Traditional recipes

11 Kitchen Tools to Make Healthy Eating Easier—and 4 You Definitely Don’t Need

11 Kitchen Tools to Make Healthy Eating Easier—and 4 You Definitely Don’t Need

Because great gadgets can truly make all the difference.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

If you’re like most of the population, you’re probably trying to eat healthier this year. For different people, that means different things, but one thing our editors all agree on is this: The right kitchen tool can make all the difference when it comes to meal prep.

Sure, all you probably need is a good set of knives and a couple pots and pans to get the job done, but if your kitchen feels dull and lifeless you probably won’t be super inclined to spend time there prepping something healthy to bring for lunch. Upgrade your tools, and you’ll want to spend more time cooking with them—and eating healthier in 2018.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

Sign up for our daily newsletter for more great articles and tasty, healthy recipes.

But there are some tools that, while they look snazzy, are just unnecessary. Those are the ones you might be tempted to get, but end up gathering dust in the back of a drawer before the year’s out. So here is our list of the tools you’ll want to use—and the ones you can leave behind.

New Year. New Food. Healthy Eating Starts Here, With the Cooking Light Diet.

A Cute Water Bottle

Hydration is key to staying healthy, and you’re much more inclined to keep sipping if you carry around a water bottle you can refill on the go. This 16-ounce glass bottle is BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and super cute.

A Great Set of Knives

Chopping, dicing, and mincing fruit, veggies, and herbs is so much easier (and safer!) with sharp blades. Invest in a good set, and you will not be sorry—we promise! (got a set you love that are getting dull? Learn how to keep them sharp!)

Mason Jars

Great for overnight oats, chopped veggies with dipping sauce on the bottom, or mason jar salads, this powerhouse storage container will change your meal prep game.

Spiralizer

Spiralizers make vegetables more exciting and feel more substantial in a meal. Sub out your pasta for some zucchini “noodles”, or use spiralized apples for a healthy take on apple pie.

A Mandoline

You don’t need fancy knife training at culinary school when you have a mandoline—it slices everything evenly and perfectly, making everything from salads to side dishes more fun to make and to eat. Mandolines have super sharp blades, and we love this version because it comes with a handy guard to protect your fingers.

A High-Tech Lunchbox

We love this Tyffyn lunchbox from Vaya because of its ability to keep food hot or cold for hours—the three compartments are also super convenient for packing multiple entrees or snacks. Bonus? If you know you have piping hot soup or a crunchy salad waiting at your desk, you’ll be less inclined to eat out (saving you calories and cash!)

A Steamer Basket

Go ahead and skip frying in oil or sauteing in butter—steaming cooks meat and veggies to fork-tender perfection, without adding in any extra fat. ($18, Amazon)

A Salad Spinner

Spinners make washing your favorite greens and veggies way easier, so throwing together a quick salad is a breeze.

An Immersion Blender

Handheld blenders are ideal for making something like cauliflower or squash feel creamy in a soup, so you can forego the heavy cream or cheese. Plus, there's no need to transfer hot soup from the pot to the conventional blender and back again, making cleanup a breeze.

A Good Food Processor

Forget store-bought versions, and make hummus, pesto, nut butters, and more at home. Bonus? You can control the fat, sugar, and sodium levels.

Storage Containers You Want to Use

We’re all about reducing food waste, especially in our own kitchen. These handy containers keep your produce fresh for up to a week longer (we tested, and it really works!) The clear lids make it easy to see what’s inside, and the produce storage guide printed on the container takes out all the guesswork.

And, because we’re looking out for you, here are some gadgets you just don’t need.

A Tomato Slicer

This thing is just...so unnecessary? Tomatoes are probably the easiest fruit to cut, just grab a serrated knife and go to town.

A Tool That Peels Shrimp

Peeling shrimp is incredibly simple, and I’m not sure why we need to complicate it with one of these. If you have a spare kid running around, task them with peeling the shrimp. No knife or blade required, just use your hands.

A “SLOTDOG”

Not that we want to be eating a ton of hot dogs anyway, but if you desperately need cross-hatches in your franks, you can use the paring knife by your elbow—not some single-use contraption that’s been hiding in the back of one of your drawers.

A “Cob Corn Stripper”

The name of this product makes us feel super uncomfortable, and we have questions: If you hate eating fresh corn off the cob, why not just buy frozen or canned kernels? Why not just use a knife to cut your corn? Some people just want to watch the world burn.


6 Tools No Kitchen Is Complete Without

By adding your email you agree to get updates about Spoon University Healthier

Moving into your first apartment always feels very liberating. However, the curfew-less nights and the total freedom of decorating your own room come with a price, like having to cook on your own. While I assume you consulted this list of essential kitchen tools you'll need for your first apartment, it's almost the end of the year now, and your kitchen might need an upgrade.

You might get bored of eating pasta and cereal for two weeks straight, or you might want to impress that cute person you've been talking to in lecture with freshly homemade meals. Whatever the reason is, these kitchen tools can give your kitchen the extra bump they need.


Do you love cooking avocado? If yes, then this flexicado slicer is a kitchen gadget must have for moms.

The flexicado slicer is a citrus-colored slicer that makes it very easy to cut an avocado.

If your mom loves avocado, you can decide to buy this incredible gift for her.


For Easy, Speedy Meal Prep

1. Save time chopping garlic

“Since I put garlic in just about every dish I make, a garlic chopper is a great time saver,” says Janet Brancato, MS, RDN, owner of Nutopia Nutrition. “I use it daily, and it chops the garlic fine and evenly.”

2. Spin your salad in seconds

"We eat a large salad every night, so I use my salad spinner every day," says Elena Paravantes, RDN, healthy recipe blogger at OliveTomato.com. "I use the bowl to soak the greens—and then after a few spins, they are dry and ready to eat. It is also useful for drying herbs." Liv Lee, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Philadelphia, agrees. “It makes using fresh greens easy and fun, because wet lettuce and dressing don’t mix!" she says. "I eat salads more frequently after I bought this low-budget gadget.”

3. Cook without the need to stop and wash

“It seems simple, but I have a collection of mini whisks and spatulas,” says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a healthy recipe blogger at ChampagneNutrition.com. “When I’m cooking, I use them all! They’re so great for transferring and blending.”

4. Let your food processor do it all

“My food processor is a very useful tool in my kitchen,” says Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN, CHHC, co-author of Simple Foods for Busy Families and culinary director at Triad to Wellness. “It’s also great to make hummus, pesto, curry sauces, muffins, and baked goods. The interchangeable blades and discs makes it easy to grate and chop onions and other vegetables, as well as to chop nuts and make nut butter.” Yablon Brenner says she also uses the gadget to make nice cream, ice cream, and different types of snack bites containing nuts and dried fruit. Jennifer Hunt, RDN, healthy recipes blogger at Healthy-Inspiration.com , love her food processor, too, noting that she uses it to make mashed cauliflower.

5. Spiralize in minutes

Here's an item to add to your kitchen utensils list, pronto. “I love to make low-carb alternatives of my favorite pasta dishes,” says Lara Clevenger, MSH, RD, CPT, author of Freezer-Friendly Family Dinner Recipes. “It's an easy and delicious way to get more veggies into your diet.”

6. Steam the simple way

“My favorite gadget is my steamer pot,” says Kate Wilson McGowan, RD, a dietitian in New York City. “As a new mom, this has steamed my son’s first foods! Feeding your child food for the first time can seem very overwhelming, but steaming in this pot is so easy. And a bonus: You can boil pasta at the same time!”

7. Blend a soup without the mess

“My favorite tool is my immersion blender,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, owner of Kelly Jones Nutrition, who suggests using the gadget to prep a Creamy Dairy-Free Tomato Sauce. “It’s so much easier and safer to use it over the stovetop to make soups and sauces creamy, versus transferring hot liquid to a blender. It’s also quick and fun to use—and clean up is super easy.” Marie Dittmer, MA, RDN, a nutrition blogger at HealthyIdeasPlace.com, notes that you can also use an immersion blender to prep smoothies and vinaigrettes.

