Best Blender & other essential kitchen tools

Blend Your Way to Health

“I wanna get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. Toaster, refrigerator, blender…all you have to do is say what s**t does, and add “er”. I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute. Hey, what does that do? It keeps s**t fresh. Well, that’s a fresher …I’m going on a break.”                        –Mitch Hedberg, Comedian, (February 24, 1968 – March 29, 2005)

Another name for a Blender…          a Healther….

Whether you are a cooking novice or a pro, you will have to agree that the three most essential tools for your kitchen arsenal are: a Good Sharp Chef’s Knife, a Heat Resistant Spatula, and a Blender. No matter which type you choose, from one speed to multiple settings, your blender can take you through your day and allow you to prepare delicious and nutritious meals with just the flip of a switch.

Imagine you wake up with just 30 minutes to get ready for work and head out the door for an eight hour workday. You cannot even conceive how you will nourish your body with anything that you can simply grab and go. Enter “The Blender,” and a refrigerator full of produce. You can throw in a handful of leafy salad greens, plus a handful of fresh or frozen berries, a scoop of protein powder, a small cupped handful of nuts and a dash of cinnamon. Add 10-12 ounces of water and blend. Pour your shake into a 20 ounce Thermos water bottle and you’ve got your energy to go. (See Energy to Go recipe below)

Your chef’s knife is also an “essential tool” when you need to mince garlic for dressings or marinades or to chop vegetables for steaming or to make nutritious soups. It’s next to impossible to eat healthy without the use of a good sharp chef’s knife, and the skills needed to use it effectively. You can choose either a “pointed” French chef’s knife, or the recently popular Japanese style “santoku” knife which has a rounded tip. Most professionals prefer the eight inch version of either one. Choose a knife with a good weight. You have to feel it to know if it’s right for you. I love my Viking brand eight-inch chef’s knife.

The heat resistant spatula can be used for scraping out every last drop of your morning shake, or for hot items like sautéing vegetables, flipping eggs and stirring soups. These spatulas can be purchased at any kitchen store. Le Creuset has a version that also serves as a spoon for more versatility. If you’re going the Le Creuset route, pick up an 11 or 15 inch cast iron skillet which is perfect for sautéing vegetables, making soups and even cooking meat in the oven. Le Creuset has outlets so look for one in your area for the best deals.

Your skillet and spatula will certainly come in handy when you come home from work, open the fridge and stare at that chicken breast sitting on the bottom shelf. You have to prepare it, but plain chicken breast just doesn’t thrill you. To spice things up a bit, take 1/4 cup of  balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, plus 1/8 teaspoon each of sea salt and ground black pepper. Throw it all in your blender and whirl away. Meanwhile, rinse the chicken in the sink, pat dry and slice into 1/2 inch thick long pieces. Pour half the marinade in the bottom of an oven safe skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cover with the rest of the marinade. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (See Easy Marinated Chicken recipe below)

While the chicken is baking, blend 1 clove minced garlic with the juice of 1/2 lemon plus 2 teaspoons of olive oil, a dash of sea salt and ground black pepper and you have a fabulous dressing for a salad or for steamed greens such as broccoli, kale or bok choi. For a little extra pizzazz, slice 1/2 red onion and sauté with a little olive oil. Meanwhile, chop the florets or leaves. Fill a large sauce pot with one inch of water. Place a steamer basket in the bottom and cover with a lid. When the water begins to boil, add the leafy greens to the steamer basket. When the onions have softened and browned a bit, about 3 minutes, add the “green stems” and sauté until they become bright green. Toss everything in a large mixing bowl with the dressing and serve with the marinated chicken. (See Steamed Greens & Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing recipe below)

Want to make a cream of broccoli soup or corn chowder that you can enjoy throughout the week? Use your chef’s knife to chop half an onion into one-inch pieces. Add the onions to the skillet with a 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add 2 cups of frozen broccoli or corn, plus 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Use the spatula to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Sauté until the onions are soft and fragrant and the frozen vegetables are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add everything to a blender and gradually pour in about 2 cups of milk as you blend away until you reach a creamy consistency. Pour the soup back into the skillet or saucepan and heat until it begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. (See Corn Chowderrecipe below)

Your blender just saved the day as it has done for me for as long as I can remember. Whether you use your blender to make smoothies, soups, sauces or dressings, your blender offers you a plethora of ways to turn plain food into tasty morsels and to combine flavors and nutrients in a way that only a blender can do.

