Archive for Eating Healthy
I never would have considered myself to be a picky eater when I was younger. But the other day, as I sat eating an orange, it occurred to me how far I’ve come now that I’m “all grown up,” even if I did have juice from an orange dripping down my chin at the age of 39….
It is a fact that when I was a little girl, the only fruit I would eat is an apple. The apple had to be cut into chunks, and it had to be peeled. Otherwise I could not, would not eat it (Sam I am).
When I think about that, two thoughts come to mind: First: Mom, I’m sorry I gave you such a hard time about trying a strawberry. And second: I am so thankful I have now learned to like so many new foods!
Let’s just reflect a moment on the “never tried a strawberry” apology. For Pete’s sake – it’s not that I really didn’t like strawberries. I don’t believe I’d ever really tried one. The same goes with fresh peaches, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, pears, plums, grapes, oranges, and the list goes on and on. I had decided that I didn’t like any of them before I even tried them.
I think texture had something to do with my assumption that I would not like these delicious foods. Beyond that, I sure didn’t know what I was missing!
I say all this to encourage you in several ways:
1. If you think you don’t like fruits or vegetables, ask yourself if you’ve ever really given them a chance. I seriously never even tried broccoli until after I was married. I never ate a whole orange until after I became a mother. And I was over the age of thirty when I realized that plums were amazing. I am obviously a slow learner. But I’d like to share that if I can learn, so can you. I’m so glad I did!
2. Focus on eating a variety. Try not to get stuck in a rut. There are so many great fruits and vegetables to choose from. Branch out!
3. If your kids are picky, keep trying and don’t be discouraged. I have definitely learned that my kids’ tastes change and develop with age. (I believe I have learned that about myself too, huh?!) My pickiest son is now starting to like and eat more fruit and vegetable varieties – finally! That’s because we keep offering them, keep making him try little bites, keep giving them to him in different ways (like in smoothies or on fruit pizza). He has quite a nice, long list of his “favorite” fruits now.
4. If you’ve tried hard and really don’t like certain fruits or vegetables, it’s okay to move on to other ones. No matter how hard I try, I really don’t like pears. Everyone else in my family loves them. I keep trying them, thinking that maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll bite into one and say, “Mmm, that is so good!” But it hasn’t happened yet because wow pears are so dog-gone grainy. (It’s that texture issue I referred to earlier, apparently.) But guess what? My world goes on, even without pears because while I really don’t like them, I really, really like about three dozen other fruits. So I’m good to go.
I’m also proud to say that I don’t have to peel my apples anymore, or eat them only in the form of chunks – just in case you were wondering. ;)
Do you have picky eaters in your household? Have you found that you like more fruits and vegetables now that you are older? What tricks have you found to help your family eat more fruits and vegetables?
Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared some of the new recipes you’ll find in my upcoming new book, Oh, For Real! Today, I thought it would be fun to share a small portion of the other information in the book. I can’t share my tried and true real food recipes without first explaining my nutrition views, right? Here’s what you’ll find on page 7 of Oh, For Real! By the way, the book is almost finished and you’ll be able to pre-order in just a few days. We are so excited!!
You can choose to agree or disagree with me and we can still be friends, I promise. I mean…I might gag a little if you offer me some margarine, but really, I will love you just the same. And if you continue to read, you will find all kinds of wonderful (if I do humbly say so myself), family-friendly recipes and tips for making your kitchen life easier. Recipes that are healthy and make your life easier? Yeah, for real!
How I Think (My nutrition and health views)
For real, people. Eating a healthy diet is not that complicated.
There is contradicting information all over the place that will make our heads spin. I’ve decided to avoid telling you the “health food” information that I completely disagree with, and instead tell you what I, after much research and study, believe to be good and true. (And I am completely convinced that I am right.)
I believe that healthy food is real food. I consider “real food” to be…
…the food that grows in fields and on trees.
…the food that comes from animals.
…the food that we can recognize.
I am absolutely all in when it comes to food in its real, true form. That means that my family cooks with and regularly enjoys real butter, real cream, real meat, real fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and real eggs. For real. We don’t hold back.
