Our Healthy Eating Journey, Wrapping it Up


If you missed them, please catch up on
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 , Part 7, Part 8 and Part 9.

I had finally accepted and realized that our bodies needed nourishment. Eating food wasn’t just about filling a hole. Eating food was about providing our bodies with all of the right nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fats.

I re-read Nourishing Traditions. I asked millions of questions of my friends who knew more about healthy eating than I did.  I got completely overwhelmed.  I began throwing processed foods out of my pantry. I pretty much turned into a Nazi about healthy eating. If it wasn’t organic, raw, fermented, grass fed, soaked whole grain or cultured…I was scared to let it pass our lips. We would probably die! We would for sure get cancer! Malachi’s eczema would get worse! My asthma would get worse! We would all get terribly sick!

This way of thinking turned me into a nervous wreck anytime we went anywhere. If I was at home, I could control what we ate. But if we were at a friend’s house or out of town visiting family or if someone offered my children candy…I was scared to death to let us eat! Those foods were poison!! It sounds crazy (because it was) but that’s how I was when I first learned about eating nourishing foods. When you’re first learning about the harmful ways animals are raised for meat and milk and how many pesticides are sprayed on produce, it can make you want to run away screaming. 

It took me a few months to come around. Part of it was that I just needed to wrap my brain around this new lifestyle. I had to figure out how to eat and serve my family a healthy diet. I had to learn where good food sources were. I had to learn to spend money on food (and figure out where that money was going to come from). I had to learn how to grow my garden organically. I had to learn how to cook and bake differently.

But I had to learn to CHILL OUT.

I learned that while we could try our best to eat the best foods we could most of the time…we could never eat perfect foods all of the time. And guess what? That’s okay! The stress of trying to eat perfectly, and the fears I had developed when we couldn’t were probably more harmful than the occasional store bought pizza or non-organic apple we might eat.

And so I discovered a healthy balance.  More importantly, so that our children would come along with us on this journey and not be afraid that Mommy would be serving them yet another weird dish that they’d never heard of and that they hated…I learned to re-create all of our favorite foods. Now, we could eat all of our favorites (Pizza, Mac and Cheese, Tacos, Nachos, Spaghetti, etc.), but they were made with healthy and wholesome ingredients! The kids were happy. The parents were happy. Our bodies were happy.  

So that’s where we’ve landed. We don’t eat a perfect diet…we just do the best we can. Our journey continues, because that’s what journeys do, don’t they?

Now my goal is to continue to develop more healthy and tasty recipes that my family loves and share them with you!

I’m wrapping up this series about Our Healthy Eating Journey today, with plans to launch into another series of sorts in which I’ll share some simple steps you can take toward healthy eating if this journey is new to you. I’ll share specific information about healthy meats, dairy products, eggs, spices, grains, produce, fats, etc. More importantly, I’ll give you ideas and tools for where to start. You DON’T need to change everything all at once!

My goal is to help you know that eating healthy is a possibility for EVERYONE. No matter what your budget, your cooking ability and experience, your understanding of nutritious food. You can do this!

Healthy eating tastes so good! Learn along with me that changing over to a healthy lifestyle is simple, affordable and delicious!

Our Healthy Eating Journey, Part 9


If you missed them, please catch up on
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 , Part 7 and Part 8.

I had just been released from the hospital from complications from asthma and Malachi was miserable with his eczema…something had to give. We were starting to make several changes in the way we ate (more whole grains, more organic produce) and the way we cleaned (no harmful chemicals in our cleaning products)…but I was NOT willing to give up my Pepsi. I did feel a little ridiculous drinking a Pepsi (or three) with my organic, free range chicken…but what-ever. I needed my Pepsi!

So, do you want to know what FINALLY broke me of drinking Pepsi? I’m sorry if it’s not as exciting or enlightening as you were maybe hoping it would be…but this is my Pepsi quitting story nonetheless:

We had several thousand dollars worth of medical bills from my hospital visit (insurance didn’t touch it because there was a rider on my asthma).  Nor did insurance cover one bit of the Osteopathic treatments we were experimenting with to try to get my asthma and Malachi’s eczema under control.  (This is not an insurance bashing post…we just had a lame insurance plan.)  Bills were stacking up like crazy.  Our financial reserves were pretty much gone.

