BLOG: DIY Pantry Makeover

BLOG: DIY Pantry Makeover

 

Note: Many additional information links provided are to the posts of Chris Kresser (an excellent functional medical practitioner who makes high-quality assessments and reviews of studies and scientific literature), Jordan Pie (nutritionist) and Luka McCabe (Midwife and nutritional consultant). I find their opinions to be well-researched, reputable and trustworthy. 

 

A popular service I offer as part of my coaching programs is a pantry makeover. Many clients have no idea of the nasties lurking in their pantries, fridges and freezers! With lots of time on your hands with this isolation conundrum, why not spend some time giving yours a spruce?!? Sign up now to my non-spammy mailing list and download a list of recommended brands and products as well as some food swap suggestions to help you with this change.

The most important first step I work with all my clients on is how to read an ingredients list. This means that they can have some independence when shopping for themselves. It is very important that they know what to look out for when browsing the supermarket shelves or assessing what is in their cupboards. I generally like to see clients either significantly reducing or totally avoiding the following ingredients in foods they eat most frequently. For some of these, the odd occasion is fine or as a small addition to a recipe, but if there is a cleaner version of them to opt for, I always suggest they go down that route! If you have any kind of gut issue, avoiding all of these ingredients is advised by any good practitioner.

 

Learn more about labels here

 

 

So, let the makeover commence and on to tackling the various locations in your kitchen…

 

 

Let’s start in the fridge…

 

 

The Vegetable Section 

We obviously shouldn’t need to throw out much here. What we are looking for are mostly green vegetables with a good amount of colour as well. I work hard with my clients to move them towards organic and locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables. Supermarket produce is heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides which are detrimental to our health. While this upgrade can seem daunting, start small and build your way up. Visiting your local farmers market is much more cost effective than the organic section at your supermarket (to be honest, I question the quality here). The EWG drew up a list of the ‘Clean Fifteen’ (the least sprayed) to the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (the most heavily sprayed). I suggest that to begin with, clients pick up the Dirty Dozen organic and buy the clean 15 conventionally.

 

Your meat shelf

Upgrading your fridge would mean you look for organic, grass-fed and pasture raised animals and wild-caught fish. Supermarket meats can showcase lot-fed animals, meaning they are raised in close proximity to other beasts and fed an unnatural (often all or part grain) diet as opposed to exclusively grazing on healthy grass. This can lead to very sick animals who are medicated and in-turn, you eat the sick and highly dosed product. To upgrade, (similarly to fruit and vegetables) start small. Supermarkets have a good variety of free-range, grass-fed products these days and your farmers market is often cheaper and better quality again.

 

 Throw out or finish…Replace with… 

Pre packaged meat products with additives – sausages, rissoles, ready meals with any preservatives or ingredients you don’t understand 

Cage raised chicken

Cage eggs

Processed meats and filler filled sausages, rissoles etc 

Nitrate filled bacon

 Free range/pastured/grass-fed meats that you season yourself with clean ingredients

Free range chicken

Filler free sausages 

Home made rissoles, meatballs, kebabs and hamburger patties

Nitrate free bacon 

 

 

Dairy and milk alternatives

In your dairy section, I generally ask clients to reconsider milk products as pasteurised milk is heavily processed and not required for human nutritional needs. We are the only species on the planet to jump from our mothers milk to another animal’s… A large number of people do not tolerate dairy well for good reason. For those who choose to continue drinking, moderate the amount and always go full-fat. Alternatively, I do like cold-pressed almond milk (shelf almond milk is full of crap and barely any almonds!) but note that almonds require lots of water to grow, meaning it’s not all that sustainable for the planet. Shelf stable soy, almond, coconut and nut variety milks can be problematic. Most of them contain a number of additives and barely any of the actual product. Soy is often genetically modified and not so fabulous for females. We opt for canned coconut milk instead or a product with organic and minimal ingredients. While margarine and spreads are not dairy, many people consider them to be safe and even better for you. Yikes! They are possibly one of the biggest dangers lurking in your fridge due to their heavy processing and poor bioavailability. Purchase good quality, grass-fed butter instead.

Cheese is tasty and I too enjoy it every now and then, but look for an organic (grass-fed) option. Buy in blocks and shred yourself as pre-shredded cheese includes a chemical agent to keep the cheese from clumping. Processed cheese slices also include over 10 ingredients where a good cheese has 2-3. Yoghurt makes a great snack or dessert option. If you are wedded to your dairy yoghurt, avoid reduced fat or artificially sweetened varieties. The chemicals used to sweeten these products are linked to serious health concerns. Opt instead for a plain yoghurt and add low sugar fruit, vanilla and/or stevia to flavour yourself. I prefer to recommend the range of dairy-free yoghurt options available. I love coconut yoghurt for my clients and while it can be expensive store bought, you can make your own easily and cost effectively. See a great recipe here.

