Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Raw Vegan 101: My Recommended Tools and Accessories for a Healthier Lifestyle

Technically, all you need for a healthier lifestyle is a good knife, a cutting board, and ample whole, unprocessed food... but the tools below make being healthy quick and simple, perfect for busy people (like you)! These are the tools and accessories I love to use daily for adding more fruits and veggies into my diet- or ones I've learned about working in a raw vegan kitchen for over a year. I'm not fully raw at the moment and no one needs to be fully raw to be healthy, but I stand by the health-promoting power of adding more veggies to your life. These tools make it easy.

1. High Speed Blender: I highly recommend the Vitamix (buy here for free shipping), I use mine daily. I'm told Ninja Blender Set is just as good but didn't have ideal results with my basic Ninja. It will blend your greens and fruit, maybe better than a basic blender, but not to the smooth perfection of a high speed blender. I wasn't able to experience raw recipes the way they were intended until I upgraded. If you get a Ninja, try the best one you can get. You won't regret purchasing a high speed blender of any brand, though.

2. Juicer: I'd really like a slow juicer, much easier to clean and use than the standard variety. (I'll post in the future on using your Vitamix and strainers to make green juices. That's my method at the moment.) A juicer isn't necessary but green juices are an easy way to get in a lot of nutrition quickly. You can use the pulp for very delicious recipes, too. I have my eye on this Omega Slow Juicer good quality and lower-priced than others on the market. (Like this Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer, amazing but higher-priced.)

3. Food Processor: We use a Robot Coupe BLIXER4 at the raw vegan kitchen, great to pulverize huge batches into submission, but a simple Cuisinart Food Processor would be sufficient ($99 vs over $1,000) for making more textured-items (like pie crusts) or larger batches of thick things like cashew cheese.  I use my vitamix for food processing but it's not ideal, I'll invest in a simple processor soon. A word of caution: load these guys gingerly and process small batch at a time. I broke a blender AND a food processor making raw recipes! Also this Ninja Blender Set comes with a food processor. I used my standard cheapest-in-the-store Ninja as a food processor and it worked well- which attests to it's uncanny ability to keep things "chunky"! It's bad when your blender makes a better food processor.

4. Spiralizer: Create veggie pastas (like zucchini noodles) quickly and easily with a Vegetable Spiralizer. I love this tool! Definitely try this one, much easier to use and not too expensive. I used a cheaper one and regretted it, ended up having to upgrade anyway!

5. Dehydrator: The Excalibur Dehydrator is the best of the bunch but any dehydrator can do in a pinch, though they may be trickier to use. I don't dehydrate my own raw recipes but we use our dehydrators constantly at the raw vegan kitchen I part-time at. A must for the best quality kale chips and many different savory and even desert recipes. (Like cookies we dip in chocolate. Holy hell, so hungry now...) Don't forget your Dehydrator sheets.
6. Strainers Use it to remove the extra pulp from juices and other recipes needs. A simple, inexpensive one will do.

7. Good Kitchen Knife & Cutting Board: The better the quality, the longer your knife lasts. You spend less in the long run with a good one.  I have my eye on a Shun Knife that slices anything like butter, but currently a similar one my mom thrifted for me. flexible cutting boards are convenient for folding slices veggies or fruit right into your blender or processor.

8. Utensils: Measuring Cups (flat topped standard ones for accurate measuring), Measuring Spoons, and Spatula. Your spatula will get a work out scooping cheeses, puddings, crusts and more out of blenders and food processors. Here's a perfect Measuring Cup & Spoon Set and great spatulas. And of course your standard pyrex measuring cup for liquids.

10. Mason Jars and/or Thermoses: I save and reuse sauce jars for my mason jars to store juices and smoothies for when I'm on-the-go. I've tried vintage thermoses but they're sometimes hard to clean and the glass tubes inside shatters incredibly easily. Use with caution! I suppose they were phased out for a reason. You can buy a set of mason jars online, too.

11. Spice Jars: I like little ones similar to these ones (mine are from Joann's and are smaller) because I can use them for homemade toothpaste/deodorant recipes too, but you'll likely need bigger ones than that! Like this Glass Spice Jar Set. Bulk buy spices are fresher and cheaper, they have them at Whole Foods (and Native Sun if you're local) or you can order them from Mountain Rose Herbs.

12. Glass Straws: A fun way to drink your smoothies without creating waste from plastic straws, just rinse and re-use. Fruit juices and smoothies can be rough (and staining) on tooth enamel, a straw helps bypass that a little. Here are some Simple Glass Straws. These Acrylic Straws are cheaper.

13. Big Bowls: You'll need some huge bowls for your salads and mixing needs if you have some already. Easy to thrift for! I'm keeping my eye out for some big wooden ones. (Like this large wooden bowl.)

14. Raw Books I Love: All of Ani Phyo's books are excellent, easy-to-follow recipes, great photos, great attitude. I go back to Ani's Raw Food Essentials and Her Detox Book the most. I do edit a lot of the recipes to include less fat. Megan Elizabeth has a beautiful set of eBooks on her website for a low-fat raw vegan diet and whole lifestyle. Mimi Kirk is in her 70s but looks at least twenty years younger, her book Live Raw is also awesome. I'll come back with more recommendations as I read more raw books!

Keep your eye out at the thrifts for some necessary supplies, hunt at WalMart or your local kitchen supply stores or use the links above. Speaking from personal experience, I went on a city-wide (I live in the largest city in the US land-wise so it was a trek) hunt for some of these items and they cannot be found locally! Particularly the spiralizer! You may be better off ordering some of these online.

The links above other than the Mountain Rose Herbs and Megan Elizabeth book links are affiliate links. I'm a Vitamix Affiliate and the other links are Amazon affiliate links. To tell the truth on both of those I never even check to see if I make profit from those, it's more important that I'm spreading the word on simple ways to eat a more whole diet. If you're in the market for anything above you directly support me and Thrift Core when you buy through the links in my posts. I should check on those meager "profits" now, haha... Oh and to clarify, none of these machines have been sponsored for me. If I buy or recommend it, it's something I truly love and/or use often.

The Raw Vegan 101 Series: 
Part 1) What is it and Why is it Good for You?
 + Another Raw Info Post
Part 2) My Raw Routines and Tips to Stick to It
Part 3) Essential Raw Vegan Tools, Books, and Resources (You are here)
Part 4) Pantry Staples for Creating any Dish you Crave Rawfully (April 15)
Part 5) Adding More Raw Healthfulness to Your Diet On-The-Cheap (April 22)

Extra) Straightening Out Misconceptions and My True Mission

/Comments Off for this post so I can really focus on getting caught-up on posts, pricing things and maybe fit in a bike ride if the weather will be nice. But I will respond quickly via Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. I have a Spring Cleaning series on the way for the new season, too! E-mail me if you have any questions or kitchen supply recommendations! 
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