I was torn whether to send this blog due to the tragedy in Boston.  A health blog seems trivial when things like this happen but I hope this can provide a distraction and a smile during hard times.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families.

Take a look in your pantry and what do you see?  If you’re like most people you’ll find at least one unopened (expired) cake mix, a chip bag with only crumbs left and boxes of stale sugary cereal?  Time for a healthy pantry makeover.

1.  Remove everything from the pantry and give the shelves a good scrub.  I have to admit, mine were sticky and dusty.  Transfer dirty boxes to a clean kitchen counter.... need I say more?

2.  Toss all unhealthy food items, making a list of what you toss.  Why?  Because you bought it for a reason so let’s figure out if we need to replace it with a healthier food item.  When I say toss you can obviously donate your food items to your local food bank, but please don’t donate old or expired foods.  I am hesitant to say donate non-healthy foods since they belong in the trash and items provided by a food bank should be healthful and nourishing.  If you can afford it, donate cash to feed those that could use a little help.  Be sure to look at each item, it’s amazing what is hiding in unsuspecting foods like high fructose corn syrup in jarred pasta sauce and propylene glycol in frosting, also found in anti-freeze.  (seriously!)

Toss all items that are, made with or contain:
  • Expired & slightly suspicious items (i.e. don’t remember when you opened it)
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sugar or artificial sweeteners (especially if they are in the first 3 ingredients)
  • White flour, white rice, white sugar
  • Items high in sodium (anything more than 700g per serving)
  • Transfats
  • MSG
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Soda (and diet soda) & other sugary drinks
3.  Alright, let’s get back to the list of items we just tossed.  Take a look to see where you can make better choices.  Here are some usual suspects in the toss pile that you can swap for their healthier versions.
  • Peanut butter with transfats
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • White, wheat or egg noodle pastas
  • White sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Soda
  • Sugary cereal
  • Mayonnaise
  • Chocolate chips
Better Choices
  • Natural organic nut butters
  • Baked chips, sweet potato or taro chips, kale chips, pita chips
  • Bake healthier cookies and keep them in the freezer.
  • Brown rice, spelt or soba/buckwheat pasta
  • Pure honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil
  • Green or black tea – I make a bunch and keep it in the refrigerator
  • Whole wheat cereal or flax granola
  • Veganaise or Light Canola Mayo
  • Cacao Nibs
4.  First let’s get real.  If it’s in your pantry you’ll eat it or cook with it so be careful what you buy.    Here some ideas on other items to stock in your pantry.  These are items I keep on hand at all times.  There are many days after a long day at work when I don’t want to go to the store so it's important to have items you can quickly throw together a healthy meal.
  • 100% Whole grains & ancient grains – quinoa, millet, amaranth, oats
  • 100% Whole grain & ancient grain flour – chickpea, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat
  • Flax granola & (100%) whole grain cereals
  • Brown rice & brown rice pasta
  • Jarred vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, capers & roasted red peppers
  • Jarred sauces without high fructose corn syrup – marinara, BBQ, curry
  • Dried or canned beans
  • Canned salmon or tuna (wild caught & packed in water)
  • Canned convenience items – tomatoes, vegetables, olives.  (Canned items contain BPA so minimize the amount of canned items you chose.  Fresh and frozen are a better choice but you should have canned items for when you’re in a bind.)
  • Raw nuts & natural nut butters (I love Justin’s peanut butter and almond butters)
  • Healthy oils – olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil
  • Spices – Be sure they say 100% pure or look to see what they are cut with
  • Vinegars – red, white, rice, balsamic, cider
  • Hot Sauces – Tabasco, Cholula, Sriracha, Tapatio
  • Coconut and Almond Milk
  • Organic, low-sodium vegetable & chicken stock
  • Whole grain & ancient grain flour
  • Natural sweeteners – 100% pure maple syrup, honey, agave nectar

5.  Storage is key to save space, stay organized and keep your items fresh.  It’s worth it to invest in good storage containers, especially for cereal or granola you use most days.  I have a selection of my favorites on my website you can choose from, click here.  You can also get creative.  I save jars to re-use with my bulk food items like rice and dried beans.  I also use them to make my salad dressings.  Keeping items like cereal in glass or see through containers also let’s you keep track of when you’re getting low.

6.  Now lets get organized.  Sort items by category (pasta, cereal, snacks, baking, etc.) it will make it easier to find things when it gets a little crowded.  Look at how often you use these items.  Keep items you use a lot and smaller items at eye level so they are easy to access and see.  Do you bake a lot?  Keep your baking items on a higher, an easy to reach shelf.  Keep your trigger foods in mind and if you have to have them in your house, keep them out of sight and hard to get to.  Store healthy snacks within kids arm reach so these are the go-to option.

Thank you and best wishes!


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