If you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, pay attention to the secret experienced cooks swear by – it’s your knives! I shared this secret on Fox19 Cincinnati this morning so if you’d like to see the clip, here it is!
If you’re wondering what knives have to do with getting you to eat your veggies, my premise is that most healthy meals involve some sort of trimming, chopping, dicing, and slicing. If you are attempting this with dull or cheap knives, or with underdeveloped knife skills, there are numerous obstacles between you and that salad! Upgrading to a decent set of knives, taking good care of them, and learning to use them properly has a host of benefits, but here are my top 3.
So what are my top 3 benefits of having and using good knives?
Good, sharp knives are faster. Plain and simple. Slicing a tomato with a dull, low quality knife is an exercise in Zen-like patience as you saw back and forth hoping to eventually break through the tomato skin. If you’ve never used quality knives, you will be AMAZED by how much more quickly you are able to complete the preparation for any recipe.
Quality knives just do a better job. They cause less (aesthetic) damage to the food when it’s being prepared, leaving you with more beautiful slices or dices on the plate. And when you’re dealing with healthy food, presentation matters even more. Since better knives don’t mangle the tomato or bread or whatever it is you are trying to cut, there is also less waste.
Paradoxically, you are actually less likely to cut yourself with a sharp knife than with a dull one! And since good knives are often sold in knife blocks, you’ll keep your fingers (and any little fingers that roam your kitchen drawers) from being accidentally cut when digging for a knife.
Ready to buy? There are three basic knives that should be in your collection. For less than $200, you can get a top quality version of the essential knives you’ll need for daily meal preparation. And the perfect complement to your knives is a good cutting board like the Epicurean ones I had on Fox today.
A 7-10″ Chef’s Knife – this is your basic kitchen workhorse. It makes me crazy when I see someone using a teensy paring knife to chop a potato or carrot or celery into her hand! A cutting board and a chef’s knife make quick work of most chopping and dicing. This knife will also slice meat (ham, turkey, beef, etc) beautifully.
A 3-4″ Paring Knife – This is your “precision” knife – great for peeling vegetables or fruits or for small jobs like garlic or strawberries.
A Serrated bread knife – You need to use a sawing motion when using a serrated knife vs. just pushing the knife straight through the food to be cut. The serrated edge thereby slices bread without mangling it, but it’s also super for tomatoes which tend to get crushed under the weight of a less-than-perfectly-sharp chef’s knife.
There are countless brands of quality knives out there. I swear by Wusthof because I grew up with them and have owned them personally for the last 15 years. J.A. Henckels is an other excellent brand and I often hear good things about Japanese brands like Shun and Global as well. You may want to go to a store and actually hold the knife before buying. You’ll want one that feels right in your hand. Not too big or too small, too heavy or too light. You’ll know it when you find it. And then you’re off and chopping!