Following the diet laid out by Dr. John McDougall in The Starch Solution can be difficult for many - in part because it is so different from the Standard American Diet. Fortunately, there are many great online resources and communities that can help make a world of difference. One such community is the McDougall Friend's Group on Facebook that I frequent.
If you are looking to get input on joining the plant-based lifestyle, or just need some help getting a firmer grip on your current WFPB diet, I would highly recommend joining this group and chiming in on some of the conversations.
One conversation that really seemed to take off stemmed from a question asked by one of the group members -
The answers provided by many of the group members were eye opening. Some kitchen essentials I have already been using, some for many years even before my transition to a plant-based lifestyle. Still, there were some others I had not heard of before. I thought I would share some of these with you!
Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
Easily one of the most popular response on McDougall Friends was that of the Instant Pot pressure cooker. There are many pressure cooker brands out there, some even more affordable, but the InstaPot brand name has come to be very well known and trusted. I have been using my Instant Pot IP DUO60 for over a year now, and have to agree that the quality, ease of use, and variety of settings provide a really great kitchen appliance that can be expected to last for a good length of time.
There are many Instant Pot models available to choose from - so you can find one that suits your needs!
One user wrote that their Cuisinart Griddle is "perfect for making no oil hashbrowns." Sounds like reason enough to consider buying one of these. The simplicity of use and high praise wins the day.
Vegan waffle mixes have become increasingly popular alternatives to "regular" waffle mix. It would be pretty difficult to make these vegan alternative waffles without one of these simple kitchen appliances. The need for purchase is simple - if you like making waffles at home but do not currently have a waffle iron, you should probably buy one!
There are many varieties available to choose from ranging from the simple, single waffle maker at a low cost to more high end options. The sky is the limit here!
I'm all for experimentation in the kitchen, but you will probably want to keep the garlic press away from the waffle iron. With that said, a garlic press is a simple, low cost kitchen aid that is used to crush fresh garlic, making for a great topping and garnish on a variety of plant-based dishes.
These are really great because of the flexibility they provide. Steamer baskets essentially function as inserts that can be used in a wide variety of cooking pots. Some people even use them in pressure cookers. Many are adjustable, such as the Vegetable Steamer Basket Set by Sensible Needs, making things even easier.
As should be implied by the name, these allow your food to cook with steam, not all the other unnecessary cooking agents like oil, microwaving, etc.
Oven and Stove
These are pretty obvious and simple, but a user on the the McDougall Friend's group made a good point about why this would be an essential kitchen appliance. She writes that she uses her oven to roast sweet potatoes, make French fries, bake tons of casseroles, bake breads, and more. Her stove is mandatory for cooking rice and steaming veggies (maybe using one of those steamer baskets!). I think we would all agree that the plant-based diet would be pretty difficult to keep "fresh" without these 2 core kitchen appliances.
It's easy to see why a food processor would be appealing to anyone adopting a plant-based diet. They provide an enormous amount of convenience as one product can be used to do so many versatile things. Whether you are looking to make juice or smoothies, or chop, slice, whisk, and knead your fruit and veggies, a good quality food processor can make all of this a cinch.
There are a lot of great options on Amazon. I would recommend the Braun FP3020 Food Processor with 7 Attachment Blades, Chopper and Citrus Juicer given how much you get for your money and the hundred's of glowing reviews.
Blendtec is a brand of high end blenders that is recommended because of the quality and durability. It is truly one of those kitchen gadgets that are purchased as an investment into your cooking...or well, "blending"...needs in the long-term. While I personally use lower priced blenders myself as they suit my needs, you may be more interested in this particular brand name given the positive response and recommendation from the McDougall Group members.
One of the key takeaways from what I was reading about the Blendtec products is that they really do blend "everything." You are not left with a pulpy residue that is often left in many smoothies. Personally, this texture does not bother me, but it's nice to have an option on the market that can eliminate this for those of you it does bother!
Like the Blendtec, Vitamix provides a line of high end blenders that can be used to make fruit and vegetable smoothies, soups, nut butters, etc. The quality seems to be there, but many do have a problem with the high cost of entry. I would have to agree that $500 dollars for the base model does seem pretty high! Even the Blendtec, again a high end blender brand, has a lower cost to entry than this.
If anyone out there is using a Vitamix and really thinks it's worth the cost, be sure to let me know why in the comments! I am definitely opening to hearing more about it, but right now am just not seeing a substantial difference when compared with other blenders on the market.
