Saturday, May 7, 2011

Not everything I make is a disaster. Here are the hits.

I started this journey last June with the desire to share my cooking adventures with you as I went along.  I took lots of pictures and notes on everything I made.  However, those pictures and notes never made it further than the kitchen counter.  Time is limited for me since I have a major cooking disability which translates into way too much time spent agonizing over what to make and how to make it.  I also have three kids to nurture and a husband who I like spending time with.  So although my blogging intention was always in the forefront of my mind, I just wasn't able to blog about every dish that I cooked up.  I do want to share what I made with you though.  Here are some of the "hits"---things we all, or a least most of us, liked a lot.  There's plenty of "misses."  I'll post those another time. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

much anticipated / much dreaded birthday week

The much-anticipated-slash-much-dreaded birthday week is finally here.  I've been dreading this week for a long time, although Bella, who just turned 11, has been carefully planning this week since we cleaned out the cupboards and starting eating clean 10 months ago.

It was as she was crying over her precious "food" that was being carted away that I consoled her by saying, "On your birthday you can eat whatever you want."  Later, as she realized that her beloved foods couldn't fit into the space of one day, we compromised and agreed upon "birthday week."  For the past year she's been looking forward to one entire week devoted to processed, not-at-all-good-for-you, delightfully-tasting, highly-addicting, not-from-the-earth, chemical-laden, food.  Yum.

Bella created a menu for the week and then together we created a grocery list.  I gave the list to my husband who took the kids shopping.  I honestly couldn't bear to do it myself.  I have this thing now where I absolutely pride myself on the content of my grocery cart.  Sending my husband was nerve-wracking enough.  What would people think when they saw him with chips, candy bars, and all kinds of nasty stuff?  Sure enough he ran into two people that we knew.  Thankfully he mentioned to them that we don't always eat like this.  (I'm glad that junk in the cart embarrasses him too).  They came back with birthday week supplies.....3 packages of ramen noodles, 3 boxes of mac and cheese, 2 bags of chips, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 can of pineapple, 1 box of french toast sticks, and 1 box of fish crackers, and six candy bars for her birthday candy gram.

Are you still with me?  Are you sick yet?  Because I'm gagging a little bit as I write this.

Besides the menu for home, Birthday Girl also had two "restaurants" in mind that she wanted to eat at this week.  She chose Wendy's as her restaurant of choice on Tuesday.  Keep in mind I haven't eaten fast food since Sept 26 when it was my youngest daughter's birthday and we went to McDonald's (a bad experience for me since I was on the toilet afterwards).  So it'd been about 8 months since I've had any fast food at all.

I ordered the plain baked potato and a bowl of chili since I was so hungry.  Let's just say next year I'll only be ordering the plain baked potato.  One bite into the "chili" and I could taste the salt, the MSG, and the high fructose corn syrup.  Another bite in and I'm freaking out over the "meat" I just put into my mouth.  What is that stuff?   

The next evening....yep.....Chuck a Rama.  It's a Bella-birthday-tradition.  Our family used to love this place.  We ate there once or twice a month sometimes.  We liked going there because there was a big variety and it pleased each person in the family.  Mostly we'd go there because I didn't like to cook and I never knew what to make for dinner.  My  husband would come home from work, see no dinner on the table, pack us into the car, and be the Chuck a Rama hero.  We loved it!  I especially loved the salad bar, the fluffy white rolls, honey butter, mashed potatoes, pot roast, corn bread, and sticky buns. Mmmm.

We were all kinda excited to go since it was our chance to splurge.  I helped Roman with his plate, John helped Capri with hers, and Bella got her own.  I was interested to see what everyone would put on their plate.

Roman and I strolled around as he looked at his options.  He decided on fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, and those beastly french fries.  I hated putting all those things on his plate but whatdaya do?  A deal's a deal.

Bella loaded up on similar things....mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, and french fries.  I noticed she also put a little salad and corn on her plate.

Capri had lemonade and mac and cheese.  And ice cream.  Her stomach hurt so bad that's all she could eat.  Soon Roman's stomach was hurting too.  He didn't finish anything on his plate with no thoughts of getting up to get anything more.  Bella only had two plates when she normally would get four.  What's going on here?  We're usually up and down, up and down, going for more, another plate here, another plate there, loving every minute of it.

