Q: I’m on a mission to purge processed foods from my kitchen. I know it’s the right thing to do. Do you have tips on where and how to get started? — Suzie from New Jersey
A. Hi Suzie,
We love that you’re thinking about this! It’s such an important thing to do so you can avoid the artificial flavors, preservatives, and other chemicals that are laced into processed food. To purge, either use up what you’ve got or give it away. Then it’s time to change how you shop now that you won’t be buying packaged processed foods. To re-stock your kitchen with non-processed foods, shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole foods. Or try a farmers’ market.
With your new clean and healthy ingredients, try whipping up some packaged staples from scratch! Croutons, vegetable stock, and granola are just three of the many foods you can make yourself in just a few simple steps with whole, nutrient-rich ingredients!
Here’s how …
- Cut up some old bread into 1-inch chunks.
- Heat some butter, olive oil, and herbs over medium heat for a few minutes.
- Toss the breads in the butter, spread on a large baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the bread chunks.
- Stir frequently with a spatula and remove when they are golden on all sides.
- Store in an airtight container.
- Mix about 4 cups of chopped vegetables with roughly 2 quarts water. (You can use any veggies you have on hand, like onions, celery, carrots, carrot tops, kale stems, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.)
- Simmer uncovered for about an hour. (Any more than an hour and the flavor will begin to deteriorate.)
- Strain out the vegetables using a fine mesh strainer and pressing hard to squeeze out all the broth.
- Let cool, then pour into glass jars and freeze or refrigerate. If refrigerated, be sure to use it within a few days.
- Combine any mix of your favorite oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits with cinnamon, maple syrup, and some oil.
- Bake them in the oven, let them cool … and you’re all done!
For staples and much more, creating meals from scratch instead of relying on packaged, processed items, means a healthier diet for the whole family. The first step is the step you’re currently undertaking: the purge. The second step is shopping smarter and making better choices at the grocery store. An added bonus to avoiding processed foods is minimizing the amount of plastic packaging in your kitchen. So keep up the good work! And enjoy your healthier kitchen.
- Safe or Harmful: Know Your Plastics
- How to Avoid Food Additives and Preservatives
- Find Safe Plastics to Store Your Family’s Food!
Photo Credit: Creative Commons