8. Mince garlic in a flash

“We are an Air Force family and recently rented a furnished house for a few months while doing some training in another state,” says Savannah Thaler, RDN, owner of Savvy Wellness and Health. “The kitchen had the necessities but not all my usual gadgets and tools. The thing I missed the very most was my garlic press! I love using fresh garlic and cook with it almost every night. Quickly mincing garlic with a garlic is so much more efficient than hand chopping each tiny clove. I will never travel without it again!”

9. Easily prep poached eggs

If this item isn't on your list of kitchen items, add it immediately. “I love using these egg poach pods,” says Tawnie Kroll, RDN, owner of Kroll’s Korner. Make poached eggs for an eggs Benedict recipe or to serve with fruit and whole-grain toast. “I love it for the ease and because they actually work really well!"

10. Whip up a healthy smoothie

Kathy LaBella, RDN, CSSD, owner of Peak Performance , says that she couldn’t live without her high-speed blender. “I use it daily for smoothies, soups, and other recipes!” she says.

11. Let the microwave do the work

“Along with our salad spinner, the microwave is a completely useful and practical tool in my kitchen ,” says Zach Cordell, RDN, owner of Cordell Nutrition. “Being a box, it's not as sexy as other gadgets but can do the job of reducing time serving up meals for the family.”


My Favorite Kitchen Basics

I’m always curious as to which kitchen tools are people’s favorites. I love hearing about fancy dehydrators and bread machines that people swear by and I contemplate adding them to my collection one day.

Though I have a few fancy gadgets myself, my favorite items are my wonderful basics. The items I believe everyone should have because I use them almost daily.

Here are my top 7 kitchen faves:

7. My Coffee Frother

Truth be told, I don’t know what this little guy is actually called. I got him forever ago at Ikea for probably $3, but he transformed my cup of morning (decaf) joe.

I didn’t add quite enough milk to show the full effect, but when I whip my cream and/or milk in the cup before adding the coffee, I end up with a cafe-worthy, frothy cup of coffee! And who doesn’t want to feel a little fancy in the morning?

6. My Non-stick Frittata Pan

My collection of pots and pans are stainless steel (and I LOVE them), but this one non-stick guy gets used a lot. It’s perfectly sized for my individual morning egg/eggs white combos and works wonders when I’m cooking up dinner for 1 (when Hubbs works late).

It has a second pan that locks in as a “top”, so you can flip it over for wonderful omelets, or shake up cut veggies without them flying out of the pan. The best part- it’s incredibly quick and easy to clean-up!

5. My Pizza Stone

It’s no secret (if you’ve ever read my blog) that Hubbs and I love pizza. We make it at home quite often. I love making the dough and letting it rise, topping it with delicious fresh veggies, but the secret to a great pizza? A crust that is soft on the inside and crunchy on the bottom. You just can’t get this effect without a pizza stone!

It doesn’t stop with pizza- pizza stones are also incredibly useful in baking bread, cookies, making bread crumbs, trying herbs, roasting garlic and more!

PS- please don’t judge my very, very dirty oven. I’ll clean it today. …maybe.

4. My Kitchen Aid Mixer

How unoriginal, right? I’ll admit, I got this for a wedding gift, fully intending to make cookies every once in a while, but I find myself pulling it out more and more everyday. The uses for it are endless and I’m beginning to realize why people swear by it.

It is an expensive staple, but if you enjoy cooking and baking at all, I think it’s a necessity.

3. One Good Knife

I was fortunate to receive a set of wonderful knives when Hubbs and I got married. They all get used, occasionally, but this one knife gets used multiple times each day.

I never believed the hype that a good knife makes all the difference, but I’ve changed my tune! It makes prep worth so much easier and more enjoyable. It’s definitely worth investing in one good knife.

2. My (growing) Collection of Jars

I used to store my leftovers in plastic Tupperware, but finally had heard enough of the dangers of plastic and decided to make a switch. Not only is storing food in jars safer, I think it looks pretty, too! Eventually I’ll buy the glass container “tupperware” I’ve seen, but until then, I’ll keep collecting my leftover pickle jars!

PS- I’m sorry, poor neglected wine glasses… just hang in there until September!

1. My (multiple) Sets of Bowls

These bowls are perfect for mixing, prepping, tossing and a million other kitchen activities. They may seem like an obvious need, but you’d be surprised how long I went without any good bowls (like… a couple years!). Now I have 3 sets of bowls like this, and they all get used often.

If you are looking to invest in some quality bowls, look for a rubber rim around the bottom. This set (from Williams-Sonoma) has the rubber and it’s incredibly handy for keeping the bowls from sliding around and spilling.

What are some of your favorite kitchen basics?

I also want to thank The Charlotte Moms for welcoming me aboard with open arms. I am thrilled to be part of the team!


Related Items

1 A Simpler Way to Separate Your Egg Yolks

Most baking recipes require very specific egg yolk-to-egg white ratios. But for novice bakers (and let&rsquos be honest, some experienced ones), separating yolks from whites for dishes like angel food cake or egg-white frittatas can be a messy and painstaking process. Next time you find yourself in this sticky situation, here&rsquos a simple trick to streamline the process.

Select a regular water bottle, remove the lid, and wash clean. Carefully crack your eggs into a large bowl without breaking the yolks (spoiler alert, this is the hardest part). While gently squeezing your empty water bottle, hover over your selected egg yolk and begin to release your grip creating a suctioning vortex that&rsquoll scoop your yolk right into the bottle. Drop your separated egg yolk into a new bowl and voilà, separating those three cartons of eggs never looked easier.

2 Eliminate Garlic Odor for Good

If the secret to making your broccoli and Brussels sprouts taste better is adding more garlic (we see you), then this trick is for you. Before your prep work results in stinky garlic-scented fingers for the week, try rubbing your hands with stainless steel, like your sink faucet, a stainless steel pan, or the handle of a spatula&mdashwhatever&rsquos closest. Sounds odd, but this trick comes down to a simple scientific calculation. Garlic contains sulfur, which turns into sulfuric acid, and when mixed with water, the stench becomes ever more intense. However, you can rely on your trusty metal spoon to work its magic, as stainless steel binds with the sulfur molecules, thus transferring the smell off your fingers. Lucky for you, you won&rsquot need to break up with garlic just yet.

3 Cook Perfect Pancakes (Before You've Even Had Your Coffee)

Whether you&rsquore hosting brunch this weekend or you just like to jump-start your day with a stack of delicious pancakes, this trick will up your breakfast game. Next time your ketchup bottle runs out, don&rsquot chuck it in the recycling bin. Instead, wash it out and fill it up with your freshly made pancake batter for easy pouring. This will make your flapjack making a breeze and will spare you the tedious gunky, splattered batter clean up. Make too much mix? No worries, close the top and save it for tomorrow&rsquos breakfast in bed.

4 Double Your Ziploc Size in an Instant

Ever reach into your Ziploc box only to find out you&rsquove used the last of your large gallon bags&mdashjust when you were ready to save all your freshly-diced fruits and veggies inside? The worst. When all you&rsquore left with is your small sandwich-size bags and your extra-tall asparagus are too large to fit, you can use this life-saving hack to quickly double the size of your Ziploc&rsquos capacity.

Gather two same-sized Ziploc bags and turn one inside out. Place the contents you wish to store inside of the inverted bag, letting the ends that do not fit stick outside of the top. Cover with your remaining bag and align the seals together to close the bags using one another.

5 Create a Safe, No-Slip Cutting Board

Save your fingers from any chopping mishaps&mdashand the inevitable slicing slow-down that comes with a slide-y cutting board&mdashby placing a wet kitchen towel beneath your board to prevent any slipping. You can also try rolling your wet towel and forming a circle to place around a bowl to prevent movement while whisking.


