Make Over Your Kitchen for a Healthy Heart
8 ways to stock your kitchen for heart health.
2. Switch to a Better Margarine for Table Use and Some Baking
If a recipe calls for melted margarine or butter, you can usually replace it with canola oil. But there are times when margarine is required: to spread on toast, to make cookie dough, or for the added flavor. To qualify as a better margarine that you store in the refrigerator, margarine should have a little less fat than butter or stick margarine (around 8 grams of fat per tablespoon works well), the smallest amount of saturated fat possible (2 grams of saturated fat or less per tablespoon) and no trans fat. These margarines should also contain mostly monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat, and for and added bonus, look for ones with omega-3 fats.
3. De-Junk Your Pantry
Two characteristics define junk food -- the absence of nutritional value (fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, phytochemicals, etc.) and the overabundance of fat, sodium, or sugar. This describes many of the foods Americans know and love: fast food, soda, candy bars, chips, doughnuts, ice cream, and more. One of the keys to making over your kitchen is to de-junk your pantry.
Fill your pantry with healthier foods and products that you enjoy eating:
- Instead of Pop Tarts, have some low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber protein or granola bars; whole-grain, low-sugar breakfast cereals; or low-sugar instant oatmeal packets.
- Instead of chips or cheese puffs, stock your pantry with low-salt mixed nuts, reduced-fat whole grain crackers (hopefully lower in sodium), whole grain pretzels, or light popcorn, which is also a whole grain.
It's always a great idea to keep your pantry well-stocked with products that you tend to use in your healthful cooking. Some examples:
- Lower-sodium broth and reduced-fat soups
- Whole-grain noodles
- Brown rice
- Canned tuna packed in water
- Bottled marinara sauce
- Whole-wheat flour
- Canned beans
- Fat-free refried beans
4. De-junk Your Refrigerator and Freezer
Fill your refrigerator with healthier foods that you enjoy eating and drinking.
- Instead of soda, try flavored, sugar-free mineral water, no-calorie iced tea, iced decaf coffee, nonfat or low-fat milk, diet soda (consumed in moderation), or iced water flavored with fresh slices of lemon or lime.
- Instead of high-fat frozen foods, consider light frozen entrees that contain lean meat, vegetables, and possibly a grain.
- Instead of frozen pies or pastries, keep frozen fruit on hand (unsweetened) so you can whip up a smoothie or yogurt/fruit parfait with a moment's notice.
Also stock your refrigerator with products that help you cook and bake heart-smart meals at home:
- Egg substitute
- Fat-free half-and-half
- Reduced-fat cheese
- Fat-free sour cream
- Nonfat plain yogurt
- Light cream cheese
- Light bottled vinaigrettes
- Assorted mustards and vinegars
- Pesto sauce made with olive oil
5. Dial It Down on the Bad-Boy Products
At least 10 ingredients should carry a red flag warning if you are trying to boost nutrition while cutting fat, calories, and cholesterol.
- Mayonnaise (regular)
- Bacon and bacon grease
- Heavy whipping cream
- Light whipping cream
- Half-and-half cream
- Puff pastry
- Cheese (full fat)
- Coconut oil
- Pie crust dough