If you don’t already have a blender, please do yourself a favor and get one now. I love my one speed Oster Beehive blender and have been making all of these recipes and more with just this one tool. I still use my knife to cut bigger pieces into smaller ones which makes the job easier on my Oster, but otherwise, the Oster makes eating healthy a breeze.

Energy to Go

1 cup mixed salad greens
1 cup mixed berries (I like raspberries and blueberries)
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder (I actually love chocolate whey in this shake and I like the Whey to Go brand from Solgar)
1 small cupped handful of mixed nuts, about 2 Tbsp.
A dash of cinnamon, approx. 1/16 tsp.
10-12 ounces of water

Pour everything in the blender and blend. Add more water or ice as needed until you reach your desired consistency.

Makes approximately 20 ounces.
Cost per serving: $3.30 (about the same cost as a cup of fancy coffee but way better for you!!)
Nutrients per serving (20 ounces/ 581g): Calories: 306, Fat: 10g, Carbs: 24g, Protein: 30g, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 11g, Sodium 27mg

% Daily Value (DV):
Vitamin A: 16%, Thiamin-B1: 8%, Riboflavin-B2: 10%, Niacin-B3: 14%, Vitamin B6: 9%, Vitamin B12: 0%, Vitamin C: 44%, Vitamin D: 0%, Vitamin E: 12%, Folate: 23%, Pantothenic Acid: 6%, Calcium: 10%, Copper: 17%, Iron: 11%, Magnesium: 18%, Manganese: 72%, Phosphorus: 11%, Potassium: 12%, Selenium: 7%, Zinc: 9%

Easy Marinated Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 12 ounces total

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.      Throw the marinade ingredients in the blender and blend.
3.      Rinse the chicken under cool running water.
4.      Pat dry with paper towels, preferably unbleached paper towels.
5.     On a cutting board that you use solely for cutting meat, slice chicken into 1/2 inch thick, long pieces. If you don’t have a meat/chicken cutting board, clean your board after each use, with a mixture of bleach and water. It’s ideal to keep a spray bottle with a solution of bleach and water.
6.     Disinfect cutting boards with a bleach solution: one tablespoon bleach to one gallon cool water or 3/4 teaspoon bleach per 32 ounces of water in a squirt bottle.
7.    Pour half the marinade in the bottom of an oven safe skillet or oven safe baking dish. Add the chicken pieces and cover with the rest of the marinade.
8.      Bake at 350 degree F for 30 minutes.

Makes 3 servings
Cost per serving: $1.46
Nutrients per serving (5 ounces including marinade/ 158g): Calories: 202, Fat: 6g, Carbs: 4g, Protein: 33g, Fiber: 0.11g, Sugar: 3g, Sodium 27mg

% Daily Value (DV):
Vitamin A: 1%, Thiamin-B1: 3%, Riboflavin-B2: 8%, Niacin-B3: 80%, Vitamin B6: 20%, Vitamin B12: 4%, Vitamin C: 1%, Vitamin D: 3%, Vitamin E: 3%, Folate: 1%, Pantothenic Acid: 7%, Calcium: 2%, Copper: 3%, Iron: 7%, Magnesium: 7%, Manganese: 2%, Phosphorus: 19%, Potassium: 7%, Selenium: 36%, Zinc: 7%

Steamed Greens & 
Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

1 bunch kale, washed (about 4 cups chopped)
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons water

Lemon Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, about 2 Tbsp
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/16 teaspoon sea salt

