If you are new to ‘healthy’ cooking or cooking for special diets, particularly gluten free and vegan cooking, you may find this a useful list. As your repertoire of recipes develops you will find your own pieces of equipment and favourite flavours from which to further build your pantry, your own essential ‘must have’ list.

Kitchen Utensils

This list of utensils is the basics upon which to gather gadgets piece by piece.

When cooking for diet meals, you must ensure there is not cross-contamination. This is essential for Gluten Free, Nut Free and Dairy Free diets.

To prevent cross-contamination

  • I recommend that Gluten Free cooking be in a kitchen where wheat flour has not been used for 24 hours.
  • You must:

  • Use equipment that can be easily and throughly washed; metal and glass spoons and bowls.
  • Be vigilant with the general kitchen cleanliness. “Wheat flys” and the unseen flour will contaminate a Gluten Free meal as will an almond flake or drop of sesame oil for the Nut Free diets.
  • Some kitchen utensils you must have in duplicate and use only for the this one diet; they are identified with an asterix.* Mark each item clearly with paint, apply coloured tape or lettering or buy items in various colours.

  • Essential Kitchen Kit

    • Baking sheets, cake tins* and bread tins* and muffin pans*
    • Can opener
    • Chopping boards*
    • Cooling rack
    • Fish slice
    • Food processor*
    • Frying pan (non stick and cast iron)
    • Greaseproof paper
    • Hand beater
    • Hand whisk
    • Ice cube tray
    • Mandoline
    • Measuring cups and measuring spoons
    • Mixing bowls (stainless steal)
    • Oven gloves*
    • Pastry brush*
    • Peeler
    • Pestle and mortar or electrical grinder for nuts, seeds and spices*
    • Rolling pin* (glass bottle for multiple uses)
    • Saucepans
    • Scales
    • Sieve*
    • Skewers
    • Soup ladle
    • Spatula (silicon)
    • Spoons, metal
    • Spoons, wooden* (never use for GF or NF cooking)
    • Tea towels*
    • Whisk (wire)*
    • Wok
    • Zester (microplane)
    • Lots of sealable containers for uncooked bits and leftovers

    * Items are required in multiples for Gluten Free, Nut Free and Dairy Free diets.

    Pantry Staples

    The lists below are suggestions to keep in the store, enabling you to add variety and flavour to your snacks and meals.

    Herbs and Spices

    Dry herbs and spices lose their zing after a few months. Buy them in small quantities and replenish your stocks regularly. When fresh herbs are in over supply chop any excess you have and freeze it in ice cubes for later use.

    • Basil*
    • Bay leaf*
    • Black pepper, whole*
    • Cardamom
    • Cayenne*
    • Chilli, crushed
    • Cinnamon*
    • Cloves
    • Coriander seeds*
    • Cumin seeds
    • Curry powder and curry paste
    • Fennel seeds
    • Ginger powder*
    • Mustard, dry
    • Mustard seeds
    • Nutmeg, whole*
    • Oregano
    • Paprika*
    • Paprika, smoked
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Star anise
    • Thyme*
    • Turmeric
    • Vanilla pod

    *Herbs and Spices I use most frequently.

    Dry Store

    This is a general list of a wide range of ingredients. They are not all necessary for flavoursome healthy cooking, your selection will be influenced by your style of cooking. For Indian cooking you will need a cupboard full of spices; for Mediterranean; couscous, risotto rice, almonds, capers, olives, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar are good starters; while sushi rice, tofu, soy sauce, miso and rice vinegar are necessary for Japanese meals and for meals with Asian tones ensure you have jasmine or basmati rice, fish and oyster sauce and sesame oil on hand.

    If you regularly cook for Gluten Free, Fodmap (irritable bowel) or Vegan meals you will need a few specific ingredients that are below, “Diet Cooking Staples”.

    • Baking powder
    • Capers
    • Chillies, dried
    • Cocoa and chocolate
    • Coconut; desiccated or flakes and coconut milk
    • Dried fruit
    • Fish sauce and or oyster sauce
    • Gelatine
    • Grain: a selection from buckwheat, couscous, millet, quinoa
    • Honey or maple syrup or rice syrup
    • Legumes, dried or canned: chick peas, cannelloni beans, puy lentils
    • Mirin or sherry
    • Mushrooms, dried
    • Nuts: a selection of almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts
    • Oil, coconut, olive and sesame
    • Olives
    • Pasta
    • Polenta (cornmeal)
    • Rice: a selection of risotto, basmati, brown, sushi
    • Seeds: sesame seeds, tahini (sesame seed paste), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
    • Soya sauce or tamari
    • Tofu
    • Tomatoes, tinned and paste
    • Yeast, dry
    • Vinegar, balsamic and rice


    • Berries (great as a decoration in mid winter)
    • Herbs, fresh herbs frozen
    • Peas, soya beans, spinach
    • Pita bread
    • Stock, homemade

    Diet Cooking Staples

    Cooking for special diets requires a few specific ingredients. Below are the lists of the staples I frequently use. Do not restrict yourself to these, experiment with new ingredients which will bring new flavours and textures to your food.

