Double-Decker Bento Box Rice Cooker Promises Hot and Fresh Work Lunches That Rival Take Out

Back in March, when working at an office wasn’t something we all took for granted, we marveled at Thanko’s bento box rice cooker that made a single serving of rice at a time. But, realizing that eating nothing but rice every day for lunch would get tiring, Thanko’s released an updated double-decker version of the cooker that lets you prep fish, veggies, and dumplings too.

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A large multi-cup rice cooker is still the better way to go if you’re feeding a family all day long, but leftover rice, while crucial in dishes like fried rice, is not that great on its own when reheated the next day. Bringing leftovers for lunch at work can make your mornings easier, but those benefits are rendered moot when you’re trying to choke down dry, chewy rice at noon.

That’s why Thanko’s single-serve bento box rice cooker was such a revelation. For $65 it was small enough to bring to and from work every day, and in 14 minutes it could prepare a half portion of rice (or 20 minutes if you completely filled the included measuring scoop) without any chimes or dings that would annoy co-workers. The only drawback was that it could only be used to cook rice. You’d have to bring any sides in a separate container and heat them up another way.

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While many of us have spent the pandemic learning new skills like how to binge-watch several Netflix series without shower interruptions, the folks at Thanko tackled the rice cooker’s biggest flaw and solved it with this new $77 version. It looks and works exactly like the original, but it’s now got an extra story on top where you can put ingredients like meats, vegetables, and even pre-prepped dishes like curries or dumplings to be heated alongside the rice.

Instead of adding more heating elements, the new rice cooker simply directs steam generated in the lower compartment into the upper to heat everything in there, which is probably why the double-decker version is just $12 more than the original. It’s a feature most larger rice cookers already include through a removable steamer tray, but here it gives this shoebox-sized appliance the ability to cook an entire single-serve meal all on its own, and with non-stick pans, it can be easily cleaned in a sink afterward. Even if there’s no indication you’ll be returning to an office setting any time soon, these seem like a smart alternative to a counter-hogging multi-cup rice cooker if you live alone.

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The Best Kitchen Gadgets That Unnecessarily Do Exactly One Thing Well

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Photo: Gizmodo

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It takes years of practice and tutelage under a master to become a chef worthy of your own restaurant—or reality TV show—but as with everything in life, there are shortcuts. Assuming your kitchen is as large as one of Amazon’s warehouses, there’s a gadget or machine that can take care of every culinary skill you don’t have the time learn, and every dish you don’t want to bother making from scratch.

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Image: Amazon

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Tuna Can Press

Tuna fish is truly the food of royalty (some king or queen at some point in time must have had tuna for lunch, right?) but preparing it from a can is a process that can make you feel decidedly un-regal. Once you’re done with the can opener you need to strategically use that razor sharp metal lid to drain away fishy water or oil without sacrificing any chunks of meat in the process. It’s a challenge even for an Iron Chef unless you’ve splurged $8 on Prepworks’ Tuna Press. When forced into an open tuna can it separates the meat from the unwanted liquid making it easy to drain away. It supposedly also works on canned vegetables as well, but why not also buy a press specifically designed for those cans too?


Illustration for article titled The Best Kitchen Gadgets That Unnecessarily Do Exactly One Thing Well

Image: Amazon

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Rollie, the Omelet Log Machine

Omelets make for a delicious and easy meal but who hasn’t at one time wondered if omelets could be even easier to prepare and more phallic? The thought clearly crossed the mind of the creator of the Rollie. It looks like a thermos or a water bottle, but instead of filling it with coffee or water you pour raw eggs into the top and after a few minutes of heating you’re left with what looks like an omelet log, among other things, depending on how corrupted your imagination is. For $30 it saves you the hassle of turning on the stove and messing a pan, and as far as we know it’s the only practical way to make your own egg on a stick: a staple of carnivals we only see in our nightmares.

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Calorie-Counting Digital Rice Paddle

Rice is one of the world’s most popular foods for good reason: it’s plentiful, filling, and goes with everything. But if you worry about all the calories and carbs you’re shoveling in your maw while eating rice, this $35 tech’d-out spoon will serve as your guilty conscience. A few seconds after lifting a scoopful of rice with the paddle its LCD display provides an accurate reading of the weight and the estimated calories you’d be subjecting your body to were you to consume all of it. It’s only calibrated for cooked white rice, however, so if you were hoping it could confirm your guilty suspicions of just how bad it is to eat Nutella straight from the jar, you’ll need to seek out an alternate smart spoon.

