When I think of Spring Cleaning, I think I need to move the fridge and the stove and remove all the stuff that’s been collecting behind there (and probably growing) for the year. I think about cleaning inside and behind the washing machine and resealing tile grout. Okay, I don’t think about those things, but they’re on a lot of “Spring Cleaning” lists of things that I probably SHOULD do.
Instead, I think about food. As a Nutritionist, I’m programmed this way. But to me, this is a lot more fun and much better way to spend my Saturday.
Spring Cleaning can be more than vacuuming under the couch cushions. You can also Spring Clean your pantry so you’re ready to take on Spring and Summer with a healthy outlook and a more nutritious cupboard. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you certainly don’t have to throw anything out. My suggestions are:
- Take stock of what you have and make a list.
- Consider healthier options of specific items, and when you run out of that item, replace it with the healthier option.
What are the healthier options you ask? I’ve got a list of healthy swaps below that will have your family full of energy and put spring in your step (see what I did there?) before you know it.
Why? Brown rice contains the germ and bran which means MORE FIBRE. Your body will take longer to digest, meaning you will be FULLER, LONGER. Because brown rice contains these natural components, it also contains more magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, and manganese.
Why? These varieties are whole grain, meaning once again-more fibre and nutrients. Pasta has come a long way from the first “whole wheat” pasta variety that was noticeably nutty and chewy. These days, you can barely tell the difference.
Why? White flour turns into sugar very quickly in your body, because it contains very little fibre (See a theme here?) Once again, the bran and germ is removed from the wheat and most “all-purpose” flours have been bleached.
Whole wheat and whole grain are different. Whole wheat flour is typically white flour with germ and bran added back in. Not BAD, but the ratio of the actual whole grain flour (Wheat that has been ground WHOLE), is naturally better for your body to digest. If you can find whole grain flour, go for it!
Why? Because I’m a buzzkill, that’s why! We all know we shouldn’t be eating cereal that is high in sugar first thing in the morning. Save it for treats on weekends and stick to cereals that have less than 4g of sugar per serving and MORE than 4g of fibre. Less crashing before launch and you’ll feel fuller, longer.
Why? Bouillon cubes are mostly salt, chemicals, and colourings. I know they make everything delicious, but instead of adding a bouillon cube to the water you’re cooking your rice in, use broth instead and get more added vitamins and minerals and less chemicals and colourings.
Great low-glycemic alternatives include honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. Why switch? White sugar goes directly into your blood stream with nothing to stop it. It spikes your blood sugar, sends you on a high and then leaves you to crash very soon afterwards. Your body then produces adrenaline to try to get your insulin levels going, and then your body will inevitably crash and this is the roller coaster you’ll be on all day long.
There are many hidden sugars and oils in your common pantry items.
Consider the following items to boost the nutrition of all your favourite dishes:
No matter which kind of beans you choose, you’re going to increase your fibre and plant based protein by incorporating beans into your diet. You can blend beans into sauces, add them to soups, make your own baked beans, hummus, and dips, or even just add them to a salad. Make sure you pair them with a while grain such as rice to get the complete protein.
This condiment can do no wrong. Whether you like spicy or mild, most salsas don’t contain any sugar, are low in calories, and full of nutrients. Add salsa to your eggs for a Mexican style breakfast, use on top of a taco salad or simply use this instead of a mayo or sour cream based dip.
Coconut milk can add creaminess to any dish in place of cream. Use it in smoothies for a Pina colada flavour, use in soups or curries to add that extra oomph or cook your rice in coconut milk to really change things up.
Now is the perfect time to begin to make these simple switches. Don’t try to do everything at once. Take your time to slowly integrate more nutritious items into your pantry, and the change will be seamless.