I'll be the first to tell you that we aren't perfect real foodies. At our house, we have a blend of good, better and best with a dash of bad thrown in. I do my best to provide organic fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats and organic grains, but let's be realistic. I have a lot of mouths to feed. My kids have legendary appetites. We have a food budget. Sometimes I think that all the food gurus in the world are rich, childless and their jobs don't require them to actually show up. They can spend untold hours each day just preparing food. It all looks marvelous, but I don't know how we would keep up. We do what we can and we make things work.
Another thing. I don't force my kids to eat perfectly when we are out and about. I figure that what I feed them at home will put some life in them, but the stress of trying to make my teens eat perfect food when they're hanging out with their friends would take the life right out of me. I do my best to feed my family yummy food that they will crave while they are home, and let them eat whatever they want when they are out. It seems to be working. At least some of my kids vastly prefer my cooking over McDonalds. My three year old is still a work in progress...
For drinks, we drink mostly water, kombucha and water kefir. And tea -- anyone who knows me knows I love hot tea. My tea is usually herbal or rooibos, so no caffeine, and when I want coffee, I drink Dandy Blend instead. It is made from dandelion roots and other plants. It tastes surprisingly like coffee, but without the caffeine or weird chemicals used to decaffeinate. Works for me.
Now that all the disclaimers, etc. are out of the way, let's look at the four main times we eat:
For my 3 year old: She devours the fresh, whole yogurt I make. If I have it made, which I usually do, this is what she eats. Often, she eats this while I prepare everyone else's breakfast, then she eats some of that, too. I told you my kids have big appetites.
For me: My breakfast is kind of like food insurance to me. I pack tons of focused nutrition into my breakfast. (By focused, I mean that I tailor this to my own body and my own personal needs. You would need to do your own research and tailor this to your own needs.) No matter how the rest of my day goes, I know I got some nourishing vitamins and minerals in my system first thing. I do this by making myself a breakfast smoothie. You could make yours any way you like, but I will tell you what I put in mine. Prepare to be grossed out. But it tastes good -- truly, it does.
Angela's Typical Breakfast Smoothie: 1/4-1/2 cup raw milk or coconut milk 1 whole carrot with peel (this helps rid the body of excess estrogen, btw. I never miss my daily carrot.) 1 raw egg(yeah, I know. Salmonella, yada, yada. Do your own research and make your own choices. You take a risk if you walk out your front door. Actually, you take a risk if you stay inside, too. This is a calculated risk that I take -- same with the raw milk, for that matter. You should eat what you can eat in good faith, not what I can eat in good faith, m'kay?) 1-1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries (or blueberries, or raspberries) Sea Salt(I use about 1/2 tsp. That would be too much for a lot of people, but I eat almost no processed food, so I only get the sodium I add to my food or what's in it naturally. Sometimes my body gets too low and I feel terrible. When I make sure to add enough salt to my food, I feel much better. If you eat processed food, definitely don't put that much in.) Ceylon Cinnamon to taste (This is the real stuff. The cassia cinnamon at the grocery store isn't actually cinnamon and can be toxic in large amounts, but ceylon has a lot of health benefits. I search out the ceylon, because we like a lot of cinnamon around here.) Real Vanilla to taste Stevia (no additives, just natural stevia) to taste Enough filtered water to bring things to the right consistency. Sometimes I will add 1/2 a banana if I'm feeling extra hungry.
Real Food Supplements: I don't use chemically derived supplements because our bodies don't recognize them as food, so it isn't nearly as effective. Most of my supplements are in powdered form, so they blend in well and I can't taste them over the other flavors in my smoothie. Here's a list of what I currently put in my smoothie: Swanson Grass-fed Whey Protein (it only has whey and vanilla in the ingredients. It is not the protein powder you usually see with all the additives. I seem to have a difficult time getting enough protein, so I sometimes add this), Great Lakes Unflavored Beef Gelatin (this is the real stuff, not the jello stuff and is fabulous for your joints, digestion and lots of things), Desiccated Beef Liver (from Argentina where all the beef is organic and grass-fed. Organ meats are super high in Vitamins A&D and lots of other nutrients. They are very healing. Trouble is, I don't really like the taste of liver. I hide it in my smoothie. I'm sneaky that way.), Magnesium (seems like I have a lot of trouble getting enough of this vital nutrient), Vitex (helps me keep my lovely hormones, well, lovely), Probiotics, because if your gut ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
I also take a real food multi-vitamin and Omega 3's, but I take them separately because they don't work well in my smoothie. This is not a low calorie smoothie, but those nutrients really help my energy levels throughout the day.
Lunch: For my family: I try to plan enough when I'm cooking dinner to provide leftovers for lunches. When I manage to keep the hungry hoard from demolishing everything I've cooked for dinner, that's what I serve for lunches, too. If things work really well, I will have several leftovers choices, so they aren't eating the same thing for lunch that they had for dinner the night before. I try to stagger those leftovers to prevent boredom. If my family inhaled all the dinner food (which happens a lot, even with planning), then often I give them deli meat with no weird additives, ingredients or anything. Boar's Head is one good choice. It isn't grass-fed, but it's better than some of the alternatives. Another better but not best choice is Hormel Naturals. (Edit: I just realized this morning that Hormel Naturals has Carrageenan added. Errgg. This article tells a bit about why that isn't a good thing. Bottom line, stay away from all additives, even the so called healthy ones.) Otherwise, you can raise your own hog, butcher it, smoke it, slice it and serve it. But that might take too long for lunch.
Sometimes I will make soup and serve it with homemade, freshly ground whole grain breads. Crockpot meals are great for lunches, too. I can pop the ingredients in at breakfast time, teach school and it's piping hot and ready to go at lunch time.