And what about me?  What did I get?  Since this was also my moment to splurge I didn't go for the salad bar.  But I didn't go for the meat either.  I made burrito with a white-floured tortilla, lime rice, refried beans, shredded cheese, and a little cilantro-lime dressing.  I've always had a thing for refried beans and the cilantro dressing had a nice kick.  My complaint was the white flour tortilla tasted so white-floury.  Bleh.  After I finished the burrito I wanted to have just a taste of some of the foods I used to eat there.  So I put a little bit of mashed potatoes and gravy on my plate.  "These don't even taste like potatoes," I said to my husband.  He looked at my like, "What did you expect?"  I was so disappointed.  Then I wanted to try the rolls I used to love.  I grabbed a wheat one since it's healthier and you know what, it wasn't even good.   Then I wanted to have a little dessert so I found the chocolate pudding and ew, that was gross too.  Didn't even eat more than one bite.  And I used to love chocolate pudding.  Then I tried the brownie.  Ew, that was gross too.  Soft and supple but I couldn't even figure out what it tasted like.  It had no taste.  Isn't that weird?  It wasn't chocolate, it was just, aw, I don't know....chemical sweeteners.  I still can't discern a taste on that brownie and it's kind of frustrating me right now.  I guess I'll settle for "chemical sweetener" as the official description, sure wish I could say chocolatey or something like that. 

I was tired of trying things and tired of being let-down.  I put down my fork and slouched down in the booth a bit.  I had to come to grips with the fact that my taste buds really had changed.   Eating at Chuck a Rama would never be the same again.  (I know some of you who hate Chuck a Rama are laughing right now.  But we used to love this experience and now it's no fun).

As we took our last sips of water, Roman said to John, "I want to go home and eat some healthy food."  Did he just say what I think he just said?  My old potato chip addict who recently told me his favorite food is red apples?  He's such a good boy, man I love that kid.  

As we put the kids to bed, Capri and Roman both complained of stomach aches.  It made it hard for them to fall asleep.  Something tells me they are both going to have problems with constipation for the next few days.  It's a good thing birthday week is over tomorrow.  I think we will all be glad to get back to healthy food.  I know I will.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mommy-guilt diminished

Before we started eating clean I felt like such a crappy mom.  I gave in to my children's requests for crappy food because they never wanted the carrot sticks or apples I offered.  They wanted chips, Cheetos, fishies, cereal, fruit snacks, Fruit by the Foot, pretzels, wheat thins, cookies, graham crackers.  Why did I give in?  Because I didn't want them to starve.  And I didn't know what else to put in their lunches.  I knew it wasn't good but I didn't know what else to do.  But I'll admit it, the bad-mom-guilt really, really got to me.  It was always bringing me down and had me hating on myself.

I'm so glad I don't have to feel that way anymore.  Actually now I feel rather pleased with myself.  The satisfaction when my kids ask for healthy snacks and foods is amazing.  I love, love, love it when my kids say, "Mom, can I have an apple?  Mom, can I have oatmeal for breakfast?  Mom, can I have some more carrot sticks?  Yay, we're having (insert name of healthy dinner here) tonight!"  Who knew that feeding your kids this way could make a mom so happy.

Tonight I walked into the house after a trip to the grocery store and my son said, "Yay, Mom bought bananas."  A year ago he would have said, "Where's the chips?  Did you buy chips?"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Moroccan Chicken and Lentils

Lentils.  Hmmm.  Never had them before.  I think I may have them in my food storage, but I've never actually eaten them before.  I certainly don't know how to prepare them.  I've had my eye on this Moroccan Chicken and Lentil dish for a while.  Maybe I'll make that for Christmas Eve dinner.
Okay, just need to find lentils at the store.  Hopefully they're in the bulk.  Yep, they took a while to find but they have some.
Home now, let's get this dinner started.  Uh oh, the recipe is calling for one pound of lentils and I'm not sure how many I bought.  I just put a few scoops in a bag.  Somehow I have to find out how much is one pound.  ::putting some in a bag, running upstairs, and placing them on the bathroom scale::  Darn, they're not even registering.  Next idea.  Stand on the scale, weigh myself with and without the lentils.  Um, I'm not sure how accurate this is.  It says there is a 2 pound difference.  Calling up neighbor-friend who once loaned me a candy thermometer.  Nope, calling a different neighbor-friend.  Score.  A little nervous since it's Christmas Eve, I hope she doesn't mind me barging in like this.  She's doesn't seem to be, oh good.

I'm so relieved the food scale allows me to figure out how much is one pound.  I probably should have soaked these lentils over night.  Oh well,  too late now.  I rinse them really well.  Then I add them to some boiling water and let them simmer for 25 minutes until soft.  I rinse in cold water and drain.

Then I get busy on the dressing.  I mix together olive oil, red wine vinegar, ground cumin, chili powder, and minced garlic.  I pour half of this over the lentils and let them cool.  It's so strange that the lentils are served cool instead of warm.  Huh.

