How to Get a Healthy Fresh Start
Modern kitchens have turned into a dumping ground. Instead of a pleasant environment where healthy foods are prepared, they've become a place to store sugar-filled snacks, leftover takeout food and cans of soda. Don't let it stay that way. Resolve to turn your kitchen into a junk-free oasis.
Start by thoroughly cleaning it from top to bottom. You want a nice welcome environment to prepare healthy meals in.
Make sure you have at least two non-stick frying pans, one non-stick pot for stews or soups and another non-stick pot for boiling water. Traditional pots are OK, but the non-stick varieties require less butter or oils when you're cooking. They're also easier to clean up.
If you don't have a steamer basket, get one. It should fit on top of one of the pots you boil water in. It's a quick and easy way to prepare vegetables. While you're at it, make sure you have a colander to rinse things off in.
Pick up a 9 x 13-inch dish for baking. Then check your cookie sheet. If it's black and burnt or losing its non-stick coating, it's time to replace it. There are several dishes you can bake instead of frying to reduce the fat. A mini loaf pan for making homemade protein bars is nice to have as well.
Get two cutting boards—one for vegetables and one for meat to prevent cross-contamination.
Keep a decorative bowl on the counter for fresh fruit. Make sure to put it someplace prominent, so you see it and eat the fruit. If you eat a lot of bananas, a banana tree will help prevent bruising.
Buy a blender for protein shakes. Then resolve to make at least one a week.
Come home to a hot meal by using a crock-pot (also known as a slow cooker). Fill it full of meat, vegetables and spices before you leave for the day. When you return, you'll have a fresh cooked homemade meal. Put the leftovers in individual serving containers and freeze them for another day.
Toss out the full-fat condiments. Regular mayonnaise, full-fat salad dressings and any jar or canned cheeses. Replace them with low-fat or fat-free salad dressings and mayonnaise. Mustard, bar-b-cue sauce and low sodium teriyaki sauces can also be good choices. Replace traditional jellies and jams with the low or sugar-free versions. Buy natural peanut butters that don't add extra sugar or large amounts of salt.
Put baking ingredients in airtight containers. Keep the bugs out and the freshness in.
Expose yourself to spices. When you want to make food more interesting, experiment with something exotic. Try a little basil, curry, orange peel, rosemary, sage or thyme in your food. Once a month, choose a new spice to sample. You'll find new ways to enjoy old foods without always putting salt, butter or fat on top.
Give away any bags of chips, boxes of cookies or tubs of ice cream. If you find it hard to resist temptation, get rid of the tempting foods that are nutritionally empty. When you want a treat, leave your house to get it and only buy a single serving. If you insist on keeping junk food around, limit yourself to just one thing. When there are several cheats to choose from, you're more likely to find one you'll give in to.
Stock up on fruits and vegetables, but do it with frozen ones that have nothing added. Frozen foods won't go bad quickly like fresh vegetables do, so you can always have some on hand. You also save money because you won't be throwing away spoiled produce. If you prefer canned foods, make sure to get the no salt and no sugar added varieties.
If you're cooking for one or two, separate foods destined for the freezer into individual portions. You can still save money buying that economy-sized package of meat, but with everything individually wrapped you only have to defrost what you plan on eating.
Print out healthy recipes and put healthy cookbooks out in the open—plan to prepare at least three healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners each week. Write down your choices in the form of a menu and then make a shopping list based on that menu. Stick to your list and avoid impulse purchases.
Water is important, but don't fill your refrigerator with plastic bottles. Buy a filter for your faucet and keep a pitcher in the fridge. If you want bottles to take along with you, buy a few washable stainless steel ones. They're dishwasher safe and you can reuse them indefinitely.
Finally, post a picture of your goal on the refrigerator. It'll remind you why you're making healthier eating choices. Follow these steps and you'll save some money, drop some fat and turn your kitchen into the healthy haven it was meant to be.
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