And Now I’d Like to Talk About Food

Remember that one year we went vegan to try and control my husband’s diabetes?

Shudder.

It was the season where my kids lost the ability to discern real meat from meat-like substances.

I’ve never been known as a health nut.

As a matter of fact, I recently discovered that my junior high son was at the top of the, um, food chain when it came to unhealthy lunchbox snacks…as in everyone wanted to trade their veggie sticks and rice cakes for his Little Debbie’s and Doritos.

I told him that was embarrassing.

He said, “Yes, for you.”

[Hangs head in shame].

For a long time, I’ve felt compelled to clean up and out the pantry and feed my family less processed foods. But I didn’t know where to start. Because let’s be honest– eating bad food is cheaper and more convenient than eating good food.

But after confessing my food-related guilt to my friend Jessica, a.k.a. a real health nut, she encouraged me to start slow and small and the very next day, that’s exactly what I did. For the past month, we have radically changed our pantry and refrigerator. I thought my kids would rebel, but instead they thanked me. And instead of beating myself up over their gratitude, I said you’re welcome.

photo copy 2

Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. I buy a large assortment of fresh vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, etc)
    and fruit (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, watermelon, etc) every weekend and then have my kids help me chop and divide them into portion-sized zip-lock bags.
  2. I do the same with an assortment of nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc) and dried fruit (craisens, mango, etc) and popped popcorn in olive oil and sea salt.
  3. I am working hard to only buy from the outside aisles of the grocery store (where the fresh, unprocessed food is sold).
  4. I buy plenty of avocados, granola and yogurt and we are starting to pull ripe items from our garden.
  5. I also boil a dozen eggs every week and leave them in the fridge for snacks or breakfast.
  6. Oatmeal and yogurt with fresh fruit and granola are a favorite or veggie-stuffed omelets.
  7. Family dinners have always been somewhat healthy for us, but I’m working harder to plan ahead. We are grilling a lot more, too. Our current favorite meal: black beans with cumin and garlic, salted brown rice with fresh cilantro and a fresh chunk of avocado.

photo copy

After the first several weeks, my kids didn’t mention chips or pop tarts. But I did notice we wanted more snack choices, especially with them home for lunch this summer.

A friend sent me a $10 off coupon plus free shipping for NatureBox and I couldn’t wait to try out this fun idea.  I just got my first box and I’m hooked. NatureBox is a monthly subscription club that sends healthy snacks (you can choose from more than 100 or be surprised). I love the variety! Here’s my affiliate link and if you try it, use this code for $10 off: share10off 

photo

We still have some vices like toaster waffles and sweet tea, but we are trying.

Not only do I feel better about what we are eating, I feel better about what I’m feeding my family.


Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I skip the processed food because it’s too expensive! And that’s held true in CA, OK, and NM. It’s all a matter of how you approach it. Check out my blog for tips and tricks on the topic.

  2. 2

    says

    Good for you! It’s amazing how much easier it is to eat healthy when you take the time to wash and cut up fruits and veggies to make them as easy to eat as chips.

  3. 3

    Heather S. says

    Hi Kristen – we made a similar change last summer. For the most part, we’ve stuck with it well. What surprised me the most is that just by changing to more fruits/veggies, less processed food, and a higher protein content (we really like nuts and beans here), I lost 5 pounds over the summer. No dieting. Just eating better and walking 3 miles 3 days a week. 5 pounds doesn’t sound like much, but for not really *dieting* it felt pretty good! I agree with your friend. If we try to change too drastically and deny ourselves too much we will fail and eating healthily. But, if we allow ourselves the vices we really love (sweet tea in your case…coffee creamer in mine), it’s not so hard to switch to healthier choices on those other things. And yes – taking the time to prep and make the food handy helps tremendously!

  4. 4

    Sara K. says

    Wonderful! We are making a lot of healthy changes to our eating habits too. Thankfully my daughter and I love fresh fruits and veggies so we had a good start. I think the hardest thing for me is just snacks for my daughter. It is so much easier to grab a pre-packaged snack off the shelf that doesn’t have to be kept cold and won’t go bad in a week. I’m working on that one :)

    Good luck with all the changes. Summer is a great time to start because there are so many affordable, healthy food options!

