7 Kitchen Must-Haves for a Successful Diet

Get your cooking tools in order so you can feel like a hero in your own fat-burning kitchen.

November 10, 2016
spiralizer with vegetables

Adapted from The All-Day Fat-Burning Cookbook

Before we dive mouth-first into the tricks to help you love healthy foods, it might be helpful to know what tools and basic kitchen cookware you'll need to make them.

More: The Biggest Healthy Eating Myths You Keep Falling For

Thankfully, it's a pretty short list, and I bet you probably already have most of these items. So let's first go through the tools you need to prepare the food that'll help you burn fat.

Pots and pans
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Pots and pans

A good set of skillets (or frying pans) and pots is essential to any healthy kitchen. I like skillets that have some depth so you can also use them as a wok for stir-fries. 

In general, I recommend staying away from Teflon and other nonstick cookware because it often leaches chemicals into your food. Instead, your best bet is to go with stainless steel, with enameled cast iron as a second option. Stainless steel cookware is beneficial because it's nonreactive (meaning you can cook any kind of food in it without chemical leaching), heavy, durable, dishwasher-safe, and relatively inexpensive.

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The main downside is that it usually has poor heat transfer and distribution, but you can solve this problem by buying better-quality (and higher-priced) stainless steel cookware with an added inner core made of copper or aluminum, which improves the heat conductivity. Since the aluminum or copper is sandwiched between layers of steel and does not come in contact with the food, these types of stainless steel cookware are fine to use. 

knife set
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A good set of knives

A good basic knife set should include:

  • An all-purpose utility knife (5 inches)—used for a range of purposes; often a good choice for your first knife, as it can do many things.
  • A chef's knife (7.8 to 9 inches)—used for chopping, dicing, mincing, and cutting. You will use this knife often for these recipes.
  • A vegetable or paring knife (3 inches)—used for peeling, cutting, and trimming small food items that you hold in your hand (such as trimming small potatoes). 
  • A cleaver—used for meat, with a smaller version for chopping herbs, etc. Buy a cleaver only if you need to chop serious pieces of meat.
  • A carving knife—used for getting thin and even slices of meat from roasts, roasted poultry, etc. Great for Thanksgiving but rarely used otherwise.
  • Sharpening steel, knife-honing stone, or electric honer.

There are several considerations when choosing a knife, including weight, balance, and blade material. A lightweight knife is good for speed and precision, whereas a heavy knife requires far more work when chopping a lot of light ingredients. However, a heavier knife is better for chopping foods such as nuts, fresh ginger, and other harder ingredients.

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Quality knives tend to have very good balance, with not too much weight in either the blade or the handle. The way to test is to place your finger at the finger grip where the blade meets the handle, holding the knife horizontally with the cutting edge down. A quality, well-balanced knife will balance at that point and not fall off your finger—it is essentially the leverage point. 

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The key reason to consider balance is that a well-balanced knife makes any cutting action easier and more effortless. If you are planning on using the knife for large quantities of ingredients, a balanced knife will impose far less strain on your arm. Good knives are often made of nonstainless steel (carbon steel), which can be sharpened to a good edge fairly quickly, but be sure to store them in a knife block so they do not rust.

Cutting board
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Cutting board

This is pretty straightforward, as you'll need a good surface on which to chop your ingredients. I recommend bamboo cutting boards. Even the hardest of wood cutting boards will be scarred by repeated cutting and chopping, which will leave pockets for moisture, food particles, and bacteria to accumulate. Bamboo, on the other hand, is often dense enough to resist knife scarring and naturally resists water penetration, which prevents bacteria from finding a place to form.

Spiralizer
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Spiralizer

A spiralizer is an inexpensive tool that turns fresh veggies, most often zucchini, into faux noodles (zoodles, if you will). It's a great tool to have on hand for making raw pastas instead of relying on traditional (and slightly heavier) wheat- or gluten-free pasta noodles. 

More: 7 Veggie Noodle Recipes That'll Make You Forget All About Pasta

Vegetable peeler
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Vegetable peeler

If you can't get your hands on a spiralizer, then you can always rely on a vegetable peeler to make your zucchini noodles, although they'll be more like fettuccine than spaghetti noodles. A vegetable peeler also comes in handy for peeling many root vegetables.

Blender
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Blender

Smoothies, soups, sauces, and more—a good blender can make all of them. I am a big fan of the Vitamix. Sure, it's about $400, but I've had mine for 10 years. That's a pretty good investment, if you ask me. Nonetheless, even a $50 blender will be able to handle all of the necessary blending chores in this cookbook.

More: How to Buy the Right Blender

Food processor
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Food processor

Although a good blender can often do the job of a food processor, I like having both. I use my food processor to accelerate chopping, especially of nuts, and for making dips like hummus. Again, it's not required, only recommended. If a recipe calls for a food processor and you don't have one, just use a blender (at low speed) instead.

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