Plastic is EVERYWHERE. Just have a look around you, and once you do, you'll start to notice it in your local grocery and health food stores, it's in cafes and retail stores as well as the plastic rubbish on the streets, in our ocean and gardens. We bottle our water in it, store our cakes, biscuits, cheese, crackers, meat, nuts, seeds and milk in it. I like to think I'm pretty aware of my own plastic consumption. I bring my basket and re-useable bags with me to the farmer's market and grocery store. I bring my own filtered water bottle with me wherever I go and I use glass containers to store my food in. But there is always room for improvement and I'm definitely not perfect.
Did you know that plastic takes 400+ years to biodegrade, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled and over the last 10 years we've produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century and not to mention, plastic is also a hormone disruptor. So going plastic free is a great way to ensure that you will be eating much fewer processed foods - which is better for our bodies, AND the planet.
So here are my rules for reducing my plastic consumption, starting with my own kitchen pantry.
- No plastic straws (I use these stainless steel ones)
- Use re-useable filtered water bottles
- I only have glass containers so not using plastic containers is easy
- No single use tea bags (switch to loose leaf in a tea steeper or tea pot)
- No plastic utensils
- No zip lock bags
- Use bees wax food wraps (no cling wrap)
- Use stainless steel ice cream moulds
- No single-use plastic items (coffee cups and lids, juice bottles, etc.)
- No vegetables in plastic wrap
- No leafy greens wrapped in plastic or in plastic containers - only the loose leaf lettuce and wash them yourself at home
- Use re-useable market bags, I'm loving these cute ones from Stow & Co
- TRY purchase less products pre-packaged in plastic and go to my local health food store to stock up on bulk items by taking my own glass jars/ produce bags to avoid plastic use
- Favour pre-made products stored in glass jars over plastic (supplements, spirulina, coconut oil, olive oil etc)
I truely believe that we need to make a conscious effort to work on dramatically reducing our plastic use if we want to keep our lands, our oceans and our communities healthy.
I often get questions on what I keep stocked in my pantry, and I’m finally spilling the (coffee) beans! I enlisted the help of the beautiful Catherine from Stow & Co to help organise my pantry and make it beautiful and as plastic free as possible. Stow & Co are all about reducing the environmental footprint by using labelled glassware to overhaul your pantry and get rid of all the packages. Have a look at my before and after photo below. Even though everything in my pantry are 1 ingredient whole foods, I was still embarrassed with how many packages I had in my pantry. Swapping everything over to labelled glass jars has made an incredible difference to my pantry. I can now see exactly what ingredients I have so nothing gets lost or forgotten about in the very back of the pantry and I've downsized to 3 shelves instead of 4. Does this mean more room for more food haha?
Keeping a well-stocked pantry full of real, whole foods is essential for sticking to a healthy lifestyle. If you’ve got healthy ingredients at your finger tips, and no processed foods to fall back on, you'll be more motivated to cook healthy, delicious meals.
BEFORE & AFTER
Today, I invite you to take a look inside my real food pantry. Each pantry will look different due to taste preferences and real food eating-styles. The list below is a guide of what I consider real food essentials in my pantry. Your list may differ and that’s okay. This is simply a guide, a reference list to build on or take away from.
I absolutely love ghee. I don’t use it as much as grass-fed butter, but I still keep it stocked in my pantry at all times. It has a high smoke point and is stable for cooking as it’s a saturated fat. This means it can be used in any type of cooking, sautéing, baking and/ or frying and will not oxidise and become toxic. You can read more about its health benefits here + it’s super simple to make, just follow my tutorial. For those times where I don’t have time to make it myself, or if I’m travelling I’ll take a small bottle of this ghee with me.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
I love using a good quality olive oil. Here are some handy tips on olive oil that you may or may not know;
- I don’t cook with olive oil because it has a lower smoke point than other oils so it can oxidise easily.
- Always buy extra virgin. It's the purest and least processed. You can drizzle it over cooked veggies, meats and salad as well as using it in different dishes like guacamole, homemade dips or dressings.
- The bottle should be a dark coloured glass so no light shines through.
