Photo courtesy of Iavsen

Eating overcooked, processed and artificial foods is not only unnatural; a diet that is far removed from the natural one to which human beings have adapted is responsible for a wide array of health problems, from obesity to heart disease and certain cancers. At the very least, cooking foods removes a lot of their natural and powerful nutrients, robbing your body of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals it needs to function at its healthy best.

Starting a raw foods diet is neither expensive nor complicated, but there are several pieces of kitchen equipment that are absolute necessities. The first is a full set of good quality kitchen knives.

A paring knife is the smallest type of knife that you will need. These are excellent for peeling small vegetables, pitting fruits like cherries and plums and slicing fresh herbs and spices such as shallots and chives. They are also good for preparing radishes and are invaluable for making radish roses, radish mice and other garnishes.

Fillet knives are longer than paring knives and they have a much narrower blade. They are the best tool for skinning the pith from citrus fruits. If your raw food diet includes any type of fish, a fillet knife is necessary for filleting and for removing small bones.

The blade of a chef`s knife is not as large or wide as a cleaver, but it is nearly as long. You will need a knife this heavy for slicing or chopping large heads of leafy, green vegetables such as chard, kale and romaine lettuce. A chef`s knife is also useful for slicing smaller vegetables such as cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash and for cutting fruit such as cantaloupe.

Serrated knives are also referred to as bread knives, but that is not their only use. A serrated knife is very useful for slicing soft-skinned vegetables and fruits such as ripe tomatoes and plums. The wavy, sharp blade bites into the skin where even a very sharp smooth blade might squish the tomato or plum before breaking the skin.

A cleaver has a very wide blade, giving it a sturdiness that smaller knives do not have. This is necessary when dealing with very tough-skinned vegetables and fruits such as butternut squash and watermelon. A cleaver can also be used to chop smaller things and they make excellent garlic smashers.

Once you have a full array of knives, it is crucial to keep them sharp. The sharper your knives are, the more efficiently you can use them and the less likely you are to cut yourself. Sharpeners are available in both manual and electric models. Which one you prefer depends on your personal taste, style and budget.

In addition to chefs knives, the other kitchen essential for someone starting a raw foods diet is a heavy duty blender. Unlike a juicer, a blender is versatile enough to handle many tasks, from juicing to making fresh salsa. Once you have gotten accustomed to preparing raw foods, you can possibly look into dehydrators, vacuum sealers and juicers.

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