Why? Because we know what these foods are made of and where they came from. They didn’t originate in a factory and find themselves sold in a box or a tub. They have been around since the beginning of time. They spoil if left uneaten.
Processed food may remain in its unspoiled state for years on end. That is why, when your toddler drops an animal cracker or a half of an uneaten fast food French fry under a seat in your minivan, and you don’t find it until she is in middle school – both the elephant and the fry will look the same as they did eight years ago when she dropped them.
Real foods are nutrition packed. They are delicious. They are whole. They are real. I have felt so much better physically since giving up processed foods, and instead, filling up on real, whole foods. I believe this is because I am eating foods that my body recognizes. Along with this, I am filling my body with nutrients. Food isn’t just to be eaten to fill a hole. Food is nourishment. Simple as that….
More information about Oh, For Real! to come. Thank you all for your support and enthusiasm as we finish this project and have it ready to share with you. I’ve loved hearing how excited you are. You are all awesome!
Before I begin this post, I want to say this: Being “skinny” is sooo big fat not the goal when it comes to eating a whole foods diet. Our goal is to be healthy, not to have a Barbie doll figure (who, by the way, is made of plastic and is susceptible to having an arm or leg snapped off, just ask my brother). Okay, now let’s begin:
I often receive emails from readers asking me: “I have some pounds to lose. Can I lose weight while eating whole foods?” or “How do you stay slim while eating such a high fat diet?” or “I want to start eating real foods, but I’m afraid of gaining weight.”
These questions and fears are very valid and I understand why these emails are coming in. I was afraid of the very same things when I first learned about eating whole foods. For as long as I can remember, we have been told from experts that eating a high fat diet is bad for us. That drinking whole milk and consuming other full fat dairy products is terrible. That butter is a huge no-no. That we needed to eat fat-free yogurt. That we should avoid red meat and focus on lean, white meat. That eggs were horrible and full of cholesterol.
To replace each of these, we were provided with “low fat” and “fat free” substitutes of sour cream, cheese, and milk. We were offered “egg-beaters” to replace eggs in recipes. Margarine became the “healthier choice” because it was lower in saturated fat. And most other processed high fat food companies came out with “low fat” varieties for those who were “health conscious”. (Fat free mayonnaise, anyone?)
I bought into it for years. I think many people did. Most nutrition books on the market still suggest that eating “low fat” varieties of food is the healthier way to go.
I will say this much in their defense: Many of the tests done on animal products (dairy, eggs, meat) that “proved” that those higher fat items were bad were done on animals that were not being raised in a healthy environment or being fed healthy foods. Therefore, sure, eating those particular products can do some damage to our bodies.
But does that mean we should stop eating those foods altogether? In addition, does that mean that eating “food substitutes” like margarine, egg beaters, and the like is the healthier way to go? And if so, why are so many who are eating these low fat, “healthier” foods still struggling with their weight or developing additional health issues?
Here’s what I learned while eating a “low fat or fat free” diet for many years: Any time I got into patterns of over-eating – even if it was food that was low in fat – I struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, I craved more sugar since many low fat foods have sugar added to make up for the loss of flavor that happens when you take naturally occurring fat out of food.
Once I began eating a real food diet, which is higher in real fat – real butter, real cream, whole milk, real sour cream, whole milk yogurt, eggs, beef, lamb (along with whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies) - I found that these foods are so satisfying that my body wasn’t consistently craving what it wasn’t getting! I found that the food tasted so good that I wasn’t constantly disappointed with dry, tasteless food. I found that I had more energy and healthier skin. I found that overall, because I was eating whole food in its original form, I felt so much better than I’d ever felt when I had been eating food that had been stripped of its natural fat.
So can you eat whole foods that are naturally high in fat and maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight if you need to? Yes! I’ve watched friends arrive at a healthy weight once they began eating a real food diet. Once they gave up eating processed foods, and even “low fat foods” and began to instead eat a diet of unprocessed, whole foods – the extra pounds just fell off! And I can tell you that for myself, after 15 years of following the latest diet trends (low fat, calorie counting, etc) in an effort to “not gain weight” - eating a diet of real, whole foods (going on eight years now) has been the easiest way I’ve experienced to maintain a healthy weight.