Next I saute the onion until it's dark brown and soft.  I add some thinly sliced organic chicken breast (I will never go back to inorganic chicken breast after seeing Food Inc) and add cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon.  I know the husband isn't a fan of cinnamon in his dinner.  Hope he doesn't notice.

I find a Christmas platter and place the lentils on it.  The chicken and onions and the rest of the sauce go on top.  Oh, I almost forgot.  I need to chop up some parsley.  I quickly pick off some parsley, wash it, and throw it in my I-don't-know-what-I'd-do-without-you chopper.  The parsley gets sprinkled on top and voila dinner is served.  Although now I'm thinking cilantro would have tasted much better on top.  Oh well, next time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Boost your immunity by eating clean

Last year the kids were sick the entire winter.  I even charted it on my calendar.  One week one kid was sick.  The next week the next kid was sick.  The next week the other kid got sick.  Then it repeated.  The first kid got sick again.  Then the next kid.  And I'm not kidding it went on and on like this all year.   When I asked the pediatrician about it she told me it was normal for kids to have 8 to 12 colds per year.

I don't know about you, but when my kids get sick, it stresses me out.  I always worry way too much and I'm so empathic that it's difficult for me to feel okay inside when they do not.  In the past I would blame myself and feel helpless because I didn't know what to do differently.  I kept them away from sick people, tried to disinfect the house and keep it clean, fed them the usual Standard American Diet, washed the bedding in hot, changed their toothbrushes often, had them vaccinated against the flu, ran the humidifier at night, gave them Motrin for their fevers, and had them stay home and rest when they were sick.  Other than that I didn't know what more to do.

But I've learned a few things.  Here's the difference between last year and this year.  First of all, no flu vaccine.  It's far more important to boost immunity than vaccinate.  Since we started eating clean in June I've already built up their immunity in preparation for the winter.   Each day they take liquid multivitamins, flax oil, and probiotics.  They eat clean for the most part.  (I say more part because they are allowed to eat whatever they want outside of our house be it at school or grandma's or a friend's house). When they do get sick I give them large doses of vitamin C throughout the day and make sure they get a lot of water and rest. 

This year we have been sick once.  I have a cold right now, my youngest daughter has a cold, and my oldest daughter is getting a cold.  But none of us have had to miss any school and we've had no fevers.  Thankfully it's been a completely different experience than what we went through last winter. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ten unexpected benefits of eating clean

1.  No more McDonald's smell emanating from our mini van.

2.  No more feeling like an addict walkin' around with a diet coke in my hand or sneaking out to the fridge in the garage to get my fix.

3.  No more smashed-up fish crackers in the carpet.

4.  No more mess.  No diet coke cans, fruit snack wrappers, Hershey kiss wrappers, candy bar wrappers, small potato chip bags, fruit by the foot wrappers, juice boxes, and Capri suns.  Besides the occasional banana or orange peel, we are mess free.

5.  Fewer colds and flus.  Quicker recovery times.  Less stress over worrying about sick kids and less trips to the doctor.

6.  No more mommy guilt.

7.  No more thinking we are going to die if we don't stop for fast food.

8.  Treats are now just that---treats.

9.  No more napping.  We are doing more and napping less.

10.  No more B.I.F.   (aka butt in front)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just say yes

Whenever I take my three year old daughter to the store, she always points to things and says, "Can I have that on my birthday?"
"Yes! You can have that on your birthday," I reply.

She knows that we don't have food like that at our house unless it's someone's birthday.  This simple lifestyle change has really improved my grocery shopping experience with my kids.  No more being pestered for junk food.  No more giving in.  And no more junk food in the cart!

The best part is I get to answer "yes" to what she's asking me and that makes us both happy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Squash and Flax Soup

I made Squash and Flax soup the other night.  After we were done eating I noticed that I left the flax in the strainer on the counter.  Oops.  I forgot to add one of the main ingredients.

Friday, January 28, 2011

If she can do it, you can do it.

Eat more greens.

Try something new this year. It's good for you.

I love the old saying that goes, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you'll always gotten."  In 2010 our family decided to stop doing what we were doing and indeed we got something different than we'd been getting.

We made some big changes last year and we continue to make more.  Here's a rundown of some of the new things we adopted in 2010 and some of the changes we saw as a result.  (Warning....These are all random-off-the-top-of-my-head-thoughts.....)

We started eating clean.  We gave away all of our processed foods including all our favorites.  We switched from white bread to a hearty, and may I say expensive, multi-grain bread.  We stopped eating fast food.  We stopped buying snacks at the gas station and stopped "treating"ourselves whenever we felt like it.  As a result we're a lot more disciplined and a lot less spoiled.

