• Side by Side Nutrition

Healthy Grocery Essentials + Pantry Purge Challenge

I tend to bypass spring cleaning in March and, instead, use the months of January and August to clean, purge, and prep for the year/school year ahead. Food shopping is overwhelming as big food companies try and market their products in so many ways to appeal to the consumer. I’m going to make this easy for you by giving you four things to focus on. Say goodbye to food or products with 1) hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, 2) foods with excess or added sugars, 3) refined grains, and 4) conventional dairy.

Why these four things? What you need to know:

Hydrogenated and industrialized oils carry very negative health consequences. They are extremely inflammatory, which is why they’re at the top of the list. High Omega 6 liquid oils such as canola, vegetable, and soybean need to be swapped out for healthier options ASAP.

A typical American consumes more than 50 pounds of added sugar each year! Essentially you’ll be removing anything with added sugars under the following names: sucrose, fructose, molasses, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar syrup, etc. Stick to whole foods with natural sugars such as fruit instead.

Now let’s talk refined grains. Grains are refined if they are missing one or more of their three parts. Refined grains are stripped of nutrients and you can find them in baked goods and processed snacks. You’ll want to shop for whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, millet, amaranth, bulgar, wild rice, oats, rye, farro, sweet corn, popcorn, sprouted grain breads (we love Ezekiel), spelt, and whole wheat. Whole grains are minimally processed and much more nutritious. When it comes to pasta-whole grain has more fiber, but other than that it isn’t much different than white. Whatever you purchase, choose organic (no pesticides) and make at home when possible.

Last is conventional dairy. Conventional (non organic) dairy is made from cows treated with antibiotics and hormones. Choose organic cow’s milk and cream, shredded cheeses, etc. if you aren’t dairy sensitive. If you are sensitive, or are looking to remove dairy for other reasons, almond, coconut, cashew, oat, goat, and sheep’s milk products will be your best friend!

Now what?

The best way to do a pantry, drawer, or closet purge is to take EVERYTHING out to start. Next, you’ll want to throw away anything past its expiration date and check labels looking for Side by Side’s four off limits ingredients and foods. Don’t get overwhelmed-you just did the hard part! Now use our Side by Side Essentials list (head to our home page, scroll all the way down, and download for FREE! It'll be sent to you as a PDF after entering your email. To get started with restocking your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. It don’t matter where you shop-Costco, TJ’s, Walmart, Stop and Shop, Amazon-these staples are key to making fast, nutrient dense meals, balancing blood sugar, and warding off disease. Once you have all your goods, you’ll want to group like items together and organize on trays, in baskets, labeled glass containers, etc. Some of my farmhouse favorites are these wire baskets, these woven baskets, and these glass jars.

Get started today!

Tamara Geffin, FNTP

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