Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kitchen Makeover

As part of my nutrition coaching course, I had to help someone do a kitchen makeover. I could do it on my own kitchen or help a client makeover their kitchen. 

For my assignment, I taught my fiancĂ© (Carmelina) the principles, and worked through my family's kitchen cabinets. 

Kitchen Cabinet - Before

This kitchen cabinet has a whole array of items, including a coffee bean grinder, food processor, different types of sugars, dried goods, and more.

While I want to throw out all processed and sugary items, it was not that simple. My parents use some of these items to make Chinese dishes. I know I would have to negotiate with them.

  • What can we get rid of for sure? Expired / old food items, processed / sugary items that no one uses anymore, etc.
  • Which items may have to stay? In addition to healthy foods, I should also keep foods that my mom & dad cook, especially ingredients that came from China, as they hold more sentimental value (and some health benefit, I think?).

There are also other items, such as a coffee grinder and food processor. These have been hidden in the kitchen cabinet, and rarely used. I moved these items to more prominent areas in our kitchen (i.e. counter) to remind me to cook more.

Kitchen Shelf - Before

This shelf is a conglomeration of old baking ingredients, supplements, and miscellaneous items. Many of the supplements here have expired, or have been finished but taking up precious real estate.

Kitchen Makeover!

Here we are, partway into the kitchen makeover. We are sorting through all the items that need to be thrown away. Carmelina handed me the rock sugar, since it's processed and sugary. Knowing that this is a common ingredient in Chinese desserts, I decided to keep the one unopened pack and throw the rest away. We decided to store this on the bottom shelf, so it is not accessible, but available if needed.

And if you didn't get a good look, here's the empty shelves in the cabinet! Both Carmelina and I felt a tremendous relief from cleaning out the cabinet. As weird as it sounds, we felt energized to start afresh.

Kitchen Makeover - The Purge!

We lined up a lot of ingredients for "death row". These are items that are expired, processed and forgotten, or items high in sugar that we can do without.

Items to check with Mom

Now, many of these items were a mystery to both Carmelina and I. Many of these items are used in Chinese dishes, even though they are processed and/or include preservatives. Before throwing them all away, I had to check with my Mom, since mothers know all.

We ended up throwing out ~20% of the items you see below. The rest of the items are either items she wanted to keep, or secret ingredients from China that have purported health benefits.

Apparently, the can below contained special potato starch from China! This can, among other items I had planned to throw away, ended up back in the cabinet.

Kitchen Cabinet - After

Ta-da! While it isn't perfect, it's better. We placed the items we wanted to use more on the top, and the less-used items on the bottom. The brown, white, yellow and rock sugars are on the bottom shelf in a plastic box. Available when needed, but not too accessible.

Kitchen Shelf - After

This kitchen shelf has transformed. What remains are supplements that are not expired, a plastic container to hold the good baking ingredients (e.g. coconut flour, cocoa powder, chia seeds, etc.), and the tea and coffee.

The tea is on the middle shelf on the tray, since I'm trying to drink more tea and less coffee. The green bag holds my coffee grinds, grinder, and my Aeropress--which, in my mind, makes the best coffee on the planet!

All in all, this exercise helped me shape the path to make better eating decisions through
- getting rid of the clutter, and junk food
- hiding the unhealthy foods we still need to keep
- bringing healthier food items to the forefront

Now, to the fridge!

I'll keep this short. We used the same principles for the fridge. However, instead of restocking, we decided to see what kind of awesome foods were already in the fray. Here's the before / after for our fridge.

Fridge - Before

Fridge - After

Moving forward ...

This kitchen makeover was incredibly useful. It helped me identify the stuff that needed to go and the foods that needed to be more accessible. 

Shaping the path in the kitchen simplifies healthy eating at home. Over the next few days, I noticed I started preparing my meals more often, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and choosing tea over coffee (sometimes). The food we ate as a family was more balanced and included healthy leftovers for lunch and snacking.

Moving forward, a regular inventory of the fridge and kitchen will help ensure the kitchen environment keeps improving, instead of gradually collecting clutter.