I basically had to make a decision:  Keep eating poorly and drinking lots of Pepsi and remain sick, while spending LOTS of money to try to improve my health. (Sounds like money down the drain, huh?)  Or, stop hurting my body and let the money we were putting into my health be WORTH SOMETHING.

I was an all or nothing Pepsi drinker. I couldn’t just have a little. If I had a little…I would have a lot. And then I would have some more.

I was going to have to quit.   

As I was wrestling with all of this and “trying to quit”, one of my friends who was quite a few months ahead of me on the healthy eating journey (and who was worried sick over my health) said to me, “Laura, you’re so sick.  Your asthma is out of control. You can’t keep up with your kids. You need nourishment.”

Nourishment. I needed nourishment. My family needed nourishment.

Funny isn’t it that although I’d already read through Nourishing Traditions and looked into eating a healthier diet…I still hadn’t equated food with nourishment

I had taken all the information I’d learned and just worked to avoid pesticides and avoid hydrogenated oils and avoid high fructose corn syrup…but I’d forgotten that the big point of eating is to fill our bodies with nourishment!!

Until then, eating and food was all about “dos” and “don’ts”. Don’t eat fat. Oh wait, do eat healthy fat. Don’t eat red meat. Oh wait, do eat grass fed red meat. Don’t eat eggs. Oh wait, do eat free range eggs. Don’t eat food coloring, additives, pesticides, chicken from the store, etcetera, etcetera. But do eat organic produce, free range chicken, food without preservatives, etcetera, etcetera.

That simple statement from my friend, “Laura, you need nourishment” was a light bulb moment for me. I suddenly saw food for what it was:  a way to nourish every part of our body.

And the Pepsi? Not only was it not giving me nourishment…it was completely wrecking me. What in the WORLD was my body supposed to do with all the Pepsi I was putting into it? 

I quit drinking Pepsi that day. I missed it, I craved it, I had withdrawals from it. But I knew that I had to just give it up. I had lots of support. And I had so many reasons to stop my Pepsi madness. Five of them are my most precious men who count on me to take care of them every day.

I then had to change the way I thought about Pepsi. I had to stop believing the lie that “I needed my Pepsi”. I had to change my afternoon “relax with a Pepsi” habit and I had to replace it with a healthy habit. I had to pray. I had to be strong.

I’ve been Pepsi (and all pop/soda) free for four and a half years now. Now, I simply smell Pepsi when I have a chance.  Pitiful (and weird), I know. 

So now that I’d conquered the Pepsi addiction…what was next in our healthy eating journey? Ugh, so many other healthy eating changes I thought my head would fall off.

To be continued…

This post is linked to Works for me Wednesday.

Our Healthy Eating Journey, Part 8


If you missed them, please catch up on
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

Because of Malachi’s severe eczema, we had started looking into the world of healthy eating. Here’s one of the first (and biggest) things we learned:  This new definition of healthy eating I was reading about was WAY different from anything I’d ever heard of.

For sure, I had spent years thinking that healthy eating meant eating as little fat as possible. Avoid the french fries and the pizza. Choose margarine over butter, don’t eat eggs, watch the cheese, eat chicken not beef. Drink fat free milk, choose fat free candy, eat fat free yogurt. This is what I’d been taught was “a healthy diet”.

Suddenly, everything I had ever learned about eating healthy was being challenged. Not only that, but if I was going to start eating these whole foods I’d been reading about, I was going to have to actually spend money on food. I didn’t like spending money on food. What was I going to do? How important was it to eat healthy, anyway?

About the time we were starting to wrestle with and learn about healthy eating,  my asthma started giving me some real trouble. The boys were 8, 5, 3 and 8 months at the time. I was pretty exhausted, mainly from getting so little sleep night after night trying to comfort Malachi. I was still nursing him exclusively because we were very afraid to feed him any food. I was drained.

My guess was that it didn’t help that I was drinking a lot of Pepsi every day. Even though I was in the process of learning about raw milk and grass fed meats and free ranged chickens and organic produce…I was having the HARDEST time giving up my Pepsi. I drank Pepsi because I LOVED it. I drank Pepsi because it tasted so good. I drank Pepsi to “give me energy”. I drank Pepsi because I was in the habit of drinking Pepsi. And also, I just LOVED it. (But I think I said that already.)

I drank it in the morning with my breakfast (I always called it my “coffee”). I drank it with my lunch. I drank it in the afternoon if I had some “down time”. I drank it in the afternoon if I didn’t get my “down time” because well…then I really “needed it”!   I would usually go through almost a liter and a half a day (or 3-5 cans, depending on what I had bought on sale).

