My recipes will be much easier if you take a few notes of the tips below. The most important thing will be having the right equipment and ingredients in the kitchen.
When you can, if you can, try to buy organic non-gmo.
- Vita-Mix – This is what I use, but there are many high powered blenders on the market today. They are not always cheap but have warranties that last anywhere from 5 to 10 years, and you will get your money’s worth. I use mine almost every day, for smoothies, soups, making flours, grinding coffee beans, and making pestos and sauces. Without it, many things cannot blend properly and emulsify and will come out chunky and needing more liquid, which in turn can dilute the flavors.
- Nutri Ninja Auto iQ (BL482)– Also a good blender, not as much power as the Vitamix but does a decent job in the small canisters and is really good for 1 or 2 people servings. The cheaper price tag on this is an affordable option. Note; if you buy this with the pitcher size blender attachment and not just the smaller canisters, it doesn't work as good for blending. Stick to the smaller canisters if you want to make good nut milks and smoothies.
- Food Processor– Every kitchen needs one of these. Once you start preparing food often you'll see they're worth their weight in gold. The cheap ones don't last. Spring for something decent.
- Good Knives and Kitchen tools and spatulas– Even 1 or 2 will suffice to cleanly chop up fruits and vegetables. I like using wooden spoons to stir and plastic spatulas.
- Good Pan-skillet set– Many people use old fry pans/skillets with scratched up teflon. This is not good. Invest in a few quality ones and toss the old ones. Using steel and cast iron will require that you use more oil and a lower heat so that it doesn’t stick and burn to the bottom. There are decent non-stick ones out there that hold high heat and don’t scratch as easily. I like ceramic, a large, wide, deep one. Also, a flexible non-steel spatula so that you don’t scratch your pans. Boiling pans are best steel. Make sure every pan has a lid.
- A variety of Baking pans– Bread, cake, muffin pans, etc. Nonstick is good. Roasting and broiling veggies and mushrooms in the oven with herbs is a great way to bring out flavor.
- A variety of mixing bowls– You will need these, and once you start preparing foods more you'll see why.
- Juicer– You can buy a reasonably priced blade-less juicer these days. Cold press keeps the enzymes and nutrition while making a juice that can last for a few days. This is the closest to cold press without the hefty price tag. My favorite is the Omega, and the price is very reasonable.
- Strainers– If you would like to start sprouting, as I recommend, then get a big fine mesh strainer that stands by itself. Hand held ones will be useful too. You’ll want to completely drain grains so that they are dry and fluffy when eating and storing. If you want a really fine mesh that only liquid can get through (making yogurts, cheeses, tofu, etc) use a nylon mesh strainer. They also help with straining the curd from nut milks.
- Nut milk bags– This is good if you would like to make your own nut milks and even yogurts. Strains out the nut meal and curd and then you can make cream cheeses with it.
- Mason Jars – I use these for storing in and out of the fridge. I also drink out of them and make to-go meals in them to give to friends or take to work. I can’t say enough good things about them. You'll need a variety of sizes for storing sauces and dressing etc. It’s also much better than using plastic. They come in all different sizes. My favorites are the large and small widemouth because I can make layered meals inside and spoon them out easy to take on the go. Also use the large glass storage jars for storing grains, flours, nuts, seeds, legumes, and keeping them fresh. You'll need at least 3 of each size.
Some foods to have on hand at all time
- Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour– First off, I want to say that many of the flours, pastas, and grains i use in my recipes can be interchangeable to gluten free versions. Many of them already are, or are low in gluten. I use gluten free pasta at home most times and in my recipes though I trust people will choose what they like to plug in. I hope that goes without my saying. If someone has celiacs then they are most likely familiar with what has gluten and what doesn't. The main flour I use for baking is sprouted spelt. It is such a stable flour to work with and so healthy, unprocessed and low in gluten, and completely trustworthy, not to mention it tastes so great. If you don't have a gluten problem then I suggest using this flour, if you do have a gluten problem then there are many gluten free 1:1 blends on the market but they are all different in how they bake so experiment until you find one that works. I find the Trader Joe's brand all purpose gluten free blend works pretty good. When the grains are sprouted it helps them to digest much easier and develop more nutrition in the sprouting process. You can also buy unsprouted spelt flour cheaper.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil– I don’t just mean any olive oil, I mean the good stuff. An extra virgin, cold pressed, organic oil is great for finishing plates. This oil is nutritious but loses many of its health properties when cooked, so I use it to drizzle the food after it's been cooked rather than cooking with it, and use a light olive oil for stir frying.
- Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil– I love this for using in baking, cooking, butters, raw foods, etc. It can fry well because it tolerates high heat. The fats in coconut oil are not destroyed by heat, and they are great for converting to energy quickly. There are coconut oil sprays for cooking that work really well. I use this in recipes where something is sweet, but also in savory cooking, and I always add a bit to my pre work out smoothies and superfood bowls. Go for the extra virgin cold pressed organic.
