by Matthew Kadey
Lycra and Di2 shouldn’t be the only things you prioritize when it comes time to upgrade your equipment. You should also consider some of the best tools that will optimize your time in the kitchen while making your diet tastier and more nutritious in the process. After all, a functional kitchen is one that is stocked with multi-use items and not just one shot wonders (hello, Mr. Panini Press). Here are the items to increase your kitchen prowess.
Cast iron skillet
Metallica albums aren’t the only heavy metal you should have in your house. More versatile than a Swiss Army knife, a cast iron skillet is a kitchen workhorse if there ever was one. It’s inexpensive, sturdy, non-stick without the sketchy chemicals and can go from stove top to oven effortlessly, making it a great option for a plethora of cooking needs including stir-fries, pancakes, frittatas and even roasted chicken. An ability to radiate high heat and retain it makes cast iron well-suited for searing cuts of meat to browned perfection. Plus, it’s a way to add an extra dose of energy-boosting iron to your diet.
Abeego food wraps
It’s time to bid adieu to single use plastic wrap. Canadian owned Abeego has cleverly designed reusable, robust, malleable beeswax-coated food wraps made from hemp and organic cotton that are up to the task of extending the life of cut vegetables and fruits, baked goods, cheese and delicate herbs. Or, use them to transport your lunch sandwiches. When outdoor-riding season rolls around, use the wraps to hold your homemade fuel in your jersey.
RELATED: DIY energy bar recipe
You might ask yourself: “I already have a blender. Why bother with a food processor?” While a blender is great at whipping up post-ride smoothies, it can struggle when there is little liquid present. So, if you want to embrace the trend among athletes of making your own energy bars and power balls, which involves pulverizing whole dried fruits and nuts, a food processor is what you need to get the job done. It can also be your go-to tool for making pestos, dips such as hummus and DIY nut butters. As a bonus, many machines come with slicing and shredding blades that can make quick work of vegetables for items such as salads and slaws.
If you want to infuse micro hits of flavour into dishes, look no further than a zester. Proving that great things come in small packages, the tiny razor-edge holes of a zester, such as Microplane, make hundreds of fine cuts on foods so their flavour can be dispersed into dishes. Drag a lemon, lime or orange over the holes, and then use the resulting shreds of zest to brighten up oatmeal, plain yogurt, pancakes, salad dressings and sauces with virtually no calorie cost. Also use the zester to breakdown hard cheese, such as Parmesan, whole garlic cloves, fresh ginger and even bars of dark chocolate to better disperse their goodness. Also use it to turn the flesh of whole peppers, jalapeno for example, into tiny pieces for better heat dissipation in dishes such as salsa and chili.
Silicon muffin cups
A muffin pan is great at making, well, muffins. But it can also turn out batches of Instagram-ready individual frittatas, meatloaf, baked pancakes and cheesecakes – all in a portion controlled format. But there is no reason why you should have to chisel out your meal or rely on single-use paper liners. Food-grade silicone muffin trays are virtually non-stick and are flexible, which makes unmoulding items a stress-free undertaking. Being able to turn the cups inside out also makes washing them a breeze. What’s more, silicone muffin trays are freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe. Plus, they come in many different cheery colours to brighten up your kitchen.