By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
Kitchen appliances do one of two things: make your life much easier, or collect dust while cluttering your limited counter top and closet space. Maybe they were a gift or just looked like a good idea on the midnight infomercial, but it seems hundreds of dollars and one or two uses later, they usually sit there, lonely. Coffee makers are the obvious exception to this rule – they get a whole lot of love, with blenders and food processors coming in a close second. I’ve found that getting one or two cool and simple tools are a great way to get people, and myself, excited about being in the kitchen, so here are three of my can’t-live-without, worth-the-investment kitchen appliances that do, in fact, make your life easier, less expensive, and more fun.
The Rice Cooker: It’s not just for rice, you can cook any grain in there, including steel cut oatmeal. Just plug it in and let it go. The best part is it turns itself to “warm” mode once it’s done cooking, so you’re free to leave the kitchen without worry of it boiling over or burning. Many come with steamers that go on top so you can kill two birds with one stone and steam broccoli or carrots over your brown rice. We do quinoa, brown rice, or oatmeal in bulk for the week and it makes lunch or dinners much quicker operations.
TheWhirley Pop popcorn maker: It’s nothing fancy (and more cookware than appliance), but the whirlypop is an instant happiness maker. Popcorn is the latest superfood, so it’s a great snack food and a social food as well. Add a tbsp. of canola or vegetable oil (olive oil will burn) and ¼ cup of kernals and voila, homemade popcorn, just add seasoning.
The Aerogarden: Nothing drives me crazier than having to toss a wilted/spoiling but barely used bunch of basil or parsley. A garden sounds nice, but I live above the 25th floor and my green thumb is nonexistent. So finally I invested in the aerogarden (late night infomercial purchase, guilty) and it’s been both a major herb- and money-saver. Basil grows like wildfire and parsley, mint, and cilantro give meals, smoothies, and even iced tea added flavor and nutrition umph. You can also grow salad greens, cherry tomatoes, flowers, and even strawberries.
So what are your “can’t-live-without” kitchen appliances? Which ones sit there unused and lonely? Share your stories and favorites in the comments section below.