I’m going to say this again: None of us should have being ”skinny” as the goal as we look at this subject. We should be focused on being “healthy”. Eating a well balanced whole foods diet is healthy. And wow does it ever taste good!
Here are my top five tips (besides eating a whole foods diet) for maintaining a healthy weight:
- Don’t Over-Eat: Too much healthy food is still too much food. Eat when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are full. It’s really quite simple. (Except for when it’s chocolate. Then it is difficult. Self control,
- Be Balanced: Sure, I love butter and believe wholeheartedly that it is a healthy fat. But man (or Laura) shall not live on butter alone. Eat a wide variety of whole foods for a healthy balance that will meet all of your body’s needs.
- Go Easy on the Sugar: Yes, even natural sugars like honey, sucanat, and maple syrup. And desserts made with chocolate. But I covered that already.
- Exercise: For so many reasons, just do it. You will not regret it, and your body will love you for it.
- Eat Healthy Fats: Avoid processed, manufactured fats like vegetable oils, crisco, and margarine. Our bodies don’t recognize them, can’t utilize them, and therefore store them in our bodies as fat. Coconut oil, real butter, and palm oil are all fats our bodies can break down and utilize for energy and nourishment.
I hope you will all feel comfortable leaving a comment to share how this journey has been for you. Have you found that eating real, whole foods has helped you achieve a healthy weight? Are you afraid to eat a whole foods diet? Have you been eating a whole foods diet and been happy with the results? Do you believe me when I say that being “skinny” is so big fat not the goal here? :)
If you’re looking for a simple way to save money while eating a healthy, real food diet, I thought you would be inspired by this comment left this week by Sile. Once she read my Eat Out Less post, this is what she had to say:
We didn’t eat out for the entire month of October. My husband thought it was to save money. While that was half my goal, the other half was to give him a taste of REAL food without the distraction of all the horrid stuff you can get from restaurants.
I will admit to having cravings for burgers and fries. However, I soon found that making a meatloaf and baking some potatoes fulfilled the craving! (and meatloaf freezes great even after cooking!) Just one month out and I really don’t miss eating out. Sure, cooking everything from scratch at home is more work, but I’ve been endeavoring to do extra cooking on the weekends to alleviate some stress (since I’m still working until the babies start coming). Mostly it’s just been getting breakfast food cooked and frozen (mostly whole wheat carrot waffles), but at least I don’t have to rush to make us a breakfast in the morning. It’s great that my husband hasn’t even reached for cereal in a long time. He was such a cereal junkie. One more thing to cross off my ‘let’s not buy that anymore’ list.
But I’m rambling. Not eating out = saving money + eating better!
I love this! Thank you Sile for sharing your experience with this, and kudos to you for taking on (and sticking with!) the challenge of not eating out during the entire month of October!
Homemade Pizza saves money, tastes incredible, and is much healthier!
How often do you eat out? What challenges you most when it comes to eating out (or rather, eating in?!)
Our family stopped using a microwave about six years ago when we began our healthy eating journey. We still have a microwave, because it is a permanent fixture above my stove and would be a pain to take down. Guests do use it occasionally, which means that I should probably actually clean it every once in a while. But in general, I’ve pretty much forgotten that it exists.
Why do we not use a microwave?
I’d like to write an entire post about why you may want to consider avoiding the use of a microwave oven. But I’m not a girl who uses big words or who can write informative sentences about the dangers of microwaves, imparting knowledge like, “The apparent additional energy exhibited by the luminescent bacteria was merely an extra confirmation.” Shoot, not only can I not write a sentence like that, I can’t even read one and come away feeling like I have an actual working brain in my head. Therefore, if you’d like to read all the big words and reasons for avoiding a microwave, I encourage you to check out all of the helpful information in this article.
Otherwise, in Laura’s simple and non-big-word language: We don’t use a microwave because we think that it makes our food yucky.
The question I receive often then is: How do you warm up leftovers if you don’t have a microwave?