And…if I went out to eat? I would SO take advantage of the free refills!!! Oh yes, I would. It’s almost embarassing. (almost?) 

All that to say…my immune system was pretty shot.  (I’m sure the Pepsi wasn’t the only reason, but, WOW that’s a lot of sugar consumption!)  Once my depleted body started to have worse asthma symptoms…I found myself unable to fight back. 

It started with what seemed to be a cold, but I could not get over it.  I got so sick I could hardly walk across the room for lack of energy and breath. Friends came over to help with the kids and laundry. I lost a lot of weight (I looked terrible). I had no appetite. Every breath hurt. I coughed all the time. I fell asleep in the middle of a noisy room with the kids playing all around me. I couldn’t answer questions. I remember my friends asking me what I’d eaten for lunch and I’d just give them a blank stare. Matt was trying to juggle his work and the kids and a very sick wife. He would fall asleep at night with his clothes on, he was so tired from trying to keep up. (By the way, during the time I was the sickest, I wasn’t drinking Pepsi anymore…I wasn’t that stupid! But I hadn’t decided to give it up for good yet!)

My doctor was trying different medications to get the asthma under control, but nothing seemed to work. He was very concerned about my weight and overall health and wanted me to stop nursing Malachi since I was so depleted. He finally insisted on hospitalizing me so that we could do something about my lungs and get me hydrated.

I was in the hospital for four days. My friends and church family were incredible. They took care of the kids. They brought meals. Some of my fellow nursing mothers were even kind enough to pump extra milk for Malachi. 

It took almost two months for me to finally begin to feel well again. And then, I began to drink Pepsi again because I missed it so much…and I was feeling so much better, so why not?! 

It didn’t take long for my lungs to feel wheezy and my energy to wane. I was getting sick again…

To be continued…

Our Healthy Eating Journey, Part 7


If you missed them, please catch up on
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

I wish I could tell all of you about the “magic bullet” that cured Malachi of his eczema. There really is no such thing and it’s been a huge struggle for us throughout this journey. I’ll tell you more about some of the things we’ve tried and what’s (mostly) worked tomorrow in a separate post, but I WILL tell you here and now that we have NO REGRETS that we pulled him off the steroids and cortisone creams. Especially now that we’re on the better end of his eczema battle, we can testify that you do NOT have to resort to drugs to help your child’s eczema…no matter how severe a case it is. 

Even though we were just at the beginning of our healthy eating journey, we had learned enough about food, drugs and overall health to know that eczema is NOT a skin issue. Skin is an organ. When something is going wrong inside our bodies, toxins have to go somewhere. In Malachi’s case…they appeared to be “coming out” through his skin. (This was explained to us both by our chiropractor and by another homeopathic doctor that we took Malachi to.)  If we were to just treat the rash as a skin condition, those toxins inside of him would be suppressed in his little body…and then what? It was making him miserable, but at least his body was trying to rid itself of toxins. 

Ultimately, this meant that there was no quick fix for Malachi. We were going to have to get to the root of his problem and figure out what was going on inside of him before the rash would go away. It was going to be a process.

We faced incredible opposition to our choices and took all kinds of criticism because “we were allowing our child to suffer” by not giving him the drugs. People couldn’t believe we weren’t “giving him anything for that awful rash”. From doctors to strangers, we felt like we were being looked down upon for “letting” our child look and feel like he did. 

It was a very painful time. I wanted to scream at people, “Do you think we LIKE watching our baby suffer? Do you think we don’t KNOW how bad he feels? Do you think we’re just IGNORING his pain? We’re NOT!!!!! We are SO not!! We hate this!!!! We HATE it! Don’t make this worse for us!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I know people didn’t mean to make it worse…I was just weary.

And so, we began learning about food and nourishment. We began learning more about how our bodies work. We began learning more about toxic cleaners and detergents. 

And we began changing almost everything about how we ate, cleaned, stored our food, cooked our food. So many changes.  Because of Malachi, we felt quite an urgency to make a lot of changes all at once, but wow was that very overwhelming! 

I’ll write a separate post tomorrow to explain several of the ideas that have helped Malachi because if you have a little one suffering from eczema…you don’t want to wait on me to get through with this series to hear about it!