  5. 5

    Jaci says

    My family and I made the switch the real food almost 3 yrs ago and that followed closely with a switch to organic in order to avoid GMOs
    http://Www.100daysofrealfood.com was very helpful for us in starting the switch and I still use some of her recipes.
    After I watched Food Inc I felt like is been feeding my kids raid probably b/c I basically had been
    We are perfect nor is that what we shoot for. My kids still get chips frozen waffles and animal cookies just the organic ones b/c avoiding GMOs is my 1st priority and then I look at WW flour vs enriched and pick the best choice
    We still go out to eat occasionally and even get ice cream but at home it’s all gmo free
    Good luck on your endeavor! It’s hard and annoying at times but so worth it!

    • 5.1

      Joyce says

      Totally get it after I watched Food, Inc. also. Totally grossed me out. I’ve always cooked from scratch and don’t buy too much processed because we don’t like those things.

    • 5.2

      says

      I was going to recommend 100 Days as well! Great site and awesome recipes. Both my husband and I work full time out of the home and it’s hard to cook from scratch and eat real food, but we’ve committed to eating as little processed as possible, and if it is processed, it is organic and gmo-free (my daughter can’t live without her Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies). I figure the bit more I spend on food, the less I’ll be spending at the doctor later… And my daughter, who is only 2.5, is already showing signs of wanting to help cook and eating healthy – she walks around the farmers market chomping on broccoli and cherry tomatoes. We’re fortunate to live in a region with a lot of local food options too – I can do farm-to-table without much effort.
      My mom’s church just started the Daniel Plan, from Rick Warren. It’s cool seeing the church embrace the idea that our bodies are a temple and we can honor God through what we choose to fuel ourselves with.

  6. 6

    says

    Way to go! I believe healthy eating is being a good steward of not only our bodies, as well as the earth! And it can help our budgets too! When people I know get started I encourage them to start by focusing on a couple of things:
    1) Veggies (this time of year it is easy…and fun. We had purple carrots this morning that are yellow inside. The kids LOVE them!)

    2) Healthy fat. Coconut oil, pastured/organic butter or ghee, lard (from pastured pigs), olive oil for cold preparations. Fat from foods like avocado, nuts, or good meat. Our brains and hormones are made out of mostly fat and cholesterol! Kids and anyone who feels having healthy and balanced hormones is important need them!!!

    3) Good quality protein (from organic and pastured animals if you can swing it…from pastured animals if you can’t find or afford organic).

    4) Get rid of GMOs. This will help you not only avoid the problems with GMO proteins, but will help you cut out highly refined crud from your diet. Corn, soy, canola, sugar (sugarbeet) and cotton (cottonseed) are the biggest, though there are others.

    If you do these things you will cut sugar. You will still likely have fruit and carbs…most people will. Some of those are fine for most people. But after you get more comfortable you can:

    5) Switch to natural sugar (raw honey and maple syrup). I also use coconut sugar. Yum. If you are using regular sugar make sure it is pure CANE sugar. If it just says “sugar” they can use sugar beet (a GMO).

    6) Add in bone broth to your diet. It is full of minerals and nutrients…SO SO good and healing. In colder weather we eat lots of soup, but in warmer months I use it to make rice or quinoa, steam veggies, however I can get it in.

    7) Add in probiotic rich foods. Kefir and yogurt (organic), kombucha and water kefir (replace fizzy drinks), sauerkraut or other fermented veggies.

    8) learning about properly preparing grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. It is super easy to buy raw nuts and soak them in salt water for 12-24 hours and then dry them in the oven. Then all the nutrients in them are more available to your body, AND you have eliminated some of the antinutrients in them as well. Our ancestors used many of these things, but they were likely properly prepared by soaking, souring, or sprouting. Sprouted grain bread and sourdough are more easily available these days!!

