Spring Cleaning for your Kitchen

Springtime is my favorite.

I love walking around the neighborhood and smelling the honeysuckle, seeing the array of blooming flowers and all of the colors at the farmer’s market and in the produce section of the store.

The newness and freshness of spring makes me feel lighter… and crave lighter foods and exercise as well.

That craving for the feeling of lightness I believe is the impetus behind the “spring cleaning” that we are in the habit of doing in our lives. It’s the idea that we will clear out all of the old, heavy things that do not serve us any longer to create space and lightness that represents a new way of being. A fresh start.

I personally have done a massive closet purge and have spent my weekends going from room to room and cleaning out the house. But there is one room that I always avoid: the kitchen.

I know I am not the only one that has weeks-old Tupperware containers shoved in the back of the refrigerator or cabinets so stuffed full that I don’t even know what canned goods I actually have.

But rolling up your sleeves and getting to work on your kitchen can have a massive impact on your health and wellness moving into the warmer months. Why?

1)      Knowing what you have means that you can find creative ways to actually use it, rather than reaching for the phone to call Dominos.

2)      Creating space and lightness will make your kitchen a more attractive place for you to be.

3)      Using cleaning products that are eco-friendly and contain aromatherapy and essential oils (like lemon—a natural disinfectant) can produce calming and stress-relieving effects, which in turn can help lower our cortisol levels and help us burn more fat and increase our energy. (For some ideas on which oils to use and how, check out this article from Hello Glow.)

But we all know that the work that we do cleaning things out doesn’t always last very long. Especially in the kitchen, we pretty quickly go about our business filling it back up again.

That time I wanted to take a picture of my clean, fresh-looking kitchen, but this was the only corner that looked somewhat presentable.

That time I wanted to take a picture of my clean, fresh-looking kitchen, but this was the only corner that looked somewhat presentable.

So here is a list of things that you can add back into your pantry to help you feel lighter, more energetic, and more healthy for the warmer months.

1)      Coconut oil (swap for vegetable oil or even butter)—Vegetable and olive oils aren’t all bad for you in moderate quantities BUT when you heat them up they lose their antioxidant powers so you don’t get all the nutritional power out of them that you could. Swapping for coconut oil means that you get to keep those antioxidants AND you get medium-chain fatty acids that get burned off and DON’T get stored as fat, as well as lauric acid, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Also, have you ever used it on your skin or hair? Basically, coconut oil has massive superpowers and deserves its own Marvel movie. (*Disclaimer: coconut oil does not have the same texture as other oils. If you open the jar and it is more like a paste, don't panic. That's how it is supposed to be.)

2)      Sprouted grain bread (swap for virtually ANY other kind of bread)—I’m half Italian, which means that I have a love affair with carbs. It’s just a part of who I am and what I love about cuisine. Ever since I discovered sprouted grain bread, though, I feel a whole lot less heavy and bloated after eating bread. Sprouted grain (or Ezekiel bread) is made using cereal grains like millet and barley, as well as legumes, making it high in fiber and protein and low in gluten. The process of sprouting the grains actually makes it more nutritious AND it has 0 sugar (compared to the average slice of whole wheat bread, which has anywhere from 4 to 15 grams of sugar). I also find it to be more filling and satisfying. Bring on the avocado toast! (*TIP: look for it in the freezer section. Since it does not have preservatives, the shelf life is shorter than other breads so it is best to kept frozen or at least refrigerated)

3)      Buy in season—the best fruits and veggies to fuel up on are the ones that are the freshest and growing in their prime season because they will be more nutrient-dense. In-season foods also tend to mirror our body’s nutritional needs during different times of year. (Magical nature at its finest!) In the winter that meant I was eating a lot of squash and sweet potatoes because I was craving heavier, more grounding and dense foods. Now it means I am trading those Buddha bowls for salads that have lots of kale, chard, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens because they are in season and FULL of nutrients like beta-carotene, which improves your immune system, and quercetin, which has really cool anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. (For a good list on what is in season in your corner of the U.S., check out this site.)

4)      Cacao nibs (swap for chocolate chips)—You don’t have to completely give up on your sweet tooth, but do check your source. Raw cacao is the highest plant-based source of iron, has TONS of antioxidants, and more calcium than milk.  Not to mention that it doesn’t have any sugar. Other chocolate tends to be so heavily processed that nutrient quality is sacrificed and the added sugar takes over. (Be Good Organics has some great tips on how to prepare raw cacao)

5)      Frozen fruit (swap for ice cream or fresh fruit)—I’m not telling you not to buy fresh fruit. What I AM doing is giving you permission to add some frozen fruits (and veggies!) into the mix if you are a busy lady who doesn’t get to the market quite as often as she’d like and HATES to see fresh produce go bad. Frozen fruit can actually be just as good—if not better— for you than fresh because it is picked when it is ripe and then flash frozen so that all of the nutritional goodness is preserved. This way, you don’t have to worry about your fruits and veggies going bad AND you can eat the good stuff that you are craving that may be out of season, which adds more variety and excitement to your diet.

These are just a few things that you can do to amp up the effects of spring cleaning in your kitchen and to make some changes that feel nourishing and fulfilling to your body and spirit.

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Here's to fresh starts!