Slicing Non-Eggs with an Egg Slicer

You should absolutely strawberries with an egg slicer for strawberry shortcake. Just nestle a berry into the divet horizontally, and slice. This removes the stem and makes nine perfect slices in one fell swoop. The slices are round, and not a triangular berry shape, but that doesn't matter. Slicing mushrooms with an egg slicer is another time-saver. It crushes them slightly. Use a knife if you need the mushrooms to be pretty. Avocado and banana are too soft. You have to cut them first and both get squashed and crushed into the grate. Mozzarella balls are too big. The wires do not cut through firm veggies like peppers. Squishy foods do not fare that well, either, so don’t bother with tomatoes, kiwis, plums, or peaches.

Helpful: 4 Easy: 5 Magic: 3


34 Things For Anyone Who Spends Basically All Their Time In The Kitchen

You don’t have to be a professional chef to know that the kitchen is the best place to be. And if you find yourself there most of the day whipping up delicious meals (and snacks), you probably know that you need to fill it with tools and products to help you achieve all your cooking goals.

From an anti-fatigue mat to keep your legs and feet from hurting while standing for hours to a KitchenAid mixer to make baking a breeze, we’ve rounded up some great tools, appliances, cleaning products, and more that will transform your kitchen and the way you cook.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.

Made to remove everything from grease to ink stains with zero water required, these magical wipes are also formulated with aloe and vitamin E so it's gentle on your skin. Plus, they're non-abrasive, so they're safe to use on smooth surfaces like car exteriors.

Promising review: "I have a small kitchen, and everything tends to get an oily, greasy film on it very quickly. I don't have a tile back splash or a range hood, and my fridge is right next to my stove, so the paint on the wall and the textured fridge get pretty disgusting. The tiniest little oil splatter seems to cover my whole kitchen. When these wipes arrived yesterday, I attacked my kitchen with them. They worked amazingly well! I didn't realize how much grease was really sticking to everything until I saw how disgusting the wipes were getting. Luckily, they're huge, so I was able to cover a lot before a needed a new one.
I have very sensitive skin, and these didn't dry my hands out at all. I also get severe migraines, which are easily triggered by chemical smells, and these have a nice, lemony scent that didn't trigger me at all. 10 stars!" — Michele West

Get a 90-pack from Amazon for $11.48 (available in eight sizes and multi-packs).

You'll have a place to store all of your family's favorite recipes. or those concoctions you've recently stumbled upon on TikTok. This ring binder comes with 25 4"x6" recipe cards, 50 clear plastic sleeves, and nine tab dividers with categories.

Promising review: "I don't have too many recipes (since I'm not the best cook lol), so I was looking for a really cute recipe book just to keep my favorites! They supple a handful of stylish note cards that match the binder to input your recipes, which I really liked. Also, it is a really cute decoration to display in your kitchen, too!" — AB

Get it from Amazon for $14.99+ (available in three designs).

If you find yourself standing in your kitchen for long periods of time, this can help alleviate back and foot pain. It's basically a must-have if you spend your nights hand-washing an endless pile of dishes.

Promising review: "My kitchen floor is tile and after a half day of making bread, cookies, or brownies, or even prepping to can jams, my feet and toes would cramp at night. I needed relief! The Sky Mats kitchen mat is perfect. It's a perfect size for my kitchen workspace and amazingly comfortable to stand on while I chop, knead, stir, and mix. I spilled strawberry jam on it and thought I'd created a permanent sticky spot, but it cleaned up without a trace. I can sweep it clean after a day in the kitchen. Best of all, I don't have cramps in my toes and legs at night. Love my mat!" — Judith

Get it from Amazon for $29.99+ (available in four sizes and 10 colors and patterns).

Add this to your cabinet, and you'll actually be able to see the massive collection of seasonings you've somehow accumulated over the years.

Promising review: "With all our spices on one level, we had to take out every spice to get to the ones in the back. Now they are all visible and you can just reach in and take out the one you need. Easy peasy!" — Kindle Customer

Get a set of two from Amazon for $27.99.

Put the spices you reach for the most in it, and you'll be able to grab them in seconds. Plus, this is way more elegant than simply sitting them on top of the stove.

Get it from Ashley Homestore for $29.99 (originally $79.99).

Yes, it actually lives up to the hype. Whether you're slow cooking your favorite soup or looking to whip up some homemade yogurt, this magical pot does it all. It's a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, and food warmer all rolled into one nifty appliance.

Promising review: "This is quite possibly the coolest, most versatile kitchen gadget I’ve ever owned. I love it so much that I’ve purchased two more for friends and relatives. What can it do? I think the real question is 'What can’t it do?' I truly believe you could replace every cooking appliance (including your oven and stove top) and do EVERYTHING in the Instant Pot. I purchased two sizes for my own use: the three-quart (which is my almost-every-day workhorse for two person dishes) and the eight-quart (which I bring out to handle my dinner party dishes). Everything I’ve tried has been fabulous. In the realm of kitchen appliances, there is no better investment than the Instant Pot. Highly recommended. " — Stereoman

Get it from Amazon for $63.94+ (available in four sizes and two styles).

Filled with unique, easy meal ideas (and mouth-watering photos), this calendar will ensure that you won't get stuck eating the same thing over and over again.

Promising review: "Great quality calendar. This is the second year I purchased this calendar. Great recipes, plus great quality. I always look for a calendar that won’t sag throughout the year, this one doesn’t! I have this in my office and it’s a great conversation starter." — Dee Anna Chappell

Get it from Amazon for $11.98.

Made to clean basically anything in your kitchen and bathroom, this is basically a requirement for you to own. Need to spruce up your sink? Bring some life back to your old tarnished silverware? This will definitely do the trick.

Promising review: "Bar Keepers Friend should really be called 'Homeowner's Magician'! I purchased this cleanser in an attempt to revive our stainless-steel knife set, which is a great moderately-priced set that has seen better days, and I'm extremely happy that I did. The cleanser not only took away the rust spots with minimal difficulty, but it returned them to their original luster! After cleaning our knives, I gave it a shot on our porcelain sink, which I typically have to douse in bleach cleaner to remove the stains from, causing the entire kitchen to be filled with noxious fumes. and it worked beautifully! The stains came clean, and it made the sink look pretty enough to eat off of." — Kat (Ferrari) Backa

Get it from Amazon for $11.48.

Plop these in your water bottles and coffee tumblers to remove stains and odors from the bottles you've left unwashed for an embarrassingly long time. It happens. These are biodegradable and odor-free.

Promising review: "I seriously can't believe how well these little tablets work. I had the most disgusting HydroFlask coffee mug — I tried everything. A bottle brush, different kinds of soap, vinegar, EVERYTHING, and there was still a seemingly impenetrable layer of black sludge inside. I let a tablet sit in each of my mugs for an hour or two, and the black sludge rinsed out COMPLETELY, without even scrubbing. They look brand new. What a magical product. No weird smell or taste afterward, either. I liked it so much I used it on another HydroFlask I use primarily to hold my Bloody Mary mix in the fridge. I couldn't put anything else in it because it would always taste like spicy tomato juice. Bottle Bright to the rescue! No residual smell or taste anymore. AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING." — Amazon Customer

Get a 12-pack from Amazon for $8.

This may look like a simple spatula, but it's actually so much more. You can use it as a slotted spoon, spatula, turner and it even features an edge that's perfect for light slicing and dicing.

Promising review: "Give it a cap and a costume, this is the only thing I need in the kitchen! I am often looking for tools that can replace the 30 others I have collected in my kitchen. I have used this to flip grilled cheese, stir red beans and rice, strain Brussel's sprouts, and taste sauce. I used the flat edge to cut onions that were too large once in the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan. The uni-tool feels nice in my hand, has held up fine in multiple dishwashings, and has allowed me to toss a few kitchen tools that have become obsolete." — Hiawhatha

Get it from Amazon for $19.26.