We started taking vitamins, herbs, and natural supplements.  We started eating different types of whole grains in the morning.  We started sweetening our foods with natural, low-glycemic sweeteners.  We started drinking organic skim milk and almond milk.  We started cooking with coconut oil.  We went from having three, maybe four, spices on the rack to having over 25 different spices, most of which I had to google to find out what they were.  We started eating greek yogurt.  We discovered quinoa, the mother grain.  We bought oils and vinegars we'd never even heard of.  We started using butter instead of margarine.  We planted an herb garden and grew our own basil, oregano, mint, thyme, and rosemary.  We started shopping at the Boise Co-Op and even bought two of their reusable bags.  We started eating organic meat and organic fruits and vegetables even though they cost more we knew they would benefit us twice as much.

We purchased a bag of whey protein powder and a bottle of flax oil and started mixing them into our fruit smoothies.   We started making green smoothies toos and discovered that they are delicious.  We tried lamb burgers for the first time and liked them.  We tried a lot of things for the first time and like them.  We stopped eating on paper plates and started eating every meal on small 7 inch ceramic red plates.   Some of us (okay just me) started eating salad without any dressing.  We stopped skipping meals.  We took to eating steel cut oats for breakfast. We did a lot more dishes.  We did a lot more meal planning and grocery shopping.  We spent a lot more money on food.  We got fewer colds and sicknesses.  We got excited to try new things.  I got a lot less resentful of spending so much time in the kitchen and discovered that cooking wasn't so bad.

We began to look forward to dinner rather than despite and dread it.  We started finding pleasure in our healthy meals.  We felt good about praying over our food and asking the Lord to bless it to nourish and strengthen our bodies.  (Not true when you're praying over a bowl of Top Ramen to do your body the good that it needs).  We worked together as a team with the whole family on board with "this whole eating clean thing."

Then we extended clean eating to clean living.  We tossed out the old products, did the research, and started using all natural household products without harmful chemicals.  We bought all natural mascara, moisturizer, body lotion, shampoo and conditioner, soap, laundry detergent, hand soap, deodorant, toothpaste etc.  I swapped out my antiperspirant for this crystal salt spray stuff.  Hey, don't laugh.  We bought a shower filter.  We researched the idea of "earthing."   We've learned more about composting and organic gardening.  We learned more about our minds and bodies and holistic natural healing.  We discovered the uses of essential oils.  We bought house plants and salt lamps in effort to keep the air that we breathe cleaner.  Man, we've done a lot this year!

More of our firsts:  the farmer's market, organics, ginger root, tamari, hummus, garam masala, cilantro, tomatillos, parsnips, agave nectar, almond butter, natural peanut butter, real garlic,  kefir, apple butter, yogurt cheese, greek yogurt, sucanat, quinoa, brown rice, milling whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta, spinach pasta, organic chicken breast, ground chicken breast, ground turkey breast, ground lamb, buckwheat flour, steel cut oats, irish scotch oats, organic eggs,  homemade vegetable stock, flax seeds, flax oil, lethicin, probiotics, CoQ10, vitamin, mineral, and herb supplements, chaste tree berry, spirulina, oat bran, wheat germ, sesame oil, prunes, dates, figs, acai berry, mango chunks, arugula, chard, beet tops, kale, wild Alaskan salmon, fresh parsley, fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, cardamom, sumac and garam masala (thanks to Emi for those)  and more I can't think of right now....Wow, what a year it's been!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Step 3 to eating clean. Absolutes and consistency keep me on track.

