You don’t have to be a pro to whip up quick, delicious meals. You just need a few pro tools to accompany you into the kitchen. We spoke to the experts to find out which appliances and gadgets they use to make healthy eating a breeze. Click through to see their top picks.
1Vitamix Blenders, $449
Blenders aren’t just for margaritas any more! “Often called the Rolls Royce of blenders, the Vitamix whips air into your food creating a fluffy and light texture,” explains Marti Wolfson, Culinary Director at the Blum Center for Health in New York. And since one machine can chop, cream, blend, cook, grind, knead and churn, you can create healthy soups, smoothies, nut butters, your own whole grain flour and more.
2Crock-Pot Slow Cooker, $49.95
A slow cooker makes dinner even when you’re nowhere near the kitchen! “Most slow cooker recipes simply require measuring your ingredients into the pot and plugging it in for scrumptious, complete meals,” says Cheryl Forberg, R.D., an award-winning chef, best-selling author, and the original nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser.” “Best of all, you can do a million different things (including getting a full night’s sleep) while it does the heavy lifting.”
3Mercer Cutlery Genesis 8” Forged Chef’s Knife, $39.95
“I can’t live without my 8” chef’s knife; it’s an extension of my arm,” says Wolfson. “This size is most manageable and it’s not too heavy or too light.” Use an 8” knife for precision (i.e. mincing garlic), cutting evenly (i.e. when roasting vegetables so they cook the same) and speed (a little practice and you’ve got Bobby Flay skills!). “There are a lot of fancy knives, but you don’t need fancy to do the trick,” adds Wolfson.
4Le Creuset Silicone Prep Bowls Set of 4, $14.95
Prep bowls are a staple on TV cooking shows, but they should make an appearance in your kitchen, too. “They’re essential for easy pinches of sea salt, ground pepper and other spices,” explains Wolfson. “They also keep you tidy and organized with your preparation of ingredients.” These flexible silicone bowls come in premeasured sizes and are safe to put in the freezer, microwave, oven and dishwasher. Plus, they come in bright colors to add spice to your kitchen décor.
5KitchenAid 3-Speed Hand Blender, $59.99
When you want to cook quickly and minimize the number of dishes you’re using, a hand blender is perfect. Just slip it right into your pan, pot or bowl and puree your sauce or soup. “For novice cooks, it’s dangerous to put hot stuff in the blender so putting this right in the pan or pot is ideal,” adds Forberg.
6OXO Good Grips Fine Zester/Grater, $9.99
Use this gadget for zesting the skin of citrus fruits and grating foods like hard cheeses, ginger and garlic. “It’s a useful tool for quickly incorporating cheese onto pizza, salads or melting it into a pot of whole grain pasta and veggies,” says Wolfson.
7Sur La Table Silicone-Tip Tongs, $8.99
Tongs are great for flipping food in the oven, sautéing, tossing salads, serving and more. “I can’t live without tongs and actually put them in my suitcase whenever I travel,” says Forberg. “They are my second set of hands.” Tongs come in a variety of lengths—shorter sets for shallow pans and longer ones for cooking on the grill—and these from Sur La Table come with silicone tips for non-stick pans.
8Le Creuset Marseille Square Grill Pan, $129.95
Just because you can’t get the BBQ going, doesn’t mean you can’t get those gorgeous grill marks on your favorite foods. “When you just want grill marks on your chicken sandwich or to grill a few veggies to mix into a salad, you can pull out this pan, set it on a burner and get a similar result,” says Forberg.