Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I've come a long ways from my Top Ramen Days!

I have a confession to make...I am a former Top Ramen, Cheese Whiz & Chicken in a Bisket, Taco Bell, frozen burrito, Oreo cookie, and Rice-A-Roni consumer.    

I can tell you I am now a changed woman who over the past 5 years has been on a mission of health for my family!  And one of the greatest ways to accomplish health is through the foods we put in our bodies. 

I honestly didn't think too much about the foods I was eating and feeding my family until my oldest daughter began to battle severe coughing issues at the age of 2.  She endured weeks and weeks of coughing that would escalate to the point of affecting her breathing.  By age 4, doctors diagnosed her with cough induced asthma as well as dust mite & outdoor allergies.  The recommendation?  Allergy shots, 2 daily inhalers, and allergy medications. 

We live in a day in age where it's all about convenience, fast, quick-fix, and easy.   I didn't just want to address the surface issues.   I didn't want the quick remedy.  I wanted answers.  I wanted to get to the root cause.   Thankfully a wonderful naturopathic doctor, Dr. O'Leary, made that possible.  She wanted to do food allergy testing on my daughter but I couldn't make the connection between food allergies and her coughing issues.  So Dr. O'Leary explained to me that 70% of our immunity comes from our GI tract (the gut).  If your gut isn't healthy you won't be healthy.  After running some tests, her recommendations?  Gluten free diet, probiotics, fish oil, and a multivitamin to name a few things.  This wasn't going to provide a quick fix but a slow improvement to my daughters overall health. 

Fast forward to present day and my almost 10 year old girl is a very healthy kid.  She isn't reliant on pills, shots, or inhalers either.  She still gets colds/coughs here and there but those severe coughing fits are a thing of the past.  I use to battle regular headaches and those are a thing of the past too!   

What you will find in my kitchen is vastly different than years past and I know that has made the difference for all of my families health.  I also will insert here there are more changes I'd love to make but it's a steps, small changes, one step at a time!  I have begun to make more things from scratch rather than in a pre-boxed package (though I do have on hand some pre-mixes).  I wanted to give you a sneak peek into my kitchen, with the goal to help encourage anyone reading this that wants to make changes, that it is possible.  So come along as I give you the tour....

Let's start with my fridge, I just went shopping so it's full!

My fridge is full of fruits and vegetables.  I just invested in a Vitamix so we have been making lots of delicious smoothies!  Our eggs come from our own chickens.  The Green Pasture Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil is something I highly recommend for all it's health benefits!

What you will find in my freezer/deep freezer:


During the summer months pick or buy fresh, local organic fruit in bulk.  You can freeze them for smoothies and baking!  I paid $1.50 per pound for Organic blueberries....and 35 pounds total came to $52.50.  The grocery store was selling organic blueberries for $4.99 for less than a pound.  My mom and a friend gave me several zucchini so I shredded them up and froze for zucchini bread and soups!  That didn't cost me a thing! 

My pantry: 

If there is one item for your pantry I highly recommend it's organic Quinoa!  This is a very versatile item that can be made into a breakfast porridge, a side dish, salad, or main entrée.   Quinoa is a seed not a grain and has all 9 essential amino acids.  Want to know all the health benefits? Read here and here.  Know someone with apple trees and the apples are going to waste? Ask if you can pick them and spend a day or two making applesauce.  Canning is a very new thing to me but I chose applesauce to start with as it is pretty simple! 

Spices/Baking staples:

You will notice my salt up above is Real Salt.  I've always thought salt was bad for us and have avoided it, however, Real Salt is full of natural trace minerals and is actually very important for health.  I also recommend Safflower oil for cooking and heating at high temperatures.  You do NOT want to heat olive oil (I just recently realized this!)

 Coconut Water is another thing I recommend to have on hand.  It's a great drink when you are sick as it is high in electrolytes and potassium!!   Yes I do treat myself to soda sometimes but ones without high fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or other harmful ingredients!
I do believe in the saying, "Pay now or pay later."  Changing the way you eat may mean increasing your food budget....but it's a worthy investment and it doesn't have to break the bank.  For a family of 5 I have budgeted $185/week for food and household supplies.  That is $26.43 per day.  Per person that is $5.29 a day.  I think this is the first time that I have ever broken down what I am spending...I am quite impressed!!  $5.29 per person for whole foods, healthy, organic snacks & meals!! 
Here are a few suggestions to help you budget :
  • A lot of the photos you saw above are things I purchased in bulk at Costco.  The savings is huge compared to going to the local grocery store and making the same purchases.  So although you may be paying out more at once, you are paying less per ounce, box, can, package, etc...
  • Get some chickens!!  We live in the city with no property at all.  My husband built a chicken coop and we have more eggs then I can keep up with!  We also did raise some chickens for meat but really don't have the space for that where we live.  Buying whole organic chickens at the store is not cheap.  Hoping we can raise our own again in the future! 
  • If you eat beef, find a local rancher and fill your freezer for the year.  You can buy 1/4, 1/2 or a whole cow.  If you have never purchased beef this way, it is a big upfront expense but overall a huge savings...especially if you want organic, grass fed!  Beef is typically sold based on hanging weight, but your actual bring home amount that you put in your freezer is going to be less than the hanging weight.  So for example if you pay $3.50 per pound (including butcher fees) for 1/4 a cow and the hanging weight is 250 pounds.  Your cost will be $875 but you will probably end up with 150 pounds in your freezer.  $875/150=$5.83 per pound.   If you were to go to the store and individually purchase organic, grass fed steaks, ground beef, roasts that equaled 150 pounds you'd be spending a tremendous amount more!!!
  • Buy fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets, CSA programs, or produce stands.  Most are going to have local organic or minimally sprayed produce at great prices!
  • When things are marked down that is your time to stock up and purchase several at once!
  • It's amazing how much you save when you stop buying pre-packaged, processed, and junk food.
  • Limit those spendy Starbucks/specialty drinks and eating out!  Our family could go out to dinner and easily it would cost $25-$50 for one meal, depending on the kind of restaurant. 
  • Use cloth dinner napkins instead of paper napkins.  Hey every little savings matters!
  • You will also discover that you stay fuller longer when you are eating whole foods!!
The best advice I can give when it comes to what to eat and not eat....stick to whole foods as much as possible.  A whole food has only one ingredient - itself!  If the ingredients list is a mile long and most things you can't even pronounce and have no idea what is means....set it back down on the shelf and then turn and run! 
Cheers to your health!


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