Don’t get caught with your pantries down this season! Let Chef Mareya give you a hand to a fresh start with a Spring Kitchen Reset.
Spring is the perfect time to give your pantry an overhaul. Think of it as the culinary equivalent to donating those pants you know you’ll never wear again and make space for the food versions of your new spring wardrobe, or the ingredients that will inspire your spring and summer cooking. Think positive, think clean and think healthy!
Chef Mareya Ibrahim, a Lifestyle and Nutrition Expert as seen on The Food Network, celebrity chef and author ‘Eat Like You Give A Fork: The Real Dish on Eating to Thrive’, has over 28 years of experience in the culinary world. She shares her best practices below for a kitchen overhaul, that prioritizes your health:
7 Ways to Spring Clean & Reorganize Your Kitchen:
- Rehab your fridge and ‘clean’ your pantry: To eat cleaner and get leaner, start with cleaning out your fridge and pantry to make way for the good stuff. Here are the items to purge: If it’s bleached, contains high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, the word ‘artificial’ in front of anything, ‘trans fats’, or contains any 8 syllable words, it’s time to say goodbye. Also be aware of sodium and sugar, keeping your added sugar intake to less than 50 grams a day (for kids it’s 25 grams) and sodium to less than 2200 mg per day.
- Waste less, eat more: If someone took $150 and flushed it down the toilet you might think they were nuts. But if you’re dumping fresh produce out every month, you’re basically doing the same thing. I created Eat Cleaner® to not only help you eat cleaner, safer produce but to help it last longer. So here’s what I suggest: bring your produce home, wash it with Eat Cleaner and put it back into a sealed container – and just watch how much longer it lasts and how much more your family eats. You’ve now made your produce more convenient to eat, without spending a lot of money on all the pre-washed produce that’s usually just cleaned with chlorinated water, anyway.
- Rethink ingredients: I am not saying you should throw out all your old ingredients and start over. That is wasteful. Instead, I encourage you to take a look at what you have on hand, maybe discover a bottle of pomegranate molasses or a jar of chutney that will enliven dinner this week, see what you are low on and should restock, and assess what is past its best–or gone bad–and should be composted, recycled or trashed. This will really help if your kitchen is small and storage space limited.
- Extend shelf-life in the freezer: Don’t forget to check items such as spices and herbs. They should be used within a year of opening. Then there are your cooking and finishing oils. Some oils, not your everyday olive oil but ones you use less frequently, might have gone rancid sitting in the pantry unused. Assess what you have and clear out anything that’s no longer usable. We use nuts throughout the year, in pies and cookies during the holidays and in salads in summertime. Some types of nuts last longer than others, so check whole grains now too. From your favorite farro or wheat berries to spelt or rye flours, even whole wheat flour–these are all more perishable than white rice or pasta or all-purpose flour so use them regularly and use them up! For longer storage keep them in the freezer not your pantry.
- Learn the language of Labelese: Sugar shows up in over 50 different forms and learning to look for these on a label is imperative. Learning how to read ‘labelese’ or the language of labels can help you navigate the grocery store aisles to save your health. There are over 14,000 additives used in commercially prepared foods today. Some are far more complicated and potentially dangerous. Ones to make note of are the artificial preservatives and flavors that have been linked to cancer, toxicity to the nervous system and other ill side effects. These include BHA, BHT, EDTA, sodium benzoate, nitrates, nitrites, and monosodium glutamate, among others.
- Shop smart, save green: If you’re shopping at 5 different stores, think again. Streamline your purchases to help save time and money. Club stores offer products in bulk so you can purchase more efficiently, especially if you’re getting the same types of items every week. Look to Farmer’s markets for locally grown produce, eggs, meats, seafood, and specialty items to support growers in your area. You can also consider an online delivery service that will ship all your fresh and packaged groceries directly to your doorstep. Make a master grocery list and check off what you need weekly so that you’re stocked up on the weekend and ready for the week.
- Prepare for Food 911’s: It’s inevitable. Someone is hungry RIGHT NOW and can’t wait one more minute for mealtime. Having a few ready-to-eat snacks will help save everyone’s sanity. At home, keep a bowl filled with fresh fruit and a container of hummus or salsa with cut-up veggies available for a quick bite. I also recommend keeping a bag of shelf-stable, clean snacks you can take on the go so that you don’t get lured by the flashing lights of the drive-thru. Items like beef jerky (pick preservative-free types), high-protein bars, low sugar trail mix, and mixed nuts are all good choices, along with plenty of water.
The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.