Homeschool, REAL FOOD

Real Food

Now that I’m done with my road trip updates, I can move on to what my mind has really been on lately…FOOD.

Have you seen the 100 Days of Real Food site yet? I am always looking for healthy recipes to feed my family and stumbled across it a few months ago. After perusing the site a few months ago I knew making the change to 100% “real foods” was something I wanted to do.

I wasn’t raised on many processed foods- I grew up on goats milk, fresh eggs, home baked bread, and we even ate a few of our own chickens. I am not in a position in life to live that organic, but I cook dinner almost every night, usually pretty healthy things. I have been guilty though of substituting seemingly “healthier” labels in place of natural (i.e. margarine for butter, lowfat for full fat), keep a frozen meal or two on hand for emergencies, and generally figured that we ate “healthy enough” so I didn’t really need to worry about the few processed foods we did indulge in (not to mention the “S” word {SUGAR}. 

However, after doing some homework, I’ve had a change of mind. It kind of started with the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution last year, I was shocked and amazed that some people live completely on frozen/boxed foods and very little produce. I was also astounded at how many people in this country are getting type II diabetes. 1 in 3 American’s have type II diabetes or have pre-diabetes (glucose tolerance). And then there’s the obesity epidemic- more than one third U.S. adults are obese and are passing that on to their children. The truly sad thing is that most cases of obesity and type II diabetes are COMPLETELY preventable by eating a healthy diet and exercising. In fact, there appears to be a whole host of “western” diseases that are not prevalant in other countries, why? Because we eat junk. Next, I watched Food Inc on netflix. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth your time. Then I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (same guy as Food Inc) who really lays it out that all those things you can’t pronounce on the label of your can or box means it’s NOT food, it’s engineered “stuff” that’s not making us healthier.

I have to say, it is some pretty disturbing stuff. To think that most of the foods on the shelf at the grocery store are created, not “real” food, with no tests as to long term health effects (although the effects are starting to appearing in the form of diseases).

When I was in Alabama visiting my good friend, her family has some recent health issues that has caused them to eliminate all processed foods. Including sugar. ALL sugar. Except a tiny bit of raw sugar. If you’ve ever read my food blog, you know quite well my love for sweets. It kind of got out of hand for a while there…all those delectable cupcakes… Anyway, it made me stop and think about the long term effects. I don’t want my family to become another health statistic. SO I made a commitment to take healthy eating to the next level. Clean, real food, organic, whatever you want to call it, we’re saying NO to processed foods.

Apparently there is some, ok, a LOT of controversy about what is healthy and what is not.

I’ve read some things that claim that grains are slowly killing us. Others claim that grains are “new” and can’t be trusted… This one really startled me. So, when I grind my wheat and make bread for my family I’m slowly killing them?  Hmmm…last time I checked, grains were condoned in the scriptures, bread is mentioned countless times in the Bible, and Doctrine & Covenants 89:14 states “All grain is ordained for the use of man…” Breathing polluted air outside, people’s second hand smoke, not exercising and drinking too much alcohol might kill you, but bread? I just don’t think it’s something to stress about. Then again, these are my favorite bread statistics 😉

Then there is oil. Some say canola oil is bad for you while science and medicine say it’s ok. The organic crunchies (yikes, I’m becoming one!) say coconut oil is the way to go for baking while others say, maybe not… Personally, I’m a fan of science. If it weren’t for science millions of us would die from contagious disease, diabetes, injury, heart disease and more. However I do believe there is a difference between saying something is not going to kill you and saying that it’s good for you. And, when it comes to putting things in my body, I trust nature a whole lot more than a lab. So…although I usually tend to lean towards science, in this case, I’m going to try baking with coconut oil or butter (especially for my 10 day pledge) and use EVOO for cooking (check out this website for an overview about heating olive oil, but I am not going to completely write off canola oil in the future (good luck buying anything off the shelf that is cooked in anything other than canola oil- even at a health food store).

I won’t even get into the controversy over corn, sweeteners, and dairy.

Anyway…here is a summary of the changes we are making in our family:

