Modern Gadgets for the Primal Kitchen

Friday November 16, 2012
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Just because you eat like a caveman, doesn’t mean you have to rely on the same tools Grok used.

Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite kitchen gadgets and tools that make it easier to cook paleo / primal meals.  You definitely don’t need all of these things, but you may find something in this list that helps out with your meal cooking or meal prep.

The Essentials

If you already cook, you probably have these items in your kitchen.  But if you are new to cooking (perhaps inspired by a desire to eat healthier?), these are the basics that every well-equipped kitchen should have (paleo or otherwise).

Good Quality Knives

These are the top of my list.  Seriously, if you don’t have sharp knives or the right knives for the right job, meal prep stinks.   We have Cutco knives and I highly recommend them, but I know many people are fans of brands like Henkel and Wustof.

The knives I use the most in my kitchen are:

  • 2 3/4″ Paring — this one is handy for small things like de-stemming and cutting up strawberries
  • 4″ Paring – I use this for smaller, more delicate items, like tomatoes
  • 6″ Petite Chef’s  (w/serrated blade) — the serrated edge comes in handy when you are cutting something tough like winter squash.  I also grab this one for my every day chopping needs
  • 9″ Chef’s – great for lots of slicing and dicing of veggies
  • 7″ Carving  — good for cutting up a roast chicken, we also have a larger size (9″)  for big things like turkeys

As I said, we have Cutco products at our house, but here some links to comparable Wusthof products:

Cookware

I’m in love with my cast iron skillets (got mine at Costco), I also have a Carbon Steel fry pan (got it at World Market), and I have converted to using stainless steel pots.  I do not recommend using non-stick/teflon type materials.

Stirrers / Spatulas / Cutting Boards / Colanders / Mixing Bowls

This is all the other basic stuff you need and there’s nothing special about any of it.  Go to Bed Bath & Beyond and pick what looks good.  I am fond of bamboo stirring spoons — I recommend having one angled spoon for your stir-fry needs. You may not be draining any more pasta, but a colander is great for rinsing fruit and veggies.

As far as brands go, I like Oxo and love all of the Pampered Chef items I own.  Here are some links to a get you started:

Paleo/Primal Gadgets

These may not be essential, but will make it easier for you to eat, cook, and enjoy primal-style foods.

Blenders, Choppers, and Food Processors

You don’t need all of these, but here’s what I love about each one.

Immersion / Stick / Handheld Blender – If you have any interest in making “Paleo Mayo“, I highly recommend this tool. We also use ours to quickly blend sauces, soups, and salad dressings. This is probably my favoritest tool since going Paleo.

Vitamix Blender — I love my Vitamix (got ours at Costco), although I mostly use it just for my Paleo Protein Shake.  We have both the “wet blade” container and the “dry blade” container.  The latter is great for grinding nuts — use it to make your own almond meal!

Magic Bullet — this is handy for it’s various sized containers (again, got ours at Costco). While it’s not a workhorse like the Vitamix, it’s great when you just need to grind up a small amount of nuts for a recipe, or a marinade.  We also use it when making not-so-paleo milk shakes.

Food Processor — we’ve had ours for years and even tho its on its last legs, we still use it for things like my favoite homemade salsa, or sweet & salty fudge balls.  It’s essential if you make that paleo staple — cauliflower rice.

If ours ever bites the bullet, I have my eye on a Breville, which is very spendy but looks amazing and claims to even do sweet potato fries.

Mini-Food Processor — just the right size for banana whip ice cream.

Slicers

Mandoline slicer — these are wonderful for getting thin slices of delicate foods, like tomatoes, as well as when you want consistently sized slices for things like sweet potato chips.  Just be careful and use the attachments to hold the food (or wear a special slice protection glove), otherwise it is easy to slice your finger off!

Julienne slicer — I never knew I needed this until I went paleo.  It turns your zucchini into long skinny strips so you can have noodles again — I put zucchini noodles in my Chicken Zoodle Soup, and use them as an alternative to pasta when I get tired of spaghetti squash.

Cooking

Dutch Oven  — a porcelain enamel cast iron pot w/lid is a good item to have in your kitchen, whether you eat “paleo” or not.  It’s a great pot to have when you are making something like a pot roast that goes from the stove top to the oven.

I also use this pot when cooking anything with tomatoes, like tacos, spaghetti sauce, or autumn stew.  The acidity in tomatoes is not good for cast iron, but is fine for the porcelain enamel.  Le Cruset is the top of the line brand, but you can easily get a good one without the Le Crueset price tag.

Electric Grill — these come in handy when it’s too cold to grill outside and/or your oven is otherwise occupied with other foods.   I’m not a big proponent of cooking surfaces coated with teflon or other non-stick materials, but haven’t yet been able to give up the convenience of my George Foreman Grill.

We mostly use ours to cook chicken breasts for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Opt for the largest size you can afford (unless you are cooking for one), but make sure it has removable plates for easier cleaning.

Slow Cooker — this is a must for anyone who works or doesn’t have the luxury to spend hours on dinner.   I use mine for all sorts of foods, like throwing in a whole chicken (makes great chicken for chicken salad), pork barbecue, and all kinds of soups.

A basic crockpot works well, I’d recommend the 6 quart size, with removable crock.  It doesn’t need to be fancy, but if I were going to buy a new one, I’d opt for a programmable one.

Baking

Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat – I loved these in my pre-Paleo days for baking cookies, but thought I’d never use them again when I went paleo.  Wrong! It turns out, paleo treats bake great on these too.   Also, I recently discovered it is perfect to roast a chicken on — we flip our bird during the roasting process and these make it easy to lift and flip without ripping the skin.

Mini Loaf Pans – I rarely bake Paleo breads, but when I do, I find they work better in smaller loaf pans, since they don’t rise the way traditional bread recipes do.  I used these when I made Elana’s Paleo Bread.

Silicone Baking Cups  — when I make Paleo muffins, I like to use the silicone baking cups — it eliminates the need to spray anything in the pan.  I prefer to make mini-muffins, so I have both large and small sizes.

Miscellaneous Other Stuff

A round-up of random other gadgets you can find in my kitchen.

Juicer — lots of paleo recipes call for fresh juice from a lemon, lime or orange.   Having a handheld juicer makes it easy to get juiced.

Meat Tenderizer — we like to pound our meat and chicken breasts to flatten them.  It makes them more flavorful.

Steamer Insert — this little doodad goes inside your pot for easy steaming of vegetables.   This is how we do our artichokes, and I’ve used it for steamed shrimp as well.

Cedar Planks — I discovered the joy that is salmon grilled on a cedar plank this summer.   The best price I’ve found is at Costco (available seasonally), but they are sold lots of places.

So that’s my big ole list of neolithic tools for the primal kitchen.   What would you add to the list?

Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I receive a small referral fee at no cost to you.

Image Source:  JISC infoNet, a JISC Advance service

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