What Junk Food? Your Guide to a 2021 Kitchen Makeover

It’s happened to all of us: We set great goals for healthier eating, but then 10pm comes around and that bag of chips in the back of the cupboard gets harder and harder to resist. Removing unhealthy items from your kitchen is a necessary step towards better health. Having the right food on hand will increase your success in meeting your health goals.  

A. Kitchen Makeover – What to Remove

Step 1 – Remove Non-nutritious Food

First, get a large trash bag and throw any non-nutritious items or food that trigger you to engage in unhealthy eating. Keep only the food that will help you meet your health goals. 

Photo Credit creativecommons.com

There are 2 ingredients that are especially harmful to your long term health:

  1. Partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats
  2. High fructose corn syrup (HDCS)

Both of these substances are in many processed foods. Read the labels on items in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer and throw away any food with these ingredients. As you read ingredient labels keep foods that have fewer ingredients and ones you can pronounce. Look for a healthier substitute for your favorite snacks: one with ingredients that better support your health. 

Photo by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels.com

Be aware of foods that may seem healthy, but aren’t according to Precision Nutrition. These “Trick Health Foods” include:

  • Sweetened yogurt and frozen yogurt
  • Breads and bagels
  • Other baked goods
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Regular peanut butter
  • Fruit juice

As you’re cleaning up your pantry, if the food has some value, you might consider donating it to a food bank instead of throwing it away. 

Vegan No-Bake Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream

Step 2 – Remove eggs, wheat or dairy from your kitchen, if this is a part of your 2021 health goals.

Most people who consider eliminating these foods are experiencing some health issues. Weight gain, physical pain, or a health crisis are what often motivate dietary changes. In “Cleanse to Heal” by Anthony William, “level 1 troublemakers are the most important to remove from your diet if you want to protect your health.”

Level 1 troublemakers are:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Soft drinks
  • Excess salt

If you aren’t ready to remove these items completely from your home, consider removing them from your kitchen to a freezer or garage for a season.

B. Kitchen Makeover – What to Add

The following foods are staples in my home.

Fruits – fresh or frozen

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Wild blueberries, frozen
  • Dates
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Mangos, fresh or frozen
Fruit Salad with Citrus Honey Dressing

Vegetables & Fresh Herbs – fresh or frozen

  • Asparagus, fresh or frozen
  • Broccoli, fresh or frozen
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • onions
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
Broccoli & Mushroom Stir-fry

Nuts/seeds 

  • Raw cashews 
  • Sesame seeds
  • Other nuts/seeds of your choice

Lean protein, if eating meat

  • Grass-fed beef, fresh or frozen
  • Salmon, fresh, frozen, canned or dried
  • Turkey, fresh or frozen
Garlic Cashew Aioli

Cans or jars 

  • Beans (black, garbanzo, cannelloni, etc.)
  • Coconut milk
  • Salsa 
  • Tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste preferably with no citric acid 

Bottles

  • Coconut aminos, a substitute for soy sauce
  • Coconut water
  • Healthy oils like coconut, avocado or olive oil
  • Orange juice, for smoothies
  • Sesame seed oil 
  • Vegetable broth
  • Non-alcoholic vanilla extract

Bulk items or bags

  • Beans or lentils
  • Whole grains, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, brown or black rice
  • Arrowroot powder
  • GF flour
Lentil Stuffed Squash with Herbs and Mushrooms

Nut butters 

  • Tahini, sesame seed butter
  • Almond butter
  • Cashew butter

Sweeteners

  • Pure maple syrup
  • Raw honey
  • Coconut sugar
Thumbprint Cookies

Spices

  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Red chili flakes
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric
  • Sea salt

C. Kitchen Makeover – Basic Kitchen Supplies

Having some basic kitchen supplies is the final step of your makeover. I didn’t make major purchases at first, but over time learned which larger appliances would be useful in my kitchen. I still use a sharp knife over a food processor much of the time. 

Basic Kitchen Supplies, as recommended by Precision Nutrition

  • Blender
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • citrus juicer
  • Cookware set
  • Knives
  • Stainless steel tools and silicon spatula
  • Cutting board
  • Large bowls
  • Wooden spoons
  • Strainer
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Graters
  • Baking sheets
  • Casserole dishes
  • Food processor*
  • High Speed Blender*
  • Juicer*
  • Rice cooker/steamer*
  • Tea kettle*

*Optional

You might also be interested in My Favorite Kitchen Tools: 11 Items I Use Everyday

Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

Kitchen makeover summary:

  1. Eliminate all the unhealthy food with hydrogenated oils and corn syrup from your home.  
  2. Remove eggs, wheat, dairy or any food that doesn’t support your health goals.
  3. Restock your pantry, refrigerator and freezer with healthy foods.
  4. Make sure you own a sharp knife and the basic kitchen supplies. 

Taking the time to make over my kitchen was a key step in my journey to consistently eat healthier. I’m excited for the ways a kitchen makeover can support your health and wellness goals, too!

For additional tips on staying healthy in the new year you might also enjoy 3 Tips For a Healthier 2021

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