You’ve been inside kitchen stores, so you know there’s a tool or product for every food and food-prep technique you can dream up. How badly you need an Onion Saver or a Corn Kerneler is up to you, but there’s no question that to really enjoy plant-based eating, it helps to have some kitchen equipment on hand. The list below is not intended to be all-inclusive — regardless of your diet, cooking and baking require items such as pots and pans, vegetable peelers, baking sheets, spatulas, wooden spoons, and muffin tins (plus, there are still products on my wish list that I hope to slowly acquire and test out)! However, if you have a plant-based diet (especially one that includes raw food), there are products you may need every day that a meat eater may hardly ever touch. Here are some tools and equipment that will make life in the kitchen easier and more fun.
High-Quality Chef’s Knife (Plus a Couple Others)
Cutting fruits and vegetables with a dull knife is like eating a plate of peas with a toothpick — it’s tedious, it’s frustrating, it takes forever, and if you stab hard and miss, you could hurt yourself. The only knives I find necessary are the following:
• a chef’s knife (for all chopping and slicing)
• a paring knife (for things like removing the skin from apples or hulling strawberries)
• a bread knife (which is not just for slicing bread; the serrated blade of a bread knife is perfect for cutting the rind off of melon, making slices of tender tomatoes, and not shredding a soft cake)
Knife prices range dramatically. It’s a good idea to invest in the best one you can afford. Take care of it, and you won’t have to replace it for a long, long time (if ever).
Wood or bamboo is best, in my opinion — a knife coming down on a glass board is a brutal sound; plastic boards could contain chemicals and often discolor as soon as you start cutting strawberries, blueberries, beets, and the like.
Cast Iron Skillet/Dutch Oven
To say I’m obsessed with cast iron is an understatement. Not only is it invincible (and rustic and fun to use), it is excellent at heat distribution and comes with no heat warnings (you can cook over an open campfire if you want!), among other things. I own a skillet/Dutch oven combo from Lodge — it can be used as a deep skillet, a fryer, or a Dutch oven, and the lid converts to a shallow skillet or griddle. Check out other products and see what might work best for you. Don’t think it’s worth getting? You should read article that explains “why cast-iron skillets are one of the best kitchen investments ever.”
You may have a blender, but do you have a high-speed blender? Typically, high-powered blenders have between 900 to 1,560 watts of power. They are able to perform certain tasks that regular blenders can not — such as make truly smooth smoothies (without lumps and pieces floating around), grind coffee beans, make nut butters and milks, create soups and dips, and turn a bowl of soaked cashews into silky cream, to name just a few. If I could only keep one of the appliances I currently own, it would be my Nutribullet 900. I love it, and I use it every day. It is not the most powerful blender out there and it doesn’t hold as much liquid as bigger blenders will, but it does almost everything I need it to do and is very reasonably priced. Before buying any blender, take into consideration the size of your family, how much space you have (you’ll probably want to keep it on the counter since you’ll use it so often), and how much you want to spend. Consider the Nutribullet series, as well as names such as Blendtec, Vitamix, and Breville. (There are myriad articles and videos that compare different models, so maybe check out some of those, too.)
A high-speed blender (see above) is not right for every job. I keep a food processor — along with its several different blade options — around for other tasks such as slicing a pile of Brussels sprouts in seconds, pulsing nuts into small pieces, making pesto, shredding hearts of palm, and putting together a quick pico de gallo.
You only want to lightly coat the pan but you end up dumping a couple tablespoons of olive oil in because, well, that’s how fast oil flows out of a bottle. Having a spray bottle — just a cheap little thing you can get from a gardening store — that you can fill and refill means you can spritz oil into a pan or over a salad and greatly reduce the amount you put into your body.
Nut Milk Bag
Pretty self-explanatory. Having one means you can make any type of nut or seed milk. Plus, you’ll find other uses for it — it’s a great way to squeeze excess water from shredded potatoes, for example. If you can’t find one in a kitchen store, google it and you’ll come up with plenty of places you can buy one online.
The slicer, not the musical instrument. A mandoline is used by running fruits and veggies along an inclined plane into a ridiculously sharp blade (with some protection for your fingers). You get perfectly uniform slices in a flash. Some models have vertical or wavy blades that produce julienne or crinkle cuts. Do you really need one of these things? Nah. Will you call your family into the kitchen to see your perfect potato slices if you do get one? Yes you will.