In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to let you know I am promoting these items because I regularly use them in my house and can personally attest to their quality and usefulness. I am not being paid by any of these companies to promote their products. The links I’ve included below are simply to make it easier for you to find the product, but you can shop around for the best deals, especially on Black Friday & Cyber Monday! I find that Amazon tends to have the best deals, so a lot of the links are to Amazon. 🙂

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One of the keys to eating healthy, nourishing food is to make being in the kitchen FUN. With all of the toys and gadgets I get to use while I’m cooking, I have a blast in my (small) kitchen and make quite a mess :).

If you’re looking for some fun, health promoting gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place! Now, photo socks are one of the most versatile gifts you can get as you can put any images you like on them, so this could be a pretty affordable idea if you’re on a budget; you can just choose food themed pictures! But if it’s cooking equipment in particular that you want, I’ve got you covered. I took a look around my house and pulled out the kitchen gadgets and cookbooks I use and like the most and wanted to share them with you. I’ve accumulated these over the past few years – many were gifts, others we bought ourselves.

We order most of our kitchen equipment and super foods from Amazon because they really do have the best deals, and we get free 2-day shipping with our Amazon Prime Membership but other retailers may have better buys for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

For today’s post, I’m sharing my Budget-Friendly Favorites ($25-$50) and Super Splurge Staples (>$100) gift/wish list ideas. Next week I’ll share ideas for stocking stuffers and great gifts under $20 as well as some of my favorite cookbooks!

My Budget Friendly Favorites (<$50)

  1. Paderno Spiral Slicer
  2. Cuisinart Hand Stick Immersion Blender
  3. Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
  4. Cuisinart Mini Food Processor
  5. Thermos
  6. Rival Crockpot
  7. Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker
  8. Pyrex Glass Bowls
  9. Corningware Cookware/Bakeware
  10. Food Network Magnetic Measuring Spoons

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Paderno Spiral Slicer. This is a game changer. AND it’s less than $40! 🙂 If you have cut out or are trying to cut down on eating things like pasta, this gadget is a must have. In our house, we cook gluten-free, so our go-to option for pasta is usually brown rice pasta (made from brown rice and water) OR this new kind made from beans and lentils (only ONE ingredient!).

But pasta can be SO much more fun when you make it out of things like zucchini, yellow squash, and other veggies. You can still use your favorite sauces, whether you like marinara, pesto, or caulifredo AND you get at least one extra serving of veggies to boot. Not a bad deal! I used to use a spiral slicer made by Joyce Chen, but this one by Paderno took over the #1 spot for me.

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Cuisinart Hand Stick Immersion Blender. I love to make soup. This gadget is clutch if you like to make soups (and dips, spreads, pesto, dressings, etc.).

I remember the first time I tried making pumpkin soup about 4 years ago, I ended up with a very unhappy blender and soup ALL OVER THE COUNTER, cabinets…and me. I had to pour it in the blender in small batches, so it wouldn’t blow off the top. This gadget is GREAT for making blended soups that need to be pureed. Simply cook the soup as you normally would in a pot on the stove and then put the stick blender attachment in the soup and pulse away! After about a minute, your soup will be blended together and you won’t have to deal with the mess that I did.

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Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. It took us a while to buy one of these because we didn’t want to have to spend the time “seasoning” it in the oven before its first use. Looking back, that was a bit of a lame excuse because this skillet makes food taste AMAZING!

Whether we are searing a chicken breast to lock in the juices and flavors, sautéing onions and greens for our mini frittatas, or making a sweet potato hash, we LOVE this skillet. Cast iron skillets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but we have the 3-quart combo from Lodge. It’s surprisingly affordable, too.

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Cuisinart Mini Food Processor. I bought mine at Home Goods for under $30, but you can find these on Amazon, too. Or maybe as a Black Friday deal 🙂 This gadget is handy for making smaller batches of things that need to be processed without pulling out the 11-cup food processor. It makes it easy to chop small batches of onions, garlic, nuts and seeds, single servings of 2-minute banana ice cream, and my go-to paleo parmesan cheeze.

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Thermos. So, remember back in grade school when everyone had matching plastic lunch box and thermos sets? Well, good news! They make adult versions. The thermos is one of the BEST tools Bill has to squeeze a hot lunch in to his sometimes 10-minute lunch breaks as a teacher. He simply heats up the food at our house in the morning and pours it into the thermos. Four or five hours later when lunchtime rolls around, he has HOT food. No microwave needed. It also keeps food cold, so sometimes he uses it to transport smoothies instead. We both have one and wish we’d thought to get one sooner!

