Dear Ruthy, I don’t have a lot of room in my tiny kitchen for many appliances, but my girlfriend and I are trying to cook more at home and find that we don’t have the right tools to make so many of the healthy and exciting recipes we come across. If you could only invest in 2-3 appliances, what would they be and why?
Ah yes, the space issue! This one’s a challenge for many people and it’s a question I often get, particularly from people who have moved into their first apartment or small home. Living in a big metropolitan city, the trend is also moving toward apartments and condominiums with increasingly small kitchen spaces, presumably assuming that busy city folk spend more time eating out than cooking at home — a trend that I hope to inspire and empower people to change! But regardless of your kitchen size, while there are many fun nice-to-have gadgets, there a definitely a few multi-purpose pieces I’d consider key for making many nutrient-dense foods and beverages from scratch at home. I’ll limit this overview to equipment rather than smaller tools, as that’s a fun and long discussion for another day!
(Photo from Happy Healthy Mama)
This is one I literally use daily. It’s great for everything from whipping up plant-based milk and elixirs or superfood lattes, to blending nuts to make nut-based vegan cheese, blitzing up blender pancakes, and pureeing vegetables into a silky smooth, creamy soup. And while I prefer using a food processor for these if I have a choice, a powerful blender can also be used to make dips (homemade hummus is one of my favourites) and nut and seed butters.
For a few years I owned various mid-range blenders that were all priced in the $200 range, but I found that they all broke quite quickly. They’re just not built for repeated wear and tear, and their limited one-year warranties aren’t helpful. When I realized that over the course of a couple of years I had spent more on new blenders that a great quality higher end model would have cost, I made the switch and I’ve never looked back. It is an initial investment, but more and more of the top brands (such as Blendtec and Vitamix) have added entry level models to their line-up that are still super powerful and are backed by long-term, comprehensive warranties. If you can afford this investment, it’s a worthwhile one!
(Photo from Minimalist Baker)
These tend to take up a bit more space than a blender, particularly the models that are true “processors” rather than simply “choppers.” I’m well aware that this is a piece of equipment that many people don’t own. While it’s not an absolute necessity, particularly if your space restricts you to having a blender OR a processor, it’s one of my favourite kitchen toys and definitely worth considering if your budget and space allow for it!
As noted above, I prefer food processors to blenders for tasks such as making homemade nut and seed butter, dips and other spreads, particularly as it’s easier to get every last bit out of the processor’s bowl. Processors are great for blending up just about any herbs, veggies and other greens, nuts or seeds and extra virgin olive oil into delicious and versatile condiments such as pesto, curry paste or harissa, and work wonders for grinding up legumes and veggies to make the base for falafel and other types of fritters, patties and veggie burgers. They’re my go-to for blending up dried fruits and other superfoods for the energy balls and bars that I always have on-hand (I whip up a batch of balls and keep them in the freezer or fridge for an on-demand nutrient-packed snack). They also blend frozen banana and other fruit into the most perfect plant-based ice cream and sorbets! Finally, processors are big time savers when you need to chop, slice or dice large quantities of vegetables.
Electric Hand Mixer
(Photo from Jessica in the Kitchen)
This might surprise most people who know just how much I bake, but I don’t own a stand mixer. I would love one, especially this beauty that’s the object of my current #kitchencrush, but as I don’t often make yeasted sourdough breads or do any other “tough” mixing, my powerful hand mixer (I currently use this one) works just fine for all of my baking and fun breakfast needs. Plus, hand mixers are much more affordable than stand mixers and are super-versatile!
You can use just about any kind of bowl and they take up very little space. I use mine for cakes and quick breads, cookies, brownies and blondies, pancakes and waffles. It’s also great for whipping up mashed root vegetables, coconut whipped cream, cake frosting (I’m currently loving avocado and sweet potato-based chocolate frosting!) and egg whites or aquafaba into a merengue. If you do a fair bit of baking, this handy kitchen friend will save you lots of time (and a sore arm)!
(Header image from My New Roots)