But this post is already getting long and I have yet to tell you about my hospital stay because of asthma complications and how much I learned about myself and about true health and oh yeah…many of you are waiting to hear about how I finally gave up drinking Pepsi…

 More Coming Soon…

Our Healthy Eating Journey, Part 6


If you missed them, please catch up on
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

Malachi was about two months old when he suddenly became covered from head to toe with chronic eczema. Ironically all but his diaper area was affected. We immediately took him to our regular doctor, who gave him some sort of cortisone cream and an oral steroid.

The eczema cleared right up. We were so thankful, and we thought his “little rash thing” was all taken care of.

Then about a week later, when the effects of the steroid wore off, the rash came right back, only worse. 

Our baby became miserable.  He was extremely itchy all the time, yet way too little to understand anything that was going on. He could hardly be still in his crib, in his car seat, and sadly, even in our arms. I can’t put into words the helplessness we felt watching our tiny boy feel such misery and not know what we could do to comfort him. 

His jammies and his sheets would have blood spots where he’d rubbed himself raw trying to relieve the itching. His neck became an open wound. His face looked like he’d rolled around in a patch of poison ivy. His arms and legs were a mix of scabs and inflamed red sores.

And he stayed this way for months and months. 

People stared. People asked, “What in the world is all over your baby?”  People offered suggestions of help. It seemed to become all people talked to me about and I grew extremely weary.

I remember trying to comfort him in the middle of the night, and just weeping and praying over him, begging God to please give us answers and healing for our baby. 

And I remember that even though it was so painful to watch our baby suffer so much, I was thankful. Thankful that it was “only eczema”. It made me more aware of what a parent might go through as they watch their child suffer from cancer or another major illness.

During the time we were trying to find answers for Malachi, one of my very dear friends was struggling severely and sinking into a deep depression. I had never experienced this kind of depression, nor had I watched a friend feel so much hopelessness. I was amazed by her absolute determination to fight it and find peace. She was desperately seeking answers.

We had yet another friend who had been doing a lot of research on whole body health and nutrition. This concept was foreign to me. But between the eczema and the depression we were all so determined to find answers for, we all began working together to learn and figure out how the food we ate effected our overall health and well-being.

I remember this being both a painful time, and a time of new hope. Could changing the food we ate make that big of a difference in our health? I truly had never though about food in that way. Crazy isn’t it? I never really equated food with nutrition.  Food was just…food.

Not only that, but I was learning about the long term effect of drugs generally prescribed for ezcema. Filling Malachi with steroids and covering his body with cortisone might help in the short term, but his condition was chronic. He only found relief from the eczema when he was on steroids. Did we want to place our baby permanently on steroids?

And so our search continued. It was at this time we discovered the book Nourishing Traditions.

It was also at this time that I landed myself in the hospital for five days because of complications from asthma.

To be continued…

Our Healthy Eating Journey, Part 5

If you missed them, please catch up on
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Back in Nebraska now, I had to adjust to the fact that NONE of the stores doubled coupons. I sort of went through withdrawals. Crazy, I know…but double couponing and getting most of our food for free had been a big part my grocery shopping/menu planning/cooking for the past four years. I had to learn how to shop in a new way now.

I continued to shop the sales and clip as many coupons as I could. I found I was still able to save quite a bit of money using coupons, spending only about $200/month for our family of five.

Our first summer here, I had my first real garden…asking as many questions as I could to people who knew more than I did (because at that point, EVERYONE knew more than I did about gardening!). It was fun…yet hard because I had a five year old, a two year old and a five month old at the time. 

I remember learning that I had dug up a nice strawberry patch because I didn’t know what that area of green stuff was growing in the middle of the place I wanted to put my green beans. I remember asking about what I should put on my tomato plants, then buying and using some sort of bug killer that would also hurt my children if not put up in a high place (yeah, I had barely even heard the word organic then).

My second year of gardening, I brought home my mom’s canning jars and her book about how to preserve food. That was the first year I attempted to “home can” anything…and I loved it! (I believe the rest is history in regard to canning and preserving!)

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with our fourth son that we even started thinking remotely about eating healthy. Even though I was pregnant, I still drank my Pepsi regularly…enjoyed lots of lunches out with friends…had a pantry full of boxes.

Then Matt went on a short trip to Scotland (LONG story) to visit some friends who were living there. While he was there, he kept a journal. In his journal, he even kept a record of the food he ate (because he thought I’d probably enjoy knowing…is he the sweetest or what?!).

