What’s In Your Fridge? Kitchen Essentials Part 2

by Susan on October 16, 2014

Healthy Refrigerator

Awhile back I shared some tips on stocking a pantry for clean eating and promised to cover the fridge next.  So here we go!  (If you missed the first article, check it out here!) What should you have in your refrigerator if you’ve committed to clean eating?  First off, I want to repeat my primary tip from before – Don’t change everything at once! Make changes one or two at a time; otherwise it can get frustrating and you may be tempted to give up. It can also be difficult for your family to offer support in dietary changes if the changes are so drastic they feel like they are giving up everything familiar!

Ok, that being said, let’s move on to the fridge!  Take a good hard look at what you’ve got in there right now (and in your freezer).  What do you see at first glance? Soda? Kool-Aid? A lot of processed foods? Ice cream? Frozen dinners?  If yes, hey, we’ll get there, one change at a time! 🙂

Let’s take a look at the healthy basics you could keep on hand:

Dairy: I don’t recommend a whole lot of dairy; and of course whether or not you should consume dairy at all is highly controversial these days.  My thoughts on this are basically, every person is an individual and responds to foods differently so decide for yourself whether dairy is for you or not.  However, if you do consume dairy, forms such as yogurt, kefir, and cheeses are healthier than straight milk; low-fat and non-fat forms of dairy should be avoided altogether; dairy products with added sugars, artificial flavorings, and artificial colorings should also be avoided.

  • Milk – organic is best! Cows milk is one of the less healthier options but if you opt for cows milk, choose whole milk.  Organic goats milk is another good option.  For non-dairy milk options, there is almond milk (my personal favorite), coconut milk, cashew milk, and hemp milk, though some of these can get a bit pricey.  Look for brands that are minimally processed and do not contain carrageenan.
  • Butter – and when I say butter, I mean the real stuff!  Margarines and vegetable spreads are BAD stuff.
  • Yogurt – My favorite is plain organic Greek yogurt.  This stuff is AWESOME!  It’s thicker and creamier than regular yogurt and tastes amazing mixed with a touch of raw honey and some fresh berries.  Plain regular yogurt is a good choice as well.
  • Kefir – If you’ve never had kefir, give it a try!  So good!  Basically, it’s like a drinkable yogurt but even healthier as it has more probiotics.
  • Cheese – Invest in quality; consume in moderation!

Fruits and Veggies:

  • Citrus fruits – Oranges, tangerines, Clementines, and cuties are perfect for easy snacks for the kids – and loaded with vitamin C.  Lemons and limes are perfect for adding to your water and tea as well as adding flavor to quite a few recipes.
  • Berries – fresh or frozen.  Perfect for snacks, a nice addition to breakfasts, great to throw in smoothies and shakes, and more.  High in antioxidants and SO delicious!
  • Other fruits – cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, kiwis, apples, and more.  The list is endless really and they are ALL good for you.  Keeping fruit on hand can help appease your sweet tooth without ruining your health!
  • Leafy green veggies – spinach, kale, collards, cabbages, and more.  Loaded with nutrients and fiber, these can be steamed, sautéed, baked, or even thrown in smoothies or shakes (I do this to get my kids to eat greens without them knowing it! Shhh!)
  • Root veggies – carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, jicama…again, an endless list.  All good for you (yes, you can eat starchy carbs!)
  • Garlic, ginger, onions, etc. – Excellent for flavoring recipes. Perfect for helping to balance out the bodies’ pH system.

Meats & Eggs:

  • Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, lean beef, venison, and lamb.  Opt for free range/grain-free if you can.
  • Deli meats – When selecting lunch meats, choose preservative free, nitrite/nitrate free and low sodium.  Same with hot dogs, sausage, and bacon! Consume in moderation.
  • Fish – in our home our freezer is nearly always stocked with fresh yellowfin tuna, but of course, living on an island in the South Pacific makes that possible with little to none expense.  Where you live can determine largely what fish you will have available.  Go for fresh, wild caught if possible.
  • Eggs – free-range if possible.  Avoid processed or artificial egg products.

Condiments:

  • Ketchup – you may not realize it, but ketchup is loaded with sugar!  You can choose a natural version without added sugar
  • BBQ sauce – same as ketchup in that you will want to find a version with lower sugar – or hey, try your hand at making your own!
  • Salad dressings – I have gone to just making ALL our own salad dressings.  Commercial salad dressings are loaded with artificial flavors and colorings and unhealthy oils.  I make my own dressings with extra version olive oil and vinegar (apple cider, red wine, or balsamic) as a base and then adding various seasonings.  Our family favorite is this recipe for Creamy Garlic Dressing.
  • Mustard – both regular and Dijon
  • Jams, jellies, and preserves – go for the all-fruit/no-sugar versions
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Chia seeds – perfect for topping smoothies or salads

While I’m sure there was quite a bit I missed, this is a good start!  I’d love to hear about some of the small changes you’ve made in your refrigerator or pantry!

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