Real Food Whole Life

Holiday Guift Guide 2015: Real Food Whole Life Kitchen Essentials

LifestyleRobyn Downs2 Comments

Today I'm sharing my Real Food Whole Life Kitchen Essentials, the products and tools I use in my own kitchen. These are the items I rely on daily to put healthy, real food meals on the table. I hope you'll find some gift-giving inspiration on this list, either for someone you love or for your own real food kitchen. Cheers!

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Small Appliances 

1 | Crock-Pot Programmable 6-Quart Slow Cooker we use our slow cooker at least once a week (more when I'm testing slow cooker recipes) and I wouldn't be able to get healthy, real food meals together on busy weeknights without it.

I love the 6-quart size because it makes enough to feed a crowd and yields enough leftovers to enjoy later on. The programable option is a must for me, since I can set it for a specific amount of time and then to switch to "warm" until we get home.

2 | Cuisinart Hand Blender a must for making creamy soups at home, without having to transfer hot liquids to a blender. Recipes like Slow Cooker Autumn Minestrone and Creamy Tomato Soup are so much easier with this handy little appliance! 

3 | Vitamix 7500 Blender with Low Profile Jar I'm not going to lie, this blender is a major investment, but it's something our family uses every day. We've had our model for over three years, and with daily use it's still going strong. We even bring it with us on road trips so we never have to be without our morning smoothies!

4 | Cuisinart 9-Cup Food Processor a good food processor is a must for any real food kitchen. I use mine weekly to make hummus and white bean dip or to make desserts like raw pumpkin bites.

Chopping & Grating

5 | Epicurean Kitchen Series Cutting Board these are hands-down my favorite cutting boards ever. They're durable (I've had mine for years) and dishwasher safe. They come in a number of different sizes and never damage my knives. If you're using flimsy, plastic cutting boards it's definitely worth upgrading to a more sturdy, durable option. 

6 | Wusthof Classic 7-Piece Cutlery Set or Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Cooks Knife one of the biggest mistakes new cooks make in the kitchen is using a cheap, dull knife. Not only does it make cooking less enjoyable, it's also dangerous. I like this 7-piece set of essentials, or start with the most basic, an 8-inch cooks knife.

7 | Paderno Tri-Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer I resisted buying a "spiralizer" for a long time because I didn't want to store another kitchen gadget. Let me tell you, I wish I hadn't waited so long. This thing is a game changer, turning zucchini into noddles or "zoodles," which are the perfect substitute for pasta.  

8 | OXO Good Grips Grater a good hand grater is super handy to easily remove the zest from lemons and limes, to grate garlic or ginger, and to shave small amounts of parmesan cheese.

Pots & Pans

9 | Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet, 12 Inch a basic cast iron skillet is one of the most used items in our kitchen. It's naturally non-stick, heats evenly, and lasts forever

10 | Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2 Round French (Dutch) Oven this is probably my most used piece of cookware. It's definitely an investment piece, but one that will last a lifetime. Naturally non-stick and even heating make it a dream to cook with.

11 | Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Steel 7-Piece Cookware Set a great starter set, this 7-piece set has the essentials without too many unnecessary extras. A good set of stainless steel cookware makes such a huge difference when cooking that it's worth the investment up front.

12 | Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet, 11-3/4 Inch a variation on a basic cast-iron, the enamel cookware is a workhorse in the kitchen but still pretty enough to serve in. 

Baking & Roasting

13 | Le Creuset Stoneware Rectangular Dish I received this as a gift over 10 years ago and it's still going strong. I use it for everything from casseroles and lasagna to brownies and it cooks everything perfectly. 

14 | Le Creuset Stoneware 3.1-Quart Oval Au Gratin Dish as with the rectangular dish, this gratin dish was a gift and I use it often. I use it most often for roasting chicken and vegetables. It's also perfect for making my Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp.

15 | Nordic Ware Half Sheet Pan these are, in my opinion, completely essential to any real food kitchen. Throw a bunch of chopped veggies on one, drizzle on some olive oil, and roast in the oven until golden brown. And while they're most used in my kitchen to roast veggies, they're also perfect for making Sweet & Spicy Nut and Seed Clusters or homemade granola.

16 | Artisan Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mats silicone baking mats are a perfect, reusable way to line your sheet pans to keep food from sticking. They're non-toxic and dishwasher safe, too.


17 | Anchor Hocking Glass Bowl Set I use these bowls for everything from baking to salad making. The fact that they stack make them easy to store, too.

18 | OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Measuring Cups measuring cups are a no-brainer when it comes to cooking, especially baking. I like these because they stack together using a small magnet helping them to stay neat and organized.

19 | Pyrex 3-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set it's important to use liquid measuring cups when measuring wet ingredients and these work every time.

20 | OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons I love these measuring spoons because they stay together in the drawer using magnets, plus, since they're not held together on a ring I can use one without running the entire thing through the dishwasher.

Flipping, Mixing & Squeezing 

21 | di Oro Living Silicone Spatula Set a good spatula set is a real food kitchen must, good for everything from stirring, to baking, to scraping and scooping. These are non-toxic and dishwasher safe, too.

22 | OXO Good Grips Fish Spatula even though this is called a fish spatula it's good for so much more! Great for flipping eggs, burgers, bean patties, and (of course) fish, we wouldn't be without this one.

23 | Fox Run Stainless Steel Magic Whisk I love this little whisk for making all kinds of dressing. Plus it's the perfect size for Elle to help out in the kitchen. 

24 | Bellemain Stainless Steel Lemon Squeezer I use citrus so often in my cooking, and find that a squeezer really does the best job at getting the most juice out of the fruit. 

Straining, Storing & Brewing

25 | Culina Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers a set of strainers makes rinsing a breeze. I use mine daily for washing berries, grapes, veggies, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.

26 | HIC Stainless Steel Canning Funnel this little funnel is used every night at our house to make filling mason jars with leftovers super fast and easy. It's a small thing that makes life easier.

27 | Ball Wide-Mouth 16-oz Mason Jars oh yes, mason jars are everything around here. They're perfect for food storage because they can go directly in the freezer and the lid screws on tight to avoid drips and leaks. More on how I freeze leftovers in jars here.

28 | Bodum 8-Cup Stainless Steel Thermal French Press last but not least, I couldn't leave out our favorite coffee maker. French press is our preferred way to make the perfect cup, and this version is stainless steel inside and out. It's insulated, too, so the coffee stays warm for an hour or so inside.

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