The friends he stayed with there were pretty health conscious and ate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. During meals, they would discuss some of the foods they focused on eating, and some of the foods they worked to avoid.

Matt came home from his trip and told me, “Did you know margarine is made from this stuff called ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ and that’s really bad for us?”  To which I replied, “How bad is it?  Because margarine is really cheap and real butter is expensive.”  Matt finally convinced me that it was worth it to buy butter, not margarine…but oh how I cringed when I put it into my cart.

Our switch from margarine to butter was the very first step we took on our healthy eating journey. Although, at this point, I wouldn’t yet call it a “journey”. 

It wasn’t until our littlest guy Malachi was born with chronic eczema that we really began looking into what it actually meant to eat a healthy diet.

To be continued…

Our Healthy Eating Journey, Pt. 4


Catch up on Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of our healthy eating journey.

It was 1998. We had just moved to Colorado Springs where the climate was mild, the mountains were beautiful and there were all kinds of fun and wonderful things to do.  Naturally then, upon moving to this great new city, what do I get excited about? The grocery stores there doubled coupons!!!!  

Just before moving, I had started to try out a little bit of couponing.  I had begun to realize how using coupons in the grocery store could really save money. But DOUBLE coupons? Be still my heart. (By the way…let’s all be reassured that each time I am typing the word coupon, I am expecting you to pronounce it KYOOPON. You are, aren’t you?)

Our boxes weren’t even unpacked yet when I clipped the few coupons I had and headed out to see what kinds of good deals I could get. I quickly discovered that if I watched the sales very carefully and asked everyone at church to give me the coupons they didn’t use…I could get all kinds of groceries for free or practically free.

I became quite an expert at spending almost nothingat the grocery store.  People started calling me The Coupon Queen.    I would come home with bag after bag after bag of groceries for $15…total! During the time we lived in Colorado, our family size grew from a family of three to a family of five. I was feeding all of us (plus a constant flow of guests) for only $100 per month. That number included the purchase all of our toiletries and paper products too.

I was awfully proud of this accomplishment. Matt was awfully proud of this accomplishment too, not to mention grateful for how much money I was saving our family.

I remember taking my friend Heather grocery shopping with me one night (because she wanted to see how I did that coupon thing I did). She was amazed at how I used coupons to save money…and also incredibly relieved to see so many processed foods go into my cart. She said to me, “Since you are a stay at home mom, I thought you were one of those people who grinds their own flour or something.”  I believe my exact response was, “No way!   People actually grind their own flour?!”  (Yes Laura, people actually grind their own flour.)

So, what were we eating for $100/month?

Well, since my main focus was spending as little as possible  and using as many coupons as I could, I tended to avoid the produce section. I hardly ever had coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables and those items seemed expensive to me. I watched for meat to go on sale, then used it very sparingly. When a recipe called for a pound of ground beef, I often just used 1/4 to a 1/2 pound instead to make the meat stretch farther.

I did believe in feeding us all fruits and vegetables at each meal, but the fruits and vegetables we ate were almost always from a can since I often had a coupon for those, or waited for them to go on sale 4/$1.00. 

Therefore…my pantry was filled with boxes of Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-Roni, boxed potatoes, spaghettios, mac and cheese boxes, pop tarts, fruit snacks, cereal, canned soup…whatever I could get for free or cheap.

That became my focus. Free or cheap.

I did still make quite a bit of food from scratch (although making food from scratch has a new meaning to me now). 

I was just trying to do the best I could with our small income. By spending so little on food, we were able to put a little money into savings. I was helping my family save, I was feeding others, I was having a BLAST! Using coupons was a really fun hobby!

In 2002…we moved back to Nebraska…the land of NO double coupons. NOW what would I do? What about my fun hobby? How would I afford groceries now?

To be continued…

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Our Healthy Eating Journey, Pt. 3


If you missed them, you may want to go back and read Part One and Part Two.

Okay, let’s see now. Where were we?

Oh yeah, it was 15 years ago, and I had just met and married a (really cute) soccer player from California.

Now that I was a newlywed…I had the MOST fun setting up my household and my very own kitchen!!! I LOVED having my very own kitchen! I had exactly one shelf in my little kitchen, for which I lovingly sewed a crooked little curtain. Crooked or not, I was so proud.

