If you’ve noticed skid marks in your kitchen, you’re not imagining it. Our kitchens have become race car pit stops. We breeze through and grab an energy bar for breakfast (to eat in the car, of course). Meals are nuked, reheated, or out of a take out carton (generally over the sink or in front of your choice of reality TV).
Let’s get interactive. Get your grocery list and let’s give your kitchen an extreme makeover. I encourage the 10 items below to be on your grocery list and in the kitchen at all times.
1. Spray olive and canola oil are a must have. Olive and canola oil are the choice oils due to their ratio of good fats. Olive oil is high in mono-unsaturated fat (heart healthy by helping lower total cholesterol) and canola oil has the lowest amount of saturated fat (the fat that raises total cholesterol—not what we want). Good or bad, all fats have roughly 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. Each pump of the spray version has roughly 7 calories and less than 1 gram of fat, which is a serious calorie saver.
2. Nuts are a great on-hand snack. Almond and walnuts are the two I recommend. Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids and almonds have a reputable amount of the powerhouse antioxidant vitamin E. Nuts do have fat (even if its the good kind, fat is still fat). Watch your portions.
3. Simon and Garfunkle were leading us in the right direction when they sang Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Fresh or dried, seasonings supply flavor, nutrition (antioxidants), and have their own set of medicinal properties. Put the salt shaker aside (which wouldn’t be such a bad thing anyway given the excess salt we consume) and start experimenting.
4. Fresh or frozen fruits and veggies would be a freebee jeopardy question. Canned foods aren’t recommended because of the added preservatives, namely salt in veggies and syrup (even light syrup isn’t dietitian approved) in canned fruits. Veggies make a perfect ancillary to any meal (even your breakfast omelet) or as an afternoon snack (dip in low-cal dressing or peanut butter).
5. Beans—dried or canned (with no added salt) should also make the grocery list cut. Big mistake to the low- carb dieters (you know who you are) who are avoiding beans due to their high complex carbohydrates. Beans are so nutritious—high in fiber, protein, B vitamins, folic acid, iron, potassium, selenium and magnesium, all vital nutrients. Plus, they have no cholesterol and little fat. Add to soups and salads to make a more complete meal. Make a bean dip by pureeing your favorite bean with a little olive oil and seasonings (already using number 3 on the grocery list).
6. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I recommend that you have a variety of whole grain cereals at your fingertips. What to look for? First, make sure the first ingredient reads whole grains. Second, scan the ingredient list and put back anything that reads partially hydrogenated or high fructose corn syrup. Third, fiber intake should be at least 2 to 3 grams fiber per serving. And forth, dried fruits and granola (really any title with the word “crunch”) will add additional sugar—so proceed with caution.
7. Wine also makes the cut. Red and white wine both have powerful antioxidants that are responsible for wines alleged virtues—lowering cholesterol, inhibiting tumor growth, and possibly helpful in treating Alzheimer’s. The recommended serving size is 3.5 to 4 ounces per glass. That doesn’t look like a lot in our oversized wine glasses. 1-2 drinks for men and 1 for women per day is recommended.
8. Whole grain bread and brown rice are other items the kitchen would be naked without. It may take another decade to instill this, but carbohydrates are important and should not be avoided. Carbohydrates are one of only three macronutrients and are the body’s preferred source of energy. Do however choose the unrefined, high fiber variety and always mind your P’s and Q’s (portions and quantities).
9. The refrigerator is in need of dairy. To avoid unnecessary hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides in dairy, it is best to buy organic dairy products. Low- fat milk, yogurt (add some nuts and whole grain cereal for a perfect snack), and cheese. Plus, dairy is a great source of protein, calcium, vitamin D and many more essential nutrients.
10. Water needs no justification. You know it’s important, I know it’s important.
To complete your kitchen makeover you need accoutrements. First, a barbecue grill or a George Forman. Indoor and outdoor grills are my favorite way to cook. It’s healthy, quick, requires little clean-up, little prep-time, and anything and everything goes (chicken, fish, tofu and veggies) with little to no added fats. Shear perfection.
Add a little oil and turn up the heat (I know what your thinking—this is not that sort of story) and you have the next best cooking method, a wok. Since woks require high heat, cooking is quick and needs no other pots or pans.
Hopefully your kitchen will make great before and after pictures. No excuses for not eating home a bit more and healthier. If you don’t take control of your diet and health—who will?