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12 Healthy Kitchen Tools You Need Now

Kate Freeman

Healthy eating is more than just knowing nutrition information — a chef is only as good as her tools.

You may have good nutritional knowledge and be willing to make positive changes to your eating habits but without adequate kitchen skills you’ll be left feeling frustrated and bored. If you can’t translate that nutrition information into a meal on your plate, three times per day, seven days per week, 52 weeks per year, what’s the point?

You don’t need to be a masterchef, or even like cooking, but you do need the ability to create tasty and enjoyable food without too much fuss. Otherwise,  you’ll easily default back to tasty, convenient foods when you’re tired of plain chicken and boiled broccoli.

The truth is, the cornerstone of healthy eating is regular consumption of fresh, whole foods and these foods usually require some kind of preparation and/or cooking. Yes, you can munch on a raw carrot, nibble on sugar snap peas or dip celery in hummus but you can’t eat all fruit and vegetables this way. Other foods such as fresh meats and fish, legumes, wholegrains and dairy products also require a degree of skill in the kitchen to ensure you’re getting the balanced diet that your body needs.

They do say, however, that a chef is only as good as his/her tools and so to help you on your healthy eating journey I have put together my top 12 kitchen utensils for healthy eating. These are tools that aren’t essential by any means, but I believe anything that gives you a hand in the kitchen and makes healthy food preparation that little bit easier is always a good thing. Feel free to comment and add your own favourite kitchen utensils at the end of this post.

1. Sharp knives

One of my pet hates is chopping fruit and vegetables with a blunt knife. It drives me crazy! A sharp knife or set of knives is really important to help you easily chop, dice, slice and prepare your fresh food for cooking or eating. I recommend investing in a good set of knives and sharpen them often, daily if you can.

2. Non-stick pan

A non-stick pan is a great addition to the health conscious kitchen. You only need to add a little oil, if any, to your cooking and these pans are easy to wash up at the end (anything that makes the washing up process a little bit quicker is a good thing in my book!). I don’t have a particular brand that I recommend — at the moment, I’m using a super cheap pan that I bought from the supermarket. It’s beautifully non-stick but I have to buy a new one every 12 months.

3. A couple of chopping boards

It’s really important that meat and vegetables aren’t prepared on the same surface, particularly if the vegetables are being served raw. The best way to avoid cross contamination and ward off a nasty bout of food poisoning is to have a separate vegetable board and meat board. If you’re a little OCD you might like to colour code your boards.

4. Food processor and/or blender

I love making foods from scratch rather than buying a jar or packet. It saves me lots of money and it also means that I limit the amount of salt and other additives in my family’s food. A food processor helps me make pestos, mayonnaise, marinades, pureed vegetables and fruit, crushed nuts and so much more. I also make soup and smoothies in my blender. It’s my dream to have a Red KitchenAid Food Processor (Mr Freeman are you reading this?).

5. Kitchen scales

Kitchen scales are especially important when it comes to weight loss and ensuring you’re eating the correct portion sizes on your eating plan. You don’t have to strictly weigh everything forever, but weighing food when you first get started and doing it periodically brings good food awareness and ensures that you stay on track.

If your portions are too big or too small, you’ll struggle with your weight loss. I regularly weigh portions of trail mix (otherwise I’d just eat too much), meat, chicken and fish, raw rice and pasta and — when I’m baking — I like weighing the ingredients.

6. Measuring cups

Not just for baking, measuring cups are another easy and reliable way to monitor your portion sizes for weight loss. Keep one in your cereal box to measure out the exact amount each morning. Serve up your meals with measuring cups so you know exactly how much you’re putting on each plate.

It’s not about being obsessive or rigid, it’s just about being aware and keeping your portion sizes in check.

7. Zester

I love my zester. It’s super easy to use and I can add the fresh flavour of lemon, orange or lime zest to pastas, marinades, pestos, rubs, couscous and all sorts of dishes easily and without fuss. I use a Microplane Zester/Grater and it’s so amazing. It’s also great for grating ginger and parmesan cheese very finely.

Why is this great for a healthy kitchen? If you can add  flavour and interest to your food without adding calories by using fresh, flavoursome foods, like lemon and lime, you’ll keep your food interesting and enjoyable.

8. Salad Spinner

Washing your fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, especially salad vegetables that you intend on eating raw. A salad spinner is great for spinning your lettuce dry after you’ve given it a rinse and stops you from serving up a soggy waterlogged salad.

If you want to enjoy eating fresh vegetables then they need to be prepared in such a way that makes them crisp and appealing, not dirty or soggy.

9. Reusable containers

Healthy eating sometimes requires a substantial amount of preparation compared to processed foods. It also requires meal planning and organisation to ensure that healthy meals are available when you need them while you’re on the go with a busy lifestyle. One of the best ways to eat well during a busy week is to spend some time, over the weekend, cooking and planning ahead and keeping your fridge and freezer stocked with healthy, re-heatable or pre-prepared meals.

Set out five reusable containers and into each one add one cup of cooked wholemeal pasta. Then add to each container: drained canned corn kernels, diced capsicum, baby spinach, sliced red onion and any other vegetables that take your fancy. Cover with their lids and keep in the fridge. On your way to work each morning grab a container of your pasta salad and a tin of flavoured tuna and lunch is done! Healthy, delicious and easy! If you’re feeling fancy add a squirt of aioli. I know I would!

I use containers to store leftovers, freeze batches of soups and stews. I let my motivated self take care of my lazy self. Believe it or not, there are nights when I don’t feel like cooking and this makes life that little bit easier.

10. Steamer

One of the best ways to eat vegetables is to steam them. Please do not boil them to within an inch of their life. That will not make them enjoyable to eat. What does make them enjoyable to eat is having them lightly steamed and briefly tossed in sautéed garlic and olive oil and finished off with some chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil. Divine.

11. Wok

I love my wok. A few years ago my husband bought me a traditional type wok that you don’t actually wash with soap. You just give it a rinse with water and wipe to clean it. After a while it becomes beautifully seasoned. I can whip up some quick tasty meals in this lovely wok, with crisp tasty vegetables and tender meat. If you’ve created a meal plan and made sure you’ve got fresh vegetables available, stir frying is a really quick way of getting healthy food on the table.

12. Espresso Machine

This is not essential at all, but I wanted to include it because I LOVE coffee. I have an amazing espresso machine from my husband and it’s the gift that keeps on giving, every morning around breakfast time. It’s part of what makes life so enjoyable and I think that a little of what you love is important in striking a healthy balance in life.

I’m also a princess and in the interests of full disclosure, every morning he makes me a double shot espresso latte and I wake up to the aroma on my bedside table. Yeah, I know. What a guy.

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Kate Freeman

Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist and the founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Hub. Kate’s healthy eating philosophy is all about whole, fresh foods, being realistic about life and creating long term healthy eating habits. She doesn’t believe in detoxes, fad diets or quick fixes. Once you’ve finished working with Kate, you’ll be empowered to feed yourself well for the rest of you life! More about the Author