I Eat Exclusively Plant-Based — Here Are My 10 Essential Kitchen Tools

published Jun 7, 2021
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power hour vegan meals
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot; Prop Styling: Stephanie De Luca

Since I went vegan, I’ve learned that my least favorite question is the following: “So what do you eat?” Um, lots of things! “Whole, plant-based food” is my standard response. Having written culinary reviews and content related to sustainable agriculture for seven years now, nutrition, cooking, and wellness are a big part of my professional life. I also have zero regrets about no longer consuming animal by-products — whether I’m dining out or at home.

However, I will admit the latter is made considerably easier by having the following list of must-have tools close at hand. Here are 10 products that make it easy for me to eat plant-based when I’m cooking at home.

1. Cuisinart 8-Cup Rice Cooker

I acquired my first rice cooker about six years ago and it’s been a complete game-changer. Rice cookers can be used to make most grains — quinoa, farro, couscous, even a risotto that will come out as creamy as if it had simmered for hours on the stovetop. This is especially true of higher-end models like this one from Zojirushi or the Cuisinart model I have, which is the easiest-to-clean appliance I’ve ever owned.

2. Emile Henry Pizza Stone

I’ve had this pizza stone from Emile Henry for nearly two years and it still doesn’t have a scratch on it — even after making countless dairy-free flatbreads, pizzas, and calzones on it (a mega-bonus considering the original pizza stone I had literally cracked in half — while in the oven — during a festive Friendsgiving celebration after a mere nine months of use!). Moral of the story: It’s worth investing in a premium brand!

3. Presto Stuffler Waffle Maker

Brunch is, by far, my favorite meal. When I’m planning on whipping up a feast, it’s going to be a mid-morning affair every time. Presto’s Stuffler is budget-friendly, compact, and makes it super easy to make stuffed Belgian waffles (my favorite). There’s really no reason not to get one if you enjoy waffles as much as I do! Try my go-to base (The Simple Veganista’s easy vegan waffle recipe), then simply add other ingredients based on your preferences for sweet or savory fillings.

4. Lodge 6.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

I like my cast iron skillets small, durable, and eco-friendly. And Lodge consistently delivers on these standards with every purchase. The company’s a Zero Hazardous Waste Foundry, which means it maintains a robust recycling program and uses recycled, biodegradable material for shipping their products. I love the 6 1/2-inch skillet, in particular, for browning soy chorizo.

5. Bamboo Tofu Press

Like many who ascribe to a vegan lifestyle, owning sustainable products is important to me. There a variety of tofu presses on the market, but I highly suggest this one. It’s solid and sustainable and meant to last a long time because it’s made of bamboo, stainless steel, and brass. The grooves or “flutes” on the insides of the plates allow the same drainage as the little holes common in other press designs, but these flutes are much easier to clean than a bunch of perforations. (Plus, some tofu presses don’t have any drainage at all — they are just flat plates!)

6. Instant Pot Duo Plus

I was not an immediate Instant Pot convert. The slow cooker I previously owned long held its coveted position in my cupboards. For several years, I pretty much ignored all the hype. However the pandemic gifted me the inclination to test out a few new devices in the kitchen. And I haven’t once put away the Duo Plus since its inaugural use. On busy days, when I’m stuck writing or teaching in front of the computer for hours, there is literally no easier way for me to make food in less 30 minutes. A single Instant Pot meal gives me dinner and enough leftovers for two subsequent lunches. My most recent batch of red beans and rice actually yielded enough for a week’s worth of meal prep!

7. Ninja Foodi Smoothie Bowl Maker

I drink a lot of smoothies. However, the difficulty of cleaning my old blender was a huge deterrent. However, this model from Ninja is different! The blender’s cups are as easy to clean as a regular drinking glass and are dishwasher-safe. I love it.

8. Bee’s Wrap Reusable Food Wraps

Some friends gave me this plastic-free Bee’s Wrap variety-pack last Christmas and I have been hooked ever since. I already have another set of the sandwich wraps ready to break out once my current ones start showing signs of deterioration (although that hasn’t happened yet). But whenever they do, I am thrilled to know each wrap is compostable.

9. Marley’s Monsters Washable Sponges 

Another favorite recent discovery of mine is Marley’s Monsters reusable sponges. They are quite effective when I’m scrubbing at stains and smudges, but completely non-abrasive. I also really appreciate that I can just toss them in the laundry with a load of towels, then simply air-dry them. This eco-conscious brand also makes a fab line of colorful UNpaper Towels, which I love as well.

10. IF YOU CARE Unbleached Cheesecloth

I have zero qualms with splurging for quality kitchen goods. However, this cheese cloth is a steal! One package includes two square yards, which is a plethora of unbleached cotton to have at one’s disposable. I make a lot of cold brew, so I always have this on hand. It’s also great for making homemade nut milks.

Do you eat a plant-based diet? Do you have any tools that help you do so? Tell us in the comments below!