  • I signed up for the 10 Days of Real Food pledge
  • I got rid of the few processed foods on my shelf: There were less than 20 things I had to get rid of (I’m still hanging on to my sweets supplies because I will still bake sweets from time to time- it’s a hobby I’m not quite ready to give up).
  • I hired a babysitter and took a trip to Sunflower Market (similar to Whole Foods): Note that even though you’re in a “health” food store, you still have to read the labels- there were lots of added sugar items, plenty with canola oil and I really had to hunt for organic brands. I bought primarily fruits and vegetables and replaced all my condiments with organic versions. My initial purchase totalled $250. Lower than I expected considering I was buying staple foods. I’ll give you a run down of my shopping list in another post.
  • For the 10-day pledge I tried not to consume anything from the store that had more than 5 items on the label: However in the future, I don’t agree 100% with this rule. If I wanted to buy granola, for example, there will be more than 5 ingredients (at least there is in my home made kind). Instead I will read the label to make sure that what is in there is real food. I think I’m smart enough to figure it out (general rule- if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it).
  • I have eliminated ALL processed sugars from my diet except on weekends: I now only use raw sugar and honey (mostly honey) in moderation (the more expensive it is the more conservative your use will be). The recommended limit is 2 teaspoons per meal (6 per day– only 4 for preschoolers) which is equivalent to about 8 grams per meal. Check the side of your cereal box and see how many grams of sugar it has. You’ll be surprised.
  • I will be updating my recipes to eliminate or replace offending food items and making them healthier (if possible). Obviously I’m not going to bother trying to make whole wheat sugar-free cupcakes. Who wants to eat that? Instead I’m going limit my sweets baking to the weekend only. You can go to my food blog and click “Real Food” to get my healthy real food recipes. Just remember you need to check your labels to make sure there is no added sugar, upgrade your pasta to whole grain pasta and your condiments to organic…
  • I will share my 10 day meal plan including photos and recipes and tips for changing your diet (diet meaning way of life, not temporary band-aid) to include more real foods.
  • I will be flexible: We will eat as healthy as we possibly can, however I’m not going to refuse food at social gatherings or offend others if the food offered doesn’t meet up to the “real/organic” standard. We’re still going to have birthday cake and yes we’ll even get take out pizza once in a while. I love bread and I will probably indulge in home made white bread from time to time. The key (for me) is to have those things “from time to time” rather than on a regular basis. I like the 80/20 rule, eat healthy 80% of the time and you won’t have to worry about the other 20%. If I serve my family “real food” at home then I won’t have to worry as much about what they eat when they’re away from home.

Here are the effects so far:

1. My sugar cravings are gone. That’s right, GONE. I’ll do another post about sugar soon, because this is the most amazing effect so far. I honestly didn’t think that could EVER happen. Even though I am giving myself license to eat processed sugars on the weekend- I haven’t really had the desire to take advantage of it…
2. My whole family is sleeping so much better. Granted, we are living in our own space now and that has made a difference as far as stability goes, nonetheless we are going to bed early and getting up early (and Grant is FINALLY sleeping in his own bed again!)
3. I have not had a single complaint from my kids. True, we ate pretty healthy to begin with, but when we first started the 10 day pledge I was surprised to hear my kids were saying things like “this is the best food I’ve ever tasted!” They are also happier because I let them eat as many fruits and vegetables as they like, before I would find myself saying things like “you can’t have any more vegetables until you eat your sandwich!” Crazy, I know.
4. I feel full even though my portion sizes are smaller. Because I have ready-prepared snacks of fruit and vegetables that we munch on 2-3 times a day, I no longer feel like I have to stuff myself at mealtimes and I am actually eating less and feeling more full.
5. I don’t own a scale but I feel like my pants are getting looser…that’s always a good feeling whether it’s true or not 😉
So, are you ready to take the challenge to eat more real foods?

5 thoughts on “Real Food”

  1. I am interested in hearing more! I do think there is a balance and I like that you've been honest in saying that you will still have takeout pizza from time to time. I have always felt like we eat healthy (especially when I go to the commissary and see what people are putting in their carts!) I never buy frozen meals (except for the occasional lean cuisine pizza). But I do buy breads and cereals. I wish I could make homemade bread, but I don't have a mixer, so making wheat bread has been my nemesis. Trust me, I've tried more than 5 times. Anyway, my biggest concern is the cost. I cannot afford with my current grocery budget to buy organic produce. I use a lot of produce during the week though.

    Anyway, I'll be checking your food blog to see more.
    I am not sure if I would say we would realistically do the 100% real food, but I would love to take a step in that direction (especially with eliminating sweets) and getting Noah in particular to eat a wider variety of foods. That's whats most important to me!

  2. It is pretty sad realizing what is in processed foods and that we, as Americans eat so much of it. I too have been trying to stay consious of what I am feeding my family. I agree that I can't spend the money shopping at whole food markets, but I do try to pick healthier things at the grocery store. I think it's important to be aware of how much sugar, salt, etc. is in everything and that you are checking labels. This was a great post! I would be interested in seeing your recipe for whole wheat bread if you wanted to share that…

  3. I love it! We're committing once we get to our new home (with packing and travel to visit family and moving, I'm willing to wait three months). We're spending the next three months eating out of food storage and just not taking the processed stuff with us to NJ. That way when we get to our new home I just won't buy anything bad (it's much easier to resist buying it in the first place than throwing it away).

    I'm especially excited because we'll be close to where we can buy raw milk. I love it (so yummy!)

  4. PLEASE share more. Even a sample of what you eat on an average day. I seriously think about going more natural all the time but I get overwhelmed. And living in Alaska…certainly makes it interesting. 🙂

  5. SOOOO excited for you! I just had one small thought about your oils: I switched away from Canola oil a few years ago. After a few months, I cooked something with canola oil and couldn't stand the flavor and the awful stench it left in my home afterwards. I will never, EVER go back to canola oil again. I haven't read all the research on it, but what I do know is that I can tell a huge difference between that and other oils, and canola is now one of my least favorites. For deep frying, I use peanut oil, but for most high-temp sautes or frying, and for things I don't want to taste like EVOO, I use safflower oil. You can usually find it is a regular grocery store– not too hard to find, but most stores only carry one brand/size instead of tons of options like other oils.

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