Did you know that you have 27 separate joints in each hand? And eight in each wrist?
I didn’t either, but it’s true.
Those 35 tiny joints, several of which may be inflamed at any given moment, explains a lot of the pain and discomfort I’ve had in my hands and wrists off and on for the last … well … several years, now. Not to mention the last several months and weeks, when the pain started ramping up and sticking around full-time.
So perhaps you can understand why, when Trudeau, a maker of high quality kitchen products, emailed and asked me to review their new Stress Less line, I agreed to help them out. Hmm, thought I. Anything that stresses those 35 wee joints less as I prepare meals each day will be greatly appreciated.
Before I gave Trudeau an answer, though, I had a look at their website. I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t be wasting my time—or theirs. To my pleasant surprise, the Stress Less line looked and sounded like capital Q Quality products. I emailed back to Trudeau and agreed to write the review.
Several days later a largish package arrived in the mail. Gently nestled inside cushiony swathes of bubble wrap were large, matching salt and pepper mills, a can opener, a pizza cutter, a garlic press and a cheese shredder.
My first impression? How absolutely well-made these kitchen gadgets were! Each one felt smooth and solid in my hands. Initially, I wondered if their weight might be a problem on bad-hand days, but as I discovered later, the products’ slight heaviness is an advantage. They’re beautifully designed and perfectly balanced. They feel good and they look good.
The first products I tried—at supper that evening—were the Stress Less Easy Grind Salt Mill and the Stress Less Easy Grind Pepper Mill. With their modern, ergonomic design, both mills are easy to grip—and they’re easy on the eyes. They’re made of tough, crystal-clear acrylic and shiny stainless steel. The big knobs on the cranks are made of a nice, grippy black rubber. Unlike other mills, which require that you twist both hands in opposite directions (a maneuver that can be excruciating for someone with sore, tender joints) to work the grinder, I found I could gently grasp the narrow-waisted middle of the Trudeau mills with my left hand and turn the crank almost effortlessly with my right. A separate knob allows you to choose the fineness or coarseness of the grind. The grinding mechanism is made of stay-sharp carbon steel and has a lifetime warranty.
Trudeau states that these mills are four times easier to use than other mills, and I have to believe it. They’re useful, functional, beautiful tools. I loved them from the start and have used them daily ever since they arrived.
It wasn’t until a few days later that I tried the Stress Less Pizza Cutter, mainly because it wasn’t until then that we had an actual pizza to cut for supper. The Trudeau version of the gadget looks just the same as any other pizza cutter except for one thing: the cutting wheel is about 50 percent larger. At first I wondered what the big deal was. So the wheel is bigger, so what? When the pizza came out of the oven, I compared the Stress Less cutter with our old one.
Well! To my surprise, I had to press down much harder on the older, smaller cutter and roll it back and forth several times to get a full diagonal cut all the way through the pizza crust to the board. The Stress Less Pizza Cutter, however, needed little downward pressure. The oversized cutting wheel meant that I didn’t need to roll it back and forth more than a couple of times. In addition, the Trudeau pizza cutter’s ergonomic handle (with a finger guard) can be gripped and used at a 45 degree angle to the pizza or gripped … hmmm … forehand, with the cutter upright and at right angles to the pie. The wheel is made of stainless steel, can be detached from the handle for easy cleaning, and comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s a keeper.
Like the pizza cutter, the Stress Less Garlic Press doesn’t look much different from other garlic presses. Maybe it’s a little larger. But here’s the key difference: the Stress Less Garlic Press has been uniquely designed so that it can rest on the counter. The garlic clove can be pressed using your body weight rather than squeezing the handles in your hand! If you’ve ever needed to press garlic when your hands are hurting, you can appreciate this. All by itself, it makes the Stress Less Garlic Press a valuable gadget for your kitchen. Other nice features: the handles are comfortable and non-slip, there’s a built-in cleaner, the press is dishwasher-safe and it comes with a five-year warranty.