Now your ice will never absorb any freezer odors. Plus, you won't have to worry about spilling any water after you refill it!

Promising review: "I absolutely LOVE ice cubes in my drinks, and it's so annoying to have ice cube problems. I really researched ice cube trays and read a lot of reviews until I found these trays. It's so nice not to have to worry about spilling water just trying to get them in there. Also, they come out of the tray so easily! No more fighting to get the cubes out. These just kind of pop out when you press down on one side." — Kalisa
Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

This can handle the toughest ingredients with ease. You'll be whipping up your own chunky salsas and fresh nut butters in no time.

Promising review: "The holy grail blender, y'all. I grew up with a Vitamix (big, tall, classic model), and since being on my own I have really missed it. I tried food processors (because they're cheaper), less expensive blenders, immersion blenders, etc. Nothing came close to what a Vitamix can do. If you're wondering if it's worth the price, I would give a resounding YES. It's so supportive of a healthy diet (smoothies, soups, scratch-made dips and salsas, nut milks and butters, etc.), and it's stupid easy to use AND clean. What sold me ultimately was 1) the smaller size (the classic ones are larger), and 2) I thought about how much I spend (or would like to spend) at my local smoothie/juice bar. A 16 oz. smoothie costs a ridiculous $8-9, and a juice at least that much, if not more. If I could afford it, I would have gotten one daily. So, this Vitamix pays for itself in about a month." — lovespuppies

Get it from Amazon for $272.42+ (available in three colors and four styles).

You can pop these right in the microwave because you shouldn't have to dirty extra dishes just to enjoy leftovers.

Promising review: "I am in the process of replacing all my storage containers with these. I cannot say enough good things about this product! These containers go from dishwasher to freezer storage without any issue. Started with a sample set to test whether they would bubble up in the microwave or stain, as I cook a lot of red sauce pasta and barbecue. They have passed every test with flying colors. These have not stained, bubbled (whitened), and hand washing or dishwasher — it doesn't make a difference, because they clean up great! Exceeded all expectations and I wish I would have bought these sooner. The best all around storage container I have ever used! Love them!" — Susanne S.

Get a two-pack from Amazon for $13.98+ (available in four sizes and four sizes).

Add some order to your chaotic mess of groceries with this set. And because you'll be able to actually see all your food, you might just end up using that bag of lettuce before it goes bad!

Promising review: "It's nice to be able to find things in the refrigerator and be able to pull out the whole tray container to see what's in the back of the fridge. I don't know if this happens to you, but I find my way to the back every so often, and come to find out a jar in the back expired a year ago. Now I can see everything and use it." — BookBroke

Get a six-piece set from Amazon for $34.99.

This is so easy to use and will turn your own kitchen into your new favorite (and much less expensive) coffee shop. Just add coarse-ground coffee into the mesh filter, pour water into the pitcher, screw the lid on (with the filter attached and submerged in the water), let it brew for 12–24 hours, and serve. You can pour it straight over ice cubes, or cut it with water or milk.

Promising review: "This coffee maker is my BEST FRIEND! I use this every day, it's so easy to use! My coffee comes out perfect every time. I'm a cold coffee drinker and I put about 8-10 scoops of freshly ground coffee into the filter. I let it sit overnight and the next morning, I remove the filter and dump the grounds. It makes four days' worth of coffee and I love that it's ready to go for me, especially since I wake up at 4:50 a.m. and I need to make my coffee quickly! It's very easy to clean as well." — Panda

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in two sizes and three colors).

Free up some counter space and wow everyone who steps foot in your kitchen.

Promising review: "I want to order another one! I wish I had thought to purchase one of these sooner. The magnet is strong and holds plenty of my everyday knives. I decided to put it on the side of my fridge and it holds perfectly. I didn't need anything extra to hold it in place either. I'd like to get one more for the rest of my tools because this is so much better than the block! Now I have more counter space." — RayJoni07

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+ (available in two sizes).

These tools will help you tackle tough stains and make your stove looks shiny enough for the pages of Architectural Digest. This set comes with a 10-ounce bottle of cooktop cleaner, one cleaning pad, and one scraper.

Promising review: "As soon as I used this stuff, I couldn't believe it! We had a new stove that I didn't clean for months and assumed the burnt pea juice (my enemy) would just be a new stain forever. However, after one application, it was basically gone. I used the scraper that came with it and did one more small application on just that spot, and it was gone! Every time I use this it looks like my stove could be brand-new." — Christi

Get it from Amazon for $9.49.

Your dishwasher is probably way dirtier than you imagine. These will break down lime and mineral build-up so your dishes come out looking as sparkly as they do in all those dish soap commercials.

Promising review: "After using this product, I am happy to report that my $5 investment saved me over $500. I was ready to replace my dishwasher, due to super cloudy glasses, residue, and just not getting clean. Then I saw a product test review for Affresh in Good Housekeeping magazine. I was ordering some stuff from Amazon anyway, so I added that to my order. I did not expect the results I got! The glassware that I thought was permanently etched and ruined came out like new. Same with cutlery. The difference is unbelievable. I am amazed!" — Sheila

Get a six-pack from Amazon for $5.99.

Get an instant reading with this useful tool, so you can rest assured that your meats are cooked to the perfect temperature.

Promising review: "This digital meat thermometer is the best I've ever had. I own others, but they are either too bulky to fit in the drawer or too hard to read. This one is small and lightweight it's easy to pull out the probe and very easy to read the temperature. I purchased several as stocking stuffers for Christmas. They make a gift that will be appreciated for its size and ease of use, but most importantly, it will be a gift that gets used instead of put away in the closet." — Kat29

Get it from Amazon for $12.99.

Tiny apartment dwellers, rejoice! This is a major space saver and surprisingly multifunctional. It can also be used as a trivet mat on your countertop or simply as a way to turn your sink into some extra counter space when you're cooking. It's heat-resistant up to 400 degrees F and can be tossed in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.

Promising review: "It is incredibly versatile and a wonderful addition to our kitchen. So far I have used it for drying large items over the sink, filling a pot when the sink was already full, and as a counter trivet for a hot pan, and it performs beautifully in all these roles. The metal rods are strong and sturdy enough to hold heavy items, long enough to span our sink from multiple angles, and best of all, it rolls up for easy storage when not in use. All around a great kitchen tool, and I'll never be without one again." — T. Eicher

Get it from Amazon for $24.98+ (available in two sizes).

You can start stacking all of your Tupperware containers together and save some sacred storage space.

Promising review: "This does exactly what it says it does. It holds a variety of lid sizes and fits nicely inside the cabinet. It is so nice to be able to find the exact lid you are looking for without having to rummage around inside the cabinet. I would recommend this product." — shelby2289

Get it from Amazon for $13.99 (available in two colors).

Not only will this prop open plastic bags, but it also doubles as a sleek drying stand for bottles and glassware and as an easy way to hold scraps while cooking. It's basically the helpful kitchen assistant you never knew you needed.

Promising review: "I stumbled on this product searching for something to dry bottles. I am so glad I took a chance on it. I love it for drying bottles. It does everything the reviews list. I was sold on it because it looked so easy to store, but honestly, it hasn't left my countertop since it arrived. The way it opens and adjusts lends itself to any number of uses. My favorite part it that I can hold up large awkward items like cookie sheets and a 9x13 pan to dry. I have used it for holding open gallon bags to fill. Such a simple design and well-executed." — My Old KY Home

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+ (available in two colors).

This will become your new best friend from the first moment you use it. It can handle everything from thick bread dough to creamy cake batter — and let's face it, it will just look so good on your countertop.

Promising review: "My wife and I contemplated getting this mixer but were a bit wary because of the price point. It's totally worth the investment. This is an appliance we'll have for life and it works like a charm! So far we've used it to make a few baked goods and it's responding great. We totally love it!" — Seth Lizy

Get it from Williams Sonoma for $399.95 (available in 10 colors).

