Victoria Young has to eat a very restrictive diet and for the last 7 years, has cut out sugar, all grains, milk, soft cheese, soya and more. Sound complicated? It is, but these three bits of kitchen equipment have made all the difference.
Here, Victoria shares the kitchen gadgets that anyone on a special diet needs in their life...
Find more about what it's like to live on a special diet on Victoria's guest blog for woman&home, How To Eat (when you can't eat anything at all).
1. A spiralizer
I know, I know, it's almost a cliché now to say it, but the spiralizer did change my life, even if just modestly. It's partly the almost-pasta-ness of courgetti (by far my favourite vegetable to spiralize), which means you can have a pasta-like meal (just add sauce) and not feel horribly hard done by (sauce alone really, really doesn't cut the mustard). But I also like to spiralize vegetables to have on the side, gently fried in oil and garlic. So simple, but totally delicious. My only complaint about the spiralizer is that it's not the easiest thing to clean - but you can't have it all.
Although, on that note, I tried a new gadget over the weekend, which deserves a mention as it's a fraction of the size of my big spiraliser and also way easier to clean. The Oxo Good Grips hand-held spiralizer involves a bit more work as you have to rotate the vegetable and the spiralizer yourself but the end result is pretty much identical and I note happily, it's small enough to take away with you (I'm always looking for ways to be a self-sufficient guest, especially when I go to stay with my lovely in-laws).
Tempted to get a spiralizer? There's so much you can do with it. Take a look at our round up, what can you spiralize?
2. A Nutribullet
It actually took me a while to realise the joy of the Nutribullet. Like most people, I've had juicing phases in the past but the oft talked about downsides of juicers are the amount of fibre that's wasted - and also the washing up. The Nutribullet bypasses both issues since you generally blitz the whole fruit plus ice, seeds and nuts if you want them. And washing up is practically as easy as rinsing it under the tap.I've got into the habit of keeping a couple of bags of washed kale in the freezer to form the basis of green smoothies into which I will add a combination (though, not all of these - it depends what we've got in the fridge) of banana, kiwi, apple, pear, spinach, celery, cucumber, lime and pineapple, plus a handful of seeds. The idea of a smoothie used to seem like a right faff until I realised that it is really the work of minutes to whizz up what is actually breakfast in its own right. If it's lunchtime or I feel the need for something more substantial, I'll add half or a whole avocado plus a spoon of hazelnut or almond butter, which cranks up the creamy, nutty undertones. And given that a fresh green smoothie from a juice bar can cost £4, £5 or even £6, the £80 I spent on that Nutribullet was money well spent!
Got a Nutribullet too? There's so much you can do with it. Take a look our Nutribullet recipes.
3. A KitchenAid stand mixer
The only time I tried to make mayonnaise by hand, many years ago, it was such a disaster (turning into a split, emulsified mess) that I got The Fear and the whole business of mayonnaise-making was elevated into something that only ‘proper' cooks do. So I stuck to Hellman's, which is delicious obviously, but which - like so many things - has sugar in it.
So for years after I stopped eating sugar, I resigned myself to a mayo-free life. Then my beloved KitchenAid entered my life. At first, when making mayonnaise, I consulted recipes and was very exact about quantities, using only the yolk of an egg and a precise teaspoon of vinegar. Then, being slightly slapdash by nature, I realised that it's possible to use the whole egg (I really don't like waste), an imprecise dash of vinegar, a level or heaped teaspoon of mustard (depending on how mustardy you like your mayo). And oil quantities (I use a half-half mix of extra virgin olive oil with vegetable oil) are a totally moveable feast, which depends partly on the size of the egg and also how thick you like your mayonnaise.
And now, being a household of mayonnaise lovers, we generally have a sealed pot of fresh mayo in our fridge. Since it's got raw egg in, the life span is 3-4 days but it often doesn't make it that long because we (my husband especially) often have it with pretty much everything except curry. The point is that it is thanks to the KitchenAid that mayo came back into my life. And pesto. And hari-cummous (like hummus, but made with haricot beans rather than chickpeas, which I can't eat). And delicious dip made from avocado, yogurt, chilli and lime to have with fritters (pictured). In fact, so many joyful dips and sauces have made my sometimes slightly tricky diet so, so much better and all of them are the work of an instant thanks to my beloved KitchenAid, which I use pretty much every day.