Top Gift Picks for the Busy Amateur Chef

As a health coach, business owner, military spouse, athletic trainer, chef, writer, athlete, and generally busy person, I’m often asked for my recommendations on everything ranging from kitchen tools and books to supplements, athletic gear, and raw cooking ingredients.  And with the holidays now here, the requests from followers for my recommendations are beginning to pour in.   

Rather than responding to every request individually, I decided to put together a gift guide so all of my followers can benefit from the information. So, without further delay, here is the first installment of my 2014 holiday gift guide.  This one is focused on gifts for the Busy Amateur Chef.   The next installment will list my top picks for your favorite Wellness Junkie, so stay tuned!

1. Crock pot – This is an absolute must for the time-constrained chef, as well as anyone who wants delicious, whole food meals, without the need for advanced cooking skills or the hassle of all the preparation. 


2. Electric skillet – This is great tool to enable rapid batch cooking, either for large groups or for the chef who wants to make enough to freeze for later use. It’s also easy to clean, which is important to the busy chef.  



3. Julienne peeler/vegetable peeler – Not only do I use my peeler to peel vegetables that were once a major pain to peel, but I also use mine to make “noodles” out of veggies like zucchini, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. This is a great stocking stuffer idea!


4. Knives – Having the right tools can make any job seem much less daunting. And having the right knives is no exception. Good knives can be a huge time-saver, while also sparing the user much frustration. This is my recommendation for a high-quality knife set that that is also a great value, given the price of other similar knife offerings. These come with a lifetime warranty and nice storage block, too. 

If a whole knife set isn’t desired, my recommendation for one all-rounder would be this one from the same manufacturer. I use this knife more than any other I own and even take it with me when I travel.


5. Vitamix  – This is the mother of all blenders, but because it’s a refurbished model, you’ll also score a great deal on it, along with a great warranty and fantastic after-sale customer service. The Vitamix can be used to make soups and sauces (it even heats them!), nut butters, salad dressings, and of course my amazing dairy-free , soft serve ice cream. I love and use mine so much that I’m actually working on a cookbook dedicated just to foods that can be made in the Vitamix. But I digress. Buy this for your favorite amateur chef, and you can rest assured it will be their favorite gift this year, if not this decade.

6. Food Processor – I own several blenders and food processors, and I’ve yet to find one that does absolutely everything I need, but this one does come close. I use it for a lot of the chopping I used to do by hand with a knife or mandolin, and it’s a huge time-saver and safer than those methods. One of the ways I often use it is to uniformly and quickly cut sweet potatoes and plantains for the chips I make. I also use my food processor to quickly make a lot of the energy bars you’ve probably seen on one of my Facebook pages. But the options are endless, and you just can’t go wrong with this awesome time-saving tool.

7. Immersion blender – This is a great tool for someone who wants to save time prepping food but who doesn’t have a lot of counter or storage space.  I use mine to make batters and salad dressings, whip up homemade mayonnaise, and puree vegetables for use in sauces and soups. This is a great, budget-friendly, easy-to-use, and easy-to-clean tool that is sure to speed things up in the kitchen and open the door to some new dish options made possible by having the right tool. 


So, there you have my top gift picks for the Busy Amateur Chef. Did I forget anything? If so, let me know in the comments!