One obvious aspect of dietary changes, whether they be voluntary or required, is that they come with necessary changes not only in what we put in our mouths, but what we bring into our homes. For those of us who cook, a thoughtfully stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer if possible make life in the kitchen a whole lot easier. The biggest issue to start is to remove any foods that no longer fit, and sometimes this is extremely challenging. As we discussed a few months ago, the hardest things to remove are often those that will tempt us most if left there.
When I realized gluten and dairy had to go, we did some major purging. It was hard at the time but certainly helped as weeks went on and the pantry seemed safer. Now, almost a year later, as I look at my pantry and freezer shelves, I see them filled with foods we no longer eat: beans, rice, "gluten-free" grains and mixes. This next and necessary step may even be a bit harder than the first. What now needs to go and in a big way are many of the groceries we bought fairly recently, convinced that they were the solution, not the problem. I'm getting seriously raised eyebrows when the subject of removing some of these comes up. It's a little difficult to explain why all the specialty grains I just had to order are now relegated to the "bad" zone. It's difficult, and it's embarrassing. I can't explain why I thought these foods were just fine a few months ago and now am afraid to eat them. I also cannot with any certainty claim that the same fate won't befall the newly crowned favored foods. It's still a struggle and in some ways it still feels like a shot in the dark. It's more than that, though. With each misstep, I feel a little more convinced that I'm on the right road. So we are at it again, removing anything this time that is not 100% whole, real food. Beans and grains are going, too, though an argument could be made for their claim to a food label, the risks outweigh the rest.
So that leaves us with a pretty empty pantry? Well, not really. So much is left, though none of it in the form of ready-to-eat dishes. We have lots and lots of ingredients. Things like coconut oil and milk, a wide variety of herbs and spices, almond flour, grape leaves, organic tomatoes and paste, olives and their oil, chiles, stocks and broths, tuna, salmon, sadines, anchovies, some types of nuts. For a specific list of recommended brands, check Elana Amsterdam's books or her blog, Elana's Pantry. Several Paleo authors and bloggers have lists as well. While I'm usually quite happy to talk specifics, I'm feeling a bit uneasy about it these days. It almost seems like one day I want to say a certain product is great, and the next I want it banished from my kitchen. It reminds me a bit of the stairways at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books; it just seems like everything keeps changing.