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Cooking with Karina: Kitchen Toolbox

Karina Arnold
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Greek Salad Dressing

Here, Karina Arnold tops her spiralized cucumber and carrot salad with the homemade Greek dressing. (Photo: Karina Arnold)

Karina Arnold is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma who’s passionate about healthy cooking. She provides creative, healthy recipes and tips on clean eating.

Like a child in a candy store, my eyes get wide when browsing the kitchen supply aisles of Sur La Table or Bed Bath & Beyond. Surrounded by the newest kitchen gadgets, it’s hard to identify pragmatic items from superfluous. Food processors, juicers and spiralizers, oh my! I want them all. Although the newest rotisserie spice rack is calling my name, I resisted its temptation and compiled a list of my kitchen essentials. 


Steaming is one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables. Steaming potatoes, broccoli or veggie noodles are some of the many foods steamers can prepare. A simple, retractable steamer perfectly fits any pot or pan size and is easy to store. Tip: when you are steaming, season the water to give your food a subtle flavor. I love adding sea salt and garlic or lemon pepper to the water before I steam. 

Cauliflower Mash

Turkey burger with green beans and cauliflower mash. (Photo: Karina Arnold)


I use my blender, specifically the Ninja Bullet, daily. The single serving size is perfect for on-the-go and easy to clean and store after making a smoothie. I also use my blender to make ice creams such as this Chocolate Banana Ice Cream. Note: many blenders come with a helpful recipe guide.

Food Processor 

Food processors are great for people who enjoy making their own salad dressings, sauces or soups. I love trying new salad dressings like this Greek Dressing. My mini food processor also helps make great pesto sauce, avocado dips and Cauliflower Mash (a healthy, low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes). Processors finely chop ingredients, resulting in a creamy texture which is prefect for soups and spreads. Note: Food processors can be a hassle to clean because of the sharp blades and many parts. Blenders work as well, but for better ingredient distribution and smoother consistency, I like to use food processors.  


Although not essential, I love my spiralizer/zoodle maker. It comes with many different noodle shapes you can turn your vegetables into, illustrated in my Zoodles With Marinara Sauce recipe. You can buy pre-made vegetable noodles, but it is cheaper and more convenient to buy vegetables and spiralize them myself. Tip: make your salad more fun by spiralizing a cucumber and large carrot atop your lettuce. 


Crockpots are so important I dedicated an article to them in Slow Cooking For a Fast Feast.

Meat Thermometer 

Especially if you grill often or cook raw meats, a meat thermometer is a wise investment to avoid over or undercooking meats. Meat thermometers can help you avoid salmonella from under-cooking. 

There are numerous kitchen appliances that work well for different lifestyles and diets. Some families would use a juicer more than a spiralizer; however, for my usual recipes, living situation and budget, these items have proven most useful to me. What kitchen gadgets do you love and use often? Which ones do you want to try? Comment below!

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