Easily dispose of your scraps while cooking without having to walk over to the trash can every single time.

Promising review: "I love this product because I'm always chopping vegetables and cutting up meat. I would be making several trips to the trash. Now I'm able to make meal prep quicker, easier, and cleaner! A good way to use up some of those plastic bags from the grocery store, too!" — Ellen Holcomb

Get it from Amazon for $6.99.

Now you can answer that text from your friend when you should be continuously stirring your homemade pasta sauce. It has a built-in timer and runs on four AA batteries.

Promising review: "Honestly I laughed at myself for buying this. I stopped laughing the first time I used it! What a help! It freed me up to do other things while it stirred the sauce that needed constant attention. Bought another one! Not laughing now!" — Luvdvm

Get it from Uncommon Goods for $25.

You'll finally be able to turn your back for one second without worrying about your pot of pasta boiling over and making a mess everywhere. This 11-inch spill stopper is made of silicone that's heat-resistant up to 400 degrees F. It's also microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

Promising review: "I was pretty skeptical but thought I would give it a try. I LOVE this spill stopper! I cooked up brown rice and usually have to deal with the pot boiling over at some point. This wonderful invention allowed for me to walk away to take care of a few things before coming back and turning down the heat. I was so happy that there was no spill-over to have to clean up. I would purchase this as a housewarming gift, a hostess gift. what a wonderful invention!" — KW

Get it from Amazon for $19.24+ (available in two colors).

Keep all of your silverware in its proper place because not every drawer should be a junk drawer.

Promising review: "I loved this so much I bought one for the bestie who just bought a new house. My silverware drawer is organized for the first time in forever!" — Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

Keep your produce tasting fresh for much longer. If you constantly find yourself tossing out strawberries you totally forgot you bought, these containers will basically pay for themselves.

Promising review: "I wish I would have gotten these sooner. I bought strawberries for my children, and then I forgot about them. I found them in the back of the refrigerator almost TWO WEEKS later, and they were still good. The real miracle is how long it keeps zucchini. Zucchini starts to get mushy in the crisper drawer after just a few days. Again, these miracle containers have kept it fresh for close to two weeks now. I've kept cut lettuce, cut cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, sliced bell peppers, strawberries, blackberries, cut jicama, and carrots in these containers. I've had fantastic results with all of them." — Laura

Get a three-piece set from Amazon for $34.88 (also available in 10 other sizes and sets).

This will pair nicely with a sous vide — or you can simply use it for safely storing leftovers (or the other half of an avocado!) for longer periods of time.

Promising review: "I had one of these machines from a well-known company for about 10 years, and it finally quit working. I bought a new one from the same company, and it was junk. This one was highly rated in a bunch of articles from different magazines, so I gave it a try. Wow. It's amazing! Pretty quiet (unlike my other one) and has great suction. There's a trough that you have to put the end of the bag in, or it won't work. Took me a couple of tries to figure that out. Also, make sure you press down HARD on both sides of the machine when you close it. Don't worry. you won't break it lol. It's totally worth the money." — Traci

Get it from Amazon for $47.99+ (available in two colors).

Swipe all your countertop messes directly into the sink. It even has a built-in ledge so you can hang it when not in use.

Promising review: "LOVE THIS PRODUCT! Saves me so many paper towels, easily washed in the dishwasher, and the small size saves space! Will always have one of these on hand for sure!" — Prime Time Review

Get it from Amazon for $8.99.

Let everyone know you mean business in the kitchen. It comes with six high-quality steel knives that will tackle all your slicing needs — and look good doing it. Each set includes an 8-inch chef's knife, a 7-inch Santoku knife, an 8-inch bread knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, and a walnut knife block.

Promising review: "These are sharp! They’re quality knives, the handles don’t break off, they feel great and they’re sharp, very sharp. The wood stand looks great on my kitchen." — Merim Spiodic

Get a six-piece set from Amazon for $229.95.

Attaches this to the side of your pot, and you'll never burn yourself while awkwardly straining into a colander ever again! It's made of flexible silicone and designed to fit most pots and pans.

Promising review: "Gone are the days of pouring into a separate strainer and then having to clean two different things for a simple bowl of cooked pasta. I'm not typically a raving fan of seemingly simple kitchen gadgets, but this handy little helper works exactly as advertised. Made of hearty silicon material, it's flexible enough to snap onto all of my pots, from my small 8" to my largest Dutch oven. Even better, the material doesn't conduct heat so I don't have to worry about burning my hands when pulling it off the pot after it's finished draining boiling hot water. I've even left it clipped onto a pot for a little while before draining the water off, and it shows no sign of melting or marring. This is a fantastic way to shave off a few precious seconds from the process and I'd highly recommend it." — J. Im

Get it from Amazon for $15.99+ (available in five colors).

You can spin away and grab whatever you need. Sometimes the simplest kitchen gadgets are truly the most helpful.

Promising review: "I cook a LOT. I had a utensil holder, but it wasn't big enough so it was hard to slide the utensils in — and if it was semi-empty, they were tilting and falling. I threw it away and used a drawer but then was super sick of digging through everything to get what I needed, especially when you have something on the stove and you need it pronto. I ordered this and love it. It rotates so you can spin it around to get what you need really quickly, has three dividers in it (so the utensils aren't falling over every time you pull one out), and is big enough to fit everything. I have maxed it out with all my utensils — I have 16 cooking utensils in it at a time. It also looks really nice and sleek on the counter. I highly recommend this product." — Jessie

Get it from Amazon for $19.47.

Reaching for your favorite cookware shouldn't feel like playing a game of Jenga in your cabinet. Plus, you can use it upright or on its side.

Promising review: "I was tired of stacking my frying pans on top of each other and was looking for something to both organize my pans and give me easy access to them. Before this organizer, I would have to unstack several pans in order to get to the middle pan that I needed. Now, I can just reach in and immediately get the frying pan that I need without having to unstack. The quality of this organizer is pretty good." — Linda

Get it from Amazon for $15.97+ (available in two colors).


Chef AJ, Eat Unprocessed

Chef AJ has followed a plant-based diet for over 36 years. She is a chef, culinary instructor, professional speaker, and author. With her comedy background, she has made appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, David Letterman, and more.

In Los Angeles, Chef AJ teaches her popular Intro Class, which includes cooking instruction, nutritional advice, song parodies and flat-out fun. She discusses food addiction and addresses the emotional side of eating. Never content to leave her audience with mere just do it advice, she teaches:
• How to create meals to transform your health
• How to deal with cravings
• How to deal with food addiction

Chef AJ is author of the popular book Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight. The book is half confessional memoir, half delectable recipes. It chronicles her journey from junk-food vegan faced with a diagnosis of pre-cancerous polyps, to learning how to create foods that heal the body. Many of her recipes can be seen on her YouTube cooking show The Chef and the Dietitian.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I am Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food, here on October 21 st , 2014. I am really happy to be here, I really love doing this show, you know sometimes I think that I do it just for me, it’s a selfish thing. But I am glad that you are here to share what I have to say with my guests because I learn so much, and I hope that you do too.

I am actually in the Bay Area for a few weeks, you know I am normally in New York, and sometimes I get over to the West coast. It’s fun when I do because I get to experience some of the newer restaurants that are going on or visit some of my old favorites. It’s all about food for me, all the time. No matter what I see, or hear or learn, I always know plant foods seem to be the right answer to everything. You know what I mean?

Okay, so before I get started I wanted to let you know that I am involved with John and Ocean Robbins, we are working together on something called Six Weeks to a Healthy Kitchen. You can find out more about it at healthy.foodrevolution.org and there is a 1-hour power hour program that you can listen to. Tomorrow, we are having a free question and answer program that you can participate in. And then there is a 6-week course, and I am so privileged to be a part of this. And I am very excited about it and if you want to know more about it, you can go to healthy.foodrevolution.org or you can always send me an email at [email protected] We just want to get you to that lovely delicious place of eating healthy delicious food as much as possible, because it’s good for you, the planet and… It’s good for us and all life on earth.

