Win The Kitchen War!

The so-called battle to go greener, cleaner and healthier in the kitchen is easier than you think.

From the tools you use to cook, to which containers keep food safer and fresher, there’s a simple solution to help you and your family incorporate a truly holistic approach to total wellness and sustainability. They’re not difficult, or expensive. In fact, such small changes can make life run more smoothly.

Here, we’ve outlined our top FAST tips for a New Year kitchen makeover, ones that will extend not only the life of your food, but hopefully improve the quality of your own (and give you more time in the morning).

There are many more ways to win the kitchen war, but this is a great start.

Change Your Cookware, or at least, Treat It Better:

The jury is still out when it comes to non-stick pots and pans. Many suggest ceramic or heavier pans such as cast iron, as non-stick (many are Telfon-coated) are said to have the potential for emissions of potentially dangerous chemicals. Many conflicting reports and studies about Teflon – from inside and outside the industry – have only confused us more. But here’s one solution from consumer advocacy group CHOICE Australia (http://www.choice.com.au). “You can reduce the risk of toxins being released by using your non-stick pan properly and looking after it so the coating isn’t damaged. Don’t overheat an empty non-stick pan or leave it unattended on the cooktop. The chemicals used in non-stick coatings can start to break down and release harmful toxins in temperatures above 260°C. Research suggests that no toxins are released from cookware used at or below normal cooking temperatures. Use only wooden or plastic utensils to avoid scratching (scratches can mean Teflon can emanate more easily) even if the manufacturer says you can use metal ones. Hand wash your pan with a sponge and slightly warm water; let it soak in hot water to remove stubborn residue. Never use steel wool or heavy-duty scrubbers.” Lastly, other reports say to remember to always ventilate your kitchen well, by turning on the exhaust fan, as this will help clear away any fumes.

Keep It Clear:

Having the right storage can make it easier to have healthy meals or juices on hand that can last the entire week. If you’re taking that container into a warm environment, opt for glass containers, as many plastics – particularly plastic bottles – contain known unhealthy chemicals such as BPA, which stands for bisphenol A (released when in a warmer environment). BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. Exposure is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure. If you can opt for glass storage when out and about, take it. Too heavy? Do a few bicep curls while you’re holding it.

Ice Cold:

Apart from keeping your freezer clean http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-a-freezer/ find more space in your freezer by divvying it up with meal-prepped foods. Go for pre-made smoothie packets (fruit and veg of course, with a rainbow of colours) and frozen vegetables (ideally repackaged into serving sizes in glass containers). Lastly, freeze by serving size, such as tomato paste or the playing card-sized portion of lean protein for your evening meal.

Soy Good:

Don’t do what the restaurant does. Refrigerate soy sauce after opened. It will stay fresh for about two years, according to Kikkoman USA Kikkomanusa.com. Once opened, the global sauce powerhouse advises, the soy sauce will start to lose its freshness and the flavor will begin to change. By refrigerating the sauce, the flavor and quality will remain at their peak for a longer period.

The Good Oil:

Meanwhile, another global food maker, Colavita www.colavita.com says while you don’t want your oil to get too hot, you also don’t want it to get too cold. Olive oil should not be stored in the refrigerator. If chilled, olive oil will become cloudy and eventually solidify or crystallize. Should this happen, the oil is perfectly fine; just leave the oil at room temperature for a time to restore it to its natural state. Remember to not leave it by a steaming kettle or hot stove, too. A stable temperature is key to ensuring you get the most nutrients from your choice of olive oil.

Lettuce Be Green:

Thanks to the handy site, spruce.com, we have a way to keep salad leaves crisp and fresh for as long as possible. Firstly, trim off the end of the stem of your fave lettuce and separate the leaves. Fill up the sink (or a very large bowl) with cold water and submerge the leaves. Gently swish the leaves around in the water. Dry the lettuce with a salad spinner. But don’t cram the leaves into it. Cut them in half (or smaller) so that you don’t bruise them trying to squeeze them in. Spin until the water has completely drained away. Take the basket out of the salad spinner and cover the leaves with damp paper towels. Transfer the basket to the fridge. Once the greens have chilled for about 30 minutes, they’ll be crisp and ready to use. But you can store your lettuce in the fridge this way for 3–5 days. Rewet the paper towels if they dry out. Squeeze out excess water — they only need to be damp, not soaking.

Wash, Not Waste:

According to Webmd.com, washing a load of dishes in a dishwasher is estimated to use 37 per cent less water than washing by hand. However, if you fill one side of your sink with soapy water and the other with rinsing water – and turn off that damn tap – you can use maybe half as much water as a dishwasher. Do not run your dishwasher unless it is full.

Go Big, Serve Small:

Kids love those little juice boxes or fist-sized snack packets, for example. And we know that it’s handy to doll them out equally to younger ones fighting over portion sizes. But don’t buy them. That’s a lot of packaging for a few sips or nibbles. Instead, opt for larger, glass bottles of juice or frozen concentrate. Same goes for items like nuts and seeds. Buy them in bulk and package them in BPA-free reusable containers.

Want to know more about getting the healthiest balance in your home? Join yoga instructor and homeopathic doctor Michelle Ricaille as she takes you through a 7-day Detox program at our One Island South studio. Enjoy daily yoga, provided supplements, cooking advice and recipes and plenty of lifelong, valuable tips to live your healthiest life. http://flexhk.com/workshops/

 If you want even more of a health boost, join Flex director Heather Thomas Shalabi, along with Michelle and Yamuna practitioner Mika Childs from May 1-6 at the stunning Kamalaya, Koh Samui. A fully immersive Pilates and yoga retreat – with Yamina Balling Rolling – delicious culinary delights and luxurious spa treatments. See more at: http://flexhk.com/retreats/

hayley appleford