If you’re interested in following a raw food diet, get ready to give your kitchen appliances a workout! Even though you may be preserving nutrients and enzymes by not cooking your food, you will want to do some food preparation.
Gourmet quality raw food meals are definitely on your horizon, with the help of the following eight essential appliances and tools.
1. Three-Piece Knife Set
The most used tool in any kitchen, but especially in a raw foods kitchen, is a knife set.
With the amount of chopping, slicing, and removal of non-edible parts of your fruits, vegetables, and nuts required, you will want to buy the best knives you can afford, even if you must wait to purchase other tools and appliances.
I’d recommend avoiding discount stores and either going into a restaurant or kitchen supply where you can pick up the knife and examine the quality of the workmanship, or reading knife reviews and buying online from a reputable source.
2. Cutting Boards
Go to any cooking discussion site and you will find a heated debate on the quality versus antibacterial properties versus knife-dulling properties of various cutting board types. Everyone has a favorite, and a favored theory.
In the end, it doesn’t matter nearly as much what the board is made of – whether acrylic, wood, rubber, and so on – but rather, that the cook is willing to dispose of a cheaper board when it becomes heavily gouged and scratched, or to resurface the more expensive boards when the time comes.
I personally like the feel of chopping into a nice solid wooden block and, believe it or not, these often harbor a much smaller bacteria load than a badly mauled plastic board. I prefer end grain boards (please see my in-depth wood cutting board article if don’t know what I mean by “end grain”) that “self-heal.”
I generally use my wooden boards with all non-protein based food items and keep several hard rubber “sani-tuff” boards on hand for prepping meats and fish. Both of these materials can be resurfaced (which may never be needed with end grain wood).
Alternatively, you can purchase cheap plastic versions that you are willing to throw away when they get too gouged. I try to avoid glass, bamboo, stone (i.e. marble), and other hard surfaced boards, as they can wreak havoc on the edges of your blades.
3. Heavy-Duty Blender
For making cold soups and sauces, salsas, and smoothies, nothing beats a blender. Most home cooks do very well with a moderately priced blender; bargain blenders rarely have the horsepower to do a decent job, while commercial kitchen varieties are very expensive.
Consider buying a blender with a powerful motor and “wave action,” which is more successful in breaking up frozen ingredients. There is nothing worse than trying to create the perfect smoothie or frozen yogurt with an underpowered appliance.
I use and recommend the Vitamix 4500, but I’ve read good things about the Blentechs as well. You’ll literally laugh like a maniac the first time you use one of these and realize what a real blender is capable of.
Another oldie-but-goodie in the high-speed category is the Vitamix 5200.
4. Coffee or Burr-Based Spice Grinder
One of the best ways to create your own high-protein nut milks for soups, sauces, and drinks is with a coffee grinder. Unless you want everything to taste like coffee (or your coffee to taste like nuts), make sure to buy one just for nut grinding. Look for coffee grinders in kitchen and restaurant supply, storefront as well as online.
Fresh vegetable and fruit juices are not only healthy to drink, but are also an essential ingredient for many raw food recipes, such as soups and sauces. Most moderately priced brands will be sufficient for your purposes, but check the reviews for ease of cleaning. Even expensive models are notorious for being difficult to clean.
6. Food Dehydrator
Dried foods serve two purposes. The most common, of course, is to help preserve your ingredients. But dried foods are also used in recipes to capitalize on the characteristics inherent with dried foods, such as their ability to sweeten with relatively small amounts, or to thicken recipes.
Dehydrators run the gamut from cheap to ultra-expensive; if you can live with a noisier fan and a shorter lifespan, less expensive models from a discount store may serve you fine. However, I own and highly recommend one of the Excalibur models – this is a brand that you want to stick with if you care about a quality machine that will last for years (if not decades).
With dehydrators, you definitely get what you pay for. You can check out Foodal’s dehydrator buying guide to help you choose.
7. Food Processor
For slicing, grating, and shredding, especially large amounts, a food processor is your best friend. Yes, you can do it all by hand with a knife or with a box grater… but why? Raw food chefs should stay away from the “micro” processors – for the amount of food preparation that you are likely to do, you definitely risk burning out the motor.
For many home kitchens, especially those that are vegetarian, a moderately priced (again, avoid the absolute cheapest variety) food processor from a discount store or a kitchen supply will suffice. We particularly like the well reviewed Cuisinart 7 Cup model. For more information on various makes and models, take a look at Foodal’s food processor buying guide.
8. Mandoline Slicer
Even with a food processor, you may want to consider a mandoline slicer. They nicely fill the niche between knife preparation and a motorized contraption. Mandolines are also much cheaper than a food processor, and easier to clean.
Avoid at all costs the cheap plastic and steel varieties found in discount shops. The whole point is to slice ingredients quickly by hand – do you really want to have your fingers near a sharp blade in a flimsy tool? Read Foodal’s Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Mandoline now.
Whether you’re a vegan or an omnivore, introducing more raw foods into your diet is a tasty, natural way to improve your health. The modern conveniences listed above can greatly assist with the implementation of your new lifestyle, and in sculpting the “new you.”
How have you adapted your kitchen to prepare a plant-based diet at home? Let us know in the comments!
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!