Easy. I warm up our food on either the stove-top, in our oven, or in our toaster oven.
Pardon the fairly ugly picture, but really, how cute can leftovers in a saucepan actually be?! ;)
I usually add just a shot of water to the saucepan with our leftovers to keep the food from sticking. I have also found that it is a good idea to keep the heat at a medium setting and to stir often. If I’m rewarming Creamy Mac and Cheese or something else milk based, instead of adding a shot of water, I will add a shot of milk, which keeps the food creamy!
To warm up Pizza, Taco Corn Fritters, Popcorn Chicken, or Burritos and such, I’ll use our oven or toaster oven. We LOVE our toaster oven! We pop the food in, put it on “toast” or “bake” depending on what we want, walk away and do something else for a few minutes, then our food is perfect.
While a microwave might take one minute to warm up your food, I’d say the stovetop takes about two minutes. A toaster oven might take five. Those few extra minutes really don’t hurt my feelings very much. It’s not so hard to wait. My food tastes better rewarmed this way, plus I don’t have to worry about it losing it’s nutritional quality. Those are a few extra minutes well spent.
What are your thoughts about using a microwave? How do you warm up leftovers?
As we reach the end of this Real Food – Low Cost Challenge, I have concluded that if you are ever wondering if you’re spending too much on healthy food - do a price break down. It’s a bit of a headache. It might make you a little crazy (or maybe that was just me having issues). But the effort is worth it. To learn that most of my real food recipes can be prepared for an average of $1.00 per person – that was very encouraging to me!
Cheddar Ranch Burgers came in at $11.93 for eight burgers – $1.49 per burger. Not super cheap, but made with the finest ingredients and very filling. Throw some veggies in and we’ve got a complete meal for around $2.00 a person.
But enough about my recipes and the costs that come with them. I’ve been very anxious for today to come so that you would have an opportunity to share some of your favorite real food recipes that are low in cost. Help me prove that eating healthy does not have to be expensive!!!
If you have a blog, and have some Real Food – Low Cost recipes to share with us, link them up with us here. Be sure to link back to this post so that your readers know where to find more healthy recipes! If you don’t have a blog, please feel free to post your recipes in the comments section of this post. If you care to share the cost break down of your recipes – even better!
Let the Real Food – Low Cost Challenge Recipe Sharing begin!
Beware - while reading this post, you will notice that I jump all over the place without making my paragraphs flow together and really without pausing to take a breath in between thoughts. All this exercise I’m doing is either giving me a crazy amount of extra energy, or perhaps it is just simply making me crazy. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both.
While breaking down the cost of my real food recipes, I have definitely learned that our breakfast time meals tend to be very, very inexpensive. We can often eat for around $0.50 per person at breakfast, making it easier to spend a little more for our lunches and dinners.
It is kind of funny to me that I break the food cost down per person in my household, when clearly, we don’t actually all eat the same amount of food. I would have to say that Malachi (our youngest at age seven) and I (the oldest at age 38) eat the smallest portions of food these days. Therefore, maybe Malachi and I can eat breakfast for $0.20 and everyone else eats for $0.70? Eh, never mind. I don’t feel like getting that technical. We’ll just keep it at an average $0.50/person for breakfast. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know how much it costs to feed my soccer playing, basketball playing teenager right now. ;)
So check it out – my Homemade Poptarts cost $3.13 for one batch. I figured that if one batch of homemade poptarts makes about 20 poptarts, that means the cost is around $0.16 per poptart. I haven’t purchased poptarts at the store for a long time, but I’m pretty sure I’m not only feeding my family a much healthier poptart, but I’m saving money too. Sixteen cents for a poptart made with real food ingredients? How about that?
Who is it that said that eating healthy food is expensive??? (Oh yes, that was me a few years ago.)
I should have become a real food calculating geek years ago. This is fun!!
(Pausing for breath. Does reading this post make anyone else tired, or is it just me? And here we go again…)
My Warm Vanilla Soother recipe breaks down to $2.87 per batch. This really only makes about four servings though, so the cost per person is $0.72. Not bad at all for a mug of hot, steamy, delicious, nourishing comfort. I mean really, can you put a price on comfort? No I don’t think so. But just think about the cost of a hot drink of non-nourishment at your local coffee shop. Pretty sure you can’t get that for $0.72, am I right?