- Grapeseed Oil– Great for frying and baking. Light and tolerates high heat well. Safflower and Sunflower are good for frying too.
- Assortment of 12 Culinary Herb Seeds - Grow Cooking Herbs– If you have indoor/outdoor space to set up some plants, do it! I recommend basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and even cilantro. They take time to grow but it's not so hard. Once it gets going it's just a little maintenance. All you need to make any meal incredible is salt, pepper, and a little bit of fresh herb.
- Salt and Pepper Grinder Set– Sometimes this is all you need for big flavor. Put the salt rocks/peppercorns in or you can buy them in grinders already.
- Almonds/Cashews–– In order to make milks, cream sauces, sour creams, yogurts, cheeses, nut butters, etc, you will need nuts. Almonds and cashews are the most commonly used for my culinary purposes but I always have Brazil nuts on hand as well. If you can afford macademia nuts then you will make things very very creamy. Soak nuts for a few hours to overnight before use, it helps them emulsify while blending so much better. Add raw to superfood bowls, smoothies, atop veggie dishes, or take on the go as a high fat/protein snack to hold you over.
- Organic White Wine Vinegar– My favorite culinary vinegar. Delicious and versatile.
- Maple Syrup– My favorite sweetener. It’s thin, healthy, doesn't spike your blood sugar or have the negative effects of sugar, and it's rich tasting. Doesn't over sweeten and good for those looking to avoid refined sugars.
- Organic Medjool Dates– Another great sweetener that adds a caramel flavor and helps to thicken and bind beautifully. Works wonderful as a blended paste/butter with coconut oil and maple syrup. Can be the base to any dessert, smoothie, or vegan ice cream.
- Lemons/limes– I find that many dishes really boost with a little splash on top.
- Fresh Veggies and Fruits– you can literally make any meal and get creative if you only have produce. Keep stuff on hand! I always have lots of fruits, which i freeze if they are about to go bad and blend them in bowls and smoothies. Cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, spinach, peas, broccoli, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, avocados. Load them in. They can last a long time. Buy organic when you can. I will say that a million times here. You’ll never lack to invent a good meal when you have even just a few veggies and some grains.
- Teff/Quinoa/Buckwheat Groats– I’m very active so I always need grains on hand. They are an incredible source of fiber, nutrition, energy, and protein. I buy them in bulk and keep them in big jars. Many of them I soak, dehydrate, toast, make granola with, soak and boil, eat raw, or sprout. My favorites are teff, buckwheat, and quinoa, and I recommend to have these on hand always. The buckwheat I eat raw for breakfast as a cereal and the others I cook. Oats, buckwheat, quinoa, barley, spelt, farro, millet, brown rice, and wheat berries. Other less known ones that may be harder to find are kamut, amaranth, teff, bulgur. Bob's Red Mill sells all of these in most all markets, and the rest you can order online. All good.
- Lentils/Split Peas– Need I say more? Powerhouse foods, highest with protein and fiber and highly digestible. I find these the most most versatile. Not only are lentils highly nutritious but they sprout easily and taste good in just about everything.
- Pumpkin/Sunflower/Chia/Flax/Hemp Seeds– Best bought in bulk and kept in jars. Pumpkin, chia, and hemp are my favorites. Hemp also has as much protein as beef. They have the highest amino acid profiles, are loaded with healthy fats and protein, and you don’t need much of them. Great for brain, energy, immune system, skin, hair, nails, joints, moods, and overall health.
Staples summary to keep around for my recipes– cinnamon, cocoa (organic, raw), carob, fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, grow them yourself), sea salt, black pepper, chili flakes, spelt flour, sprouted spelt flour, teff flour, whole wheat flour, gluten free baking flour, jars full of lentils, quinoa, teff, farro, oats, brown rice, beans, pastas, cashews, almonds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, dates, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nutritional yeast flakes, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, tofu, tempeh, nama-shoyu sauce (similar to soy sauce), garlic, turmeric, herbs de provence, ginger, tomatoes, limes, lemons, carrots, beets, arugula, avocado, spinach, kale, cucumber, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, pumpkin (canned or fresh), cauliflower, squash, artichokes, bananas, coconut milk, coconut cream, nut milks, tomato paste, tomato puree, veggie broth, pasta water (save the finished pasta water to add into sauces), and white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar.
CLEAN AS YOU GO! This way cooking won’t be such a hassle. You won’t have a wreck of a kitchen to look at after you’ve already ate and feel like you want to relax. Look at everything and piecemeal it little by little as you have a little time here and there and as you're going. The kitchen should be stress free, with music, smells, tastes, and ideas.
I will always be adding to these lists…questions and suggestions are very welcome and desired.