Since I know many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have either a restricted diet or at the minimum are trying to cook more healthy food at home, I thought I’d do a post about “my favorite things” in the kitchen while also describing some of my staple foods at the same time because, well, they kind of go hand in hand.
I’ll list the top 5 favorite items in my kitchen because I can go on and on about kitchen tools. From these links, you will also see other tools I like in my resource center. I would like to take this time to let you know that if you feel my Facebook Support Group or blog have helped you a little, you can show your support for my efforts just by either buying from my affiliate links in this post or on the side bar of my page. Just clicking into Amazon from my page, will allow me to get a small percentage of what you buy without any extra charge to you. I’d like to thank you in advance for your support both in buying through the links and to those who are active members on the Facebook Support page. I think it’s great when we can help each other!
So what are my favorite kitchen helps and tools? Well, the first one is hands-down my absolute favorite since the Vitamix purchase I made a few years ago. So, let’s get started and I will tell you how they help me along the way.
#1 – The Instant Pot
This has been the most incredible tool for me this year! I cannot believe the time I am saving by using this pot! The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, a steamer, a slow cooker and even has a setting for browning your food before you begin the pressure cooking stage (or slow cooking stage) thus saving you extra pots and pans for your meal. This makes clean up very easy. It is made out of stainless steel so I no longer worry about lead chipping like I did in the older crock pots or non-stick pans peeling their coating into my food. This was the reason I found this pot to begin with. I wanted something safer than the two other options I just mentioned. I still like my slow cooker for days I am just feeling like having something going all day, but this pot has turned my life into one that now offers meals that feel more like a fast food option. I was hesitant about the multi-functioning aspect of this pot because in the past I have not been happy with programmed slow cookers. This pot has proved to be my new and trusted “friend” in the kitchen. I actually got rid of my programmed slow cookers in the past, so this is a huge deal for me to actually be happy with something like this!
I make everything from my regular chicken broth which now doesn’t take but an hour or so instead of 24-48 hours (for the GAPS Diet – my story of healing through this diet is here) to steaming my spaghetti squash in a fraction of the time (like 10 minutes!) and almost no work. It works great for steaming sweet potatoes in a fraction of the time as well as butternut squash! These foods in the past have taken much longer to prepare – usually about 2-3 hours or more by the time I am finished waiting for them to cool and mash or prepare for my dinner. Now the whole process is less than an hour! And on top of that, I can still just “walk away” while it’s doing the cooking. I just love this thing! It is now my favorite kitchen tool and keeps me from fretting about whether I have thought 24-48 hours in advance about what I am having for dinner which is normally the process of a GAPS-type diet meal plan. In fact, just yesterday, I put FROZEN broth, FROZEN stew meat (uncooked) and FROZEN chopped zucchini into the pot just like that and cooked it into a stew through the pressure cooking option for about an hour and it was delicious. You can’t tell it hasn’t been cooking all day! The meat was moist and fell apart in our mouth. That is incredibly amazing for anyone who knows that stew meat needs a long cooking time to break down and tenderize like that!
Other things I do with this is put frozen chicken breast in a little steaming rack and steam the chicken for 12 minutes to use for salads, stews or soups. I just can’t say enough about this new kitchen wonder in my house that has made my kitchen duty a lot less intensive and gives more time now away from my kitchen than before.
And I do know about the Weston A. Price Foundation’s recommendation not to use a pressure cooker due to concerns about nutrition break down but I also respect Sarah Ballantyne from PaleoMom.com who has a science background and her assessment after careful consideration is that it is safe and even possibly more nourishing than a crock pot in that it keeps the nutrients locked inside the pot while cooking. This is an individual choice but after staying away from pressure cooking for a long time due to the Weston A. Price recommendations, and the fact that I don’t feel like I am losing the nutrients now, I am a happy camper to use this method whenever helpful for me to do so.
#2 – Food Processor
It’s funny that as I was typing up this post, I was frustrated to realize I couldn’t find pictures (I knew I had somewhere) of these kitchen tools. But one by one, as I was typing the post, I began to use the tools within the time of putting this post together, thus solidifying their importance to me in my kitchen! This one is such a special tool for me to use. I finally got a very good one after careful consideration to reviews, after I went truly gluten-free. It was important to me to invest in a good food processor for my health needs. You get great mileage out of good kitchen tools! I make my homemade mayo in it (I find it easier to use this than a blender for this purpose), my nut bars and holiday treats, my chocolate creations, and puree my butternut squash or soups in this. I love it and can’t imagine my kitchen without it. I am linking you to one in my resource center which is a newer model than the one I have. This thing has been a non-stop performer and even more so since being on the GAPS Diet!
