Food processors are designed to take the hard work out of food preparation, and they’re also a useful gadget to have around if you’re looking to introduce some healthier options to your diet.
Sometimes, though, the difficult part is knowing exactly what to do with them, beyond the basics of slicing and dicing your veg.
The range of jobs you can do with most food processors is very varied, and some have a dizzying array of accessories for nearly every task imaginable.
Even if you just have the basic attachments, you can still use them to cook creatively. If you’re not sure where to start, read on to discover how.
Find out how to choose the right model for you with our food processor buying guide
1. Replace takeaways with homemade
Hankering for a takeaway pizza or curry on a Friday night?
If you’re looking to cut down on takeout, or make your favourite snack a little bit healthier, one popular option is to make a pizza with cauliflower crust, instead of dough.
You can prep this (with the help of a food processor) in just 15 minutes. Simply blitz cauliflower, ground almonds, eggs, and oregano and you have your base ready to be cooked.
Swapping out regular pizza dough for a cauliflower alternative is not only a great way to sneak more vegetables in your diet, it’s also a cheap and fibre-rich vegetable that’s low in salt and carbs. What’s more, it’s a good option for diabetic or gluten-free dinner guests.
You can also use your food processor to finely slice veggies and make a paste to create the perfect homemade ‘fakeaway’ curry. This will give you more control of what actually goes into your meal, allowing you to leave out excess oil and salt.
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2. Swap out pre-prepared sauces
If you’ve had a long day, reaching for a jar of pasta sauce may seem like the best option for a quick dinner. However, unless you’re prepared to stand in the supermarket reading the small print on the jar, it’s likely you don’t know exactly what you’re adding to your spaghetti bolognese.
Using a food processor to make your own sauces means you can choose precisely what goes into (and what stays out of) your meals. Although this may seem like a faff, you can usually find very simple recipes online, plus you can make large batches and freeze portions for later – depending on the size of your food processor.
You can also make a tasty homemade pesto in just 10 minutes by chucking pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, lemon, and a handful of herbs and spices into your food processor and giving them a quick blitz. This will keep for up to a week in a refrigerated airtight container, and can be used as a base for loads of different dishes.
You can switch it up depending on what you have to hand too; basil, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach or walnuts are popular options.
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3. Give desserts a healthy twist
Trying to stay on track can be tricky if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Not to fear, there are a few ways you can tweak your favourite dessert recipes to make them fit your healthy eating goals.
Perhaps one of the quickest is a simple (but delicious) banana ice cream. Store any overripe bananas in the freezer, then when you’re ready for a sweet treat, whizz them in your food processor with a splash of milk until you get a tasty, low-fat pudding.
Using a food processor gives you much more freedom when it comes to the different textures you can play with in your food, too. Avocado, for example, works as a butter substitute for desserts like chocolate mousse or brownies, and it’s a ‘good’ fat too.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you could even try your hand at making raw chocolate truffles, which usually tend to be vegan, gluten-free and dairy free. Pop dates, almonds, cocoa powder, coconut oil and seasoning into your food processor, process for a couple of minutes, then roll into balls and put in the fridge to set.
4. Sneak more veg into your diet
If you’ve got young children, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get them to (willingly) eat their five-a-day – that’s where your food processor comes in.
There are numerous recipes online that aim to sneak as many vegetables as possible into your dinner without you (or any little ones) being able to tell.
You can hide grated veg such as carrot, sweet potato and courgette in meatballs or tomato-based sauces, and use nuts such as cashews to add creaminess and flavour to pasta dishes.
You may even wish to try experimenting with sweet dishes, such as cakes. Blitzing sweet potato and adding to brownies, or adding courgette and carrot to cakes, is a great way to add extra nutrition to teatime.
Don’t know the difference between a grating blade or a julienne disc? See our guide to food processor attachments
5. Take baby steps with a mini chopper
The suggestions above may have you thinking that you need to spend a fortune on a top-of-the-range, fancy food processor – but that’s not the case.
If you’re short on space, or budget – or just not ready to commit to a larger gadget, a mini chopper is a good half-way house.
These are miniature food processors. They tend to be good for smaller quantities, a quick dip, sauce or chopped onion. They only come with one or two core chopping / slicing attachments, so you won’t have to find space for lots of extra parts.
Prices start from around £10 and they can be easily popped in a cupboard when they’re not in use. We’ve found some brilliant options that make whipping up a quick dip or sauce simple and faff-free.
Take a look at our mini chopper reviews to find out which models will help take the hassle out of healthy living.