 

 Throw out or finish…Replace with… 

 ‘Low fat/skim’ milk, yoghurt and cheese

No/low sugar sweetened yoghurts

Rubbery cheese slices

Margarines and spreads

Coconut yoghurt

Organic and full fat dairy products consumed in small amounts

 

 

 

Making our way to the freezer…

 

This is where I often locate the frozen meals and desserts! Ice creams, pies, and ready meals likely contain large amounts or sugar, refined carbohydrates, harmful oils and sodium. ‘Frozen yoghurt’ is ice cream – merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The good news is, you can find alternatives to your favourite treats or make your own. Ready made meals are convenient, I get it. Just be sure to read the labels and check whether the ingredients are as “healthy” as they make out.

 

 Throw out..Replace with… 

 High sugar desserts

Heavily processed alternative (low-calorie ice creams in particular)

Sausage rolls, pies, pasties

Ready made meals with nasty ingredient lists

 

 Organic berries (non organic are often heavily sprayed)

Stevia sweetened ice blocks

Coconut ice cream (check the ingredient list)

 
 

 
 
 
 
 

Time to tackle the pantry

 

The products I am most likely to firmly suggest clients put in the bin are generally found in the pantry as they can contain preservatives or be heavily processed. The great news is, many of your favourites can be replaced with a better and less processed option!

 

Firstly…burn the refined carbs! This includes pretty much all white foods that are processed. So, white bread and wraps, white pasta, flours, processed noodles, cereals, artificial sweeteners (stevia is fine) and sugar. White wheat or grain products are basically the dodgiest part of the grain left over. It is the part that closely resembles sugar and has the exact same effect on your blood sugar levels. Be careful of ‘whole grain’ or ‘wholemeal’ options too as it is mostly white, with a little bit of whole grains sprinkled through. Read more about this hereThere are many no-grain products available these days but I much prefer to bake my own seed bread and suggest clients just reduce their consumption of refined grains, breads and pasta overall or find alternatives. There are plenty of options for alternative ‘pastas’ these days and when having noodles, opt for rice or kelp noodles as they generally have approx. 2 ingredients.Whole pseudo grains (often actually seeds) are much better for you, bioavailable, protein rich and generally safe for a sensitive stomach. 

 

 Throw out or finish…Replace with… 

 All white food (white rice is fine) 

Sugar (raw, white, coconut – all same same)

Artificial sweeteners (equal, splenda)

Refined flours, packet bread and cake mixes

Packet noodles

Cereals and quick oats

Food dye and flavours

 Baking flours – Cassava, coconut, almond meal, tapioca, arrowroot, buckwheat flour (great for wraps)

Gut friendly grains and pseudograins – Rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth

Buckwheat pasta, zucchini spirals

Low sugar nut based granola, whole oats (if tolerated)

Kelp and/or rice noodles

Stevia – I like the ‘natvia’ brand

Good quality raw honey (eaten in moderation)

 

 

Sweet Treats

At risk of sounding brutal, if you have a health condition, these need to be binned without question. But, if treats are something you enjoy on a rare occasion and can control yourself with, by all means keep them in your cupboard and consume in controlled moderation. I love chocolate just as much as the next person. So we enjoy it once a week, it’s always dark with very few ingredients or I make it myself (recipe in my ebook) and we buy the day we plan on eating it. Soft drink and cordial is sugar laden and ‘diet’ alternatives are an effing science experiment where your body is on the chopping block. Most jams and spreads, albeit delicious, are full of crap.

 

 Throw out…Replace with… 

 Cordial (sugar free included)

Soft drinks

Lollies and chocolate

Biscuits

High sugar muesli and fruit bars

Jams and spreads

Sweet treats you make yourself

Nut bars with low ingredient list and sugar content

Good quality dark chocolate

Mineral/soda water 

 

 

Cooking oils

This section of the pantry can sometimes make me feel a little queasy. The selection of vegetable oils and sprays that is on offer freaks me out a little! Vegetable oils are some of the most detrimental things we could possibly ingest. They are highly processed, lead to inflammation, are highly toxic and unstable meaning they oxidize easily and damage DNA and proteins in the body leading to fast tracked aging. If you have any kind of vegetable oil (canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, safflower, or peanut oils) I generally don’t even suggest finishing it and recommend you throw it out NOW. You may also find that vegetable oil hides in many of your favourite products too. Read more about vegetable oils here as this is a whole other blog post!

 

 Throw (Don’t finish!)…Replace with… 

 Vegetable oils and sprays

Products that contain vegetable oils

Grass-fed butter and ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, pastured lard and tallow 

 

 

Sauces, stocks and condiments

Most sauces and condiments are salty, sugary, full of additives and artificial flavours – sorry! I am not going to lie and say we don’t have any..we do. But we tend to use them very rarely or in small amounts. There are products that I see on the shelves of clients that they could make themselves like – laksa pastes, sauces in jars (curries, chicken tonight, pasta sauces). Things like tomato, barbeque sauce and mayonnaise can contain sugar, preservatives, additives and vegetable oils. There are a number of ways to purchase these products clean and order online. Download my list of preferred brands here.  When it comes to cooking additions, stock powders, cubes and pouches is another one I see frequently. Bone broth or stock is so easy to make yourself but there are also less processed options available in stores that contain less sodium, flavours and garbage. This is an easy upgrade to make. Herbs and spices are generally okay but you want to watch the salt content. Instead, make your own blends and use pink salt.

