Do you want to know how to make healthy eating easier? Are you confused by the array of gadgets available?
As a nutritionist, I am often asked by my busy clients how healthy eating can be made easier. Healthy eating need not be an uphill task. With a little planning and these 4 kitchen appliances, knocking up delicious and nutritious dishes and snacks can be as easy as pie (a nutritious one of course).
So here are my top 4 appliances to help you to make easy, awesome meals for you and your family.
1 Vitamix blender
My number one item to save in a house fire! This is an awesome piece of kit, capable of far more than just making smoothies. Thanks to its friction and power (beware: and the accompanying noise), it makes the smoothest dips and smoothies you could wish for, breaking down fibrous vegetables such as kale with ease. Its intense motor speed means that it takes seconds to minutes to create most servings. You’ll never hand-grate carrots or nutmeg again!
It does come with a costly price tag of around £450. But if, like me, you use it daily and for all its functions, it is worth every penny. It’s an investment, you can save a packet on buying shop-bought nut butters, humous & pates. Best of all, to clean it you just add washing-up liquid, water and blend!
Use it for:
• Smoothies (in 30 seconds to 1 minute, makes light work of any veg)
• Raw soups (in 6-7 minutes, heated by friction, but is still uncooked so retains maximum nutrients)
• Nut butters (1-2 minutes, so smooth and so much cheaper to make yourself)
• Nut milks (in 2 minutes, as above)
• Crushing ice (in 5-10 seconds)
• Dressings (in 10 seconds to 1 minute)
• Grating carrots, hard cheeses & whole spices (in 3-10 seconds)
• Dips (in 1 minute, smooth humous, mayonnaise, pesto & mackerel pate for example)
• Ice creams & sorbets (frozen bananas to ice ‘cream’ in 40 seconds)
• Powdered sugar (make your own icing sugar from non-refined coconut sugar, xylitol or similar in 10 seconds)
Try eBay for a second hand Vitamix. Alternatively, a more affordable NutriBullet retails from £50 to £130, although it is limited in size and functions compared to the Vitamix. Nonetheless it’s a great starting point for making smoothies.
Jane’s summary: Ideal for going beyond smoothie making and a real time saver to create delicious home-made recipes.
2 Slow cooker
Not used as frequently as my Vitamix, but I wouldn’t be without this useful and very affordable kitchen appliance. It really is the busy person’s dream appliance, yet is sadly underused these days. Long slow-cooked casseroles are a wonderful winter warmer, but who says they have to be in the cold months only? Pop all your ingredients in your slow cooker in the morning, go to work and when you open the door after a long day at work, breathe in the smell of dinner awaiting you. Just steam some veg and you’re ready to eat in 5 minutes!
In addition to chillis, casseroles and pot roasts, I use mine every Monday to make bone broth with my Sunday roast chicken carcass. Once you plug it in, you can forget about it, go out all day and not worry about a hob-top pan boiling dry. You can even leave it overnight, as a good bone broth requires 12-24 hours cooking to extract all the minerals from the animal bones.
A huge bonus for those with digestive problems is that long, slow-cooking makes your food much easier to digest, not to mention the texture of melt-in-the-mouth meat. If you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) then making your own long-cooked casseroles and bone broth is highly recommended for intestinal healing. Because of the slow-cooking, you can buy cheaper cuts of meat e.g. beef brisket, lamb neck which can make a noticeable difference to your food bill.
Slow cookers start from £20 upwards.
Jane’s summary: Ideal for those with digestive problems and busy working Mums who don’t like cooking after a day at work.
This makes cooking fun! And it opens your eyes to seeing vegetables in a new light. Turning veg into spirals is one of life’s pleasures that has folk who usually find courgettes soggy and unpalatable re-discovering them. Courgetti or zoodles (zucchini noodles) are bang on trend right now. I often recommend Spiralisers to my clients who are stuck in a rut with their eating habits and need some fun in the kitchen!
Since I got mine I’ve fallen in love again with beetroot, courgettes & marrow just because of the way they are prepared and cooked. Not to mention the quick cooking time compared to traditional noodles or rice. Put the kids in charge of the spiralising. Our family favourites are:
• Carrots, cucumber & radishes for salads
• Courgettes, marrow, beetroot & squash for ‘noodles’ or ‘rice’
It’s perfect for those eating low carb, paleo or SCD diets or are simply trying to reduce grains. What’s more, the spiraliser is reasonably priced, easy to use, a cinch to clean and a real talking point. There are lots on the market, I use the Hemsley & Hemsley one and have found the book Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci great for inspirational recipes.
Spiralisers start from £15, the Hemsley & Hemsley one costs £30.
Jane’s summary: It’s simply great fun, inspires you to use more vegetables and impresses your visitors!
I simply couldn’t manage to eat as healthily as I do without my freezer. Well, I should say freezers as I have two, which tells you how much I need them! A well-organised freezer is essential for busy people.
The benefits of cooking double, then freezing half, is still one of the most efficient ways of eating healthily with half the effort. So instead of ordering take-away or a ready meal when you’re tired, pull a frozen chilli out of the freezer and steam some veg and you’re ready to eat.
Examples of items in my freezer:
• Bone broth (in varying sizes from ice cubes to litre dishes)
• Casseroles, chillis, bolognaises (in family or individual size portions)
• Gravy (leftover after a roast)
• Ice lollies (frozen fruit in moulds)
• Banana chunks for instant non-dairy ice ‘cream’
• Brown rice (freeze flat, then it’s easy to break off small amounts as required rather than cooking from scratch)
• Stewed apples (made in batches in the autumn)
• Seasonal fruits (such as berries in summer for use in winter)
• Fruits for smoothies (in case you run out of fresh)
• Grated cheese (use straight from the freezer)
• Bread (we don’t use much bread so we just defrost as we go – a slice of gluten-free bread defrosts in minutes)
• Herbs (when I get a glut in the garden, I freeze over winter, open freeze then pack into bags for easy freezer storage)
• Frozen vegetables (so I never run out of fresh and for when chopping seems too much!)
• Scraps of veg (e.g. carrot, celery ends for use in stocks & broths – throw straight from freezer into slow cooker)
• Meats & fish on special offer (saves money plus I’m never caught out with unexpected guests!)
• Crumble toppings (make a large batch then use from frozen)
• Snacks & treats (raw cacao bliss balls & home-made cakes cut into small portions freeze well, then you always have a healthy treat on hand that defrosts in 20 minutes)
• Tinned coconut milk in ice cubes (so you don’t need a whole tin each time)
Freezers start from £90. You can buy under-counter, upright or chest freezers to suit your space & budget.
Jane’s summary: Absolutely essential for saving time and effort when creating healthy home-cooked foods.
So there you go. That’s 4 kitchen appliances to make your healthy eating a little (or a lot) easier. I hope you feel inspired to use some of these to help you feed your family nutrient-dense meals and snacks.
Please note: I am not paid by any of these suppliers mentioned, they are simply brands I use and can therefore wholly recommend.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my blog, please comment below…