Our favorite kitchen tools!
There is no way around it: Spice graters are a must have in any Pilot Fitness kitchen. Fresh spices not only punch up the taste in any given dish, they also pack an unremarkable nutrition boost to boot. So pick one up at your local grocery store or on Amazon. They are inexpensive and an easy tool everyone should have!Spice Grater
Food Processors are a great tool to speed up the preparation process. They incorporate several different blades/cutting options to quickly cut up vegetables, mix ingredients, process delicious home-made spreads, salsas and more! So if you are looking to save time on manual food prep, consider making this part of your kitchen.
What to look for in a food processor:
- 9 cups or more with a mini 4 cup option
- Good warranty; at least one year
Fore meals on the road and at home this is your “work horse” grain cooker! This is one of the most inexpensive kitchen investment that will provide the highest return. It’s a great and easy way to combine grains, legumes and greens. We use ours at lease two times a week and have had it for years!
What to look for in a Rice Cooker:
- Steam Tray
- Size: Make sure it is 6 cups or more as these have a larger, more versatile steam basket
Nice rice cookers are great, however, we have gotten along just fine with out simple press and go. If you eat a lot of rice and like to experiment or would like to have the ability to make sticky rice etc., a higher end cooker might be the better way to go. Our basic cooker works well for us and does a decent job for all types of grain such as brown rice, black rice, quinoa, quinoa/lentil mix, millet, split peas and amaranth.
Money savers route:Aroma, 8 Cup Digital Rice Cooker & Steamer Oster, 6 Cup Rice Cooker & Steamer
For those that like the finer things in life: – this is only a rice cooker, no steamerZojirushi, 5.5 Cup (No Steamer Basket)
High Power Blender
A high powered blender is an absolute “healthy kitchen” essential! Here in the Pilot Fitness Kitchen we use the Blendtec brand. We do not advocate the Blendtec over the Vitamix (or vise versa) as we think they are both great, high quality blenders with just a little different set up. We use our Blendtec several times a day from breakfast smoothies to lunchtime snacks to dinner sauces and tasty deserts!
- Nice digital display for speed
- User friendly
- Pre-programmed modes for smoothies, juices, soups, and more
- Able to make soup, sauce, smoothie, whole juice etc.
- Wildside jar is a must if you go with this brand!
- Dial for speed, and high/low setting
- User friendly
- Able to make soup, sauce, smoothie, whole juice etc
- Plunger required to aid in mixing ingredients into blade for efficient blending
Stainless Steel Pans
Stainless steel pans are great for cooking especially for those trying to avoid the adverse health effects of Teflon-coated pans. If you do not already have a set we strongly suggest giving them a try! There might be a little learning curve, especially if you are used to Teflon-coated pans, but it’s well worth it. Also, check out our “dry” sautéing method so you can avoid using large amounts of oil to keep your dishes light and healthy! The main difference between the two Stainless Steel Sets is in bold below.
- Classic cookware made of mirror finish stainless steel
- 8 and 10 inch skillets; 1-1/2- and 3-quart covered saucepans, 3-1/2-quart sauté pan; and 8-quart covered stockpot
- Solid, riveted handles, Aluminum in base for even heating
- Safe for dishwasher, freezer, broiler, and oven to 550 F°
- 1-1/2-quart and 3-quart covered saucepan, 8-inch and 10-inch open skillet, 8-quart covered stockpot, and covered steamer insert
- Aluminum core sandwiched between 2 layers of 18/10 stainless steel
- Solid stainless-steel riveted handles stay cooler with air-flow technology
- Secure-fitting stainless-steel lids trap in heat and moisture
- Oven-safe to 500 F°; limited lifetime warranty; suitable for induction; dishwasher-safe
Looking for the best deal and at a great price? For over $400 off and just a smidgen more expensive than the Cuisinart set listed above, Cooks Standard is for you! We wish this deal was around when we got ours!Cooks Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel 10 Piece
Want to take it slow and steady? If you are not ready to make the full commitment to a complete stainless steel set quite yet, give just one pan a try. The Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Open Skillet is a good option for a “one-pan” does it all, especially for those of you on First Officer/Flight Attendant pay!Cuisinart Chefs Classic Stainless Skillet
Glass Storage Jars
Glass storage containers have been one of our best investments. In our kitchen we have 3 shelves with Glass Storage Containers on them filled with all our essentials: Various grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dates etc. At a glance we can see what we have and what we need to stock up on and have it at arms reach at all times so cooking is quick, organized and easy! Now, even if you do not have open shelves to put these on storing them in the pantry or in cupboard works just as well and keeps your food fresh by being in air tight containers and in glass instead of plastic.
Find at your local Bed Bath and Beyond or Below:Glass Storage Jars
Citrus Juicers are another great tool we use all the time. Yes, you can squeeze a lemon/lime by hand but we are here to tell you…This thing gets all the juice out with nothing left behind. Furthermore, you save your hands from the sticky mess they become and make your whole cooking process faster and easier. Also, if you have arthritis or any sort of inflammation in your hands this makes the job a lot less painful. So, to make your life a little easier this is a great tool to have around.Cher’n Fresh Force Citrus Juicer
Pressure cookers fall in between the essentials and luxury. You can of course make it throughout life without one, however if you are looking for efficiency in the kitchen and eat legumes regularly this is a sound investment (pressure cookers are the king of fast cooking in the kitchen)! Say goodbye to canned foods and BPA! Protect your health and save money by purchasing legumes in bulk and cooking them in no time. Pressure cookers cut the average legume cooking time from 90 minutes to 10 minutes. Furthermore, if you garden and end up with more than you can eat in a season, then these are a must for canning and preserving. All of the nutrients are “locked” inside, creating more nutritious meals. Our favorite is the Elite Model from Fagor. We like this model because we can use it on our stove and not have to plug it in dealing with another electric appliance that has the potential to break down easier.
