For the past couple years I’ve featured an article at this time of year with the best kitchen tools or food gifts to give loved ones.
This year I’ve decided to take this topic one step further and highlight not only healthy cooking tools, but tools that are also great gifts for the people who seem to have everything. The items listed below are also cost effective. My guess is, depending on where you buy them of course, each would run anywhere from 20 to 40 dollars.
Mortar and pestle
This kitchen tool is often disregarded, as items like blenders, coffee grinders and food processors can do similar jobs. A mortar and pestle consists of two pieces. The mortar is the bowel-shaped part, and pestle the smaller, rounded stick used to grind herbs, spices or larger leafy greens in the mortar. Kitchen tools like blenders are certainly a convenience, however there is something to be said for the delicate flavour of natural oils released from hand grinding. Choose a small mortar and pestle for a spice lover, and a large mortar and pestle for people that enjoy dips such as guacamole, hummus and fresh tomato salsa. This old-school kitchen tool is great for the person on your list who would prefers a fresh homemade meal rather than eating out.
This consists of a round container with open-weave bottom and a separate domed lid. It’s placed on top of the rim of a wok or pot and the open weave of the steamer allows steam through to cook foods, while locking in flavour and keeping food moist.
They are unique because you can stack multiple steamers and foods for cooking at the same time. This is a great tool for cooking fish or veggies. Buy this for those who find cooking healthy throughout the week time consuming.
Hot-air popcorn maker
Avoid the trans fat, excess sodium and potential chemicals in the liner of popcorn bags by getting a hot-air popcorn maker. Hot-air popcorn makers for home use are relatively small, making them great for counter or cupboard space. No additional oil is used to pop the kernels, unlike many commercial poppers, making this movie favourite a healthier option. They are simple to use, comparable in time to microwaveable popcorn bags and — more importantly — fun to watch. This gift is great for kids, or any movie enthusiast on your list.
This ancient Moroccan cooking device is usually made from porcelain and hand painted. It consists of two pieces: a shallow base dish and a cone shaped top that has a small hole at the top for steam to escape. Tagines are best used to cook stews in low to medium oven heat. Minimal water is used with tagines, as they pull the natural juices from food. A tagine is great for the hunter in your family who enjoys cooking a moose or rabbit stew.
Who doesn’t love homemade baked beans? Bean pots usually have thick, wide and rounded sides with a smaller base and top. This simple construction allows for slow cooking without burning. Choose one made from clay, cast iron or ceramics for best cooking results. Similar to tagines, bean pots are multipurposeful and can be used for other foods like soups, and soups. Pick up a bean pot for the person who usually makes healthy eating New Year resolutions.
From kale chips to beef jerky, this tool can do it all and is said to be making a comeback. Most dehydrators consist of stackable trays so layers of food can be dehydrated at the same time. Buy this for the avid summer berrypicker. Perhaps they’ll return the favour next year by gifting you dried fruit, herbs and spices or a meat jerky.
Amanda Burton is a registered dietitian
in St. John’s. Contact her through the website: www.recipeforhealth.ca.