Having a well-stocked kitchen can be the difference between preparing a healthy a meal and blasting through your daily calorie count by giving up and ordering in. To stay healthy, knowing your kitchen is set up with the all right tools can be especially important.
In partnership with Tropicana, we talked to a few of our favorite health-food bloggers and health nuts to find out what goes into stocking the perfect kitchen.
1. It Starts With Great Knives
It’s hard to describe why it feels so good to slice through a tomato with a razor-sharp edge or chop herbs with a perfectly balanced knife -- it just does, and a great set of steel in the kitchen can change the way we view dinner time.
"My kitchen knife has had the biggest influence on the way I cook!" says Sonja Overhiser, one half of the couple behind the delightful blog A Couple Cooks. "Once you've used a sharp, quality-made knife in the kitchen, you'll never go back."
2. A Blender Is A Must-Have
Smoothies and juices are wholesome, delicious ways to start your day, but there's nothing fun about a blender that won't blend. Several of our cooks recommended splurging on a great blender, or even going all-out for a top-of-the-line Vitamix.
"I love my blender!" says Amy Atherton of Amy's Healthy Baking. "I wouldn't be able to cook or bake without it!"
3. At Least One Cast-Iron Skillet
Think twice before you forego a cast-iron skillet in the kitchen: it’s helpful in bringing great taste and promoting balanced meals.
"A cast-iron skillet [is great], because nothing is more important to a healthy diet than the food just tasting good,” says Christian Addison, 39, a police sergeant from Dix Hills, N.Y., who’s well into fitness and swears by his skillet.
Using a cast-iron skillet affords the home cook several advantages in addition to helping deliver great taste. For instance, cooking with it often requires less oil, because cast-iron becomes naturally oiled (and non-stick) with use. It’s also a natural alternative to chemically treated non-stick pans.
4. A Great Steamer Goes A Long Way
Whether they’re using it to steam potatoes, carrots or any other vegetable, many in-the-know home cooks reach for their steamer because experts say it preserves a lot of the vitamins and minerals compared to cooking them on the burner or even in the oven. Inexpensive BPA-free plastic steamers are available, but you can also go with stainless steel.
"I absolutely cannot live without ... my little plastic steamer that was only about $6 at my local grocery store," says Kelly Gellner, author of the Eat Yourself Skinny blog.
5. A Stocked Pantry With The Basics
It's always comforting to know that you've got enough staples on hand to whip up meals and snacks in an instant. All it takes is a little planning.
"Always, always, always have rolled oats, natural peanut butter, organic stevia extract and chickpeas," says Jessica Stier, author of Desserts With Benefits.
Atherton, the baking blogger, recommends keeping a stock of "vanilla, nuts, cocoa powder and good quality dark chocolate -- a necessity for a chocoholic like me!"
6. Be A Champion Boxer
One of the keys to eating right? Make eating more convenient. So cook up a big batch of leafy greens when you have the time, and store them away in your plasticware for when you don’t. Or chop up a bunch of vegetables and ingredients and keep them in the fridge as finger foods or for easy use when cooking.
"It may sound strange, but reusable plastic containers have changed the way I cook," says Atherton, who loves how easy her containers have made storing leftovers and prepped ingredients.
7. Grocery Lists And Planners
One item that we all should have on our fridges (or on our phones) is a way to organize ingredients and shopping lists. The week can be a rush and, on the weekends, it’s not always fun to rummage around the fridge and cupboards trying to remember what to buy. So help yourself out: along the way, write down the things you’re running out of as well as the items that you want to get next time, and it’ll make the entire process of shopping, cooking and balanced eating more convenient.
Stock your fridge with Tropicana to start the day with a boost. Rise and shine with some pure-squeezed vitamin C.