- Olive oil goes rancid very quickly. Use within 4-6 weeks of opening. This is because the seal is broken allowing oxygen to enter the bottle. Store it away from heat and light. This is key to keeping it from going rancid. So don’t store olive oil right next to or near your oven. Ideally it is kept in the pantry away from sunlight and any heat source.
- Unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. The fresher the olive oil, the better it tastes and the higher the health benefits. It should taste ripe, creamy, evolving and complex.
BRAIN OCTANE OIL
I love brain octane oil because it doesn't need enzymes or bile to break it down, therefore it’s easily and quickly absorbed by the body. It helps to speed up the metabolism and travels directly to the liver where it can be converted to ketone bodies to be used for immediate energy instead of being stored as fat. It also helps to supercharge your brain function by giving you mental clarity and removing any brain fog. I add it to my morning Bulletproof Coffee, Matcha Lattes, smoothies, cheesecakes, cashew cheese or sometimes I’ll drizzle it over my food as it has no taste.
I buy it in huge glass jars whenever it goes on sale because I move through it so fast. I also always keep coconut oil around for cooking and to use in raw treats, bliss balls and baking, I even love using it on my skin instead of moisturisers that can often be full of chemicals.
I actually like to store my matcha in the fridge once I’ve opened it up because this helps to extend the shelf life and to preserve the flavour.
I love dates SO much. But because I’m still not eating sugar-filled dried fruits like dates I’ve actually gotten into the habit of fermenting up a big batch using coconut water kefir, this removes the sugar as the good bacteria eats away all the sugars. Then I dehydrate them in the oven at a low temp. I usually store them in the fridge in a glass jar to extend the shelf life and to deter mould. I’ll use the dates in bliss balls, smoothies, I’ll add them to my coconut yoghurt with vanilla for a caramel taste, I’ll chop them up and add them to homemade choccy or eat them as a snack.
ACTIVATED NUTS & SEEDS
Activating nuts and seeds is highly beneficial as it neutralises phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and it stimulates the production of essential enzymes. This means they’ll be easier to digest and your body will be able to absorb more of the vitamins and minerals within them. You can find a recipe here on how to make activated nuts/ seeds.
NUT & SEED BUTTER
I love activated nut or seed butters. I find it really easy to make myself as you just whiz the nuts or seeds up in a food processor or thermomix with a touch of coconut oil until you get the texture you like. I’ll drizzle it over smoothie bowls, ice-cream or eat it off the spoon for a simple snack. Here’s a recipe for sunflower seed butter which I use in my Keto & Nut Free Brownies (recipe is in GUTALICIOUS).
Coconut flour is high in nutrition and is especially great if you’re going onto a gluten free, paleo, vegan or lower carbohydrate diet. The fats contained within coconut flour are easily absorbed in the body, converting it to energy and stabilising blood sugar levels as well as supporting a healthy metabolism. Just ½ cup of coconut flour contains 20g of dietary fibre and 8g of protein. You can read more about the wonderful health benefits here.
ORGANIC WHITE RICE
I haven’t been eating any grains for the past couple of years, except of course the humble rice grain. If you want to learn my tips on how you can make your rice more gut friendly, read my tips here. I recommend purchasing organic white rice as it's easier to digest than brown.
100% PURE COCONUT CREAM
Always look for a coconut cream/ milk that doesn’t have any gums. I like the AYAM brand as it’s 100% pure and you can easily pick it up at Woolworths. I use it in homemade curries, panna cotta, I use it to make coconut yoghurt, in my matcha latte and loads of other recipes. Since it doesn’t have any preservatives, it spoils pretty quickly after opening so I recommend using it up within 3 days.
I never used to drink coffee, perhaps only the occasional black coffee here and there. I only started drinking coffee again when I tried out a Bulletproof Coffee and noticed how energised and clear minded I felt after drinking one. I love the Bulletproof Coffee grounds/ beans (at home as we have a coffee machine) or grounds (for travel).
