Spring-cleaning out your pantry is key to improving your health. By simply making sure we have healthy alternatives in food choices at hand and minimal temptation in the house means we can stay on track with our health goals. Sometimes we feel that we need to keep snack foods in the pantry for the kids or other family members. If there are less healthy food choices kept in the home then more often than not in a moment of fatigue, upset or other we will make the wrong choice. My suggestion would be to take some time to clean out the pantry. Clearing out the pantry will be of benefit to the whole family as healthier snack alternatives are sought and eaten in place of highly processed foods.
Engaging the help of family members and explaining to them the importance of eating healthy may cause less resistance with clearing out the pantry.
Wholegrain, spelt or rye bread (not wholemeal, which is still high-glycaemic index. Avoid low-glycaemic index white breads which are still very processed)
- Flat breads such as Mountain Bread. Not only are they great fro wraps, but they can also be used to make lasagne and quiches in place of filo pastry.
- Wholegrains (brown rice, Basmati, Dongara, wild, pearl barley, burghal)
- Wholemeal pasta (or buckwheat pasta if gluten intolerant/allergic)
- Canned corn (no added sugar or salt)
- Canned beans and lentils (unsalted)
- Dried lentils
- Plain rice cakes or corn thins
- Plain rice crackers
- Wholegrain crispbreads such as Ryvita®
- Fruit-free wholegrain muesli bars such as Carman’s Fruit Free
- Plain rolled oats and/or wholegrain cereals such as the Goodness Superfoods range
- Wholemeal plain and self-raising flour
- Bicarbonate soda
- Herbs and spices (any variety, but do choose cinnamon without added sugar)
- Pink Himalayan sea salt (the least processed and has the most minerals including iodine, which many women are deficient in, which can lead to thyroid issues)
- Vanilla essence (without added sugar)
- Unsalted raw nuts (all except peanuts have health benefits)
- Chicken or vegetable stock (preservative and MSG free) such as Massel brand
- Cooking oil such as Rice Bran oil, Macadamia oil, Avocado oil, Coconut oil, or Grapeseed oil (these have a high smoke point)
- Olive Oil as a salad dressing
- Apple Cider vinegar and/or Balsamic vinegar as a dressing
- Plain minimally sweetened biscuits (ideally trans fat free)
- Xylitol and/or stevia
- Raw cacao (can be used to add chocolate flavour to baking and making other snacks without adding the sugar and unhealthy fats)
- Good quality protein powder such as brown rice protein, pea protein, or whey isolate (if not dairy intolerant). This can be used to make protein shakes and protein balls for a snack
- Popping corn for movie nights or as a healthy snack
- Canned salmon and tuna (there is concern over mercury in tuna these days. Limit tuna to once a week and choose mostly salmon, which has a lower mercury content. Smaller tuna have lower amounts of mercury if you can find them on your supermarket shelves. Look for Tungol tuna)
- Unsalted pretzels
- Black tea, herbal teas and coffee (aim for plain instant coffee rather than flavoured and sweetened varieties. Also, if choosing decaffeinated coffee keep in mind to buy either organic or water-filtered decaffeinated rather than standard decaffeinated, which is chemically produced)
- Red wine (Preservative-free ideally. Red wine has the most health benefits whereas beer has the least)
- Psyllium husks to add to breakfast cereal or a protein shake for added fibre
- Keep in mind that items that are labelled gluten-free are not always that healthy for often they are refined, white rice products, which have a very high glycaemic index. A better choice is to look for wholegrain gluten-free products such as those containing millet, buckwheat, amaranth and brown rice.
Avoid keeping highly processed foods in the pantry such as flavoured biscuits, potato chips and sugary lollies. Along with the above pantry staples it is worth also clearing out the fridge and freezer and replacing items that are not that healthy for us with alternatives.