A goal to eat better starts well before sitting down to a meal. Wise decisions made at the grocery store and stocking quality choices in the cupboards, fridge and freezer are critical first steps. If your kitchen needs a nutritional renovation, invest some time to refresh the supply that fuels your busy life and your training. You’ll breathe easier when you open your cupboards or fridge to find a variety of appetizing, healthy ingredients.
Start the reno by checking the cupboards and getting rid of highly processed items. Instant noodles and sauce, sugary cereals and salty soups can go – or be put in the emergency supply kit. Trade in white crackers, breads, rice and pasta for whole grain versions and add a variety of superb grains like oats, quinoa and barley. Whole grains are just as easy to prepare as the refined options we are more accustomed to. Every healthy pantry should also include top notch oils. Stock olive or canola and avoid the hydrogenated ones. Walnut, flax seed, grapeseed and new chia oil are great oils to experiment with in salad dressings and cooking.
Keep a supply of quality, multi-tasking canned goods that make meal idea-starters. Diced tomatoes, salmon, tuna, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, olives, peaches, pineapple and mandarin oranges are all good options. Dried peas and beans, whole grain flour, vinegar and baking ingredients are handy pantry staples. Replace spices that are more than five years old as they will have lost their potency and seasoning ability. Along with them can go salty flavouring mixes or gifty things you’ll never use.
Load the fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables. Wash and prepare bell pepper strips, carrots, broccoli, grapes, melon slices and more in advance for quick grabbing. Low fat milk, soy beverages, yogurt, eggs and cheese can stay. Salty condiments that are old or won’t be used should make way for tasty vinaigrette dressings, Dijon mustard or fruit chutneys. Meal leftovers should be used within 3 days, frozen for up to 6 months or discarded. Check the freezer while you’re at it and toss unrecognizable items you won’t eat. Blueberries, cranberries, Brussels sprouts and even peas are great picks for the freezer. These are typically harvested and quickly frozen at the peak of their ripeness.
If needed, refresh the cooking tools too. Get rid of the deep fryer if it’s too easily used too often. Replace with good quality cookware, a nonstick pan, steamer and/or wok for easy, tasty vegetable cooking. A sharp paring knife, good vegetable peeler and clean cutting board can make preparing vegetables more enticing too.
Patricia Chuey is a registered dietitian and Senior Nutrition Consultant to SportMedBC. She can be reached at www.patriciachuey.com.
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