Reorganizing your kitchen is the key to your raw success and a very exciting part of going raw. A kitchen is the heart of a home, a place where you spend a lot of time each day so make it as nice as you can. It is not just about your kitchen but about taking action and the responsibility to make it really happen, about settling into your new lifestyle and making it work!
So you made up your mind about going raw. Did you figure out how raw? Will you still need pots and pans? A steamer? How many times a week? If you decided on going raw 100%, you can store all your cook utilities in another room to create a lot of space for what you need now. If you have a family you still have to cook for, you will have to keep your cook tools in the kitchen but maybe a bit further away in a ‘cooking’ section. Divide your kitchen in several sections and build up your intentions around them.
Make it easy on yourself and keep your sections as raw as possible, especially around your blender, food processor and juicer. These tools are the center of your raw food preparations so place them where you like seeing them and have enough space. Don’t hide them in cupboards but put them where you can grab and go. Always clean your tools right away and you will have much less work. Your raw kitchen will always be a neat and welcoming place where you can’t wait to start creating.
Another reason to set up everything as pure as possible is avoiding temptation at all times. Keep your kitchen raw and you will be more successful in staying true to your intentions. Moreover it will be much more fun to work in a truly raw place which feels as a friendly , embracing and supporting environment. This room is your best friend now. When you will be finished and have a look around you will know what I mean. You will love opening your cupboards and refrigerator when they are all raw and full of bright colors.
Let me take you through each step and every tool so you have it all mapped out and you can start planning and changing.
Clear Out & Change!
It all starts with a fundamental change in your kitchen or should I say: detox of your kitchen…
What to place where
Take a good look at your kitchen. What is it telling you? Is it a large or a small room? Is it practical as it is now? How can you set it up the best way to serve your new culinary adventures? What would you like to see different? How can you give it an easy and affordable solution? Some tips…
- Where are most of your plug ins? This is the place where your blender belongs, right next to a food processor and a juicer if you have one. Group your electronic equipment because you will use it several times a day.
- The cupboards closest to your blender can contain your superfoods on eye height. Underneath you can store small electronics such as a coffee mill for grinding seeds and nuts.
- Do you have a window in your kitchen? Yes? This is where you can grow your wheat grass, sprout your seeds.
- Once you determined where your electronic corner and your sprout corner will be, you can arrange your cupboards.
- Take away all the unused equipment that is sitting around on the counter and create more space to work on.
- Put your small tools close to where you will be working the most.
- Choose a central place for your cutting board, close to your blender. You will combine the use of these two a lot.
- Try to think very practical without losing touch with the feel you want.
In a small kitchen you have to think twice to place everything together without getting the feeling you are suffocating. Even with little room you can create space. As you could notice in the pictures before; the left side of this small kitchen is a clean and open set up with the small tools ready to grab and use. You can still add a personal touch by putting a book or a flower in between. It doesn’t take much space but makes your kitchen ‘yours’. At the right side all the electronics are centered around the fruit bowls, one step away from the refrigerator for greens, nuts and seeds and two steps away from the sink. They are close to the large cutting board to work as efficient as possible.
Keep the whole set up as practical and simple as possible. You will only have to clean once very thoroughly and then you can keep up every week without any effort. Even more; it will be fun to clean now because everything is looking nice and in place.
Your dry stock can go into your cupboards, nuts and seeds belong in the refrigerator. They have not been treated so you have to store these alive foods cool and dark.
Keep everything in glass jars rather than in plastic. Buy several sizes. You can find them anywhere but Ikea for instance is offering great models for low prices. You will need a lot of those and even small amounts count then.
Buy organic food with a farmer you can trust. Choose for different colors and shapes; they all have their particular properties. With a good and varied staple you can make any dish that comes up in your head. You will be able to battle every craving with all these different tastes available.
What to buy? Kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, basil, carrots, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, red paprika, chili’s, sprouts if you aren’t sprouting yourself, Romain salad, arugula, avocado’s, and fruits to your choice.
