Black Friday is this week, which is generally my reminder to get it together and start gift planning. Perhaps you organized people are done or even started, but for the rest of us slowpokes, it’s time!
So to help you with the cooks in your life, here are 10 of my favourite kitchen tools, toys, and other gift ideas, from small and practical to big splurges. Nothing on this blog is sponsored, by the way, just my opinion.
(Note: I first published this in November 2016 and have updated every year since. This year I’ve moved away from linking to Amazon when possible, to encourage you to pop out to your favourite local kitchen supply store. Prices are in Canadian dollars, just to give you an idea. Americans, you can cut about 25% from them.)
I’ve used and loved all of these products. Cooking is central for heart-healthy eating, so let’s make it easier and enjoyable for those we love.
1. Swissmar peelers ($9-12) – I didn’t think these were anything special until we went to a friend’s cabin and used her dull, clunky peeler. Life is too short for that! I’ve had these for years and they’re still razor-sharp.
We use the straight one for hard vegetables like carrots. There is also a serrated one for soft-skinned fruit like kiwis and mango, and a julienne peeler for long thin strips, which makes veggies pretty for salads.
2. Apple slicer – $25 – Ours gets used several times a week. I like it because it makes 16 thin slices, which is perfect for throwing together an apple crisp or a quick snack. Most of these cut an apple into 8 slices, which would probably be easier to clean. But we like those very thin slices.
3. Stainless steel measuring cups and spoons ($34 and $20 respectively) – I was gifted a set of stainless steel measuring cups about 20 years ago and they still look and feel great.
The measuring spoons are narrow, so they can fit into any spice jar. And they have a 1/8 teaspoon measure, which is useful for a small amount of salt. Either way, a nice step up from plastic.
4. Rubbermaid insulated stainless steel travel mug ($14) — These aren’t fashionable, but they sure are durable, leak-proof, and well-insulated. We’re used them daily for about five years now.
5. Aeropress coffee and espresso maker ($45) — My husband and I decided to start drinking coffee about ten years ago now, and we’ve only ever used this immersion-style device. It’s quick, simple, and makes flavourful coffee, kind of like a French press, but easier on your cholesterol. (Yes really!)
6. Spiralizer ($55) – A fun way to enjoy more veggies, from zucchini noodles to pretty carrots and beets for salads. Something about changing up the texture makes them more appealing.
Zucchini noodles actually taste pretty good on their own, sautéed lightly in olive oil, or you can throw them in the pot with regular spaghetti for the last couple of minutes.
I have the Paderno one, but sometimes it doesn’t hold on tight enough to hard vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. So I linked to a review above instead, if you want help choosing one. (The $55 price tag is for the Oxo brand, which they liked best.)
7. Matching food storage containers ($ varies). This is another one more practical than stylish, but they’ve made using leftovers so much easier in our kitchen! We use the Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid containers, but I don’t think it matters, as long as they match and nest nicely.
(Glass containers would be lovely, but I need to find some that stack and nest easily, otherwise they take up too much space.)
8. Instant Pot ($80 and up, on sale this week) – After a year or so with the Instant Pot I let go of my slow cooker. They’re similar, except the Instant Pot enables you to brown onions or meat before cooking, or turn up the pressure if you need something done faster.
The other neat trick is to hard boil eggs in it. The shells slip off much more easily than with conventional boiling.
9. SodaStream ($129 and up) – If you like carbonated water, you must have a SodaStream. You never run out (unless you don’t have a fresh CO2 cartridge on hand) and it saves you having to buy and recycle bottles. You’ll pay about $20 each time you replace the CO2 cartridge, which is about every 3 months in our house, with daily use.
10. The 30-Minute Heart Healthy Cookbook ($22) – A shameless plug! You have to admit it would kind of be remiss of my not to include my book on the list. Plus I do think it makes a great gift.
There are 125 mouth-watering recipes that take just 30 minutes or less from start to digging in, plus help your loved one effortlessly add more vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish to their life.
I actually don’t have any financial stake in where (or whether) you buy the book, so I linked to a review instead of a book retailer. If you have time, call your local bookstore and ask them to order it for you.
I haven’t personally cooked with these tools, but people in my community rave about them, so a few more ideas for fun:
- Heart Survivor Mug – Created by heart attack survivor and patient advocate Jodi Jackson in Kansas. She’s done a variety of designs – heart attack, stroke, SCAD, and transplant, for example. There are also sweatshirts, t-shirts, tree ornaments, and more.
- Life in Hearts mug, totes, or clothing – Similarly, these beauties were created by heart failure patient Jackie Ratz, founder of the Canadian Women with Medical Heart Issues Facebook Support group. Proceeds go to support group initiatives.
- Air fryer – Of course! It seems like everyone has one or wants one this year.
- High quality knives – I’m not an expert in this department, but certainly a gift that will be used and treasured.
- A mezzaluna – Peggy in our Facebook group tipped me off to this, and I admit I had to Google it! She says it’s great for chopping fresh herbs.
- Handmade wooden utensils – Dar on Twitter shared these, and I had to include them, they’re so beautiful.
- Mandoline slicer – For thinly slicing a pile of carrots, potatoes, onions, apples, zucchini and more in a flash. Just make sure to use the safety cover! Thanks to Rhonda on Twitter for this idea.
- Unique food gifts – Flavoured olive oils, spiced nuts, fancy cheese, and more. See my ten heart-healthy (but fun!) food gift ideas here.
Hopefully these ideas give you some inspiration to get your holiday shopping started and help a loved one enjoy cooking even more.
What’s on your list this year? Share here in our Facebook group.