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How to Clean Out Your Pantry

Every January, I'm a guest speaker at a local health community challenge where I talk about sugar addiction, cravings, imbalanced nutrients or good carbs vs. bad carbs.

This year, they asked if I could share how to clean out your pantry. It's a great topic, right?

Let's start with what to avoid, but I also want to cover all the delicious foods you should include!

1) Read labels.

First, you must read labels. Avoid anything with trans fat (code words are partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils), fake sugars or artificial ingredients, food dyes or excess sugar (try to stay under 6 grams unless it contains dried fruit which will increase sugar content). 2) Shop bulk I like to use glass jars to store bulk items like lentils, split peas, grains, nuts and dried fruit. You can save money buying in bulk and most of the time this eliminates the concern about added ingredients as you are only buying one ingredient.

3) Limit the junk

It's nearly impossible to get rid of all chips/sweets/snack foods, but if you can limit it to 1-2 things at a time it will be easier to make better choices.

Try to buy snack foods with less than 5 ingredients, and ones you can pronounce. Here are some of our family's favorites:

- corn tortilla chips made with sunflower oil and sea salt

- popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt

- trail mix made with dried fruit that does not have added sugars

- Clifz bars for kids (a treat), Kind bars, Larabars or Health Warrior Chia bars

- Wasa crackers or rice crackers

- occasionally a low sugar, high fiber cereal or low sugar granola

- plantain chips (Whole Foods makes some amazingly delicious ones!)

- snap pea crisps

- freeze dried fruit

4) Make it taste good Use more natural flavors to season food, including all dried herbs and spices, soy sauce or liquid aminos, tamari, mustard, ketchup made with real sugar, vinegars, extra virgin olive oil, nutritional yeast, pickles, sauerkraut, chutneys, nuts, seeds, nut butters, etc. Choose these over commercial sauces with added sugars, preservatives, oils and artificial flavors.

Some of our favorites:

- red curry paste and canned coconut milk to make curries

- liquid amino acids (or soy/tamari sauce) to make stir fries with a little garlic and ginger

- Italian herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano) for minestrone, soups or to roaste vegetables

- low sugar tomato sauces (less than 4 grams) or homemade for pasta, spaghetti squash or homemade pizza

- spice rubs for meat

- marinades made with olive oil and an acid, vinegar or lemon juice, for tender grilled chicken, pork or beef

- salsas of all kinds for flavoring fajita bowls or for snacking

What are your pantry staples?


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