Plant-Power Up Your Kitchen Essential Tools for Healthy Cooking
BWB’s must-have appliances for a green & glam kitchen to make your new normal extra delicious.
Everyone may be tired of banana bread and sourdough by now, but home-cooked meals in the kitchen are here to stay.
During the pandemic, refrigerator doors opened as restaurant doors everywhere closed. When the café lights went dark, oven lights lit up. We all were forced to rediscover the joys – or for some, the horrors – of cooking again. While restaurants have reopened again, recent events have reminded us just how delicious home cooking can be. In fact, gathering around foods we love with people we love is the best comfort food there is.
While fresh produce and great recipes are key ingredients to any good home-cooked meal, the right equipment can make all the difference. A mediocre knife simply won’t cut it. An old cutting board may be doing more harm than good to your organic, biodynamic, local kale. On the other hand, a Vitamix can act as a reliable sous-chef! A good quality knife can save time (and your fingers!). Finally, with a good oven, your food will (almost!) cook itself.
Note: Some of these items may seem like pricey investments, but they can actually help to save both time and money in the long run!
The Beginning of the Blend
Vitamix:The Ultimate Kitchen Sous-Chef
I confess I am in a very committed, loyal relationship with my Vitamix. We wake up together every morning and occasionally share a night cap in the kitchen. It started out as just a drink, but now we do everything together.
This is an essential appliance for any healthy kitchen. You can use it for smoothies, nut milks, soups, sauces, nut butters, pesto sauces, ice cream and more. From the classic models to the more high-tech smart models, all of the machines are easy to use. You can opt for their classic, solid 5200 or splurge on the new smart Ascent model. In fact, the Ascent is more like a chic robot complete with a touchscreen and wireless connectivity. I also recommend investing in some smaller cups or their new “self-detect” blade base, which makes it easy to prepare blends in smaller quantities. Like a chef’s assistant who doesn’t talk back, your Vitamix will practically prepare your magical mélanges of puréed perfection for you.
Like any relationship, we’re sometimes hot, sometimes cold. Your Vitamix can handle everything from piping hot soups to plant-based ice creams in minutes or even seconds. Quickly whip up nut milks, creams and butters, hummus, vegan “cheese” or creamy colorful lattés. Keep summer alive through September with a banana soft serve – just add chunks of frozen banana, nut milk and your flavor of choice such as fresh strawberries or cacao powder. Alternatively, you can welcome fall with a quick matcha latté or sweet potato soup.
Steepin’ It Real in the Kitchen
Breville Tea Kettle:It’s a… Boil!
Before you say anything, I know what you’re thinking. Another machine to boil water for you? Sure, boiling water is as easy as… Boiling water. However, any true tea drinker knows that in order to enjoy the flavors (and health benefits!) of tea, water temperature is key. Plus, warm water is such a staple in any plant-based kitchen that an electric kettle can be used multiple times a day. Use it for quick fixes like softening Medjool dates, pouring over pasta to warm instantly or softening cashews for an instant nut milk or cream.
Breville’s Smart Kettle Luxe is a caffeine drinker’s dream, complete with 5 settings (Black, Green, White, Oolong or French press coffee) and a “keep warm” function.
Some Like It Pot
GreenPan: Sustainable Sautéeing
Sticking to a healthy diet is so much easier when your food doesn’t stick to your pots and pans. GreenPan’s pots and pans have healthy ceramic non-stick coatings made from a sand derivative without toxic chemicals. They are a safe alternative to traditional non-stick plastic. Not only is plastic a menace to society and the planet, but overheating a plastic pan also releases toxic fumes.
These pans are healthier and better for the planet. In addition to their eco-friendly coating, 30% of the energy used at the plant is solar, all aluminum is recycled and all wastewater is filtered and reused. Try the Valencia Pro collection made from recycled aluminum or their latest SearSmart collection, which just launched in June. This collection has GreenPan’s most advanced non-stick coating yet with 40% more room in the skillet, making searing and browning a breeze.
