Kitchen Makeover

Limiting Factor: something in your life that makes it difficult for you to achieve a goal.

Well folks, you're a few weeks into the Country Strong Challenge, and hopefully, you've been incorporating some new healthy eating habits into your life. If not, we need to go back and be sure your goals are realistic for you (Feel free to message or email me if you're struggling with this).  If they are realistic, and you're serious about committing to change, then we need to look at your limiting factors and eliminate them as obstacles.

The next few blog posts will help with getting rid of some common limiting factors in your life.

Today, we discuss your kitchen as a potential limiting factor. Making over your kitchen so that it can better serve you in your healthy-eating goals is simple, but not necessarily easy.

Step 1: Toss Junk Foods

  • if it's in your house, you'll will eat it
  • if it's not there, you CAN'T eat it 
  • Trash/Donate junk 
  • Tossing the stuff out that doesn't serve your goals is step 1. Now, throwing away food that you spent money on can be difficult because it seems wasteful. However, most likely, if you have an item in your pantry that's off-limits to you, you're setting yourself up to cheat; whereas, if the item is not in your home, you're less likely to cheat because cheating requires much more of an effort. Therefore, if you cannot fathom getting rid of food that is not so good, have a friend come over and do it for you (you may even want to leave the house during this process).

Junk includes: most processed foods, cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, chips, sugary snacks and drinks, hydrogenated oils, fake meats. 

Step 2: Restock Quality Foods

  • Meats: organic or pasture-raised if feasible
  • Veggies: go for a variety of colors and try to purchase in-season, local, organic veggies
  • Nuts/Seeds: unless you have an allergy to these or you have issues with portion control. In that case, stick to other fat sources like avocado, coconut oil/butter, grass-fed butter, or ghee.
  • Fruits/Berries: most of you won't be eating too much fruit daily, so I advise not to overstock. Berries are your best "anytime" fruit option especially if you stay in the 1/2-1 cup range. I typically buy organic, frozen fruit for my smoothies, and that's about it. 
  • Water/Tea: or any other non-calorie beverage of choice. I like Crystal Geyser sparkling mineral water. You can purchase (unsweetened) iced tea or make it yourself. Coffee is fine as well. If you're a diet soda fan, it's obviously not your best option, but it's also not your worst option. Try mixing some tea with sparking water for a diet soda alternative. 

Step 3: Tools and Appliances

  • Pot with Steamer Basket: it's a lot quicker to boil 1 inch of water than a whole pot of water. In addition, food retains its consistency and nutrients when lightly steamed verses heavily boiled.  Lastly, you can steam a veggie halfway, then sauté it in butter for a few minutes to get better flavor while using less fat (if you have to cook a veggie from start to finish in fat, you need a LOT of fat, which might be too much fat for a meal). 
  • Crockpot with a Plastic Liner: the plastic liners are usually sold near the ziploc bags. Essentially, you line your crockpot and cook. When finished, throw the whole pot insert in the fridge, eat out of it for a few days, throw away the entire liner and your crock is ready for use once again!
  • Non-Stick Skillet: leave it on the stove for easy access every morning if omelets or eggs are your go-to breakfast item. Non-stick items clean up very fast and save you time.  Additionally, you won't need as much cooking fat.
  • Blender: great for super shakes/smoothies. Put everything in your blender container except for any frozen fruits or ice and store it in the fridge; in the am, blend and go.  A quick tip...after you've poured your shake, fill the blender container half way with hot water and a bit of soap, and blend again, rinse, and you're out the door! 
  • Food Processor: hate chopping veggies? Pulse them in the food processor for quick veggies for omelet or on top of salads.
  • Lunch Cooler: gotta keep all that good food cold and fresh. Great for people who work out of their cars a lot such as truck drivers, construction workers, and salesmen. 
  • Baking Pan with Aluminum Foil: I'm sure most of you have a baking pan or cookie sheet. This item is great for baking or broiling meats. But, if you cover the pan with foil first, your cleanup will be super quick and easy.
  • Bare Essentials Utensils: knife, silicone spatula, tongs, and a large cutting board. A single, quality, well-sharpened chef's knife is really all you need. Keep it sharp for easily cutting veggies and meats. Yes, there are other knives for other purposes, and if you have those...awesome! But, if you lack one large, quality knife, this is where you need to start. The spatula can be used to clean out your blender and/or processor, to cook your eggs, and to stir your soups. The tongs are for flipping meats and bacon.
  • Easy Cleanup: use paper plates and plastic utensils. While this option is not so eco-friendly, it is time-friendly. If there are a few days in your week that end up being crazy, don't be afraid to resort to this's better than ordering fast food.

Step 4: Storage and Tupperware

  • Large/Medium/Small Tupperware: large options can hold all the meat and veggies you've prepared ahead of time. The medium pieces are for your to-go lunches and/or dinners, while the small can be used for pre-chopped veggies and fresh herbs that you can use to enhance the flavor of your food throughout the week. 
  • when you get home from shopping, if you can block out an hour or two to wash, chop, and store your veggies while you're cooking up a lot of protein to last for a few days or throughout the week, you're much more likely to eat the food rather than letting the food go bad.
  • Also, if you're prepared, lack of time or lack of healthy, prepared food in the house is no longer a limiting factor for you!

Step 5: Spices

  • Buy in Bulk: salt and pepper get old after a while. Trader Joe's has pretty good deals on spices. Costco sells spice blends such as Taco Seasoning, Montreal Steak Rub, and Lemon Pepper. Even their Chili Powder is actually a blend of several spices.  Winco is also a great place to purchase spices in bulk.  I recently discovered that my Winco has some great spice grinders with salt, pepper, and dried garlic all included in the grinder. They also have Sriracha Salt Grinder which looks intriguing! 

That's it for the kitchen makeover. Next time, we'll talk about grocery shopping!!

Remember to post or email any questions or concerns you have throughout the challenge!!

Cheers! - Amber St. Claire