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Seven ways to make your kitchen healthier (and organized)

An organized kitchen makes it easier to cook healthy, fresh meals, and using natural materials improves air quality and reduces stress

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If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, you want it to be clean, accessible and motivating. There is no room for inspiration when your cupboards are overflowing and you don’t know where to find your spatula. You want to be able to see what you are using and impress others with your organizational skills — not to mention the incredible food you’ll make in such a great atmosphere!

These seven easy steps will help you give your kitchen a healthy and efficient makeover:

1. Lighten it up!

Connect with nature to help inspire your food choices. Spacious, well-lit kitchens serve as the centre for family gatherings in many households. Open the blinds to welcome in natural light, and crank open the windows on a nice day to get fresh air circulating through your home. If you are designing a kitchen, opt to have a skylight installed — you would believe what a difference this makes!

Natural light also helps us keep our internal clocks in sync, and may play a role in preventing seasonal depression (SAD).

2. Go au naturel  

The more natural the better. If you’re repainting, you might consider neutral, earthy tones like greens, browns and yellows. However, it is truly about finding a colour palette that makes you feel good. Once you’ve set your base colours, opt for bright artwork or a funky-patterned glass backsplash to spice up the room.

As well, look for alternatives to paints that are high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to respiratory conditions, headaches and irritated eyes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists paint as one of its top-five environmental hazards. Look for low-VOC paints — Benjamin Moore makes one — or check out options from BioShield. Milk paint is another all-natural option.

3. Keep it fresh

Create a beautiful centerpiece by filling a glass bowl with fresh, colourful fruit. Think: apples, bananas, pears, oranges and peaches. Keep replenishing the bowl with whichever colourful fruits are in season. This is a great way to keep fruits in your line of sight throughout the day, which makes it more likely that you’ll choose them for a snack during the day instead of something sugary or loaded with refined carbs.

4. Go with glass

Glass bottles, vases and mason jars will help keep your counters organized and your ingredients fresh. Fill an oversize vase with lemons to give your room some colour! Store nuts, grains, seeds and beans in glass jars and display them on your countertop in an organized fashion, but try to keep them out of direct light. Not only will they be easily accessible when you’re ready to cook, but they’ll provide a nutritional aesthetic.

Going with glass containers can also help you avoid some of the harmful effects that may be associated with plastic storage materials — find out more here.

5. Plant an indoor garden

While fresh flowers will certainly brighten up any kitchen, consider planting a small indoor herb garden instead. Potted basil and oregano will liven up your windowsills and add flavour to your favourite recipes. They will also infuse your kitchen with natural aromas.

As well, herbs like thyme can have medicinal properties; you’re more likely to use them in your cooking when they’re fresh and easily available. Having plants indoors is good for your health in other ways, too — some studies have shown that the presence of indoor greenery reduces stress, and these ten plants are particularly good at cleaning the air in your home.

6. Update appliances and cooking utensils

Shiny new appliances are sure to inspire your inner chef. When choosing a stove, a gas burner is ideal. It looks great and the quality of cooking is much better. If you’re not in the market for a new stove, try upgrading your cooking tools. Stainless steel pots and pans are the nicest looking and best quality for cooking. Purchase a new set of cooking utensils (to match your colour palette). If you’ve chosen earthy tones, go for a set of bamboo utensils and a matching basket; if black and silver is more your style, mount a brushed stainless-steel utensil rack near your stove.

And no inspiring kitchen is complete without a few toys. Choose a colour scheme — black, white or stainless — and try to buy new gadgets or small appliances in matching finishes. While empty countertops certainly make food preparation easy, leaving a few key appliances on display will make your kitchen look professional and motivate you to get your hands dirty.

7. Style the inside of your fridge and pantry

A well-organized kitchen doesn’t mean cramming the clutter into the fridge and cupboards. You should be as proud of the inside of your pantry as you are of your kitchen as a whole.  Purchase a set of matching baskets to organize your pantry and opt for clear, square containers for use inside your fridge. If healthy, whole ingredients are easy to find in your fridge and cupboards, cooking with them will take you less time.

Finally, just because you start off organized, doesn’t mean you can avoid maintenance. What makes a kitchen most unappealing are expired and unwanted food items that create unnecessary clutter. So get organizing and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful and healthy kitchen.

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.