If you are new to home cooking and wouldn’t know your way around a kitchen if your life depended on it, fear not, it’s not as intimidating as you may think … and I’m here to help! My low-FODMAP meals aren’t particularly labour intensive (ain’t nobody got time for that!) but by investing a little in your health and purchasing a few tools, your life will be made MUCH easier. Do note that you can definitely subsist on simple, nourishing meals such as low-FODMAP veggie sticks, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and simple salads. However, given that the vegan low-FODMAP diet is already somewhat restrictive, spending just a little more time and money on building up your kitchen will mean you have much more variety in your diet. Also, raw foods can be difficult for those with sensitive stomachs to digest. Cooked meals can be just as nourishing, and in winter especially, are what our bodies tend to crave. After all, variety is the spice of life!
Below, I have listed the kitchen equipment that I use most when creating my low-FODMAP dishes at home. Depending on your schedule, family structure, and financial position, you may not require all of these – just pick and choose what will work for you.
A high-speed blender is by far my most treasured and the most expensive item in my kitchen. I guard it with my life. However, trust me when I say it was worth every penny. High-speed blenders are able to perform tasks that regular blenders can’t. If you take a look at the number of healthy recipes that call for a high-speed blender you’ll realise just how much use you’re likely to get out of it. I love making nut butters and milks, ice creams, and creating extremely smooth drinks. Almost choking on giant banana chunks when drinking my smoothies is a thing of the past since making the investment. Smoothies are your best friend when consuming a low-FODMAP vegan diet, as it can be difficult to get enough fibre into your diet due to the high FODMAP content of many fruits and some vegetables. There is also no pulp residue with smoothies, making them a more cost-effective beverage than, say, a juice. You will notice that high-speed blenders vary dramatically in price range. While oftentimes you are paying for brand name, I would recommend purchasing a blender that comes with a good warranty (minimum 2 years), as you can expect them to last.
While I haven’t personally found the need for a food processor since purchasing a top of the line high-speed blender, I can appreciate these babies can significantly reduce your kitchen prep work. They are also quite a bit cheaper than high-speed blenders, and you can use a processor instead in recipes that call for pulsing or processing. A food processor can be used to chop veggies and nuts, combine sauces, make bliss balls, ice creams, pesto etc. It’s important to choose a model that is easy to clean and has a strong processing speed.
Woks & Grill Plates (Enamel Cast Iron)
These are great when preparing or reheating quick meals and aren’t too pricey either. Use them when creating stir-fries or sautéing your veggies.
Roasting pans are particularly useful for roasting vegetables, making delicious vegan casseroles, breads, stuffed veggies (like my Stuffed Capsicums or Shepard’s Pie – see Mains). The bottoms and sides of roasting pans will radiate and intensify an oven’s heat, browning the outside of your food quickly while keeping the inside moist. Choose enameled cast iron roasting pans that have a heavy coating that won’t chip.
Wooden Spoons, Metal Spatulas, Spoons & Tongs
Wooden spoons are oh-so old school but they really are the best mixing tool. They’re super strong, won’t scratch the finish of your cookware, have a high heat tolerance, and (best of all) are eco-friendly. Avoid using plastic mixing utensils, especially in cooked dishes, as there are serious health risks to using plastic in hot liquids. I would also suggest purchasing metal spatulas, slotted spoons, and tongs as opposed to plastic.
Food Storage Containers
Go for glass and bamboo when purchasing food storage containers. You can buy these pretty cheap online in bulk, as you’ll need a few sizes. PLEASE try to avoid plastic … even if labeled BPA-free. Also avoid reheating your food in these containers. Instead, transfer them to a wok or cast-iron pan to reheat.
Use these to sift any low-FODMAP fours (rice, gluten-free oat etc) you are going to use in your recipes prior to mixing them in. Choose metal and ensure the bowl you are sifting into is large enough to catch all the four. I rarely use flour in my kitchen, but when I do, I notice a big difference in the texture of my baked goods when I sift prior to baking.
I have a large strainer with giant holes to strain larger items like steamed veggies and pastas, and another thinner-meshed one for smaller items like buckwheat.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
These will make your recipe-creation experience much easier … we’ve all tried guessing only to end up with disastrous results. Look for eco-friendly bamboo or metal utensils and avoid plastic wherever possible. They’re a little pricier, but will last much longer so you get your money’s worth. Plus they’re super cute!
