Detox That Kitchen!

I read a lot about healing, healthy practices like green beauty, clean diets and detoxing our bodies but what about the kitchen?  The kitchen is where we prepare the food we are eating so it makes sense to have a clean, green, detoxed kitchen. I have good intentions and thought I was doing a great job but when I take a good, honest look at things - there's much room for improvement.  

Here's a few simple steps I'm taking to detox my kitchen:

1. Replace my plastic food storage containers with glass ones.  I say I don't reheat in plastic but sometimes life happens and I do. Sigh. We all know the horrors of cooking in plastic. Storing food in plastic isn't good for us either. Here are some sources for glass food storage containers:

2. Use green, environmentally friendly cleaning products that are safe for you and your pets. This includes your hand soap. One of my favorites is Common Good - they make lots of different types of green soap products and have these great refilling stations that you just bring your bottle to and fill up - so much less waste!  Other favs are below!

3. Switch our your sponges on the 1st and 15th of the month. Sponges get gross and need to be changed regularly. Creating mini schedules for simple tasks make it more likely you'll remember to do it. I use this 1st and 15th of the month trick for a few things around the house. It really helps. 

4. Use re-usable produce bags and shopping bags.  This isn't so much about our personal health but the environment's health. It will also help you declutter - I bet you have hundreds of pesky plastic bags crammed under your sink or between your fridge and the wall. Not a bad idea to carry a little portable bag with you so you're always prepared. Did you hear that NYC is now going to charge you for those plastic shopping bags - just another reason to bring your own.

5. Add a plant! Plants do a lot of great things.  Consider adding one that purifies the air like a spider plant, something with medicinal properties like aloe vera or simple fresh herbs for adding to your cooking. 

6. Clean your vents and filters regularly. There's a filter in your dishwasher that needs to be cleaned. It can collect mold which is not what you want all over your dishes. Here's a great way to naturally clean your whole dishwasher.  Don't forget the vents over your stove or any heating ducts - they need attention too. 

7. Remove your non stick, Teflon cookware. It's toxic. Consider ceramic, cast iron, copper or stainless steel pieces. Don't bother with a whole set - think about what you cooked in the last month and what pans your used. For us, a 10 inch skillet, a wok, 3 quart saucepan and a 6 quart stock pot are what we use almost all of the time. 

8. Use cotton towels instead of paper towels and napkins. Years ago, Cameron and I picked up about 25 cotton rags/teas towels and we still use them all the time for cleaning up spills or drying our hands - we have a handful that we use as napkins as well. Find some you like, pick up 20 of them and ditch your paper towels. The earth will thank you. 

9. Brew your coffee with a french press or pour over method because your basket or pod coffee maker is probably full of mold and bacteria. The chemex (a manual pour over style) is my favorite because I feel it makes the best tasting cup of coffee. Also, it's easy to clean and there's nowhere for mold to hide. 

What about you?  Any tips?  

Tools Every AIP Kitchen Needs

If you're on the Auto Immune Protocol, you do spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  It's just not a diet that works if you don't cook you're own food.  I've complied a small list of kitchen gadgets that help.  These are all items I use every week and make batch cooking so much quicker.  

1. High Quality Chef's Knife.  Get a good knife.  Out of all the kitchen tools, this one you use the most.  Hand wash and dry it, keep it sharp (either send it out for professional sharpening or buy a stone and do it yourself - every 6 months) and use a honing steel every time you use it.  Dull knives are dangerous, they don't work properly, slip off food and cut your fingers.  It's very important to take good care of your knife.  Between the two of us, we have a nice collection of knives: Global, Misono, Wustoff and Shun. My favorite is the Misono UX10 8" Chefs Knife.  This is also great 1st knife.    If you live in NYC, stop over to Korin.  

2. Salad Spinner.  I eat a very big salad for lunch everyday.  It's the easiest, most straight forward lunch option on the AIP diet.  So, I use this thing every week.  On my cooking day, I prep toppings and head of lettuce or two.  This works for drying and storing.  Salad spinners are pretty much all the same but I'd recommend getting a large one.  It's the best way to store lettuce.  Keeps greens staying fresh and crisp for a while.  Also, it's fun to use. We've had this OXO one for years.  Big points because I can take it apart and wash it in the dishwasher.

3. Storage Containers.  All that food we're cooking has to live in something, doesn't it?  I'm not thrilled with plastic but these are so convenient.  They come in three sizes, don't leak and stack.  Mason jars are also great.  They're glass and you can buy them in tons of sizes, buy them cheaply by the case, and use them for 100 things like canning, storage, eating and drinking out of.  And they are dishwasher and microwave safe. 

4. Cast Iron Griddle.  All that batch cooking you're doing is crazy but there's no way around it.  I use the cast iron pan for grilling large quantities of chicken breast and turkey burgers.  There's so much surface area and the pan gets nice and hot for a beautiful sear.  I like that there's a flat top on one side and grill on the other.  Who doesn't love options.  Here's a nice one.

5. Spiralizer.  So much fun.  Maybe not necessary but certainly a fun little gadget.  I picked up a super cheapie one of TJ Max on a whim and really like it.  I'll spiralize carrots and beets for salads, zucchini for zoodles and pretty much anytime I want long ribbons of anything.  This is the model people seem to be the most nuts for.

6. Mandoline Slicer.  If you have one of these, then you really don't need a spiralizer.  Mandolines, like this one, come with inserts that will slice food into matchsticks, spaghetti or fettuccine sized ribbons.  Or use it without the inserts of thin slices of anything. They are very sharp and are secretly hungry for fingertips so use the guard or a folded up kitchen towel to hold the food.  I use mine for veggie prep, making fresh cucumber chips, root vegetable chips, paper thin slices of garlic or shallots, fruit slices.  Lots of things.   

7. Food Processor.  I have two.  This little guy and a powerful 9 cup one by Kitchen Aid that they don't seem to make anymore.  I love them both for different reasons.  Lots of AIP recipes call for mixing doughs out of plantains or starchy root vegetables, pureeing, making rice out of vegetables.  They're a lot that you can do with the food processor that's just not possible by hand.   I use mine of batch cooking:  finely chopping the onions I'll need for all the recipes I'm cooking in one go, mincing garlic or making ginger paste.  It easily does all the little tasks I'm not crazy about. (onions = many, many tears)

So, did I miss anything?