5 Things to Purge from Your Kitchen Today (and Healthy Alternatives!)
It’s no secret that safely detoxifying the body can provide benefits to overall health, but reducing the toxic load in the home can be a preventative measure that means needing to detoxify less often. Here are 5 things you can purge from your kitchen today and safer alternatives you can swap them with.
1. Teflon & Aluminum Cookware
Do you have non-stick teflon pots and pans? Do you use cookware with big, gnarly scratches in them? Let’s talk about it. There are chemicals found in teflon cookware (Perfluorooctanoic acid and Polytetrafluroethylene, also known as PFOA and PFTE, respectively) that can potentially leach into your food when you cook. The fumes from cooking with teflon may also cause a condition known as “polymer fume fever,” which is characterized by flu-like symptoms, tightness in the chest, headaches and fever. Yikes!
Consider avoiding cookware that contains aluminum as well, because studies show that aluminum is capable of breaking the blood-brain barrier in our bodies and accumulating over time in brain tissues. Despite the fact that studies have shown a definite link between regular consumption of aluminum and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, many still dispute this as truth. For me personally, I have seen too many peer-reviewed studies on the topic, so I prefer to avoid it whenever possible.
Try this instead: Try replacing your teflon pans for cast iron, stainless steel or ceramic cookware. Add a sheet of parchment paper over your aluminum cookie sheets before using them, or use cupcake liners in your aluminum muffin pans. Try to avoid cooking things wrapped in foil, and go for parchment or silicone instead. Using aluminum or teflon once in a while might not make a major difference because it seems to have a cumulative effect, so don’t panic if you’re visiting a friend and they’re using an aluminum pan!
In other words, the more you do it, the more your body has the opportunity to absorb it.
2. Not-so Healthy Fats
My friends, consider kissing canola and vegetable oils goodbye. Here’s why: Not only are these oils almost always genetically modified and from crops that were heavily sprayed with pesticides, but they’re prepared using chemicals that, in my humble opinion, don’t belong in the human body. It’s also important to avoid trans fats completely if you can. If you take only ONE piece of information from this entire article and apply it, I hope it is this: Trans fats are unsafe, even in moderate amounts. Most margarines, fried foods, and even conventional brands of peanut butter often have hydrogenated fats in them, so check the ingredients list and see if you find the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.” If you do, try to avoid it if you can.
Try this instead: Despite what you just read, there’s no need to fear fat! It quite literally makes up 60% of the solid mass of our brains. In other words, it’s mega important! Just be sure to choose quality fats instead of trans fats or vegetable oils whenever possible. A few of my favourite healthy fats include extra-virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed clarified butter or ghee, avocado oil, avocado, tahini, and nut butters. Just be sure you check the ingredients list, because some nut butter brands contain additives, extra sugar, and added trans fats. The only ingredient in your nut butter should be nuts!
Did you know that many conventional dried herbs and spices are actually treated with radiation? It’s true! This is done with the intent of killing off any potential bacteria or parasites, which is also why they seem to last forever in your cupboard. Not only does this pose some potential health risks, it can also mask the flavour when the seasonings actually do go rancid. Gross! The good news is there are plenty of great companies that carry affordable, organic, non-irradiated herbs and spices. And yes – You will ABSOLUTELY be able to tell a difference in the flavour!
Not only are many traditional spices and spice mixes treated with radiation, they also often have other ingredients added in! Chemicals, sugars, and other additives such as MSG may help to enhance the flavour, but they also provide plenty of not-so-nice side effects like mood changes, hives, inflammation, joint pain, nausea and migraines, to name a few.
Try this instead: Without your favourite steak spice within arms reach, is dinnertime doomed to forever be bland?
My friends, all is not lost. Let me introduce you to the delicious and healing power of fresh (or dried) herbs! Did you know that peppermint leaves can be steeped in a cup of hot water as a tea that can help to heal an inflamed digestive tract? The fragrant and tasty leaves of the basil plant can be chopped up and thrown on top of any pasta sauce as an all-natural anti-inflammatory, and parsley is an effective remedy for getting rid of gas. You can even chew a piece to help get rid of garlic breath! Cayenne warms the body and can improve metabolism while also helping to decrease sinus congestion, and a chunk of fresh ginger can be steeped like a tea for inflammation of any kind. Herbs and real spices are truly amazing, and you should consider getting to know them!
