The seasons are changing. The mornings and evenings are cooler. The light is softer and thank gawd it's still sunny this week which means it's not quite time to dig out the winter wardrobe just yet.
All this makes it the perfect time for a kitchen clear out. Anyone read Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’? I’m not saying go the full 'Kondo' and clear out the whole house, but having a kitchen spruce up is definitely a good thing.
It's something I ask my clients to do to help get them into the right mindset. Never underestimate the positive impact of ditching things that are full of sugar, artificials, junk or that have been lurking at the back of the cupboard for ages.
Set aside a bit of quiet, kitchen-pottering time this weekend and try this.….
1. Get rid of anything out of date including sauces, ingredients you bought to make a recipe 2 years ago and haven’t used since or weird jams or chutneys that you got for Christmas but will never, ever eat.
2. Ditch sugary breakfast cereal. Most shop-bought cereals are laden with the sweet stuff. If it has more than 6g of sugar per 100g, it’s too sweet and will lead to spikes and crashes in your energy levels. Go on, ditch it.
3. Give or throw away biscuits, muffins, cakes, sweets and chocolate. Yes this step is much harder than the previous two, but if they’re not in the cupboard you won't be tempted to eat them. If it helps, tell yourself you can still have a sweet treat if you go out for lunch or dinner but that you just don’t want to have them in the house.
4. Hunt out artificial ingredients like preservatives, additives, colourings or the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate. These things lurk in crisps, snacks and ready meals. Look on the sides of packets and if there’s something you can’t pronounce, best not to eat it.
5. Discard sugar-laden drinks including fizzy ones, squash, smoothies and fruit juices. They all lead to sugar spikes regardless of whether they’re made from ‘natural’ sugar or not. I’ve written before on how to hunt out hidden sugar.
6. Replace white foods like white bread, white pasta, white rice and white noodles with the more nutritious wholegrain versions. Use up the white ones first and next time you shop, buy wholemeal or sourdough bread and brown rice or pasta instead.
So once you’ve done all this, what next?
Restock with brilliant basics:
- Jumbo oats (or gluten-free if you’re sensitive to it) for making porridge or Glorious Granola
- Weetabix, Oatibix or Shredded Wheat are a few low-sugar shop-bought cereal options
- Natural yogurt
- Berries – fresh or frozen
- Brown rice - I like brown basmati (red or wild rice is good too)
- Quinoa is a good alternative to rice if you fancy a change
- Wholemeal or gluten-free pasta made from brown rice
- Brown rice noodles
- Tinned pulses like chick peas and red kidney beans
- A few supermarkets have also started doing pre-cooked pulses and grains in pouches. Waitrose does a great quinoa and lentil one which is brilliant if you’re short on time
- Unsalted almonds, brazil nuts, cashews or hazel nuts
- Unsweetened peanut or other nut/seed butter like almond or pumpkin seed
- Green apples, celery, carrots, cucumber
- Olives are great if you've having a salt craving
- Dark chocolate with minimum 70% cocoa solids
Fresh and frozen fruit + veg:
- I get a weekly veg box delivered from Riverford Organic which usually works out cheaper than buying the same stuff at the supermarket - and tastes much better
- I keep a stash of frozen veg in the freezer for the times when the fridge is bare, usually frozen peas, spinach and sweetcorn
- Plus lots of mixed frozen berries like blueberries, raspberries and redcurrants for smoothies or dessert
- I drink filtered tap water all day with a slice of lemon or ginger in it
- I also have a few bottles of sparkling mineral water in the fridge to have with dinner, so that I feel less compelled to open a bottle of wine....!
- Herbal teas with no caffeine: rooibos, peppermint, camomile, liquorice or fruit tea
- Coffee: it's one of my vices. I have 1 or 2 cups of good coffee in the mornings and swtich to rooibos tea after lunch
- Raw cacao powder: delicious in homemade hot chocolate and less bitter than cocoa. I mix it with almond milk and a smidge of honey
- Honey or rice syrup: the only sweeteners I use
- Coconut oil for cooking at hot temperatures
- Olive oil for cooking at medium temperatures
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling and dipping
- Butter for spreading
- Avocados – I love them and always have them in the fruit bowl