There's no such thing as willpower.  At least there isn't for me.  What works for me is a no-fail environment.  In order to create that no-fail environment, I had to decide a few things in my head.  Goals, resolves, absolutes, rules, aspirations, or whatever you want to call them, I had to decide them.  I like to call them absolutes.  Since I'm a bit of a freak it was easy for me to do this.  (Remember I'm the person who sorts their laundry according to color, meaning one pile for purple, one pile for red, one pile for pink, one pile for orange, one pile for blue, one pile of brown, one pile for cold whites, one pile for hot whites, you get the idea).  Anxiety was on my side in this instance.  So here are my absolutes.  You will notice there is always an exception to an absolute, lol.
Absolute number one.  Absolutely no fast food. 
Exceptions--when it is somebody's birthday and that's what they want.  (See previous post for explanation).  Also, if we are out of town, which is rare, and can't find a grocery store.  Also if we are completely starving and going to die then it is okay.  (You'd be surprised how many times you are actually not going to die, but will make it home alive and in one piece).  So far every person knows where he or she want to eat out on their birthday and they're looking forward to it. 
About this absolute--You will be tempted.  Especially if you are anything like I was and stopped for fast food because it was calling you and it was so convenient and sometimes you are so hungry or thirsty.  But I will guarantee you something, it will get easier.  There were a few times I wanted to stop so badly.  I was so hungry or so thirsty or so craving it, but because I had made it an absolute, I didn't.  And you know what, I survived.  And the next time I was tempted it was so much easier to just keep driving because I'd done it before.  Now those temptations aren't as strong and my desire to eat there is less and less and my ability to overcome the temptation is greater.  We really can adapt better than we think we can.  And if I ever mess up, that's okay; I start again the next day.  But I don't ever quit my absolutes.
Number 2.  Absolutely no bad stuff in the grocery cart
The exception--when it's someone's birthday, of course, and when John requests something that he will eat some place other than home.  I'm not his boss or his mother so if he needs me to buy him some groceries for work or a tailgate party, I will.  However, I'm to the point now where I refuse to buy him any diet cokes for work.  They certainly aren't allowed in the house.  No willpower, remember, and I'm a recovering DC addict.   Not only that, but I’m learning how absolutely toxic that stuff is for you and I can't with good conscience knowingly let my husband drink that stuff.  So he does it behind my back and that's fine.  One day he'll die from it and I'll tell him I told you so.
About this absolute--Thanks to the reading I'd done, (see earlier post on education) Jillian and Tosca have taught me how to decipher between the good stuff and the bad stuff.   It can be tricky at times.  Usually I'm only buying products they recommend, like real, whole foods.  If there's a question on something I do look for ingredients and if I see something in it that sounds like an "anti-food" I put it back.  I don't bother with the calories and all that crap.  It's what is in the food that counts the most.  Otherwise you might be buying something that's not really food, just a bunch of chemicals that add up to empty calories and bad nutrition.  Or you might be buying a "protein bar" that has high fructose corn syrup in it.  (Don't even get me started).  I have to laugh at the manufacturers sometimes. They will make an organic product that is completely not good for you. So don't be fooled.  If organic sugar is one of the top ingredients than it's not good for you. Lately, I don't even bother with labels because I don't need to anymore. Everything I was curious about I've checked into so I know what to buy and what not to buy. It's very fun and exciting to look in my cart and only see good stuff and know that what I'm buying is perfectly good for my family and me. It's quite a thrill actually.
Number 3.  Absolutely no popcorn and soda at the movies Exception--birthday.  Or birthday week in Bella's case.  That's it.
About this absolute--This one was really hard the first time, especially at Overland Park Cinemas where everyone, and I'm not kidding you, every person there had a popcorn and soda in their lap. Just the smell of popcorn, the rustling of fingers going into bags, and our memories of previous times with their delicious, caramel popcorn was enough to drive us crazy.  It definitely makes me not want to go there again.  Some rich entrepreneur needs to start a movie theatre chain that sells only water and healthy snacks without the popcorn smell.......Eric?????
 About this absolute.  Chemical-laden popcorn is bad for you.  So is soda pop. You can survive the movie with a cup of water in your lap. 
Number 4.  Absolutely must eat a breakfast that includes lean protein and complex carbs. 
Exception--it's only okay to skip breakfast if I am fasting, which I'm trying to do once a month, and when I need extra help from the Lord, or when I am praying for someone who needs help.
About this absolute--Before I made this an absolute I used to dawdle around in the mornings.  I never insisted my kids eat breakfast.  I fed them breakfast most of the time (a disastrous breakfast consisting of frozen mini pancakes or frozen French toast sticks with sugar-free, aka, aspartame-poison syrup) but if someone missed it I really didn't care or notice.  I figured they'd let me know when they were hungry.  How bad is that? Terrible!  Now I absolutely insist that every child and myself eat a hearty breakfast.  It's more work for me, especially since the boxes of cereal that used to be in the lazy susan are long gone, but that's what my husband is for.  He's in charge of making breakfast for everybody every morning.  Hey, it's says "feminist" on this blog, doesn't it? 
Number 5.  Absolutely must drink lots and lots and lots and lots of water.
Exception--no exceptions for the kids and the only exception for me is when I'm trying to fast.  The key word for me and fasting is "trying."
About this absolute--Tosca recommends drinking 16 oz as soon as you wake up.  I had never paid attention to how much water I was drinking or how much my kids were drinking.  Now I not only pay attention to how much they're drinking, I teach them the vital importance of it.  I have felt a big difference in my health when I get plenty of water.  Honestly, most days I don't, but when I do, I feel it, and it feels fantastic.  Of course I have to pee all the time so that's not fun, but feeling good is.  Now my kids are tired of hearing me say, "Everybody go get a drink of water.  It's important to drink lots of water everyday."  
Number 6.  Absolutely must eat at least 3 meals a day consisting of protein and complex carbs and healthy fats.
More on that later.....

