Friday, November 29, 2013

The Experts Weigh In: Meal Planning 101 (Part 2)

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I feel confident that by now you appreciate that creating healthy meals requires a plan, even when your schedule seems overloaded! The first place to begin organizing is in your kitchen - after all, one's health begins in the kitchen! Having a well-stocked kitchen will allow you to create meals with ease and have options when in a pinch!

Organizing your kitchen is a two-step process. First, you must detox (aka. throw out the trash!). This means getting rid of everything that does not support clean, healthy eating. It requires removing all of the trigger and tempting foods. This step is essential in order to make room for wholesome healthy foods and lays the foundation for a kitchen you can be proud of.

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Ok, so what should you purge? Get the largest garbage bag you have and be prepared to be brutal - out of sight, out of mind and out of your body! Remove anything that is not close to the source OR rather, the way nature intended (at least for the most part). Here is a great starter list...

  • Processed/packaged foods and prepared dinners
  • Foods that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Food that contain hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils (aka. trans fats)
  • Canned soups, which are full of salt and preservatives (though they are OK occasionally in a pinch)
  • Anything WHITE - pasta, flour, sugar, bread, rice
  • Sauces and salad dressings with sugars, sodium, chemicals and preservatives
  • Foods that have lengthy ingredient lists with words you cannot pronounce
  • Foods with food dyes such as red/blue/yellow dyes
  • Foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and MSG
  • Candy, cookies, and other packaged treats
  • Artificial sweeteners (all of them!)
  • Sodas and other sugary drinks
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Congratulations! You have taken out the trash and now you can create a list of staple foods to build a kitchen you will love. It is literally the room in the house from where you nourish your body and soul AND create health and beauty from the inside out. Keep a list as you run out of items, so that you can always be sure your kitchen is well stocked!

Your first shopping trip after the purge may be huge as you build your staples and essentials. From there, you will just supplement as needed with fresh produce for meals that week. 

  • Pasta (brown rice or whole-grain), including gluten-free brown rice lasagna sheets
  • Sprouted pasta (penne, spaghetti, etc.)
  • Buckwheat soba noodles
  • Rice (basmati, brown, wild)
  • Quinoa
  • Gluten-free old fashioned oats/gluten-free steel cut oats
  • Millet
  • Non-GMO organic taco shells
  • Dried lentils (Beluga, red, green)
  • Dried mixed beans (great for soups/stews)
  • Low-sodium organic canned beans (chickpeas, navy, kidney, adzuki, great northern, pinto)
  • Dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Tomato sauce/paste
  • Bottled artichokes (in water)
  • Jarred peppers (piquillo, roasted red, chipotle)
  • Low-sodium organic veggie stock
  • Raisins
  • Prunes
  • Medjool dates
  • Dried cranberries and apricots
  • Flours (oat, buckwheat, coconut, sprouted whole wheat, quinoa, almond, brown rice)
  • Sugars (coconut, brown)
  • Ground almonds and walnuts (great for breading chicken and fish)
  • Baking soda/powder
  • Raw honey
  • Real maple syrup
  • Tahini paste
  • Gluten-free tortilla chips
  • Unsweetened organic apple sauce
  • Bottled marinara sauce (low-sugar)
  • Canned wild-caught salmon
  • Canned sardines
  • Whole-wheat Panko bread crumbs
  • Dark chocolate bars/chips
  • Plain popcorn
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  • Himalayan sea salt/kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dried spices (cumin, chili powder, coriander, mustard, red pepper flakes, ginger, sweet and hot paprika, garlic powder, turmeric, curry blend, coriander, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, pumpkin spice all spice)
  • Dried herbs (basil, mint, dill, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, black and white sesame seeds)

  • Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • Extra virgin coconut oil
  • Toasted sesame seed oil
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Raw, unfiltered apple cider
  • Red & white wine vinegar/balsamic vinegar
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Thai curry pastes
  • Lite coconut milk
  • Vacuum-packed miso
  • Wasabi powder
  • Nori seaweed wraps

  • Goat's milk/Kefir
  • Vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • Coconut water
  • Ketchup (without HFCS)
  • Hummus
  • Organic, grass-fed butter
  • Salsa
  • Dijon and grain mustard
  • Wheat-free tamari and coconut aminos (a soy/gluten/wheat-free soy alternative)
  • Organic cream cheese
  • Hard cheeses (like Parmesan and Gruyere)
  • Feta or goat cheese
  • Smoked salmon
  • Organic omega-3 eggs
  • Ezekial brand sprouted English muffins
  • Heat-sensitive oils (toasted sesame oil, flaxseed oil, almond and walnut oil)
  • Brown rice gluten-free tortillas (these freeze well)
  • Vegetables - cucumber, squash, butternut squash pumpkin, zucchini, baby carrots, peppers, kale, spinach, arugula, cauliflower, red cabbage, carrots, celery, leeks, romaine, beets, sprouts, green onions, sweet baby peppers, etc.
  • Fresh herbs - rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, cilantro
  • Fruits - berries, melons, apples, oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins
  • Horseradish
  • Ginger
  • Fruit spreads
  • Seltzer water
  • Nut butters - almond, peanut, walnut

