Monday, January 26, 2015

Made from Scratch Kitchen: Small Appliances

When it comes to safe and healthy eating, the most important step is not necessarily that it's organic (although it is up there!) but that it not be highly processed (pretty much anything that comes out of a box at the grocery store). Food health experts from Michael Pollan to Dr. Andrew Weil agree that making your own food from scratch is tantamount to longevity.

Saying "made from scratch" can put a wide range of images in your head- and I'm guessing that they're not all positive ones. It doesn't matter that making food from scratch is healthier for you and can also save you money- it still won't make a difference in the most important of commodities: your time.

While time will always be a factor when making items from scratch, it doesn't have to be a time-consuming endeavor. Below is a list of my five favorite small appliances that make preparing everything from meals to snacks to desserts more efficient so you can enjoy more of your free time doing the things you love.

1. Food Processor

Makes: nut butters, almond flour, oat flour, hummus, mayo, power balls, fruit bar dough, raw brownie dough; and slices, dices or chops cheese, vegetables and fruits.

Mine has been used almost every single day for over a year now and it is one of the cheapest models out there: the Hamilton Beach Chef Prep. It was $30 when I bought it and the same price as the Hamilton Beach 8 Cup Processor. Both models have great reviews with 4.5 stars out of 5.

2. Blender with Portable Smoothie Cups and Spice Chopper

Makes: smoothies, nut milks, applesauce, pureed soups; and grinds flax seeds, whole spices and fresh herbs.

I was lucky to find a Cuisinart 15 Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System on eBay for $45. The person had bought it, not saved the receipt, then decided they wanted another model. People do this a lot. If your budget is tight, then make sure to check eBay and Craigslist for great deals.

3. Slow Cookers 7 quart and 3 quart

Makes; bone broth, soup, mutiple types of dinners, roasts whole chickens, apple cider, spiced wine, apple butter, bread pudding and overnight oatmeal.

Between the bone broth, dinners and overnight oatmeal, I have one or the other of my slow cookers on my counter at all times. They become indispensable for the from-scratch-cook on nights you know you will not have time and/or the energy to cook. Just throw your raw ingredients inside the crock in the morning and come home to wonderful smells of an already cooked meal with only one dish to wash.

The larger one cost $30 and the smaller one I bought on Black Friday at Meijer for $10. It is currently at Meijer for $15 so don't buy it from Amazon!

4. Dehydrator

Makes: dried nuts and grains after a proper soaking, dried fresh herbs, dried fruit (Starbursts have nothing on dried watermelon and pineapple!), fruit leathers, jerky from grass-fed beef, fruit and veggie chips

My Nesco Snackmaster Dehydrator was mentioned in a previous post and is the ultimate real food snack maker!

5. Stand Mixer

Makes: marshmallows, butter, butter milk, whipped cream, maple and sage whipped dip, whipped coconut oil, bread, pizza, and cookie dough.

I don't even want to know how my grandma made bread dough without a stand mixer. It would not be made with love if I had to do that by hand (do expletives have an organic version?). Luckily, my stand mixer makes it nice and simple. The KitchenAid brand can get quite expensive but Hamilton Beach saves the day again with this thrifty model for $36.

Making food stuffs from scratch doesn't have to be a time-draining throw back to the 1800's. Using small appliances saves you time in the kitchen, can possibly save your life by keeping you away from over-processed foods and saves you money from the over-priced organic boxed items. Don't forget to check eBay or Craigslist for used appliances- those sites are a treasure trove!

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