While I don’t think eating healthily has to be all that complicated, there are some ‘specialist’ items of kitchen equipment that I’ve definitely come to rely on since upgrading my diet (from ‘regular’ vegan to a whole foods vegan diet), and which I now couldn’t live without. These are:
- A good quality food processor and blender. By good quality I mean with at least 650 watt motor… If you try to make a green smoothie in a cheap blender with less power than 650w, you’ll probably still have (very small) pieces of spinach/kale, which, although it doesn’t seem like very much, will totally ruin your enjoyment of it – it really should be completely smooth so that you can’t tell the greens are in it at all. And especially if you want to make your own nut butter, you need something that is powerful enough to get it really smooth, and can handle being on for around 15 minutes. I did a lot of research before buying one, and everyone kept saying that the Vitamix was the best blender, but unfortunately this was waaay out of my price range (and also didn’t seem to be easily available in the UK). I had also heard that the Magimix was one of the best, and would last for years, but again this was totally out of my price range. Eventually I learnt that you don’t need to spend crazy money, but I would say that anything less than £60 is not going to give you enough power or last very long. The first blender/food processor I invested in was a Kenwood, for around £60, but, although it seemed to be able to cope with blending nuts, dates etc., after about 3 months the motor wore out, so I got it replaced (it was still in warranty) but then it happened again, so I gave up with that brand, and the next time replaced it with a Phillips (for around £10 extra), which is still going strong after 3 years! I still had my heart set on a Nutribullet for my morning smoothies, but then, last year, I was given a knock-off version for Christmas by a family member – the Ambiano Nutrient Blender by Aldi (a UK supermarket chain) which retailed for around £30 (it’s been discontinued since then), so I had very low expectations and even tried to sell it on ebay while it was still in the box (sorry to my aunt if she’s reading this)! Luckily no-one wanted it so I decided to give it a go…. and it’s fantastic! It’s 750 watt so actually more powerful than the regular Nutribullet (600w), which means that it breaks down my green smoothies amazingly, so they’re perfectly smooth, and it can easily cope with all the frozen fruit, dates and nuts I throw in it (in fact, it does nuts too well, as I discovered when I needed chopped cashews for a recipe and was too lazy to do it by hand so chucked them in… and within seconds I had cashew flour 😳 ) If this one packs it in at some point in the future, or if I can’t take it with me when I move abroad and have to buy a new one, I’d go for the Nutri Ninja personal blender instead of the Nutribullet as it’s 900 watt which is super powerful, it’s really affordable now (around £40 on Amazon at the moment), and a friend told me that it’s easier to clean than the Nutribullet as there’s more space underneath the blades. But, of course, the small personal blenders, like the Nutri Ninja, are only really suitable for making smoothies etc. for one person, so you still need a food processor and/or larger blender for things like soup, or if you’re cooking in large quantities.
- A juicer. Ok, this one’s not essential (you can read my thoughts on juicing here). But in case you are thinking of getting one, I did a lot of research on juicers before I finally got one, so I thought I’d share my findings with you to save you time! So, the best type of juicers are cold-press ones, which, because they run slower than centrifugal juicers (the other main type of juicer), don’t heat up as much and therefore there’s less oxidisation, so the juice lasts longer (usually up to 48 hours). There are different types of cold-press juicers, starting from masticating (or slow) juicers, going up (in terms of juice quality) to twin gear juicers, and then finally the mother of all juicers, the Norwalk Hydraulic Press, which costs $2595! Most cold-press juicers start at around £150 (or more, if you go for a more trusted brand like Phillips), but the one that comes most recommended is the Hurom (around £300, and also quite hard to get in the UK). Since even the cheapest of the masticating juicers was out of my price range I debated for ages whether to just wait for a few years and save up, because I really didn’t want to buy a centrifugal one if it meant that I had to drink the juice immediately (and even then, it wouldn’t be as nutrient-rich as cold-pressed juice). But then my parents started having some health concerns and I knew they would really benefit from adding green juice to their diet, so I couldn’t put it off any longer, and instead we decided to all chip in for a centrifugal juicer (not only because we couldn’t afford a cold-press one, but also because this was really the only kind of juicer that was available where we live) – the Sage, which we managed to get for £70 (normally it’s £110). And although the juice doesn’t last more than about 30 minutes (I left it in the fridge overnight once as an experiment, in an airtight container, but it didn’t taste, or look, the same the next day!), it does the job fine and is fairly easy to clean (it does take ages, at least 20 minutes, but I think all juicers take ages to clean actually).
So that’s my low-down on essential kitchen equipment. Investing in a high powered blender/food processor will definitely make transitioning to healthy food so much easier and open up new and exciting opportunities in the kitchen. And, most importantly, you’ll need one for many of my recipes! A juicer is totally optional but depends how hard-core you want to go, and/or whether you think you might need to do a period of detoxing. Green juices make a wonderful addition to a healthy lifestyle… but it’s an expensive addition, so totally depends on your circumstances and where you’re at right now. Apart from those specialist items, everything else I use is just regular kitchen stuff… although if you don’t already have them, I definitely recommend buying a set of steamer pans – I use them a lot.
Hope that helps, happy cooking!
To amazing, life-enhancing technology,