Overly processed food is the enemy of all that is healthy. No matter how hard you exercise, cut your daily calorie intake, and search for sodium-free or fat-free alternatives, the reality is this: processed foods are no good for you or your family.
In a world full of processed food it can be difficult to eliminate all of the extra fats and sugars from your diet. The best step is just to cut as much of these foods from your kitchen as possible. But how do you get started?
Cook More Often
The only way to really rid yourself of chemical preservatives and chemically processed food is to cook and prepare it for yourself. If you are going to dedicate yourself to removing chemically processed foods from your diet, you need to know how to prepare fresh foods to replace what you normally purchase. From cooking and spicing meats to making your own sauce and soup, get familiar with your kitchen!
A good place to start is with simple meals. Try starting by spicing up plain dishes like chicken and assorted vegetables. You can move into more complex recipes once you become more familiar with what your kitchen can do.
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Build Your Pantry
When you start to cook more often, buying ingredients can be expensive if you don't already have a full pantry. The first thing you will need in any pantry is a small assortment of spices. Find a few chicken or beef recipes that you would like to try, and find a good deal on the spices you will need. Remember, spices last a long time, so it is acceptable to buy them in large quantities if you can!
You are going to want a variety of spices to create different flavors. Cajun seasoning is helpful. Cayenne peppers, crushed red peppers, chili powder, and curry are great ways to add some heat and flavor to dishes. Ground ginger is useful for Asian-inspired dishes. Garlic and basil are necessary for Italian food. Look up a little more about the spices to understand how to better combine them in your dishes!
Experimenting with spices might be the most fun you have in cooking dishes! Don't forget that you can bake with certain spices, too. Nutmeg, allspice, and cloves are other spices that you may require for fruity tasting dishes.
Build Your Pantry
The next step is to replace a lot of the boxed and canned foods for dried goods. Replace easy-microwave macaroni and cheese for regular macaroni noodles. You can make the cheese sauce yourself! Keep a couple of varieties of rice and beans as well. These should be used in soups, dips, stir fry, or casseroles. One other ingredient that is really easy to prepare is the egg noodle. Egg noodles are great for soups and stews, and they don't take any more time than ten minutes to prepare!
If some of these switches seem a bit difficult, not all the switches are that way! If you eat a lot of oatmeal, try switching to plain oats instead of instant. Plain oats can also be prepared in the microwave, they just take a couple of extra minutes. Plus, you can pay much less for regular oats that you season yourself than you would for prepackaged, chemically processed instant oats. There are plenty of benefits that rolled or steel-cut oats have that instant oats do not! I am certain you have the extra few minutes each morning.
Dried fruits can be added to your pantry as well, but don't forget that fresh fruits are better than dried fruits. In the winter however, dried fruits from a reliable source can give you the nutrition you need when fresh fruits are more expensive and hard to find. Make sure when you purchase your dried fruits that you buy from a business that uses a more natural drying process! Amish Country distributors and local farms are usually good places to find naturally dried fruits.
Stop Buying Prepared Meats
When you pay for meats that are already seasoned before packaging, you are often paying for the extra attention that meat has received in a factory. Breaded chicken, meatballs, prepared chicken or ham salad, and even hotdogs are all very risky meats. Simply cutting out these meats and choosing instead to cook or prepare them in your own kitchen can really change your overall health.
It might not make sense to cut out all of these prepared meats at once. Instead, try replacing one of your go-to prepared meats with a new, home-cooked meal twice a month. Bread the chicken yourself or skip the bread crumbs and make a sauce for your fresh chicken instead! Don't buy beef stew in a Campbell's can. Prepare a beef stew on your own! Yes, it may take a lot more time, but your body will thank you!
Fresh meat is definitely better for you! Try to buy local for the least processed meat products.
Add Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Whenever Possible
Now that you are using better ingredients, it's time to start including fresh fruits and vegetables! Try and see where you can add these ingredients into your favorite recipes. Are you using canned tomatoes to make foods? See what they taste like with fresh tomatoes instead! Put your favorite fruits into a glaze for poultry. This will add extra flavor to your less processed foods!
Want to incorporate fruits or veggies in a way that is easier than that? Replace your favorite snack foods with them. You'll find that these foods can cure cravings fast. But be careful! You might want to make your own dip for your new fresh snack.
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Make Changes Slowly
Making major changes to your diet is difficult if it accomplished all at once. If you want to eradicate processed foods from your diet, you will have to take baby steps! Try fixing up your pantry one item at a time. Then, replace foods in your recipes one ingredient at a time. Major lifestyle changes don't happen in a day, but they do happen. You will feel healthier each step of the way.