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Illustration for article titled The Best Kitchen Gadgets That Unnecessarily Do Exactly One Thing Well

Image: Hammacher Schlemmer

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Spherical Ice Cube Mold

Maybe you have those plastic trays you fill with water and place in the freezer, or maybe you have one of those fancy fridges with an automatic dispenser in the door. Either way, if you’re cooling drinks with ice featuring hard angles, you might as well be living life like a neanderthal. Come join the rest of the developed world here in 2020 with this aluminum mold (fancied up with an anodized copper finish) that produces perfect two-and-a-half inch ice spheres. At 19-pounds you’ll get a workout every time you have to hoist it into the freezer, and its $760 price tag works out to $40 per pound of beverage cooling extravagance.

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Image: Japan Trend Shop

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Ultimate MYO Mayonnaise Maker

If you’ve exhausted all the options for stocking your fridge or pantry with mayonnaise (like making your own using a bowl and whisk, or a blender, or simply buying it in a jar at the store) there’s a $71 last resort, Hail Mary that will give you freshly whipped mayo at the push of a button: the Ultimate MYO. It’s essentially a tiny blender whose sole purpose in life is to make mayonnaise. Using it requires an egg to be cracked into the top compartment which separates the yolk in the process, and then other ingredients like salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil are added which, after two minutes of holding down the blend button, are whipped up into the savory fat-rich pudding known as mayo.

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Image: Amazon

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Pizza Scissors

The only thing worse than having to slice up a store-bought pizza is when the delivery pie you ordered and paid more for wasn’t properly sliced all the way through at the pizzeria. You can invest in a rolling pizza cutter, but unless you’re a trained professional you’re all but guaranteed to lose a finger as you try to navigate that sharpened wheel through chunks of ham and pineapple. (Anything else and you’re doing it wrong.) Scissors are a much safer option, but not just any scissors. You need to spend $9 on dedicated pizza shears that includes a built-in plastic spatula so you can immediately serve up a slice without the risk of the crust going limp under the weight of the toppings and all the cheese sliding off when it loses structural integrity. Can you remove the spatula attachment and use these as normal scissors elsewhere? It sure doesn’t look like it.

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Image: Brevda Inc.

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biēm Butter Sprayer

Is there anything more delicious than butter? Yes, melted butter blasted directly into your mouth. That’s exactly the niche the $130 biēm Butter Sprayer fills. It looks like a water bottle, but unscrewing the lid reveals a cavity where you can insert a single stick of butter where it’s melted and then channeled through a pumping mechanism. At the push of a button a fine mist of melted butter is dispensed improving everything you eat from toast, to popcorn, to veggies, to coffee, to ice cream. There’s really no limit as to where this electronic miracle can be put to good use. Whatever you come up with, your tastebuds will thank you.

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Image: Hamilton Beach

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Hamilton Beach Quesadilla Maker

Quesadillas are one of the easiest snacks to make that don’t include “open the bag of chips” in the recipe. You put a frying pan on a burner, turn on the stove, lay down a tortilla, cover it in toppings like chicken, ground beef, and cheese—-you know what, I’m exhausted already and we’re only about 97% through the recipe. Do yourself a favor and trade-in your frying pan for this $40 quesedilla maker from Hamilton Beach. It eliminates two or three exhausting steps from the quesadilla making process, delivering six delicious wedges of melted goodness and leftovers in just five minutes. It even cuts them for you in the process, letting you get back to more important tasks like trying to clear room in the cupboard for it until the next time you get a craving.

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Image: Hammacher Schlemmer

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Tandem Breakfast Sandwich Maker

Starting the day with a hot breakfast sandwich that wasn’t made at the expense of exploiting the labor of underpaid teens is the dream, and that’s exactly what this $50 appliance is designed to do if you’re willing to commit over 100 square inches of counter space to its existence. A series of stacked metal heating plates let you load up English muffins, bagels, ham, bacon, eggs, and other toppings that all cook in about five minutes’ time. When the timer dings, the heating plates can all be yanked out, bringing all of the ingredients together leaving you with a pair of breakfast sammies.

