It can be so stressful trying to create a healthy space in the kitchen, for ourselves and for the planet. So from what we buy, use, eat and do in the kitchen we’re sharing our top tips for making healthier choices (and reducing stress!).
We hope it helps you and your fam!
DIY Flavour Mixes
If you’re used to buying and consuming pre-made flavour products like sauces, marinades, spice mixes etc it can be pretty daunting at first to think of making your own versions from scratch, but I promise, it’s really not hard and once you start you’ll find it gets even easier pretty quickly!
I like to buy organic dried and herbs from bulk stores such as The Source, especially when trying out new flavours and I don’t want to commit to owning heaps of something, and sometimes the mixes I create are from recipes, based on recipes but tweaked, or just totally random. Often those random creations are the tastiest!
Don’t be afraid to play around with herbs and spices. If you don’t absolutely love a mix you’ve created at first, you can usually change it and get it ‘right’. Start out with just a few simple flavours you know you like then get more adventurous when you feel like it.
Here are some flavour combo ideas to try:
– Rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano for pasta sauces
– Coriander and cumin powders with pink salt mixed well into mince for patties (great with turkey mince!)
– DIY Mexican sauce: coriander powder, lime juice, tomato paste, sweet paprika
– Oregano is subtle and goes nicely with veggies (mash, cauli rice, on roast veg, everything)
– Rosemary on roast veggies including pumpkin and cabbage is delish, especially with ghee drizzled on
Once you find the combos you and your family like, make larger amounts (dry stuff only) and store in jars in the cupboard.
Remember to try and avoid using sugars, white vinegar etc, as the point here is to make HEALTHY swaps!
Bulk-Buy When Possible
It’s not always doable but when you can buy meat and produce in bulk amounts it’s better for the environment and usually better for the bank account too.
Butchers will often sell (or make on request) larger quantities of meat for a lower price. E.g. 2kg mince for a few dollars less. Farmers offer 1/4, 1/2 and whole beast options which is almost always cheaper. Many health food stores these days have bulk food bins (but check the per kilo price compared to packaged products just in case they’re way more exy), local co-ops offer bulk buy options, produce sections at shops and markets all allow for bulk buying, plus you can often find larger sized canned and jar products depending where you shop.
For example, Clint and I like to get a huge 1.6kg tub of grass-fed ghee when we visit my mum in Brissie cos it’s cheaper and uses less packaging. Win!
We often buy 2-3kg of offal mince mix from a local butcher in just 2 bags instead of 500g packs. I recycle the plastic and separate the mix up into smaller containers at home. Easy!
Sometimes though, bulk buying food is cheaper but not eco-friendly and sometimes it’s the other way around. E.g. going in on 1/4 an animal from a local farmer may save you bucks but they might use packaging that isn’t recyclable. Same with buying a big bag of veggies already made instead of choosing your own loose pieces.
You need to be savvy, work out what your priorities are and why you’re looking into bulk buying, and find the best options that meet your needs and goals.
With more businesses adopting sustainable practices today, and some even contributing to a circular economy, there are more eco-friendly options than ever before. But some are more expensive.
𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙛𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙪𝙡𝙠 𝙗𝙪𝙮𝙨?
Reading + Understanding Labels
So you can make healthier choices when buying food, cleaning products + more!
Labelling laws in Australia are ok, but they’re not great. For instance, the code for a mixture of ingredients needs to be listed but not what that actually contains. When I first went gluten-free and was doing a lot of research I found out that the code for the caramel colour in a lot of food products may actually contain hidden gluten but that didn’t have to be listed on the nutrition label! Scary!
As a general rule in terms of health for us and the planet, if you can’t understand what an ingredient is then it’s probably best avoided.
𝙃𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙝𝙮 𝙛𝙤𝙤𝙙 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙙𝙪𝙘𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙥𝙨:
– avoid highly processed cane sugar (non-organic)
– white vinegar isn’t a healthy preservative. Apple cider vinegar is
– numbers and codes = toxins and hidden nasties
– “low fat” usually means high sugar
– added / fortified ingredients such as folate and fibre = bad news
– ignore the government star rating, it’s BS
– soy in any form isn’t good
– look for products with clean and organic ingredients when possible
– foods cooked/fried in vegetable oils are highly toxic
𝙃𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙝𝙮 𝙘𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙙𝙪𝙘𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙥𝙨:
– avoid products containing phosphates, sodium carbonate, optical brighteners, surfactants, chlorine-based bleaching agents and ingredients derived from palm oil and petrochemicals as they can all harm our waterways and the environment
– Planet Ark says to look for… “Biodegradable certifications, such as Australia’s AS4351 standard. Plant-based (rather than petroleum-based) ingredients. A concentrated formulation. This also has the benefit of less packaging, fewer chemicals per wash and smaller carbon footprint for transportation. Specific ingredient information, such as solvent-free non petroleum-based ingredients, rather than unregulated greenwash claims like ‘natural’ and ‘eco-friendly’.”
Learn to read and understand labels, do some research, ask questions to the manufactures if you want clarity and transparency, and try to choose products with simple and natural ingredients.
