The kitchen in our homes truly is the center of activity. Sometimes just entering the kitchen can bring on the stress. Not knowing what to prepare for mealtimes or planning for healthy dinners can cause anxiety. Getting organized and preparing your kitchen to work for you and stocking up with the right foods will help you to create meals that are healthy and enjoyable to prepare for you and your family. Following are some essentials you should consider keeping stocked in your kitchen:
Most grocery stores now carry a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Buying organic produce may cost a little more but you shouldn’t have to worry about the pesticides that are typically used on non-organic varieties. Eating clean starts with fresh vegetables that can be eaten raw or steamed, sauteed or roasted. Leafy greens are essential to your diet because of the antioxidants they contain—arugula, Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach and kale. Carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips and other root vegetables are also good choices since they’re great for adding density to a meal. Other delicious vegetables to consider are: yellow squash, zucchini, and asparagus. And, don’t forget the benefits of tomatoes and avocados. Also, keeping fresh onions, garlic, ginger, and herbs (like basil, parsley, thyme, and dill) on-hand helps to boost flavor without adding calories. Fruits are just as important as veggies in your daily diet. All your favorites are exceptable! Fresh berries are considered superfoods because they are low in calories, high in fiber, and they contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally. Stock up on fruits according to what is best during the current season. Even though you can find most fruits in your local grocery stores any time during the year, they will taste best during the season they are typically harvested.
Meat & Fish
Purchasing good-quality meats that are labeled as grass-fed, organic, and pasture-raised is important to getting healthier and leaner cuts that will taste great when prepared accordingly. Be careful to not over cooked meat as it will lose it’s essential nutrients. For fish, go for smaller, cold-water, wild-caught varieties, which contain fewer heavy metals and toxins. Salmon, trout and small halibut are all good options.
Eggs & Dairy
Organic. Cage free. Free Range. Pasture-Raised. Hormone-Free. It can feel like you need a dictionary to sort out the meanings on egg cartons these days. There are only two labels you need to look for: organic and free range, which means the eggs are lower in inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids and higher in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and other good-for-you nutrients like vitamins A, E, and beta-carotene. As far as purchasing milk, the best choice: Raw, non-homogenized whole milk from grass-fed cows producing milk high in A2 beta casein and relatively low in A1 beta casein — that means milk from Jerseys, Guernseys, and other traditional cattle breeds rather than newer Holsteins.
We recommend staying away from gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye and barley. Instead, fill your plate with gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and rice. They’re great for making breads, pancakes, and side dishes. Try soaking heartier grains (like millet and buckwheat) for a few hours before cooking to make them easier to digest.
Beans and legumes
Protein-packed beans, legumes, and lentils are ideal for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. They make hearty additions to soups and stews and will help keep you full for hours. Like grains, soaking them before cooking can help make them easier to digest.
Nuts and seeds
Whether you go for raw or toasted varieties, nuts and seeds are impressive sources of healthy, unsaturated fats and are packed with protein. Look for packages that are free of added salt, sugar and preservatives. It’s also a good idea to keep nut butters in your cabinet. Almond butter is great because it can be used to quickly create sauces and dips, thicken shakes and smoothies, and tastes delicious for any normal substitute for Peanut butter.
Oils and fats
Fats may get a bad rap, but they’re essential for every system in our bodies to function, especially our digestive system and brain. Look for organic expeller and cold-pressed, unrefined oils. We are a fan of coconut oil for all-purpose cooking, olive oil for medium-temperature cooking and salad dressings, and avocado oil for high-temperature cooking. Avoid oils high in polyunsaturated fats, such as soybean, peanut, corn, cottonseed, and canola.