Many of you lovely readers who are making the move to a *SANE lifestyle are finding that you need to get busy in the kitchen a lot more than you used to, especially when it comes to baking. If you want SANE baked goods you pretty much have to make them yourself from scratch.
For those of you who haven’t spent much time in the kitchen prior to embracing SANEity, you may be overwhelmed by all the gadgets available, and are not sure what you need to make your time in the kitchen most effective and get you the results you want. Many of the items I list here are not essential by any means – they just make cooking and baking easier, quicker, and help you to get great results time after time. Many of you have asked me what I use when I am in my kitchen, so here’s a rundown of the things I use most often.
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High Powered Blender
A Vitamix or Blendtec will be your very best friend once you start using it to make your smoothies and soups. These machines smash everything that goes in them into liquid. Forget juicers - with one of these beasties you put whole fruit and veggies in and get juice out, with all the fiber still in it – you just can’t feel it. Given that a SANE lifestyle requires fiber, one of these will help you enormously to make sure you’re getting all the fiber you can. Jonathan and I both have a Vitamix. I’ve heard that Blendtec are just as good.
I have a KitchenAid blender in addition to my Vitamix, for those times when I don’t want to pulverize everything into oblivion. Some recipes just need texture, or don’t require the extra power. I use this Kitchen Aid blender when I don’t want or need to use the Vitamix. Grinding nuts is a great example – try this in a Vitamix and you’ll have awesome nut butter, but you won’t have any ground nuts.
Not essential, but it does make things easier and quicker. I use mine mainly for mixing doughs, but it is also super handy for slicing and all manner of other uses. I love this Cuisinart Food Processor because it comes with three bowls that sit inside one another so you can do three different things before you have to wash up. Love that. It also has a large capacity, which I find very useful when making large batches.
I use a hand mixer for quick things like whipping egg whites and mixing batters when I don’t need the power of a food processor, or don’t want to get too much stuff dirty. I use this Cuisinart Hand Mixer because it has 9 speeds and a timer, so it is useful for lots of different recipes.
When I moved to the US I was completely dumbfounded that no one had an electric kettle. Brits use kettles multiple times a day, and I cannot imagine living without one. Boiling water is a breeze. I have this Cuisinart Kettle and I love it because it has pre-set temperatures and other features that make it even more useful than a regular kettle. For any Brits reading this, I can hear you all shrieking, “What?? No kettles??!!!”
My steamer is in constant use for steaming veggies instead of boiling them in a pan of water, as it keeps the nutrient content much higher. We love that.
I have a multi-purpose hand-held blender that doubles up as a grinder / chopper as well as a blending stick for blending directly in a pan or bowl. I have the Cuisinart Smart Stick that comes with a whisk and chopper attachments. Super useful.
If you read some of my baking posts you’ll know I insist on weighing things, rather than using cups. Cups are not consistent. The only way you can hope to have baking success time after time is to be accurate when measuring ingredients. A scale is your best friend. I use this Oxo Digital Scale because it can weigh an awful lot of stuff, plus it has a pull out screen so you can put really large bowls on it and still read the display. I reverse weigh a lot and this scale makes it so simple. It also weighs in both ounces and grams, so you can switch between the two and not have to do any conversions in your head – keeping everyone happy all the time. Hurrah!
A mandoline is a slicer that makes very short work of cutting, slicing, dicing and otherwise making all manner of veggies into uniform sizes and shapes. When you’re eating a ton of veggies it’s more important that those veggies look super-appetizing and you have a lot of variety to keep it interesting. There are many mandolines available – choose one that fits your budget, although usually, the higher the cost, the better the machine is.
This handy little gadget makes short work of turning vegetables into “spaghetti”. Especially good on zucchini (courgettes), cucumber, and carrots. I use it with zucchini instead of baking a spaghetti squash. Super simple, super fast, and won’t break the bank.
I have 4 sets of these measuring spoons, because when I am making stuff up for you I use them constantly, and rinsing them every 5 seconds is just annoying. These are double-ended, which effectively doubles the number of spoons you have. They are also magnetic so they stick together tidily and don’t get lost, and they have flat bottoms so they will sit on the counter without tipping over. Who knew someone could get so excited about measuring spoons?
Microplanes are the bomb. I have several different shapes and sizes and use them for all sorts of things. So much better than a grater – faster, cleaner, way sharper. Grating is no longer a chore with these puppies. Yay!
I am a perfectionist, so I use sieves a lot. A lot. Strawberry pips in the sauce? Sieve. Hazelnut skins? Sieve. Cocoa powder? Sieve. Nut dust in the nuts you just chopped? Sieve. Ice cream custards? Sieve. Green tea got a few stray leaves? Sieve. I sieve everything in the name of texture perfection. You don’t have to go as far as me, but I do recommend having at least one really good fine mesh sieve. Plus a set of regular general purpose sieves.
Huge mixing bowl
For making large quantities of recipes like Strawberry Seed Porridge I use this huge, awesome bowl.
Melamine pouring bowls
I use these melamine pouring batter bowls more than just about anything else in my kitchen. The handle design makes them stackable - saving tons of space, and the melamine means they do not transfer flavors and colors like plastic, but they are way lighter than glass. I use them for mixing up just about everything, and find the handles super useful. If you hadn’t realized – I LOVE these bowls.
For all those scrumptious SANE cookies and scones, you’ll need cutters, because cutters make food fun. And pretty. Anything that makes your SANE food more appealing is a good thing. Cutters will help. Get metal ones in whatever shapes and sizes make you happy. Plastic cutters will stop your scones from rising so well. Metal is best.
I am not a fan of plastic for storage. At all. I use these glass Pyrex lidded dishes for storing everything – in the ‘fridge, in the freezer, in the cupboard, and to transport breakfast and lunch to the office. If plastic is capable of absorbing colors and flavors, then that means the plastic is not impermeable. The thought that the chemicals in plastic are therefore capable of transferring back into my food is highly unpleasant to me. In the Brown house, it’s gotta be glass.
For me, using kitchen equipment is like an extension of my body, so I may have forgotten things that are new to you. I’ll add to this as I think of things that I think you may find helpful. If there is something missing, please shout!
Happy, happy cooking!
*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s book, The Smarter Science of Slim.