Go Green But Don’t Get Green-washed
By “go green” we mean to choose more eco-friendly products and behaviours but to avoid being ‘green washed’ which is a whole new and annoying part of today’s semi-eco-conscious world!
‘𝙃𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙝𝙮’ 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙤𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙙𝙚:
– Using paper and glass when possible, over plastic
– Recycle effectively
– Use biodegradable or recycled material cloths and scrubbers
– Use natural eco-friendly cleaning products
– Using good quality long-lasting cooking implements such as cast iron pans, high quality stainless steel pots and pans, glass baking dishes etc
𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 ‘𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙬𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙙’ 𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚: Basically, very clever marketing and branding!
– ‘Degradable’ plastic items. These do not help the environment, these plastics just break up into smaller pieces, that’s it!
– Products made with recycled plastics. These often cannot be recycled again as recycled plastics reach a limit of recyclability. Check with Planet Ark, on the packaging for what to do with the packaging after use, local council.
– The words ‘plant-based’, ‘natural’, ‘green’ and ‘eco’ on packaging. If, for example, a dishwashing liquid is cheap like around $2-$3 for a bottle and contains these words it’s more than likely not all that “green” and isn’t safe for the waterways.
The legit biodegradable, compostable, recyclable and eco-safe packaging (bin liners, foil, cling wrap etc) cost a bit more. Those starchy thin bin liners you see in the health food stores cost a lot more then the supermarket ‘degradable’ varieties that still feel like actual plastic (because they are!)
Cast Iron Isn’t Just Good for Camping
We have 2 small cast iron pans permanently on our stove top, we use them at least 3 times a day and y’know how often we wash them? Maybe once a year if that. It’s so good!
Not only is cast iron one of the healthiest cooking surfaces, it’s incredibly easy to maintain, energy-efficient, can be used in the oven or on the stove, and can make food cook and taste better!
𝘽𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙛𝙞𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙩 𝙞𝙤𝙣:
– Fortifies food with iron- Can be bought second hand, easily brought back to life if rusty and therefore reduces the need to buy brand new cookware
– Extremely durable (possibly never having to throw out or replace if looked after)- Really low and easy maintenance
– Sears meat well because it gets hot quickly and easily
– Because it gets hot easily the cooking temp can be reduced quicker making it more energy-efficient
– Creates an even cooking temp BUT the good-health factor can depend on how you season it. If using a seed or vegetable oil then that ruins any chance of it being a healthy cooking surface. Use quality animal fat and it’s soooo healthy!
We do love taking our cast iron camp ovens and pans cooking but even more we love using cast iron every day and will never go back to buying Teflon or any other unhealthy cooking items!
How to look after cast iron used often
- Keep a jar of grass-fed tallow or lard (rendered beef or pork fat) by the stove and after cooking with cast iron and while the pan is on the hot plate used (turned off but still warm after cooking) add a little bit of fat to the pan if it looks dry, and spread around evenly for a thin coating
- Do not wash your cast iron unless absolutely necessary, and if you do wash it, follow the steps below to season in the oven 1-2 times
- After cooking, if food remains, just scrape it off with a spatula and season slightly with a bit of fat if the pan looks dry. We cook eggs and meat on our pans every morning and just scrape off any excess food into the bin or sink
- It’s important to only add a thin layer of fat to season after use, or none at all if fatty meat was cooked and left some fat behind. Scrape off excess fat if the meat was really fatty
- If wiping down the stove with a wet cloth often, be sure to check the bottom of the pan every so often for signs of rust, then do a seasoning round in the oven as mentioned below if needed
- Tomato and other acidic foods break down the seasoning layer so keep that in mind if regularly cooking tomato in the pan
How to bring rusty cast iron back to life
- Use natural salt flakes and an old cloth/scourer to scrub any rust flakes or old food off
- Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
- Remove any non-oven proof bits (such as timber handles on camping pans which should easily screw off)
- Use grass-fed tallow or lard (rendered beef or pork fat) and rub a thin layer all over the pan/pot
- Place in the oven upside for 1-hour
- Carefully remove from the oven to cool down (or turn the oven off and leave the door open for it to cool down before handling)
- Repeat the fat layering (when cool enough to handle) and another round of 1-hour in the oven
- 1-3 rounds should be plenty, depending on the state of the cast iron. An old rusty piece may take 3 rounds, whereas a simple re-seasoning of a well-looked after piece may only require one round
Swapping from chemical cleaning products to natural and eco-friendly doesn’t mean cleanability is reduced. Often, the chemical cleaners we’re told are so effective actually just hide the dirt and stains, they don’t actually clean it off!
A major downside of using chemicals to clean with is how they reduce our immune system, not just impact the environment. Let’s implement more “clean living” practices in how we actually clean!
There are generally 2 main options:
– buy ready-to-go eco-friendly natural cleaning products and solutions
– make your own
I’m as time-poor as the next person so I don’t go to great lengths to DIY everything but simple vinegar and tea tree oil is pretty much all I need for cleaning the kitchen during my weekly or fortnightly housework day. The rest of the time we use WATER to clean surfaces. Because there is such a thing as being “too clean”! Meaning… in an attempt to clean away nasty germs we clean away all the good stuff which also can reduce our immunity.
