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In a world of faster, better, cheaper, it can be easy to get caught up in the dizzying promises of appliance makers touting healthier, better living with the push of a button.
But is one more thing really the answer? Here are four made-for-better-living kitchen appliances that actually deliver healthier mealtimes, all while cutting down on the work.
Why Try It: Want to eat more vegetables? Spiralize them! This simple device has fine blades that slice everything from squash and zucchini to sweet potatoes and beets into spaghetti-like strands. Called “zoodles,” spiralized veggies make a completely gluten-free, antioxidant-rich pasta fill-in or a crunchy topping for otherwise boring salads. A spiralizer also makes quick work of any vegetable surplus: Anyone with a robust home garden (or access to a community one) or commitment to a plant- forward diet will find this modestly priced tool positively inspiralizing. Try this recipe for White Pizza with Spiral-Cut Zucchini.
How to Buy It: With prices ranging from $10 to $60+, from brands you already trust (OXO, Braun, KitchenAid), this is an easy add-on, even to a micro kitchen. Opt for a hand-held, hand-cranked, or motorized stand-alone appliance or attachment to your food processor or stand mixer, depending on how much space you have.
Why Try It: This sealed pot with a valve to control steam cuts the work of preparing home-cooked meals in half—whether it’s homemade pasta sauce, vegetable-packed soups and stews, bone broth or stock, or morning porridges. Using pressure and steam to tenderize meats, instantly steam vegetables, or pressure cook good-for-you whole grains in less time is a win for those looking to eat more homemade, well-balanced meals at home more often. (Bonus: It cooks fish and shrimp in just minutes!) It also allows you to cut fat down considerably, since water or broth—aka steam (not oil!)—is the vehicle for succulence here. This one earns its keep. Try this recipe for Broccoli-Pea Summer Soup .
How To Buy It: Instant Pot’s 6-quart 7-in-1 is an ideal size when cooking for two. But numerous competitive brands make an equally user-friendly model, including All-Clad, Cuisinart, Wolf, and Ninja. Expect to pay between $50 and $200, depending on the bells and whistles you desire. Pro tip: Simpler models work just as well as more expensive ones.
Why Try It: If you count chicken fingers, french fries, hush puppies, and empanadas among your fried food weaknesses, this modern gadget might be for you. Sure, it takes up a bit of counter space, but frying up your favorites with air instead of in a deep-fat fryer has major health advantages, not to mention it’s easier on cleanup. Need recipe inspiration? Try this recipe for Fried Paprika Chicken with Lemons.
How to Buy It: Air fryer brands—and prices—run the gamut, from futuristic to simple and sleek. At the top of the spectrum, Philips offers a multicooking, high-capacity model (with a price tag to match; these start around $250). For the most compact version, check out the Dash Tasti Crisp Electric Air Fryer for $60, or go for the middle ground with Instant Pot’s Duo Crisp 8-quart Pressure Cooker, Air Fryer, Dehydrator, and Roaster ($200), which does it all, from an easy-cleanup roast chicken, to french fries and dried apple rings, making it easy to commit to homemade and home-cooked, no matter what type of food you crave.
Why Try It: The NutriBullet processes high-fiber, nutrient- dense foods into shakes and smoothies in a flash. Its modest size and price tag make it a no-brainer investment. With names like The Nutrient Extractor, the benefit of this style blender is that you ingest all of the food—pulp, fiber, nutrients, and water from all manner of fruits and vegetables—all at once. Add in your favorite greens, fresh lemon juice for brightness, half a banana, pear, or apple for that just sweet enough balance and this becomes an easy daily habit. Try this recipe for Bursting with Berries Morning Shake.
How to Buy It: NutriBullet’s compact ($50) and full-size ($100) blenders are both considerably more affordable than pro-level Vitamix and Blendtec, which are intended to blend dozens of smoothies a week, or even a day. If you’re doing green juice for one or two people in the morning, this sleek option can get the job done every time.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of Clover Living magazine.