By Mary, Contributing Writer
The task of creating a more natural home can be overwhelming and it can be quite difficult to know where to start. One of the easiest places to begin is with kitchen staples.
Start by replacing unhealthy options with items that are healthier. There are many items in our kitchens that should probably be replaced, but don’t get overwhelmed! Start with just a few things. Take baby steps as you gather essentials for a healthy kitchen.
1. Coconut Oil
This has replaced all other oils used in our house. It has so many benefits. It promotes heart health, aids in weight loss, boosts the immune system and helps keep your skin youthful looking. I use coconut oil for everything–from scrambling eggs to adding a yummy flavor to brownies. You can eat it by the spoonful for the health benefits. (I also keep a jar of coconut oil as a moisturizer, for sunburns or skin conditions.)
2. Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
This has many health benefits and doubles as a boost for your health. We use it for salad dressings and anything that calls for vinegar–white vinegar stays with the cleaning supplies. Raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother) cuts the acid in the body, boosts the immune system, helps digestive health and more. A way to improve your health and aid in detoxification and weight loss is to drink 1 Tbsp raw ACV and 1 Tbsp honey in 8 oz of water (hot is better).
Onions are a good source for vitamins and antioxidants. They help with heart health and blood sugar and are antibacterial. Besides adding delicious flavor to a meal, many health benefits are being received.
Garlic is another superfood that you need for the health benefits–immune boosting, heart benefits, cancer fighting, and much more. Christy shares more about garlic benefits, recipes, and using a garlic press here.
5. Raw Honey
Honey is a healthy substitute for sugar. It provides many benefits for your health and is a superfood. Buying local is supposed to help with allergies. If you don’t have a good source, look for a raw honey with crumbles. Add some cinnamon to your honey for a healthy snack!!
6. Himalayan Pink Salt
Not your average table salt, which has chemicals and no nutritional value, Himalayan Salt contains 84 minerals and trace elements, helps eliminate toxins, balances pH, and normalizes blood pressure. It can also be used for saltwater baths to help the body detoxify and be energized.
7. Chia Seeds
This superfood helps balance blood sugar, assists in weight loss, supplies energy and omega-3s, and helps with heart health and cholesterol. I use this in smoothies or sprinkle it on oatmeal and cereals. Chia seeds can be used as a fat replacer in recipes and mixed with yogurt and snacks. You can find a way to use chia seeds every day.
This is a natural alternative to sugar. Stevia is an herb that helps to sweeten as well as provide health benefits. It cuts sugar cravings, aids in digestion, and has weight loss benefits. Stevia is even sweeter than sugar. I keep a bottle of stevia with me to sweeten unsweetened tea and add to water with lemon oil to make lemonade.
Spices are essentials for a healthy kitchen because they wake up your meals in ways that processed food just can’t compare to. Erin created a great substitution chart for the spices you don’t use much or if you run out of a particular spice.
10. Essential Oils
We know they are used for lots of things–health, colds, flu, cleaning, aromatherapy–but cooking?
I use essential oils in EVERY other area of my life, but hadn’t thought of using them for cooking until recently. I use spices, so why not oils? Why not use the purest parts of the plants that will boost the nutritional, healing power of the food? Not only will it enhance the flavor of the food, but it will increase the nutritional value of the food.
Two drops of a pure, therapeutic grade essential oil are equal to 2 oz of dried herbs.
Pure, therapeutic oils are so concentrated it only takes a drop or two and in some cases just dipping a toothpick in the recipe with some oil on it.
ALWAYS make sure your oils are pure, therapeutic quality and safe for internal use.
I always add one or two drops to a glass of water (never plastic or styrofoam because pure oils will eat through the petrochemicals of the cup). My favorite oils for this are lemon, peppermint, grapefruit, tangerine, orange, and slique essence.
Experiment with oils such as basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, nutmeg, and ginger. You will find many uses.
The great thing is that essential oils have multiple uses–cooking, health, skincare, and cleaning.
What are your essentials for a healthy kitchen?
Mary is a farm girl, wife, and homeschooling mom to 2 sons. She is passionate about her faith, family, homeschooling, healthy living and tries to find balance in it all, as well as farm life. She blogs at The Encouraging Home where she tries to encourage others in life and to stay focused on the Lord and the things that truly matter, even through stress, chaos, and trials. It is her desire that women will rise up and take back the challenge of raising their children for the Lord, so we can change future generations and our nation.