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Image: Hammacher Schlemmer

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Ice Cream Pint Melting Decelerator

You know that wonderful experience of plonking down on the couch and devouring a pint of ice cream directly from the tub where it gets real melty and runny on the outside but remains frozen at the core? It’s the best of both worlds, and an experience that no one really wants. The better approach is to shell out $60 for this metal ice cream tub insulator that ensures the ice cream you’re eating is just as hard an hour later as it was when you first yanked it out of the freezer. It also comes with a tiny ice cream scoop for one so you can pile equally tiny (but perfectly shaped) mounds of ice cream onto your tongue. It’s also promised to work with cartons of frozen yogurt and sorbet, if you’re a monster and choose that over ice cream.

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Image: Nostalgia Products

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Electric Giant Gummy Candy Maker

If you’re quick on the ‘Buy Now!’ button you can occasionally score giant bags of gummy bears online for the price of a fast-food meal. The problem is, depending on where you live, you may have to wait several hours for those gummies to be delivered. Who has that kind of will power and patience? No one and you don’t have to either, because for $40 you can get a countertop machine from Nostalgia Products that makes gummy treats on demand. After whipping up a gelatin mixture you can melt it down using two heated pots and then pour it into chill-able silicon molds giving you chewy deliciousness in seconds. Or, it also comes with a mold for creating a giant edible gummy bear if that’s a fantasy you’ve been hoping to one day play out. The candy maker is also 420-friendly allowing you to enhance gummy candies with CBD oil, or really any ingredients and flavoring you can think of. Don’t let yourself be limited by Haribo’s lack of imagination.

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Image: Japan Trend Shop

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Big StreamJumbo Nagashi-Sōmen Slider

In the summer time in Japan a popular way to enjoy a cold noodle dish called nagashi-sōmen is to grab the noodles with a pair of chopsticks as they slide down a chute made of bamboo channeling running water. Given restaurant dining is still frowned upon, however, this elaborate $300 contraption that looks like a water park log ride will let you create the nagashi-sōmen experience at home. You load it up with water and noodles while a battery powered pump keeps cold water flowing. There are even gates strategically placed along the slides to slow the noodle’s descent so they’re easier to grab. But the easiest solution is to just position your mouth at the bottom of the slide and swallow them all once their ride’s over.

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Image: iView, Hammacher Schlemmer

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iView Picasso Smart Latte Printer

Did you know the easiest way to make a cup of coffee taste better actually has nothing to do with where the beans are harvested, how they’re ground up and roasted, or even how the hot bean water is prepared? Even a bad cup of coffee is enjoyable when you distract your taste buds with some eye-catching foam art floating on top. The $1,440 iView Picasso Smart Latte Printer will create caffeinated masterpieces for you and you’ll never again need to tip a talented barista. A built-in touchscreen is used to prep artwork instead of a connected smartphone app, while a precision spray-head and cartridges filled with edible ink turn photos or custom messages into consumable art so every morning you can let your coffee get cold while you snap the perfect Instagram-worthy photo of the Picasso’s handiwork.

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Wine Steward Eliminator

There’s an art to pouring the perfect glass of wine, but it can take years to learn at the cost of countless bottles of wine to practice with. You can hire a professional wine steward to pour it for you, or you can use that money to invest in this $205,000 mechanical wine pouring machine that will impress everyone you invite over for dinner. (They’re laughing because they’re impressed, trust us.) Standing eight feet tall and assembled from over 300 moving parts turning a simple crank initiates the process but the machine handles everything from uncorking a bottle to raising it and performing the perfect pour. Sure, it might have been a struggle finding room for a tiny wine fridge, but can you really imagine your life without this thing as the centerpiece of your kitchen?

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Resourceful Hacker Invents an Automatic Crust-Cutting Robot So They Never Have to Grow Up

For many kids, crusts are the bane of a delicious PB&J sandwich, but they eventually grow up to embrace a bread’s chewy outer wrapping. There are some holdouts, however, such as Andrew DeGonge who continues to despise crusts so much into adulthood that they built a smart automated robot that can automatically de-crust a sandwich.

