Monday, January 3, 2011

A Healthier Kitchen = A Healthier You!

Most of us have resolved to be happier, healthier and more organized. Many of us will start diets this year with hopes of losing weight. Many of us just want to eat better... and the rest of us just want to undo the nutritional damage caused by the holidays. No matter what your desire, the best thing to do is to start the New Year with a fresh, clean kitchen. I do not mean for you to get down on your hands and knees and scrub the floors with a bleach solution, (unless that kind of thing makes you happy) but to clean out your cupboards, pantries, fridge and freezer. Start in one place. Toss anything that has expired, or is about to be. (Yes, we are all guilty of owning a few bottles past their prime!) Clean off shelves and drawers. In the freezer toss anything that has iced over or has been in there for a few months. Whether in the pantry, freezer or fridge, toss out the junk. You'll be less tempted to eat them if they are not around. If you must, make goodies hard to access.

I do have a hidden spot where I keep sweet treats for special occasion, or for the day when I havetohavechocolatenoworelse! We all have days like that... and I am a firm believer in everything is OK in moderation. On that note I disagree and disapprove of fad diets. I have children and the best way for them to develop healthy eating habits is to watch me eat healthy. Atkins, South Beach and all the rest have no place in children's or a healthy family's diet. Yes, I have done the South Beach thing and with great success. I was able to take off weight after my second child was born. But it was torture! After my third child was born, Ok, maybe it took five years, I decided to lose the 20 pounds that never came off. I did so the old fashioned way, through healthy eating and exercise. My daughter is now 12. I cannot and will not use the word diet. She watches everything I do. I must lead by example. And so a year later, healthy eating (and a handful of m&ms on occasion) and almost daily exercise are a part of my routine. If one of those is missing from my daily routine, I am thrown out of whack!

Tips for a healthy kitchen

Keep your counter tops de-cluttered.
Leave plenty of room for cutting boards and food prep. This lessens the need for take out.
Keep blenders (for smoothies) and other useful gadgets accessible.
Keep a bowl of freshly washed fruit available at all times.
Have healthy snacks, in addition to fruit and veggies on hand. These include cheese sticks, yogurt, nuts, Jell-o, wheat crackers. And as with any healthy eating, watch your portions!
Have a pretty bowl on your counter and fill it with
Peaches/Nectarine/Plums when in season

In the fridge
Keep a snack drawer handy for family members with cheese sticks, cut up fruit and veggies, and yogurt. Have lowfat dips and hummus available.
Set aside some time to prep veggies and fruit for snacks.
Strawberries/blueberries/raspberries (when in season)
Apples (some of us like them cold!)

DO NOT BUY those baby carrots. They are packaged in chlorine which is a cancer causing carcinogen. (My children's school has even removed them from the salad bar.)
Have healthy protein around to snack on such as cut up pieces of chicken, hard boiled eggs.
Replace full fat dressings, sour creams and mayonnaises with lower fat versions.
Better yet, make your own dressings!
Keep the butter away when possible and use olive oil
I'm a Diet Coke-Aholic. I allow myself one a day. I keep my fridge filled with bottles of water, seltzers and sugar free iced teas.

In the Freezer
Fill your drawers with fruit and veggies. Trader Joe's has the best selection of frozen vegetables around!

We make low-fat yogurt smoothies all the time. I keep bags of frozen fruit at all times.
Bananas that have gone too brown get tossed in the freezer for smoothie consumption... or banana muffins. (Homemade muffins and breads, especially those made with lowfat yogurt, sour cream or canola oil are a lot healthier and lower in fat than their bakery counterparts.)
I keep whole wheat breads in the freezer.
I also keep a bottle of vodka in there :)
I tend to buy protein in bulk. We always have chicken and meat in there. If I buy ground beef I buy it with the lowest fat content possible and I buy lots of ground turkey or chicken.

In the Pantry
Good quality tomato sauce. We love Rao's. I do not believe pasta (in moderation is bad for you.)
Good olive oil
Canola oil
Various vinegars -- Apple cider, red wine, champagne, white
Chick Peas, or garbanzos. We love to snack on these!
Black beans
Small white beans
Dark red kidney beans
Pink kidney beans
Artichoke hearts
Hearts of Palm
Canned Tuna
Canned Salmon
Sun dried tomatoes
Sun dried tomato paste
Pasta, various kinds
Rice, white, brown, wild

The following baking needs:
Flour, unbleached or wheat only
Sugar (white)
Sugar (brown)
Nuts, like almonds and walnuts - These are great for baking, salads, pasta, etc
Oats (not quick cook). Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast, and sometimes dinner! We also make a lot of our own granola.
Chocolate chips (Yes!)
Dried Cranberries
Dried Apricots

Eating at home is healthier than eating out. Have plenty of necessary spices on hand. Have the kids help in the kitchen. Let them help create and sample all the various flavors of the world! You'll certainly need these if you plan on cooking with me!

Basic Spices should include:
Salt, both sea salt and table salt (Sea salt is a must!)
Garlic Powder
Herbes de Provence
Italian Seasoning
Crushed red pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Curry powder
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Maple Syrup
Peanut butter
Olive oil
Canola oil
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Red wine vinegar
White vinegar
Apple Cider vinegar
Mustard (Dijon, yellow, brown and whatever else you fancy)
Worcestershire Sauce
Soy Sauce (low sodium)
Sesame oil
Anchovies (yes!)


nancy said...

Thank you for all the helpful tips. I about fell out of my chair when I read the part about the baby carrots! I did a little research myself and couldn't believe it! My kids snack on those all the time! I will be removing them from my fridge and making my own carrot sticks from whole carrots from now on.

Thanks again!

Sarah said...

Bagged salads and most other prepared veggies are washed in chlorinated water (and then rinsed again in non chlorinated water). I wonder how much more chlorine they use than is in most city water supplies? And, do the organic companies do the same? We always buy organic, but do buy prepared stuff...