Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Real Food Challenge

For as long as we have been married our monthly budget has always been $400. That $400 includes everything from food, toiletries, clothing, medicine and even eating out (which we rarely do). But with 2 kids now and the ever-increasing food prices, I found myself shopping more and more for the cheap stuff. And we all know that cheaper isn't always better. I started to seriously evaluate our food consumption, and even though I felt like I was choosing the healthier alternatives, I was still not pleased with what I saw.

I came across this amazing blog (100 Days of Real Food) a while back and decided that my family was going to take "The Pledge". I wouldn't say that we eat bad... but we don't really eat the best either. There is always room for improvement! :) The pledge RULES can also be found on the blog but I am also writing them here. Most of these things we've already cut out of our diets but we wanted to take it a bit farther... So here it is; The Challenge:

  1. No Refined Grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat... not just "wheat")
  2. No Refined Sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial stuff like Splenda.
  3. Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label.
  4. No deep fried foods
  5. No "Fast Food"
So what CAN we eat instead? A whole lot of healthy and natural food! I think these rules will be much easier to follow. My family doesn't mind fruits and veggies one bit!
  1. Whole Foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.
  2. Lots of Fruits and Vegetables (We will be shopping more at the Local Farmers Market)
  3. Dairy Products like milk, yogurt, eggs and cheese.
  4. 100% Whole Wheat and Whole Grains for Bread, Tortillas and Wraps
  5. Seafood (wild caught over farm raised)
  6. Lean meats such as Pork, Beef and Chicken (in moderation)
  7. Beverages limited to Water, Milk, All-Natural Juices and Naturally Sweetened Coffee & Tea. Yes, soda is out of the question. :(
  8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and homemade popcorn.
  9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation.
Now that we set the ground rules... it was time to get started. First I had to STOP buying some of the processed boxed foods that I had become so accustomed to buying because they were cheap and easy. Instead, I started shopping weekly... making sure that I bought plenty of fruits and veggies for our family to munch on. Here are just a few of the alterations that we have made:

  • Instead of stocking up on jars and cans of veggies, sauces, mixes and fruits, we buy fresh or frozen produce. I make my own sauces, dips and dressings.
  • Instead of store-bought cereals we make homemade granola and oatmeal.
  • Instead of boxed crackers and chips we make homemade chips and popcorn.
  • Instead of packaged fruit snacks we cut up apples, bananas and oranges. Or we make our own homemade fruit leathers and dried fruit with our dehydrator.
  • Instead of flavored yogurt we mix a little honey or all-fruit spread with plain, all-natural, unsweetened yogurt.
  • Instead of buying fancy creamers (which really isn't cream at all), I now sweeten my coffee with milk or half-and-half and honey.
  • I also do no buy "fat-free", "low-fat" or "light" foods. These versions are NOT better for you. The mayo, the creamers, the butter, the syrup... you name it. These so called "healthy alternatives" don't even contain any of the original ingredients. In fact, they are most likely just a chemically created imitation full of hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. Yuck! I say, go for the good stuff... the REAL stuff!

I'd love to hear what healthy decisions you've made for your family this year?

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