It’s been interesting to watch the trend for healthy living come “in” and how this is affecting the way people eat and cook. There are people on gluten-free diets. Most recently, the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating has spread like wildfire, and suddenly everyone is eating “S”, “E”, and “FP” meals and substituting ingredients and figuring out what not to eat with what. I don’t pretend to understand it all — my knowledge is rather limited at this point, but it seems like it’s working for alot of people.
I’m most definitely not the expert on healthy living, but there are certain things I’m trying to improve and implement into our eating habits and the way I cook, to improve our food intake. The more you study and learn about processed and GMO foods, the more you want to eat as healthily (is that a word?) as you can. The last time we went to a farm conference and heard a speaker on GMO foods — well, we came home and ate all veggies from the garden for supper. (Haha!) [And please don’t worry about me being a food snob if you’re ever feeding me a meal — I’m not. :)] Obviously, one cannot live in fear of what you’re eating, but I believe in being aware and well informed. We can make good choices about the food we put into our bodies.
So what do we do, practically?
1. We grow as many of our own vegetables as we can. Potatoes, corn, broccoli, peppers, green beans, peas, tomatoes, beets, onions, carrots, squash, pumpkins, zucchini, herbs, apples, etc. I love being able to run out to the garden or the freezer or my canning cupboard with the confidence that we grew this ourselves.
2. I cook only with good fats — olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. One of the things I did before we got married was invest in a 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil — well actually, my brothers graciously paid for it as a gift. It’s a little challenging at times to convert recipes that call for shortening, but for the most part it’s not hard to sub with good oils. (Cookies being my biggest frustration) I love being able to fry things in coconut oil and know that we’ll be putting good fats into our body. I also love pie crusts made out of butter/coconut oil — mmm, so good.
3. I try to buy organic food as much as I can. Living in the area that I do, this is easier to do than in some places. We have lots of discount grocery stores around that will happen to have organic food at any given time — I’ve found organic black beans, pinto beans, butter, chicken broth, beef broth, salad mix, lemon juice, cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream and so on. There’s also a produce sale that a lady holds in her garage every Wednesday — I have to drive half an hour to get there and you never know what you’ll find from week to week, but often it’s worth it. I’ve found organic peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, broccoli and much more. Even if the food isn’t organic, it’s still priced great and so worth the drive. I usually leave with a big box and will have spent maybe $7-$9. It’s especially fun to go in the off-season for growing.
4. I try to use as little processed food as possible, and make as many things from scratch that I can. Canned cream soups, packaged mixes, velveeta cheese, etc. are out. I am not totally a purist in this area — I still will use things sometimes, but I try to improvise or make my own as much as I can. I make my own bread, tortillas, and get homemade yogurt from my sister-in-law. We buy organic raw milk from an Amish farm.
All that said, there are so many areas I have lots to learn in. I haven’t made the switch from sugar to all the substitutes out there yet. (Other than using honey in my bread) There are so many options out there, that it feels a tad overwhelming. I’d love to own a grain mill and be able to grind my own flour out of wheat grown on the farm. Also, we’re in the process of finding good meat sources — I recently found a place to get organic non-GMO chickens, and ordered 10 whole chickens to pick up next week. I’m not very fond of cutting up chickens, but it will be worth it in the end. Still working on a place to get good grass-fed beef/burger. Hopefully we’ll have deer meat in our freezer someday soon!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this. Healthy food can taste really good. I used to have this negative image in my mind of healthy food — usually it didn’t taste that great, mostly just healthy. So I am on a mission to cook as healthy as I can and make it taste as good as I can.
Any advice or experience you have to share with me on my healthy cooking journey?
P.S. I still like my sugar-laden cookies. 😉