Friday, March 30, 2012

How I Shop and Prepare Food For My Family

A fruit smoothie my son prepared
Before I begin this post I would like to share some information regarding gluten free diets.  Not all gluten free products are beneficial.  Some just aren't good for you.  How on earth do you navigate through all the products and find what's healthful?  In response to this question, nutritionist Michelle Ross has shared two great sites with me to pass along to you.  Check them out when you can!  The Gluten Free Mall is a good site as well as Shiloh Farms.  There are many companies that label their foods as healthful which really aren't.  Eating raw is the easiest way to avoid harmful food products because there is zero to minimal processing.  But most of us have families who don't want to go completely or mostly raw.  This is a simple guideline I use when I shop and prepare food for my family.

1. Cook from scratch.
I know this is a challenge in such a busy day and age.  However, try to find quick and simple recipes like one dish meals to prepare.   This is the best way to avoid harmful chemicals and products that are oxidized from long storage time.  I prepare a salad every evening for dinner.  I always have fresh sprouts on hand and toss them into my salads.  Find organic salads that are already cut up like broccoli slaw.  It makes the process a whole lot faster.

2. Think whole grain.
Look for 100% whole grain.  Gluten free products are not always whole grain.  Nothing constipates faster than flours that have been stripped of their fiber.  It's like having glue paste pass through your gut.  I look for whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, etc.

3. Read labels.
I am not a chemist!  I look for words that are understandable.  If there are ingredients that I just don't understand, I avoid them.  I love it when I find products like Larabar that have just a few ingredients like dates, nuts, fruit, done!  I am wary of the term "natural flavors."  Huh?!  Can't they list what the natural flavors are?  So many bad ingredients are masked and passed on to unsuspecting customers this way. The red flag also goes up when I read "All Natural."  Never trust the manufacturers unless they have proven to you that they are committed to making healthful products.  Always, always, always read labels! Here is an article that goes into further detail about what we should be looking for when reading labels.

4. Buy organic and GMO free.
I buy nacho chips for my family to enjoy with guacamole, salsa or hummus dips.  I don't make absolutely everything from scratch (like pastas and chips). But when I do buy prepared foods, I safeguard my family from garbage like GMO's when I buy organic.  I'm still amazed at how our government has facilitated the spread of GMO's with businesses like Monsanto.  It is horribly despicable in my opinion!

5. Eat as much raw food as possible.
Ever since my kids were little and they would refuse to eat my salads, I would require them to take at least two bites.  After they had two bites, I would let them move on to the rest of their meal.  Over time, because of the little bit I would require them to eat, they got used to the raw foods I offered them.  Although I still have to prod them along, they do eat their salads.  Shockingly enough, they also eat sprouts without me asking them to!

6. Skip the sweets and junk food and make your own treats!
I'm the wicked witch of the health food world!  It busts me up laughing ,when my kids' friend comes over to play and he looks suspiciously at the food or juice I prepare.  GREEN SMOOTHIES!  VEGGIE JUICES!  Just watch me grow a wart on my nose and wring my bony hands!  I keep a basket full of fruit for my kids.  If they are hungry, they snack on fruit or toast with organic jam.  They munch on raw nuts or spread peanut butter on apples or bananas.  They still resist me completely cutting out peanut butter from their diet - I prefer almond butter.  Although I believe avoiding all animal products is absolute best, my son loves eggs on occasion, so I buy them for him - organic and cage free.  (Free range from a local farm is best.)  I encourage them to make their own smoothies - something they have taken to with much excitement.  I make raw desserts, fruit smoothies, chocolate smoothies, fresh popcorn (Avoid microwave popcorn like the plague! I know someone who works for a food plant and knows about the toxic stuff that goes in it!) and treats that are much better for them.  Although I do not drink orange juice, I buy it for my kids.  It helps them to down my brew, I mean veggie juices, when mixed in ...  I'll get you, my pretty!

7. Keep soy products to a minimum.
Soy milk and other soy products have been marketed as healthful.  I'm not so sure that they are.  Read this article if you have the time.  Although I do use some soy products, I try to keep them to a minimum.  We drink almond, coconut or organic rice milk.  However, I do like to use soy milk when I make potato soup because it is thicker. 

Does my family eat perfectly?  Absolutely not!  I give my kids free reign when we leave the house.  It is my biggest fear that my kids will resent this way of eating when they become adults and throw it all out the window. So when they go to a party, they make their own choices.  They can tell the difference in how they feel when they come home with a stuffy nose or when they get sick.   Lately, however, even when they eat foods at church potlucks or birthday parties, their immune systems have been pretty strong.  They haven't gotten sick in a long while.  I encourage my kids to watch health documentaries with me.  I want them to understand why this way of living and eating is so important to me.  Although my son may not be willing to admit it, I think the message may be sinking in.

Enjoy the Journey!