With the transition into the summer season and my next Restart® sugar detox workshop coming up on July 5th, I’ve started cleaning up other areas of my life — this week it’s my spice drawer!

I have these spontaneous bouts of ‘clearing out the old’ every so often, and it always feels so good to clear out those dark corners of my living space that go overlooked. On the left is an example of how my drawer looked before the clean-up–

This is a view down into the trash, imagine a dozen+ more plastic bags with white ties hiding underneath — all smashed into a small, narrow drawer. A few minutes of picking through several baggies turned into a 45-minute dumping of most the contents, down to replacing the drawer liners and relocating and organizing my spices from another cupboard. Needless to say it was very well worth my time!

And here is my newly organized spice drawer on the right, what a difference! I immediately started breathing deeper…you know how that is. Or maybe not…

If facing your random collection of spices is something you’ve either purposely avoided or pretended to ignore, I’ve got three useful tips to get you started clearing out the muck in your kitchen — which by the way, DOES affect your state of mind while cooking, and therefore the type of meals you turn on your plate. ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ anyone…? If you haven’t seen this movie, do!

TIP #1: 6 MONTHS OLD? DITCH ‘EM!

Can’t remember WHEN you bought it? Ditch it! Spices tend to lose their potency and therefore flavor after 6 months, and the natural oils in them start to go rancid. Furthermore, if they’re in plastic bags the oils absorb the chemicals in the plastic, so you really should not store in plastic unless you will be using it within 2-4 weeks, as with my small bag of cinnamon. It’s ridiculous how quickly I go through cinnamon I, that bag will be emptied into my glass containers in a few weeks.

TIP #2: STORE IN THE COOL

I’ve seen spices stored on racks mounted above the stove – not a good idea! The heat and steam will greatly reduce the shelf life, lending tasteless powders and bland herbs, and enough steam can provoke mold growth. Find a drawer or cupboard that is away from your oven, and they’ll be safe there. I have the spices I use daily, pictured above, conveniently located in a drawer across from my oven. I store my other spices used less often in a cupboard near the floor, also across from my oven. Nice and cool, these spices reside on two metal spice racks, two rows each, holding 12 spice jars total per rack.

TIP #3: LABEL

Especially if you have to leave in the plastic bags — although I’d recommend buying just enough to fit into a glass jar to store for the 6 months but realize it’s easy to over estimate the amount you need. Or if you have a love for a spice as I do with cinnamon (and paprika and basil…) and therefore buy a larger amount, then you know you’ll be keeping in the plastic bag or other container, therefore best you label, especially if you’ve got a lot of other back stock spices laying around. With the convenience of the bulk section in many stores, buying small amounts of many spices for that ‘one recipe you have to try’ (gosh have I been there many times!) can leave you with eight tiny bags of multi-color powders that you have all the intention of using again with your next curry…ok so just make sure you write on the little white ties the name of the spice along with the bin number.

If you’re super organized and don’t like the plastic bags taking up space (good for you!) you can buy the jars and stickers to label, or keep a pre-bought labeled jar like I did, and when empty, keep the jar and refill with bulk spices.

I hope this helps you clear out some of your kitchen clutter, and if you’re looking to cleanse your body from sugar, check out my upcoming Sugar Be Gone classes in June and my Restart® sugar detox workshop in July. I am offering in-person classes at Elka Yoga in San Diego and online classes for those outside my area.

I hope to see you there – please contact me with any questions, and I wish you a great transition into summer!

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