BY ALEXANDRA JAMIESON (mindbodygreen.com)
Thinking about eating better, but not sure how you’ll manage the extra cooking, food prep, and new food rules in your kitchen? Don’t let the details stop you before you get started! I went to culinary school and worked in a world-renowned restaurant in Italy, yet I keep most of my meals super-simple. Doing this means I’ll continue to feed myself the best foods possible, even when I’m taking on a reset, detox, or cleanse. Here are my basic strategies for keeping my kitchen cleanse-ready, streamlined and inviting:
1. Pack Your Pantry With Quick-Meal Basics
If your cupboard contains little more than old herbs and spices, flavored vinegars, and random bags of flour, cooking up a fast meal won’t happen. But if you have quinoa, dried apricots, and organic chicken or vegetable broth, you can whip up a simple Moroccan-style tagine. You can still use some packaged foods like gluten-free pastas, canned beans or canned soups for dinners (look for BPA-free cans), just be sure to check the labels so you’re sure to avoid any hidden names for gluten, soy, corn, dairy, caffeine or sugar.
2. Organize Your Kitchen
- Clear clutter from countertops.
- Cleanse the dark corners of your cupboards: If you don’t use something at least several times a week, put it in a drawer or cabinet for more counter space.
- Organize drawers and get rid of useless gadgets.
- Keep knives sharpened and within reach.
- Keep a garbage bowl on the countertop while you’re cooking: it makes cleanup even faster when you can dump out one bowl of scraps rather than constant cleaning.
- As you start cooking, get out all the ingredients you’ll need and have them on the counter. There’s less chance that you’ll forget an ingredient or end up scrambling for something in the fridge during a critical step.
3. Get Ahead Whenever Possible
Be a weekend warrior! Cook ahead and prep on your days off so during your busy work days you have easy, healthy bites to grab. Chop vegetables to store in air-tight containers in the fridge. Boil some whole grains or beans on the weekend, and keep in the fridge.
Cook up recipes that keep well (soups, stews, whole grains, beans), and refrigerate or freeze; you can reheat them or steam them during the week for a meal in minutes.
Pre-prep your smoothie ingredients! Wash, dry and tear leafy greens and combine with berries or other ingredients in air-tight containers or plastic baggies. This makes the morning easier when you can just dump the ingredients into the blender. Freeze extra portions in portion-sized bags and you can make a meal for one easily.
Crave snacks? Stock the second shelf of your refrigerator with easy to eat seasonal fruit, cut up carrot sticks chilling in clean water, organic nut butters, and guacamole. When you have pre-cut and cleaned veggies or melon cubes in sight, you’re more likely to nosh the healthy stuff when a craving pops up.
4. Make Your Meals Radically Simple
Re-steam some cooked brown rice and lentils, cut up red bell pepper and scoop out some hummus, wrap leftover wild salmon in romaine leaves with mustard and raw sauerkraut. And don’t forget eggs! A dinner of scrambled free-range eggs, tossed greens with sliced avocado and cut up raw carrots is perfectly acceptable, yummy, and fast.
5. Make Over Your Fridge To Make Your Healthiest Foods Easy To Reach. (If You See It, You’ll Eat It!)
Instead of stuffing your healthy leafy greens in the drawers where they’ll be forgotten, place them on the top shelf where they’re easy to reach. Every time you open the fridge, you’ll be reminded to make a quick salad.
6. Make The Place Where You Eat And Prepare Food Into A Welcoming, Conscious Space
Even the smallest kitchens can be turned into a healing, creative zone with little touches like linen napkins, simple decor, and weekly fresh flowers in a pretty vase turn. Light candles for every meal, sit down and say a prayer or bless the meal with a little gratitude. Even a little extra awareness for the farmer, animal, or person who brought the meal to your table makes a simple meal relaxing, and puts you in the best mood for digesting.
7. No Matter Where You’re Eating, Get Into The Best Digestion Mode Possible
Whether you’re eating at home, at work, or even (gasp!) on the subway between meetings, take five, slow, deep breaths before you eat. Close your eyes and be aware of how your stomach feels. Are you tight and nervous? Take a few more deep breaths. Place a free hand on your belly to calm down and relax your stomach muscles. You can either be stressed or you can digest. While the ideal eating space is a calm, beautiful setting (like your newly organized kitchen!), even a noisy park bench or your workstation can transform into a healing meal spot when you bring your body’s awareness to the meal at hand.