All right, I want to bring on my very first guest for today, Chef AJ. She had followed a plant based diet for over 36 years. She is a chef, culinary instructor, professional speaker and author. With her comedy background, she has made appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, David Letterman and more. We are going to learn more about her and talk about her book, Eat Unprocessed. Hi Chef AJ, so good to have you here!

Chef AJ: Hi Caryn, thank you for having me. It’s actually been over 37 years now.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, 37! 37 is my favorite number so congratulations!

Chef AJ: Thank you thank you, yeah September 1 st , it was 37 years and I think I am going to stick with it a little longer.

Caryn Hartglass: And I think it will allow you to stick with it a lot longer.

Chef AJ: Absolutely, it seems to be working for me.

Caryn Hartglass: I wanted to say you know, when I put my webpages together with my guest, and I don’t really ready what I am putting up there and so I didn’t really read your bio until just now. And I was reading your book Eat Unprocessed, starting in the beginning and I was listening to your story and we can talk more about it in a moment. But you have experienced every bad news possibility and yet you were talking about it with a wonderful sense of humor and I thought, “Boy! She’s really got wit and she is smart.” Then I read and oh, you were on the tonight show with Johnny Carson.

Chef AJ: I don’t think you have lost anything in life until you lose your sense of humor. Then you really have. As long as you can maintain a sense of humor, I think there is always hope.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, that’s it! Sense of humor! I am telling myself jokes all the time because we live in a cruel world and we have to keep that sense of humor.

Chef AJ: Absolutely, a lot of people suffer from what I call optical rectalitis, a shitty outlook on life. I really think, you have to see the good in all situations especially when you are down. I remember when I was 4 years old, my great grandmother lost her leg to diabetes, and everybody was like oh that’s so sad and I am like, hey she only have to shave one leg now. I was 4, but I realized, I always had the ability to see good in every situation, because if you don’t, boy life is going to be a real downer. Because as you said there is already so many things happening right now that we can’t control that are sad but the thing is that you have to maintain that PMA- Positive Mental Attitude or you sunk, you know?

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, keywords you just mentioned: control. There are only so many things we can control in this crazy life.

Chef AJ: One of the things we can control is what we put in our mouth every day. That is one of the things we really can control and that is with a whole plant based diet. I mean you are actually controlling your health destiny. That is a great thing about it, it’s not just for the animals, it’s not just good for the environment, it is good for your health and longevity and well-being and that is one thing you can control. It doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you make, no excuses, everybody can eat healthy in whatever situation they are in, or eat healthy as much as possible.

I travel now for 4 years all over the United States and parts of the world and I realize it really can be done. It can be done quite deliciously and quite affordably.

Caryn Hartglass: Ok so this is 2014, I always like to say find your kitchen. What we are talking about is something radical and revolutionary in 2014, where everybody is consuming processed and synthetic, just crazy stuff. You have got to get radical, revolutionary, find your kitchen and start learning to prepare your food, this is the message. Your book Unprocessed is one way to get there.

Chef AJ: Yeah, it’s so funny that people think that this is revolutionary and this is extreme, eating potatoes, rice and beans, fruits and vegetables. While our ancestors lived on these foods where throughout almost all human history, only in the last couple hundred years that we started eating processed food. There are populations in the world today like where I teach in Mexico or Japan, where people are still eating whole unprocessed food and they are slim and they don’t have heart disease or diabetes or auto-immune disease or cancer. People tell me the way that I eat is extreme, yet they are taking 16 medications or having their chest cracked open and veins striped out of their legs put on in their heart, that’s not extreme?

Caryn Hartglass: It’s crazy isn’t it?

Chef AJ: Yes, the world is so bad.

Caryn Hartglass: Well unfortunately in these places that you are talking about, even these places are changing, where more and more people are adopting our crazy way of eating.

Chef AJ: Right, my medicinal? [7:46] medicine doctor, a prestigious medicinal doctor in Los Angeles, he is my doctor now because he is plant based, he has only done so three years since reading the china study. Because of this he is known as the crazy vegan doctor because if you are vegan, especially if you are educated health professional, the only obvious answer is “he must be crazy”. It is so funny because when he was 30 pounds overweight, nobody said anything but he got to plant based diet and got slimmer now they say: “do you have cancer?” This is what happens when we see a normal weight person. We just assume that they must have cancer! Because two thirds to three fourth of the people in the United States are overweight or obese! We can’t even recognize normal weight person anymore.

Caryn Hartglass: and when you are slim or the right weight, people say: “oh you are too thin”.

Chef AJ: I know that is hilarious. Because I used to be obese I used to weigh 180 pounds, and now that I am 60 and more pounds less, you now for women I don’t get that : “you have cancer” I get “oh she must me anorexic”. What they don’t realize is that now that I am slim, I eat more food that I ever ate before because I am eating the right food and that’s what so great about the diet that I teach. Because you now what I said in 1993, when you eat whole natural food, you get to eat more and weigh less. And I love it and I eat all the time and I am very happy with what I eat.

Caryn Hartglass: I am too. I resonated with so many things that I read in your little book Unprocessed. What I like about it is that it’s a slim book and it’s easy to get through very quickly. I just made a few notes and I thought we might touch on a few things that I read.

It opens with Hans Diehl, who I love, who wrote your foreword. It began with the good life is killing us. We are trying to solve this good life all over the world and sometimes with the message that we are going to help impoverished areas. I think it’s wonderful to get people out of poverty but do we want to trade it with diabetes and heart disease and all kinds of health issues.

Chef AJ: Most people would say that James Gandolfini, the wonderful actor that played Tony Soprano was living the good life but the good life did kill him by having a heart attack after eating an extremely high fat meal with his son I believe it was in Italy. So the good life will shorten your life, but I don’t believe in the good life, I believe in the great life. And that’s what you get when you eat a whole food plant based diet. And you can keep your good life people because we are the plant eaters, we are living the great life.

Caryn Hartglass: You are funny. The first thing that was funny in your book that I found was that you were born just after isolated soy protein.

Chef AJ: That’s right, 1960 you bet.

Caryn Hartglass: So let’s talk a little bit about isolated soy protein for a minute.

Chef AJ: Well, soy is fine, but people want to avoid it, I actually do avoid it because I am allergic to it, but if people want to it eat a little edamame, that’s definitely healthy. If people want to have a little minimally processed soy, like tofu, tempeh or even soy milk made of soy beans and water that’s fine. But the problem is that we take a whole natural food like a bean and we process it into burgers and powders and candy bars and everything that was good about it is stripped away into processing. And what happens is we actually have now a disease promoting food that can raise what’s called IGF-1, which is a strong cancer promoter. And this is what they do, this is what processed food industry does. They mess with nature, and you know you can’t mess with Mother Nature and hope to thrive.

You know I do not eat oil, I do not advocate oil especially for people that are overweight and trying to lose weight, and people with heart disease or diabetes. There is nothing good about oil, it’s not a whole food it is worth thousand calories a pound, it has no fiber, it has no nutrients, it has no vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Most of the time in the human history, oil didn’t exist. You can’t take an olive and squeeze it the way you take an orange and get a juice but this is what the processed food industry does, is they create these highly caloric, highly addictive products that really don’t serve our health. The answer is to always go to the whole food parent. I am not telling people not to eat fat but if you want to eat olives, eat olives. If you want to eat flax seed, eat flax seed but you don’t need to eat the oil of the whole food product. You want to get the food in the whole food form, same thing with sugar, eat beets, don’t eat sugar, you know it takes three feet of sugar cane to make a tea spoon of sugar it takes sixteen years of corn to make a table spoon of corn oil when you eat the natural food, you get full from all the fiber, water, vitamins and mineral. You end up eating less and you can get to your true slim ideal weight without overeating. It’s just healthier, it’s more sustainable, it’s actually cheaper too to it this way. That’s what people don’t understand, if all you do is eat at restaurants and eat designer vegan processed food, it can be really expensive. But if you are eating potatoes, rice and beans , they’ve shown you can eat for I believe like $1.33 a day they did an experiment on Forks over Knives. Very affordable to eat this way.

