Chandigarh, India (PressExposure) July 20, 2008 -- Healthy eating starts with careful planning and organization. Since fresh produce has a very limited shelf life, regular grocery shopping is a must. Creating a menu for the week and writing out a shopping list will save you time and money; while helping you stick to healthy recipes. Local health food stores and farmer markets are very money-wise solutions. Plus, frequent visits will allow you expand your culinary horizons as well as mingle with other health-concerned people.
Healthy eating means using fresh ingredients and gentle cooking methods without adding any artificial ingredients and fats. Healthy eating requires a lot of cooking, since take-out food often contains too many refined fats and artificial seasonings. However, with modern appliances you will discover that cooking is no longer an annoying chore reserved for special occasions, but an exciting part of everyday life.
So which products should we buy when we actually decide to begin eating healthy food? Here is what your weekly shopping list should include.
Vegetables. All vegetables should be eaten young, when they are tender and not coarse. Vegetables are best bought from fresh food markets or seasonal, when they are sold in boxes or baskets. Supermarket vegetables are often genetically modified or have been picked green and ripened in boxes when traveling long distances. Sprouts and brightly colored vegetables contain the most vitamins and antioxidants.
Fruits. Again, the trick is to buy seasonal fruit, since exotic fruits have often traveled long distances and ripened in their boxes, not on trees. Local, naturally ripened or, better yet, organic fruit are the best choice for the health-conscious cook.
Herbs. Aromatic herbs and spices can be used fresh or dried. The best idea is to plant the aromatic herbs in pots on your window and use them fresh whenever you need them. To preserve flavor, you can buy spices whole and use them freshly ground.
Cheese. Although cheese is quite rich in fats, cheese is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Buy only fresh cheeses in small quantities and try to eat them at once, since gourmet cheeses do not have a lengthy shelf life.
Eggs. Buy only organic or free-range eggs, and shake them before buying to ensure freshness.
Fish and shellfish. The best way to buy fish is fresh and unfrozen. Again, most of the fish in supermarkets comes from fish farms where it is fed with artificial substances, and this fish cannot be used in healthy recipes. Pink salmon and other popular kinds of fish will most likely come from a fish farm. Shellfish is a more healthy choice, since shrimp, for example, does not live in chemically polluted water. When you boil mussels, discard those that do not open.
Meat. For truly healthy eating purposes it is better to skip meat entirely, since it's almost impossible to find meat that comes from an environmentally and health conscious farmer. Most of the meat in supermarkets has enormous quantities of growth hormones and antibiotics. The best meat for use in healthy recipes comes from small farming communities or organic farms.
Grains. Whole wheat and whole grains should become a staple of your healthy eating routine, because many healthy ingredients are contained in the grain shell. Rice is the only exclusion from the rule, because, even though the rice grain shell is removed, many nutritional elements remain in the rice grain.
What we eat becomes a part of us. So make your kitchen a starting point for your new healthy eating habits, and enjoy preparing healthy meals.
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