Photo: Heather Carpenter Costello (flickr)

New York, April 20. Summer is in the air! As I sit and type, I can’t believe it is 86 degrees, it is April, and I still have wool hanging in my closet. I confess that I haven’t made the switch yet from winter clothes to spring/summer. I just can’t get myself motivated enough to dive into this very time-consuming project—especially figuring out where to put everything.

So, to get my mind off clothes and my usual obsession with them, I wander into my kitchen and decide to let my nutritionist persona take over. If I am not going to clean out my closets, then I am going to clean out my cupboards. I need to feel as if I’m making some headway with spring-cleaning. Honestly, I keep my cupboards pretty much in order all year round—filled with pretty healthy items, yet not overstocked. So I thought this would be a rather easy task for me.

What I do first is Google for info on shelf lives—and I find this amazing site, http://shelflifeadvice.com/.  I soon realize that I have many items in my cupboards from probably the last time platform shoes were in style. First I go to the herbs and spices, and admit to myself that I either don’t cook enough or simply forget to use all the amazing ones I have. So lots are tossed.

Next, the flour and sugar.  Funny that I even have any, considering that I don’t bake and haven’t breaded anything with regular flour in years. Both flour and sugar go. Then I toss the crackers—so many that I don’t eat, and I haven’t entertained since I last bought them. The garbage is now getting full.

But then I started to think, “With all my tossing, what really should be in my cupboards? And is what I have as healthy as it could be?” (It’s almost like when I go through my spring clothes and realize I want new ones that might be a little more in style.)

Here’s what I should have in my cupboard:

  • Beans: One of the most versatile and nutritious foods I know, and one of the easiest to cook with. They are rich in fiber and protein, which helps fill you up at meals, so you might not be as hungry when you leave the table.
  • High-Fiber Cereal: In my opinion, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if you can’t open up your cupboard and find something easy to make, you might choose to pass on it.
  • Nuts: Who doesn’t get hungry in between meals? Portion them out in Ziploc snack bags and store them in your cupboard; they can then be easily grabbed at a moment’s notice without risk of overeating.
  • Canned Tuna: Hungry for lunch and realize at the last minute, you have nothing in the house? Well, if you have canned tuna in your cupboard you are in luck. An individual can (3 ounces) packed in water is only 70 calories and a whopping 16 grams of protein.
  • Olive Oil: Whether broiling, sautéing, grilling, or roasting, you need this kitchen basic. I suggest putting olive oil in a spray bottle (like one that’s used to water plants) to save calories; this way you can spritz and not pour.

What else should be on your shopping list?

To name a few: brown rice, balsamic vinegar, whole-wheat couscous, whole-wheat pasta, tomato sauce (no sugar added), whole-grain crackers, canned artichokes (great to throw into pasta and salad dishes), popcorn, low-fat mayonnaise, natural nut butters (almond or peanut), and, lastly, olives (if you are a martini lover like me). Obviously a lot of these products do wind up in your refrigerator after opening, but you need to start somewhere.

What could you do without?

Cookies, cakes, “100-calorie” packs, chips (unless baked and you can stick with the serving size), candy. I’m not saying you can never eat these types of products, but keeping them in the house is going to keep you from your health and weight goals.

So now, with my cupboards in tip-top shape for the spring/summer season, what’s next? Maybe I’ll move on to my refrigerator/freezer; my closets are still overwhelming me. But remember this: Healthy cupboards help keep your waistline in check, which make buying new clothes a lot more fun.

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  • alice ray cathrall April 26, 2012 at 7:38 am

    The documentary fork over knives isa terrific commentary on modern ,healing nutrition.

    Reply