Before going into all the fancy stuff you can buy, let me tell you that you don’t really need a lot to make delicious recipes. The essential tools you can start with are a blender, a sharp chefs knife and a cutting board. The blender is a must have in a raw diet: you will use it several times a day. A chefs knife and cutting board will serve you well to prepare all the vegetables and fruits. When you become more sure that you will hold on to this diet, you can still invest at your own pace.
A blender is a must have in the raw kitchen. When you are just starting and you have one in the back of a cupboard, use it until you decide you want to continue this lifestyle. If you use a common household blender everyday, the motor will burn out at some point. So maybe that is a good time to consider investing in a good quality high speed blender.
But which blender should I choose?
The choice in blenders is overwhelming. I will give you some criteria you can bear in mind when you start looking for one.
- How much will you be using your blender? Everyday once, twice, three times? Or only a few times a week?
- Do you want to live a (high) raw lifestyle?
- Do you only want a blender to make a smoothie everyday to add to your current diet or do you want to prepare several meals a day with it?
- How much money do you want to or can you invest?
- What do you expect of a blender?
- How much work space do you have? (A Vitamix is pretty high so first measure)
If you are committed to going green, then I advice you to invest in a very good high speed blender. Why?
- It is only a one time investment and it well serve you for many, many years, if not for life.
- If you keep buying cheap blenders, the final sum will be much higher than one excellent blender
- Your blender is your best friend in the kitchen! It is your cook pot, your pan, your oven, your stove and if you decide to live as raw as possible you have to be able to rely on this tool.
- A high speed blender breaks the hard cell walls of food. No other blender can do this. The consequences are that you will digest your food much easier, you will gain more energy and all the nutrients will be released so you can fully benefit from what you are eating. It makes a big difference to your health.
- A high speed blender won’t frustrate you. It takes care of the hardest nut and ice, it makes your smoothies smoother than ever.
- It saves you a lot of time and is very easy to clean!
- Marinara Sauce is made in a minute instead of a half hour.
At the moment two blenders are on top when it comes to excellent quality and high speed; Vita-Mix and Blendtec. Purchasing one of these blenders will be worth your investment and you won’t want to miss it anymore.
I chose for Vitamix because of the tamper, which is very helpful when your greens don’t go down by themselves and you have to help them a bit in a safe way. Also the buttons allow you to choose for the speed you need for that particularly food you are preparing. It has the power of two horses.
A Blendtec is cheaper and an excellent option for lower budgets. It doesn’t have a tamper so you might have to stop now and then to push the content down. Never do this while the motor is running! It does have 3 pk though which is very high and why it will crush everything in no time. The choice is yours.
A chefs knife
This is the second tool you simply can’t miss when you have to cut a lot of vegetables and fruits. A chefs knife will save you a lot of time and irritation. Good quality makes your work light, fast and nice. But there are a myriad of knifes on the market and how can you know which one will serve you well?
- Choose a knife that is laying comfortable in your hand. Not too light, not too heavy so you don’t get tired when you have a lot to cut. Always try it out and get the feel.
- A ceramic knife is the best choice for your fruit and vegetables: steel oxidizes what you are cutting, ceramic doesn’t.
- A ceramic knife is very sharp and stays sharp for years, even without sharpening in between.
- If you choose for a steel knife, take one of which the blade is a bit round so you can move faster on your cutting board.
A cutting board
A good cutting board is just as essential. It will determine the length of your chefs knifes life.It doesn’t make sense to buy organically grown produce and then cut it on a plastic cutting board which is made of petroleum products. Moreover you will certainly eat little bits and pieces of this cutting board with what you just cut. Synthetic materials aren’t hygienic either; bacteria will settle in the tiny cuts. Your expensive chefs knife will become dull soon. With a good ecological friendly choice you will enjoy your food even more.
Wood is always the best, the most natural and the closest choice to your raw lifestyle. But stay critical here as well because wood has mostly been treated with chemical paints, varnish or stain. These chemicals will definitely enter your food. So be alert and look for a cutting board that hasn’t been treated. There are a lot of great eco solutions lately who can guarantee you a safe and natural material.
- Bamboo for instance is a great eco choice. It is hard, beautiful and easy to clean.
- Teak is also a strong option and will serve you well for a long time.
- Eco- friendly natural fiber composite is another possibility: the laminate is non-porous and won’t dull your knives.
