I’m getting personal in this post . . . taking you inside my fridge. Yes, I actually buy all the items you see and eat/drink/cook with them regularly. Also, I have a very tiny fridge, so no judgement if it doesn’t look extra pretty. I’m all about #KeepingItReal on TLC. Anywho . . . Spring is the season of revival and pressing the ‘refresh’ button, and there is no better place to start than with your kitchen. When you clean out your kitchen, you refresh the foods you put into your body, thus, you do a “spring cleaning” on yourself – sort to speak.
Cleaning out your kitchen can be as easy as following this one simple rule: if you don’t know the ingredients, you don’t want it in your fridge or cupboard. There is more likely than not a healthier alternative and if your family is on a budget, there are recipes out there for almost everything these days. For example, I totally understand that alternatives like nut milk or nut butters can be costly, especially the more raw and organic versions. Making your own almond milk or almond butter, for instance, takes a few more minutes than simply buying it from a store, but will save you money in the long run (if that’s of concern to you).
If you or your family are going from never having ever read ingredients on a food label before or rarely buying any organic products, I would suggest following the “if you don’t recognize it, don’t buy it rule.” Keep it simple! However, if you are looking to take your kitchen clean out a step further, it is time you become the kitchen detective. Let’s take a look at the following two products:
Now, both almond butters are from the same company (one of my personal favorites btw). Both creamy, one states “all-natural” and one says “organic” – another confusing concept. One nut butter is around $12-13 and the other costs about $16-17. So, what happens more often than not is that we go for the less expensive bottle, assuming that both nut butters are made equal. But let’s take a closer look:
The “All-natural, no stir, creamy” almond butter lists: almonds, organic cane sugar, palm oil, and sea salt as the ingredients. You might think:
- I can recognize and pronounce all those things,
- there are only four simple ingredients,
- and the sugar is organic,
- so, this almond butter can’t be so bad for me.
What we fail to realize is that even stating these truths, there are uneccessary additives. To start, sugar is sugar – organic or not. And what “organic” really means – well, that’s a whole other blog post right there. Many products claim to be healthy because they are made with alternative sugars; however, the chemical makeup of all these sugars are the same, and once digested, our body will still react to this “healthy” sugar just as it would regular, white sugar. For a more detailed breakdown of “healthy sugars,” read this article.
Next, palm oil – does anyone know where palm oil comes from? It might sound just as safe as olive oil or coconut oil or avocado oil; but palm oil, derived from a plant found in rain forests, is HIGH in saturated fat. The production of palm oil is also incredibly harmful to the environment, to animals, and to the people living in the nearby communities of where these plants are grown. This article shares more information about the negative affects of palm oil for humans and the planet, and why we should be aware of it in our foods and how to avoid products made with it.
If we get back to our almond butter comparison, you’ll notice that the second “organic, raw, creamy” almond butter is made with one ingredient – the only true ingredient you need to make almond butter – 100% organic raw almonds! You know precisely what is going into your body: clean, clear, and simple. The point to this whole spiel: buy and consume foods that are the simplest, if not the only, ingredient. This becomes especially important for packaged foods – which can be very different from processed foods. Here are some of the brands you will find in my kitchen:
Next, I’m going to briefly talk about why I am a big believer in only buying organic meats, fish, poultry, and eggs. It is just as important to read the labels of your animal products as it is any packaged food. Look for packages that read “antibiotic-free,” “hormone free,” “cage free,” “non-GMO” (which means not genetically modified), “grass fed beef,” and “wild fish.” It is so important to eat animal protein that has zero added preservatives, because when you eat that animal, you are essentially eating all of those added hormones and yucky fillers to make the animal fatter – thus, making you fatter. Think to yourself, “I want to eat as natural as possible” – and antibiotics, hormones, grains, and other additives are not natural. Ka-peesh? Okay, great!
Lastly, always always always have an abundant supply of plant-based foods, these are identified as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The beautiful part to buying organic or locally sourced produce, is that you will always have a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Changing the produce we eat as the seasons change keep us from getting bored of eating the same foods and ensure that our bodies are receiving a wide variety of nutrients. As the Spring approaches, some fruits and vegetables that will be back in season are: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, collard greens, corn, fava beans, fennel, green beans, honeydew, lychee, mango, morel mushrooms, oranges, peas, pineapple, spinach, strawberries, and so much more! Buy a rainbow, try something new, and press the refresh button on your health.
I know this was a lot of information and it can be difficult to digest. Start simple, make a grocery list and stick to it, and the more comfortable you become with cleaning out one category of food, you can move on to changing something else. You have your kitchen detective hats now, so put them on, and get spring cleaning. I am available for kitchen-clean out assistance and grocery store tours; for more information and to sign up click here!
Happy Spring little clementines!