Matt and I were both college students for the first year of our married life. We didn’t have a lot of money, so of course I bought the cheapest food I could find at the store. I don’t remember using coupons in those days…just buying cheap canned and boxed foods. And low fat.  Don’t forget about my low fat thing. I baked a lot and loved experimenting with new recipes (surprise, surprise).

Most of our friends at the time were unmarried. We liked having company over and (surprise, surprise), I got a big kick out of feeding everyone.  Our friends enjoyed home cooking since they were used to college cafeteria food…but I’ve gotta say…they sure did put up with a lot of goof-ups from me. Even though I had cooked a lot with my mom…I had mainly just helped her. I had A LOT to learn about cooking. (Like, leave a pancake on the griddle until it is bubbling very, very well…and then flip it. Otherwise the pancakes will be a doughy, gooey mess and…yuck. My company had fun trying to be polite about those that night.)

None of the above information has much to do with our journey to healthy eating…but it is, I suppose, all a part of my cooking journey

If you recall, I grew up on green beans, corn and peas (as well as the occasional salad or carrot). So, guess what I served my new husband at every meal?

Green beans, corn or peas (with the occasional salad or carrot).

After a few weeks of these side dishes, Matt lovingly suggested that maybe sometime we could try a different vegetable (you know, just for fun), like broccoli.

Broccoli?  Really? People eat that stuff? Huh.  How do they eat it? 

Steamed, Matt suggested. 

Ooh, we’d gotten a vegetable steamer as a wedding gift! I could try steaming some broccoli in my handy dandy steamer!

So I did, and it was good! Cool! 

Little by little, I ventured out of my fruit and vegetable comfort zone and tried a little more variety. I suppose that was our first, tiny step toward healthier eating.

Beyond that though, I was still preparing food with the least amount of fat as possible. We drank skim milk (white water, Matt called it), used margarine (since it was SO cheap), white flour, low fat cheeses and sour cream, fat free yogurt.

OH…and I’d also decided that real sugar wasn’t good for me…so I’d switched to diet pop and sugar free everything else. I started consuming ALL kinds of artificial sweeteners…mostly nutrisweet. Lots of it. (Remember, I LOVED drinking pop.)

Looking back at some of these diet trends and such…all I can say is, Thank You Matt for Putting Up With Me! He just ate or drank whatever I put in front of him. Even if it was “white water” and sugar-free, fat-free, flavor-free ice cream.

Did I mention that the sugar free, fat free ice cream gave me terrible gas? 

Did I seriously just share that?

Wo-ow, I think I just did.

It was a great way to start out your first year of marriage. We speak fondly (not really) of the sugar free ice cream days.

Okay, puh-lease, let’s move on from this subject….

After we’d been married for almost three years, our first son Asa was born. During his first year, I read The Weigh Down Diet, which was quite life changing for me. It taught me to “just eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full”. Wow, what a concept. I didn’t need to count calories or be obsessive about eating low fat or make my husband pass out because I had bad gas because of eating freaked out toxic ice cream? Nope, just eat regular food…but don’t over-eat.

So, I stopped buying everything “low fat” and “sugar free” and just started buying the cheapest food possible. When Asa was 15 months old, we moved to Colorado where there were lots of cool grocery stores. Thus began my days of being ” The Coupon Queen”.

To be continued….

(And also, I’d like to say a big thank you to you for coming back and still looking at me the same way after reading about…*the gas*.)  ;)

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.


Our Healthy Eating Journey, Pt. 2


I suppose if I’m going to tell you about our healthy eating journey…I should start from the beginning.

Matt was raised a “city boy” in California. He was a very adorable little boy, so blonde headed his hair was white. That piece of information is completely irrelavant to this post, but I just felt like saying it anyway.   As far as he can remember, his family ate a very basic diet of meat, pasta or potatoes, bread and vegetables.  His family almost never had desserts in the house and they hardly ever ate out.

Thousands of miles away…..

I was raised on a farm in Kansas. The first few years of my life, we drank raw milk…not neccessarily because of it’s health qualities…but because we had a milk cow available. I hardly remember drinking it…we probably only had the milk cow until I was eight (ish). After that, we bought our milk from the store. We ate beef and pork that my dad raised. I don’t remember eating a lot of chicken. 

My mom had a garden (which, ironically, I hated helping her with). She grew a million (bazillion) green beans, some tomatoes, onions and peppers for her salsa…and a few other vegetables that none of us liked but her.

