One of the lesser known powers of a great kitchen is its remarkable ability to improve the wellness of the people it serves. There’s no Jedi mind trick or Criss Angel hypnosis at work. Good kitchens have the ability to inspire healthier lifestyles.

The best news: A kitchen doesn’t require a $20,000 extreme makeover to help you and your family live healthier.

Little changes in the kitchen can get your new year off to a healthier start.

The secret says Veronica Schrebeis Smith, the founding principal and CEO at Wyoming’s Vera Iconica Architecture, is creating a bright, positive kitchen layout and atmosphere that encourages healthy cooking and lifestyles.

“The layout of a kitchen and the details of how it functions can foster multigenerational engagement, improve the convenience of preparing nutrient-rich, dynamic dishes, and transform our relationship with food by affecting our purchasing, preparation and consumption habits,” Schreibeis Smith tells

A Wellness Kitchen includes features that reflect a commitment to eco-friendliness, health and wellness.  Schrebeis Smith is one of many designers who see Wellness Kitchens as the next big American kitchen design movement. Many industry health experts say the traditional kitchen design model is no longer working.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home and should further our healthy lifestyle, not hinder it,” the Global Wellness Summit’s Global Wellness Trends Report notes. “Yet in many homes convenience continues to trump health, with kitchen pantries and cupboards better suited to storing canned goods and packaged foods than fresh fruits and vegetables.”

So how can Iowa homeowners create a spirit of wellness in their kitchens?

A Natural Vibe

The first step of ensuring a healthy kitchen in your redesign is using sustainable, non-toxic materials and practices. For cabinetry, experts recommend using bonding agents, paints and other materials with few or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or noxious chemicals. Be sure to incorporate sufficient ventilation into the design for fresh air, and avoid other potential pollutants, such as chemical odors and jarring sounds.

Using natural or recycled materials like wood, stone and glass will ensure environmentally friendly cabinet spaces.

“With these basics taken care of, we can go on to create a kitchen space that welcomes us and is deeply nurturing,” green architect Paula Baker-Laporte of EcoNest tells Houzz. 

A Fresh Atmosphere

The conventional American kitchen is full of pre-processed food wrapped in packaging, an overworked garbage disposal and usually full garbage can. Wellness Kitchens reinvent our traditional food preparation ideas by emphasizing simple, fresh-grown and fresh-stored ingredients that minimize waste and improve a family’s overall diet.

Climate-controlled cabinets, some even with watering features, allow food to retain its nutrients. Built-in composters help put food waste to good use. Adding indoor plants also adds a good dose of healthy oxygen to kitchen air.

A Minimalist Approach

Today’s healthy kitchens are going the simple route, streamlining appliances to clear up counter space, encourage less complicated food prep and, as Houzz’s Gwendolyn Purdom notes,  boost “the room’s healthy impact on its users.” Many renovators are saying a permanent goodbye to loud dishwashers, noisy refrigerator motors and sound-reflective surfaces. 

Good Food Front & Center

Parents may frustratingly wonder why their kids choose junk foods over fruits and vegetables when they are readily available and stocked. Large, deep refrigerators and cavernous cabinets have a bad habit of keeping healthy food hidden. 

Wellness-minded kitchens prioritize fresh food storage, making fresh food easily visible like centered on a kitchen island, with open shelves and shallow glass-front fridges and cabinets.

“Incorporating convenient, beautiful ways to sore and dispense bulk goods encourages people to eat more whole foods over highly processed, packaged foods, thereby reducing the amount of trash sent to landfills,” Schrebeis Smith notes. 

A Social Space

Remember, the kitchen is the heartbeat of your home and its Grand Central Station. You want your family eating and socializing together. Wellness Kitchens utilize designs allowing seating, food preparation and gathering access for more people. 

Wellness Kitchens, as the website Balanced Home/Balanced Life notes, have a natural ability to improve a family’s overall health, spirit, closeness and environmental impact. 

“A wellness kitchen brings ease to your day by encouraging meal prep, light to your heart as it becomes a place to prepare meals together, health to your family because fresh foods are at the forefront, and happiness to the planet by reducing waste,” the website writes. 

A Kitchen That ‘Nourishes’

As the Global Wellness Summit stresses, “The Wellness Kitchen is a new trend poised to transform the most popular room in our homes into a better reflection of ourselves. Instead of serving as a relic of the past, our kitchens will use advancements in technology and design to foster a healthier lifestyle for our bodies, our minds, and our planet. 

“Because just like the food it contains, the Wellness Kitchen doesn’t merely feed – it nourishes.”

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