sure it’s completely dry after each rinse.
What tools do you use in your kitchen that you just can’t go without?