If you’re already thinking ahead to New Year’s resolutions and know that your list will include eating healthier, there’s still time to add a few food-related items to your list to make that easier. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice (especially if you’ve been naughty), you need these in your life.
Spiralizer – Both fun to use and practical, a spiralizer turns vegetables into “noodles,” making it easier to cut the carbs. You can also use your spiralized vegetables to add variety to salads and stir-fries. Inexpensive handheld versions work like an oversized pencil sharpener and can be had for less than $20. Crank style machines go for around $40 and are handy if you want to do large quantities. You’ll also get more options on noodle size, from spaghetti-like to wider ribbons. If you decide to go whole hog, you can even get a spiralizer attachment for your mixer, which will do all the work for you. The attachments cost around $100.
Co-op membership – You’ll need somewhere to buy all those vegetables you’ll be spiralizing. Where better than your local co-op? Minnesota is home to more food co-ops per capita than any other state, many of them concentrated in the metro area. Shopping at the co-op makes it easier to eat local and focus on seasonal produce. While you don’t have to join to shop at a co-op, your one-time fee buys you a lifetime membership with benefits that include special discounts and cash dividends at the end of the year based on your annual purchases. Your membership (or ownership — in co-op parlance) also helps support the co-op. Membership costs vary. Use this directory to find your local co-op.
3. High power blender – With a good blender, you can up your intake of fruits and vegetables by making smoothie bar-caliber drinks, juicing whole fruits and vegetables, and making creamy soup with nothing but vegetables and stock. If money is no object (Santa’s buying, after all) go for VitaMix, the granddaddy of high-end blenders. With prices starting at $300 and heading north from there, this is definitely a splurge. For a lot less money, go for one of the upstarts like the Ninja; you’ll sacrifice a bit of performance, but it’s a good place to begin.
Cooking class – If you eat takeout five nights a week, and count happy hour snacks as dinner for the other two, perhaps a cooking class is in order. Check your co-op or one of the local cooking schools that offer recreational classes. Choose one that teaches the basics, or pick a specific food or dietary preference that you’d like to learn more about. In January, Cooks of Crocus Hill is offering classes on going gluten-free and perfecting winter vegetables. Learn how to incorporate healthy grains into your diet at the Elevate Your Grain class at Mississippi Market Co-op in St. Paul.
Yogurt maker – Yes, this is a one use only appliance, but yogurt is a great way to incorporate important probiotics into your routine. Yes, you can buy yogurt at the grocery store, and if you read labels assiduously, you can find yogurt with live cultures that is low sugar. Yes, yogurt is dead simple to make, but the tricky part is keeping your milk and culture at a consistent temperature that is hospitable to the healthy microbes. The easiest way to do that is with a yogurt maker. Choose one that makes a big batch in a single container, or opt for one that uses individual containers that make portion control and portability easy.
All of the tools and gadgets listed above can be found locally in cookware and department stores or online at Amazon and other websites.