Using chemicals and over-cleaning are both sure-fire ways to reduce our heath.
Swapping chemicals for natural and safe alternatives and cleaning only when necessary are good for us and the environment. Yay!
There are stacks of natural eco-friendly cleaning products on the market these days. Be careful of green-washing when buying the lower cost items but you’ll find legit options at any health food store, some markets, some supermarkets, online, at local co-ops etc.
𝙎𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙝𝙮 𝙠𝙞𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙘𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙖𝙨:
– Vinegar and bicarb or Bon Ami powder for the sink
– Micro fibre cloths that last aaaaages and don’t need products added
– Vinegar, bicarb and tea tree oil paste left on a stain for a few mins (great for laminate surfaces)
– Vinegar and lemon spray
– Castile soap, washing soda and borax can all be great
If I go out to the communal recycling bins at the front of our complex right now and look inside any one of them I can bet you a decent sum of money there are items in there that shouldn’t be. It drives me insane!
Unfortunately our local Council does very little (almost nothing) to educate residents on how to recycle properly. I’ve been extremely proactive, cos I really care about this, and have taken it upon myself to find out what can and can’t be recycled, through contacting Council directly, using info provided by Planet Ark, RedCycle, TerraCycle + other organisations who deal with this stuff.
Even just the other day I was chatting alfoil recycling with someone (not sure how that came up in conversation lol) and they didn’t know it has to be saved up to be made into a large ball before it can go in the recycle bin. Most people don’t know this!
So you could be trying to recycle but not quite getting it right. It’s really common!
𝙈𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙥 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙮𝙘𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙞𝙥𝙨:
– Rinse and dry plastics, cans etc that go in the recycle wheelie bins
– Put soft plastics into a soft plastic bag to eventually fill and take to the supermarket soft plastics bin to recycle – ensure they’re NOT WET though. Food/dirt is ok but moisture creates mold. ‘Degradable’ plastics can’t be recycled.
– Don’t recycle oily stuff like the section of the pizza box that’s oil-stained, oil on packaging etc
– Check with your Council if they accept empty gas canisters and aerosols
– Check with your Council for what they can and can’t take in general! A lot of kitchen and household items can be dumped free or charge if not able to go in the wheelie bin at home
– Check product packaging to see the new ARL (Australiasian Recycling Label) so you know what can be done with each packaging element
– Buy recycled/eco-friendly paper towel (we use Who Gives a Crap)
– Buy products with packaging made using recycled materials if they can be recycled or disposed of cleanly (as per ARL)
– Don’t put your recycling items in a plastic bag into the recycle wheelie bin!!
– Don’t recycle oily stuff like the section of the pizza box that’s oil-stained, oil on packaging etc
Bonus: Go With Glass
We didn’t include this bit on our SM posts, so it’s a bonus bit for you!
Making the switch from plastic to glass for food storage and heating is so important. It can be expensive to do it all in one go, so my best advice for you with this is to transition slowly if money is an issue.
Whether a plastic container is “BPA-free” or not, it’s bad for the environment and bad for our health. Plastic is plastic!
Glass is the healthiest and most eco-friendly option.
When we first swapping plastics for glass we waited until the shops near us had Pyrex on sale. We also went to a kitchen outlet store to grab some bargains.
Now, you could easily go online for some, even Kmart and other ‘cheaper’ stores sell glass containers. Grab some from wherever you can access and afford!
The downside of some brands though, including Pyrex, is the lids are made of plastic which cracks and breaks easily and can’t be recycled in the recycle wheelie bin collected by Councils. So look for more eco-friendly lids that will last a long time.
We still use plastic containers but really only for camping because we need the spill-free factor which many glass containers don’t have! But for al fridge and freezer storage and food re-heating we use glass.
The pantry is an easy place to go-more-glass because you can simply wash and re-use jars that had other food inside. Use washable labels or blackboard paint and a chalk pen to label, buy organic herbs and spices, cocoa, oils etc from plastic-free bulk food bins at health food stores and store in the re-used jars.
MORE BONUS STUFF!
Not included on our SM posts, here’s some bonus advice for you!
Spotted at IGA: a huge variety of eco-friendly cleaning goodies…
How to remove tough kitchen stains naturally…
Make a paste of vinegar, bicarb soda and tea tree oil then place on food stains on laminate surfaces. Leave for an hour or so then scrub off using a cloth. Gone!
Especially handy for turmeric and organic curry powder stains!
A better option for baking paper…
There are definitely a few greenwashing baking paper products on the market but Glad now have a “compostable” option which we’ve started using recently. It’s not waxy and it’s quite tin but it does the trick when cooking foods such as our primal pizza on baking paper on the pizza stone.
If you have any questions for us regarding what other eco-kitchen items we use, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
I hope this information and our perspectives and experiences help you and your family on your journey to better health! Please comment if you have any questions.
Primal Health Coach
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