Updated: Oct 26, 2020
We are what we eat and creating a set of healthy guidelines to utilize even before we start making our meals at home, makes it simple to stock our pantries and prep to reach the goal of having nourishing meals every time. My foundation for this for my own kitchen starts with the following:
1. Choosing nutrient dense vegetables and fruit to stock in my kitchen.
This is very important because it ensures that I have easy access to healthy ingredients for the base of my meals. Some of the healthiest vegetables you can add to your dishes are Spinach, Carrots, Kale, Broccoli, Beets, Green peas, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Melons and Purple Cabbage. Fruits such as Bananas, Guava, Papaya, Berries, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Avocado and Pomegranate are also very high in nutrients and antioxidants.
I also prefer to purchase my produce directly from farmers or the market and avoid the groceries unless necessary. This helps me avoid excessive food packaging. I currently use a delivery service company named @farm2famtt . Their produce is pesticide free and you'd love to know that their packages sometimes include the most beautiful purple sweet potatoes. 2. Making it easy to use my ingredients to create meals quicker.
As some of us can relate that with kids around, time is of the essence. We need meals that can be cooked quickly and the best way to do this is to prep your fruits and vegetables in advance. I think this is the key to relieving the stress of cooking. You just have to set aside the time for the prepping. Dont do all at once, you can split the task into two days. Here are some helpful tips for prepping your produce:
Vegetables such as Carrots, Cabbage, Green Peas, Beans, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Celery, Pumpkin or any Gourd vegetables (vegetables with fleshy insides and hard skins) can be washed, peeled, cut and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer in airtight containers or proper storage bags.
Root vegetables such as Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Dasheen, Cassava and Eddos can be washed, peeled, cut and baked or blanched before refrigerating and freezing.
Blend your favourite herbs and seasonings together. For example, blend garlic cloves, coconut oil, parsley and chive in a food processor and store in an airtight container or jar for quickly adding flavour to your dishes.
Leafy Greens such as Lettuce, Patchoi, Spinach, Callaloo and Swiss Chard can be washed, cut and stored in the fridge or freezer in proper storage bags or containers. (Tip: you can slip a paper towel in the container if using the fridge to help absorb unwanted moisture).
Seasonings such as ginger, peeled garlic, pimentos and turmeric can also be kept frozen. Making them easy to grate, dice or mince and add to your dishes.
All fruits can be peeled, cut and kept frozen. You can also flash freeze them before to avoid clumping together. This can be done by simply placing cut fruit on a tray with space between each and freezing for 1 to 2 hours before packaging and storing again in the freezer.
3. Creating dishes that are easy to eat.
This is usually the trickiest one of all as children or picky eaters usually don't like complicated dishes or ones that take long to eat. They want food with minimal textures and for the younger ones, things that are easy to pick up with their hands. This is why a food processor and immersion blender became my best friends. Yes I'm serious, they were the best investments in my kitchen. I'm able to cook and blend lots of veggies and add them to a variety of pasta sauces, pies, nuggets and other favourites in my family. Check out my blog post, Plates for Picky Eaters for recipes.
My favourite food processors:
4. Reducing the amount of processed sugar in our food.
I try to avoid using processed sweeteners as much as possible except for the occasional extra sweet treat. Believe it or not, there are lots of other ways to add sweetness to your dishes using vegetables or fruits. Some of these include Beets, Sweet Peppers, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Bananas, Plantain, Grapes, Dates and many more. It may surprise you to see the variety of dishes you can create using some of these ingredients. Visit the blog for recipes using some of these natural sweeteners.
5. Reading ingredient labels in the grocery store.
This is by far the most important practice when purchasing pre-made snacks, packaged foods and ready-to-go-meals. These items usually contain a ton of preservatives, dairy, sodium and sugar -additives to avoid as much as possible. This can become frustrating especially when the majority of products are filled with these ingredients. In most cases, I would search for more natural alternatives and make sure to read the labels carefully. For example when purchasing tomato sauces, scan the shelves for ones without sugar and less sodium. But remember not to be too rigid and allow the occasional items for convenience and snacking. The good news is there are in fact a lot of companies producing a variety of healthier vegan snacks and food products.
Here are a few of my favourite brands:
I hope that these key points will be helpful to you for creating healthy lifestyles and eating habits for you and your family. Something to always remember: "Everytime you eat Is an opportunity to nourish your body."