Everyone Needs a Quality Chef’s Knife!

Everyone Needs a Quality Chef’s Knife!

I adore my Shun, Wüshtof and Messimeister Knives

There’s nothing like having the right tool for the job. When it comes to cooking and preparing meals for myself, having the right tools in the kitchen are essential.

We all know cooking at home is a huge component to improving your health. When you cook at home you know exactly what you’re eating. When you cook at home, you’re eating more whole foods, wasting fewer boxes and packaging, and ingesting fewer preservatives and unknown ingredients.

For me, cooking is my time to relax and unwind. I enjoy slicing onions to throw in a hot pan, the smells and sounds of a kitchen in use, and the joy of feeding my family and friends thoughtfully prepared meals.

Preparing whole foods at home does require some chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing. How best to do these things? With a sharp knife.

Have you ever tried to cut into a tomato with a dull knife? The skin puckers and bruises. The flesh runs ragged. This experience does not make me a happy cook. Dull knives make for a dull time in the kitchen. Dull knives turn cooking into a chore, rather than the pleasant, relaxing, and creative time it should be.

What makes me happy? A sharp knife. A knife that balances well in my hand. I love the feel of the handle flush against my palm and the blade of my knife moving easily through my ingredients. The motion of a knife should be easeful, precise, enjoyable, and ergonomic.

I also have to say that I’m not just a utilitarian person. I like the tools and gadgets in my home to be aesthetically pleasing as well. This combination of function and beauty is important to me. Over the years of trying out many, many different knives, I’ve found Shun, Wushtof and Messermeister knives to deliver on both these fronts.

Shun knives with their beautiful steel, sleek handles and Japanese simplicity make me feel like a svelte samurai in the kitchen. I have several knives from Shun that I find myself reaching for every day. I’ve had many a guest in my kitchen “oooh” and “ahh” when they catch a glimpse of my Shun knives. The layered damascus steel blades make me want to occasionally weep because they’re so pretty. They’re sharp too. Most of the Shun knives require 100 individual steps to make. There is something very zen about a Shun. Their attention to detail is flawless.

I’ve also found Messermeister knives to fit my hand perfectly. I love the balance of the handle and blade. These are high-quality knives that are on par with Shun and are made with German forged stainless steel alloy. I love these knives for their strong lines and sturdy construction. I’ve found that Shun, Wushtof and Messermeister knives keep their sharp edges for a long time.

What took me a while to realize is that most home cooks won’t use 15 different knives in the kitchen. Yes, you might have the occasional need for a boning knife or a carving knife or a cleaver. But I find myself reaching for just two or three different knives for most of my daily food prep needs.

I recommend getting a high-quality chef’s knife. This is really, first and foremost, the one knife you need in the kitchen. A chef’s knife will conquer most of the tasks required to prepare a meal at home.

Find a blade length that works for your hand and body. Maybe you prefer the precision of a 6 in chef’s knife, maybe an 8 in knife makes you more efficient on the cutting board. Pick up lots of knives, hold them in your hand. How does it feel? Does the blade balance well? Is it too heavy? Too light? Is your body relaxed? Are you enjoying yourself? Does it make you happy to look at in your hand? I think these are all important questions to ask when purchasing a new knife.

The second knife I use most often is my little paring knife. For all those small tasks and delicate cutting needs, and for when your chef’s knife is just too long and unwieldy.

If you start with upgrading just those two knives I promise you won’t be sorry. If you’re at all like me, using a sharp knife over a sad, dull knife will make you happy, so very happy. You’ll be excited to enter the kitchen in the morning. You’ll look lovingly over at your knife holder, be it a wood block, or magnetic strip, or kitchen drawer and you’ll smile. Because you’ll know you have the right tool for the job. You know you won’t mash and mangle that plump, Heirloom tomato. You know that carrot will yield and your garlic will crush and mince delightfully.

Good quality knives can be pricey, but know that you don’t have to go out immediately and upgrade every single knife in your kitchen. Start small and invest in knives that fit you and your budget.

If you make cooking more enjoyable, you will cook more often. You’ll take better care of yourself, your friends, and your family by feeding them meals you made happily with real, whole ingredients.

Juicing to Detox and Increase Antioxidants

Juicing to Detox and Increase Antioxidants

As you may know from my many books, I love getting my nutrients from smoothies and fresh juices. There’s no better way to get concentrated amounts of plant-based antioxidants than using a high-quality juicer.

