Real Food (Kind Of) - Abbey's Road Blog at - 332212

Abbey's Road

Real Food (Kind of) 
Aug. 28, 2014 1:43 pm 
Updated: Sep. 1, 2014 11:57 am
About a year ago I was browsing the web for recipes and came across the site 100 Days of Real Food.  At the point I saw this, my kitchen was very much like most people in the country.  There were weeks (sometimes months) I relied on frozen meals, little debbies, Gardettos and canned soup because I was so run down from all the over time I was working to cook a real meal.

I'm in my mid-twenties and had the stomach for it, but as I'm inching closer to my thirties I'm becoming increasingly aware that my body can't thrive on junk food anymore.  My husband agreed with me to take their 10 Day Pledge and I'm sharing what we've learned from this. 

All I can say is, it was a struggle.  Not because we were craving junk food, but because I was craving convenience and he was wanting some relief for his wallet!  It was expensive, time consuming but mostly...unrealistic.  Sure, if you are a SAHM with personal assistants and an unlimited budget it would be easy.  But how many of us have that?  She does tout the fact that once in a while she goes back to "having a grocery budget" just for kicks to see if she can make it work.  But for most of us in the real world, a grocery budget is a reality.

Beside the fact that whole, real foods are more costly, it was the fact that I live in Cedar Rapids, IA and nobody eats like this here.  Organic, natural, unprocessed foods were very sparse in my city.  I had to travel to Iowa City to shop at New Pioneer Co-Op.  I tried a couple stores she recommended, such as Great Harvest Bread Company, where one loaf of bread cost me $6.40.

Once I carefully planned and purchased my groceries and made the trip back home, I put together our meals.  My husband ate a lot of organic apple and brie grilled cheeses and organic beef sticks that week because that was all I had time for.  I mostly ate caprese and drank alot of sun tea.  Neither of us joined our Friday night poker friends in pizza and drinks.  At the end of the 10 days, we decided this lifestyle was not for us, but I was still left with a desire to change my current eating habits.

After our trial run, and throughout this past year, I've been over hauling my kitchen and swapping out a few things at a time.  I disposed of my white rice, mashed potato flakes, and Knorr pasta sides and in their place I now have a canister of each: pearl barley, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, rolled oats and steel cut oats.  All organic, I buy them from bulk bins as I need them.  Next, I swapped out my white all-purpose flour for Ultragrain Flour.  This flour can be swapped 1-1 in any recipe calling for white AP flour.  One thing I stay true to is organic, 1-ingredient (whole wheat) pastas.  I swapped out all my white pastas for this. 

I did eventually find a terrific local bread shop where I can buy a Heritage Wheat Bread when I don't have time to make my own bread.  I don't buy processed croutons or bread crumbs anymore, either! At the end of each week, I stale whatever bread I have leftover to make my own bread crumbs.  Sometimes I buy a small boule of this bread the next day (30% off), to make home made croutons.  I buy dried beans in bulk and make my own.

I stopped buying chicken & beef stock, and instead make my own and freeze.  I also make my own taco sauce, > pasta sauce, Alfredo sauce, > pizza sauce and Queso.  I make and freeze my own pizza dough.  We eat in-season fruits and veggies more often.  What we don't eat gets blanched and frozen.  I also stopped eating ground beef...a staple for us.  Instead, I make home-made baked goods and trade my grandpa for his ground venison (TRUE grass-fed meat!).  Sometimes he'll give me 10 lbs if I promise to bring him a batch of Beef and Bean Chimichangas made from one of those pounds of meat. 

These are only a few changes I made that I can think of off the top of my head.  This is realistic for me and making these changes one at a time has helped me to eat healthier.  It's not hard work.  Contrary to what it seems, I don't spend a ton of time in my kitchen prepping and doing all of this.  I do this because I want to, not because I feel like I need to live up to a ridiculous standard of clean eating.

The changes I made have led to many health benefits.  I was diagnosed with insulin resistance a few years ago, and this year after changing my diet my insulin levels were perfectly normal at my doctor visit last month.  My husband doesn't get indigestion like he used.  We don't go through a bottle of Tums a week fact I don't remember the last time I bought them.

