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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Food Questions

Zucchini, Tomato, and Chicken Brown Rice Pasta

My friend, Laurie, wrote to me WAAAAAAAY back in May with a few diet-related questions she was hoping I would answer on my blog. Well, she may not even care to know these answers anymore, but for what it's worth, here you go, Laurie (and Tara).  :D

Arugula Power Salad (The Kitchen Skinny) with spelt toast.

1. What is a typical daily or weekly menu for your family?

I had to keep track of one week's worth of food for my midwife while I was pregnant, so I just scanned that page and attached the picture here.  Hopefully you can make out what it says; I don't have such pretty handwriting.

Click image to enlarge

Steel cut oats, bananas, pecans/almonds, assorted berries.

2. Do you feel like your grocery bill has changed significantly? For better or worse?

Yes.  It has increased considerably.  But we also buy, whenever possible, organic produce and products.  We have strong feelings about avoiding GMO's and chemicals from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.  Of course, sometimes a recipe will call for something that isn't available organically, so we defer to conventionally-grown items, but that's definitely rare.  One of the commentaries in one of the many food documentaries we watched as we were overhauling our eating habits really struck a chord with Dan.  It was the raw food guru, David Wolfe, who said that it's pretty sad how willing we are to spend top dollar on the fastest car, the nicest apartment, the best quality clothing, etc., but we shortchange ourselves when it comes to food.  Why?  Why do we do that?  How is it that we can justify scrimping and saving for other things, but when it comes to food we go cheap, dumpster diving and clipping coupons for the most awful, synthetic junk man has offered up for the world?!

That said, we recognize that we're very blessed that Dan has a job that allows us to make these healthier decisions for our family.
Ratatouille-ish (The Kitchen Skinny)

3. How do you eat on the go? When traveling or at another home for dinner?

It's actually pretty easy to eat healthily on the go.  It just requires the teensiest bit of forethought and preparation.  I make my own bread, so if we take a day out, I'll make the boys some peanut butter and honey sandwiches the night before and stick them in the fridge.  I also cut up strips of veggies (bell pepper, cucumber, carrots).  Add some fruit and we've got a complete and wholesome meal that only required a bit of spreading, chopping, and bagging.  :)  When we travel somewhere for an extended stay, we purchase food as soon as we get there and have a plan for preparing meals for our family.  We used to just eat out all the time when we'd go on vacation.  It was pretty gross.

As far as being invited to someone else's house for dinner or encountering food at church activities, work parties, or get-togethers with friends, Dan and I had a good talk about how we both felt strongly that we should never let food trump people.  We agreed that we would just make the healthiest choices available, only declining dessert if it's offered, and bless our food, eat, and be grateful.  It's just not worth it to make a big fuss, especially since we are still discovering exactly what sort of diet works best for our family.  And, we figure that since we mostly eat at home where we have total control over what is available, our bodies will be resilient to a few falls off the wagon here and there.

Sometimes, though, it really does depend on what's being offered and who is offering it.  My boys ate crackers and cheese at a friend's house recently.  We don't eat refined flours or dairy, but I let it slide.  At a family gathering a few weeks ago, though, there were Ding Dongs up for grabs and we emphatically denied our kids any part in that.  Some things are definitely more disgusting and processed than others.

I will admit that this isn't an exact science and there have been a few uncomfortable moments and every now and then I just want to boldly say my peace and hope that people will 1) have the same amount of tolerance and respect for my diet as I do for theirs, and 2) realize that our family's dietary choices are not indicative of a negative judgment on anyone else's food choices.
Crock Potato Chili (The Kitchen Skinny)

4. What kind of appliances did you purchase to facilitate this lifestyle? (juicer, etc.)

We got a Vitamix blender, a dehydrator, a pressure cooker, and a juicer.

We use them all, though some more than others.  The blender is used mainly for green smoothies.  The dehydrator has seen a few poorly-executed attempts at Kale chips and one wonderfully successful attempt at banana strips (my kids absolutely devoured those).  I plan on making "sun-dried" tomatoes next.  The pressure cooker I use for beans and grains.  It's awesome.  And our amazing, expensive juicer is going to be prepped to sell ASAP.  Turns out that though it makes fabulous juice, you definitely give up speed for quality.  And right now in my life, with four little boys, homeschooling, etc., I just haven't got the time to spare for quality juice.  We'll turn in the one we have for something that is cheaper and faster, say a prayer over our juice, and be confident that though we may not be getting the most nutrition out of our fast juice, at least we're getting more than we would without a juicer.

I also already owned a Wonder Mill and a Bosch mixer for making flour and bread.

Carrot Apple Juice

5. Was it hard to get your husband on board with this lifestyle?

No.  Thankfully.  We watched the documentaries together and jumped right in together.  I know for a fact that we would not have been able to make such a drastic change without being on the same page.  Quite honestly I was pretty surprised at how compliant Dan was when I told him we needed to overhaul our eating.  I thought he would put up more of a fight than he did.  The only thing he still grumbles about every now and then is the price of eating organically.  But it's happy grumbling since we both know it's better for our bodies and better for the soil.