Things to look for in a pressure cooker:
- All stainless steal construction, inside and out
- No non-stick surfaces on the inside. These cook at high temperatures and we are wary of chemicals leaching into the food over time
- Dual pressure settings of 15psi and 8psi
- 10 quart size to have dual use of canning and cooking larger quantities of food at once
- Usable on any cooking surface (gas, electric, or induction)
Crock pots are another great tool in the kitchen to reduce your work load and time in the kitchen. By doing some simple prep, they allow you to go out and do other things on your day off! It is pretty hard to screw up a meal in a crock pot, so they make for a great option for novices as well!
Things to look for in a Slow Cooker:
– Size – make sure it is 6 quarts or more
Slow cookers can be a fairly basic cooking tool. Ours simply has a low, high or warm setting with a timer. However, if you are looking for a little more from your slow cooker there are some great options. Take it to the next level and provide more bang for you buck such as steaming or even cooking rice to cut down on the number of kitchen appliances you have. While slow cookers in general take a little bit of pre-planning, it saves time in the long run. We highly recommend the book “The Vegan Slow Cooker” by Kathy Hester to get you started (below). Her book will change the way you think about crock pots! Once you have a little more experience with the process and what spices go well together, the slow cooker becomes an opportunity to clean out your fridge by throwing a bunch of things in the pot adding your favorite spices and heading out the door to start your day!
Money savers route:Crock Pot, 6 Quart
For those that like the finer things in life:Cuisinart 3 in 1, 6 Quart Breville Slow Cooker
This little contraption is the perfect tool to turn any ol’ vegetable into a delicious ribbon of fun! It is a small investment for the return you receive in fun ways to incorporate more veggies and fruit into your diet. We particularly love spiraling Zucchini into noodles as a whole foods substitute for pasta!World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer
Our Favorite Luxury Items
The Omega Juicer J8006 is the latest addition to the Pilot Fitness Kitchen! After ample research we chose this masticating juicer because it is a mid range juicer price wise, produces a very nutritious juice especially when compared to centrifuge juices and does much more than juice! Furthermore, we are mainly interested in juicing VEGGIES and GREENS as a way to get concentrated nutrients before or after workouts and as a pick me up on long days. We have listed below the two juicers we were torn between. Read below to make the best decision for your household!
We chose the Omega J8006 because not only can you juice all greens (kale, spinach, wheat grass), vegetables and fruits it can also make nut butters, frozen fruit desserts, pasta, baby food, grind coffee beans and your own flour and chops and minces veggies and spices. We chose the Omega J8006 because we like the chrome, however, the Omega J8004 is the exact same machine in white instead of black and chrome. So, if you are not concerned with color the J8004 is $25 less.
Omega J8006 Omega J8004
Omega VRT 350HD
The other juicer we were looking at was the Omega VRT 350 HD. This only makes juice so is not as versatile, however, it is very well made, extracts highly nutritious juice and takes up less space as it stands tall. The main caveat we saw with the VRT is the reviews concluded that it DID NOT juice leafy greens as well and DID BETTER at juicing fruit when compared to the Omega J8006/8004. This was a huge deal for us as leafy greens and veggies are our focus for juicing and we prefer to not juice fruit. However, if you are space challenged this does a fine job.Omega VRT 350HD
We received the Excalibur dehydrator as a Christmas gift and have loved every minute of it! However, beware…Dehydrating does require extra time. This is not necessarily an issue as often you can turn it on and go..leaving it for days if need be. We love having a food dehydrator in the kitchen for drying soaked nuts, making kale chips, crackers, dried fruit, etc. This is the best dehydrator on the market, period. It has a higher up-front price, but it is completely worth the money. The adjustable heat control and timer are great features and the trays are very large allowing you to process more food at one time.
As a side note, it would be nice to see a model that was completely made from stainless steal, but even the stainless steal model is lined with plastic on the inside (perhaps for insulation?). There is also an option for stainless steal trays, but we find most of our dehydrating is performed using the paraflexx drying sheets, so it becomes a moot point. It may not be much of an issue since the drying is done at such low temperatures anyway, so this is just our own personal wish. You still won’t find a better dehydrator and the Excalibur is worth every penny!
About this dehydrator
- Made in the USA, right in Sacramento, CA since 1973
- 5 year warranty standard, 10 year warranty available for purchase
- 3 sizes: 4 trays, 5 trays, and 9 trays
- 3 finishes: Basic white or black, colored, stainless steel
- Includes a 26 hour timer on 5 and 9 tray models
- Temperature control on all models; 95oF-155oF
- Mesh screens are BPA free
- Price is higher than other dehydrators, however you get what you pay for. Nothing else even compares with size, options, efficiency, and quality
- Mostly made from plastic, which is an industry standard among all brands
- 4 tray 6.5”H x 13”W x 16.25”D and $129.99
- 5 tray w/ timer 8.5”x 17”W x 19”D and $249.95
- 5 tray colored models w/ timer $349.99
- 5 tray stainless steel model w/ timer $399.99
- 9 tray w/ timer 12.5”Hx 17”w x 19”D $299.95
- 9 tray colored models w/ timer $399.99
- 9 tray stainless steel model w/ timer $499.99
What we own –Excalibur 5 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator
Mortar and Pestle
Do you love home-made Guacamole? Well then, this is your ticket to guacamole perfection! But why stop their? While your at it, mix up some salsa or grind spices for delicious curry pastes, tapenades, seasonings, vegetable rubs for the grill or whatever your creative mind comes up with. A kitchen accessory beautiful enough to leave out; you will continually be inspired!Mortar and Pestle