What’s a chef without their tools? Still fantastic, of course! But if you’re looking to save time in the kitchen and turn around hearty vegetarian plates for dinner, then you’re going to need a little helping hand… in the form of kitchen gadgets!
Take it from Ginny McMeans, the blogger behind Vegan in the Freezer, who takes every recipe as a challenge for yummy success. Her kitchen concoctions have turned out everything from vegan cornbread to spiced silk-nog — all thanks to the help of her favorite tools. Check out the time-savers below.
1. Mini food chopper
Besides my paring knife, the thing I use most in the kitchen is my Ninja Express mini food chopper. Don’t think of it as a food processor, because it only chops — which is great because so many recipes don't need their veggies grated. Some only need a pulse or two to break the chunks down. The best part of this is how it saves time while cooking and cleaning. Between carrots, onion, bell peppers, nuts, and bread crumbs, it’s one blade to rule them all.
2. Vegetable steamer basket
I can't live without this vegetable steamer. I love seeing all the beautiful, healthy vegetables ready for me to enjoy in minutes. The design is very convenient as the steamer can expand from 6-inches to 9 1/2. This flexibility allows for it to fit into many of my different-sized pans.
3. Tofu press
Your average tofu comes in a square package, filled with water. And wringing out the tofu so it can absorb the sauces can be time consuming. But removing the water is easy when you have the EZ tofu press. Once the water is squeezed out, it’s ready to soak up all the flavors from your favorite sauces or dressings.
4. Cast-iron grill pan
This special grill pan isn’t just for taste — it’s going to bring the looks and fun to your table too. Turn your zucchini into a piece of art with Top Chef-like angled grill marks. Or jazz up your pineapple slices. Sure, you could fry up your vegetables like normal, but why not have another option to prepare vegetables, the fun way?
5. Cheesecloth and string
This cheesecloth and string duo are indispensable items when you’re making seitan and want it to hold a specific shape. I make a lot of different flavored seitan sausages and these items really help maintain the classic, long and thin shape.
6. Nutritional yeast
This is something every vegan has in their cupboard. It adds a nutty cheesy flavor and is a complete protein. You can add nutritional yeast to sauces, sprinkle it on just about anything, and even treat it as a condiment. There are numerous nutrients and vitamins including folate, copper, magnesium, and vitamin B. Definitely purchase this if you can, fortified with B-12.
7. Perfectly chopped veggies
Sometimes when I want my chopped vegetables to look perfect, which is especially true for appetizers, I get my Vidalia chopper out. With two sizes to choose from, you’ll be able to create perfectly-sized vegetables, fast. I can have an onion or bell pepper chopped, perfectly, in under 30 seconds with no risk of cutting myself.
8. Popsicle molds
Nothing tastes better than blending a fruit or two together and adding a tablespoon of maple syrup — except when you pour it into a popsicle mold! It's a deliciously healthy refreshment on a stick.
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Ginny McMeans is the founder of the blog Vegan in the Freezer, which features healthy and delicious recipes. Her blog is all about having fun adapting the cooking techniques she’s learned to her vegan lifestyle. And then, of course, eating the food after. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and taking on small projects with her husband.