And thanks to the non-stick technology, the pots and pans practically clean themselves after cooking. Their small pots are perfect for cooking rice and quinoa, while their pans are amazing for sauteéing vegetables with minimal oil required.
Kitchen Knives Out!
Kyocera Innovation Black: The Kitchen Slice is Right
When it comes to slicing and dicing veggies, not just any knife will make the cut. Even for meatless menus, a good knife is indispensable in the kitchen. How else will you prepare butternut squash, sweet potatoes or coarse kale?
Good knives can cost hundreds of dollars, but Kyocera ceramic knives are affordable and versatile. Many top-tier professional chef’s knives can be heavy, but Kyocera’s are very light. They are easy to store or even pack for a picnic to eat on-the-go. Their Innovation Black Knife features a ceramic-fused blade, ergonomic uniquely designed soft grip handle and long-lasting edge that doesn’t rust or react to acidic foods. It’s truly a slice above the rest.
CUT. IT. OUT.
Urthware Cutting Boards: As Wood as It Gets
So you’ve made the switch to non-toxic, GMO-free, mostly organic and local foods? Great! Now make sure the cutting board you are using to chop these gifts from Mother Nature isn’t crawling with bacteria and chemicals.
When it comes to a good cutting board, there are plenty of options — but plastic should never be one of them. Urthware boards are made of all natural wood with no toxic materials like petroleum or glue. Each board is coated with 100% organic, food-grade finishes made of double filtered coconut based oil and plant-based ingredients. They are all carved from one solid piece of hardwood and ethically harvested 100% Canadian hard maple. That makes them sound extra hard core and super cool, eh?
Blow Off Some Kitchen Steam(er)
The Kitchen (Re)Vitaliseur
Yes, the benefits of cooking food with hot vapor is truly as good at it steams. It allows the foods, particularly vegetables, to keep their nutrients intact without oil or fat.
I find that steamed vegetables taste… well, they taste like vegetables as nature intended them. But, even just a bit of steam makes them more easily digestible than raw veggies. They retain their original color, taste and freshness; they are also full of vitamins like Vitamin B and B12, thiamine, niacin, biotin and vitamin C and minerals like calcium, potassium and zinc.
My favorite steamer is the Vitaliseur, a simple stovetop steamer designed by a French nutritionist. It regulates the temperature of the steam to make sure it never goes above 95°C. This regulation keeps all of the nutrients alive, cooks food without drying it out and removes unhealthy fats, toxins and surface pesticides. Au revoir! Go full steam ahead with the new “Grand Chef” model or try the “Petit Robinson” model for smaller kitchens and travel.
You can also go for a more high-end model like the Cuisinart CookFresh Digital glass steamer. This model is complete with pre-programmed settings and a travel-friendly portable steamer insert that you can stick in any pot.
All I do is Spin, Spin, Spin No Matter What
OXO Salad Spinner: Turn the Beet Green Around
Everyone tells you to eat your greens! It’s much easier when you wash them well and send them out for a spin to dry off. This retains the texture for not only salads, but also for cooked vegetables. My favorite kitchen must-have is the OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner with a stainless steel base. Just give your fresh greens and herbs a good bath, and add some vinegar for an extra thorough cleanse. Then, push down the salad spinner to dry them off. Note: the process of pushing down the OXO salad spinner repeatedly to dry off lettuce is an incredibly effective stress reducer! There’s no harm in getting rid of any lingering frustration or anger – in fact, it’s highly recommended!
Rebecca Leffler is a Paris-based writer and journalist who, after a career as the French correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and as a film critic on Canal+, traded red carpets for green smoothies. She’s written five books about healthy lifestyle from Paris to NYC and beyond, including Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: Eat (and Live!) the New French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season, and most recently Le Nouveau Manuel de la Cuisine Végétale. Rebecca has pioneered the “vegolution” in Paris, where she continues to organize events focusing on healthy eating, yoga and la vie en rose… And green! You can keep up with Rebecca on Instagram!