Tofu is one of the better know vegan substitute foods out there. It's uses are abundant due to it's subtle flavor, and uncanny ability to "absorb" flavors of food it is paired with. Some people struggle with the texture, the moisture, and even just the bland flavor. Tofu presses have become a popular method of revitalizing tofu. The idea behind the TofuXpress is that by removing water from the tofu, it brings more flavor to the fore. Other foods such as a variety of fruits and vegetables can also be processed through the pressure, making this more than just a one hit wonder. Other tofu pressers are also available online.
Chef's Knife Set
Moving away from some of these high end kitchen appliances, let's talk about a simple pair of knives. Above all else, they will be essentially for chopping and slicing all sorts of fruits and veggies to make these foods more palatable. Knife sets range from $15 dollars to hundreds of dollars. McDougall Friend's recommend viewing the knives you purchase as an investment - and it is true that having high quality cutting knives can save you money down the line with how long they can last and ease of use.
Nonstick Pot & Pan Set
Nonstick pans are another kitchen essential. If you are following a whole foods, plant-based, no oil diet, nonstick pans can provide a simple solution to the need for oil or butter to help avoid food sticking to the pan as can often happen with other traditional cooking pans. As with many other products, you get what you pay for. I have used poor quality nonstick pans that have had to be thrown out in just a year (and that really didn't live up to the "nonstick" promise).
Fortunately, unlike some other high end products, nonstick pan kitchen sets are generally pretty inexpensive given how much you tend to get for your buck. For example, the Simply Calphalon Nonstick Cookware Set provides ten pieces that include assorted pots and pans for only $120 dollars. That is just a little over $10 per piece of cookware!
One of the simplest kitchen tools is the garlic peeler. The one recommended on McDougall Friends is the Zak Designs E-Z Rol Garlic Peeler - and from the look of things is as easy as it is cost effective. Just put a garlic clove or two in the roller, roll, and the skins peels off instantly.
We all probably have at least one spatula in our kitchen, but not all spatulas are made the same. The RSVP Endurance Pink Stainless Steel Smoothie Spatula is a special spatula recommended on the McDougall Friend's group page. It's use is best when paired with a deep blender where you need some assistance scooping the last drop of your fresh organic smoothie into your glass.
For some, a mandolin slicer can be easier than chopping, slicing, and dicing fruits and vegetables with a knife. In the least, it is more accurate and can provide some pretty "perfect" looking sliced foods. There are a lot of great options available, some with unique features. I'd suggest trying out LiBa's mandolin slicer through Amazon because they are currently offering 90 day full refunds if your not satisfied!
Parchment paper, like tinfoil, is a great substitute for oil, crisco, etc. on your pans when baking food in the oven. As you would expect, it's durable in high heat and the food doesn't stick. A great way to help get perfect baked sweet potato fries!
While the Instant Pot is the ever-popular pressure cooker on the market, a simple rice cooker is a less expensive alternative that may just suit your needs. I know I use my Black & Decker Rice Cooker Plus, and have for many years, to great success. It's a far more basic kitchen appliance, but cooks just like I would expect it to.
Pampered Chef Stoneware
You may know Pampered Chef from those in-house parties you may have been invited to (or hosted yourself). But did you know many of their products are also available online? Pampered Chef Stoneware really runs a gamut of products and includes flat oven pans, baking pans, cookie sheets, muffin pans, etc. The key selling point is the durability and unique material.
I feel like my cutting board could be considered a feature in my kitchen, and I get the sense many others who follow a plant-based diet feel the same. A good cutting board can help reduce the mess on your kitchen counter, and make cutting up your favorite fruits and veggies a simpler experience. There are many materials out there - I'd suggest bamboo or polypropylene because of the ease to clean them off and dishwasher safe materials.
Also keep in mind, you may do well to have a larger cutting board. I know when I harvest big heads of Swiss chard that they take up quite a lot of room, and having the ability to lay this vegetable across a larger cutting board makes things a lot easier.
Not all veggie spiralizers are made the same, so some will have different features than others. The basic idea behind this kitchen appliance is that you will be able to process just about any vegetable into what amounts to a pasta-like shape. This can be great for experimentation and creating some really unique dinner entrees. Some products, like the WonderVeg Vegetable Spiralizer, provides other accessories and cutting functions that allow you to create noodles, julienne thick spirals, and ribbons (for potato chips).
There are a lot of great kitchen gadgets and appliances out there. I'd like to thank the McDougall Friends Group on Facebook for helping me to expand my knowledge on some of these products that can be beneficial in a plant-based kitchen. I use quite a few of these myself, and am definitely interested in exploring a few others in the future.
I hope you find this article to be useful - especially if you are trying to expand your kitchen accessories to be more accommodating of your new lifestyle. For more personal recommendations, check out 10 Kitchen Tools to Make a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet Easier!
Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else that you are using that you find very helpful to make the whole foods, plant-based, no oil diet a far easier thing to stick to.