Who doesn't love a clean, organized pantry?
To start on the path of clean eating it is very important to clean up and simplify your pantry. We should purge it from all food items that can be potentially harmful to us. That's right! Dump all of the bad stuff and say good riddance.
Since I began eating clean it was necessary to learn how to read the ingredients off the labels. I used to think that if I saw the US organic seal on packages that the food was safe and healthy. Not so! Listed most of the time under ingredients is sugar or organic cane sugar and a lot of it. Here is another example. A couple of months ago I learned that MSG is disguised in many products and labeled as a different name. I get very bad hives when I eat too much MSG. If you see yeast extract on labels you now know that it really is the same as MSG. Horrible, isn't it?
Over the years I have gathered information from different sources about what to eat and what to avoid. My first "aha" moment came when I read the book "Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food" by Christine Avanti. All of those bagged and packaged foods that fill grocery aisles are what Christine calls factory foods, all fake. There is little to no nutritional value in them. Most have artificial colors and flavorings and tons of unwanted preservatives. A lot of sources teach that if you cannot pronounce the ingredient it is a no-no. Factory foods including candies are a waste of money so I have done my best to purge my pantry of bagged or packaged food items. They are very few packaged items that are clean. Yes, clean packaged food items really exist. Check out Mary's Gone Crackers, an excellent snack in a box. I love to have them with hummus. These are one of a few crackers that are clean.
I must reiterate the importance of cleaning out the pantry and starting with a clean slate. What about all the money spent on those items you have already, you wonder. Yes, I know I spent the money but it's a mistake to put factory foods into the body. When you become cautious of eating clean, you understand that eating this way is an investment on your health. Why put junk in your body when you know the research says that they are harmful or potentially harmful? I just don't take risks anymore! And I'm sure not going to feed my son junk that could cause his immune system to weaken or disrupt healthy cells. I'm all about feeding my family the very, very best foods available. That means I prepare and cook most of the meals. I have learned over and over again that food eaten outside cannot be trusted. I want to know that the product I eat is fresh and local or organic. I also want to know that my meat is organic and grass-fed. These are all key things to consider when eating clean. There are very few establishments that solely prepare and serve the farm to table concept. Make the change to fresh, organic produce. You will immediately feel a positive change. I also make sure to equip the kitchen with some staples that I can't go without.
First, look at your oils, spices, and sweeteners. The three oils that I use in my cooking and baking are organic extra virgin olive oil cold-pressed (the darker the bottle the better), organic coconut oil, and organic avocado oil. For the most part these oils should be accessible at your local grocery. These are the healthiest oils. Other oils like canola, peanut, vegetable, sunflower, and so forth are highly processed. It's best to avoid these oils. They can actually cause weight gain and other negative side effects. Be careful to read the bottles. Some companies mix olive oil with another oil like canola oil. Regarding spices I use Simply Organic spices. I found a simple, clean looking spice rack on their website that fits nicely on our countertop. I also use pink Himalayan sea salt or Celtic light grey sea salt. These are the very best salts out in the market. Any other salt product is processed way too much and has little to no mineral content. Himalayan and Celtic sea salts are full of good minerals and vitamins. Do yourself a big favor and throw out your table salt. Table salt could possible be causing people numerous health issues. Another must have spice in the pantry is vanilla extract. I use this pretty much on a daily basis to make morning smoothies for my family. For sweeteners, go natural. I use only low glycemic options. This is how I stay sugar-free with my diet. I like to use coconut nectar, coconut manna or coconut butter, coconut sugar, real maple syrup, and raw local honey. You could use stevia too, but personally it's not one of my favorites. I have stopped using agave, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, and all refined sugar as they are considered high glycemic. Trust me. If you kick your sugar habit for good and replace it with the healthier choices I mentioned above, you will lose a lot of weight. And I mean a lot!
We need to know the truth about the food we eat. Those of us who live in the US unfortunately live in a country that is too lax on food regulations. Other countries ban harmful or potentially harmful chemicals, ingredients, and foodstuffs whereas the US does not. So we need to get to the truth to protect ourselves and our families.
What I recommend to others who want to embrace this way of eating but don't think they can afford it? Gain the knowledge about eating clean and take baby steps. You have to start somewhere. Cook simple foods with less meat and more vegetables. The flavor is in the vegetables not necessarily in the spices. The spices help enhance flavor. The best spices to use preferably on a daily basis are black pepper, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. If you choose fresh, local, organic produce I promise you you will taste the difference. Also choose local, organic meats if possible. If organic is not available, choose grass-fed meats. I also love wild caught fish for sustainability and health benefits.
So here's to your health and happiness! I hope that this was helpful. If you have questions or need some help in getting started, let me know. I'm happy to help!
Resources for Clean Eating
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Himalania Fine Grain Himalayan Pink SaltCeltic Sea Salt Light GreySimply Organic Get Crackin'Simply Organic SpicesSimply Organic SpicesPure Vanilla ExtractTrader Joe's Organic EVOOOrganic EVOONutiva Coconut OilBetterBody Coconut OilDr. Bronner Coconut OilBella Vado Avocado OilRaw Coconut NectarNutiva Coconut MannaOrganic Coconut SugarOrganic Maple SyrupRaw Local HoneyMary's Gone CrackersSkinny Chicks Eat Real Food