And speaking of coffee – because it does appear that all the exercise I’m getting these days is indeed giving me extra energy - I believe it is wise for me to stay away from drinking coffee very often, even if I did enjoy my one cup of coffee with real Chocolate Caramel Cream. I don’t think giving me additional energy from caffeine is really a good idea right now? What do you think?!
Make plans to join us tomorrow for a Real Food – Low Cost Link-Up! Get ready to share your real food, low cost recipes. Cant’ wait to learn about your tried and true family favorites that are easy on the budget!
It is high time someone stood up and said a word on behalf of the free range chickens. I mean, if I don’t say something, who will? The birds can’t speak for themselves, you know? Bless their little chicken hearts.
Ok, real quick - I’ll interrupt this crazy chicken rant to let you know that it would seem that the Real Food – Low Cost Challenge has sent me over the edge to the land of insanity. You know me well enough to have guessed that this was likely to happen some day soon, and probably saw that the end was near when I was struggling so much last week in my effort to figure out the cost of a (stinkin’) cup of whole wheat flour.
But back to the speechless chickens, and my determination to see that they are no longer misunderstood.
I currently pay $12.50 for one free range chicken. Twelve dollars and 50 cents. Many people think that’s a crazy amount to spend on a chicken when I could instead go the store and grab a whole chicken for $3-$5.
But, I hold firm to the belief that my chickens are not expensive. The chickens I buy are very large – usually around five or six pounds each. In fact, I always, without skimping, get at least four meals out of my chickens, if not six. Read here about how I can stretch a chicken to get six meals. Therefore, my one $12.50 investment in chicken costs me, at the most, only $3.13 for a nice amount of meat/broth per meal.
Based on this figure, and on the fact that making homemade whole wheat noodles is also very low in cost, I was thrilled to learn today that I can make a big pot of Chicken Noodle Soup for only $4.03. Four dollars and three cents!!!!! This, for one of the most nutritious meals on the face of the earth. That is $0.67 per family member at my house. Doesn’t that just make you want to stand up and do the chicken dance?
Well, doesn’t it?!
Okay, me neither. But still, I’m pretty excited. In addition, I learned that a batch of Easy Noodle Stir Fry costs about $8.53, which breaks down to $1.42 per person.
I’m thinking that I need to make chicken meals more often since I’m able to pull them together for such a low cost. It is amazing what all I’ve been learning as I’ve broken down the cost of our favorite, real food meals.
So, tell me about the chickens where you’re from. Have you found a good price for a good chicken? Are you able to find free range chickens where you live? How big are your chickens?
I tell you what, nothing beats a good discussion about poultry. ;)
How silly of me to go on and on in my last post about the difficulty I had in figuring out how many pounds of wheat make how many cups of flour – and then fail to share the nitty gritty info with you! I had it totally figured wrong, by the way, and plan to post more details soon about how to convert pounds of wheat to cups of flour. But, as far as I can tell: One Pound of Wheat (unground) = Three Cups of Flour. So there you go. You will sleep so much better tonight now that you know that information.
Oh, and in case you’re interested in another piece of random information that may or may not help you to sleep better, I have also learned this week that when I walk for several miles at a time, my hands swell up really big because of circulation and gravity and also because of something with the blood flow to the lower extremities and how veins do something or other while I’m walking which causes my fingers to turn fat. Did I mention that my walking buddy is not only a coach, but also has a degree in biology? Yes, I have learned all kinds of interesting information on these walks.
But moving on to some more Real Food – Low Cost calculations, which is the actual reason, I believe, that you have stuck with me through this post so far…
This morning I made a loaf of Applesauce Bread, which is super easy and makes the house smell awesome. I calculated that this loaf cost me $1.65 to make, which is more than I expected. Whole wheat flour, raw organic honey, two farm fresh eggs, butter – it all adds up I guess. However, this makes for a very low cost breakfast when served with milk and fruit. So, I’d say it’s a $1.65 well spent.