Caryn Hartglass: Yep, it’s crazy. But we’ve got to get radical, we’ve got to get revolutionary and we have to find our kitchen.

Chef AJ: You know what if people just keep dying and keep getting sicker and sicker and more obese, at some point It’s going to have to change. And it is changing, look at Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest, if not the largest institution in health care management. They are promoting plant based diet to their patients right now. They are recommending them, especially the patient with diabetes, so things are changing very slowly but I think they are. It is sort of like you know I remember when I was a kid in the 60s I remember going to the movies and people were smoking and it was disgusting. They could smoke in the grocery store and guess what, you can’t smoke anywhere now and if you smoke’ it’s almost embarrassing and shameful, in the airport they have this little rooms where people can smoke in and you can look at them and make fun of them. I think that is what it’s going to come down to people that are eating animal products and processed food, you can do it , it’s addictive but there is going to be consequences. And it should be taxed you know like the way Bloomberg, the mayor in New York that says we’ve got to get taxes on junk food and sodas. Let’s do the same thing for processed food and animal products you know.

Caryn Hartglass:. yeah, I am thinking about how much smoking used to go on in public, and how we don’t have it right now. I like to reflect on that moment and feel so grateful for what we have accomplished. Because it was horrible for those of us who didn’t smoke. I remember going into planes, we are afraid of ebola now, but the cigarette smoke that used to go on in the planes, you couldn’t breathe!

CHEF A.J Right, It took a movement, and the thing is doctors used to smoke. I mean if you look at commercials from the old days, Doctors used to recommend cigarettes to their patients, but here is the thing, when you know better, you have to do better and people know now, that the standard American diet is killing us. This so called good life diet is killing us. We can’t just keep our heads buried in the sand. We know better, everybody has access to Forks Over Knives, it’s on Netflix. You know better, you’ve got to do better, some people won’t and that’s their choice but at least let’s get this information out. It is getting out, thanks to the internet and people are at least understanding that dairy is a strong cancer promoter, You know like Paul McCartney said, if all our houses had windows, everybody should be a vegetarian. Now there is a law that you can’t film what’s going on inside, you get prosecuted if you try to film all the abuse that’s going on out there. But it is getting out. People are waking up and that’s what is going to be required, its people are going to have to wake up. You know?

Caryn Hartglass: Yes we have to wake up. I don’t know if there were window on slaughterhouses or factory farms, if everybody would go vegetarian. Unfortunately, that’s the pessimistic side of me. I still it should be over.

Chef AJ: But I think children would, I remember Harvey Diamond who wrote Fit For Life said that in a playpen, I will put a bunny and a carrot and if your kid plays with the carrot and eats the bunny, I will give you a new car because the reality is, this truth is hidden from kids. We call foods hot dogs, we don’t say it is made of ground up anuses and lips and all that stuff. If people knew what they are eating. We don’t call it cows, we call it beef, we have little names, we don’t call it pigs, we call it bacon and pork. We hide the truth from the kids by having little names. They are kids and if they knew what they were eating are friends, they wouldn’t be eating but we hide the truth from them until the point where they are addicted and it’s very hard for them to not eat these things once they had a taste of flesh and once they are learning this incorrect information how milk does the body good It gets much harder but I think at least in the case of children if they knew that they might not eat those.

I know I wouldn’t have, I know I wanted to be vegan as a young child but my mom wouldn’t let me. The only way I could get meat down me as a kid, it was disguised like in a soup or stew, I certainly didn’t eat anything with a bone. I couldn’t eat fish with a head or rib. I know I ate animal products but they didn’t look like it, you know what I am saying. But I think that the people need to know and they don’t want to know because guess what, when you know, you may have to change, and the people don’t like changing.

Caryn Hartglass: All right so changing the subject, people like to make excuses and they blame their genes a lot. I did not write it exactly down but you have a line about how genes load..

Chef AJ: Yeah I believe this is from T. Colin Campbell, from The China study.

Caryn Hartglass: Genes load the gun and diet lifestyle pulls the trigger

Chef AJ: Absolutely, when you really look into this field, lifestyle medicine, epigenetics, you realize genetics account for a very small fraction of whether or not you get a disease, some says it’s little as10% some say it’s as little as 5. Your genes have made you maybe have blue eyes or blond hair but it doesn’t determine your health destiny.

Now I come from a family of sick or dead people, meaning I lost all the members of my family by the time I was in my early 40s, meaning my parents and grandparents on both sides and aunts and cousins and even some siblings to the things like cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes, all those kind of things. One can say that cancer runs in my family and it sure does so does type II diabetes and heart disease, everybody is pretty much dead from it, except from me and my sister.

My sister is 6 years older than me, she is 60, I am 55, 54 and half. If that is true, I am on no medications, then why don’t I have any of these diseases, you could look at the fact that my sister and I took a different path have anything to do with it. The thing is Caryn that is so exciting is in the field of epigenetics, they determined when you actually change your nutrition to a whole food plant-based diet, you can actually change the expression of your genes. One of my favorite doctors in Houston, Texas, cardiologist named Dr. Baxter Montgomery says it’s not the diseases that runs in the family, it’s the recipe, hands down generation after generation.

My friend who is a doctor in Sacramento says a lot of his patients come to him and say, “Doctor, I can’t help it that I am fat, diabetes runs in my family.” And he goes, “No you are fat because nobody runs in your family.” So what is hereditary is lifestyle, inactivity and the bad food, but genetics don’t have to determine your health destiny at all. And if you do have bad genes, we can’t change our parents, we can’t choose our genes, then it is even more important to eat healthily. If these stuff runs in your family because you know it does so it’s even more important to eat a whole food plant based diet now, sooner than later so that you can avoid these diseases that everybody else has it in in your family succumb to.

So you know your genes are not your destiny, your diet can be your destiny. And if you choose wisely, you can avoid these diseases. And that’s what’s so beautiful about these diet is you avoid the disease killing everybody, you have to be. Number one killer of most American, doctors have said, is food borne illnesses, most of these diseases where created with a spoon and fork. They said that 90% of our visits to the doctor, any doctor, are from lifestyle related diseases, from habit, from what we eat, what we drink whether we smoke or not, whether or not we exercise, whether or not we can mitigate our stress. So these are all things that have nothing to do with your genes. Sure somebody is born with spina bifida or something like that, yes. That is genetic when of course when you are born this way. If you aren’t born with it, it’s not genetic, you have control. Take control of your health destiny, change your food, change your health destiny.

Caryn Hartglass: I think most people want to eat more healthily and they have their excuses of course and they are overwhelmed, they are tired, a lot of people have children and they have jobs, and they don’t seem to have a minute extra. And you write in your book eating healthy food, you end up having more energy and you might even have more time!

Chef AJ: Actually, if you buy a pressure cooker, which I believe in completely, you end up with more time. I am doing a seminar right now in Texas, you know, I am actually on a break from this seminar teaching the home of a mayor, and you know I tell people, not every single meal has to be a 5 star meal from at restaurant. And the thing is when you have a instant pot or pressure cooker, just throw in your rice and beans, and vegetables, you press the button, you go out and watch your dog, take a bath and half an hour later, you got your dinner! So you end up having more time when you cook this way because it comes so easy and so delicious. The thing is people will always make fusses about time Caryn but the reality is time is the only commodity in life that’s fair. We have different amount of money or other things but time, we all have the same 24 hours. And this is what I tell people, if you are on Facebook, you have time to eat healthy. Get off Facebook and start cooking your meal.

Caryn Hartglass: Get off Facebook!

