It’s that time of year when thoughts go to “spring clean up”. Whether it’s your house, your yard or life in general. This is also a good time to take a second glance specifically at your kitchen. What should stay and what can GO?
There’s an article in GFP that offers strategies to create a “safe kitchen” free from cross-contamination for those who have celiac disease, this is extremely important. Another perspective is to create a “healthy” kitchen. Whether you have celiac disease, are non-celiac gluten sensitive or are avoiding gluten for your own personal reasons, here are some tips to help you maintain or improve food choices for a healthier you.
- Label Reading (beside looking for gluten and hidden sources of gluten)
- Stock foods with five or fewer ingredients on the label
- Nix foods with ingredients on the label you can’t pronounce or that don’t sound like food
- Checkout sodium content on the label. The daily recommendation for sodium is between 1500 and 2300 mg/day.
- Look at the sugar content of your food. Strive for no more than 26 grams (6 teaspoons per day) for women and 37 grams/day (9 tsp) for men.
- Toss and replace your gluten-free pastas with brands that are made with brown rice or quinoa. Also, consider replacing pastas with spaghetti squash, butternut squash (sliced thinly) or zucchini slices.
- Look for enriched and increased fiber in gluten-free breads. Rudi’s has come out with a multigrain gluten-free sandwich bread made with flaxseed and millet. Or, Udi’s gluten-free whole grain or millet chia bread.
- Chips, cookies and crackers. Minimize these foods in your diet, but when a craving hits, opt for crackers with seeds and chips made with healthier oils. Oils to avoid are: canola, cottonseed, sunflower and safflower oils (the latter two are high in Omega 6s). Bake your own cookies and add healthy ingredients like: chia seeds, flaxseeds, and/or nuts.
- Oils: be aware of the optimal cooking temperature of oils (see Cooking with Oils article) as well as the type of at it contains.
- Olive oils: (anti-inflammatory), best when used raw on salads for example or used for cooking in moderate heat.
- Coconut oil: excellent to use for medium or high heat cooking. Although coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is composed of medium chain fatty acids which metabolize differently than the long-chain fatty acids found in other saturated fats.
- Nut and Seed oils like: avocado oil, walnut, grape seed and sesame oils.
- All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) may increase heart disease risk.
- Cottonseed oil is high in saturated fat and pesticides
- Palm oil is high in saturated fat.
- Typically, fresh or frozen foods are healthier than canned goods.
- Search for canned goods with single or two ingredients listed. Many canned goods also pack a lot of sodium, have added sugar and can sometimes contain hidden sources of gluten.
Nuts and Seeds
- Choose raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds. Both types are a healthy source of fats and protein make for satisfying snacks.
- Store all nuts in a cool, dark location and eat within 30 days to prevent rancidity.
- The number one place for sugar consumption is soda. Substitute the naturally and artificially sweetened drinks for water or herbal teas.
- Substitute soda with sparkling water and add some lemon or lime juice, cucumber slices, mint or berries for flavor.
As you clean out and restock foods in your pantry and refrigerator, this is a good time to clean your cupboard and refrigerator shelves with non-toxic cleaners. A good cleaner pairing is white vinegar and lemon juice.
Spring forward into health!