Those who are avid raw food fans can’t live without their juicer. I have to be honest and say that juices definitely aren’t a staple item in my diet. Having said that, during summer and especially when out and about I drink fresh low-FODMAP vegetable juices. I find fruit juices are too high in fructose and trigger my symptoms, even if they are made using low-FODMAP fruits (see the concept of “FODMAP load” in What are FODMAPs). You can also mix juices with sparkling water (see my Beverages) or freeze them to create delicious, refined sugar-free icy poles. Similar to blenders, when purchasing a juicer, you will notice a significant price difference. There are two types of juicers out there: ones that press the fruit to squeeze out the juice (called cold-pressed or masticating juicers), and those that spin the fruit pulp to separate out the juice (called centrifugal juicers). Despite the less appealing price tag, I would recommend going with a cold-press juicer, as it tends to yield more juice, create less heat, and is designed to work well at extracting juice from low-moisture fruits and vegetables. The juice it produces will also stay fresher for longer and will have a higher nutrient content. When juicing, remember to not discard your juice pulp, as it can be reused to create a range of raw and cooked meals. You can even add juice pulp into your pet’s food … it will do wonders for their health too!
While definitely not an essential kitchen item (an oven on low heat can essentially perform the same function), a dehydrator is great for creating crackers, cookies, vegetable and fruit straps, yoghurts, and kale chips. As activating your nuts and seeds is incredibly important if you suffer from digestive issues (or even if you don’t), you can also use your dehydrator to dry nuts/seeds you have previously activated in filtered water so they regain their crunch. Dehydrated food will also preserve much longer, just keep it stored in airtight containers in the pantry and you’re sorted for snacks when running time-poor.
Cast-iron pans are heavy and slightly more expensive that what you’ll find somewhere like IKEA but they conduct heat beautifully, can be transferred from stovetop to oven, and last for ages. The sheen on cast-iron cookware results in a virtually nonstick surface, meaning you won’t need to use excessive amounts of oil in your dishes … not that there’s anything wrong with healthy fats like coconut oil. Cast iron is also a chemical-free alternative to nonstick pans, which contain PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical linked to range of nasty health effects.
The only 3 knives you really need in a kitchen are an 8” Chef’s knife (to chop veggies, fruits, herbs, and … eek open coconuts), a sharp paring knife (to peel fruit and veggies), and a bread knife, to, well, slice bread, tomatoes, and to level cakes, casseroles etc.
These are so much fun! The spiralizer is an inexpensive tool (most cost around the $30-40 mark … I found mine on eBay) that turns fresh veggies into noodles, or “zoodles” (I promise I didn’t make that up). They are simple to work too. A firm, peeled veggie like a zucchini or carrot is held in place with a clamp over the grinder, and as the vegetable vanishes into the hold, you use a hand crank to make the gears work. The result is a pile of extra-long, gently curled ribbons. Test it out in my killer Zucchini Pasta recipe in Mains.
Mixing Bowls (Large, Medium & Small)
Choose wooden, bamboo or metal as opposed to plastic to avoid harmful chemicals.
Graters will make life much easier and are great to use when preparing salads. When choosing a grater, be sure to select one that is firm with a strong base so that it won’t slide as you grate your food. I’ve got plenty of war wounds to prove just how important this is!
Glass Drink Bottle
They’re heavy, a little inconvenient and generally expensive (although you can find some gems online) but glass drink bottles really are the way to go. Not only will having a flash drink bottle encourage you to remain hydrated, which is very important especially in hot climates such as Australia, but it will also stop you from reaching for that chemical-laden plastic bottle.
You will notice that I haven’t included a microwave in my list. I hate to preach but really, the only thing a microwave should be used for is for heating a heat pack if your tummy starts playing up. Despite being super convenient, try to avoid using a microwave to heat your food, as there have been numerous studies that demonstrate it releases harmful radiation. There are a range of other methods, such as using cast-iron grill plates and woks, to re-heat food that are safer and produce even more scrumptious results. Vegetables reheated in microwaves resemble play dough … no one wants to eat something that resembles hospital or airplane food. Plus, what are a few extra minutes spent in the kitchen if it means your health right?