I’ve only recently jumped onto the cacao nib band wagon. And my newfound love for these crunchy, chocolatey delights knows no limits. This magical plant food has more antioxidant flavonoids than any other food on the planet. The nibs are delish ground up in smoothies, topped on smoothie bowls, ice-cream or in bliss balls for some yummy crunch.
When it comes to getting a boost of protein and amino acids, I recommend high-quality, grass-fed collagen. I use and recommend Bulletproof’s Upgraded Collagen or Great Lakes Collagen - it’s a great way to increase your intake of highly digestible, nutrient-dense protein. You can read more info on collagen here and how I use it in recipes.
Gelatin is a wonderfully nourishing supplement for gut health, reducing inflammation, supports skin, nails hair and teeth + it has loads of other health benefits which you can read here. One of my favourite ways to use gelatin is in my Coconut & Matcha Panna Cotta, Berry Gummies and my morning Bulletproof Coffee.
Firstly, they’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to adapt their function according to your body’s specific needs. Lately I’m loving the Sunpotion brand of adaptogenic herbs (click here to check to check them out if you’re in America/ Europe and here if you’re an Aussie). My current favourite is Mucuna pruriens because it’s basically nature’s chill pill. It contains an ingredient called L-dopa, which is the precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine has been linked with sound sleep, enhanced brain function, elevated moods, a more balanced nervous system as well as supporting overall well-being. It’s also a libido-booster and fertility treatment. I created an Adaptogenic Bulletproof Coffee recipe, however I also love adding these gorgeous powders to smoothies, ice-cream, bliss balls, dips and hot drinks.
SLIPPERY ELM POWDER
Traditionally Slippery Elm Bark Powder was used to create balms for skin conditions such as wounds, ulcers and reducing skin irritation! If you have digestive issues, Slippery Elm Bark Powder works to soothe the inflammation of the digestive tract, while absorbing toxins that can cause intestinal imbalance. I use it in my gravies as a thickener an alternative to flour (p.s I have an epic recipe for gravy in our cookbook GUTALICIOUS) and I just purchase it in bulk from iHerb here.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
ACV contains acid, enzymes and anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and also aids digestion. Drinking ACV in water helps to fight off intestinal yeast overgrowth by actually killing candida while helping to create a good environment for friendly gut flora. I use it in wellness tonics, salad dressings, for quick pickled veggies, and sometimes I’ll just shot it in water before my meals to aid digestion.
DEHYDRATED BONE BROTH
I add dehydrated bone broth to pretty much all of my slow cooked meals, soups, stews, slow cooked meats and gravies. Bone broth is rich in gelatin, collagen, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and is fantastic for soothing an inflamed gut, aids digestion, improves sleep, moods, skin, nail, hair and teeth health + supports liver detoxification. I always take a jar of it with me whenever I travel too. I’ll often take it on the plane with me with a flask and just ask for hot water so I can have a hot cup of broth on the plane while flying (you’ll just need to take a small container of salt to season it).
Here are a few other staples I like to have on hand;
- Nori sheets
- Coconut butter
- Herbal teas
- Coconut aminos
- Coconut water to make coconut water kefir
- Kelp noodles
- Seedy Crackers or pork crackle chips (recipes are in GUTALICIOUS)
- Tinned organic tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Tinned sustainable fish such mackerel or sardines
- Cacao powder
- Cacao butter
- Liquid or powdered green stevia
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder: baking soda and aluminum-free baking powder are used as leavening agents in baking. Baking soda may also be used for natural cleaning (scrub cleaner and bathroom cleaner). I prefer Bob’s Red Mill brand for baking.
- Chia seeds
- Spirulina, chlorella powder and beetroot powder (these are great for colouring foods)
- Rice flour
Inside My Spice Cabinet
What would food be without the spices??! Of course the natural flavour of the foods we eat are incredible, but I find so much joy and pleasure in finding spices to compliment the natural flavours in the dishes I’m making. I use a little funnel to transfer my spices/ ingredients into recycled glass bottles and jars to store in my spice cabinet. As a general rule of thumb, ground spices last about a year while whole spices can last 2-3 years. To extend the life of your spices, store them in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. If you want to keep track of when you purchased your bulk herbs and spices, just write the date you purchased or received them on a piece of masking tape and stick it on your bulk bags and/or bottles/jars. You can also usually tell if a spice has gone bad if the colour and/or the aroma is faded or dull.
