Stock a Healthy Kitchen

I’ve put together this guide to help you prepare for healthy eating success!

Are you ready to lose some weight and improve your health? The first thing you need to do is go through your kitchen and purge all the unhealthy foods. Give them away or toss ‘em out. This includes things like cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, crackers, chips, ice cream, sugary cereals, sodas, juices, beer, mac n’ cheese, and other processed foods. You know, the stuff you’re most likely to overeat in a moment of craving, boredom, worry, or exhaustion. Take it from me, if you keep only healthy food in your house, you will eat healthy food at least 70% of the time! There’s research to back me up on that. Furthermore, if you bring snack food into your house, at least 50% of it will be eaten within the first 6 days of bringing it home, even if you bought a Costco-sized package of it. Once you’ve cleared out the junk food, use this guide to re-stock your kitchen with the right foods that will help you improve your body composition and overall health!

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In the Fridge

Skim or 1 percent milk, or fortified soy milk. Almond milk is a good option too, but it’s lower in protein.

Eggs. Whole eggs or liquid egg whites are good option.

Fresh fruit. Keep at least one kind of fruit washed, cut, and stored in a clear plastic container where you can see and grab it easily.

Hummus. Dip veggies in this chickpea spread.

Plain Greek yogurt. Sweeten with fresh or frozen fruit, Stevia, and vanilla extract.

Cottage Cheese. It’s high in protein and tasty with fruit. If you’re not a fan, try it blended in a smoothie for a shake that tastes more like a cheesecake dessert than a post workout recovery drink.

Bagged salad. Look for darker greens like baby spinach or a mix of multicolored lettuces like mesclun or field greens. Bagged spinach is handy for everything- you can easily add a handful to smoothies, ground meat, eggs, etc.

Lunch meats like turkey and lean roast beef. Look for under 4g fat and 400 mg sodium and as few ingredients as possible. Typically the meats that you buy from the deli counter taste waaaay better than the pre-packaged kinds.

Tortillas. Use corn or whole wheat flour tortillas, no larger than 8”. An easy meal is a quesadilla made with low fat cheese, shredded chicken, spinach, and salsa… mmm!

Fresh veggies. Keep veggies front and center in the fridge! Buy your own to wash and chop, or pick up prewashed, precut veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow peas, and celery. Need a tasty veggie dip? Try this: Combine 1 avocado, 1 cup plain greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. SO GOOD.

Low-fat cheese. Stock reduced-fat block cheese such as 2 percent milk cheese, reduced-fat string cheese, Laughing Cow minis, Babybel, and part-skim shredded cheese.

Rotisserie Chicken. SO handy! Pair a chicken breast or leg with some veggies and beans or whole grains for a quick and easy meal. Use the leftover bits in salads and toss the bones in the slow cooker with a carrot, stalk of celery, half an onion, and a bay leaf to whip up chicken stock. No part goes to waste!

Cold Brew Coffee. Concentrated coffee is handy as a quick pick-me-up pre-workout or as an easy mix-in for protein shakes.

Butter. Make a healthy spreadable butter by combining equal parts butter and olive oil in the blender.

Sriracha Sauce. Ok, am I starting to sound like a hipster now? Take my word for it, this stuff is awesome on everything from breakfast sandwiches to roasted cauliflower!

Club Soda. When you’re tired of drinking plain ol’ water, go for the fizzy stuff! Hint- combine with a shot of vodka or tequila, a few drops of stevia, mint, and fresh lemon or lime juice for a guilt free cocktail ;)

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In the Pantry

Sweetener of choice. Top picks are local honey for mediating allergies, maple syrup for depth of flavor, and stevia or Splenda for the calorie conscious. A word of caution: your goal should be to cut back on all sweeteners overall, even the calorie free ones.

Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, and Avocados. Don’t store these in the fridge, but have them on hand because they work well in lots of different recipes.

Lemons and Limes. Use citrus fruit and fresh mint to jazz up your water. This will make it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day and keep from snacking excessively.

Red Wine Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts olive oil along with some garlic power, salt, and pepper for a quick and easy vinaigrette dressing.

Whole-grain pasta and Quinoa. Both cook in 15 minutes or less.

Canned and Dry Beans. Try black beans for southwestern soups and salads. Lentils are versatile and cook up quickly.

Oatmeal. Choose whole oats or unflavored instant. You can grind oats up in a blender to use in place of breadcrumbs when making meatloaf.

Whole-grain bread. Check labels for brands that have at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.

Applesauce. Look for an unsweetened brand.

Dried or canned beans. Chickpeas, black beans, and fat-free refried beans are rich in protein.

Whole wheat couscous. cooks just as quickly as the regular kind and can be used in cold salads.

Brown rice. A great source of whole grains. Cook up a bunch and keep in the fridge.

Sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A.

Whole-grain breakfast cereal. Aim for at least 5 grams of fiber and fewer than 8 grams of sugar. Rather than serving up a huge bowl of cereal, measure out ¾ cup into your yogurt or use as part of a trail mix.

Nuts and seeds. Go for almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.

Salsa. A zesty way to sneak in more veggies.

Jarred pasta sauce. Add extra veggies like shredded zucchini, diced mushrooms, onions, and spinach.

Dried fruit. ¼ cup counts as a serving of fruit. Choose unsweetened varieties to mix into homemade trail mix. Trader Joe’s carries unsweetened dried fruit.

Canned salmon and light tuna. For salads and sandwiches. Swap an avocado for the mayo to make tuna salad extra healthy and satisfying.

Peanut butter. or other nut butters.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Use unsweetened cocoa in your protein shakes, coffee, or mixed into almond butter with a few drops of liquid stevia (homemade Nutella without all the sugar!).