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Rival Crockpot. This is a great tool for “set it and forget it” meals. From chilis and stews to homemade applesauce and oatmeal, this device is one of the cheaper options and makes meal prep EASY and pretty mindless. You can prep a meal the night before and when you wake up, everything is magically cooked! I will be sharing a recipe for a crockpot lentil chili soon, so stay tuned!

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I loved ice cream as a kid…and had it every year for my birthday cake through my late 20s when I found out that dairy products were the culprit of nearly 2 decades of sickness. The good news is that I didn’t have to “give up” ice cream entirely…just dairy-based varieties. Making your own ice cream when you have one of these things is surprisingly simple. You just blend the ingredients in your blender, pour it in the ice cream maker, and let it do its thing!

Pyrex Bowls & Corningware Cookware/Bakeware. I thought I would lump these two together, since I use the Pyrex bowls to prep and store food and the Corningware dishes to cook or bake it. These are almost ALWAYS on sale on Black Friday at either Macy’s or Kohl’s, so that’s the time to snag them. Unlike plastic, which can leach harmful chemicals into our food, glass won’t take on the taste or color of whatever foods you store inside of it. You can also more quickly identify what the foods are inside of your fridge when you use clear glass containers. We’re big fans of both of these and highly recommend them for any kitchen!

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Food Network Magnetic Measuring Spoons. I am a bit of a messy chef (Bill can attest to this big time!), and one of things that tends to get lost in the shuffle in a cluttered, tiny kitchen are measuring spoons. That’s why I love these little guys. There’s a magnet in the middle that keeps them all stuck together. The other great thing is that there are two sides to each spoon – one that is rounded and another that is oblong, making it easier to reach into any jar, regardless of the shape of its opening. They are a little pricy, but I got them at Kohl’s when I had some Kohl’s cash lying around 🙂

Super Splurge Staples (>$100)

  1. Vitamix Blender or Blendtec
  2. Cuisinart Food Processor
  3. Breville (or Hurom or Omega) Juicer
  4. Nesco Food Dehydrator or Excaliber

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**The Joy of Blending Blog wrote a post about where to get the best Black Friday deals on these blenders…check out the post here!**

Vitamix Blender. Yup, I’m on the bandwagon. This is my #1 favorite kitchen gadget. Everything they say about this blender is true. It is SO worth it. Even if it means setting aside some money every month (or putting it on your wish list!), a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec will become your favorite kitchen appliance.

Whether you’re blending smoothies (no more green chunks!) or dips or making your own soups, ice cream, or almond milk, a high-powered blender is KEY for creating a smooth, creamy consistency. Smoothies have never been better, and I can put all sorts of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and super foods in them, knowing they will all be pulverized! I have the TurboBlend VS (variable speed) version. I definitely recommend it over the 2-speed option. You can buy one a lot cheaper by getting a refurbished version from Vitamix. We got ours as a gift last Christmas, and it was ordered from Amazon.

I know people who also swear by Blendtec blenders (similar concept but with more automated settings than the Vitamix), so here is a link to check out those if you’re interested.

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Cuisinart Food Processor. I got the Cuisinart 11-Cup Food processor as a gift about 5 years ago. At the time, I didn’t cook much, so it sat in its original box for about…2 years 🙂 Oops!

I had no idea what I was missing. I use my food processor weekly to make everything from homemade donut holes and kickin’ buffalo dip to homemade Rolos, cauliflower mashed potatoes and chocolate hazelnut Nutella truffles. I use the shredding attachments to effortlessly shred cabbage, carrots, apples, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts. Go for the biggest cup size you can fit in your kitchen 🙂

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Breville (or Hurom or Omega) Juicer. I got this as a birthday gift a few years ago, and I love it! For the price, it’s a decent juicer, although you will get more juice out of your fruits and veggies if you buy a higher end one like a Hurom or Omega. Reason being, they are “masticating” juicers that squeeze the juice out more slowly (otherwise known as a slow juicer) vs. pulverizing/shredding the produce like this (centrifugal) Breville one does. If you can afford the Hurom or Omega, go for it; otherwise, try the Breville. When I feel something coming on, especially this time of year, I whip up a juice with greens, celery, lemons and fresh ginger and down it, and it helps me boost my immune system and flood my bloodstream with health-boosting nutrients.

Nesco Food Dehydrator. This was a birthday gift from my hubby. You can use it to make everything from kale chips and crunchy seeds and nuts to fruit roll-ups and jerky. Dehydrating food allows you to keep it “uncooked” (below 115F) while removing the water, so it is crunchy and tastes just like it was baked. By keeping some of our food raw, we keep the enzymes and nutrients intact that are often lost or greatly reduced by cooking. If you have your sights set on the BEST dehydrator and think you will be using it a lot, this Excaliber one is top of the line.

What’s on your holiday wish list?