This week's blog was written by Allison Schneggenburger, a master's student at the University of Utah.
Spring is a time of newness and change, so when better to clean up your kitchen and your diet? A clean and organized kitchen stocked full of healthy options can inspire you to cook new recipes to enjoy with friends and family.
Cleaning can be overwhelming, so where do you start?
First, take everything out of the pantry and refrigerator. This is a great opportunity to wipe down shelves and drawers and keep them sparkling! Plus, taking everything out of the pantry will let you know exactly what you have and give you a better idea of how to organize your space. Once everything is out of the pantry, get rid of everything that has gone bad or hasn’t been used frequently enough to justify keeping it. Look at what is left and get rid of any processed junk foods that you just can’t stop eating. Get rid of foods that are high in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium so that you can replace them with healthier options.
Foods that are high in added sugars typically include sweets like cookies, candy, or soda but sugar can be sneaky! Many other foods may include added sugars like sauces, salad dressings, and yogurts, so be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label when shopping! Healthier sweet treats include options like berries drizzled with dark chocolate, flavored seltzer waters, or sliced watermelon with lime zest. Choosing foods lower in added sugars can have great benefits for your health and your waistline!
Saturated fats can be found in red meats, cheese, butter, and processed meats. Consuming a diet high in saturated fats can increase your risk for heart disease, so it’s best to limit these foods to ensure optimal health. Instead, get your fat from foods high in healthy unsaturated fats like salmon, walnuts, olive oil, or avocados.
Foods high in salt are not good for your health. In addition to increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease, salt can lead to uncomfortable bloating. Get rid of salty chips, soups, and salted snack mixes. Great replacements for salty snacks that will actually keep you satisfied include unsalted whole grain crackers or popcorn with a string cheese, sliced vegetables with hummus or low-fat dip, and unsalted nuts.
Donate everything that is still good and toss the rest. Then get organized! Get creative with your space and make it work for your lifestyle. This is a great time to invest in containers for pasta, flours, sugars, and spices that will allow you to display them in a way that won’t clutter your pantry. Finally, restock your pantry! Take inventory of what you need and make sure that you have healthy staples on hand.
A cleaned kitchen can often feel like a whole new kitchen, so use this time to find inspiration for new recipes like Harmons’ Avocado Egg Salad or Shrimp, Corn, and Black Bean Salad. Enjoy!