CLEANING OUT YOUR “PANTRY” (Making Healthy Eating Easier)
Clean out my pantry- WHAT!? Where to begin? It can be a little intimidating… all those changes all at once. But the key is not to do it all at once. Not only is it something you have to get used to, but your family has to get used to it too! The fact of the matter is that everyone functions much better when life is organized and in order. It helps keep your mind clear and focused on whatever task needs to get done that day, instead of procrasti-cleaning. It’s a thing. It also helps to keep you motivated to eat healthy!
Reorganize your pantry. Make it a family project! Take a couple of hours to put the healthy foods at eye level and have those unhealthy foods out of sight. Choose the bottom shelf where there may be less lighting or even the top shelf where it may be a bit more challenging to reach. As you are reorganizing the shelves, look around in your house for some glass jars, extra containers, or small bins that you can label and organize as well. You don’t have to go to Target and spend an extra $60 on new containers and bins, just recycle and reuse!
Taking things a step further. Start to select, purge and replace items in your pantry. Choose one thing each weekend to purge and replace. For example, get rid of those candy bars or OREOS and make a healthier dessert at home with your family. Banana Peanut Butter Cookies are a great substitute! Or eat a square or two or organic dark chocolate to reduce that chocolate craving- (start with 60% then work your way up to 72% or 85%). Next weekend, purge those bagged and boxed snacks with hydrogenated oils, high amounts of sodium and sugar (like Cheezits, pretzels, sugar-filled energy and granola bars, fruit chews). Replace them with nuts and seeds or trail mix, whole grain rice cakes and (all-natural) peanut butter or almond butter, fresh fruit, cut up veggies with hummus, whole grain crackers and a nice local cheese, KIND bars (with 5g or less sugar), homemade granola bars- Peanut Butter Energy Bars are a healthy and filling choice. (Find the recipes mentioned under the “Recipes” section on my website.)
Replace those high glycemic grains. If you have only heard of rice, whole wheat and oats, you are not alone. Many people don’t realize the incredible list of healthy grains available to them. Long gone are the days when we had to make due with a few simple and well known grains. Look at the cornucopia of grains that we have to choose from! Start replacing your white rice with brown rice and then experiment from there! (See the “Recipes” section on my website for some new ideas.) Other suggestions are: quinoa, amaranth, barley, wild rice, millet, barley, buckwheat, farro, spelt, oats- steel cut.
Baking can be fun and healthy! Replace white flour with whole grain flours, like almond flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, cornmeal, teff flour, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, Pamela’s Baking mix (gluten-free), ground flax, chia seed.
Replace white sugar with options that provide nutrients and/or have less of an affect on your blood sugar, such as honey, agave, stevia, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, maple syrup.
Replace your vegetable oil with more heart healthy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, organic canola oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil.
Think twice about dairy! Due to the over processing of milk and the amount of growth hormones used in the cows that produce the dairy products, diary has become very controversial. Many studies have proven that dairy adds to mucous production and therefore to sinus and lung conditions, contributes to intestinal and digestive issues, has caused higher rates of cancer, osteoporosis, and fertility issues. There are many other easily digested, healthy foods that you can get calcium from such as green vegetables! Other options for milk include: almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, rice milk, and hemp milk.
Protein, protein and more protein! Lack of protein is one reason for all those crazy cravings you experience. When you are choosing foods that are high in processed carbs that burn quickly and have your blood sugar going haywire, your body begins to crave more carbs or sugars. Protein helps to stabilize your blood sugar and balance out those cravings. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are a great source of protein that can be eaten as a snack by themselves or in a trail mix. They can also be added to homemade baked goods, on top of your oatmeal in the morning, and thrown into salads instead of croutons.
Beans are a great addition to your pantry. Whether you choose canned or dried, they are nutrition powerhouses and are very easy on the wallet. Just be sure to read labels if you are buying canned beans. Avoid the beans that have any added sugar – it is not necessary or part of a clean eating lifestyle. To avoid abdominal discomfort, start with small beans like Adzuki beans, Mung beans or small red beans. Lentils are another option to start with. Once your body is used to digesting beans, other types to try are: Great Northern beans, navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black beans.
REMEMBER… every household is at a different point of ”healthy”. Decide what is right for you and your family. If reorganizing your pantry is good for you, then that is a great step in the right direction. If you want to take it one step further and eliminate those processed snacks, then go for it! Small steps lead to big accomplishments!! Visit www.mindbodyandbalance.com for new, healthy recipes.
For more information, a great resource is Slim By Design by Brian Wansink.