We don’t use a lot of canned goods around here, so it wasn’t until Mother’s Day that I finally tried the Stress Less Can Opener. The egg casserole I prepared for our family brunch required a can of diced tomatoes. Ahah! thought I. Finally I have a reason to try that Trudeau can opener!
Except I couldn’t figure out how to use it. It’s the sleekest, prettiest can opener I’ve ever seen, but if I can’t make it open a can, it’s useless. Frustrated, I pulled our old, manual rotary can opener out of the drawer and got to work.
Today, however, I decided to check the Trudeau website, hoping it might have instructions for that lovely can opener. Better than instructions: it had a video of someone demonstrating how to use the gadget. I watched, rolled my eyes at myself and went to the kitchen to open a can of tuna for my lunch.
With its ergonomic handles, the can opener fit the can just as shown in the video. Easy. I turned the crank, and wow, gang. Trudeau states that “An easier and safer can opener is a convenient kitchen tool for anyone, and for those with reduced hand strength, a must-have essential. The rotating cranking arm provides increased leverage, requiring 50 percent less effort.”
No kidding. That mighty little can opener took the top off that can so smoothly, and with so little effort, that I could hardly believe it. I don’t know about you, but I always dread having to twist the traditional can opener crank with my sore fingers. The Stress Less can opener requires almost no pressure. Another nice thing about it is that there’s a tiny gripper jaw to lift the top of the can away, which is handy. The removed can-top has no sharp edges. And the final cool feature? It folds nearly flat to fit neatly into your kitchen utensils drawer. I heart this can opener (now that I’ve got the hang of it).
I used the Trudeau Stress Less Cheese Grater in preparing our Mother’s Day brunch casserole, too. But I’ve got to be honest: this particular gadget wasn’t as easy on the hands as the others were, and I found it awkward to use.
That isn’t to say that it’s not a great gadget, because it is. States Trudeau: “[The] Rotary Cheese Grater requires minimal effort to grate cheeses and chocolates. Ergonomically designed to reduce pressure on fingertips and eliminate wrist torsion, the cast iron handle rotates easily which activates the stainless steel grating drum to turn. The vertical design allows cheese to fall directly on food.” This is all true. But on Mother’s Day my hands were (as they often are these days) pretty sore. I cut an inch-and-a-half thick piece of sharp cheddar cheese and put it into the grater. Holding the grater shut with my left hand, I turned the crank with my right. It was pretty hard to turn while holding the grater over a bowl to catch the shredding cheese, and as the chunk inside the grater grew thinner, holding the gadget tightly shut took more and more hand strength. With a couple more similarly sized chunks of cheese left to grate, I gave up using the Stress Less Cheese Grater and went back to that old kitchen stand-by, the box grater. Mom happened by at just the right moment and took over the cheese-grating duties for me, saving my hands from further cheese-grating aggravation.
Trudeau states that the grater is designed ergonomically, can be used by both right- and left-handers, has a spring-loaded door and a stainless steel drum. It also has a lifetime warranty. All true.
I liked how finely the Stress Less Cheese Grater shredded that cheddar cheese, even though I had trouble using it. I think that it might work better on harder aged cheeses, such as parmesan or romano. Maybe the chunk of cheddar was too thick? I was also concerned that it might be difficult to clean the grater after use, since it doesn’t come apart. But a good rinse and a short soak left it nice and clean. I’ll certainly try it again when my hands are less sore.
Trudeau is offering two free sets (total retail price of each set is $143) of the Stress Less kitchen gadgets I’ve reviewed today. If you’d like a chance to win one of the sets, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight PST on May 20th. I’ll put all the names into a hat and ask my Mom to close her eyes and draw two at random on May 21st. Be sure to include your contact information in your email so I can reach you if you’re a winner. Trudeau will send the kitchen gadgets at no cost to you by mail.
Note: Trudeau sent me their products to try, review and keep, but I was not paid nor did I promise Trudeau anything in return but an honest opinion about the products. The opinion expressed above are mine and mine alone.