Are there certain foods you don’t keep on hand because you know they spell trouble or simply because you know how to make do with healthier alternatives? Over the years I’ve added and subtracted some of my pantry and refrigerator staples and wanted to share a few of my ideas. If you have successful swap stories please comment below or post to my Facebook wall!
Chips – There are many varieties of chips out there so when I say I don’t purchase chips I must clarify a few things. I do occasionally get tortilla chips, pita chips, and pretzels but unless there’s a special occasion, say the 4th of July, I avoid things like Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, etc. I think there was maybe a Michael Pollan rule about avoiding anything ending in “os” which is pretty funny when you think about it. Instead of having chips I keep almonds and pistachios around and make my own sweet potato or kale chips which are very tasty and much healthier.
Here’s a quick how-to for the kale chips: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry (pat dry or use a spinner) kale leaves and then tear into smaller pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and any seasonings you might fancy (I use curry salt). Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges brown and it is crisp. I find curly kale works better than dinosaur kale.
Candy – My whole life I’ve loved candy but in the last year or so I’ve significantly cut back on my candy consumption. Instead of having a candy bowl at home, I keep fresh fruit and dried fruit on hand to satisfy my sweet tooth. Being a fan of all things sour, I recently discovered a much healthier alternative to candy such as Sour Patch Kids or Sweet Tarts – red currants!
Salad Dressing – One day when I was cleaning my refrigerator I found a lot of salad dressing that had expired and realized I was wasting money collecting a variety of dressings that I would never finish. Then I started researching ways to make my own salad dressing and discovered that not only is it easy, but it’s so much healthier! Many commercial salad dressings have high fructose corn syrup or other forms of sugar lurking on the ingredient panel. Now when I need to make a salad dressing I have a variety of ingredients on hand that will do the trick. These include: extra virgin olive oil, a variety of vinegars, tahini, lemons, lime, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Shredded Cheese -I used to stock up on bags of shredded cheese because I thought I was getting a great deal but found that I usually ended up with a half-used bag of moldy cheese after a few weeks. Now I save money by purchasing blocks of cheese to shred at home and use for other purposes. Blocks of cheese shreded on your own melts better than the processed stuff. Usually pre-packaged shredded cheese contains an additive to prevent molding which inhibits melt time and can aggravate gluten sensitivities. I also find that I use less cheese if I have to shred it myself.
Ice Cream – I love ice cream, I really do, but I know that keeping it in the freezer is bad news. Occasionally I’ll have some but usually the ice cream I eat comes from an ice cream shop. Instead of ice cream, I rely on plain Greek yogurt topped with berries, coconut, Grape Nuts, or honey and peanut butter.
Pop – Or soda, or cola, or coke, or whatever you call it. Thankfully I’ve never been a pop drinker so this is probably the easiest product to keep out of my home. If I need a little caffeine pick-me-up I reach for some Gong Fu Tea! I know many people who could lose a lot of weight and start eating healthier if they eliminated this vice. If this speaks to you, slowly cut back until you no longer keep any in the house!
What savvy swaps do you frequently rely on to eat healthier? Are there things you must keep out of your house or things you must have on hand? Please share!