Spring Clean Nutrition
Spring-Clean your Kitchen & Pantry
No matter what the weather is doing where you live, it is spring time and you all know what that tends to mean…spring cleaning. Most people dedicate time to spring clean their living rooms, bedrooms & attics but skip over the most important place in the house: the kitchen. How do you spring clean your kitchen you may ask? There are multiple ways to pick up the clutter, get rid of the old & come in with the new. The best place to tackle: the pantry. Follow some of these easy tips
First things first, start by emptying out your pantry completely. This will allow you to see all the foods that you are accumulating, throw away any outdated foods, and get rid of any packaged foods with sugar in the first 5 ingredients. This will help make room for more healthful food choices & bring back the power where you are in charge of what is kept here.
Restock the pantry with some of these key items that will help to make any meal or snack healthy
- Whole grains – there are so many types of whole grains available in the markets now that you can experiment cooking with a different one for a meal every day of the week.
- Choose from
- many variations of rice
* Buy these in the bulk section and store in an airtight container. They can keep for up to 1 year.
- Choose from
- Whole grain pastas – there are multiple kinds of pastas available now a days. Brown rice, corn, quinoa, whole wheat just to name a few. Make sure that the ingredients list contains only the key ingredients. I.e. brown rice, brown rice flour & salt should be the only things needed in order to make brown rice pasta.
- Beans (dried or canned) – dried beans need to soak for 6 hours or overnight before you would cook them. For more convenience, purchase different types of canned beans which can be added to any meal for a quick boost of protein, folate and B vitamins. Just make sure to purchase no salt added or reduced salt canned beans so you are in control of your salt consumption. And always rinse the beans prior to adding them to your meal.
- Nuts & Seeds – these little guys can pack a punch of nutrition in a small amount. It’s better to buy raw or low salt/sodium nuts to avoid added oils or salt to your diet. Most nuts will provide you with B vitamins, Vitamin E, Selenium and some protein which is why they can be a great afternoon snack to help pick you up when you need energy. Buy a wide selection so you never get bored.
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, Broad beans, Cashews, peanuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are very versatile.
* Have a handful of nuts for a snack or add some on top of salads and/or soups.
- Spices – any meal can be improved or enhanced with incredible flavor from herbs. Not only do many spices have great nutrient contents (Smoked, dried paprika has more Vitamin C in 1 teaspoon than 5 servings of citrus fruit), but they can also add so much flavor. Most spices can keep for up to 1 year if stored in an airtight container.
- Oils – the benefit of good oils can make a difference in your life. Cooking with oils that have a high smoke point is crucial to keep your oil from oxidizing & causing harmful free radicals that damage our cells. Oils like avocado, coconut, grapeseed, safflower, and sunflower are great for stir fries and sautéing vegetables. For salad dressings, good quality olive oil, sesame and grapeseed oils are great. These can keep up to 1 year if stored in a cool, dark area.
- Multiple sized snack bags & containers – these come in handy when you are putting together snacks for your work day or when you are making your lunches/breakfasts. Just having these available will make it easier to take good, wholesome food to work, or for a snack when you are in a hurry. Use the snack bags to make your own nut mix, store fresh cut fruits and vegetables,
Now don’t forget that fridge of yours. It needs a good cleaning too. As like the pantry, take everything out so you can trash the outdated items and anything that is over processed sitting in there. This will give you room for your fresh food items like seasonal fruits & vegetables. Make sure to have them up close & visible in the crisper drawers so you can easily take them when you need a snack. You can also use your trusty containers and bags in the spring cleaned pantry to keep them cut up and ready to eat.
What are you waiting for? It’s already spring, let’s get cleaning!
Andrea Mayer, RD