Article by: Becky Harris
It’s remarkable I’ve never had scurvy, because until recently, I rarely ever ate vegetables or fruit. So this year my New Year’s resolution was to eat more produce. Prior to 2014 a half-rotten banana would linger, very lonely, in my fruit bowl for a week, and I never made time for cooking either. However, as I try to establish new habits (including not spending an obscene amount of money per week on takeout), I find I love a baked sweet potato with crumbled goat cheese on it, or to slow cook quinoa (something I’d never tried before) with apples in the Crock-Pot. What has helped me the most was setting up my kitchen for healthier eating success.
As the first month of the new year comes to a close, don’t get discouraged if you’ve slipped on some of those resolutions. Instead, make reaching them easier on yourself by getting the right setup. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Keep fresh herbs and spices handy. Herbs make healthy food much more savory and flavorful, which will help you cut down on less healthy choices like salt and butter. Plus, check out how gorgeous you can make an herb garden look in the kitchen. This vertical garden by Bright Green is a living work of art.
I realize keeping things alive indoors can be a challenge for a lot of us. Growing herb plants need fresh air and sunlight to thrive. Simply keeping herb jars handy in a cabinet next to the stovetop is the low-maintenance version of this suggestion.
2. Enjoy making pretty still lifes out of your produce. This sounds silly, but it works. Put out a large platter, a fruit bowl or that cake stand you never use and play with arranging.
It will inspire you to keep the kitchen stocked with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables, and they’ll always be the first thing you see when you enter the kitchen for a snack.
3. Play favorite tunes while you cook. Have a radio, docking station or speakers set up so that you can enjoy catching up on NPR or listening to a favorite podcast or playlist while you cook.
Try to get several things done once you’re on a cooking roll. I’ve been putting my quinoa and apples in the Crock-Pot while I bake sweet potatoes, whip up mini quiches in muffin tins and cook spaghetti squash in the microwave. This means all of my healthier choices will be easy to grab for the next few days, and I’ve only spent an hour in the kitchen.
4. Add other electronic devices that you like to use in the kitchen. If you’re addicted to cooking shows, bring a TV into the kitchen so you can keep up with Julia, Emeril or Giada. If you love to keep track of new recipes on the Internet, make an iPad station a part of your kitchen.
5. Organize the pantry in an attractive way. Keep your healthy items front and center and make low-cal snacks easy to grab. Hide your secret chocolate stash in case of a total craving (sometimes you just have to have it), so you don’t get tempted by looking at it every time you open the pantry cabinet door.
6. Keep a tea station handy. Making tea is a wonderfully relaxing ritual, and if you get the munchies, you may find that the scent and warm comfort of tea take care of them (if not, by all means go munch).
7. Organize the fridge. Take everything out, give it a good cleaning and keep all this great food you’ve made and produce that needs refrigerating front and center.
8. Use smaller plates. Every diet-tips article I’ve ever read seems to advocate this — tricking the brain into seeing an overflowing, full plate. I tend do doubt how well it works, because just like with my clock that’s set 10 minutes ahead to trick me into getting up earlier, my brain does the math. However, there is something about having to get up for seconds that gives me pause, so why not give it a try? Stock up on smaller plates and see how they serve you.
9. Make sure your small appliances are available. If you have to go digging through a messy cabinet and looking for all of the pieces, chances are that you won’t use it. Let the Crock-Pot, juicer, food processor and other small appliances clutter up the countertops if it will make you slow cook that chicken chili or quinoa.
Down the line you may decide to install an appliance garage (below) or other special cabinetry that allows easy access to your small appliances.
10. Keep sneakers close at hand. Cooking requires a lot of standing, so have good support for your feet while you work. Keep you sneakers stashed in a drawer, closet or mudroom nearby.