- A large surface can be very handy and create more work space if you put it on top of the stove you don’t use anymore.
This is what you need to open your fresh Thai coconuts. You can buy them cheap in any Chinese or Japanese Toko. If you are living in New York, China Town is the place to be for this sharp tool.
A cleaver is usually made of stainless steel. It is a great knife to cut your herbs, vegetables or fruit with. The best part about a cleaver here is that you can scoop all your cut goodies up in one fast move and throw it all in a bowl without spilling. You can work very fast and efficiently with a cleaver. The only minus is the steel; it oxidizes your fresh foods.
To keep it in good shape, always oil it (with whatever you have but no oil for mechanic tools) after washing and drying. When it is coated well it won’t rust.
A food processor
Probably you have a food processor somewhere in the back of your cupboard. Dig it up, dust it off and enjoy all the possibilities. Because a food processor is such a great piece of equipment when you have to cut a lot in one time. A few turns and it’s all done. They come in all kinds of different sizes. Find out if you often process large quantities or if they mostly are small, for one person only.
It is also very easy if you want to make nut pate’s or pesto, a chunky Marinara sauce, dough for a pie or a Broccoli salad. A food processor is very time saving when you want to fill up your dehydrator with raw bread or flax crackers. You could do this cutting with your chefs knife. So it isn’t an absolute must have in your kitchen. But once you have it, it will save you a lot of precious time.
If you want to invest in a good brand like Cuisinart (in Europe Magimix) you won’t be disappointed. Each dish is ready in only a few minutes and you know it won’t let you down when it’s filled up with sticky or heavy quantities.
Even the smallest one in this series is a lovely tool for when you have to prepare small quantities like a guacamole or a nut cheese, a dressing.
A (slow) juicer
Living in a fast society you might wonder what a slow juicer is good for. But it is the best solution to upgrade your energy and make you move faster.
A slow juicer is providing a lot more nutrients after juicing. Once you juice vegetables and fruits, it starts losing its valuable content. When you juice with a centrifuge it is recommended to consume your juice right away.
The gears in a slow juicer press all the juice out instead of tearing the fiber apart. The nutrients stay intact as the juice will too. Still, the best way to drink juices is right after juicing.
A slow juicer produces much more juice, the pulp will be much dryer. So you will certainly earn your investment back by using much less fruits and vegetables for quite some amount of juice.
When you are eating raw you need juices every day. Also, this type of juicers can make juice of green leafy vegetables, wheat grass and wild edibles which are a very important group of foods in your diet. It is a tool worth saving for!
Another valuable property of slow juicers is that they can homogenize food. They can make ice, dough, lovely creamy pates and cheeses, even pasta if you choose a model with the appropriate mouths.
Some criteria to bear in mind when you are finding your way in the labyrinth of juicers are;
- Is is easy to use?
- Is it easy to clean?
- Is it providing me the nutrients I want and need?
- Do I want to use it for other things than juicing as well, such as homogenizing or making pasta?
A slow juicer is slow but thorough. If you need to make large quantities fast on a regular basis, you might consider purchasing or lend a centrifuge juicer as well. A slow juicer can’t keep up with mass and speed. It does a great job for your daily intake but find an extra solution for parties.
Once you decided to buy a dehydrator you will be eager to start with a whole lot of new recipes. This purchase will delight you and your new lifestyle!
The possibility of dehydrating foods will open a new world of opportunities to you. You can now make your own raw granola, cookies, macaroons, pizza crusts, you can warm up your soup to 107 °F in winter, you can marinate vegetables in a way they will look like cooked and a thousand things more.
Choose an easy dehydrator with a thermostat and if possible a timer. The teflex sheets are used when you spread wet consistencies. The mesh helps to dry faster when your crackers or cookies are halfway and you can flip them over.
A dehydrator can have several layers starting from 3 to 9, depending on your needs. The price starts around $200 in the States and 240 euro in Europe. This equipment is an excellent investment in your raw kitchen, adding new variety in your diet, certainly when you are having some trouble to stay raw in winter.
A spiral slicer
A spiral slicer is such a fun tool! It is replaceable by a simple potato or julienne peeler but if you want to have your zucchini spaghetti ready in one minute, this toy is what you need.
