Is setting up a vegan kitchen that different than any other kitchen?  Yes is the simple answer! You can expect that you will be doing a lot of cutting and chopping in a vegan or vegan-paleo kitchen.  You’ll want to be able to mix and blend efficiently and you’ll need to control germs and bacteria effectively. You will want to have food staples and spices on hand that will help you prepare tasty meals without having to run to the market for every dish.  

1 Get Really Good Knives

I can’t stress enough to get a set of GOOD knives for the kitchen,  Some of the best names in knives are Henckels Pro, Wusthof, Messermeister and Global Santoku.  Now, these knives are pricey but if you want a knife that retains its edge you need to go with a higher carbon grade of steel.  High carbon knives are harder steel than the knives you get at the local Walmart or hardware store. Harder steel also means the razor sharp edge you want is retained for a longer period of time.  

Knives that stay sharp are more controllable than knives that dull quickly and this will lead to safer knife handing.  If the knife is dull you will struggle to make a clean cut in your food and that can lead to slipping and could mean a severe cut.      

Knives that stay sharp are more controllable      

As well as the knife get a matching steel (the long honing tool you see chefs use)  A steel that was bought at the local hardware or department store is too soft and will be ineffective in keeping the blade it’s absolute sharpest.  When buying your knife ask the salesperson what steel the knife manufacturer recommends and get it. Most manufacturers of quality knives make a steel with the hardness properties that match that of the knife.

You can also get a diamond hone like the one I use for just a few dollars.  It is a steel stick with diamond powder embedded into it. It brings a knife’s edge back quickly if you have left the knife get too dull for the steel to fix.

Finally, remember that a good knife is a lifetime investment so think of spending this money as the last you will ever spend on a knife.  I’ll take one $200 dollar knife over a $50 model every time. You’ll be rewarded with ease of use, balance, and sharpness forever.

2. Cookware

A good stainless steel cookware set is important to make your dishes.  Stainless steel eliminates the risks associated with nonstick and aluminum cookware. Only stainless steel comes into contact with your food and not the chemicals found in nonstick varieties.  

Most simple pans are one layer and this will not conduct or hold heat as well as we would like.  I have a set of three-ply stainless pots and pans that have outside layers of stainless and a middle core of copper.  This creates a heavier pot but the addition of a layer of copper aids in the even distribution of heat and more mass means the pot will not cool off as fast for more consistent cooking temperatures.

Stainless steel cookware is durable.  If you get a good quality set of cookware you will have it for life.  Stainless cookware is tough and scratch resistant. Even if you do scratch your cookware, its still good to use and most scratches can be buffed out with steel wool or polishing compound.

Stainless steel does not transfer any noticeable taste to foods. Unlike some coated or aluminum cookware which can impart a metallic taste to your cooking. As well when cooking with acetic foods you will not damage your cookware.

Overall stainless cookware is the best choice and the expense of getting a good set will be offset by its durability and generally, a good stainless steel cookware set is a once in a lifetime purchase.

3 Cutting Boards:  The Difference Between Wood and Plastic

For a plant-based kitchen choose a wooden cutting board. A study was done where wooden and plastic cutting boards were compared for bacteria and surprisingly wood cutting boards won out over plastic.  It was found that plastic cutting boards harbored more bacteria in the surface once deep cuts and knicks were made while wood was self-healing.

This was for me counter-intuitive. Conventional thinking (for me) was that plastic would rinse cleaner than wood and while that may be true on a brand new cutting surface, a cutting surface does not stay new for long.  Wood was found to be self-healing stopping more bacteria from staying on the cutting board than with plastic. Provided you wash your wooden cutting board with Mr. Clean (or another quaternary cleaner OR ammonium chloride compounds) and let your cutting board dry thoroughly your bacteria load will be less than that of plastic  

A quality wooden cutting board is composed of thick, close grain closed cell hardwood. Walnut, maple, and bamboo are good examples of this.  Oak is a poor choice because of the space in the grain. Bacteria can settle into the large pores in the grain.

If you still want to use plastic consider the flexible inexpensive type that can be thrown out after a few uses. These plastic boards have the added convenience of being used as a method to funnel food into your pan.

One thing I highly recommend when using wooden cutting boards is the use of a cabinet door organizer that hangs over cabinet door and you’re cutting boards stand up inside that organizer.  wooden cutting boards are superior to plastic cutting boards however it’s important to make sure that they dry out. As a result, they should be stood on end for storage and that’s the main reason for using a houseware organizer.

4 Food Processing

Mortar and Pestle

A mortar and pestle are used for grinding spices and herbs into fine particles.

If you haven’t seen a mortar and pestle it is the bowl and grinding tool that you often see associated with pharmacies.  The mortar is the bowl often made of ceramics and the pestle is a blunt griding tool. Mortar and pestle sets can be made of granite, marble, ceramics, iron or olive wood.  

Iron mortar and pestle sets require oiling to prevent rust and olive wood mortar and pestle sets are often used in Mediterranean cooking where the crushing of garlic can impart flavor oils into the wood for other spices.  