  • Onions
  • Garlic, ginger, shallots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
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  • Nuts (almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and pine nuts)
  • Chia and buckwheat waffles
  • Egg wonton wrappers (great for quick lasagna or homemade ravioli)
  • Ezekiel brand sprouted flax bread
  • Sprouted bagels
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia and hemp)
  • Frozen veggies - peas, edamame, spinach, okra, pumpkin puree
  • Frozen fruits - mango, berries, pineapple, peaches (great for smoothies!)
  • Organic chicken cutlets
  • Organic chopped/minced chicken, turkey, beef
  • Ezekiel brand sprouted buns
  • Ezekiel sprouted tortillas
  • Whole wheat ravioli


So your kitchen is clean and you have a grocery list in hand. Let's go shopping! But before we step foot in the store, let's go over some basic rules of thumb to get the most out of your shopping experience. Remember, you need only make the good choices once. You can't eat poor quality foods at home if you did not bring them home to begin with!
  1. Never go to the supermarket hungry, as you are more likely to throw in items you don't really need.
  2. Go with a list and stick to it. A list will keep you focused on what you need, as well as keep you in the healthier perimeter of the store. There is where you will find all the fresh produce. The center aisles are the danger zones - full of processed foods. This is where corporate marketing and bogus health claims are in full swing. Watch out for foods that claim to be "low sugar" or "fat free". These foods usually contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, which is far worse than regular sugar. Enter these aisles at your own risk!
  3. If possible, try to shop alone. Taking small children to the supermarket can pull and tug you in directions you don't want to go in. The checkout aisles are notorious for their candy and other evils that sadly, all kids want.
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The most obvious thing to think about when you start loading up your trolley is to pick REAL FOOD - whole, unprocessed, raw foods that come from the earth - not food items that are man-made in a factory. Try to limit foods that come in packages, boxes, cans and containers. Avoid foods that have lengthy, hard to pronounce ingredient lists (5-8 ingredients max).

Marketing statements on food items have very little, if any, regulation by the FDA. It's your job to be your own nutrition label detective. Labels offer up useful information that will help you make an informed decision about the food you purchase. Notice how you will never see a label with health claims on fresh produce.

Organic or not? Is it really worth the investment? Well yes, for some things it certainly is. Organic foods are void of pesticides, chemicals, GMOs and synthetic fertilizers. By buying organic produce, you are supporting local farmers who follow sustainable farming methods, while also investing in your community (as opposed to factory-farm powerhouses). As a consumer, this is empowering!

Because organic produce doesn't use chemical fertilizers and are grown the slow, old-fashioned way, they have a chance to absorb all the complex nutrients found in the carbon-rich soil (just like a good marinade). These organic fruits and vegetables have time to develop a thicker cell wall and therefore, more concentrated flavors. They are also packed with more antioxidants, vitamins and phytochemicals than regular produce.

If you can't buy all organic, I suggest checking out the Dirty Dozen list here. These 12 fruits and vegetables have the most pesticides and should be purchased organic when possible. Other items that should always be purchased as organic are eggs, meat/poultry and dairy (basically, all animal products).

If you have the option of shopping at your local farmers market, take advantage! Here the prices are lower, the nutritional quality is higher and everything is fresher. Produce in the regular supermarkets has often traveled far and wide so by the time it reaches the shelves, the nutritional value is highly depleted.

Look at you! You are nearly on your way! Your kitchen is stocked with a wonderful selection of staples, sure to allow you the tools to create any meal of your choosing! Hang tight because next week, we'll talk about exactly how to create meals with ease! If you've "fallen off the wagon", it's time to get back up and get your family eating well again! I'm here to help!

Kirsti Pesso is a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach (CHHC) and a certified ACE personal trainer. Currently living in Westchester, New York with her husband and two little daughters, she grew up in Australia where she spent much of her childhood in her father's professional kitchens. This instilled in her a deep connection and love for food. Her own personal journey and education has allowed her to merge her love for food with health and wellness. For the last 11 years, nutrition, fitness and holistic living have been a priority for her and her family.  With a deep passion for cooking healthy and clean meals, Kirsti has made educating her family on nutrition and healthy living, a priority. Also, having a background in psychology and social work has allowed her to connect her  extensive knowledge and education in the health and wellness fields, and help others who seek to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Kirsti has simultaneously been running a successful freelance hair colorist and styling business and has been in the industry for nearly 25 years in Australia and New York. She has a loyal following, due in part to her holistic perspective on hair. 'Healthy In Beauty Out' was born out of Kirsti's love, passion and deep understanding that beauty is an inside job. Her business reflects a culmination of many different pillars of wellness and beauty,  and combines her talent and education in the areas of nutrition, food, fitness and hair. In addition to her freelance services as a colorist and stylist, you can seek more of Kirsti's advice on healthy living, fitness and beauty, by visiting her Facebook page. To learn more about how you can live a clean, healthy and beautiful life, join Kirsti on her 11-day comprehensive Cleanse Program. To learn more, visit her at

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