When I began taking the time to read labels, I was blown away by all the unnecessary and potentially harmful additives that are found in our food. How do I know they’re unnecessary? Because I’ve found alternative products that taste identical (or better) and work just as well in recipes.
Here are a few tips that I’ve learned:
1. Buy Organic Whenever Possible
I’m grateful for stores like Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and sometimes even Walmart for carrying reasonably-priced organic produce, canned goods, and packaged foods. Approximately 1/5 of the items in my kitchen are organic.
2. Spice Up Your Spice Cabinet
The number of anti-caking agents, artificial colors, and chemical additives that are found in species can be startling. When you buy garlic powder, you expect a container filled with powdered garlic–not powdered garlic, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, parsley, and MSG. After stopping by several grocery stores to find pure spices, I can now take pride in my spice cabinet (aside from the fact that I desperately need to organize it.)
3. Purge Your Pantry
Canned goods and packaged foods are the two most common hiding places for artificial ingredients. If you don’t read the label of every single item you purchase, there’s no telling what harmful additives will find their way into your home (and into your stomach).
When reading labels, keep these two guidelines in mind: 1. Less is more; 2. If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t buy it. The ingredient lists of foods that contain potentially harmful additives are almost always going to be longer, and they will often contain a number of complex chemicals with long-winded names.
To give you an idea of how I put all this into practice, here are some reasonably-priced, all-natural staples that I currently have in my kitchen. They all contain fewer than four ingredients:
-SimplyNature Organic, 100% Whole Wheat Rotini (Aldi)
-Trader Joe’s Tomato Paste (Trader Joe’s)
-Happy Harvest Canned Green Beans–No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives (Aldi)
-Ronzoni Healthy Harvest, 100% Whole Grain Lasagna Noodles (Walmart)
-Fit & Active 100% Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti (Aldi)
-SimplyNature Organic Canned Black Beans (Aldi)
-Sweet Harvest Canned Pineapple Chunks in 100% Juice (Aldi)
-Publix Brand Seasoned Salt and Chili Powder (Publix)
-Great Value Ground Cumin (Walmart)
-California Garlic Powder (Trader Joe’s)
-Alessi Balsamic Vinegar (Kroger)
-Crystal Hot Sauce (Walmart)
-USDA Organic Coconut Oil (Aldi)