Chef AJ: that’s right because you know, when I see people in my class that are tweeting or doing Facebook while I am teaching them, and they tell me they don’t have time to eat healthy… Do you know how much time people waste watching reality television, or being on Facebook. You have the time, you just have to make this a priority. I always ask people when they come to study with me privately very often first question is what are your goals? Because that is really going to determine how you behave and unless your health is not your number one priority, I always ask people, what is your priority in life, if it’s not number one, you really not going to achieve that as a goal because your health has to be very very important to you for you to have the ability to do this.

Get off Facebook and stop driving to the drive through and make a few meals, and as you do this it because easier and it becomes a habit, it’s like brushing your teeth. I am pretty sure that most of your listener and most people in this country probably brush their teeth every day and they don’t even think twice about it because it became a habit and so does healthy habit can become. The more you do it, the more you like it the easier it gets.

Maybe it’s never going to be easier as driving through the drive through the fast food restaurant and going to the dollar menu. But when people say that fast food is cheap and easy, I tell them that cancer and heart disease is very difficult and very expensive. Because if you don’t change your diet, even if you succeed in eating vegan junk food diet, at some point, you will have to pay the price. Because even vegans get sick and that’s why want to have people eat the whole food plant based diet sooner rather than later because I tell you it’s much more easier to prevent these diseases like heart disease, auto-immune disease, cancers, type II diabetes and reverse them. Now it can be reversed but the thing is why not be proactive? Why start smoking in the first place, why start drinking in the first place? Such difficult habit to break, why not just start now?

Caryn Hartglass: you mentioned pressure cooking, is there a pressure cooker that you recommend? Do you prefer electric or the stove top or what?

Chef AJ: I do prefer the electric for a couple of reason, one I travel full time and I can’t cook with the stove top in my hotel room. I love the instant pot and if for your listener go to the website www.instantpot.com and use my name AJ, you’ll get $50 off and what I love about the instant pot is it has not only things like yoghurt setting and all these different setting but it has a stainless feel and I am sure for many people it’s very important because it’s comfortable using a nonstick thing. I love the instant pot, great customer service and I actually have two of them now and I love them. One is for my rice and beans, and the other one is to cook my soup and stew. First, I was afraid of pressure cooking, I heard they explode and if you have an iPhone, you can use a pressure cooker because it’s really just pushing a button, it’s so easy.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s really good to know, I’ve heard good things about instant pot so I am glad you could provide examples.

Caryn Hartglass: We just have a few minutes left, I saved the best for last, which is let’s talk about the delicious food. One of the ingredients you talk about, I just want a little detail about, this is that you use sun dried tomatoes ground up.

CHEF A.J Yes! Now when I wrote the book, it was very easy to get sun dried tomatoes powder without salt online, now they stop doing it. Now because I don’t use salt id doesn’t mean I don’t use flavor, and it takes about 4 pounds of tomatoes to yield 3 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, so they are just packed full of flavor. So what you can do is that most places sell sun dried tomatoes now in the market, and if you have a high power blender great, if not you can buy a little coffee grinder for $15. And you want to take the kind that are dried not the kind that are packed in oil. And you just grind them into a powder and you can use them to add flavor to things like bean burgers, lentil loafs and soups and stews, or even sprinkle them on salad. They are just absolutely delicious, and if you don’t have a market that sell them, some people do live in a small town, you can buy them online justtomatoes.com has very hard sun dried tomatoes without oil, they are organic, and I just found out it’s just the most wonderful flavor and I use them on just about everything, they are just delicious, what can I tell you? They are very very delicious.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, the next item I want to talk about is psyllium husks. Some people might be familiar with them for constipation.

Chef AJ: I wrote this book before chia seeds came around so anytime you see psyllium husk in a recipe, feel free to substitute chia seeds which are high in omega 3 acid, it will yield the same result but don’t be afraid of psyllium, it’s just a husk, it’s just a natural thickener, well it’s true that Metamucil which is to move your bowels contains psyllium husk, psyllium husk is not Metamucil so you can get it in the grocery store, you can get it at Trader Joe’s, you can get it at the health food store. But again if people are uncomfortable with using it now they can use chia seeds, they can absolutely. You can make jellies and jams, pureeing fruit and adding things like chia seeds or psyllium husk to jell them.

Caryn Hartglass: Psyllium husks are cheaper than chia seeds aren’t they?

Chef AJ: Yes they are absolutely much much more affordable, like you can get this big carton of them at Trader Joe’s for like $6. Chia seeds are much much more costly but they are the seeds du jour. You know they have the grain du jour which are quinoa, and seed du jour which are chia seeds. But either of them are absolutely fine, if you are making a large amount of something, psyllium husk is very very inexpensive and it thickens very beautifully and quickly.

Caryn Hartglass: I want to mention two recipes in the book that want to make me lick the page. One is your mint chip smoothie.

Chef AJ: that’s delicious, you can make that with spinach and kale, it’s like a shamrock shake.

Caryn Hartglass: yeah, I’ve always been a fan of mint kind of ice cream and this is just right up my alley. Pistachio, milk, banana, dates, fresh mint leaves, kale leaves, cacao nibs.

Chef AJ: It’s so good, mint chocolate chip ice cream was always my favorite.

Caryn Hartglass: and the other one is your kung pao tofu.

Chef AJ: that’s really spicy but it’s really really good. And again I think I am using a thickener which is…

Caryn Hartglass: Arrowroot?

Chef AJ: Yeah, that’s another one, we have all these thickeners like arrow roots and corn scratch and agar, that’s really yummy, the sauce is boss and you know if we have few good sauces we can make multiple meals, we can change the vegetable, or the grain or the bean, or if we are using the tofu or the bean., we really need to have flavorful sauces and that one really is spice flavorful.

Caryn Hartglass: Most of your recipes have just a handful of ingredients, they are not complicated at all.

CHEF A.J Exactly, I did this on purpose because I was a volunteer culinary instructor at the Braille Institute Los Angeles for many years, all my students were blind and almost all of them were blind due to type II diabetes. If I have recipes that blind people can do, regular people can do. I mean every single recipe in my book Eat Unprocessed was tested on a blind student. If the recipes are easy, people are going to make them. Nothing bothers me more Caryn than when I get a beautiful cookbook, there’s like 30 ingredients. People don’t cook that way, not people in America, chefs may cook that way in restaurants but real food, real people , and I try to keep it to seven ingredients or less, and the most complicated in my book which I am told was one of my best is page 100 is the disappearing lasagna but then again that’s more like a party or special occasion recipe, and even that, it’s not that complicated, and my blind students were able to do it. My recipes are so easy that my husband can do them. And if you knew my husband, you will be like really? So yes, I did purposely keep it simple because the truth is even though I am chef, I worked at a restaurant, I went to culinary school, I eat like a regular person, I eat very simply and I feel that’s what I really enjoy. And that’s what my book reflects, it doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to be filling and tasty and healthy and delicious.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay well, chef A.J, so good to you. We have come to the end of the program, and I wanted to say one last thing is you really can tell how good this foods are because you put desserts first in your list of all your recipes and this is are all made from healthy whole foods,

Chef AJ: Exactly, and this is what I do, I don’t use any sugar, I don’t use any flour, I use the whole fruit, and nothing but the whole fruit so help me God.

Caryn Hartglass: So help me. Okay! Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope to get to know you sometime in person.

Chef AJ: Thank you Caryn Take care!

Caryn Hartglass: I love talking about food you know that about me you know I hope you love listening about healthy delicious food. So we are going to take a very fast break. We’ll be right back.


National food and recipes around the world

Yes, every country has a national food just like national animals, flower, and dress and so on. Surprisingly, very few people know about the national food of their homeland may be because it is not included in the text book like other important items that denote nationalism. One should be surprised at the thought how can we neglect food and culinary. Food is so significant of particular province or country, it produce and its people.

Every country has developed its own culinary taste and art through years of modernization. Following are some of the national food and recipes of the world as per various sources: