To Your Health
June, 2011 (Vol. 05, Issue 06)
By Carrie Wiatt, MS
Summer is finally here and it's time to clean up your kitchen - and your health! Here are some easy tips and tricks for cleaning out the fridge, freezer and pantry to ensure the foundation for healthy eating is established.
Let's start with the fridge
In order to prevent food-borne illnesses, check the temperature of your refrigerator. It should be set at 40 degrees or less. Your freezer should read 0 degrees or less. Temperatures above these levels can increase the risks of illnesses. And always check dates and labels, especially on dairy products. As the saying goes "when in doubt, throw it out!"
Have you been trying to get more calcium and protein into your diet by eating yogurt? Throw away fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt in your fridge and stock up on low-fat, low-sugar varieties. Nonfat, plain or Greek yogurt sweetened with 1 teaspoon of agave or honey is a healthier option.
As you are browsing through your fridge, make sure to get rid of high-calorie sauces like barbeque, along with mayonnaise, cheesy sauces, dips and the like. Replace them with low-calorie, light and low-sodium versions. You can also incorporate "free" condiments such as chili sauce, horseradish, vinegars, fresh salsa, and seasoning blends into your meals.
Make sure to stock the refrigerator with low-calorie beverages as well. Swap your once-a-day soda habit with an occasional better-for-you ginger ale or all-natural soda. Sip on healthier beverages like flavored teas. Add excitement to water with cucumber, mint, or a slice of lemon, orange, or even cherries when in season.
Move on to the freezer
Dig into the freezer and trash sodium-laden, high-calorie frozen meals, as well as any full-fat frozen treats you've hoarded lately to satisfy the late-night sweet tooth. Substitute with whole-fruit sorbets, low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt. Even better, make your own frozen treats by freezing a few handfuls of grapes or a banana with an ounce of melted dark chocolate.
If you have frozen leftovers, prevent freezer burn by tightly wrapping food and the containers in plastic wrap, removing as much extra air as possible.
Don't Forget the Pantry
While assessing the pantry, check to see if you are still hanging on to salty snacks, chips and cookies. If you are, ditch anything full of dyes, hydrogenated oils, added sugars, and preservatives. Substitute these with healthy snacks such as black bean chips, granola bars (whole-grain, low-sugar varieties), brown rice crackers, plain popcorn, or raw nuts, such as almonds and pistachios.
Go even further and choose snacks that come from the refrigerator to satisfy cravings. Fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products are great options for between-meal snacks.
As always, remember to keep an eye on your portion size. Don't eat directly from any bag or before you know it, you'll quickly overindulge!