I understand transitioning to an unprocessed kitchen can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re just learning about things like organic whole cane sugar and coconut oil. I assure you — you can do it!
There is a simple and practical way to make the change. The first step is to go through your pantry and fridge and read every label, identifying the foods with processed ingredients (see list below) as well as preservatives and additives. This will begin to help you identify the foods you will eventually eliminate. You may want to start with the foods in the pantry wrapped in cardboard or plastic – those probably have the most preservatives, additives, etc. When you’re ready to start the change, begin by making one change every week. Discard one item and replace it with one new organic/unprocessed item in your pantry. After six months you’ll be amazed at how much change has occurred, and in a year or so, your entire pantry and fridge will be completely transformed. This was the approach I took because at the time I had two little kids and trying to convert everything at once was too daunting.
Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is the first tool to help you cook nutritious meals at home and resist the temptation to purchase quick, take-out foods.
Here’s a photo of my pantry. I buy a few jars every couple of months so I can store all of my dry foods/ingredients in them.
Below you’ll find a few checklists to help you clean out your kitchen and replace those foods with nourishing, whole, organic ingredients. For these lists, I’m not going to zero in on one certain diet (grain free, paleo, gaps, etc.) nor is this a complete comprehensive list. Instead, I’m going to focus on getting rid of processed foods and replacing them with unprocessed foods. You can choose which foods you add to your pantry according to the diet you follow.
Ingredients/Foods to Avoid:
- Hydrogenated oils and trans-fats
- White flour
- White sugars
- Agave (click here to read more about this sweetener)
- High fructose corn syrup or corn syrup
- All vegetable oils (corn, canola, etc.)
- Soybean oil
- Any food with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Any food with ingredients that weren’t around a few hundred years ago – If your great-grandma wouldn’t recognize it, consider removing it.
Foods/Ingredients to Add:
Oils and Fats:
- Extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil
- Virgin coconut oil
- Raw, unsalted butter
- Red palm oil (make sure to purchase from a company that uses sustainable practices)
- Sesame oil
- Ghee (click here for an easy homemade recipe)
- Lard or Tallow from grass-fed, organic cows
In the Fridge:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Pastured, organic meats
- Organic eggs (pastured preferred)
- Raw, organic cheese
- Nut and seed Butters
- Whole plain yogurt
- Pastured unsalted butter
- Raw milk and cream
- Crème fraiche or a cultured sour cream
- Ohsawa nama shoyu fermented soy sauce, tamari sauce or coconut aminos
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Chicken Stock (Homemade preferred)
- Unprocessed condiments such as homemade ketchup, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, etc.
Dry and Other Pantry Ingredients:
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Whole wheat berries to grind for flour (preferably ancient grains such as emmer wheat, but only if your body can tolerate grains)
- Gluten Free flours (if you can tolerate grains)
- Raw cacao powder
- Pure vanilla extract
- Almond extract
- Aluminum-free baking powder
- Arrowroot powder (I use this as a 1:1 substitute for cornstarch)
- Unflavored Gelatin (I use this as a binder in many gluten-free/grain-free recipes)
- Celtic sea salt
- Dried Beans
- Nuts such as almonds, cashews, pecans, etc.
- Loose leaf tea
- Dark chocolate (preferably without soy)
- Herbamare is a fantastic all-purpose seasoning mix
- A few favorite spices and herbs: Dried Italian seasoning, dried thyme, ground cumin, ground cinnamon
- Coconut Milk
- Onions, Garlic, Squash
As you make the change to unprocessed foods, you’ll need jars or containers in which to store your ingredients. I store my foods in Mason jars or the flip top Bormioli Jars. Mason jars can be found at most grocery stores and the Bormioli Jars can be found at Sur La Table (they frequently have sales!) or I hear they carry them at World Market.
During the cooler months, I make a pot of soup at least twice a week. They’re easily put together – utilizing many pantry and fridge staples – are full of nourishing ingredients, and the leftovers make for a fantastic lunch the next day. I usually go for a creamy soup and this butternut squash concoction fits the bill. The shallots (they can be found near the onions at the grocery store) are cooked slowly in unsalted butter, the squash is roasted to bring out the sweetness and then it’s combined with chicken stock, a bit of coconut milk, and thyme to round out the flavors.
If you’d like to download the above lists in a pdf format, click here.