The uproar

Here's what I did when my kids were freaking out about their favorite foods and snacks being completely gone from our house never to return.

You should have seen the uproar in the house after I gave away my kids' favorite foods and snacks. 
"I want some fishies.  I want some fishies," they would say.
"Nope.  They're not good for our bodies," I would reply.
"I want some chips, now," Roman would say.
"I want some french toast sticks.  What else am I going to eat for breakfast?" Bella would moan.
"We're going to figure something else out.  And you're going to love it." 

And on and on it went.  This is what got it to stop.  "When it's your birthday you can have whatever you want.  I will buy you a box of french toast sticks if that's what you want on your birthday."  This got them very excited and they stop hounding me about the foods like missed and got busy writing down what they wanted me to buy them for their birthday.  Bella came up with such a long list she started freaking out about having to choose only those things that would fit into one day.
"Can I have birthday week?" she asked.
"Okay, you may have birthday week."
Bella is always an exception to every rule.  So she will get birthday week and the rest of us will have birthday day.  Needless to say, all the kids are looking forward to their birthdays.  And whenever they complain about something I just say, "You can have it on your birthday" and that quiets them.  It really does work.  That way they don't feel deprived and it gives them something to look forward to.  Works like a charm.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2nd Step in Eating Clean -- go shopping

After giving away 3/4 of the kitchen, the cupboards felt oddly creepy so I got busy filling the kitchen with clean foods and cooking supplies. From the reading and research I'd done, I knew how to stock my kitchen.  So I went shopping.  On my list:  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, spices, healthy oils.

The shopping wasn't as easy as it sounds.  A lot of these items I had never even heard of.  I had to google them just to know what I was looking for and where I might possibly find them.  I made notes that agave nectar was a liquid low-glycemic sweetener, that Sucanat was a non-refined brown sugar, that pepitas were sunflower seeds, that chickpeas were the same thing as garbonzo beans, that quinoa was a grain (actually it's a seed but everyone refers to it as a grain), that cardamom is a ten dollar spice, that coconut oil is the same as coconut butter because it's solid at room temperature, that bulgur is not a person trying to break into your house but a whole grain, etc, etc, etc.  I knew I probably wouldn't be able to find everything I needed in one place so I started with Winco and tried to get as much as I could. 

Here's what I found at Winco:
organic skim milk yes,
almond milk yes, it's by the cans of evaporated milk
organic eggs yes,
organic butter no,
non-fat Greek yogurt, yes, but not organic
kefir no,
agave nectar yes, it's by the the peanut butter and honey
coconut oil no, they need to do something about that
pumpkin seed oil no,
quinoa yes,
steel cut oats, yes in the bulk section
organic rolled oats, yes in the bulk section
organic salad mix, yes
organic spinach, yes
organic carrots, yes
buckwheat flour, yes
spelt flour, yes
aluminum-free baking soda, yes
Dave's Killer bread, yes
Ezekiel bread, no
unprocessed peanut butter, yes
unprocessed almond butter, yes
low-sodium black beans, yes
organic, low-sodium chicken broth, yes
organic, low-sodium vegetable broth, yes
nitrate and nitrite free bacon, no
organic meat, no
ground turkey breast, yes but not organic
ground chicken breast, yes but not organic
low-sodium tamari, yes
small BPA free plastic containers for freezing or storing food, yes
I buy bananas from Winco because they don't need to be organic

At Costco I found:
organic apples
organic spinach
organic carrots
organic milk, it's 1% there so I get the organic skim from Winco
organic eggs (they are a little less expensive than Winco's organic eggs)
organic butter
organic peanut butter
organic almond butter
organic quinoa
organic wild rice
organic short brown rice
organic boneless, skinless chicken breast
bison steaks
grass-fed ground beef
Dave's Killer Bread
multi-grain sandwich thins
nitrate and nitrite free turkey bacon
protein powder
Trio Bars
pure maple syrup, they need to get organic pure maple syrup

Who would have known Costco would have so many organics?  Yay for Costco.  Now they just need to change some of their items such as the butter, broths, canned tomatoes, and black beans to low-sodium. 

Next was the Boise Co-op for hard to find items such as:
organic yogurts
virgin coconut oil
all kinds of healthy oils
organic ground turkey
organic ground chicken
local, organic, fruits, vegetables, and herbs
spices and spice blends
whole grains
their bulk section is awesome
organic mango chunks (a favorite of mine)
organic frozen berries
frozen acai berry
dehydrated fruits (the dried mangoes are killer)
non-fluoride toothpaste
non-aluminum deodorant
safe housecleaning products
seeds for sprouting

The Captial City Market is also a wonderful place to buy food.  However, I will save the market for another day.  It deserves its own post. 

