Healthy Kitchen Basics
A healthy kitchen is more than just the food that you buy and cook. That is why I enjoy visiting clients at their homes and discussing kitchen basics with them. Nothing shows me more about the attitude towards health and cooking than the kitchen. Often it may be things that we haven't really thought about, so here are a few ideas that are worth considering:
Regular cleaning products are toxic to us and the environment. This is one area worth changing as the chemicals used in cleaning products can harm our health. There are many more local healthy cleaning options now available. I use a combination of Better Earth, Earth Sap and Triple Orange products to do most of my cleaning.
You can even make it more simple by using things like spirit vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and bottled lemon juice to do a fair bit of cleaning. The internet has lots of recipes on how to clean using simple everyday ingredients and I have found them very useful.
Pots & Pans
Cooking your own food should be healthy but while we may focus on healthy ingredients is your cookware healthy too? Aluminium cookware is often cheaper but the aluminium leaches out into the food. This is a heavy metal you want to avoid as it has been linked to health problems. Better options are stainless steel, ceramic and enamel saucepans.
There is nothing worse than a frying pan that sticks, so while they are often made from aluminium its’ the coating that can keep it safe. Good options are Greenpan or Scanpan, you don't want a coating that comes off when you are cooking.
Investing in good quality cookware may seem expensive at the time but they really do last a lifetime. I have one of my mother's pots that is as old as me!
It helps to have your cupboards organised so that things are easy to find when you are cooking. The best way to store dry ingredients is in glass bottles. I use Camphill 1 litre glass yoghurt bottles. You can find some great glass options in shops or online or reuse glass bottles that come your way. Plastic is a very popular choice and fine for dry ingredients but you may want to consider replacing your plastic over time.
Up to now, I have also used Ziploc plastic bags to keep perishables fresh for longer in the fridge, and I reuse many times. But I am very aware that it is not so much the reuse or recycle that is key it is reducing the use of plastic that is so important. I have just discovered Stasher Bags, they are made from silicon and can be used just like Ziploc bags but are so much better for us and the environment. They have a cute video that gives you a good idea of the product https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOj3GB_emR4
It is also handy to have a marker so you know what is the in the bottles. I keep my food in drawers so I write what is in the bottle on the lid, that way when I look down I can find what I am looking for. I do the same with all my herbs and spices and for things going into the freezer.
It may seem obvious but if you want to enjoy cooking you need to invest in good knives. I never understood why everyone complains about prepping vegetables until I realised what terrible knives are used. With great knives chopping and prepping can become a mediation.
When considering chopping boards we are mostly concerned about hygiene. Coloured plastic boards help us to keep our meats away from our vegetables and we could pop them in the dishwasher. Studies have shown that wood and bamboo are better and more hygienic than plastic. I have two wooden boards one for meat and one for everything else.
If you aren’t getting spring water, have a look if you need to replace your water filter cartridge. Having the cleanest water you can is important for your health. A water filter is far better for the planet than buying plastic bottled water. There are many options out there to suit almost any pocket from under counter filter systems to charcoal sticks. All of them help to get rid of chlorine and other harmful chemicals found in tap water.
I have a 6-month rule, every 6 months I go through my kitchen and get rid of anything I haven’t used, sometimes I keep them in a box in the garage just in case, but generally, they never come back into the house.
With a new health fad, comes a new must-have kitchen gadget or appliance that we feel we cannot live without. Only to find it languishing in the cupboard a year later. Keep your kitchen tidy as all that clutter in the cupboards and drawers just makes cooking seem complicated. you will be amazed by how few things you really need.
There is nothing like a good recipe book to inspire you to cook delicious healthy meals. Go through your recipe books and get rid of any that make cooking feel like a chore. The internet is also an endless resource for new recipes. Find a few sites that you like and keep going back there for inspiration.
It is also a good idea to have your own recipe file as a hard copy or digital form, a place where you keep all your tried and tested favourite recipes. I am so bad at keeping this up to date I will try something new, love it then forget to write it down so it gets forgotten or I cannot remember where I found it.
Because you are going to be spending more time in the kitchen prepping and cooking delicious healthy food you may want to be entertained. Having great music to listen to makes cooking fun. I sometimes use this time as a chance to catch up on podcasts, or a bit of comedy which always infuses the food with good vibes.