5 Swaps for a Healthier Pantry & Kitchen

by | Updated: March 6th, 2018 | Read time: 3 minutes

With spring right around the corner, you’re ready to rid your home of items that no longer serve you. This could be anything from donating old jeans to trashing lotions with ingredients you now avoid or tossing the old blanket that’s been in your closet for years. Eliminating these items is a great start. But there’s one area that needs a little more attention in particular.

Person Replacing Old Spices with New Ones in Spice Rack | Vitacost.com/Blog

When it comes to spring cleaning, there are two areas we tend to neglect: the kitchen and pantry. This year, give these overlooked spaces a mini makeover with the following five tips:

1. Swap nonstick cookware for cast iron

A few years back, nonstick cookware seemed like a gift from the heavens. Whether a first-time cook or seasoned home chef, Teflon-coated pots and pans created beautifully browned meals. However, the host of chemicals used to create these items has become a point of concern in culinary communities. 

So, instead of ingesting the chemicals associated with non-stick cookware, opt for cast iron. These pots and pans are a bit more work to achieve non-stick status as they need to stay well-seasoned, they are a healthier alternative for your cooking needs. Keep in mind that the iron from this pick can leach into food, so if you struggle to get enough iron in your diet, this could be an added bonus.

2. Trade plastic containers for glass

Investing in a set of plastic containers seems like a great buy when starting a healthier lifestyle. They are lightweight and come in various shapes allowing you to carry different types of foods with portion control in mind—plus, they’re cheap! But there’s a catch.

Plastic containers often contain compounds, like bisphenol A (BPA), which can leach into our food when heated, or just overtime as the plastic becomes more worn down. And for those products that are labeled as “BPA-free,” don’t let your guard down. Many of these items still contain bisphenol S (BPS), a harmful compound similar to BPA.

Instead, avoid the concern and opt for glass containers! They’re extremely easy to clean and can be heated without concern—plus, they won’t degrade over time.

3. Replace conventional oils with high-quality options

When you start preparing more meals at home, you may become curious about oils—there are so many to choose from! Whether coconut oil for raw desserts, canola for baking, sesame for Asian dishes, avocado for frying, olive oil for sautéing and flax for those concerned about omega-3’s, there is an oil for every need!

But let’s not forget that culinary oils are considered processed foods. The fiber, among other components, are removed from foods such as sesame seeds, avocado and flax to produce the oil. The final product? Fat. So, if you want to up your whole-food consumption, choose the whole foods over the oils. As for cooking, invest in a few extremely high-quality oils, such as olive oil and organic flax oil.

4. Out with the old spices, in with the new

Spices and herbs are an amazing way to add flavor, color and depth to meals. These ingredients also add phytochemicals to our diets, which are compounds that can benefit our health. For example, turmeric powder, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, cumin which can aid in digestion and red pepper flakes that may boost metabolism. However, as spices and herbs age, their health benefits also diminish.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear that spices and herbs stay fresh anywhere from six months to four years. An approach that may work for you is to start fresh this spring and stock up on high-quality spices and herbs that you’ll actually use. Save money by purchasing your favorite spices in bulk and storing them in empty glass jars.

5. Create your dream kitchen

If you don’t love your kitchen, give it a makeover! Transform it into an inviting space you actually want to spend time in.

You can go thrift shopping for new-to-you décor. Or maybe it’s as simple as changing the lights or buying a fresh new apron. You can also spruce up the room with fresh flowers, herb planters and/or a purposefully placed stack of cookbooks.