Mango Salsa Salad (The Kitchen Skinny)
healthy meal trimmings

6. What are your kids' favorite recipes?

I asked them this question and their answers made me laugh.  Anders says he likes picnic food (??) and my homemade spaghetti.  Soren says he likes it when I make this fish recipe.  Anders concurred.  And they both like most of the recipes from The Kitchen Skinny, a program we signed up for that supplies a year's worth of healthy dinner recipes and their shopping lists.  In particular, my family likes the chick pea wraps and the "not your mom's" meat loaf.  Email the site owners and I'm sure they'll share some sample recipes with you! They are very cool.  Besides what I've already mentioned, we also eat a lot of roasted veggies and fresh salads.  And, of course, my kids love our healthy treat recipes, like these peanut butter honey balls (as we call them).  We add raw coconut threads, too.

Pepper strips!
Peanut butter, raisin, and apple sandwiches
Roasted veggies
Not Your Mom's Meatloaf (The Kitchen Skinny)
Maple Almond Granola
Scrambled eggs with spinach and potatoes
100% spelt bread
Rice and Bean Enchiladas (The Kitchen Skinny)
Clockwise from top left: Spelt carrot cake w/applesauce, peanut butter honey balls, spelt banana muffins, gluten-free cinnamon rolls

7. How do you deal with traditional holiday foods? Skip or substitute or go for it?

We definitely find healthy alternatives!  There are so many ways to make healthier versions of typical American holiday foods (or any foods, for that matter)!  Tomorrow, I will attempt to make a healthy spelt-crust apple pie with rapadura (whole cane sugar) instead of white flour and super-processed table sugar.  We definitely like to live it up (healthily) on holidays!  :D

Brown rice with onion and mushroom gravy

8. What were the immediate benefits of the change?

Well, Dan lost a lot of weight and my pregnancy weight gain halted and then began again to rise at a slower, healthier pace.  My eczema on my hands, that I've suffered with for about 10 years now, cleared right up.  And we've just had more energy and clarity of mind.  Physically, we are feeding our bodies more usable nutrients and, mentally, we are thrilled to know that the food entering our bodies will do no harm.  We also noticed that we were better about eating all of our food and not letting anything go to waste.  And, it's been wonderful to have occasion to talk with our kids about healthy food choices, feeding our whole bodies rather than just our taste buds, and looking at food as a source of fuel rather than entertainment.

Spelt toast with mayo, avocado, and tomato
Everything salsa!
Roasted veggies

9. What initially motivated you to start?

This documentary:

And this TEDtalk:

Other motivational documentaries . . . .

Food Matters
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
Forks Over Knives
Hungry For Change
King Corn

(FYI, these are all currently available on Netflix instant view.)

Red Quinoa ABC (Avocado, Black Bean, and Corn) Salad (The Kitchen Skinny)

10. What things have you completely eliminated from you diet?

Mostly just wheat, dairy, and sugar.  We use spelt flour, organic rice/almond/coconut milk, and raw honey/100% pure maple syrup.  I do also have rapadura (whole cane sugar) for the very, very few instances I've needed granulated-type sugar.  We've only been through one, 1.5lb bag in the last nine+ months, though, and probably half of that went toward treats we gave away.  Every now and then we also have occasion to eat wheat, but it's usually outside the home.  And we still have our wheat food storage in case of emergency.  Dairy has just proven to be a pretty obnoxious problem for our entire family.  It messes with my eczema and is totally mucous-producing in the boys.  This one is tough for me, though, because of all the things we've eliminated, I miss dairy the most.  Every now and then (like twice, really) we'll buy a wedge of raw cheddar cheese and make some quesadillas, only to remember exactly why we gave up dairy in the first place.  But I think reminders aren't necessarily a bad thing.

Meat is another thing that we've seriously cut back on.  We aren't vegetarian and never will be, but when we say we eat meat sparingly, that means we're eating it maybe once every two weeks.  We just don't need it.  We get plenty of protein from leafy greens, beans/legumes, and whole grains.

Olympic-inspired peanut butter honey balls

Now, I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, consider myself to be any sort of expert on any of this.  And, we are still figuring things out. It's a process, a journey.  But, I do believe that all parents are blessed with the wonderful gift of inspiration and I've been maximizing that gift in the last year, reading my little heart out, becoming excited, making changes, getting confused, then finding peace all over again as I take our questions and concerns to the Lord.  In the end, I think that the best thing we can do for our families is to quit buying processed foods and meet more of our dietary needs right here in our own kitchens.

I'm happy to answer any more questions if anyone has any.  Healthy eating has become a passion of sorts.  And while I can't guarantee that you'll feel the same way I do about specific eating habits, maybe I can be a springboard to a healthier way of life for you and yours. That would be cool.
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1 comment:

Christa Jeanne said...

LOVE it, Liz!!! Thanks for sharing! I'm cutting out grains, refined sugar, and most dairy, and it's funny how it might close off some options - but it opens up a world of other options!!! I bought a paleo cookbook and was salivating, flipping through it. It's a fun, creative adventure, and I know the health benefits make it soooo worthwhile!