Now I had the knowledge and motivation, I had the cookbooks, and I had the ingredients.  It was time to start cooking!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The first step to eating clean

Get rid of all your processed foods. That's what I did. I gave away boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of food. I wish I had before-and-after pictures so you could see the loads of food I gave away. As a compulsive food hoarder, my fridge, pantry, cupboards, and freezer were completely full.  Yo'know, just in case.   In one day, the kitchen went from totally full to completely empty.   Bye, bye, bad stuff.

P.S.  My kids practically cried on this day.  Oh well, they got over it.

These are just some of the items we gave away.  Can you imagine your kitchen and your life without these foods?   Yes, life goes on, even without French toast sticks.

I Can't Believe it's Not Butter spray
peanut butter
jams and jellies
frozen waffles
frozen mini pancakes
frozen French toast sticks
frozen tater tots and french fries
icecream bars and icecream sundaes
Hershey's chocolate sauce
apple cider packets
hot chocolate packets
tubs of frosting
boxes of brownies
Slim Fast shakes
granola bars
oatmeal packets
granola cereal
all cereal, yes, all
Classic Bread's white bread
Classic Bread's cinnamon swirl bread.....still miss this one  :(
mango salsa
au gratin potatoes
gravy mixes
Hamburger Helper
A-1 steak sauce
Fruit by the Foot
fruit snacks
Peppridge Farms fish crackers
wheat thin
potato chips
tortilla chips
barbecue sauce
Jello pudding
Jello gelatin ( a lot of these)
hot dogs
All marinating sauces and mixes

I know there's more, but I can't remember everything, it seems like so long ago.  Basically, I dispensed of any item containing sugar, corn syrup, high frutose corn syrup, artifical coloring, additives, chemicals, too much sodium, nitrites, nitrates, gelatin, and other perservatives.

The benefits of giving away all this crap:
If I just gave ten boxes of macaroni and cheese away I'm not going to feel like buying more the next time I'm at the store.  See how that works?  I've been motivated because I made an investment.  I gave away hundreds of dollars of food and I am not going to ruin that by buying that crap again. 
Secondly, I'm forced to start now.  There's no procrastinating.  This "eat clean" thing begins now or we starve to death.  Better buy some produce, beans, organic lean meats, and learn how to cook asap.    That's step two.  More on that later......

Build a Foundation, Find Your Motivation

The knowledge I gained from reading and research gave me the foundation I needed to begin my jouney.  I wanted to not only look better, but to feel better, and have better health and longevity.  More than that I wanted to give my children a chance at a good life.  I didn't want to be the reason they suffered from depression, disease, fatigue, learning disabilities, ADHD, obesity, low self-esteem, infertility, miscarriage, cancer, low sex drive, etc.  I was motivated to nourish my children to give them the best fighting chance.  I wanted to teach them what it meant to eat and nourish the body with real, whole foods, the foods God intended them to eat.  So that's what got me going.  And here's how I did it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Starting the journey

How it all began
Okay folks, you're in for a real treat.  I have somewhat of an announcement to make.  Here it is......making dinner doesn't much.  You may wonder what has brought on this sudden change when making dinner has sucked for me ever since I began cooking 13 years ago.  Well let me just tell you that I have turned over a new leaf.  In fact I feel like a totally different person.  I do things completely different than I used to. 

Let me explain how it all started.  It all began four months ago, the first week of June 2010, when I was at home minding my own business when I suddenly felt compelled to go to Costco and buy a book.  I was reading an article about Tosca Reno in the Costco Connection magazine when it suddenly dawn on me that I needed her new book called Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook.   Call it divine inspiration (that's what I call it) or call it whatever you like, but I went to Costco and made one purchase.  It wasn't Tosca Reno's cookbook (they didn't have it in stock yet) but I didn't want to walk out empty-handed since I had felt prompted to go.  I picked up Jillian Michael's book called "Master Your Metabolism."  I'd never heard of it, but what the heck,  I'd never heard of Tosca Reno either and never heard the term "eating clean."  I was completely oblivious (probably because I don't watch Oprah or any TV or read magazines).  I just had a feeling I needed that book.

