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Friday Favorites: Journey to Real Food

eating real food

“Friday Favorites” features my favorite great ideas/recipes/etc., from across the giant world wide webs.

eating real food

When you start really trying to ditch processed foods, you start having to think a lot more about everything you put in your body. As I’ve evaluated what we’re eating now and what we need to cut out, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about food in general–where our food comes from and what it means to eat “real” food.

I find myself looking at “food” items in the grocery store and thinking about what they really “are.” Because food, essentially, as it works according to the food chain we all learned back in fourth grade science, should be something that was once living. So, I stand in line at the grocery store checkout and I look at the candy bar rack and wonder, what was once living in a pack of Mentos? Looking at the ingredients list, the only “once living” items on the list are sugar and coconut oil. That’s not enough to count as “food” for me any more. It’s shocking to me now how totally oblivious I have been to the fact that much of what I put in my body isn’t really food.

Or wasn’t food. That’s all changing now. It’s a learning process, and it definitely takes planning to make this transition happen, simply because “real” food is not as readily available as the pretend kind. Fortunately, I’ve quickly learned that the “real food” movement (sad that there has to be a movement in support of “real” food, right? Shouldn’t that be a given?) is growing quickly, and there are lots of online resources out there to help navigate the waters of eating naturally in a too-processed, too-busy world.

One of my favorite new websites is 100DaysofRealFood. What I like most about it is that the tips/recipes/ingredients are very realistic and doable for the average person or family. I live in a small town–there’s no Whole Foods right around the corner, so exotic, hard-to-find ingredients aren’t helpful for me. And I work full-time, so I need recipes that are realistic to be able to come home after work and cook. This site offers a workable approach to real food.

At this point, I’m not completely cutting out refined sugar and flour, but I am trying to significantly reduce the amount we eat. The Natural Sweet Recipes blog caters to my inner sweet tooth with recipes that are free of refined sugar. Be aware, though, many of the recipes do have some of those hard-to-find ingredients I referred to earlier.

Since we are cutting back on white flour, we’re experimenting with some new whole grains. Quinoa has been a hit in our house, particularly in these quinoa pancakes from Martha Stewart, which are deliciously hearty, but at the same time have a wonderful light, airy texture (tip–soy milk works fine in these, and whether you use dairy milk or a substitute, you’ll probably need to add a little more than what the recipes calls for). The Whole Grains Council offers lots of resources for learning to cook with whole grains, from recipes to this A-to-Z guide to understand the many different types of whole grains, including those funny-sounding ingredients in recipes that you don’t recognize (think amaranth). The Kitchn online magazine also has great resources to help you enjoy whole grains.

Where are you on the processed food/real food spectrum? Are you trying to swing over to the real foods side? What challenges do you face in eating “real” foods? What are your favorite natural food resources?

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Balance!!! Where’s my $^@*% balance?!?1?

Yep, there are definitely some weeds growing in the zen garden. Which is why I’ve been negligent about posting. Here’s the quick synopsis:

  • I’ve been working slowly to eliminate as many highly-processed foods from our diet as possible (ya know, balancing the desire not to have chemicals I can’t pronounce going through my digestive system with the fact that I live in a small town with no Whole Foods and the fact that the Kiddo is a bit of a picky eater with an affection for boxed macaroni and cheese). That whole effort got fast-forwarded pretty quickly, though, when the Guy finally went to see a headache specialist for his migraines, and was ordered on a diet that restricts pretty much all processed foods. So, we’ve been adjusting, so to speak.
  • While I’d love for this blog to be my full-time job, it’s not. I have an actual, real, 40-hour-a-week (or more) job to pay the bills. And, for family reasons, the Guy and I are looking to move about two hours from our current home, so I’m job hunting. Which is like a full-time job in and of itself. A really depressing full-time job, in this economy. And I actually had an interview a couple weeks ago. An all-freakin’-day-long interview, which took lots of prep. And got me exactly zero job offers (woo-hoo for the internal candidate who did get it–please insert sarcasm).
  • A few days after my interview, the Guy, Kiddo and I took off for a week-long vacation to visit family. And we all know vacations are anything but restful. So we got back five days ago and I just now have the energy to do anything productive. Ok, not true–I did quite a bit of job hunting the past two days, after learning I didn’t get the other job.

Oh, and mixed in to all of that were several other chaotic incidents that I won’t bore you with by sharing the details. Ok, so I’m a little grumpy. I’m a little off my zen. And I’m a very slack blogger. But I’m getting back to the center. I promise. I went running this morning for the first time in months, and it felt great. I am pledging to go at least two more times this week. And, I promise, I will be posting again. Because I have lots of stuff I want to share! Believe it or not, I even have several draft of posts that are half or nearly complete that I just need to wrap up and hit the magical “publish” button, and then, sha-zam! New post!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quick recipe I whipped up for a Fourth of July potluck while we were on vacay. It was a spur of the moment thing, so I didn’t think to take photos, but here you go. This makes for a great dessert, and it’s low in fat and sugar.

Star-Spangled Fruit Tart
(makes 2)

  • 2 graham cracker pie crusts (here’s a recipe┬áif you’d like to make your own)
  • 2 cups fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut into small pieces, or 1 cup red raspberries
  • 1 cup blueberries

Blend yogurt, cream cheese, honey, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Arrange banana slices in a single layer along bottom of pie crust. Pour half of yogurt/cream cheese mixture into each crust. Use a spatula to smooth out the yogurt mixture. Arrange blueberries and strawberries or red raspberries in single layer on top of yogurt mixture. If you want to get extra fancy/patriotic, lay out blueberries in the shape of a star and fill in the remaining space with strawberries.