When I began my journey to healthier eating there were fewer vegan resources and mock-meats than there are today. Growing up in an omnivore household, I only learned a few vegan dishes. I'm not sure that my family even now knows what a tofu press is or what an emulsifier does. These were the types of kitchen things that I had to discover on my own.
It has taken me a few years and some trials and errors to expand my cooking skills beyond a microwave. I now have a solid group of kitchen gadgets that I use almost every day, all that have helped my cooking for the better. Here are the appliances that I recommend for all vegans looking to make cooking at home easier:
1. High Quality Blender or Emulsifier- The more watts the better! I use mine at least once a day to make things like: mixed drinks, hummus and other dips, soups, salad dressings, sauces, faux chicken and tuna salads, and smoothies. I have the Ninja, it is a great value for the price.
2. Tofu Press- This device helps to remove excess moisture which allows tofu to absorb more flavor from marinades. The use of a tofu press also changes the texture of the tofu, making it firmer with a stronger bite. I highly recommend getting one if you use any amount of tofu. It really beats trying to stack your casserole dishes on top of your tofu to press it!
3. Rice Cooker & Veggie Steamer Combo- It is a great time saver and mess preventer! Add water and rice then walk away, there is nothing to stir or watch boil over. With a veggie steamer attachment you can steam vegetables without dirtying an extra pot or using additional electricity (if used while cooking rice).
4. Food Chopper- It gives you a quick way to chop small quantities of vegetables like carrots, celery, garlic and peppers without all of the cutting. Once I added one to my collection I found that I started using a variety veggies in my meals, it cut my prep and clean-up time drastically.
5. Coffee Grinder- You can use it to grind flax-seed and fresh herbs. Whole flax-seeds are less expensive and keep longer; I grind the seeds weekly and sprinkle it on everything from oatmeal to pasta. It is also very inexpensive to grow your own basil, cilantro, and oregano. Once the weather starts to turn cold, dry your herbs and fill up your spice rack after grinding.
6. Bread Machine- This is another great appliance that you can set and walk away from. It makes great fresh gourmet breads while making your home smell great. Don’t forget to use the ‘dough only’ mode to knead and rise your dough for bread-sticks and pizza.
7. Mixer- This one is almost self-explanatory. Making cakes and cookies at home allows you to save money, always have a vegan option right at your fingertips, and make healthy alternatives. It is also great for making smooth mashed sweet potatoes with carrots or fluffy whipped toppings from coconut milk.
8. Oil Mister- Fill a mister with your favorite oil and use it for nonstick cooking, mist vegetables before baking, and spritz salads before serving. It gives you light even coverage without the need for a can of aerosol nonstick cooking spray. It’s better for you and the environment.
9. Toaster Oven- Use it instead of your oven for your light baking needs. A toaster oven heats up faster than a traditional oven, doesn't heat up the house during the summer, and it costs less to run.