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Pantry Makeover: A Kick Start to a Healthier Kitchen

glass-jars-pantryThink of this as a “spring clean up”. Stocking up on great-tasting foods that will help you eat light and right is essential. This basic nutritional makeover should help set the foundation for healthier and cleaner eating for you and the rest of your family. So let’s get started:

1. Try to get rid of or cut down on the amount of junk that has accumulated. By junk, I mean foods that provide empty calories minus important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibre. Such foods include: sodas, cookies, pre-packed cakes, chocolate bars, high sugar cereals, muffins and chips. Now, eliminating them entirely from your cupboard may cause you to crave them even more, so my advice is to have your token “not so healthy” options in small quantities, to treat yourself every now and then.

2. Stock up on grains that are rich in fibre and provide your body with long lasting energy. The top contenders here include wholegrain cereals, oats, all bran, quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal flour, spelt or buckwheat pasta and wholegrain breads.

3. Adding nuts and seeds to your meals helps increase your intake of healthier fats, fibre and other important nutrients such as zinc, B-vitamins and iron. My top choices include walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds.

4. Canned food can be quite high in sodium (salt) and some experts may advise against them. However, nutrition experts would625461472_b8ce8e5b16 advise including such options for convenience but also being aware of which ones to avoid. Good choices would include beans such as kidney, pinto or navy beans, as well as chickpeas. Remember to rinse the beans before consumption in order to get rid of the excess sodium. Tinned fish such as tuna, mackerel or salmon are good to stock up on but choose varieties that are soaked in brine or water and preferably those without flavourings. Tuna-fish

5. Make sure you stock up on a variety of herbs and spices in order to cut down on salt. This will help you enjoy and enhance the natural flavours of food. Herbs & spices to use instead of salt include basil, bay leaves, cardamom, chilli, coriander leaves, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, curry powder, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, mint, dry mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, saffron and turmeric. Remember to store them in a cool, dry place to maintain freshness.669018

6. Stock up on oils that are heart-friendly. Options include olive oil, flaxseed and canola oil. Using oils in the form of cooking sprays is ideal to control how much is used in cooking.

7. An important component of your pantry should include Chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Not just any chocolate though. Experts recommend quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (those over 75%). Dark chocolate is a source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and manganese as well as antioxidants and other compounds believed to improve blood circulation and blood pressure. Moderate consumption is still advised though, as the calories are still there!Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate

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