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Slicing up a sandwich isn’t an especially difficult task, but there’s always a risk when handling knives, so the safer alternative is to put a robot in charge of the knife instead. What could possibly go wrong? DeGonge’s machine is assembled from an aluminum frame with custom 3D-printed parts that are all moved around by belts and stepper motors to ensure a high level of precision because you want to sacrifice as little sandwich as possible.

A Raspberry pi 4 Model B paired with a Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 take advantage of OpenCV to automatically photograph and analyze any sandwich dropped onto the robot’s cutting board, determining its shape, calculating the largest rectangle to create, and then dropping the knife four times like a guillotine while spinning the sandwich on a turntable to remove the crust on every side.

It’s a surprisingly capable solution, but there are some ways it can be improved. For starters, watching the video of the robot in action it becomes clear the knife DeGonge is using isn’t sharp enough to lop the crusts clean off. It’s in desperate need of an upgrade, or a good sharpening. The approach the robot uses also seems optimized for sandwiches made of very square bread, not rounder loaves which are, arguably, more delicious. The four perpendicular slices it makes can dramatically decrease the size of some sandwiches as a result, so a more nuanced approach to the computer vision analysis and how the bot sliced and dices would be a welcome upgrade.

What’s the Best Countertop Dishwasher?

Illustration for article titled Whats the Best Countertop Dishwasher?

Image: Faberware

A few weeks ago, my wife and I awoke to a sight of pure horror: a dishwasher full of food scraps and dirty water. After cleaning and replacing the filter, we arrived at the conclusion that we should either bring in an appliance repair specialist or buy a new dishwasher seeing as ours has been here since the early aughts. The only problem is, we’re moving soon to another place that likely doesn’t have a dishwasher. Living in New York, handwashing is still the norm and automating the process is a luxury we may not be able to afford.

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Knowing we’d otherwise have to buy two dishwashers, one solution is to buy a portable dishwasher we can use on the countertop at our current apartment and take with us when we depart for the outer boroughs. As I’ve noticed online from a number of sources, the best countertop dishwashers seem to come from a small handful of brands—Danby, Farberware, and Black + Decker to name a few. But since I trust our readers more than most review sites to provide insights as ordinary users sharing anecdotal experiences rather than self-proclaimed kitchen experts, I’m turning to the Co-opulace, as Quentyn calls it, for your recommendations before I pull the trigger on this consequential purchase.

Tell me, what’s the best countertop dishwasher you’ve used? Please consider that, working from home, we’re doing a lot more cooking than we used to, meaning more and more dishes are piling up, making it near-impossible to catch a break after work. Enough space to wash everything in one go is high on our list of priorities, within reason. Installation is another factor to think about. How difficult it is to install could have a big impact on my decision. Last, what utilities will I have to give up while it’s in use? Some countertop dishwashers, it seems, require an adapter that locks into your faucet, so that the sink is unusable whenever it’s connected. As a result, it’s crucial we’ll have to see to it that neither of us plan on cooking at the same time the machine is running.

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With much to think about, here are the rules for first-time Co-op responders:

1) Your nomination should contain the name of a specific countertop dishwasher—additive or standalone—why you think it’s the best, a link where it can be purchased, and an image.

2) You can nominate multiple products, but please put each one in a separate comment.

3) Vote by starring someone else’s nomination.


The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Top Product: Always Pan | $145 | Our Place

I’m fascinated by the kitchen. Cooking lets me build community while feeding the people I love, and it’s also how I indulge. Still, it can be easy to get lost in the sea of kitchen gadgets out there. Instead of flail around, I asked foodies about their own favorite products and go-to gadgets to help you sort through the noise and maybe find some inspiration too.

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Best Non-Stick Frying Pan: Always Pan

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Image: Our Place

“This [Always Pan] is super easy to clean, cute on the stovetop, and finally, I have a goddamn place to rest my spatula. This thing is super easy to clean, cute on the stovetop, and finally, I have a goddamn place to rest my spatula. Also, I am super excited to trash, like, 5 pans that are roughly the same size that I have absolutely destroyed. Do you know how much cabinet space we’re going to reclaim?? Do you????”- Victoria Song, Staff Writer for Gizmodo

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Best Hand Mixer: KitchenAid Cordless Hand Mixer

