Preparing healthy foods doesn’t have to be expensive or hard. Who doesn’t love a hack? I know I sure do. Anything to make my morning or evening more streamlined and simple is a must for me. Today I thought I’d share a few of the healthy kitchen tools I use most frequently.

Keurig

A non-caffeinated Jessica in the morning is not pleasant. Andy and I often joke about why we weren’t the geniuses who thought of this. We are probably on our second Keurig since we got married, and that’s been a hot minute. For years I owned an old school coffee maker and even kept one at Andy’s apartment as backup. The simplicity of popping a pod in and voila, coffee, is one of life’s best hacks. I know coffee pods are more expensive than good old ground beans but for me the time saved in the mornings will always be worth the cost.

Ninja

A Ninja is used everyday at the Barnett house. I know I’ve shared that a smoothie and cup of Joe is how I start every day. While Andy swears it sounds like a helicopter landing in our kitchen, I love this blender and don’t think it’s that loud. It also takes about fifteen seconds to blend my smoothie, so stop your griping. I’ve owned several different varieties of blenders over the years and even have a larger more expensive one collecting dust in my cabinet. I don’t use it because quite honestly, I don’t want to have to lug it out, break it down and clean it, largely by hand after. The Ninja is so so easy to clean, blends beautifully, is way more affordable than the Vitamix I often lust over and best of all you can drink right out of the cup you blend it in and it’s also dishwasher safe. I use this for way more than smoothies, too. Soups, sauces, the sky’s the limit.

A well-loved and used cast iron skillet

I use my sweet mamaw’s to be exact. If you haven’t made a quesadilla or cornbread in one of these bad boys, you haven’t lived. If you’re from the South I’m guessing you own one.

Air fryer

My air fryer was a Valentine’s Day gift from Andy. What can I say, he’s a hopeless romantic. I will admit that I was skeptical of how much I’d actually use it and how big it seemed to me. Let me tell you, it has been a dream. I’ve made to-die-for hand-cut sweet potato chips, dehydrated pineapples that melt in your mouth and “fried” pickles that would put Hooters to shame. While these are pricey, we snagged ours on sale at a great price. If you’d like to add this tool to your kitchen, I’d suggest watching Amazon or Black Friday deals.

Panini press

Another wedding present that I thought would probably just collect dust– I was wrong. Elevates a boring sandwich or wrap to café worthy.

Nonstick fry pans

I have a 10 1/2-inch and 12-inch that get used almost daily. I’ve had the same set forever and they’ve really held up. Great for scrambled eggs! I cannot handle cleaning up stuck-on, old eggs. Gross.

Waffle maker

We had a single use one that we got as a wedding gift that we used for years. This last Christmas my in-laws got me a four-waffle maker. I’m sharing my go-to gluten-free waffle recipe that I make on repeat below.

This recipe is so yummy, simple and, bonus, it’s gluten and dairy free!

The Easiest Whole Grain Waffles

From the blog, A Foodie Stays Fit

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 T coconut flour (you could try another flour, or the author often uses protein powder)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt

1 egg

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)

1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly (so it doesn’t curdle your egg!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional add ins: nuts, blueberries, chocolate chips. I love to sprinkle in a handful of Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips or blueberries to take these to the next level.

Instructions:

1. Heat your waffle iron.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients, then add in the wet ingredients (egg, almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla). Stir until well mixed. It will be quite thick.

3. Spray your waffle iron with non-stick spray. Scoop half the waffle mixture into the iron and spread out with a spoon.

4. Cook until they are browned and crispy.

Voila! I love these with a little Earth Balance, dollop of almond butter and little drizzle of pure maple syrup. I often make extras and freeze for breakfast on the go whenever a waffle craving strikes.

What are your favorite kitchen tools? The ones you use on repeat. Don’t be shy. I’d love to hear from you.

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. To learn about working with Jessica, prospective clients may email jcbarnett616@gmail.com.