We don't follow all their rules but we do the best we can.  I'm in a love-hate relationship with this person because she does have many great ideas and tips, but her reality is not the reality of most.  She's helped make some excellent changes in my life.  We still eat fast food when we're pressed for time, we eat pizza and drink on Fridays.  Sometimes convenience wins for us.  But, I would say we are part of a real food lifestyle (kind of). 
Aug. 28, 2014 2:13 pm
Abbey, I am impressed! You are making wise changes, little steps and a bit at a time. Quite honestly, I don't think it is absolutely necessary to adopt all of their rules all of the time. There is joy to be had in all food. I made a big pot of mashed potatoes today for my little girl who just had her wisdom teeth extracted. It is comforting for her and easy to eat. I bought pudding and ice cream too. I won't pretend that my wife and I won't have any of those potatoes either! My wife is from Marion, by the way. You are living in a nice area. Here's the way I am approaching things: I have not stopped eating any of my favorite foods. I have cut back on portions, though that is my greatest struggle. I have potatoes, white rice (basmati, arboreo, and jasmine) less often and have been playing around with whole grain mixes. I can't abide by whole grain pasta, so I just don't eat it as often as I want to. I am making a conscious effort at increasing the servings of veg and fruit we eat each day. I don't particularly care if it is organic as long as it is local, which usually means that it's organic. If I can grow it myself, I do. I just heard that the city I live in might let home owners have up to 7 chickens (hens only) on their property for eggs/meat. I am thinking about that. Rabbits would be a good source of meat as well. But the biggest thing I believe in is not sweating the details. If I have a DQ Blizzard today, I eat better tomorrow. If I take my beautiful bride out for a meal, we enjoy it and each other and then don't go out again for a while. I don't have personal assistants, but I have been a SAHD for about 17 years. You are right that the time commitment is big, and it would be a big help to me if I were a well organized person, but I'm not. Like you said, we do what we can! Good luck to you and yours!
Aug. 28, 2014 2:21 pm
BTW, I think Jenny at The Nourished Kitchen might have some tips on how to transition to real foods. Maybe you can find some useful info there you can adapt to your lifestyle.
Aug. 28, 2014 3:17 pm
Thanks, Doc! It's great to make these changes, no matter how little they seem. I agree all food has benefits, even if the only benefit is making you happy! Mashed potatoes definitely make me happy. :) I think we are both impressing ourselves a bit! Keep up your great work, and I will continue to work on mine. Thanks for stopping by. :)
Aug. 28, 2014 3:44 pm
I just checked out the Nourished Kitchen...great site! I bookmarked it. And yes your wife is very close...we actually lived in Marion for several years before we bought our house in Cedar Rapids. It's a wonderful town. :)
Aug. 29, 2014 7:52 am
Good for you! Keep at it Abbey. Hang in there. It is more expensive for organic products and I am not sure how much of it is cost or just marketing. Regardless, once you get used to preparing good food your body will thank you and things tend to get easier with habit. I am not a SAHM nor do I have an unlimited budget, I've just adopted this new method and maintained it for the love of my family and for feeling well. I've started cooking what is there instead of looking for specific items. Grab what is on sale and keep blanching and freezing, buying in bulk and searching online. Best of luck and thanks for sharing.
Aug. 29, 2014 12:56 pm
Thank you, Buckwheat Queen. Having a good stockpile at home by buying in bulk and grabbing what is on sale is a great method! I do that here as well. Thanks for stopping by!
Aug. 29, 2014 3:03 pm
Great blog, Abbey. There's a lot to be said for a more natural diet and eliminating processed foods. When it's all fresh, it's gotta be good! Thanks:)
Aug. 29, 2014 3:04 pm
BTW, Nourished Kitchen is very inspiring and nicely done. Thanks, Doc!
Aug. 31, 2014 10:22 am
I love Nourished Kitchen, but I find that Kathy at Granny's Vital Vittles is more in line with what Abbey is trying to do here. Doing what she can as she can. I almost went crazy the first year into my real food adventure. Now I just relax and remember baby steps.
Sep. 1, 2014 11:57 am
Thanks, Lace! Fresh is always best. :) KLynne--I will check out Granny's Vital Vittles as well. So many great blogs! :)
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About Me
I am a part time home maker, and part time employee in my husband's home business. My husband and I are locavores and believe in eating organic, REAL food to maintain a healthy lifestyle! We took a 100 Day Real Food Pledge on 1/4/15. We are on a tight budget, and improvising is necessary in our kitchen. I enjoy developing recipes and tweaking existing recipes to fit them in with our real food lifestyle.
My favorite things to cook
I don't specifically have a favorite food "genre". I enjoy cooking with real, raw foods and turning them into beautiful, colorful and healthy dishes.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Outdoor grilling and summer barbecues are a favorite of mine. Anytime we can gather around a delicious meal with friends and family.
My cooking triumphs
Being able to tweak recipes containing highly processed foods into something more natural is a triumph.
My cooking tragedies
I was beginning to cook a pot of stew, and I set the soup pot on the heated burner to warm up. I let it set on there a little too long while assembling the mirepoix and it got too hot. I threw in the butter to melt and it immediately smoked. I mean it filled my entire first floor with smoke! At that moment, my husband's boss walked in the house, whom I was cooking dinner for that night. I had to run the soup pot out the back door and while smoke was still pouring out. I was mortified. Thankfully he had a good sense of humor!
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