Little did I know the book I was buying would change my life and the life of my family.  Everything I read in her book just made sense to me.  Even though it all made sense to me it was all completely NEW to me.  The concepts and principles about how our body functions on hormones and WHY healthy nutrition is so important and HOW it is bad for us was unlike anything I had ever read or heard before.  I usually don't do anything unless I know WHY I have to do it.    This is why geometry was so difficulty for me in high school.  Now WHY do I need to know this?  How is this supposed to help me in life??  Because my teacher never provided me with an answer, I continued to struggle.

Jillian taught me, thoroughly taught me, why it is so important to be free of additives, free of preservatives, free of artificial flavors and colors, free of chemicals, free of pesticides, etc.  It's not a good idea just because it's a good idea.  It's vitally important to our physical health and mental health.  It's vital to our well-being.  That stuff will absolutely kill us.  And before we die from it first it makes us sick.  Jillian explains how that happens in her book.   How and why it leads to various cancers, autoimmune diseases, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, chronic fatigue, etc, etc, etc.  Who wants all that crap and who doesn't want to be well?  Who doesn't want their children to be well?

After I finished reading her book I got a little frustrated that I didn't know any of this information before reading her book.  Why didn't I know all of this before?   I think because the way I was raised and the world that I've always lived in has pushed me away to something unnatural without me even knowing it was unnatural for me.  Society led me to believe that the stuff you can buy from the grocery store is what you eat.  You buy it and take it home and eat it.  It was that simple.  What I didn't realize what that it was UNNATURAL, UNHEALTHY, and WRONG on so many levels.

I have many, many ideas why this has happened.  (Remember I always wonder why about everything.  That's part of why I am so annoying to be around).  I won't get into that now.  Maybe another post.   Once I had a foundation about why I should eat healthy foods I was motivated to make a change.    More about my journey later. . .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maybe I'm not cut out for steel cut oats

If you're thinking I'm a great cook now that I'm cooking more often you are dead wrong.  Actually it was me who was almost dead.  I nearly burned down the house with what happened last week.  I burned my steel cut oats on Saturday morning, Sunday morning, and yes, Monday morning.  Three days in a row.  Imagine.....thick smoke in the house, a blackend, ruined pan, a horrible smell that doesn't go away even with the windows open, and no breakfast. 

Why did you keep burning them day after day you wonder?  Because after I did it the first time I thought there was no way I could do that again.  And then after I did it a second time I thought now there's really no way I could possibly burn it two days in a row.  Then after I burned it the second time I thought surely there is no way I could possibly burn it three days in a row.  The third day was actually the worst. 

Why do you burn your oatmeal day after day you wonder?  Because oatmeal takes ten minutes to cook on the stove and I can't stand to be in the kitchen that long.  Besides, my kids have me running all over the house getting them clothes, socks, shoes, coats, backpacks, wiping their bottoms, and putting toothpaste on their toothbrushes.  So you see there's not time to watch oatmeal cook.  I always walk away.  And because I have absolutely no memory these days (seriously it's as bad as my sisters was when she was in the hospital, now that's saying something).  Anyway, being smart, well kinda smart, I set the timer on the third try so when I walked away from the oatmeal I would be reminded by the timer to take the oatmeal off the stove.  The problem is I set the time on the timer but forget to push start.

You can put me away now.  I'm ready to sign the papers.   Do you think they have oatmeal in the hospital?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Just passing along for a friend of mine.  It's a  chance to earn free food credits from a new company called E Foods Global.  Check out the link if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just say no to couponing

Have you ever noticed what you can buy with a coupon?  Crap.  That's what.
So just say no to couponing and don't do it.  Don't buy the crap that doesn't nourish your mind and body.  There's nothing in there but chemicals.  That's why they sell it to you for next to nothing.  It's not food.  Nobody planted it, grew it, or harvested it.  If it doesn't have a mother or come from the ground don't eat it.  Period.

Do you really need 20 boxes of brownies?

Caution : Major road changes ahead

This blog is about to undergo a major transformation.  Don't get me wrong, making dinner still sucks, that much is true.  It just sucks in a different way now that I've discovered healthy cooking.  When I cook dinner for my family now I feel a real satisfaction and joy that I have fed them something other than crap.  By "crap" I mean processed foods.  I call them all crap.  Some people all them "anti-foods" but I prefer the term "crap."  That's what I used to feed my family and I am ashamed.  So ashamed.  I cringe when I think of all the goldfish crackers I let my kids eat.  Ahhh!  Now that I know what that crap does to you I am freaked.

But like Dr. Phil always says, "When you know better you do better."  And I know better now.  But believe me the process of making dinner still sucks.  It takes forever and you have to be totally organized.  You have to make everything fresh and you have to meal plan and grocery shop like every other day.

Stay tuned and I'll try and keep you up to date on this crazy journey I'm on.