Setting your kitchen up for success is one of the most important things to take care of, no matter what diet/lifestyle you’re trying to follow. The bottom line is, if your kitchen isn’t supporting your intentions, then your chances of success are practically nil.
So today I’m sharing with you one of my favourite success strategies of all - we’re talking raw-friendly work stations – these being specific areas of your kitchen where you grow, prepare or process your raw fare, so that you can eat the way you want to eat without distraction, denial or difficulty.
Why “Work Stations”?
Have you ever found yourself walking round your kitchen in circles as you go from one cupboard, fridge or drawer to another in order to get all you need to prepare a salad or make a recipe?
Have you ever gone to make a juice or smoothie only to realise that half your ingredients are on one side of the kitchen and the rest are on the other?
Have you ever thought that sprouting seeds and beans “sounds like a good idea” but because you’ve never got all your sprouting paraphernalia all together in one place it’s just never happened?
Have you often wished that you had a raw food prep routine in place so that you could have food on hand throughout the week but your food processor is buried at the back of the cupboard and your dehydrator is in the garage?
These are just some of the many reasons why taking the time to create designated work stations in your kitchen is a very good idea indeed!
Where to Start?
First of all you need to consider two things:
1) The tasks you do in your kitchen on a regular basis already (and want/need to continue)
2) The things you would like to do in a perfect world
Put these two lists together and you will have exactly what you need in order to know what needs to happen next.
The Most Common Work Stations
In a raw-friendly kitchen the most common work stations that you’ll find are:
- Chopping ingredients, making salads and plating up
- Blending and making smoothies
- Food processing, dehydrating and recipe making
- Sprouting and growing indoor greens
And if you share your home with others who don’t eat raw then you might also add the following or similar to your list:
- Making sandwiches/packed lunches
- Making tea/coffee
- Frying, slow cooking etc.
Needless to say, it’s going to be the just raw-friendly ones that I’ll be addressing in detail within this article!
Let’s take a look at work stations as a concept before we begin.
What Makes a Great Work Station?
The good news is this doesn’t have to be rocket science. Creating a work station that works is simply a case of mixing good old fashioned common sense with taking action. It’s that simple. Yes, you may need to make some space that you don’t currently have, and yes, you may need to remove some items from your kitchen in order to do so, but just as likely is the possibility that all you actually need to do is move a few things around and put them in a more logical space than before.
In next week’s issue we’ll look at the different types of work stations you will likely want and need to create, but before we get to that, it’s good to know the basics of what needs to be true to have a great work station whatever its purpose may be.
Here is a checklist to consider whether you are creating a new work station (cooked or raw) or to reinvent or upgrade an existing one:
It pays to spend a good amount of time thinking about the best place for each work station before you begin moving anything. Consider:
- How often do I or will I do this task per day/week?
- Do I need to be near a sink?
- Do I need to be near an electrical socket?
- Is this work station just for me or for other members of the household to use?
- Do I need to think about noise/ventilation or other similar considerations?
- Anything else I need to take into account regarding location here?
- What equipment do I need to use?
- What kitchen accessories do I need to have to make this happen?
- What plates, bowls, glasses, jugs etc. do I need to have easy access to?
- What storage or containers do I need to make this easier/ more attractive?
Food and Ingredients
- What food or ingredients do I need to hand for this task?
- What are the things that I use the most of or all the time for this task?
- Do I need to be near the fridge or a particular cupboard for this task (or should I move them around)?
- Is there anything I need to obtain that I don’t have already in order to make this task possible for me?
- What’s the easiest/simplest/most minimal way I can have this set up for myself so that I get the job done efficiently and without delay or complication?
- Anything else that is important to me to factor into this planning?
- Anything else that is important to another or others that I need to factor in here?
As you can see, this list is fairly comprehensive, but once you’ve run yourself through it with one work station you’ll see it’s actually very straightforward after all.
