One of the 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen is almonds, but do you think they refrigerate them? Do they even have to?, you may be wondering. Believe it or not, after a certain point, it is a smart idea to keep them cool. Foods you previously thought were indestructible in room temperature environments are now proven to be—well—pretty darn destructible. Check out which foods you need to move into the refrigerator, stat!
Often used to make energy balls, this decadent dried fruit is best when kept in the refrigerator. If you waltz into Whole Foods, that's where you will find them stashed. Why? Because dates are not dehydrated to the extent that other dried fruits like cranberries and apricots are, for example. They have a bit more moisture and require to be stored in a cool environment to preserve their flavor. It will not harm you to eat a date at room temperature, but their shelf life is 45 days and they will progressively become drier and lose their distinctive flavor.
Eat This! Tip
Pop pitted dates into your morning bowl of oatmeal for some natural sweetness. Also, dates dipped in almond butter and drizzled with orange blossom honey and a dash of sea salt makes an absolutely irresistible (healthy) dessert!
You better make room in the refrigerator for that bottle or jug of maple syrup you just cracked opened; the kitchen cabinet is no longer its place of residency. Unlike honey, maple syrup can grow clumps of mold if left at room temperature upon opening. (Ew!) Pure maple syrup does not include any preservatives, which unfortunately makes it more prone to mold infestation. Seal that jar up and toss it in the icebox so you don't ruin your flapjacks with gobs of sticky, black gunk.
The healthy fats in nuts, known as unsaturated fats, can go rancid if left too long at room temperature. You will know a nut has gone bad when it goes from being crunchy and abundant in flavor to being chewy and have a paint-like smell. Even worse, they lose all of their health benefits, one of which is to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise the good kind (HDL). But they will remain nutrient-dense and edible 6 months past their "best by" date if stored in the refrigerator!
Homemade Pumpkin Pie
First and foremost, if you are an advocate of all things pumpkin, make sure to read up on 20 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes for Weight Loss. Number 20 on that list is a lovely pumpkin pie with gluten-free crust; but no matter if it has wheat or not, it can still spoil if not kept in a chilled area. A homemade pie, specifically, can cause foodborne illnesses— not something you want to be responsible for during family gatherings. The eggs and milk that go into these recipes are magnets for bacteria. Enjoy the pie at room temp if and only if it has been out of the oven for two hours. Once that time has lapsed, transfer that baby into the refrigerator so grandma does not get a severe stomachache.
Whether it's white or whole wheat flour, toss those tortillas in the refrigerator—even if the expiration date is not for another week! Why? Because they can last up to twice as long if you stow them away in a cool place. Grocery stores will keep packaged tortillas by other yogurt and packaged cheeses because the cool temperature actually doubles their shelf life. Warning: If you buy a chilled package, make sure to also refrigerate them at home so icky mold doesn't make a home out of your tortillas! Also, try and opt for whole wheat because white flour has refined sugars that store as unwanted belly fat.
Unripe bananas are best kept out the refrigerator because the cold will actually inhibit the banana from ripening. When the banana is ripe and ready to eat, but you aren't ready to eat it, plop it in the fridge in order to prevent spoilage. You may notice that the peel will get darker and maybe even black. Don't let that scare you off from reaping the benefits of a ripe banana, because it's most nutritious when it's ripe. So pull back that petrifying peel to unveil a gorgeous and flawless 'nanner.
You always see a bottle of Heinz neighboring the salt and pepper at a diner, which is fine if it only stays out for a maximum of one month. While its high acidity keeps most bacteria at bay, cool temps enable the condiment to sustain its sweet flavor and freshness. Dousing your grass-fed burger in ketchup is certainly not one of Eat This's best weight loss tips—but if you can't live without it, opt for Annie's Organic Ketchup. This version is free of high fructose corn syrup and nasty additives and preservatives!
Sometimes, a glass of red wine is all you need to unwind after a hectic day at work. But one single glass (okay, maybe two) will not deplete the whole bottle. Unfortunately, wine oxidizes very quickly and becomes stale if not stored correctly. But you can preserve the bottle in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days with a wine bottle stopper. After that, it will no longer be your saving grace after a hard-pressed day at the office. Watch our video on How to Make Opened Wine Last Longer for some expert tips!
Both chia seeds and ground flax seeds are loaded with alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids) that benefit brain health. Talk about getting your daily dose of brain food! In fact, when flax seeds are ground, they are even healthier for you. Grinding breaks the seeds up so that you can digest them easier and absorb that many more of the nutrients. But be careful; once they're in their most nutritious state like this, they are more susceptible to spoiling and oxidizing. When they oxidize, their anti-inflammatory effects turn into pro-inflammatory agents and can even be toxic! Talk about betrayal…
This protein-packed meal is a wonderful substitute for white flour! But the same rules apply as the nut ordeal further up on the list. Its freshness will dissipate after being exposed too long in room temperature, which wipes out the benefits of vitamin E. Just one ounce contains 35 percent of the antioxidant, so don't let it go to waste!
Eat This! Tip
If you are looking for a sweet snack that won't interfere with your weight loss plan, try making a fruit crumble! If you mix a smidgen of brown sugar—with an equally as small portion of butter—into a cup of almond meal, until it becomes a paste, you can crumble it over your chopped fruit. Bake it until the crumbles become a crisp golden brown and viola, you have a tasty, guilt-free treat.
Jarred Natural Peanut Butter
Again, similar to advice about storing nuts, natural peanut butter is more prone to spoiling if it's been open for more than a month. This may just be a tip for conservative peanut butter eaters (if any of those exist) who can even keep a jar of PB around for that long! Regardless, it's best to store it in the refrigerator immediately after opening because it protects those heart-healthy monounsaturated fats from becoming inactive. This rule is also applicable to almond butter! Additionally, you won't have to stir the PB every time you use it, because when it's chilled, the oil will not separate as much. Simply let it sit out from the refrigerator for a little bit so it's easier to spread atop a piece of Ezekiel 4:9 bread.