    Gluten Free and Fodmap Cooking

    A variety of grains and flours used as substitutes for flour, oats, barley and rye

    • Flour – pre-mixed Gluten Free flour for cakes and bread are available. Blending your own will enable you to vary the flour and texture for different products; bread, pastry, cakes, muffins and pancakes. My essentials are:
      • Buckwheat
      • Chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
      • Cornflour
      • Potato flour
      • Rice or sorghum flour
      • Tapioca flour
    • Grains, a good selection to start with:
      • Buckwheat
      • Millet
      • Polenta (cornmeal)
      • Rice; a selection basmati, risotto, sushi, brown, wild
      • Rice noodles and or buckwheat noodles (soba noodles)/li>
    • Other ingredients to assist with your baking:
      • Almond meal (ground sunflower seeds for Nut Free diets)
      • Gluten Free baking powder (or bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar)
      • Tamari (or Gluten Free soya sauce)
      • Xanthan gum (adds texture and holds moisture in baked goods) and flax seeds/linseed or chai seeds

    Vegan Cooking

    Vegan cooking requires a wide variety of nuts, beans, grains and flours. This list is not complete, there are many more grains, legumes, seeds and oils available but these will get you started as you explore new flavours, textures and cooking styles. (Some of the ingredients are a repetition of the recommended pantry store written above. If you are also catering for Gluten Free and Nut Free cooking note that some of those listed below are not suitable.

    • Beans, dry or canned (Canned beans are more easily digested and are suitable for many people on a Fodmap diet.):
      • Black beans, chickpeas, cannelloni, and lentils
    • Grains – a variety of grains will enable you to cook numerous cooking styles incorporating their flavours and textures:
      • Rice: a selection from basmati, risotto, sushi, brown, wild
      • Noodles: whole wheat (not Gluten Free), soba, rice noodles (not egg noodles)
      • Oats (Gluten Free diet requires Gluten Free oats), barley (not Gluten Free), millet, couscous (not Gluten Free)
    • Flours
      • Wheat (not Gluten Free), chickpea, buckwheat, rice flour and almond meal/flour for baking (not Nut Free).
    • Oils
      • Coconut (solid), olive, sesame (not Nut Free), vegetable oil
    • Tofu, silken and firm
    • Nuts (not Nut Free diet) – start with a small selection, nuts are interchangeable in most cooking (peanut less interchangeable with its distractive flavour). Cashew nuts are particularly useful because they have multiple uses for vegan cooking:
      • Almonds, cashew, macadamia, peanuts, pistachio, pecan and walnut.
    • Seeds, a selection:
      • Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds (not Nut Free), sunflower seeds and tahini (not Nut Free)
      • Flaxseeds/linseed or chai seeds (Essential for replacing eggs in Vegan baking.)
    • Non dairy milk:
      • Almond, coconut, and soya milk. (Oat and rice milk are suitable although lower in protein.)
      • Soya yoghurt or cheese
    • Ingredients to add flavour and interest to your cooking:
      • Agar agar (replaces gelatine)
      • Baking powder
      • Canned tomato and tomato puree
      • Capers
      • Cocoa
      • Coconut: desiccated and flakes
      • Dried fruits: dates, apricots, dates, raisins etc
      • Dried Vegetables: tomato and mushroom
      • Ginger, fresh
      • Herbs and Spices as listed above
      • Lemon and Lime
      • Maple or Rice syrup (Processed sugar is often avoided on Vegan diets and honey is not suitable.)
      • Miso
      • Nori
      • Olives
      • Peanut butter and or other nut butters (not Nut Free)
      • Poppadoms
      • Rosewater
      • Soya sauce or tamari (Only Gluten Free soya and tamari for Gluten Free diet)
      • Stock, fresh if possible (recipe)
      • Tacos and tortillas
      • Vinegars: balsamic, wine, rice vinegar
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