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Image: Kitchen Aid

“One [of] my favorite things I’ve bought this year during lockdown has been the KitchenAid cordless hand mixer (in Passion Red of course)—I highly recommend! It works great and no more need for cords in uncomfortable spots in your kitchen – I love it, use it at least once a week. You can literally be anywhere and be mixing up your cookie dough, etc. I love the color of it too!” – Brian Theis, Author of The Infinite Feast: How to Host the Ones You Love

Best Onion Chopper: Fullstar Vegetable Chopper

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Image: Full Star

“An onion chopper has been hands down the best kitchen gadget I’ve found. I am incredibly sensitive to onions and used to dread seeing onions as an ingredient. My eyes water and burn like no other every time I cut them. Then I found this onion chopper, now don’t really mind having to chop onions or feel like I need to put a whole odor deterrent armor on before chopping them up. It’s quick, easy, and perfect for anyone who also cries uncontrollably when met face to face with an onion.” – Rhyan Geiger, Vegan Coach at Phoenix Vegan Dietitian 

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Best Meat Thermometer: ThermoPro Digital Instant Read

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Image: ThermoPro

“Every amateur cook should have in their kitchen a decent digital thermometer for cooking meat. It’s a godsend in particular for precise steak preparation. When you’re roasting meats, you also want to keep the oven door closed as much as possible. A good thermometer lets you get in, take a reading, and then get out before the cooking temperature is disturbed. I recommend the ThermoPro thermometer as it’s very accurate, reads temperatures quickly, and it folds away to nothing for easy storage.” – John Bedford, Founder of Viva Flavor

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Best Herb Shears: Sur La Table 10-Blade Herb Shears

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Graphic: Chaya Milchtein

“My husband and I own a lot of kitchen gadgets but the most surprisingly useful one for me was the Sur La Table 10-blade herb shears. These shears quickly and neatly chop up herbs in tiny little evenly cut bits. We save tons of time chopping and wrangling floppy herbs like Chives together. It’s especially handy for our homemade pickles—a few chops on the dill and chives with these shears is all we need. They’re only $12 and something I think all foodies and chefs need.” – Kara Harms, Blogger at Whimsy Soul

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Best Cutting Board: Boos Block Cutting Board

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Graphic: Chaya Milchtein

“My favorite kitchen gadget has to be my Boos Block cutting board. I use it every day and can’t imagine prepping without it. It requires a little love from time to time, but worth every second. I love the size and feel of cutting and chopping. It really helps your knife skills to have a solid cutting surface. The size also allows me [to] stay organized. I chop everything from onions, meat, herbs, and squash with ease. It is worth every penny.” – Jennifer Mayne, Specialty Food Buyer at Dorothy Lane Market

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Best Wisk: Cuisinart Mini Baking Tools (3-Pack)

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Graphic: Chaya Milchtein

“There are several gadgets that are useful but only a few that make my heart sing. My favorite kitchen gadget is my mini silicone whisk and not just because it’s adorbs. I use my mini whisk 90 percent of the time. I use it to whisk up mayos and sauces, to mix up dry ingredients for a cake, and to whisk eggs for an omelet. And if you spring for a silicone whisk it won’t scratch any of your nonstick pans.” – Carolyn, Blogger at Caramel and Cashews

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Best Blender: Vitamix Explorian Blender

Illustration for article titled The Kitchen Gadgets Foodies Actually Use, and You Should Too

Graphic: Chaya Milchtein

I highly recommend a Vitamix Blender. Life before having a quality blender was just not the same. A well designed and powerful blender makes smoothies smooth, not chunky. Sauce recipes like Mexican mole that require whole cinnamon sticks blended into a smooth sauce are impossible without a quality blender like a Vitamix. Even cleaning a Vitamix is fun, as all you have to do is add a drop or two of dish soap, and run it on the cleaning setting.” Jessica Randhawa, Head Chef at The Forked Spoon.

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Best Salad Chopper: OXO Good Grips Salad Chopper and Bowl

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Image: OXO

“The kitchen gadget I can’t live without is my OXO salad bowl chopper, which I am literally eating out of right now. It gets your salads perfectly mixed and evenly coated. So good! My favorite thing to make in it is my hamburger salad (Big Mac in a Bowl recipe). So affordable and I use it daily.” Colleen Christensen, Food Blogger and Dietitian at Colleen Christensen Nutrition

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