Transform your food staples – and your waistline – with this easy kitchen makeover
The foods found in the average Canadian kitchen are not necessarily ideal. Perhaps out of habit, we stock our cupboards, fridges and freezers with items that are sometimes low in nutrients and high in harmful ingredients and empty calories.
If this sounds like your kitchen, it may be time for a kitchen makeover. Just as a wardrobe makeover can do wonders for how you feel about yourself (psychologically), saying goodbye to junky staples and hello to more nourishing ones can do wonders for how your body looks and feels (for real).
We asked dietitian Natalie Walsh to list several staples in the average kitchen and suggest healthier alternatives. Here’s what she recommends:
- Goodbye white rice and pasta. Hello wild or brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta, for extra fibre.
- Goodbye chips and candy. Hello dried fruit, which contains vitamin C and fibre.
- Goodbye crackers and pretzels. Hello nuts and popcorn. Popcorn is a good source of fibre, and nuts contain healthy fats.
- Goodbye sugary cereal. Hello whole grain cereal and dry oatmeal, which have more fibre and are much more satisfying than the sweet stuff.
- Goodbye canned soups. Hello alternative versions that contain less fat and less sodium. Reduced-sodium broth is a great way to season veggies and chicken.
- Goodbye white flour. Hello whole wheat flour, the smarter option for baking your own healthy bread, muffins and more.
- Hello canned black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. These make inexpensive, high-fibre additions to soups and are packed with antioxidants.
STORAGE TIP: “Use foil, plastic wrap and zip-up bags to store items in the fridge and freezer, and label them,” Walsh says. “To reduce clutter in cupboards, organize food such as pasta, rice, etc. in glass jars. It looks good and saves time when you can see through the container.”
- Goodbye candy and other snack foods that contain nothing beneficial to the body. Hello fresh fruits & veggies, conveniently washed and cut-up in sticks or bite-sized morsels (you’re more likely to eat these vitamin-packed snacks if they’re visible and ready to go).
- Goodbye salty mixtures of seasonings filled with hard-to-pronounce additives. Hello dried herbs and spices, the best way to season food without adding calories, salt or fat.
- Hello olive oil and canola oil cooking spray. These healthy fats should be a staple in cooking and salads.
- Goodbye white bread. Hello whole wheat, rye and pumpernickel, which are more satisfying, have a more interesting texture and are rich in dietary fibre.
- Goodbye full-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese). Hello to the low-fat versions of these same delicious and essential foods.
FOOD SAFETY TIPS FOR THE FRIDGE:
- Store your raw meat, chicken or fish on the bottom shelf in a sealed container, NOT on a higher shelf where its juices could drip onto other foods and cause food poisoning.
- Make sure the fridge thermometer is working properly. It should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius to avoid the growth of food poisoning bacteria.
- Get rid of expired food. Keep only food that’s within its expiry date, which is safer to eat and a whole lot tastier.
- Hello frozen fruits and vegetables. These keep longer than fresh and are time-saving additions to stir-frys, soups and smoothies.
- Goodbye store-bought frozen dinners. Hello frozen leftover chicken and lean meats, which contain less sodium but are just as time-saving.
- Goodbye full-fat ice cream. Hello portion-controlled ice cream sandwiches, frozen yogurt or low-fat ice cream. Low-fat ice cream contains less sugar and fat, and portion controlled servings discourage the temptation to dig into a large container with a spoon and overeat.
Michelle Morra-Carlisle has written professionally for almost 20 years, at a federal government agency, for a trade magazine publisher and most recently as a freelancer. She enjoys the ever-changing nature of freelance work and the variety of topics she gets to cover - from jewellery design to schizophrenia - and has won several awards for her articles. Michelle is especially pleased to be covering health, fitness and wellness for Primacy.ca and says that with each article, she picks up valuable tips for improving her own health and lifestyle.