#4 – A Good Blender
There are two blenders in my home. Both are irreplaceable in my opinion. I have my “Mercedes” in the form of my Vitamix, and because my Vitamix is a commercial one that was used specifically in a coffee shop (before me), it has some limitations. So I will link you to the popular Vitamix as my model is old and not even being sold anymore. So because I was unable to run my Vitamix for more than 30 seconds at a time due to its built-in timer (unless I kept re-starting it), we decided to get a very inexpensive but very handy blender for our daily needs of making almond milk and shakes. When I first received it I was going to take it back because the motor was sounding weird to me. What I didn’t realize was that the blades were moving from clock-wise to counter-clock-wise in order to break up the ice or frozen food for making the PERFECT shake. Now I use it almost exclusively for my smoothies because it has such a very efficient program for making them perfectly. I love it! The one I use is an Oster and you can find it here.
If I could afford it, I would definitely buy a new Vitamix because it is so awesome and the high-speed power is something you just can’t get out of my little blender but for the simple purpose of making smoothies, I actually prefer the Oster!
#4 – Spiralizer
This little machine gave me my “pasta” back. My daughter bought it for me for my birthday a couple of years ago. I didn’t miss that much when going grain free but I have to admit, I did miss my pasta! Now whenever I get a desire to have something that satisfies that urge, I reach for my handy dandy spiralizer.
#5 – More than one Slow Cooker!
In my kitchen, a slow cooker (or two) can be working in the background doing numerous things any time of the day. In the winter especially, I tend to have perpetual chicken broth going most of the week. This means I don’t have my primary crock pot available for other things like my practically weekly roast, whole chicken or stew that is faithfully cooking in the background while I conduct my day, whether on errands or working on the website or Facebook Support Group page. I can depend on my multiple crock pots to keep the nutrient dense foods coming! So, I have 3 of them! Yes, and I have used 3 at a time before! I have a very large one for my stock (pictured), a regular 6 quart for my roasts and stews and a much smaller one for when I travel and would like to put some meat in the crock for the day while I visit with family or friends somewhere else. What I love about cooking in a crock pot is the way you can walk away and enjoy other parts of life while the food is waiting for you. And you have the ability to make a large portion of meat to last for a few days giving you rest between larger prep days. The smaller one makes traveling a bit easier since it has a much smaller “footprint.” I used to bring the giant one when it was the only one I had. Then one trip I realized I forgot my crock pot and was forced to go out and purchase one. This is when I was forced to buy the smaller one and now I am so happy I have it. Now I truly recommend it if you do traveling and want to stay on a good diet while you are away.
Bonus #6 – Food Chopper
I had to add this because it comes along with many, many other little gadgets and tools I love to use in my kitchen. With this food chopper, I can easily chop up some onions and garlic to add to my ground beef when making a small batch of patties or, as pictured, it is often used as a nut chopper to top salads or treats. I love using this convenient gadget. I like that I don’t have to use my knife for jobs that don’t require perfect dicing of an onion, etc. This keeps my hands free of the onion smell and as a bonus, protects my eyes from the crying routine! I will also link you to my resource page for other little gadgets I actually use regularly in my kitchen. I don’t put anything on the page I do not use or have not used in the past (or in a very few cases, they are on my wish list for the future).
I hope this post has given you tips and ideas for ways to simplify your kitchen duties and inspires you to get some of these basic tools into your life. In fact, I just finished my holiday treat for this week to help me enjoy the season as others are indulging in treats that would really hurt my body. My food processor and chopper did the job. I feel fine after eating these so this was a repeat from last year’s holiday menu. If you are looking for some hard-to-find nutrient dense foods, I have a resource page for that too here.
Happy Holidays and enjoy the rest of 2013!
Pictured is my variation (honey instead of maple syrup, no coconut, and my own chocolate instead of store-bought) of these grain free “Magic Bars”
Disclaimer: All posts are describing my personal journey through health issues and are in no way meant to guide anyone towards any method in particular. I am not a medical practitioner or have a dietary or medical license, and this blog is not intended to be taken as authoritative advice. Please see your doctor, or health professional before making any drastic diet changes! Also, occasionally I find others to partner with whom I have had tremendous help from and therefore, there may be paid advertisements and links to support them and help me financially run this website.