Whey Protein Isolate. This protein powder, whatever the brand, should pack in 20-25g protein per scoop with <1g fat and sugar. Whey protein isolate is absorbed quickly, so it’s perfect as a post workout supplement.

High Quality Protein Bars. Look for 20g protein with as little sugar and as much fiber as possible. Quest bars pack in 20g protein with 17g fiber and only 1g sugar… hard to beat that! Use these as a snack ONCE per day! Remember to eat real food too ;)

Chia Seeds and Ground Flax. Opt for cold-milled flax for the most omega 3 benefit. Stir this into yogurt, smoothies, and cereals for a boost of fiber and protein. Flax and chia seeds help keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals. Craving dessert? Stir 3 tablespoons of chia seeds into ½ cup of milk with sweetener of your choice and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes and you’ll have a healthy pudding to snack on!

Olive and Coconut Oil. Use these for cooking. Keep some of your olive oil in a spray bottle to mist vegetables for roasting.

Spices. Keep a variety of spices on hand to add flavor to your food without too much salt. Mrs. Dash blends are great.

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In the Freezer

Boneless chicken breasts. Grill a bunch and add to pasta, salads, stir fries, and more throughout the week.

Lean ground beef and bison. Buy 90 percent lean.

Salmon and other low-mercury fish such as cod and tilapia.

Frozen veggies. Besides the basics, pick up high-protein edamame.

Ground turkey. Look for 93%  lean and drain after cooking.

Veggie burgers made from soy protein or black beans.

Frozen fruit (no sugar added) to eat from the bag or add to smoothies. Freeze your own by peeling and slicing bananas and storing in Ziploc bags.

Do you have anything to add? What foods keep you prepared and in control of your eating?

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Plan for a Cooking Demo in 10 Steps!

Have you considered doing a cooking demo? Don’t feel overwhelmed! Cooking demonstrations may seem daunting, but they’re a great way to show clients how to cook a healthy meal. Here is a step by step guide to planning your first cooking demo.

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1. Find out how many people you’re cooking for.

It’s important to know how many people you’ll be making samples for and what kind of space you’ll be working in so you can plan accordingly. I recommend an audience of no more than 20 unless you have a professional show kitchen setup available to you.

2. Find out what kind of space you’ll be working in.

It’s also critical to be aware of the space you’ll be working in. Will everyone be able to see what you’re doing? Is the demo in a kitchen, or better yet, a demo kitchen with overhead mirrors?

3. Find out what equipment will be available to you.

Find out if you will have access to a refrigerator, sink (very important!), countertop or table, oven, stove, microwave, blender, etc. Based on the equipment available to you, you can plan the recipes you want to demonstrate.

4. Find out what additional equipment you’ll be able to bring in.

Depending on the location of your demo, you might be able to bring in some of your own cooking equipment. It’s nice to have some portable equipment available to you if you plan on doing cooking demonstrations on a regular basis. I have a blender, slow cooker, food processor, toaster oven, rice cooker, and induction cooktop with pots and pans that all come in handy depending on the type of demonstration I’m doing.

5. Find out what your audience wants to learn.

It’s good to know what your audience is interested in learning. Are they interested in practicing basic knife skills? Are they intimidated by the idea of healthy cooking? Do they want to see some quick breakfast meals prepped in real time? The possibilities abound, but it’s very helpful to choose recipes based on what your class will find most beneficial.

6. Find out how much time you’ll have.

Clearly, time will be a huge factor in the recipes you choose to demonstrate. I recommend having 30-60 minutes available for the class.

7. Find out who will be responsible for purchasing food, paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware that you’ll need. Set a fee for the class and budget for the ingredients.

You don’t want to leave any of the details for after the demo. It’s important to find out what you’ll be reimbursed for and who will be doing the shopping. I strongly recommend that you are the one responsible for doing to grocery shopping and asked to be reimbursed after. There’s nothing worse than showing up on the day of your cooking demo to find that some ingredients are missing or incorrect! Base your fee on the amount of time you will dedicate to planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Don’t sell yourself short by only charging what you would for an hour of your time. There’s a lot of work outside of the demo itself!

8. Figure out which recipe(s) you want to make.

Use answers to the previous questions to direct the recipes you will demonstrate for your class. Choose recipes that use a limited number of ingredients and that you are confident you can make well. It’s very important to practice ahead of time to make sure they taste good and that you can prepare them in the amount of time you have for the class. For an hour long class, you can probably plan to make 3 different items start to finish.

9. Practice ahead of time!

To finalize your recipes, practice making them at home and make adjustments as needed. Time yourself and consider what you will talk about as you go through each step of the process. It’s nice to have some talking points about what you’re doing and why you’re using the ingredients you chose. Is there a special nutritional benefit? Is there a trick to prepping the item you’re making? How do you know it’s ready? Practice cooking and talking at the same time.

10. Make a checklist of EVERYTHING you will need to bring so you don’t forget anything!

Don’t forget your ingredients in a cooler, knives, dish towels, cutting boards, measuring cups & spoons, spices, cooking oil, and any other knick-knacks you might forget in the rush of cooking demo day.

10. Depending on time restrictions and audience size, make samples ahead of time. 

The morning of or night before your class, you may need to prepare all your samples or do some prep work to make good use of your time in the class. For example, I’ve done a 15 minute cooking demo showing students how to make an easy stir fry. Since rice takes longer than that to cook, I set the rice cooker ahead of time so the only things I needed to make during the class were the protein (scrambled egg) and sautéed vegetables (broccoli and tomato).

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I’m doing a couple of cooking demos this week. I used to get very nervous about them, but now that I’ve had some practice and the process is more streamlined, the classes are something I look forward to immensely! I’d love to host a hands-on cooking workshop and/or present a video recording of meal preparation. Hopefully those will be things you can look forward to seeing from Karolina’s Kitchen in the near future!