My advice is to stick with ceramic, marble or granite for cleanliness.  You don’t need a large set because almost all of the time you will be grinding a teaspoon or two of herbs or spices at a time.If you choose not to use an over-the-door organizer you can often find the pantry organizer that looks somewhat like a kitchen drying tray for dishes and these also work well 2 keep your wooden cutting boards on end and dry.  

5 Vitamix Blender

After researching many of the blenders on the market I settled on Vitamix.  Why a Vitamix blender you might ask? Well, it’s a combination of power, flexibility, and longevity.  

Vitamix have the most powerful longest lasting motor of all blenders on the market bar none.  The return for repair rate is less than 1% in ten years. Chances are a Vitamix blender will never need the repair shop.  

Vitamix blades will last the life of the machine.  The blades are hardened stainless steel. The blades are less of a cutting blade and more of a milling design meaning they break food up rather than cutting food.  That’s important if you want to break down fibrous material to make smooth and creamy soups or dressings.

The Vitamix also has a complete line of accessories such as a dry ingredient mixer that you can make your own flour from rice or other grain (but we won’t need that for paleo vegan) a small cup and a drink size blending cup for individual portions.

The Vitamix Blender will also make the best almond or cashew milk and will also make a variety of nut butters.  

6 Adjustable Mandoline Slicer and Chopper

Amazon has a 13 in one mandoline chopper, slicer, grater, jiucer.  Now, this is the tool you need if you have a problem (like me) with onions.  This tool can help you make sweet potato fries, spiralize your cucumbers for salad julienne your vegetables and more.  It even has a bin to collect your diced onions to reduce the vapors.

There are several brands and models available and Amazon’s choice in this category would not be for me due to safety.  I want a sliding handle to keep the vegetables against the tool without my fingers coming in contact with the slicing blades.  

While I’m a big user of knives for chopping, slicing, and dicing these little tools can save you a load of time in meal preparation. Just remember your fingers when looking at what you want.

7 Zester and Graters

Sometimes you will find these handy kitchen tools called micro planes.  Microplanes are often photo-etched and this produces a long-lasting and extremely sharp edge.  Some of the less expensive tools are stamped. Photo-etched is preferable but just as a precautionary note, they are not dishwasher safe.  

Some zesters are designed like a file and others have rubber feet for stability.  I prefer the rubber foot models over the file like models.

Even though micro-planes are a better technology than stamped steel the price is generally about the same with some better models being slightly more money.  Prices are around $10 to $20

Graters come in 2 basic designs; box or drum graters.  Think of a box grater as a general purpose grater and the drum grater as a higher volume model meant for one specific purpose like grating hard cheese.  

8 Silicone Baking Mat

Silicone baking mat is the rubber mat that can often be used in place of parchment paper.Silicone baking mats are non-toxic and food safe. you can often eliminate For  use of non-stick sprays in grease. silicone baking mats are long lasting and durable If you line a baking sheet with a silicone mat it will help prevent burning and over browning.Silicone baking mat will also help prevent damage to your cookie sheets so you’ll be buying less cookie sheets over time. One of the great advantages of silicone baking mats is through ease of cleaning. Nothing sticks to a silicone mat. Just wash them lightly and hang them to dry. Silicone baking mats resist staining and absorbing odors. The price of silicone baking mats has come way down from a high when they first came out of about $30 down to now we’re where Amazon sells two and three packs of silicone mats for under $20.  silicone baking mats come in half baking sheet sizes and full size baking sheet sizes .

One of the more recent developments is silicone bakeware such a silicone bundt pans and silicone muffin pans. Most utensils in the kitchen can now be purchased in silicone.  I have found silicone drinking straws, silicone food storage bags, silicone baking cups, silicone ice cube trays, silicone candy molds, and all sorts I’m silicone liners for baking sheets on Amazon.  it’s amazing all of the potential uses silicone in the kitchen

9 Storing Dry Goods

such as seeds are better stored in airtight containers than their original package once it is opened.  I found the kitchen storage containers come in all shapes and sizes but what makes sense to me is to buy airtight containers that her square or rectangular but put together. I like round containers there is no wasted space when choosing square or rectangular containers.

If you have all containers consider tossing them unless you know for sure that they are BPA free. new containers a relatively inexpensive and a 40 piece set of new containers is under $60 at Amazon and many shots are half of that price

Some interesting newer developments in storage include a glass container with a rubber lid which makes an airtight seal and often they are dishwasher safe. I have even seen these containers at the dollar store and smaller ones can be picked up for two or three dollars each while larger containers and sets can be picked up for thirty to forty dollars.

I’ve seen some designer sets on Amazon that include stainless canisters with a window and hammered copper stackable storage bowls with airtight lids so storage could be beautiful as well as functional.

Did we get it all? let us know in the comments what some of your favorite items are for setting up paleo vegan kitchens.  we are always happy to keep the discussion going!