Now that you understand the foundational thinking behind creating a work station that works, now I’m going to share with you my suggestions for things that should be in place for the raw-friendly work stations mentioned earlier so that you have some tried-and-tested ideas to make a very decent start with.
Chopping ingredients, making salads and plating up
This area needs to be super spacious and clean. You may not need electrical sockets nearby, although it would be helpful for whizzing up quick dressings or sauces; the most important thing is that you have a good stretch of work surface/counter top that is empty and always ready for action. Then you have space to bring exactly what you need to the table.
In my kitchen I have my work station located underneath a cupboard holding the plates, bowls and glasses, and above the cupboard holding all the oils, condiments, herbs, spices and sea vegetables. The fridge is to the right with the cutlery drawers to the side of that. This whole set-up enables me to bring a meal to the table quickly and easily with minimal fuss or moving around.
It goes without saying that here you need you juicer! You also need all the additional parts such as jugs, bowls or whatever else you collect juice and pulp with easily to hand.
In my kitchen I keep my juicing area very clear because I never want to be deterred from making it. I keep my juicer right next to the chopping area and the sink so I can easily wash and prepare the produce. I keep large jugs and bowls to hand at all times and a large bin for collecting compost is behind me. This whole arrangement makes for super quick and easy washing up and clearing away – quite possibly the single most important factor with juicing.
Blending and making smoothies
With your blending area, the most determining factor here is “what do you use your blender for?” For me it is mostly smoothie making and the occasional nut milk or dressing, so to the side of my Vita-Mix I keep a small plastic box containing two different superfood blends that I typically add in to smoothies. I purposefully keep nuts away from the blender as I do not thrive on a lot of nuts and they make me gain weight very quickly, so I don’t want them to sit there staring at me! I prepare produce in the same way as juicing so that again, I can keep this area very clean and clear. You might consider arranging glasses, or anything else that you always need easily to hand.
Food processing, dehydrating and recipe making
I think just about everyone should have an area within their kitchen that is totally dedicated to preparing raw food dishes and recipes for the days or week ahead. This is the one area where I think everyone can improve and get some systems in place, if only to add more variety.
In my kitchen I have my food processor easily to hand for everyday use if I want it, and my dehydrator at the back of the kitchen as I use it hardly at all.
You may find that for various reasons your dehydrator is best kept in another room or in an unusual place in your kitchen – it really depends on how much space you have and how often you use it. There is no issue with this per se, it does depend on how often you use it, what for and whether its current location makes life difficult for you. These are the factors to take into account when creating a dehydrating/recipe making work station, but you’ll also want to think about air flow, temperature and having space to lay things down so that you can fiddle around with your recipe or whatever else it is that you need to do.
Sprouting and growing indoor greens
You may already know that I am a huge fan of sprouts and recommend that everyone make them a key aspect of their raw food diet. What never ceases to amaze me is how few people actually grow their own when it is one of the most quick, easy and beneficial things you can possibly do! A large contributing factor to this seems to be that jars lay dormant in cupboards, or the right one is never bought or created. And then there’s the mass of seeds and beans in the cupboard but not knowing which one to soak first or why. Yes, I have heard and seen it all!
There is no need for much space or fuss at all for this super-easy job. You just need some glass jars with a mesh covering of some kind, access to a sink and pure water and whatever seeds or beans you wish to sprout. Hardly any space is required other than to stand the jars and you only need to pay attention to them once or twice a day to rinse and drain, and that’s only for a day or two generally! Yes, sprouting really is way more easy than just about anything else you care to mention, but you do need to have your items together and once you’ve done that you will wonder why on earth you didn’t do it sooner. (If you’d like to see my super-easy step-by-step video on growing sprouts, click here)
As you can see these are starter ideas to get you up and running with your own work stations. When it comes to creating your own, do take the time to really think your different needs through first before you take action – it’s well worth drawing out a rough plan of your kitchen and then penciling in where things would go. This may take the best part of an hour to get it right, but my goodness will it be worth it when you see how much time, money and energy you free up as a result.
© 2011 Karen Knowler WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.