A few months ago we started the Cookbook Challenge, vowing to cook through the cookbooks on our shelf. We had a great start with Jamie Oliver, but as the months and cookbooks went on, I started to not be as thrilled with the recipes. You see, Jamie opened a door for me. The door to lots of fresh food. And while all that butter the Pioneer Woman encouraged us to use tasted good, it just wasn’t as good as all the vegetables we had gotten used to with Jamie. And then we watched a few food documentaries, including this one:
And then I found this blog.
I was inspired. So, we’ve some big changes in what we buy/cook/eat. Here’s what we’re doing now:
1. No more processed food. While this seems like it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, it sorta is for us. We didn’t eat tons of processed foods, but since we both work, processed foods can be a huge convenience when it comes to getting dinner on the table quickly and having easy-to-grab snacks available. Since I am committed to this change and didn’t want to be persuaded by what was in the pantry, I rounded up all the unopened processed foods and we donated them to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at our church.
And you know what? I haven’t missed them. Until I can figure out how to make wheat pasta, we are cutting our pasta intake way down and making our own sauce. Instead of grabbing a Nutri-Grain bar, we grab an orange. Pretty good trade, right?
2. This also means moving away from processed grains like white flour and white rice. This one has been a little tougher than it sounds. It’s almost impossible to find 100% whole wheat bread in the grocery (most wheat bread has white flour in it because white flour is lighter and makes the bread fluffier and less dense). I do have a bread machine, but I don’t have 3 hours after work to make bread and I haven’t gotten the hang of freezing bread from the bread machine yet. So, we’ve cut back our bread consumption. And, guess what, we haven’t missed it. Occasionally I’ll get a loaf from the Publix bakery, but it’s a treat.
One of the best things to come out of giving up white wheat has been the discovery of homemade wheat tortillas.
It started when I went to the grocery and couldn’t find tortillas that weren’t overly processed. So, I decided to take the plunge and give these a try. They were totally worth it. These are the most delicious tortillas we have ever had. They are a bit tricky to make at first, but once you get into the swing of making them, they are easy. You can also make a bunch and freeze them for later!
3. No high fructose corn sugar.
This definitely goes along with our no processed foods promise, but high fructose corn sugar is in everything! So, we’re checking labels for the packaged items we do buy (ketchup, applesauce, etc) to make sure that the sneaky ingredient doesn’t make its way into our home. This also means no soda or sugary drinks, but we cut those bad boys out years ago.
4. Eat at home more often. Before this change, we ate at home 5-6 nights out of the week which means we were out on the town a couple of nights. And our town doesn’t have really great options for dining out. We live in a place that loves chain restaurants. So, instead of driving a bit to get to something local, we usually hit up Outback or something similar. Now we plan to eat out once every few weeks. Eating at home is not only cheaper and healthier, but it guarantees that we will have lunch leftovers for the next day. And when we do eat out, we opt for a local restaurant, which usually tastes better than the chains anyway.
And when we cook we don’t use any already made ingredients like cream of anything soup, croutons, taco seasoning, etc. We’re trying to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that end up on our table and not have the focus of the meal be a big slab of meat.
5. Buy local fruits and vegetables, organic if possible.
This one is a bit hard for us. We don’t have great local farmer’s markets around. My friend, Paola, and I have been on the hunt for local farmer’s markets, but it’s been a tough search. Most of our farmer’s markets sell fruit from all over the world at a cheaper price than the grocery. The solution has been to grow as much as we can in our own yards and keep looking.
So, that’s it! We’ve been at this for about three weeks and we can already notice changes in the way we look at processed foods. I have discovered that the more you learn, the less you want to know because it’s hard to keep eating food laden with high fructose corn syrup and preservatives once you know how horrible they are for us. The key to this whole process is to check labels. Because, obviously, the only way to have control over what you eat is to know what is in your food.
And to answer your question, yes, I guess we have become hippy-ish. And watch out, we’re composting now and starting to collect rain water!