This is a guest post by Sonia Donaldson at Natural New Age Mum.
Could your pantry do with a bit of a healthy overhaul? If we want to be healthy, it makes sense that we need a pantry stocked with healthy, whole, real foods! Where to start? I have five tips that can help guide you through the process.
1. Cut down on the junk
Let’s get really honest here. A lot of food at the supermarket is not even recognizable as food anymore. We can learn more about what’s in our food from reading the ingredients list, not the clever marketing claims. For good health, eat a very minimal amount of heavily processed foods that are stripped of their nutrient value and loaded up with toxins. Avoid ingredients like trans fats, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated vegetable oil, refined sugar, refined salt, synthetic vitamins and minerals and artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
Examples: soft drink, cordial, lollies, chips, biscuits, cakes, crackers, sauces, snack bars, packet meals, 2 minute noodles and most breakfast cereals.
2. Stock up on the good stuff
Get back to basics. Pantry items should make up a small part of our diet with fresh food being where we get the bulk of our nutrients from. Look for products that are very minimally processed and contain only a few ingredients. Choose organic wherever possible to avoid chemicals and genetically modified foods.
Examples: legumes, dried fruit, coconut, nuts, oats, popcorn, canned fish in spring water, quinoa, brown rice, spelt flour, basmati rice, seeds, spices, coconut milk and cream, tahini, nut butters, vinegar, tamari, coconut oil, cacao powder, corn cakes, buckwheat crisp bread, raw honey, maple syrup, superfood powders.
3. Swap to quality foods
When you shop for food, look for a better quality version. You may have to go further afield than your local supermarket and canvas the health food stores. Here are three staples that most people have in their pantry that are easily swapped to a more nutritious and healthier option.
Salt. Swap refined, bleached and nutrient void white salt for pink Himalayan salt, Murray River salt or celtic sea salt.
Sugar. Swap white, refined, nutrient void sugar for rapadura sugar or coconut sugar.
Oil. Use macadamia oil or coconut oil instead of vegetable oils for cooking. Swap to olive oil or flaxseed oil for salads.
4. Switch to safer storage
Glass, stainless steel and ceramic are all safe options to store your food in. Plastic storage containers may contain BPA and other toxic chemicals which can leach into your food. These toxins are endocrine disruptors which mean they mimic the body’s hormones and can cause health problems. You may have noticed that sometimes food stored in plastic takes on a ‘plasticy’ taste and smell. The Choice website advises against two particular types of plastics – polycarbonate (BPA – shown as number 7 on the bottom of plastic containers) and PVC (shown as number 3 on the bottom of plastic containers). They should be avoided, particularly for babies and children.
5. Check the can
Some canned foods are lined with plastic. The food is heated to a high temperature and as a result, toxic chemicals can leach into the canned foods. Try to find BPA free cans, cans without plastic lining, cut down on how much canned food you eat or swap to glass. A great example is canned tomatoes which become very toxic when the acid from the tomato comes into contact with the plastic. Choose tomato passata in a jar as a safer option.
Pantry Overhaul Tip
I always recommend a gradual approach to pantry overhauls. Small changes are a lot easier for the family to deal with and are much more sustainable in the long run. When an unhealthy food runs out, replace it with a better quality food. Buy one new glass jar a week to replace a plastic one. Before you know it, the whole pantry will be full of healthy, whole foods ready for your family to live well.
Want a healthy pantry meal? Try my tomato noodle soup.
ABOUT OUR GUEST: Sonia is the creator and writer at Natural New Age Mum. She is passionate about living a happy, healthy holistic life. The website has articles about healthy whole foods, eco-friendly, toxic-free living as well as things that inspire the soul.