Whenever you are craving spaghetti you can rely on your spiral slicer to make beautiful angel hair. Any long vegetable will do, zucchini, carrots or daikon. All you have to do is slice up the vegetable of your choice in a few shorter parts, put it in the middle of the slicer and start turning.
A spiral slicer is a cheap tool in the United States, about $16. In Europe it will cost youcout 28 euro. There are several systems, so check them all out before you decide.
A julienne peeler
A julienne peeler can replace your spiral slicer when you don’t have one. It slices small, elegant strokes of any vegetable or fruit.
The advantage of small tools is that you can easily take them on your travels. Even in a hotel room you can use a peeler to make yourself a lovely spaghetti or a fine salad with colorful slices.
For a fast job and perfectly thin slices for beautiful dishes, a mandolin is the perfect tool. They come in many sizes and prices, from very cheap to very expensive. A simple, Japanese mandolin works just as fine as a complicated expensive one. The difference are the accessories which come with higher priced ones to make fancy chips or creative decorations.
As every tool you purchase, you can make the choices that fit your budget and needs. Always ask yourself what exactly you are demanding of your future equipment to make sure you are investing in the right one. Actually you can start with simple and cheap tools and invest more as you make progresses in your raw journey.
Stainless steel bowls are very useful for mixing, making dressings, for preparations ‘au bain marie’ or processing large amounts of foods.
They come in all sizes. Having some different bowls available is very helpful and handy when you are making a recipe with several preparations.
In a raw food diet sprouts are a very important part of your daily dishes. Alive food is so easy to grow and you don’t have to buy equipment to start. What do you need?
Some well rinsed glass jars, a cheese cloth and a rubber band.
Or you can sprout your seeds in a sprout bag, which is inexpensive too. You can make one yourself with a cheese cloth. Nylon sprout bags and hemp sprout bags give great results and are easy to transport when you are traveling for a longer period.
A simple colander is an option too and you only have to spend one dollar in a hardware store.
Later on when you want your kitchen to be well organized and in place, you can still look for a sprouting system as the one in picture. Many systems are offered on the market but you don’t have to make it complicated really. Sprouting is very simple.
Nut Milk Bag
These sprout bags are the same ones you can use to strain your nut milk. Buy several bags and keep them for their specific uses; one to make milk, one to make juice if you have no juicer (just make a smoothie first and strain it so the pulp is separated), one to sprout.
Measuring spoons and cups
These simple measuring tools make your life so much easier in the kitchen. Buy a set of cups and spoons and you will always have the same an right rates for your dishes. Most of the recipes in books are based on these measurements. Each cup in your cupboard is different and so are spoons. Working with a standard will make you more successful if rates are important for a recipe.
Spatulas are very handy to clean out your blender, bowls and food processor. Buy several sizes and shapes. What one can’t get out at the bottom, another can. Also watch the length of their handle; you will need long ones for a high speed blender to get to the bottom without messing up your clothes.
Funnels are a great help for when you make rejuvelac and you have to pour the content over in your bottles to store in the refrigerator.
A large whisk will mix large quantities easily. A small one is so handy when you are making a dressing for one person in a small bowl. A large one won’t reach all the ingredients as well as this little beauty. It works very fast too.
A digital scale
A digital scale can be of great use when you have to be precise in certain recipes. Mostly chocolates need good rates to have the right structure. When you only need a few grams of an ingredient you can’t miss this tool.
A grater is such an easy way to process small amounts of ingredients. One TBS of ginger juice? Grate and squeeze your juice out and save the work of cleaning a whole juicer for that one tablespoon of juice you need.
A lemon squeezer
Now this lemon juicer will become your favorite in the kitchen amongst small tools for sure. It is a grab and go ‘I-have-to-have-this-one’ tool, a few firm turns and your lemon juice is ready. Cleaning takes two seconds under streaming water. What more do you need?
A sushi mat is indispensable when you love making your own nori rolls. Well, you can make them without a mat but not as beautiful and firm. When you need tools for foreign recipes, always first check out the stores of their origin. They will be the cheapest there and still of good quality.