While I don’t have a lovely stack of pancakes pictured for you, I also calculated how much it costs to feed my family Whole Wheat Pancakes for breakfast. I always make a triple batch of this recipe, and the six of us typically finish most of the pancakes off. Total cost for this meal: $5.22 – which includes the real maple syrup we use on our pancakes. Add an additional $1.50 for the milk we’ll drink with these pancakes, and maybe $2.00 for eggs if I make those, and then we’re talking $8.72 for a full meal, which is $1.45 per person.
I don’t know what you’re finding in your calculations, but I’m not finding that eating real food is adding up to being very expensive. I’ve still got several more recipes to experiment with though, so stay tuned!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my fingers only stay fat for a few minutes after we’re done exercising. This is why, now that I’m typing, I’m actually able to hit the correct keys…mostly. I’m sure you were worried. ;)
Any fun calculations you’d like to share? Ever experienced “fat finger syndrome” while taking a long walk?
If you recall, during the next few days, I will be making some of my family’s favorite, healthy meals – then breaking down the cost of each to see how expensive (or not expensive) it really is to make these healthy foods.
I had no idea, when I took on this challenge, how much I’d have to stretch my brain. I mean, here I sit with my laptop, a notebook and pen, a calculator, and several webites pulled up online so that I can reference prices I’ve paid for food. I’ve also got a pile of receipts, several invoices, a water bottle, and a little bit of a crick in my neck. Where is the chocolate when I need it? (I don’t have any scientific research to back it up, but I often find that chocolate helps with brain function and grocery break-down calculations.)
Not to worry though, my brain and I have this experiment well under control by now, even without the chocolate. It’s just that some of the calculations were a little more complicated than others.
For instance, in order to figure out the cost for one cup of freshly ground flour – I need to first figure how much one pound of wheat costs, then figure out how many cups of wheat make one cup of flour, then figure out the cost of a cup of flour, and then add up the number of cups of flour in each recipe. Some of you math majors might not find that hard, but I have creases in my forehead right now and a very confused look on my face that I’m trying hard to disguise.
Ah, but I did figure it out. I am happy to report that, as near as I can calculate, one cup of organic, freshly ground whole wheat flour costs me $0.13. Yes indeed. Now that I’ve figured out this information, there should be no limit to the recipe break-down calculations I can do. Unless of course the recipe I’m making doesn’t call for flour and I instead need to figure the cost of say, a potato.
I’m getting this thing figured out though – don’t you worry. The cost for a cup of sucanat? The price I pay for a wedge of cheese? I’m all over it. But if I come up missing at any time during this challenge, I’d suggest the first place you look might be in my office under all the papers and notes I’ve scratched out, where I will likely be nursing some paper cuts and mumbling incoherently about cups and ounces and most likely, potatoes.
Speaking of which, first up – the Taco Potato break-down. As near as I can figure, it cost me a total of $9.48 for our Taco Potato meal on Sunday. This amount fed eight people, which breaks down to $1.19 per person. I love that this is a complete, well rounded, filling meal. I would definitely call this a Real Food – Low Cost Meal!
Next, I calculated the cost of my Homemade Pizza. This recipe is a little pricier to make, and in fact, is not a whole lot cheaper than grabbing some take-and-bake pizzas from Walmart. However, since I went all out on the pizza this time, adding homemade pepperoni, lots of raw white cheddar cheese, mushrooms, peppers from our garden, and olives - I didn’t feel like $9.00/pizza was a terrible price. Especially since most of the ingredients were organic and the crust was made from freshly ground whole wheat flour (which cost me precisely $0.13/cup – just in case you forgot). Cost per person on the pizza: $2.25 – and everyone was stuffed. More expensive than Taco Potatoes, but still not too bad, especially since I only make pizza once every three weeks or so.
There are all kinds of recipes left on the Real Food – Low Cost Challenge list for me to break-down. But hey, once you know the cost of a potato, you’ve pretty much got life made. (If only.)
Have you joined the challenge? Done any real food price break-downs you’d like to share? Do you know how much one potato costs? Yeah, good luck with that. :)