Give Your Pantry a Makeover

Holly Pellham Davis crusades for clean, healthy food.

Cereal killer: Holly advocates storing food in glass jars. photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Holly Pellham Davis hates plastic. She’s not fond of conventional produce, genetically modified foods, or processed foods either, but plastic is what really rankles her. “Foods packaged in plastic typically contain additives, preservatives, shelf-life stabilizers, hydrogenated oils, dyes, and other harmful ingredients,” she explains.

Through her business, Clean Fresh Living, Holly educates clients on achieving optimal health and offers specific services ranging from eliminating plastics and other toxins to creating healthy and quick meal plans. For the past eight months, she has also served as a wellness contributor on the D Moms blog, D Moms Daily, sharing information and strategies to help readers live healthier lives.

Reading Holly’s posts can be a bit like navigating the five stages of grief. There are a lot of things she wants you to eliminate from your life. Once you get past denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, you finally hit acceptance, nodding your head in agreement as she enlightens and informs.

Having reached the all-important acceptance stage myself, I knew I had to move beyond nodding and actually apply Holly’s wisdom to my own pantry. I thought it would be a relatively pain-free process, as, at first glance, the contents of my pantry appeared largely virtuous — ample whole grains, low-fat soups, and veggies. But upon closer investigation, I discovered a slew of red flags (i.e., stacks of canned goods, plastic bags teaming with white pasta, a motley stash of ancient candy). It was clear I needed Holly to walk me through the overhaul firsthand. She obliged, and after an afternoon of purging, replacing, and organizing the contents, I’m proud to say that my pantry is now the picture of health.

See more photos from our pantry makeover and download a list of Holly’s pantry essentials at photography by Elizabeth Lavin


1 / Ditch plastic and cans.
“No plastic is nontoxic, and most aluminum cans have a lining containing BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical banned in baby bottles but still used in can liners. Foods packaged in plastic and metal cans become contaminated by their containers. Eliminate this type of packaging.”

2 / Go for the real thing.
“Replace packaged, processed foods with alternatives that are closer to nature. For example, instead of (seemingly healthy) granola bars, stock your pantry with jars of organic nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate chips. Break it down and simplify. Health is not about deprivation; it’s about purity. Changing our qualifications for what we consider food will transform our body and support the perfect functions it performs.”

3 / Stock the staples.
“As a working mom of two, I need cooking three meals a day to be fast and easy, so I keep my pantry filled with organic versions of quality olive oil, chicken broth, beans and lentils, salsa, diced tomatoes, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti, nuts and seeds, rolled oats, buckwheat udon noodles, and organic dark chocolate bars (always the chocolate). A well-stocked pantry makes it hard to justify grabbing unhealthy food on the go.”

4 / Read the fine print.
“Sadly, just because something is on the shelves of a natural food market doesn’t automatically mean it’s good for you, so I am a vigilant label scrutinizer. Avoid anything containing MSG, high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol (common in bakery icing—and antifreeze), and nonsustainable palm oil. Once you find brands that live up to your standards, stick with them. Columbia River Organics and Eden Organics are two of my trusted brands. Eden is committed to pure foods, is passionate and purposeful about the environment, and was the first to make can linings BPA free.”

5 / Organize it.
“Keeping everything categorized and identifiable makes it easy for kids to grab healthy snacks. Ditch plastic packaging and decant into toxin-free, airtight glass jars. (I like to repurpose glass jars and canning jars.) Eschew plastic shelf liners for naturally antibacterial cork, and use stainless steel or jute baskets to corral potatoes, onions, and small items like baking powder and spices.”

Read Holly Davis’ weekly D Moms Daily column at