For me: I usually work straight through my lunches. It's the one time when everyone is busy chewing instead of asking me questions, so I can concentrate for a few minutes. I slap my lunches together pretty quickly. Usually I have a salad topped with homemade salad dressing (made with healthy fats, homegrown herbs and apple cider vinegar with the mother) or a green smoothie and a piece or two of deli meat for protein. If I'm extra hungry, I will have a piece of sourdough bread.
Do you see a theme here? One of the ways I make sure my family get's enough calories is by serving them that wholesome bread with good, real butter. It keeps their calories up, adds some necessary fat into their diets and is something we always have on hand. If you're wondering why I need to add fat to their diets, you are probably thinking in terms of the Standard American Diet, which is loaded with processed sodium and bad fats. When you cut out all the processed food and make everything yourself, your total fat content lowers, but the healthful benefit of those fats elevates. You have far less sodium in your diet, too. So you really need to salt to taste, or you won't get enough. Getting off processed foods changes everything.
One of the ways I make sure I don't get too many calories is by being careful about how much and what kind of bread I consume. Almost always, the bread I eat is Traditional Sourdough Bread or Honey Molasses Sourdough Bread. It has a long soak time, which neutralizes a great deal of the gluten and makes it easier to digest. Still, I try not to eat more than a piece each day. It's really yummy, though, and sometimes I eat way more than I should. Sigh...
Dinner: For my family: Oh wow. Dinner. We have such a variety, that it is hard to even tell you what we eat for dinner. I make sure our dinners have a protein, like chicken, salmon, or grass-fed beef, lots of veggies (I organically grow as many of those veggies as I possibly can) and a starch -- often it's, you guessed it, bread. Or sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, or very rarely, pasta. I get lots of recipes from the Sue Gregg Dinners cookbook and other recipes that I have collected over the years. The Grocery Shrink Plus meal program is also a source, although I sometimes need to "health" them up a bit. They are always yummy, though.
For Me: I eat what my family eats, although I may go very light on or entirely skip the starch. I try to load my plate as follows: Half the plate is veggies, 1/4 is protein, and if I'm eating the starch, 1/4 the plate is starch. That gives me an easy visual idea of what I need to eat.
Snacks/Desserts: Snacks: This another way I get enough calories into my kids. My kids usually end up eating a snack between breakfast and lunch and another between lunch and dinner. Did I mention that my kids have healthy appetites? And that they are skinny anyway? I need to bottle up whatever they have going on in their metabolism and market it as a diet pill, but I digress...
I try to make snacks that include a protein, especially if there is going to be honey or other sweeteners. Protein helps stabilize the blood sugar levels in the body. Nut butters and dairy are easy proteins to add to desserts and snacks. Even when I'm making something "bad" I try to include some good nutrition in there.
Some easy, go-to recipes are found in my 6 Super Quick, Sorta Healthy Kid Snacks post, like peanut butter caramel popcorn, peanut butter balls, and German Chocolate Fudge Bites. Can you tell we have a tribe of sweet teeth around here?
Another great snack is homemade yogurt sweetened with honey, maple syrup or unrefined evaporated cane juice sugar (sweetened with stevia, for me) and fruit. Or fruit with cheese or nuts.
A good rule of thumb is "protein and produce". Protein pared with fruits or vegetables will fuel your body without sticking to your hips like chips and breads will.
For me: Nearly everything I've mentioned would be fine for me to eat in moderation, but I need to be careful about how much and how often. These are mostly healthy, but all those nuts can really add on the calories, which I don't need. If I would just give up the snacks, I would be thinner. Double sigh...
Desserts: When making desserts, often I will make pies, cobblers or puddings. I can sneak some nutrition in there with fruits and/or dairy. Most of my cookies even include a nut butter, and are whole grain with eggs and dairy. The sweetener is all natural, too. As for me, usually I skip eating the desserts or just take a nibble. Moderation, moderation, moderation. (Or so I tell myself.)
Sometimes, though, Mama has just got to have some chocolate. When that happens, I make myself some Coconut Freezer Fudge. It's kind of like an Almond Joy, and the best part? It's actually good for you. Coconut oil and coconut meat are wonderful for your thyroid and endocrine system, and the coconut oil is a medium chain fat. Translated, that means that it doesn't react in your body like regular fats. Many people believe you can actually lose weight simply by switching to extra virgin coconut oil. Plus there are antioxidants in the cocoa, minerals in the sea salt, and vitamins and enzymes in the honey. And it's super easy to whip up. Try keeping some in the freezer to ward off the next chocolate attack.
Angela's Coconut Freezer Fudge Mix until smooth: 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted at a very low heat 1/2 cup cocoa powder 1/8 cup raw honey (or stevia if you like, or part honey, part stevia) 1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt
Add the following ingredients, and mix until smooth and slightly thickened: dash of real vanilla 1/2-3/4 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut meat
If it isn't sweet enough, you can add more honey or stevia. Pour into a small loaf pan lined with wax paper. Pop it into the freezer and allow to harden for 20-30 minutes. Cut into small squares. (If you forget and it gets hard enough to be difficult to cut, just break it into pieces. I've never known a chocolate-starved mama to quibble about shape.) Store in the freezer. There now. You have chocolate that doesn't contain endocrine disrupting soy products, uses an oil that promotes thyroid health, and has lots of antioxidants. Don't you feel better about your chocolate binge now?
------ I know that I haven't begun to scratch the surface of real food eating and I am sure I am forgetting all kinds of things. But then, this is a beginner's guide, not a college graduate course. If you have questions, or I haven't been clear enough, ask me in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.
Have a great day!
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