 

 Throw out or finish…Replace with… 

 Sauces in jars and boxes with a high amount of ingredients, high sugar and sodium levels 

Canned meals like spaghetti and baked beans

Stock cubes and products with a number of ingredients

High sugar sauces

Mayonnaise

High sodium spice mixes

Table salt

Coconut aminos

 Coconut milk

Passata sauce with small ingredient list, low sodium tomato paste, canned organic tomatoes

Mayonnaise made with olive oil or avocado oil

Bone broth or stock you make yourself or better quality shelf products

Pink, sea or celtic salt

 

 

Crackers and crunchy snacks

Not the crackers!?! I agree – so delicious. But again, can contain some of those nasty ingredients such as refined flour, vegetable oil, sugar, sodium, flavours and preservatives. Look for crackers with only a few ingredients (unflavoured rice crackers are great but watch the vegetable oil!) or make/purchase seed crackers in the health food aisle. My list of recommended brands provides some good ones! Chips and crunchy items are generally crunchy for a reason (fried) so are rarely something that is beneficial to your health, however there are some brands that are releasing chips cooked in coconut or avocado oil now that taste just as good! Another thing I see in pantries a lot are roasted and salted nuts. The roasting changes the fat so that it isn’t as bioavailable and is more toxic and salt is, well – salt! Might as well eat potato chips! But don’t… Just get raw nuts and eat in small quantities or slow roast them on a low heat yourself. 

 

 Throw out or finish…Replace with… 

 Potato chips 

Flavoured biscuits and crackers

Roasted and salted nuts

 Seed crackers, rice cakes, raw nuts, products with a decent and whole food ingredient list, chips cooked in healthy oils

 

Baby food and kids snacks

Something I am looking into more and more as Ruben approaches the age where he will eat solids is the quality of baby and kids foods and pouches. I have done a number of pantry makeovers where I have approved these foods as their ingredient list looks great. However, upon more and more research, I am now discovering how this is so. The foods are often cooked a number of times at high heats to make them shelf stable, totally cooking the nutrients out of the food. Basically means that these products are likely filling tummies but not doing much for babe and their health. The food isn’t doing what food should, nourish, support immunity and improve health. Yikes. Additionally, “iron fortified” cereals may seem appealing to new parents but could be causing more harm than good. Read more baby cereal here.

 

 Throw out or finish…Replace with… 
 Baby food and snacks in packets, jars and pouches Real food 

 

 

Supplements

There are very few things you need to supplement as you can get so much through good quality food. The only reason to ever supplement is for a health concern (in conjunction with a whole food source) or because is not bioavailable in food. Some acceptable examples include magnesium (our soil is so depleted we don’t get it through food anymore), DHA omega 3 (our fish quality sucks and we don’t eat nearly enough wild stuff) and a good quality multivitamin (mostly for those who don’t vary their diet and include a range of vegetables). Protein powders, pre trainers, amino acids blah blah blah – all processed crap. Bin it! Just eat meat and maybe drink coffee or green tea as a pre-trainer.

 

 Throw out or finish…Replace with… 

 Protein Powders

Amino acids

Pre-trainers

 Food. Simple

 
Coffee/green tea
 

 

 

 

Want to learn about how

 

one of my favourite nutritionists

 
 

stocks her pantry?

 
 

  Read all about it here.

 

 

A common theme you may come across in most of my suggestions to a glowing pantry, is to eat real and whole food. A return to how we as a species should nourish ourselves to ensure healthy hormones, organs, blood flow, brain health and so on is more than essential. It is undeniable that we live in a modern world full of delicious but processed or artificial food that is very hard to resist. So, to that end, ensure overall consistency in eating in the way we should (as humans) and enjoy what’s on offer more infrequently and on occasion. Modify what is available to you and your family regularly and make the conscious but not impulsive decision to eat anything other than whole food.

 

Should you require support to realign your nutrition and health, please visit my website to learn more about the services on offer, links with nutritionists and apply for my health coaching programs.

Don’t forget to sign up to my non-spammy mailing list to download your FREE brand and healthy swap resources. 

 

 

 

*Many of the opinions expressed in this blog post are that of a health coach who is a mentor and guide, trained in holistic health coaching to help clients reach their own health goals by helping them to devise and implement positive, sustainable lifestyle changes. If the reader is under the care of a healthcare professional or currently uses prescription medications, they should discuss any dietary changes or potential dietary supplements use with his or her doctor, and should not discontinue any prescription medications without first consulting his or her doctor. This information received should not be seen as medical or nursing advice and is not meant to take the place of seeing licensed health professionals

 

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