Which leads me to the fact that I was pretty much raised on green beans, corn and the occasional pea, because those are the veggies my dad ate.  Every once in a while we had salad…but I didn’t learn to like it until I was almost in college. Oh, and we ate carrots when they were cooked with a roast on Sundays.

We were a steak and potatoes kind of family. We always had desserts in the house and ate wheat bread from the store. 

My mom cooked and baked almost all of our meals from scratch. We baked cookies with white flour, white sugar and crisco. We almost always had Kool-aid and pop in the fridge during the summer.

As much as possible, we ate at home…but we went through phases of eating out more often depending on sporting events and crazy busy high school schedules. 

I don’t think my mom would mind me sharing that with the exception of  the last few years of her life, she struggled quite a bit with her weight. As a result, she was often trying different diet plans. 

I was thin, but took an interest in my mom’s diet plans during my high school years…mostly because I was very interested in staying thin. I never (thankfully) developed an eating disorder, but I did get somewhat obsessive about not wanting to eat foods that had any fat in them. I really felt like eating any fat at all would make me fat, therefore I was scared of fat. I made my sandwiches with fat free mayo (blech) and ate fat free chips (cardboard). I would treat myself to fat free candy (my favorites were candy corn and circus peanuts)…feeling like I was “doing well” by eating sweets that didn’t have any fat in them.

This low-fat/no fat way of thinking took me into college. While there, I would go in phases of over-eating higher fat foods (like pizza and mac and cheese and cookies), thinking that “well…I’ve already blown it, I might as well eat three more”. Therefore my weight started to fluctuate a little bit. I was very “on” or “off” with the dieting thing…and I thought about (and felt guilty about) food a lot. 

During all of this, I met a very adorble white headed California boy who had grown into a 6’2″ blonde headed soccer player. Wonder of wonders, he thought I was cute too and in 1994, we got married.

To be continued….

Our Healthy Eating Journey Pt. 1


I hear from so many of you about where you are in your healthy eating journey and about how so many of you want to begin eating (and feeding your families) a healthier diet. 

Some of you are in the “Dorito…Hamburger Helper…Twinkie…Jelly Beans are the only vegetable I eat…Please help me I have no idea where to start”…phase.

Some of you are in the “Okay, I pitched all my processed foods in the trash…My pantry now holds a couple of shriveled potatoes and a half a peanut…What should I do now?”…phase.

Some of you are in the “I just came home from the store with a package of brown rice, some bananas, a bag of whole wheat flour and a pound of butter…What in the world am I supposed to do I do with it?”…phase.

Some of you are in the “We’re getting there…I’m just trying to convince my family that eating vegetables and whole wheat bread is cool”…phase.

Some of you are in the “I’ve been feeding my family healthy food forever and I just need new recipes”…phase.

Some of you have been working to eat healthy for years longer than I have and are in the “Here Laura, let me teach you a thing or two about fermenting your pickles”…phase.

We’re all on our own journey to healthy eating.  No two family situations are the same. 

Many of you may assume that our family has been eating a healthy diet forever. When I receive your emails or read your comments that say, “I have no idea where to start when it comes to eating healthy – I didn’t grow up eating healthy the way you did”….it makes me realize that I haven’t told you enough about our healthy eating journey.

We actually only started caring about eating healthy just a very few years ago.  Before that time, my pantry was full of boxed cereal and spaghettios and whatever else I could get for cheap or free with coupons.

And oh my goodness…did you know that I am absolutely and very much a recovering Pepsi addict? 

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share our family’s healthy eating journey with you. I’ll tell you what my husband and I grew up eating and I’ll share how we ate when we were first married and as our children started coming along.

I’ll share what made us want to make changes in our diets…how we went about making the changes…how we could afford it…how we convinced our kids that eating healthy was delicious…I’ll even share about how I was able once and for all give up Pepsi.

Then, after I finish those posts, I’ll launch into a new series on the basics of Making Foods from Scratch…so that EVERYONE can see that it IS possible to eat a healthy diet without breaking the bank or breaking your back or breaking a nail. (Though I do sometimes have bread dough or garden soil under my nails.)

I would love for you to leave a comment to let us know where you are in your healthy eating journey. Knowing where you are will help me know exactly where I need to go with some of my future posts. Plus, I think it will be great for all of us to see that we are on this journey together, even if we’re in different places. I think we can all use encouragement, no matter where we are in the journey!  Thanks!

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays.