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Remodel your habits--in the kitchen and out

Tweaking a few habits in the new year? Some ideas for your changes, in the kitchen and beyond.
Do some of your plans for 2021 involve a change of habits, in the kitchen and elsewhere? Photo: Metro Creative Connection

January is a time to clean house, in more ways than one. Perhaps you're taking part in a 'dry January', kicking a bad habit of imbibing too much, too often. A recent JAMA study found that 3 out of 4 adults increased their monthly alcohol consumption in 2020. While this may not be surprising, it is alarming, and many people are looking for ways to curtail their alcohol consumption without stopping completely.

 “Our current cultural norms around addressing alcohol health only when it becomes a major problem in our lives is fundamentally broken,” says Dr. Adi Jaffe, best-selling author of The Abstinence Myth. “Only 10% of drinkers who over-consume show signs of physical dependence on alcohol, which means for 90% of the population, the opportunity is in building better habits rather than needing to cut out alcohol entirely."

Apps like Cutback Coach, and countless health and wellness websites can help in your efforts to cut back on alcohol in 2021. 

Maybe you've decided to eat less meat this year? Have you heard of the craze around jackfruit? It's a thing. One vegan food company, Upton's Naturals, has introduced a pre-seasoned jackfruit product to the Canadian market--think jazzed up tofu. With well over 2 million vegetarians or vegans in Canada, it's a meat alternative worth checking out at your local grocery store.

But what is jackfruit? Native to Southeast Asia, jackfruit is the world's largest tree fruit. Under a large, spiky interior lies a mild-flavoured, nutrient-dense, plant-based meat substitute. When cooked up young (not ripe), the tropical fruit has the texture and taste of pulled pork or shredded chicken. “We want to create 100 per cent vegan products that can inspire meat-free meals," said Upton Naturals' founder Dan Staackmann. "The response from vegans and non-vegans has been amazing."

What about re-vamping your kitchen in 2021? Although kitchen renovations can be very worthwhile (if expensive), sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference. For example, consider some more eco-friendly habits.

The kitchen has more potential for waste and inefficiency than other areas in the home, but there are easy ways to be less wasteful without a major overhaul, all while helping to take a load off the planet. Here’s how:

Rethink storage for food and leftovers.

Swap single-use food wrapping for reusable elasticized bowl covers, beeswax wraps and non-plastic zipper-top storage bags. Use recyclable mason jars or glass containers with airtight sealing lids. These all come in pretty designs and colours to suit all tastes.

Invest in reusable baking essentials.

With home baking here to stay, trade in the disposable parchment paper and cupcake and muffin liners for eco-friendly silicone baking mats, pans and baking cups. The icing on the cake – pop them in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.

Prevent food waste with a meal plan.

Plan meals ahead with more mindful grocery shopping and do more home cooking. Learn how to use commonly discarded – yet still usable – parts of food, such as vegetable scraps for soup stock; think broccoli cores and kale stems. Get into composting what you can’t use to keep it from landfills. Buy yourself a stylish compost tin for the counter to collect organic waste and discard appropriately.

Use the dishwasher more.  What? Contrary to popular belief, running the dishwasher half full wastes less water and energy compared to handwashing those same dishes. An Energy Star-certified dishwasher uses 15 litres of water every cycle while a running faucet uses the same amount every two minutes. Who knew?