From contributing writer, Jenni
Although I have always considered myself a bit of a health nut, I still see myself as a newbie when it comes to real food and traditional cooking. It was only recently that I realized a low-fat diet did not necessarily equal a healthy diet.
As a new mom that is often short on time and sleep, I am currently taking a “baby steps” approach to this new lifestyle.
The following list contains the top ten ways we are transitioning to a real foods diet in our home, which include five things we have purged and five things we have added or buy more of now!
What We DON’T Buy
:: Chips and cookies: This has been a “rule” in our house since we got married. With the exception of buying tortilla chips for nachos and crackers for my husband’s lunch, I avoid even going down this aisle at the grocery store!
Not buying these items keeps us (okay, mainly me!) from snacking on processed food. If I want something sweet to eat, I have to make it. Sometimes I feel it’s worth the time and effort, sometimes I just go without. We often make homemade trail mix for those moments we are a bit peckish and want something to munch.
:: Frozen dinners: Not even frozen pizza. (Yes, we make our own pizza too!) Along with this, we avoid boxed meals, such as Hamburger Helper. Unfortunately, we do still buy boxed Mac ‘n’ Cheese for one of my husband’s favorite quick meals. One of my goals this year is to find a way to make it from scratch and still make my hubby happy!
:: Unhealthy fats: We purged our pantry of vegetable and Canola oils/shortenings. This was a difficult move for us, because we were so used to using them in many of our favorite recipes. We have learned to use only three fats for just about everything, which I will discuss in the section about what we do buy.
:: Canned vegetables: Instead of canned veggies, we buy the frozen ones. These have much more nutritional value and just taste better, in my opinion. One exception to this is tomato items, such as tomato paste and sauce. I haven’t found them sold in glass jars at the places I grocery shop.
:: Canned soups: Nor broth or bullion for that matter! I make homemade stock from our beef and chicken in the slow cooker. I also will use homemade condensed cream soups if a recipe calls for them. (This cream of chicken soup recipe is delicious in my mom’s Chicken Enchiladas, one of my childhood favorites.)
What We DO Buy
:: Natural sweeteners: When baking, I now try to use sucanat, honey or pure maple syrup as a substitute for sugar. Although we still buy sugar for some uses, I am using it much less than I used to. (By the way, pure maple syrup drizzled over soaked oatmeal is delicious!)
:: Healthy fats: We now use olive oil, coconut oil and butter for all of our recipes, frying and greasing needs. I even found an olive oil cooking spray, which is been very handy. My husband discovered that coconut oil makes the best homemade popcorn for a healthy snack when we watch a movie. And just about everything is better with butter!
:: Whole Wheat Flour: I am gradually using more wheat flour in many of my baked goods. It has been fun experimenting with my favorite recipes to make them a little healthier. We will probably never completely phase out bleached white flour, but are definitely learning to use it less.
:: Dry beans: With a little planning ahead and prep time, this is one of the easier transitions I’ve undertaken in the kitchen. (Thank you, slow cooker!) It also saves quite a bit of money, making it a frugal change as well.
:: Organic fruit and vegetables: As much as I would like to, I can’t say all the produce I buy is organic. However, I use a produce guide to help me decide what I will spend the extra money on to get organic. This has been especially helpful when purchasing fruits and vegetables to make homemade baby food.
So, there you have it! Those are some of the simple ways I am getting started with real food in my kitchen.
What steps are you taking toward healthier eating? I would love to read some of your ideas in a comment below!
Additional posts on how we are keeping it real in the kitchen: