The Instant Pot is so last year. This year, as we encourage clients and patients to continue their healthful eating plans by getting back into the kitchen, we should talk about kitchen tools that don’t require reading a lengthy instruction book. (True story: My Instant Pot has sat in its box for a year!)
Although these gadgets are fun, they’re far from frivolous. Having a new kitchen toy to try out may help people get more excited about cooking at home and thus eat more healthfully. And as a result they’ll use these gadgets again and again.
As a culinary dietitian and a big fan of shortcut cooking, here are my favorite “new” gadgets (mostly budget-friendly, but a few splurge-worthy) to make anyone who prepares dinner happy about spending more time in the kitchen.
1. Tortilla toaster: Taco Tuesday is a favorite way to encourage families to eat more veggies. Setting out several bowls of beans, colorful chopped purple cabbage, guacamole, fruit salsas, and more can even encourage picky eaters or veggie haters to eat more produce. And the new Nuni Tortilla Toaster ($59) gives big incentive to make tacos weekly. It delivers six hot, toasty tortillas in just two minutes—all at the same time—and they don’t get burnt or soggy. Need more inspiration to eat more tacos? Grab the cookbook Taco! Taco! Taco! by Chef Sara Haas, RDN, LDN.
2. Digital thermometer: Anyone who has a kitchen should have a digital thermometer. It’s the only safe way to check whether fish, chicken, or meat are done; according to the USDA. Color or “chicken juices running clear” aren’t necessarily indications of safely cooked proteins. A good thermometer is the ThermoPro TP03A Digital Instant Read Thermometer ($13). And for those looking for a large, easy-to-read display window, recommend the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision Digital Instant Read Thermometer ($20).
3. Avocado slicer: While I’m not a big fan of one-use gadgets, the OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer ($10) certainly can inspire families to eat more avocados. It has gotten my tool-loving but avocado-hating son to toss avocados into our grocery cart, just so he can split, pit, slice, and scoop in a safe and mess-free manner with this slicer.
4. Egg poacher: Poached eggs are comfort food and are instant protein- and lutein-packed add-ons to toast or salads. Plus, poached eggs are just fun to eat—but they’re tricky to make. The COZILIFE Silicone Egg Poacher ($14 for 4) takes the mistakes out of making poached eggs.
5. Olive spoon: While I thought I knew a lot about the Mediterranean diet, one of the biggest surprises when researching my book The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook was how people in Mediterranean regions of the world eat olives daily. The Mediterranean diet is worthy of continued recommendation (read more from the RD Lounge). So go ahead and suggest clients eat about five olives per day. And for fun, suggest the Joseph Joseph Scoop&Pick olive spoon and fork set ($6). There’s no need to get frustrated and plunge all your fingers into the olive jar; instead, use this juice-straining spoon and the neat stored-in-the-spoon-handle olive pick.
6. Nonstick fry pan: Most clients have a nonstick fry pan, but many don’t know that these pans need to be replaced every couple of years due to a scratched or chipped coating. The new BLACK CUBE nonstick coated pans ($40 for an 8-inch skillet) by Frieling are pretty amazing. Their honeycomblike pattern is made of stainless steel, giving food a beautiful sear and protecting it from metal utensils. But beneath the pattern is an easy-to-clean nonstick surface. It’s also oven safe and works on all cook surfaces.
Now, back to that Instant Pot: I’m striving to actually get it out of the box to cook more dried beans and whole grains in minutes. I may or may not read the instruction manual, but for inspiration, I know I’m getting the Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook by Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.
— Serena Ball, MS, RD, is a food writer and blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing Healthy Kitchen Hacks and recipes. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and @BakeMoreBread on Instagram. She discloses that she has no relationships or financial interests with any of the manufacturers of the products discussed.