Following my blog on growing your own fruit and veg Ms Haribo sent me a link to this great site where she'd bought a veg growing kit for a friend http://www.allotinabox.com/grow-your-own/ a great practical present and one that's healthy to boot.
It got me thinking of all the kitchen gadgets that I've been given over the years and particular the ones that I have found useful in cooking healthy food. To be fair I've also acquired alot of fairly useless gadgets in my time too and discarded them with periodic clear outs, but these ones have stayed and been used regularly:
Good chopping knives - until you've tried chopping fruit and veg with a good set of knives you might not realise what a difference it makes to the speed and pleasure in preparing your food - but believe me it does! I got my Sabatier Knife Set
on sale, thank god as they're pretty pricey, but even if you just buy one good sized knife
you'll find yourself using it over and over again.
Egg poacher - thanks for Julia Childs, or rather her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Vol 1
I've actually learnt to poach an egg properly - but it is a bit of a fiddle. However a proper egg poaching pan makes it super easy and is the healthiest (and in my opinion tastiest) way to serve eggs - serve on toast for breakfast or on top of some steamed white fish on a bed of crushed new potatoes for a yummy lunch.
Basic juicer - I love my Philips Juicer
for making all sorts of random veggie juices, but when it comes to the basic requirements of juicing lemons or limes for cooking or making a fresh OJ for breakfast a basic metal juicer is perfect for the job.
Garlic press - a very basic piece of equipment but probably the one I use most in my kitchen. Garlic has many healthy benefits including anti-bacterial and blood thinning properties, and it tastes great to boot. But no one wants to eat a big slice of garlic in one go so use a press to mince it before you add it to your dishes.
Grater - I like this box grater
because you don't end up with bits of grated food all over the place. I like to grate carrot and add to sandwiches for lunch, make up my favourite celariac coleslaw (http://nutritionistinthecity.blogspot.com/2011/06/summertime-slaw.html) and add grated apple to muesli and porridge.
Hand blender - I have a braun blender
that's so old I may have even had it at Uni!! But it's still working and I use it every couple of days - it makes light work of blending fruit smoothies, soups, sauces and I even use it in baking - making a batch of gluten dairy free brownies this weekend (http://nutritionistinthecity.blogspot.com/2010/11/when-its-got-to-be-chocolate.html). If you haven't got one yet, get one that comes with the chopper attachment which makes light work of chopping up onions finely, or other veg for making salsa or garnishes such as peanuts with coriander to top asian stir fries. Best thing is most of it goes in the dishwasher!!
Steamer - I did have an electronic three level steamer before that was meant to do all sorts of fancy things, but it was a nightmare to clean and took up loads of room in my cupboard. So I replaced it for a small metal fan steamer
that fits all my saucepans, does the job just as well and fits in the dishwasher. I use it to steam asparagus, broccoli, pak choi and fine green beans to perfection, preserving much more of the nutrients than boiling or microwaving.
Measuring spoons - over the years I've worked out that the key to executing a recipe properly is to be exact with your measurements. As a consequence I'm reliant on my Salter scales
(which fit nicely out of site in a draw) and my measuring spoons
- as 1/2 a teaspoon of salt can vary significantly depending on which cutlery set you have!