In the aftermath of holiday excesses, many of us are thinking about ways to be healthier at home — especially in the kitchen. If you're someone who wants to cook more and eat better, here are 10 tools that can help.
1. Cast-Iron Skillet
Cast iron is long lasting and works well for searing, browning, and roasting. A bare skillet infuses food with small amounts of iron, and doctors sometimes recommend them for people with iron deficiencies.
- Lodge: Headquartered in Tennessee, Lodge is one of the oldest manufacturers of cast iron in America. Their skillets are available online or in big box stores like Target and Crate & Barrel. Shown: Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet with Assist Handle, $23-$65.
2. Vegetable Peeler
A versatile vegetable peeler can be used to clean skins, but it can also double as a tool for shredding vegetables, fruits, and cheeses.
- Rosle: German company Rosle makes some of the best vegetable peelers we've tested — heavy, strong, and precise. Their Julienne Peeler ($27) can get basic jobs done, like peeling carrots and potatoes, but it can also shred vegetables to make salad toppings or soup garnishes.
3. Seltzer/Soda Siphon
A soda siphon uses filtered carbon dioxide to make plain water into sparkling, which can conserve energy used for importing/shipping energy while also saving money.
- Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop: Based in Philadelphia, this store is one of the biggest and best resources we've found for specialty kitchen equipment, including a good selection of seltzer siphons and charger refills. Shown: Liss Mesh Glass Soda Siphon, $90.
4. Compost Pail
A countertop compost pail is a helpful tool for collecting small batches of compost until they're ready for the big outdoor heap.
- Green Depot: This Northeastern and Midwestern chain is like Home Depot for evironmentalists — they have almost everything you'd need for a green home improvement project, including a bunch of kitchen and backyard composters. Shown: RSVP Stoneware Compost Pail, $32.95.
5. Hand Blender/Chopper/Food Processor
A multi-purpose handheld food processor/chopper/blender can chop veggies, blend soups, and even make juices.
- Sur La Table: This chain store has a nice range of small and large food processors, including several handheld models. The DeLonghi Tri-Blade Immersion Blender ($100) is "ideal for all kinds of blending—whipping egg whites, mixing smoothies and even chopping onions."
6. Water Filter
A filter can improve the taste and quality of the water you use for drinking and cooking. Options include filtration pitchers, taps, under-sink tanks, and countertop filters.
- Gracious Home: Located in New York (with an online store), Gracious Home stocks high-quality brands for the kitchen. They have a good selection of water filters from Elemaris, Zerowater, and Maxtra. Shown: Zerowater Pitcher, $35.
7. Canning Tools
If you have a big batch of fruit or vegetables, canning and preserving them allows you to keep them longer and/or offer them as healthy gifts.
- Lehman's Non-Electric Catalogue: This online and mail-order catalog has a 6-piece Canning Tool Set that includes a canning funnel, jar lifter, kitchen tongs, jar wrench, digital timer (battery included) and combination bubble remover/magnetic lid lifter for $18.
9. Slow Cooker / Crock Pot
In the winter, a slow cooker is great for making healthy soups and stews with complex flavors that require a long time to simmer.
- Amazon.com: When shopping for small kitchen appliances, Amazon is always one of the first sites to price-check for potential deals. Shown: Cuisinart PSC-400 Stainless-Steel 4-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker, $65.
10. Countertop Grill
In the winter, a countertop grill is an effective way to cook healthy meat, fish, and vegetables indoors.
- Sears: The Foreman Grill is great for small spaces, and it's been rated a good product on the Kitchn. Sears carries a few different models, including the George Foreman Next Generation Grill, one of the newer versions, available for $100.
Photo: Open Kitchen from Rosle