Fresh juices are great for those who want to add fresh veggies and fruits to their diet but can’t handle high amounts of fiber that they would get in the same amount of blended or cooked vegetables. I love how I can put a whole bag of leafy greens, carotenoid-rich veggies, and polyphenol-filled fruits into my juicer and get a glass of concentrated juice! How long would it have taken me to chew my way through that bag of veggies?

Juicing provides a way to get enzymes typically locked away in the fiber matrix of whole fruits and vegetables. Most juices you buy at the store are processed and lacking in nutrition. Commercial juices often have added sugars and preservatives, while freshly juiced fruits and vegetables are loaded with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Even those expensive, organic juices you buy might sit in a store’s refrigerator for weeks before consuming. The longer the juice sit on the shelf the more the juice’s nutrients breakdown. When you make juice at home and drink it immediately, or shortly thereafter, you can access a greater range of bioavailable nutrients. You can also choose which combination of veggies and fruits you process to address your specific health needs.

Juicing can go beyond just making a beverage to drink. I love to use my juicer to make fresh vegetables and fruit juices that I can then add to homemade salad dressings, boosting the nutrition of something already so good for me, my salads!

I’ve tried a lot of juicers over the years and have finally settled on the Novis Vita Juicer. This is a heavy duty juicer that combines the power of a citrus press and a centrifuge system, which means a really high yield of juice from the raw ingredients your process.

One of my biggest hang-ups around juicing is the need to clean up the mess from making fresh juice. With the Novis Vita, I can be done with cleanup in minutes. The set-up is easy and it’s sleek and attractive enough to keep on my kitchen counter.

Novis Vitas are definitely the cream of the crop when it comes to juicers on the market. They do cost a bit more than some of the lower-end home juicers out there, but I’ve found it’s so worth investing in a high-yield juicer. I no longer spend $4-5 a day on bottles of juices, cutting down on plastic and glass bottle waste. And I love being able to tailor my juice to my specific nutritional needs and, of course, my taste buds!

My favorite Dry Goods

My favorite Dry Goods

Bob’s Red Mill

I have been a fan of Bob’s Red Mill for years. This is a company that really stands behind their products. I go into grocery stores around the country and see Bob’s bags on the shelves. I love that this company is bringing high-quality organic ingredients to parts of the U.S. that might not have access to these foods otherwise. Items like organic whole grain flours and gluten-free flour alternatives, chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa and other whole food ingredients are readily available.

I highly recommend the whole hulled hemp hearts rather than ground hemp seeds, which can be bitter. Also, gluten-free oats are essentially indistinguishable from regular rolled oats, but sans the potential gluten exposure. I always have a jar of GF rolled oats on my shelf for making cookies and protein bars.

I love the size of the packaging. Most of the products come in convenient bags that I can use up without wasting anything or letting my staples go stale. The size also makes it more economical to buy these whole foods without having to invest in really large bulk quantities. There’s rarely a trip to the store that I take without returning home with a bag of Bob’s!

Favorite Things – Epicurean Cutting Boards

Favorite Things – Epicurean Cutting Boards

One of the very first tools to purchase for your nontoxic kitchen are cutting boards.  Replace your old plastic boards with natural fiber boards.

I use my cutting boards constantly for chopping veggies.  When we use plastic boards, we end up with tiny bits of plastic chopped and pressed into our food from the board surface.  This is very unhealthy as plastics contain phthalates such as BPA.

When I first starting reading the studies on phthalates and disease, I had plenty of phthalate laden plastic in my home.  This was about 15 years ago and I was still drinking out of plastic water bottles, had plastic food storage containers in my kitchen and had a large plastic cutting board.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching the best non-toxic kitchen equipment and found pressed paper to be the best alternative.

Natural fiber, pressed paper cutting boards are essential in the non-toxic kitchen.  I use the Epicurean professional line* because they are made from organic fiber, do not dull my knives and they’re dishwasher safe.  I’ve had my Epicurean boards for over 4 years and they go in the dishwasher every night.  I have a black one and a natural colored one.  The colors just help me identify which one I use for meat and which one I use for produce. They’re more durable than wood which isn’t as healthy as it seems.  Wood can swell up from the dishwasher and splinter and is porous enough for bacterial growth.

The large size covers my rolling chopping board perfectly and the tiny one fits in a cooler to take on the road.  I bought mine at a boutique kitchen store in my home town of Port Townsend, Washington but I noticed they even have them at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

The Epicurean are by far my top pick for non-toxic cutting boards.


*Environmentally friendly Epicurean® Eco Paper Cutting Boards are made with 100% Forest Stewardship Council certified recycled paper.