These are by no means the only spices and herbs I use, but the ones I use on a weekly basis. The spices you keep on hand will vary with your cooking style and personal taste. Here are a few of my favourites:
SALT - I use Himalayan salt that has been naturally iodised with seaweed flakes. This salt has the most delicious flavour.
PEPPERCORNS – I seriously loooooove black pepper. I grind it fresh on most of my meals. I love the richness and depth that black pepper offers.
TURMERIC – I feel like turmeric should be mandatory in every person’s spice cabinet. I love that it can be used in sweet and savoury preparations.
GARLIC POWDER – this is one of my favourites, not only for the flavour, but because it contains very powerful antifungal, antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties. I purchase mine from iHerb here.
CARDAMOM – I love adding a hint of cardamom to my potions and elixirs
CEYLON CINNAMON – a great way to add more antioxidants into your coffee and control your blood sugar is to add a pinch of cinnamon. Cinnamon has been used as medicine for centuries because of its numerous health benefits. One of the main benefits of cinnamon is its ability to lower blood glucose levels after a meal and improves your lipid profile.
GINGER – The fresh stuff is still my favourite, but I always keep the dried ginger on hand. I especially love adding it to my gut loving brownies.
VANILLA BEANS – is a staple ingredient in my pantry, I’m not sure I could live without it to be honest. Everyone knows vanilla adds an incredible flavour and aroma to baked goods, but did you know that it also has many health promoting properties? Vanilla contains B Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron and zinc. It supports enzyme synthesis, nervous system function, regulation of metabolism, aids with blood pressure and heart rate and is rich in antioxidants. These are a bit pricey, but for me they are 200% worth it. I prefer to use these over vanilla extract, but a quality extract is a more affordable option.
NUTMEG – I don’t use nutmeg that often, but when I do, I always forget how much I love it. I especially love it combined with ginger.
BAY LEAVES – bay leaves are great for enhancing the flavour of any broth, soup, stew or sauce.
CORIANDER –this spice packs a serious flavour punch. Also great to use in pickling brines.
CUMIN – cumin powder is great in so many dishes. I love it in curries.
SMOKED PAPRIKA & normal PAPRIKA – I love the deep smoky flavour this spice imparts and use it on pretty much everything. I buy them from iHerb here.
CHILLI & CAYENNE – both chilli powders brings the heat! A little goes a long way. I love adding a sprinkle to soups and curries.
CURRY POWDER - Curry powder is a staple dish in our house. In the winter, I make it once a week. Curry powder is also a great popcorn topping!
CHIPOTLE – it’s a delicious smoked, dried jalapeno. I use it in almost everything! From scrambled eggs to mayonnaise to stews, slow cooked lamb and roasted chicken. It’s definitely one of my faves.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about what supplements I choose to take. However I will share 3 of my favourite gut health supplements I take and often recommend to my clients.
ACTIVATED COCONUT CHARCOAL - I cannot recommend activated coconut charcoal highly enough! Charcoal is a highly absorbent material with millions of tiny pores that can capture, bind, and remove up to 100x the charcoal’s own weight in toxins. I always have a bottle of this in my handbag as it's a great emergency supplement to have on hand, especially if you accidentally get 'gluten-ed' at a restaurant of cafe it can help to alleviate some of the negative side effects.
GUT HEALTH MINERAL LIQUID - gut health mineral liquid support respiratory wellness, gut health, boosts immunity, enhances mental clarity and helps to eliminate toxins and chemicals from the body. I add it to my smoothies, juices, ice-creams and smoothie bowls.
LIVER CAPSULES - I always take liver capsules leading up to my period (as women we naturally have lower energy levels) and I always take a bottle with me whenever I travel to help boost my energy levels and top up my B Vitamins & iron.
If you would like more information in how Stow & Co can provide perfectly curated pantries inspired by the zero-waste movement, visit their website HERE.