What’s Lurking in Your Pantry?
I was looking around the world wide web trying to find inspiration for my next post. What in the world can I write about…and BAM – National Clean Up Your Pantry Day. Last Tuesday (April 11th) was National Clean Up Your Pantry Day, which is when I started writing this post - but life delayed things a little bit!
Instead of just thinking of this as a way to get rid of expired foods or those that you bought on a whim, use this as an opportunity to change your food focus.
We really do need to look at the foods we keep in our pantry. How many of them are quick convenience foods with a laundry list of laboratory-sounding ingredients? Snack bars, cookies, chips, and gummy snacks vs quinoa, lentils, brown rice, and beans. Hey…I also need some convenience foods, but how much of our diet is processed vs. fresh?
Many of us have busy lives shuffling from one thing to another with very little time to cook a meal. But they say that you make time for what’s important. Maybe it’s just time reprioritize what’s important and take a deeper look at what kinds of foods we buy. Maybe some of these convenience foods are causing health issues for you or your family.
The thing is, if you don’t keep certain foods within easy reach (like cookies, chips, etc.) you won’t be tempted to eat them. That's not to say you can NEVER eat these foods again. It's important to balance them with good, fresh, wholesome foods that nourish your body and gut microbiome. So, if you are trying to avoid simple carbohydrates, processed foods, and other insulin-spiking foods – don’t buy them. Make them a special occasional treat. Consider some alternatives to those foods – like a piece of fruit when you need something sweet.
So, of course when starting any pantry cleaning project, you need to throw out any expired food. If you have any extra pantry foods (that aren’t about to expire), consider donating them to a food pantry. I you have any cans that are starting to bulge – throw them out! Get rid of any highly processed foods. These are foods with ingredients like hydrolyzed proteins, high fructose corn syrup, casein, hydrogenated oil, maltodextrin, whey protein, and soya protein isolate, etc. Get your family involved in the process, too! It's important for kids (and spouses) to understand why certain food choices are better for them than others.
What SHOULD you have in your pantry? Well, that can be a complicated answer because of food allergies and sensitivities but take this list with a grain of Celtic Sea salt and make modifications where you need to.
GRAINS & LEGUMES: Good source of fiber and plant-based protein. Grains and legumes can decrease the risk for inflammation and type 2 diabetes. Legumes are high in potassium, magnesium, fiber, protein, iron, copper, B vitamins, zinc and phosphorus.
· Oats (steel cut or old fashioned)
· Brown Rice or Wild Rice
· Dry Beans (Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, etc.)
· Pasta (Legume-based, not wheat-based)
· Tomatoes (crushed, diced, paste)
· Marinara sauce
· Canned coconut milk
· Canned pumpkin puree
· Canned tuna
· Vegetable Broth
· Chicken/Turkey Bone Broth
· Shelf-stable non-dairy milk of choice (oat, almond, soy, etc.)
FERMENTED FOODS: Great for gut health and replenishing the good bacteria in your microbiome!
· Pickles (fermented with lactobacillus)
NUTS/SEEDS/DRY FRUIT: Nuts and seeds can decrease risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Opt for unsweetened low sodium varieties and watch your portion sizes.
· Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, etc.)
· Chia seeds
· Flaxseeds (ground fresh)
· Sunflower seeds
· Pumpkin seeds
· Unsweetened shredded coconut
· Dried fruit (dates, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.)
· Nut/Seed butters (almond, peanut, coconut, sunflower, tahini, etc.)
OIL/FATS/VINEGAR: Apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce inflammation and helps to control blood sugar levels.
· Ghee (clarified butter – from grass-fed cows is best)
· Oil (coconut, avocado, olive)
· Vinegar (balsamic, apple cider)
· Ketchup (unsweetened)
· Tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos
· Maple syrup
· Salad dressings (oil & vinegar, etc.)