I’ve found that for many people, around about the age of 33, there is a time when kitchen gadgets and equipment becomes as alluring a shopping experience as new clothes. Over the years, I have bought a lot (I’m now 43). Much of this stash has been left cruelly at the back of the cupboards after its first use (sorry popcorn making machine, but it’s just quicker in a pan).
There are however, certain things I’ve bought that stay on the counter and get used time and time again, and most significantly have changed the way I actually consume food.
Here are those things:
1. Magimix Food Processor 4200
My husband bought me this as a birthday present in 2010 to help me make pureed baby food for my daughter Holly. (Note: this was a request, my husband generally makes much better gift choices!). I used it a couple of times, but found it too cumbersome for a few purees and it stayed cupboard-bound for a long time. I even considered giving it away to my mum.
I’m very glad I didn’t. I now use it practically every day for nut butters, cauliflower “rice”, pasta sauces, coleslaw and pretty much anything that needs to be obliterated prior to consumption.
My neighbour comes round to borrow it and it’s now on quite a few friends’ wish lists. It is a pretty powerful gadget and one of the few that can actually make nut butters without blowing a fuse or burning out. The cumbersome traits remain though. The base unit is very heavy and the bowl and funnel consist of 5 parts, so once used, it takes a fair amount of washing up. The more I’ve used it, though, the quicker I’ve got with this process.
This food processor is capable of doing everything a food mixer, hand whisk, and blender can do, and as such, I would say if you are going to invest in one item, this should be it.
HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE: My homemade almond butter! This is literally just almonds processed for about 10 minutes until it becomes a runny paste. This, spooned into a Medjool date, has replaced the need for chocolate in my life.
2. Kenwood Mini Chopper
This is basically like the Magimix’s little baby, a miniature version of the big bad food processor. It is the very opposite of cumbersome and can be washed up in seconds. I find it useful for food prepping just for myself or for my toddler, Ben. I am the only member of my family who doesn’t eat meat, and as such I’m often eating solo and for Ben it’s great for smashing up anything that I need to hide from him in order for him to consume it.
HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE: It has cumulatively saved about 15 hours of washing up time and is responsible for about 300g of Ben’s body weight.
3. My Little Yellow Lime Squeezer
I came across this very recently in a Malaysian supermarket. Since using it, my consumption of fresh lime juice has increased many fold. Up until I found this, I bought my lime juice ready squeezed and bottled as I found it agonisingly fiddly trying to ease out little drops using my lemon squeezer. With this gadget, you simply cut the ends off the lime, pop it in and squeeze the levers together. There is something very satisfyingly simple about it.
HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE: There is much more lime juice in it. I have it in soda water, in dressings, in stir-fries and maybe in the odd mojito. And fresh is even more delicious than bottled.
4. My Potato Ricer
When I was a little girl growing up in the UK, mashed potato was the accompaniment to approximately 60% of every meal eaten. My mum used to mash it by hand with lots of butter and milk. Sorry Mum, but I have to confess sometimes it was a bit lumpy. I am fortunate to know that if my daughter ever becomes a writer, she will not shame me in an article for this reason and it’s all because of this gadget. It’s amazing. It works much like the lime squeezer, using leverage. In this instance, it pushes the potato or sweet potato through a little holey plate making the smoothest mash you are ever likely to encounter.
HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE: It has made everything smooth!
5. The Spiralizer
This is the newest gadget to hit my collection, based mostly on the fact that I don’t think they have long been invented. The spiralizer is a bit like the vegetarian’s answer to a butcher’s meat slicer. For those of you not yet spiralizer enlightened, the gadget pushes vegetables like courgettes and carrots through a blade that makes them resemble crazy long noodles. These can then be used as a pasta or noodle substitute in all kinds of dishes, saving you carbs and calories and adding a few nifty nutrients in the process. What with these and cauliflower rice, the future is vegetable!
HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE: It has spared lots of carb allowance for dates with almond butter (see gadget 1).
And there you have it. Kitchen gadgets, they’re as life changing as a new dress and much more likely to fit you perfectly.