My Healthy Kitchen
I was recently paid a nice compliment. I had guests for dinner and when one of them asked to help I took her up on it. She reached into the freezer and this was her comment. “ I have never seen a freezer like this ever before! There is absolutely no cardboard packages or junk food anywhere!” So what exactly is in my freezer?
Healthy cuts of lean protein which includes grass fed beef, organic chicken, ground turkey and several varieties of wild caught fish. There is also frozen bags of fruit for shakes we have for breakfast and last there is freezer bags of leftovers from all the real food meals I cook at least 5 nights a week. I make the extras on purpose so we can have them another time when I don’t have time or I don’t feel like cooking or we eat it for lunch.
The reason it felt like a compliment is because I walk the talk. After years of health issues and joint pain I now know that food is my medicine. When I eat real food I feel great. When I eat processed, artificial or fast food I feel bad. All of the past issues creep back in to remind me my body doesn’t digest or tolerate the fake stuff. The reason I can stick to my healthy way of eating is because I have created an environment in my home that makes cooking a normal part of my hectic busy life.
I start with those freezer items I mentioned. Even though my vegetables are the mainstay of my diet I decide each day the protein for the day. I either defrost it or put it in the crock-pot. Don’t worry if you can’t get grass fed beef or organic chicken. Choose lean cuts and look for NO HORMONES or ANTIBIOTICS on the packaging. Most good brands are going that way as we, the consumers, are starting to realize what is really in our food or what they are feeding the animals. Use crock-pot recipes for cheaper cuts of meat and for easy soups and stews you can do early in the day. You will be so happy when you walk in the door at night that you planned ahead!
My refrigerator holds the bulk of my weekly groceries. I buy lots of fresh vegetables. I do buy some organic, as there are at least 12 fruits and vegetables that are loaded with pesticides from farmers spraying. (Check out the Dirty Dozen list I’ve attached below) Because of my health issues I want to avoid the harsh chemicals. Other fruits and vegetables aren’t sprayed that much or they have a thick skin that you can peel. I make sure I have enough for making big salads and cooked vegetables for dinner. Plus I like to snack on baby carrots, celery with hummus and I keep sliced cucumbers, red bell peppers and jicama for dipping just like chips! I do have that frozen fruit but I buy apples and oranges and most fruit in season. I do limit myself to 2 pieces a day as I am watching my weight and sugar. Fruit is a great natural sugar but can still cause issues for some if you eat too much.
I have an allergy to dairy so I always have my milk substitutes available. I use almond milk and coconut milk. Even my husband is dairy free. He has never been tested for a food allergy like me but all forms of dairy are a common allergen for most people. It can be the cause of a multitude of symptoms like nasal congestion and stomach distress just to name a few. Try eliminating it for a week or two and see if you notice a difference. It is actually really easy to do since all grocery stores carry the substitutes now right in the dairy case.
I also have condiments that I enjoy. I usually make my own salad dressings but I still keep a few bottles of store bought for those crazy days. This is where you want to read the labels! There are so many hidden ingredients in condiments. One of the main ingredients in ketchup is high fructose corn syrup. Organic ketchup has fewer ingredients and a small amount of real sugar and costs exactly the same as the other ketchup. Same for salad dressings. They usually contain bad, cheap oils so look for olive oil as the oil of choice. Again the cost is the same. Be a label reader for optimal health. The same goes for dry spices. Keep them on hand. Make sure the ingredients are real names you recognize and avoid MSG (monosodium glutamate), another bad chemical used often. These spices will be the difference of a bland meal or flavorful one.
My pantry is similar to my refrigerator. Very few packages. I keep cartons of vegetable and chicken stock for stir frying vegetables and meat. I always have my favorite fire roasted tomatoes for the salsa I make plus I put them in soups and chili. I also have dried beans and grains I cook from scratch but I keep a few cans of beans on hand in case I don’t have time to cook them. Oatmeal is a breakfast staple for me. Because I keep these stocked I can walk in any time of evening and throw together one of our favorite fast meals in less time than it would be to drive to fast food place, wait in line, and then drive home to eat the soggy unhealthy mess.
Of course we have some snacks too. Our favorite is my homemade tortilla chip and salsa. I used to deep fry the chips like the restaurants do but now I bake them. I find the tortillas with the least amount of chemicals possible and cut them in triangles and bake them for 10 minutes. We eat them hot with salsa. I also keep hummus which is a healthy dip made for chickpeas (garbanzo beans). You can have it with vegetables or the chips. If I am craving a sweet treat I bake an apple with cinnamon on top. If I want something less than healthy I save it for my times out when I spurge then. Not having it everyday or on a regular basis is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
Eating real food is easy. By creating a healthy environment in your kitchen and planning ahead to have your favorite ingredients on hand you will be able to throw together a quick and healthy meal in no time at all. Start with 3 or 4 recipes you can master and then add to that and eventually you will have 6 or 8 tried and true meals to access over and over. It is not about being a good cook or a bad cook. It is about being organized and creative.
Clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Get rid of everything unhealthy. Make a list of all the things to keep on hand for your new recipes. Go shopping to stock your new kitchen. Plan ahead for your next meal. Cook and enjoy!
The “Dirty Dozen”
Whether you are on a budget and need to prioritize your organic purchases, or you would simply like to know which type of produce has the highest pesticide residues—and which do not—the following guide from the Environmental Working Group will help.
|12 Most Contaminated Peaches
Sweet Bell Peppers
12 Least Contaminated
Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
For easy reference, download a copy of the wallet guide!
Environmental Working Group
The Dirty Dozen chemicals to avoid in food
Packaged and processed foods get many a family through the day. They are convenient and portable, and they stay fresh for a long time (thanks to all those preservatives). The additives put into processed foods to make them look and taste better include unhealthy amounts of salt, fat and sugar – and those are the ones you can pronounce. These additives, however, have a price that may include side effects, food allergies, increased waistlines, decreased absorption of minerals and vitamins, cancer and more.
Below is a list of the 12 most pervasive and detrimental food additives and substances you can eat, in no particular order.
1. Artificial Sweeteners:
Artificial sweeteners are a combination of chemicals that exist to make our foods sweeter without the calories of sugar. Most artificial sweeteners have side effects, and their chemical breakdown in the body can be toxic. In addition, in combination with other food additives like artificial colors, artificial sweeteners can have a much more potent effect on nerve cells. Artificial sweeteners link to over 90 side effects.
2. Refined Sugar:
People in the US consume 150 to 175 pounds of sugar per year. In other words, people are consuming half a cup of sugar a day and most aren’t even aware of it. Due to its insidious nature and the fact that it can be found in virtually all processed foods, unless they say “sugar-free,” we subsist on sugar. High consumption of sugar and the corresponding elevated insulin levels can cause weight gain, bloating, fatigue, arthritis, migraines, lowered immune function, obesity, cavities and cardiovascular disease. It can also disrupt absorption of nutrients, possibly leading to osteoporosis, depression, PMS symptoms and stress.
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG):
MSG is an excitotoxin used to bring out the flavor in foods. Excitotoxins are toxins that bind to certain receptors (e.g., certain glutamate receptors). According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, an author and neurosurgeon, excitotoxins can cause sensitive neurons to die. Many people experience a host of other side effects like headaches, itchy skin, dizziness and respiratory, digestive, circulatory and coronary concerns.
4. Artificial Colors:
Artificial colors are synthetic chemicals that do not occur in nature. Most are derived from coal tar and can contain up to 10 parts per million of lead and arsenic and still be generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Artificial colors can cause allergic reactions and hyperactivity and ADD in children, and may contribute to visual and learning disorders or cause nerve damage.
5. BHA and BHT:
BHA and BHT block the process of oil rancidity. These additives seem to affect sleep and appetite, and have been associated with liver and kidney damage, hair loss, behavioral problems, cancer, fetal abnormalities and growth retardation.
6. Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite:
Sodium nitrate and nitrite are preservatives that are added to processed meat products. These compounds transform into cancer-causing agents called nitrosamines in the stomach. Noticeable side effects include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
Caffeine is an addictive stimulant found in soft drinks, gum, diet pills and pain relievers; it naturally occurs in coffee, cocoa and tea. Caffeine causes calcium to be excreted from the bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and increase infertility.
8. Olestra (Olean):
Olestra is a calorie-free fat substitute used as an ingredient in snacks and chips. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. It can also cause diarrhea and anal leakage.
9. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO):
Brominated vegetable oil is used to keep flavor oils in soft drinks in suspension. When consumed, it is stored in fat and over time can accumulate. This additive can lead to reproductive interference and birth defects. It has been banned in 100 countries.
10. Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil:
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is made by reacting vegetable oil with hydrogen. When this occurs, the level of polyunsaturated oils (good fat) is reduced and trans fats are created. They are associated with heart disease, breast and colon cancer, atherosclerosis and elevated cholesterol.
Every year more than two billion pounds of pesticides are added to our food supply. That’s about 10 pounds per person per year. Many of the pesticides used throughout the world are carcinogenic. Pesticide accumulation also undermines our ability to resist infectious organisms, may impair fertility and contributes to miscarriages and birth defects.
12. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs):
GMOs are plants or animals that have had their DNA modified. In the US, the majority of the corn, soybean, cotton and canola crops are now genetically modified, and one or more of these can be found in nearly every processed food. GMOs have not been proven to be safe and some studies show GMO’s may decrease immunity to diseases in plants as well as humans, may cause resistance to antibiotics and may have a negative impact on genetic function. Plants that are genetically modified to be resistant to disease, pesticides and insecticides could diminish the need to use these strong chemicals, or adversely, may build up a resistance and therefore require even larger amounts of chemicals than before. It is still too soon to tell: there is no long-term supporting evidence at this time.
Excerpted from a post in the January 2008 issue fooddemocracy.com by Kelly Scotti, and supplemented with information by the Center for Science in the Public Interest http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm
SPRING into action this month!
Cindy can be reached by phone at 602-989-0599 or
Please visit my website www.cynergyhealthandwellness.com