Health Resources Library

3 Steps to a Healthier Kitchen

Recently on the blog I posted about 3 films that will change how you see food.  These documentaries have the powerful agenda of getting the views to wake up to what they may be feeding their body and that the food choices they are making may be moving them closer to disease instead of health.

Just like any habit that you want to change, switching to a real food diet can be tough and overwhelming.  But, believe me when I say that it is worth it!  Generally, what we purchase to eat and what we prepare are just learned habits.  Habits we may have been taught in the family we grew up in, habits that may have been adopted out of convenience or our situation.  Because they are just habits, they can be changed and adjusted.

Change is good, especially when those changes will produce a better outcome for our health.

Change is also hard.  Completely changing how you purchase food and how your family eats is not an easy task.  But, it can be done!  I know this because many years ago, I did this.  Abandoning your routine will not be easy at first but don’t let that stop you. With a little persistence, you’ll be into a new routine. One thing that helped us through this time of change was to keep reminding ourselves that this change was a choice and I was ultimately choosing better health for my family.

What you should know before you take the plunge.

You will not starve.

As strange as that may sound, many people ask if they are going to starve.  This proves just how dependent many of us have become on premade-packaged foods.  I assure you, you will not starve.  There is plenty of food to eat and plenty of ways to prepare it.  There is a learning curve but you will figure it out in time.

Feelings of being deprived will pass.

In time as your taste buds readjust, you will discover that real homemade food tastes better, is more satisfying, improves your mood and increases your energy.

Real food is more sustaining.

Processed foods are made with refined grains, added sugars and very little fiber.  Real food fills us up and keeps us feeling full longer because it is packed with nutrients, and fiber.  Because processed foods lack the nutrition and fiber of real food our body sends us hunger signals because it is not getting the needed nutrients so we eat more of what generally is empty calories.

Out of sight, out of mind

You’ve heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.”  That is just what you must do when changing your food habits. Stashing junk food for those “emergency cravings” will not work in the long run.  Out of sight means, out of the house.  I know this because it has happened to me.  I’ve saved a few of my favorite indulgences in the back of the pantry or freezer and every time I do, I’ll have a moment of weakness at some random time of the day or night where I can’t get that treat out of our mind. Before long, I end up eating it and wishing I hadn’t. So, from my experience you can see that it is just best to get it out of the house.

3 Steps to a Healthier Kitchen

When you’re ready to make changes to your eating habits follow these three steps to clean out your kitchen and make room for increased energy and health.

Step 1:  Keep It

The list below is a general list.  Based on this list you may still have some dietary restrictions that you need to follow based on the stage of healing that you are in right now.  So, keep that in mind as you clean out your kitchen.

Whole Grains:  Keep whole grains on hand that are tolerated well on your dietary program as well as those for any family members who can eat them.  Upgrade your grains to organic and non-GMO varieties.  For example, the grains I keep on hand are rolled oats, steel cut oats, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat and corn meal.

Baking Supplies: Dried herbs and spices, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, coconut flour, arrowroot powder, almond flour, brown rice flour, raw honey, coconut sugar, vanilla, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, butter.

Condiments:  Pure maple syrup, unsweetened vinegars, mustard, homemade dressings.

Nuts, Seeds and Legumes: Raw nuts and seeds like almonds, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.  You can store these items for a short time in the pantry but for long term storage put them in the freezer.  Nut butters that have 1-ingredient.  Dried beans and lentils are good to have on hand and can be prepared in large batches and frozen for later use.

Fruit: Dried or freeze dried fruit without added sweeteners.  Fruit juice sweetened jams and jellies and 1-ingredient applesauce.  Frozen fruit is perfect for making smoothies and can be purchased in bulk.  Fresh fruit can be harvested in season and stored in the freezer for later use.

Veggies: Fresh veggies just like fruit can be harvested and frozen for later.  Frozen vegetables are nutrient dense because they are packed during their peak.

Canned food: Canned beans, tomato products and unsweetened coconut milk.  It’s a good idea to purchase these foods in BPA-free lined cans.

Step 2: Upgrade It

Replace conventional products with those that have better quality ingredients.  This might mean you will make them from scratch.

Meats: Ideally, we should be eating organic, grass-fed, free-range or wild-caught meat, poultry and fish.

Dairy: If you can tolerate dairy products, we suggest that you upgrade to organic, whole fat dairy from grass-fed cows and goats.  If you cannot tolerate dairy, replace milk and yogurts with unsweetened almond or coconut milk products.

Condiments:  Prepare homemade dressings and spice mixes, make your own sauces like Teriyaki sauce, pizza sauce or purchase those without added preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup.  Replace soy sauce with Tamari Sauce, Braggs Liquid Aminos or coconut aminos.

Snack Bars:  Replace store bought bars with homemade snack bars that can be stored in the freezer for convenient on-the-go snacks.

Frozen Waffles and Boxed Cereals: Make a large batch of “paleo” or gluten free waffles or pancakes, allow them to cool and store in freezer bags.  Just toast them for a quick breakfast.  Make homemade granola and hot cereal from rolled oats, steel cut oats or quinoa.  If you need cold cereal, choose boxed cereal that is organic and has no added sugars.

Pre-made Freezer Meals: Schedule some time for batch cooking so that you can store your own homemade meals in the freezer for those days when you don’t have time to cook.  This is a great thing to do with neighbors.

Deli Meat: Upgrade to uncured deli meats and bacon.  These meats have no added gluten or chemical preservatives found in conventional deli meats.  A great brand to look for is Applegate Naturals or Boar’s Head.

Pasta: Of course, depending on your dietary needs you may need to eliminate pasta all together.  If it is okay for you now in moderation, I recommend that everyone upgrade to brown rice based pasta.  Our family’s favorite brand is Tinkyada and can be found on Amazon or in most alternative food stores like, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and progressive grocery stores.  A better alternative is to use spaghetti squash or make zucchini or sweet potato noodles with a spiral slicer.

Step 3: Toss It

Once you have made it through the Keep it and upgrade it lists, what you’ll be left with is a pile of foods that aren’t serving your overall wellness lifestyle. Some of the major offenders are:

Processed Foods: Processed foods come in packages, boxes and cans or bottles.  They have an extended shelf life and a long list of ingredients, many of which will be hard to spell or pronounce.

Oils and Fats: hydrogenated oils (margarine), industrial seed oils (vegetable oil, safflower oil, canola oil)

Refined Sugars: table sugar, powdered sugar and brown sugar

Snacks: chips, crackers, cookies, candy, chips, soda, juice, meal replacement bars, etc.

Convenience Foods: frozen meals, ‘hamburger helper’ type meals.

You might want to make two piles.  One pile for unopened foods to donate to your local food pantry and the other to throw away.  This step isn’t the easiest, you may have some emotions come up when tossing out favorite foods.  You may need to do this with a friend so they can help you be accountable and you may need to do this without your family around.

You can do this!

Cleaning out the kitchen is a big project and a project that can get expensive depending on how much you need to change.  I suggest strategizing a plan that will fit into your budget and time.  Just don’t wait too long to get this done!  Change happens when we are motivated if you wait too long you may decide it’s not worth the effort, but trust me when I say it will be worth it!

 

Featured image photo credit: www.stock.adobe.com

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