Our environment shapes our behavior -- probably more than we realize. To make it easier for you to live the Almeda Lifestyle, you'll want your kitchen to reflect your best vision for healthy living. Design your kitchen for clean eating that optimizes cellular functioning without thought.
What’s recommended to include or exclude as part of a clean diet can vary widely. Bio individuality, genetics, hormone function, and life stage affect what an individual can and should eat. So how can we create all-around healthy kitchen spaces that make clean eating a breeze?
We have some ideas on that.
PART 1: DEVELOP A GOOD SENSE OF WHAT WE MEAN BY CLEAN EATING
These “rules of thumb” can help you
- Clear out most snacky, nutrient less foods that can spoil meals.
- Choose whole foods that aren’t in a box or bag.
- Focus more on the ingredient list than the nutrient facts label.
- Eat largely non-starchy vegetables and greens.
- Choose fresh foods when possible and eat in season.
- Seek diversity in foods.
Seek a Diverse Diet
Diversity is key when it comes to our diets. More diversity in your diet leads to a more diverse gut microbiome and overall better gut health.
This is why going to the farmers market is amazing. Not only do you see what produce is in season, including things you may have never tried, but you also get vegetables and fruits that have been grown in the sunshine and in real soil. You will also be supporting your local farmers, which creates a more sustainable ecosystem.
PART II: OUR TOP TIPS TO STICK TO A CLEAN DIET
- Read the ingredients. While reading labels is important, we recommend focusing on the ingredient list rather than the nutrient facts label exclusively. Two things to always look out for on food labels are added sugars and what oils are used. Limit or reject added sugars. Always avoid processed seed oils used in foods. Avoid cottonseed and grapeseed, for example, as well as canola, corn, rice bran, safflower, soy, and sunflower oils. Choose instead foods made with clarified butter (ghee) and coconut or olive oil.
- Sweeten naturally and minimally. Raw local honey is the best option because it is not only sugar. It contains antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. However, you still want to be aware of how much you are using. Monk fruit may be used, but still do so very sparingly. Avoid all artificial sweeteners.
- Eat fish, but watch mercury. Fish are one of the best sources of omega 3s that you can eat. You should opt for wild caught fish (especially salmon), but if not use fish that is farmed sustainably. Also, avoiding fish high in mercury is very important.
- If you eat meat, avoid all processed meat, Meats should be pasture-raised and grass-fed (ideally “grass-fed” and “grass finished”). Certified humane, unprocessed, and free of nitrates.
- Purchase organic soy. Tofu and soy proteins should always be bought organic. Soy is one of the most genetically modified crops.
- Reach for sprouted grains and beans. Grains and beans are better tolerated when sprouted. Their nutrients are more accessible to us as well. Opt to buy less processed and organic grains, like brown rice over white. Ancient grains and higher-protein grains (like quinoa, amaranth, kamut, teff, farro, spelt, couscous, oats, buckwheat, millet, and wheat berries) are awesome for those cutting back on their meat intake (or don’t eat meat), and easy to add to any meal. Beans and legumes are great for the diet and are such an amazing source of fiber. You can cook grains and beans ahead of time to have it ready when you’re in a pinch.
- Choose healthy fats. Coconut oil and ghee are good for cooking because they have a high smoke point. Olive oil is great for use at room temperature. Definitely avoid cooking more unstable fats like polyunsaturated fats, and use more saturated fats instead with heat. Keep your oils in cool, dark places with lids screwed on well. You can even refrigerate oils if you like. Store flax seeds, other seeds, nuts, and nut butters in the fridge, too.
- If you choose dairy, choose real dairy. Typically, we believe it can be helpful for many people to avoid dairy. However, many people can still tolerate it and love it. Avoid cheese with strange additives and fillers. A real cheese should only contain the milk, enzymes & cultures, and the salt. Ideally always look for mature-raised, grass-fed cows when it comes to dairy (including milk, cheese, or yogurt).
- If you eat eggs, make sure they’re pasture raised (not free range). Ideally, eggs would also be organic and have a diet free of corn and soy. It is also good to look for eggs certified as humane.
- Keep desserts simple. When going for desserts, don’t be fooled by desserts branded as healthier or lower calorie. Allow yourself to have the dessert and choose the ones with the simplest and most real ingredient list.
- Know the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen. Really, we should always choose to eat organic whenever possible. However, looking at the clean 15 and dirty dozen lists helps prioritize which produce you prioritize to buy organic.
2021 Dirty Dozen (only buy organic):
- Kale/Collard/Mustard greens
- Bell and hot peppers
Clean 15 (generally considered safe to buy non-organic if needed):
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen sweet peas
PART III. BEGIN YOUR KITCHEN PREP ADVENTURE!
To begin, set your expectations
Pre-decide what you want to accomplish as an end goal. Be realistic about what will take you to the next level now versus, say, next season or next year. Advanced planning may require new skills and an initial investment of time and energy. Yet we believe advanced planning ultimately simplifies things. Preparation helps us avoid random snacking and making “hangry” choices.
Kitchen prep steps to try:
- Clear out foods and food-like products that you know aren’t helping you meet your goals.
- Stock your pantry with essentials (see below).
- Pre-portion salads or salad ingredients.
- Cook ingredients in bulk that can be tossed into meals throughout the week.
- Use a variety of spices to enhance flavor and shake things up.
Own what you can (and can't) control.
Pre-portioned salads and pre-cooked proteins are super useful items to stock in your kitchen. Kasvi smoothies chock-full of superfoods and adaptogens help fill dietary gaps. We also recommend a daily multivitamin like Encarna that helps round out your diet, ensuring you’re getting the nutrients you need. Especially when traveling and away from your home kitchen, Kasvi and Encarna can help support the immune system and your overall well being until you’re back at home. So these are great to keep at hand.
Essential foods that are easy to prepare ahead
Each week, select a few of your favorite foods to have chopped and cooked ahead of time. You might shop on Saturday and batch cook for 1 hour on Sunday, for example. This makes for easy meal assembly and minimizes weekday cooking time. We recommend you chop up raw veggies, prepare proteins, and pre-cook a few ingredients like ancient grains, beans, or potatoes.
- Leafy greens
- Aromatics like garlic and onion
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles (+kasvi)
- Frozen fruit
- Frozen vegetables
- Flax meal / chia seeds
- Healthy Fats: coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil,
- Vinegars: Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar
- Herbs and Spices
- Adaptogens like Kasvi
- Seasonal long-lasting fresh veggies (like squash, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes)
- Sea vegetables such as seaweed, kelp, and algae.
A note about dressings
Homemade salad dressings are definitely better than premade (cleaner ingredients, fewer unnecessary additives), and they can be very simple and quick to make and store. Plus, they are much less expensive when mixed at home. Just throw together a healthy oil, your favorite vinegar or citrus juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Voila, a homemade salad dressing.
RE-EVALUATE EVERY SEASON, UPGRADE EVERY YEAR
To keep up with your current goals, you can reshape your setup quarterly and annually for best results. Give yourself what you need, in small incremental steps.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of kitchen prep, you’ll continue to add to your repertoire of wholesome ingredients, delectable seasonal dishes, and clean-eating culinary feats!