Cleaning Out Your Pantry – The Healthy Way

Photo: Older Woman Holding Fresh Vegetables

To help you move toward a healthier, more vegetarian diet this year, here is some information to make the process easier. Start from the source of your family’s food supply – the pantry and the fridge! It’s much easier to resist unwanted foods when you can open your pantry without seeing a box of cookies and a bag of greasy potato chips staring back at you, begging to be eaten. One of the most effective things you can do to cultivate better nutrition is to stock your kitchen with all the building blocks of a healthy diet. Consult the table and list below for healthy alternatives to re-stock the fridge as well as suggestions of miscellaneous staple foods to keep on hand at all times.

Replace this... With this...
Meats Tofu, tempeh, seitan (wheat gluten) and a variety of vegetarian meats such as veggie deli slices, hot dogs, sausages, burgers, and even veggie beef, ground beef, chicken, and fish. DTE has a ton of fun options that will satisfy the whole family.
Mayonnaise Vegenaise or another egg-free, cholesterol-free mayonnaise. Use it just as you would regular mayonnaise but feel better knowing you are not adding cholesterol to your dishes.
White rice Brown rice
Refined white flour bread Whole grain or sprouted wheat bread
Semolina pasta Whole grain pasta or brown rice pasta
White table sugar Natural sweeteners such as honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar or an organic raw sugar.
Pancake and waffle syrup Real maple syrup
SPAM and other canned meats and foods with artificial ingredients Cans of organic beans and lentils, canned vegetarian chili, and canned soups. Amy’s Kitchen makes some delicious varieties.
Canned fruits and vegetables Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Canned varieties tend to be lower in nutrients, are usually preserved with artificial ingredients, and typically contain added salt or sugar.
Sugar-filled breakfast cereal All natural, whole grain breakfast cereals, such as Barbara’s and Nature’s Path, or oatmeal, sweetened with honey or other natural sweeteners.
Peanut butter with added sugar and hydrogenated oils All natural peanut butter. You can also try other varieties of nut butters such as almond, cashew or macadamia butters.
Sugary yogurt filled with artificial flavors, gelatin, and preservatives All-natural yogurt with live cultures.
Soda Sparkling juices or coconut water
Coffee Herbal tea or grain coffee beverage (some, such as Roma or Pero, taste remarkably similar to coffee!)

Following are a few more basic staple foods and ingredients to add to your grocery list whenever you’re running low…

  • Low fat, meatless pasta sauces (in bottle)
  • Nutritional yeast - a great addition to many dishes, rich in B-vitamins
  • “Spike” all purpose seasoning
  • “Real Salt” or sea salt
  • Packages of frozen fruits or veggies for quick and easy smoothies or stir-fries
  • Lettuce or bagged salad to make it convenient to include a salad with meals or add some greens to a sandwich
  • All-natural salad dressings
  • Bragg Liquid Aminos and/or shoyu
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Organic milk or milk-alternative
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • A variety of spices

The best method for avoiding the temptation of unhealthy foods is to keep them out of your home. Going through your pantry and getting rid of the junk is an easy (and possibly fun) way to support your efforts toward a healthy, wholesome diet. When combined with re-stocking the pantry with delicious and satisfying alternatives, you are sure to succeed in your venture toward better health!