1.   Wash kale in a large bowl of water with 20 drops of GSE (grapefruit seed extract). Drain washed kale in a colander.
2.      Slice red onion and mince garlic and each aside in separate bowls.
3.      Juice 1/2 lemon.
4.      Remove ribs from kale and set aside.
5.      Chop kale greens into 1-inch pieces and set in a bowl.
6.      Remove the ends of the ribs and discard. Chop kale ribs into small pieces and set aside in a bowl.
7.      Fill a large sauce pot with about 1-inch of water. Insert a steamer basket or a metal sieve/colander. Place sauce pot on a burner, cover with a lid and turn heat on high. Bring water to a boil.
8.   Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium-high, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of water. Add the sliced onions and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. When the onions begin to brown, add the kale stems for one more minute, until they turn bright green.
9.     When water begins to boil in the sauce pot, add kale leaves, reduce heat to medium and cover with a lid. Let steam for about 3 minutes or until leaves turn bright green.
10.  While the kale is steaming and the onions are sautéing, prepare the dressing.
11.  In a blender, add minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt and blend away.
12.When everything is done cooking, toss greens, onions and kale stems in a large bowl with the vinaigrette.
13.  Serve with chicken or with cooked brown rice or quinoa and lentils for a vegetarian meal.

Makes 3 servings
Cost per serving: $0.49
Nutrients per serving (about 2 cups/ 123g): Calories: 306, Fat: 10g, Carbs: 12g, Protein: 3g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Sodium 87mg

% Daily Value (DV):
Vitamin A: 80%, Thiamin-B1: 7%, Riboflavin-B2: 7%, Niacin-B3: 8%, Vitamin B6: 14%, Vitamin B12: 0%, Vitamin C: 189%, Vitamin D: 0%, Vitamin E: 7%, Folate: 8%, Pantothenic Acid: 1%, Calcium: 13%, Copper: 14%, Iron: 9%, Magnesium: 8%, Manganese: 37%, Phosphorus: 6%, Potassium: 13%, Selenium: 2%, Zinc: 3%

Corn Chowder

1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups frozen yellow corn
1/4 teaspoon whole dried thyme (ground is ok too)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups whole or lowfat milk of your choice (analysis based on 1%/ lowfat milk)

1.     Chop yellow onion. Heat olive oil on medium heat and add onions. Saute onions until soft, about 3 minutes. Add corn and saute until thawed, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, pepper and sea salt and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2.    Add everything to your blender and gradually add 2 cups of milk until you reach a desired creamy consistency.
3.     Return mixture to the skillet set on medium heat and heat until chowder begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with a little extra thyme.

Makes 4 servings
Cost per serving: $0.66
Nutrients per serving (1 cups/ 222g): Calories: 173, Fat: 5g, Carbs: 25g, Protein: 7g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 8g, Sodium 140mg

% Daily Value (DV):
Vitamin A: 9%, Thiamin-B1: 5%, Riboflavin-B2: 4%, Niacin-B3: 9%, Vitamin B6: 8%, Vitamin B12: 0%, Vitamin C: 10%, Vitamin D: 12%, Vitamin E: 2%, Folate: 8%, Pantothenic Acid: 2%, Calcium: 14%, Copper: 2%, Iron: 3%, Magnesium: 4%, Manganese: 6%, Phosphorus: 6%, Potassium: 11%, Selenium: 1%, Zinc: 2%

If you eat two servings of each recipe you have all the nutrition you need for a day!!
Cost for the day: $11.83
Nutrients for the day 2 shakes, 2 soups, 2 servings of chicken & kale (76 ounces/ 2,170g): Calories: 1,573, Fat: 53g, Carbs: 128g, Protein: 146g, Fiber: 28g, Sugar: 52g, Sodium 858mg

% Daily Value (DV):
Vitamin A: 212%, Thiamin-B1: 47%, Riboflavin-B2: 58%, Niacin-B3: 221%, Vitamin B6: 101%, Vitamin B12: 9%, Vitamin C: 488%, Vitamin D: 31%, Vitamin E: 49%, Folate: 80%, Pantothenic Acid: 32%, Calcium: 79%, Copper: 72%, Iron: 59%, Magnesium: 74%, Manganese: 234%, Phosphorus: 84%, Potassium: 85%, Selenium: 91%, Zinc: 43%