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The Kitchen Appliance I Used Instead Of My Gas Stove For Healthy Meals

Braelyn Wood
Author:
January 15, 2023
Braelyn Wood
mbg Deputy Commerce Editor
By Braelyn Wood
mbg Deputy Commerce Editor
Braelyn Wood is the Deputy Commerce Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, along with a certificate in marketing.
Balmuda Toaster on background
Image by mbg creative
January 15, 2023
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Although gas stoves are a staple in more than 40 million homes1 in the U.S., I didn't encounter one until my junior year of college. The operation was simple enough, but I often found myself double checking that the stove knobs were really turned off before I went to bed at night. My fear of gas eventually subsided, and I became accustomed to having a gas stove in my home—a trend that continues today as a renter in New York City.

For the most part, I figured my gas stove was safe to use, as long as I remembered to turn on my exhaust fan. Then a peer-reviewed study was published last week estimating that nearly 13% of childhood asthma cases could be linked to living with a gas stove. A light bulb went off, and I started to realize the impact a gas stove could have on my health.

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Research found that gas stoves emit methane1—an odorless, flammable, and potent greenhouse gas—even when turned off. They also release nitrogen oxides (NOx), a common pollutant that's been linked to cardiovascular harm2 and disrupting the gut microbiome3.

If I owned my apartment, I may have been tempted to make the swap to an electric stove. Instead, I decided to find clever ways to reduce how often I used my gas stove, which led me to rely heavily on another kitchen appliance: my Balmuda toaster oven.

What is the Balmuda toaster oven?

Designed in Japan, the toaster oven has a unique steam technology that incorporates about a teaspoon of water into the toasting process. The oven transforms the water into steam, which the brand claims envelops the food and warms it from within—whether you're warming toast, pizza, baked goods, or artisanal bread.

While you can't see the steam in action on the food, you can see the toaster's tiny window fogging up with excess moisture. More importantly, you can taste the difference. The steam technology results in a slice of warm bread with crusty edges and a fluffy center that tastes like it just came from a bakery (rather than a four-day-old loaf from the grocery store). 

An infographic is printed on top of the toaster oven to help guide you through the steaming process, with both water and time measurements available by food type. Following this guide is the easiest way to get the perfect cook every time, as it factors into the device's precision temperature technology. This function controls every second of the heating process to ensure the food is thoroughly warmed and steamed before the browning, and eventually toasting, begins.

At first I heavily relied on Balmuda's instructions, thinking the appliance required the same precision as baking—but I soon realized there was a bit of flexibility before the food became inedible. As someone who's prone to go with the flow in the kitchen, I was relieved that my imperfect process could still earn impressive results.

Balmuda Toaster Oven

$299
Balmuda Toaster Oven White

Is the Balmuda toaster oven worth it?

If you'd asked me three years ago whether I thought a $300 toaster oven was worth the investment, I would have laughed. Although I understood the need for nontoxic pans and chef-approved knives, you couldn't convince me that a toaster oven was worth the same fuss. 

After all, the $25 toaster gracing my countertops got the job done, and it only occasionally smelled like the leftover remnants of an everything bagel. It wasn't until my roommate walked through the door carrying the Balmuda Toaster that I finally grasped the shortcomings of my old appliance. 

My very first impression of Balmuda was that it was good-looking, which is the last compliment I ever thought I'd give a toaster. The design meets the perfect midway between retro and modern with minimal dials, no screens, and a single window into the unit. Without context, it would have seemed like a Smeg appliance, a product focused on looks rather than innovation.

But I soon realized the kitchen appliance served a greater purpose: It replaced my toaster and oven to make cooking delicious and nutritious meals so easy. When I wanted avocado toast, it could transform my frozen whole-grain loaf into a soft-but-still-toasted bed for my avocado. When I wanted roasted veggies, I could simply opt for the heat settings—350, 400, or 450 degrees Fahrenheit—to get the perfect roast. What's more, the compact size takes way less time to heat up than my actual oven, so it's far more efficient.

In fact, my only real complaint about the Balmuda is that the timer on the bake settings caps out at 15 minutes, so I often have to return to the kitchen to reset it a second time to finish cooking certain foods (like root vegetables or frozen meals).

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How I used the Balmuda oven.

In the last week, I've realized that it's possible to use the Balmuda toaster oven to create an entire's day worth of meals. For breakfast, I'll pop in a few slices of bread for toast, often topped with almond butter or hummus. At lunchtime, I use it to roast sweet potatoes and chickpeas to add to my salads. For dinner, I'll bake tofu, kale, and other veggies in a one-pan meal. By taking this approach over the last week, I've minimized how often I have to rely on my gas stove to create a nutrient-dense meal.

Is the Balmuda toaster oven easy to clean?

Cleaning the Balmuda Toaster Oven is a breeze. Not only does the crumb tray glide out of the base, but the internal shelving located above the crumb tray can also be removed once cooled. A quick wipe-down with a dish brush easily removes leftover scraps (including hardened melted cheese) from the nonstick metal. For particularly big messes, I also remove the internal wire rack to ensure no morsel is left behind.

However, I will note that the white exterior of my toaster oven does have a few scuffs from lugging it between apartments and placing different ceramic plates on top of the toaster (which is not recommended by the brand). If you're at all concerned about wear and tear, I'd recommend opting for a darker colorway. Luckily, the brand offers a few different options to suit various tastes.

Balmuda Toaster Oven

$299
Balmuda Toaster Oven Black

The takeaway.

As a renter, I know that I likely won't be parting ways with my gas stove any time soon. However, I'm always looking for ways to minimize how often I have to use it—and the Balmuda Toaster Oven has been my savior for these instances. Its compact design is perfect for preparing every meal, and I can easily say it's my favorite kitchen appliance.

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Braelyn Wood
Braelyn Wood
mbg Deputy Commerce Editor

Braelyn Wood is the Deputy Commerce Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, along with a certificate in marketing. After interning at Bustle Digital Group and Cosmopolitan, her love of products (and a good deal) led her to the commerce space, and she joined Meredith Corporation as its first health and wellness-focused shopping writer. During this time, her byline appeared in Health, Shape, InStyle, People, and Travel Leisure, as she covered topics like workout gear, home goods, and coronavirus essentials to help shoppers lead healthier lives. In her current role, she helps readers find the best deals, uncover the latest launches, and understand which items are worth the splurge (or not) from her home in Brooklyn, New York.