Don’t let this information overwhelm you, though. If you are new to the world of fresh herbs, I would recommend picking ONE herb at the grocery store to bring home on your next visit. Have a look at all of the available options and give them a smell to see if anything appeals to you. Bring it home and Google it! Add it to soups, season your food with it, or make a tea out of it. You will be AMAZED at the new flavours you experience from something that’s actually good for you.
If the idea of using real herbs intimidates you, rest assured there are also plenty of brands of spices and seasonings out there that are non-irradiated, non-GMO, organic and additive -free! It’s all about sourcing my friend! Check out your local health food store, or ask friends what they recommend! You might stumble upon some brand new seasonings that’ll change your culinary world forever!
4. Sugars & Artificial Sweeteners
One of the first things I noticed when I started truly reading the ingredient lists on food labels was that there is sugar in just about everything. It’s hidden in nut butters, turkey burgers, spice mixes and sauces. Sugar is everywhere! And anything that doesn’t contain sugar might just have some artificial sweeteners instead!
Aspartame, sucralose and nutrasweet are just as bad, if not worse than actual sugar! And goodness – Even some brands of stevia seem to have additives in them these days! It’s truly a challenge to decipher the best way to reduce our sugar load because it’s so hard to find food without it.
Try this instead: Become obsessed with the ingredients list.
Don’t focus on whether you found an item in the natural food section or in another aisle. Don’t focus on whether it has a blue label or whether it says it’s “natural,” “low-fat” or “sugar-free.” Just look at the ingredients list, and remember that sugar has more than one name. If you can’t pronounce it or you don’t know what an ingredient is, don’t assume it’s good for you. Here are a few sneaky names for sugar to keep an eye out for the next time you’re at the grocery store.
And if you just can’t seem to find foods without added sugars, remember that anything WITHOUT a label generally doesn’t contain ANY additives! (I’m lookin’ at you, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and proteins)!
5. Plastic, plastic, everywhere!
Do you reheat your food in plastic containers, sip your water from plastic bottles, or even worse – Have you ever tried that whole “Poach your eggs wrapped in plastic wrap” thing? Good gracious, just say no!
Certain types of plastics can release cancer-causing chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA), endocrine disruptors, and dioxin, which is commonly found in disposable water bottles. Dioxin has been linked to breast cancer in some cases. So, you know that water bottle that’s been sitting in the sun in the dash window of your car all morning? Do yourself a favour and toss it!
But hear me out: Not all plastics are created equal! Some are safer than others, so have a peek at this guide to help you decide the best adjustments for you to make in your kitchen.
This little guide is great to have on hand when you’re out shopping too! It’s safe to say I was quite surprised the day I learned that my hubby’s favourite coffee shop was using one of the most toxic forms of plastic in their drink cups and lids! Would you be shocked if I told you that I got him a stainless steel travel mug for Christmas that year?
Try this instead: If you’re looking to reduce the amount of plastics you use, mason jars make for great affordable storage containers. They’re also airtight, so you can toss one in your bag and bring it to work with some overnight oats or a salad inside! I’ve even reused old glass jars from cranberry juice, coconut oil and honey for storing all sorts of things! Sure – There are nice glass water bottles you can buy for upwards of $30-$40, but if you purchase a bottle of juice from a glass jar, why not just reuse that for free instead? You don’t have to spend a fortune in order to eliminate the amount of plastic you use! That being said, if you WANT TO splurge on some new gear, there are some pretty cool glass and stainless steel storage containers available out there!
The last thing I want is for you to read this article and feel completely overwhelmed. Know this: You don’t have to change everything overnight.
When I started studying Holistic Nutrition and decided to detox my kitchen and home, it took well over a year. I couldn’t afford to do a clean sweep of my house and get rid of my cookware, containers, cleaning products, spices, etc. all at once! Instead, I focused on one small change at a time. I made the changes that I felt were most important, and the changes that fit my budget.
If anything, I hope this article inspires you to look at your kitchen with new eyes. If you see something that isn’t serving you, perhaps you’ll decide to swap it out for a healthier alternative. Maybe you’ll take an extra look at the ingredients in your favourite foods more often. Whatever you do, know that it’s okay to take it one step at a time. Don’t feel like you need to move mountains all at once!
I promise that every small adjustment over time will add up to big changes in the health of your home, your kitchen, and ultimately, in YOU.
Yours in health,