The key to changing everything is simply awareness. If we don’t know that something exists, we will never know what we’re missing. As the founder of Whole Journey Wellness, my goal is to empower clients to embark upon, and to maintain, their own health journey. With the momentum of New Year’s Resolutions behind us, we can take a practical approach to our weight and health goals, by changing what we keep in the house, and therefore what we put in our bodies.
Keep your commitment to yourself by implementing what you learn in this article to slowly and steadily re-stock your kitchen with new, healthy items you may not have heard of before. By purchasing 3-5 new products each time you shop at a health food store, and making a commitment to experiment with them, you can have access to more vibrant health than you ever thought possible. Nothing in here involves a sacrifice, it’s simply either an upgrade to a product you might be using or an addition to your diet.
Allow me to introduce you to my favorite, lesser-known items in each of the following categories- Protein, produce, whole grains, fats and oil, dairy alternatives and condiments.
Aduzi Beans- buy them canned to start out. Eden Organic is a good brand. This bean strengthens the adrenal glands and supports kidney function
Garbanzo Beans (chick peas)- for those eating less meat this bean packs more iron than any other. Have it in hummus form to cut back on dairy or in salads to double as a complex carb and a protein.
Tempeh- a natural fermented soy that makes a great veggie burger patty. Full of protein, dietary fiber and b vitamins; a healthier choice than tofu and easy to cook.
Fresh Fish- Look for “wild caught” to protect yourself from heavy metals and to maintain the nutrient content. Fish is the fastest protein to cook so if you are intimidated by it, start out with the flaky white fish like red snapper and tilapia and look up some recipes to bake them. Then move on to salmon, tuna, and any others
Nuts and seeds- raw almonds and walnuts are a great daily source of protein and healthy fat; bound to sustain you for hours. Have a handful of these with an apple for a snack and enjoy the feelings of satiety.
Leeks, red radishes, daikon radishes, and green onions- great fat emulsifiers for those trying to detox, loose weight or lower their cholesterol. Daikon radishes mirror the shape of carrots but they are white and translucent. Grate them into a salad just like they do at Japanese restaurants.
Broccoli Sprouts- 10x more cancer-fighting ability than regular broccoli. Keep your fridge stocked with these to put in salads, wraps and sandwiches. Great detox and weight loss vegetable as well.
Sweet Vegetables- beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips and yams are a great way to stave off sweet cravings during this time of year as well as to stay grounded. Cut up your favorites, coat them in olive oil and bake them for 45 minutes at 375. Good for breakfast, over a salad for lunch or as a side dish with dinner.
Boxed/bagged mixed field greens- easy, convenient way to eat your greens and to get more than one variety in your salads. Store with a paper towel to ward off excess moisture that wilts the greens.
Kale- most powerful source of well-absorbed calcium than any other food. You will be doing yourself a huge favor if you incorporate this food in your diet on a daily basis. Use in sandwiches and wraps in place of lettuce, mix in with a salad or sauté it with garlic and olive oil (or coconut oil). Make sure to de-stem it.
Lemons- powerful cleanser. This fruit is highly alkaline and helps wash excess acids from the stomach into the intestines so our bodies can eliminate them. Try the juice of ½ a lemon in water first thing in the morning. This is a great way to kick start your metabolism for the day.
Bread- try wheat alternatives like brown rice bread, manna bread, or many others avoid allergies, mental fog and weight gain.
Pasta- pick up brown rice pasta for a low-glycemic choice. You will never taste the difference, but your body will process it much better.
Quinoa- a south American grain packing more protein than any other grain. Delicious, full of fiber and b vitamins and one of the least allergenic foods. Cooks in 20 minutes!
Millet- this light, fluffy grain is good to use as a breakfast porridge when mixed with almond milk, trail mix and a touch of agave and cinnamon. It is a complex carbohydrate easily processed by any body type.
FATS AND OILS
Flax Oil- great source of desperately needed Omega 3 fatty acids. Never heat it – best on steamed veggies and used in salad dressings or in smoothies. The good fats lower cholesterol, balance our moods, reduce inflammation and promote weight loss!
Coconut Oil- use to bake and stir-fry. Helpful with weight loss and stable under high heat.
Ghee- alternative to butter because it’s clarified which means the milk solids have been taken out.
Avocado- more vitamin E than any other food and provides monounsaturated fat 80% of which is digested immediately.
DAIRY AND ALTERNATIVES
Goat’s milk yogurt- considered dairy-free for those who cannot process lactose, casein or whey.
Feta Cheese/Goat cheese- dairy-free, low fat, and the healthiest cheese.
Almond Milk- nut milk found in a box in the cereal isle. Great source of magnesium and protein. Tastes good too!
Rice Milk- healthy alternative to milk and much easier to digest.
Tamari- wheat-free soy sauce.
Apple cider vinegar- healthiest vinegar to alkalize the body. Can alleviate indigestion and acid reflux with regular use of 1T/day. Make it be your mainstay in the vinegar category.
Cayenne Pepper- boosts metabolism and warms us from the inside.
Herbs and Spices (a variety of fresh or dried)
Cinnamon- will balance your blood sugar for 24 and stave off sweet cravings
Coconut Milk- use for asian dishes and to replace milk and crème on deserts. Nice topper to your breakfast cereal.
Agave Nectar- honey-like natural sweetener that is completely safe for diabetics, low in calorie and 1/4x sweeter than sugar. My personal favorite!
Xylitol- This natural sweetener comes from plants and can be used cup for cup in place of sugar in any recipe for a healthy “sugar free” treat.
Celtic Sea salt- matches the exact mineral profile of our blood; supports healthy skin and digestion.
Raw Almond butter- healthier than peanut butter and more satisfying.
To solidify your motivation, try the quinoa and kale recipes below. They use 6 of the aforementioned ingredients. Good start to stocking your healthy kitchen for 2009 and beyond!
Saffron Garlic Quinoa
1-3/4 c water
1 veggie bouillon cube
pinch saffron threads (5-6 threads)
2 TBL olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 c. quinoa (can also use other grains, such as rice, millet, etc)
pinch ground coriander
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
In a medium saucepan, boil water and add the boullion cube. Stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat, add the saffron threads and stir. Cover and set aside
Preheat a medium –size pot over medium heat. Saute the garlic in oil until softened and golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add the onion and continue to sauté until the onion turns translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Sauté for about a minute. Pour in the warm vegetable broth and stir in the coriander. Cover and bring to a boil, stir the rice once, and lower the heat to low. Cover and let the quinoa simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, add pine nuts and season with salt and pepper.
Curried Kale w/Caramelized Shallots & Agave
3 Shallots, thinly sliced
1 TBL Coconut Oil
1 TBL Curry Powder
1 TBL Agave Nectar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ bunch Kale (about 4 oz) stems removed and chopped into large pieces
2 TBL Tamari
2 TBL Water
Heat oil over medium heat, add shallots and sauté until dark brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Stir in curry powder, agave and lemon juice. Add kale, soy sauce and water. Cover and steam for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until kale is still chewy but tender. Do not overcook.