    9) Change your definition of TREAT. We still do a fair amount of treats, we just changed our definition. I don’t think ho-hos are treats. I think ice cream that we made (from raw milk), or chocolate bread pudding made with sourdough bread is a TREAT! So I try to make some baked goods that are really good but still decently healthy. And a REALLY easy treat…make your own jello with some good fruit juice and Great Lakes gelatin (orange can). The kids will love you for making jello but you will be getting the healing goodness of gelatin into their bodies!

    I love how you went for it. I can tell you the better you feel, the more you learn, the more you will want to learn. And there are moments where I have gotten completely overwhelmed in this food journey. But God has done some pretty amazing things thru it as well!! I wish you guys a fun, healthy, and delicious summer!!

  7. 7

    Christian says

    I always love your entries and have been thinking along the same lines when it comes to food.
    But to be honest, when a great blog ends in a commercial it kinda taints the rest of the writing for me. I really don’t doubt your sincerity but I swear I hear the announcer voice and cheesy music kick in.

  8. 8

    Kim says

    Sweeten the tea with the slightest (I mean slightest-it is sweet) bit of liquid stevia and see what you think. Sweet, but no rises in blood sugar. Thanks for reminder to “clean up” for summer snacking!!

  9. 9

    Amy says

    After living in Costa Rica for a year and a half (we move back to the states in 3 days) we have been forced to eat much healthier, as lots of processed foods are not available here. It was a hard adjustment at first as we were so used to quick snacks. Now, I am so afraid of falling back into our old ways once our old foods are readily available again. Things that my kids have been pining for. Its going to take some serious will-power!

  10. 10

    says

    Way to go! Food change is hard, especially with youngins in the house. I’ve been slowly removing processed snack items from our pantry. The only things left are Cheezits (husband!), pretzels, and graham crackers (all me). Bleh. The struggle is real.

  11. 11

    says

    You’ve inspired me to make a better effort again. I’ve caved to the kids’ preferences, but I know we’re all a lot happier when I shop healthier. Thanks for the motivation!

  12. 12

    Kelley says

    We swtiched up some of our snacks after my husband’s heart scare earlier this year. We buy the large cans of mixed nuts, craisins, dried mango, cheerios, etc and make our own trail mix. Much cheaper and lasts longer. We are not buying as much processed items, and purchase baked chips vs regular. We also have cut the amt of sugar in sweet tea by drastically reducing the amt of sugar. We add probably 1/4 cup vs a full cup or more….just enough the kill the bitterness, for a gallon of tea. But, we only have that for “special” occasions-maybe once a month or less. We drink mostly water or milk. We also make large batches of pancakes, but instead of oil, we use applesauce, cinnamon, dark choc chips, etc instead of oil & eggs. The kids love it, but they can’t quite tell what we did differently. They also now love turkey burgers, which is a shocker for me, but any good changes we can make we are doing it for all of our health.

  13. 14

    Rebekah says

    Thank you for posting this Kristen! I love your website and the ministry that your family has begun. You are such an encouragement :)

    As far as food goes, my husband and I regularly eat muesli for breakfast – a dish he picked up while living in France. It’s extremely healthy, cheap, and filling – and it’s quick to make!

    In a big container, mix old-fashioned oats, raisins, chopped walnuts and pecans (or other nuts), chopped dried fruit (we like unsweetened papaya and dates), and some shredded unsweetened coconut. Mix it all together and store. When you’re ready to eat some, just measure out some into a bowl and top with fresh fruit (we use chopped apples, sliced bananas, or blueberries) and honey. Pour milk or spoon yogurt over the top and mix it all together. I eat this for a snack all the time as well. It’s delicious but with absolutely no guilt attached :)

  14. 15

    says

    This all sounds great, and I like the idea of working into it slowly instead of throwing out all the old stockpiled food at one time and starting over from scratch. However, I’m wondering if you have adjusted your grocery budget? How does your spending now compare to your previous expenses for food? Thanks!

  15. 16

    says

    We are in the middle of a move & eating horribly right now, but know that we need to make this healthy change. For the sake of convenience, I tried NatureBox. We just received our second box. There is not one snack that hasn’t been so good!! We, too, are hooked. Thanks for the review & recommendation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>