Natural Ways

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Can Make Healthy Eating A Snap

Ok, my finals are officially over and life can continue. Sorry (really not sorry) for dragging you along my time warp as I enter real life once again. Now that we’re well into May, I’m excited to introduce you to our May Challenge: Spring Cleaning your Kitchen! You’ll hear from my talented designer mother this week, and me next week! She will give you tips to create your dream kitchen and I will focus on more budget friendly non-remodel tips from my experiences living in too many apartments over the past 8 years.

A little confession… while most of my friends are dreaming of babies & marriage, I dream of home ownership & a major kitchen overhaul. Majorly. Now not that I don’t want a husband & baby, honestly a beautiful white kitchen in my own house seems more attainable than the former. Coming from a savvy interior designer mom and being a food & eating obsessed dietitian certainly predisposes me to this severe kitchen obsession.

One of my favorite projects in my dietetics program was to redistribute items in my apartment kitchen to improve organization and flow. I was in hog freaking heaven. I seriously would love going into people’s homes & reorganizing their kitchens to set the scene for healthy cooking & eating. Maybe when I’m done with my grad program… which will be in just 1 short year!!! In the mean time I’ll dream of reorganizing others’ kitchens & my own future Scandinavian kitchen

my family would likely argue that I am not an organized person, but I’d like to disagree & share my need for organization in my life. My deepest parts strive for a streamlined life, for things to be simple and easy. For my life to run smoothly, and to not forget everything I have going on, life needs to be organized to enable the cards to fall as they do. Organizing my school, my pantry, my closet, and my phone have set me up for success. Or something like that!

So when it comes to eating well, and practicing what I preach what seems like all the freaking time (again dietitian status here), I have to make that eating healthy business a part of my every day business and take the most of the thought out of it. Meal planning + an organized kitchen are my tools, guys.

Meal planning helps reduce those blank starvation propelled times staring in front of  the fridge, and quick reaches for less nutrient dense foods. But that’s not the topic for the day.

A well organized kitchen can make eating healthier possible by keeping healthy foods visible and less healthy foods, well, less visible, it can make cooking less of a headache and can allow you to have all the tools needed to make a delicious meal day in and day out. Taking the headache out of the cooking process is so important!

So whether you’re investigating for a kitchen remodel or a new move, or if you’re looking to de-clutter your kitchen drawers, we can talk about ways to do it in a way to help you eat healthier!

My mom studied interior design in college and worked at the premier interior design firm in Salt Lake City for years. She has excellent taste obviously! Here are a few of the techniques she used when remodeling her kitchen in her main residence and also in her Salt Lake condo, where I lived and photographed until a few months ago.

I was asked me to share a few ideas on kitchen organization that will help make food preparation more efficient. This is important for me for three reasons.

The first being I really enjoy cooking. It all began in my childhood watching Julia Child, she not only made cooking fun but I learned proper technique at a young age.

The second reason is my belief that family dinners are important. Not only do you hear about everyone’s day you also enjoy a homemade meal. A great family bonding time and usually, never a dull moment.

And last, but just as important, is that meals prepared at home are more nutritious. I not only know exactly what was added to a dish, but I can include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to our plates. My main complaint about any meal at a restaurant. Forget “Where’s the beef” for me it’s “Where’s the veggies”.

So here are my tips to make food preparation more enjoyable and efficient. 2007 was a big year. Rebecca headed off to college and it was time for a kitchen remodel.One of my biggest pet peeves in my kitchen was the pots and pans lid clutter. So my solution was to divide the pots,pans and lids therefore conquering the clutter. This pull out cabinet, on each side of the range allows me to grab the needed pan and quickly find the matching lid from the divided lower rack. Best idea ever

In this same area above the range for easy access are the spices.  A perfect spot for a Lazy Susan or a shallow drawer equipped with slanted dividers. Both make finding the needed spice a chinch. Seeds or flakes on the top and ground on the bottom. I don’t arrange them alphabetically, like my mom did; It can’t be expected of me or any one else to keep them alphabetized. But a quick spin and I have what I am looking for.

This is my idea of an appliance garage. Keeping the toaster, blender and microwave off the counter gives you more  space for preparation. Shut the cabinet doors and it is out of site, open up and you have everything you need to warm up leftovers, butter your morning toast, blend up a smoothie, pack a lunch, weigh an ingredient for the perfect portion, or look up a recipe

Canned goods can be another problem area. Not only are they difficult to keep organized they always seem to get placed on a deep shelf making finding what you need a bigger challenge.Try a shallow drawer. Nothing is out of site. A quick glance and you know exactly what you have, no need to plow through towers of cans.

Potatoes, garlic, shallots, and onions, and a cool, dry, dark spot. Why not next to the sink in a drawer. Not even a step away. The galvanized steel bins not only protect the drawer from the occasional bad potato but keep like items together.

When everything has a place it will be a breeze finding what you are looking for. Everyone knows this,  the challenge is to always put the item back in its place. A no brainier is to use divided trays.  The drawers are next to the sink and dishwasher. Making easy access when you need a scoop for chocolate chip cookies and just as easy to put away directly from the dishwasher into its appointed spot

Having what you need within reach makes any cooking task enjoyable and efficient. No need to run around the kitchen to make a cake or salsa. In my Salt Lake kitchen, the Kitchen Aid is on a pull up shelf, the hand mixer, and food processor in the drawer below are all together, mix away. Flour, sugars, oats, salt, leveling agents, chocolate chips, along with all the measuring cups and spoons are in an adjacent drawer to the mixing center. So are the baking sheets and pans in vertical slots. Whipping up a quick treat takes only a few minutes when all you need is in a designated baking, processing area.

Thanks to a well organized kitchen and early childhood weekly Julia Child cooking school, making nutritious meals for our family dinner is the most enjoyable time of my day.

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