Every delicious meal is  created from wholesome ingredients. When your store cupboard is stocked with high – quality staples, you have the foundation for delectable, nutritious meals. Optimum benefit can be derived from the ingredients if they are fresh. The longer something has been sitting on your shelf, the less likely it is to contribute to an appetising and healthy meal. Begin the process of cooking and eating with awareness by detoxifying your kitchen. Clean out those supplies you will never use- rid your cupboards of old ready mixes,  pastes, age-old spices, stale grains and floors.

How to determine freshness of the food item? Raw foods like fruits and vegetables give vitamins minerals and carbohydrates if consumed raw. Fruits and vegetables have natural outer covering that preserves them. Their age can be gauged easily by the sight, by assessing its physical condition. Try to buy fresh supplies as often as possible. It is a pleasant feeling to see an array of fresh produce in the market. Besides that, they do loose some nutritional value once they go into the fridge. If hectic lifestyles make stacking of fresh supplies in the refrigerator essential, try to minimise its usage. Follow the first in first out policy to retrieve from the fridge. Vegetables and fruits should be used immediately after cutting. The oxidation process starts once the inner content is exposed to air, thus deteriorating the quality.

Have you tried using an earthen pot to store vegetables? Most of the vegetables, except leafy vegetables, stay fresh in a pot for longer and retain their original shape, form and nutrition. We were surprised to see tomatoes,  cucumbers, beets and lemons  remain fresh when we returned from a sudden, unscheduled trip of 8 days. Tomatoes and cucumbers would normally crumple in a fridge.

Those with a balcony or terrace at home can grow herbs and vegetables to have the freshest products. There’s a great deal of satisfaction and pride in seeing the seeds sprout and emerge as plants while we are busy carrying on with daily chores. It also creates a natural bonding among family members.
Cooked food gives best benefit if consumed within an hour of cooking. Its nutrition value slowly starts deteriorating after that. That is the reason why elderly people at home used to advice us to have hot food. It should not be confused to reheating of food. Reheating might only help in making the stale food appetising but nutrients are lost on every reheating. The loss of nutrition is not always visible, hence greater awareness and adaptation of healthy practice is a necessity. Try to eat freshly cooked food as much as possible. Limit your meals to one or two cooked dishes at a time, rather than cooking many dishes to use through the day. Thus, you can have freshly cooked food at every meal.  If carrying a lunchbox is inevitable, include fresh salads and fruits that add value.

Among raw ingredients  used for cooking, whole grains and pulses with natural covering last the longest – even for months. Once rid of their covering, like dals, the shelf life reduces to weeks. Broken and ground pulses and grains like semolina, wheat and rice flours, are only good for a few days. Same applies to spices. Powdered and ground spices have shorter shelf life and lesser nutritive value than whole spices. Flours are devoid of most of their food value after two weeks. Vacuum packed flours stay fresh for a little longer than the ones that are loosely packed and stored, but these can’t match freshly ground flours. Revive the visit to your neighborhood flour mill to get fresh and nourishing flour. The old fashioned habit will only add to your and your family’s health. Reduce refined flours and polished grains whenever possible and purchase wholemeal flour products.
Its easy to determine freshness of milk and curds as they have a short shelf life. Use long lasting  milk in the carton only if absolutely necessary as the aluminum or plastic linings inside the tetra pack impart their own traces into food item that are harmful in the long run. Fresh milk is a far better option. If you are not churning out butter at home, buy butter in smaller quantities to store in fridge. Rule of the thumb is to buy and consume as fresh as possible.

Whenever possible, use organic fruits and vegetables, freshly harvested from a local source. Neighborhood farmers market is the best place to look for fresh produce. If you can’t find organic,  choose the freshest produce you can. By using freshly harvested and naturally ripened fruits and vegetables, you will be ensuring the intake of valuable vitamins, nutrients and life supporting energy in your diet.

Enjoy fresh meals prepared with fresh ingredients and lead a healthy life!

By Editorial Team

 


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