Friday, August 5, 2011

[Article] Equipment

If you have no kitchen equipment at all: no blender, no food processor, no dehydrator, etc, where to start?

Hardly any of us can run out and buy all of those items at once. We sure didn't. It's a matter of buying one and saving up for weeks or months before getting another, assuming the car doesn't break down in the mean time.

So where to start?

This short article is about the order in which to buy these, in my humble opinion.

Ideally, eventually, you'll want to have
all of these:

Food processor

Are each of these really required to be healthy?

Of these, I say the dehydrator is the least required, but I find it the most fun and enjoyable tool. I enjoy eating warm food that is raw, and I enjoy eating crunchy food that is raw. Dehydrated foods are a high priority for anyone who wants to eat a 90% to 100% raw food diet and also enjoy "comfort food."

Raw comfort foods are essentially all dehydrated. Salads, juices, wraps, puddings, slaws, sauerkraut, smoothies, and even raw vegan pies are not the sort of "comfort foods" we're used to. We're used to crunchy foods to fight stress (and celery isn't what we usually have in mind).
And we're used to mushy warm foods to make us feel comforted (and pudding left in the sun just isn't the best option).

What should you buy first?

Definitely a blender.

That is, assuming you have a hand-juicer for lemons. That will run you about $8 and make it really easy to juice lemons over your salad. I use my lemon hand-juicer almost every single day. It's very easy, effortless to clean, and makes using lemons a cinch.

Blenders are required for the easiest thing you can make: smoothies. The clean up is fast, the preparation is minimal, the consumption is quick. All around, smoothies are fast, easy, enjoyable and healthy.

Some very simple smoothies I make regularly (portions designed for two people):

3 bananas, 2 spoonfuls of raw cocoa (optionally add fresh mint leaves)
3 bananas, 1 fresh local in-season fruit (like a peach, plum or cup of berries)
2 bananas, 1 mango
3 bananas, 2 spoonfuls of maca, 1 sprinkle of vanilla, a handful of berries
2 bananas, 2 peaches

All of the above require about 1 cup of drinking water. If you've just made fresh nut-milk or seed-milk, that will work as well. Just remember that mixing fats and fruits slows down the digestion of your food dramatically. An all-fruit smoothie will digest in 20 minutes to an hour. A smoothie with fruit and fats (seeds, nuts, avocados, olives, durians), will take 2 to 6 hours to digest (depending on how healthy your digestive system is). More digestion time means less energy for you, unless you're an athlete and burn calories like crazy.

To make any of the above healthier, just take one leaf (like kale leaf, chard leaf, etc), remove the stem (juice the stem later or put in compost), and slice up the leaf a bit before adding to the blender.

Does it need to be a Vitamix?

No. And I don't even recommend one. My blender is pictured to the right.

I hardly ever use my Vitamix. It over-oxidizes everything. That means that it causes the cells to break open and get too much oxyogen content, which reduces the vitality (the nutrient content) of the food.

I use my juicer's "blank" attachment to mash things, to make puddings, icecreams, nut butters, pie fillings, etc.

I use my regular inexpensive Breville blender for smoothies.

I use my food processor for salsas and soups.

Vitamix isn't required if you have other equipment, and it's really not the most healthy tool since it beats the life of your food.

Sure, Vitamix soup is still healthier than a cooked soup, but not optimal. I'd go with an mid-range regular blender, perhaps a glass one like I have, and just wait on getting other equipment to make certain dishes.

Your blender should cost between $30 and $50, not $2oo, which is absurd for a blender. Mine was $40 for a glass blender, and it makes smoothies without any issue.

After the Blender, then what?

Food processor.

While using the juicer to make nut butter, puddings, etc, is ideal, you can still do this in your food processor.

A food processor can be used to make:

Salsa, guacamole, soup, nut butter, truffles, pie crusts, pudding, ice cream, dips, dressings, and more.

When entering a raw food diet, or even when simply trying to make your diet healthier, a food processor is incredibly helpful. A powerful 14-cup or 16-cup food processor makes a world of difference.

My food processor is pictured above.

Your food processor should run you $50 to $125. Mine was around $90 if I recall correctly, and it's a real champ. I can throw in dates, nuts, oats, frozen berries and bananas and then roll up the end result in balls and have raw truffles in a matter of minutes.


Dehydrator or Juicer?

This is a hard choice for many people. I say dehydrator first, even though the juicer is much more essential to your health.

My dehydrator photographed above.

I bought a dehydrator before my juicer because I knew I'd want to use a lot of my juice pulp for cracker-making. I was right about that decision.

It's easier to trick yourself into healthier choices with a dehydrator because it allows you to make health food seem like junk food. It's a mental trick that worked wonders for me.

Dehydrators are nothing to skimp on. Excalibur, I believe, is the only brand that makes a dehydrator that will stay consistently at the correct temperature so you don't accidentally cook your crackers.

However, if you do not eat dried fruits, crackers, patties, and desserts regularly, it may not be a worthwhile investment.

It uses a lot of electricity to run it and you want to make sure you run it full when you use it, to make best use of the electrical power.

Maybe one shelf full of bananas drying, another shelf with slices of apples with cinnamon on them, kale chips on another two shelves, marinated tomato slices and mushroom slices on another shelf, and perhaps bananas mashed with chocolate on another shelf.

Then after you get a juicer you can fill up entire shelves after making juice with carrot pulp blended with ground flax or chia seed and spices or dried fruit to make sweet or savory crackers.

I believe our dehydrator was $250. We had help from family sending us checks for our recent marriage. That made it affordable for us in October 2010.

If you don't eat crackers or chips, dried fruit or many desserts, and you just want to make the healthier choice, go for the juicer third.


Choosing a juicer is hard. The most important thing is that you get a masticating juicer. Masticating juicers grind up the food and mash it. This is very different than blades which cut your food. More nutrition is retained with a masticating juicer.

My juicer to the right.

Also, masticating juicers rule for making nut butters and ice creams. Today I used mine to turn frozen bananas, frozen pluots, and some fresh banana into this thick delicious pudding-ice-cream and I stirred in maca and fresh peach slices... It was marvelous.

There are many juicers out there to choose from. We went with a masticating Omega juicer, and we're very happy with ours. We've had it several months now, and it's handled every challenge we put it to. It does carrots, it does wheat-grass, it does nut butter and ice cream.

Delicious juice result photographed below:

The only thing it doesn't do so well is that it doesn't make apple juice. It turns the apples into a kind of slush and doesn't extract juice from them very well. Fortunately, my husband and I have little interest in making apple juice.


I highly recommend spending one to two hours reading reviews on products before making any decisions. Often we're right about to buy something and read some reviews informing us that many people have had the product break within the first month.

This is so vital when it comes to equipment that is going to run you more than $50. You want it to last, and you want it to do the job you're purchasing it for!

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