Spring Clean your Kitchen
Check out my tips to make your kitchen healthier.
Are you looking for ways to get healthier or lose weight before summer?
A great way to start is looking into your pantry, fridge and even your freezer.
Here’s how to make those changes this weekend!
First step, mindset
Are you feeling like you need to shed that winter layer, get moving, eat better and feel good? Make sure your mind believes this too!
Start with a list of reasons why you need to eat better. Examples could be “I want to fit into my shorts”, “I don’t want to feel so tired all the time”, “I want to run a 5K this summer”.
Then write out what you will look and feel like by June. “I have lost 5 pounds, I am walking outside daily, and I eat only whole foods” Just by repeating these words, your mind will believe it to be true, and you will get there!
Second step, toss
Grab a box or bag and get ready to let some food items go, for your health. You can either take it to the trash or a food pantry.
In your pantry, remove all boxed meals, including your macaroni and cheese and hamburger helper - they are full of processed items, sodium and unhealthy fats
Check canned soup and toss it if it contains sugar or high levels of sodium. Most soups contain over ⅔ of the daily amount of sodium recommended. You can make soups and freeze them for a much healthier version of a grab and go meal.
Check expiration dates on your shelves, fridge and freezer. Toss expired items, don't give them to the food pantry. You'll be surprised at how many things have expired, also don’t replace them until you need them.
Check open boxes of cereal, flour, other baking items, jars of jelly or pickled items - do they need to be tossed because you have had them a bit, or they are stale? If you have had them in a container with no expiration date and are not sure, toss them. Flour over a year old can change its molecular structure and can make baking bad. Take a sniff test or taste, if it is rancid, or moldy it could be harmful to you and your cooking . Replace white flours with healthy options like coconut, almoud, or whole grain flours that aren’t over processed and keep them in the freezer or an airtight cool area for longevity.
Check spices - Ground spices lose their freshness fastest, and typically don’t last more than 6 months. Whole spices can last up to 5 years. Take the sniff test, if you can’t smell the aroma of the spice toss it, it won't help your food taste better!
HFCS - High fructose corn syrup - Toss anything that contains HFCS - “pancake syrup” cookies, candy, energy drinks, soda, sugary cereal, energy or protein bars. Look at labels HFCS hides in condiments like ketchup and salad dressings. You aren’t helping your health by continuing to overeat items with hidden sugars.
Sugar. Sugar is sugar in any form. If you are serious about weight loss and feeling better toss out all those sugar containing items including cookies, candy, boxed baked goods, fruit juices, syrup, canned fruit, cereals, bars, sugar added nut butters or any item that contains sugar in the first 5 ingredients. In the fridge look at yogurts, plant based milk, non dairy creamers, salad dressings, and all condiments. It is recommended that baking sugars be tossed if it’s over 2 years. Sugar that has been exposed to moisture can get hard and clump together, better toss it. There are more than 56 different names for sugar. Their names can be tricky, look for words that end in “ose”, or syrup, or other words like caramel, malt, molasses and maltodextrin. Still not sure? Google it.
Pasta, rice, grains, bread, chips and crackers. All high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates turn to glucose, used for energy. However, too much glucose is converted to fat. Can’t resist or you over eat these items, toss them. You will get plenty of carbs and glucose from other products including whole food items. Chips and crackers are highly processed foods that contain sugar and other ingredients you can’t pronounce to extend shelf life. If you can moderate these carbohydrates, and stay within recommended daily intake, keep them. However, remember to use high fiber whole grain, or try gluten free alternatives like those made with chickpeas, to give your gut a break.
Fats. Fat is necessary in our diet for energy, especially our brains. Check out what fat sources are in your pantry and fridge. Toss out any over-processed liquid oils like vegetable, cottonseed, or corn oil. Don’t ever use margarine or Crisco. Keep Olive oil, coconut oil, Avocado oil or other nut oils. Always check labels for which oils are suitable for high heat for frying You should buy these oils in dark glass bottles, not plastic. Take the smell test, toss out any oils that smell rancid or are beyond expiration dates, they could be harmful and make your food taste bad.
Dairy. Again not all dairy items are the same. Check expiration dates, and don’t let dairy items go beyond those dates. Toss any dairy items that contain added sugars like yoguarts, ice cream, pre-made smoothies, some plant based milks, and coffee creamers. Replace them with high fat dairy, lactose free, and no added sugar items, especially if you are known to react to the lactose in milk. Try plain kefir for its lactose free, and probiotic properties for smoothies. Use canned full fat coconut milk or MCT oil in your coffee. Cheese, yes we love cheese, but if you over do cheese try cutting back. You can also try nutritional yeast found at the health food store and shake them on veggies or meals for an added cheese flavor. Toss out moldy cheese, it runs deeper than the end you cut off. You can also try lactose free alternatives like goat cheese. Butter, it can be a health oil alternative, but again don’t over do butter on things like bread or veggies. Try olive oil instead for its many health benefits.
Don’t forget to check your freezer as well. Look for freezer “burn” on items which means they have lost moisture. Although not dangerous to eat, it can change the flavor of that food item. Frozen foods are said to be safe indefinitely if continuously frozen below 0 F, however whole frozen meat products lose their taste after about a year. Cut up, cooked or re-frozen items should be consumed within 3-6 months, for better taste. Again not sure, toss it. In the future, date items when you freeze them.
Springtime is a great time to clean and start fresh. While you have all those items removed, wipe down the cabinet with vinegar water to help keep out unwanted creatures. Combine baking soda and water, or vinegar and water to cleanse the fridge and freezer of spills and crumbs.
“THE BEST WAY TO FIND OUT WHAT WE REALLY NEED IS TO GET RID OF WHAT WE DON”T” Marie Kundo