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We are a pop tart and cream of mushroom soup family. Help me change!


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I would like to take steps towards eating more naturally. Not necessarily healthy, even. Just less processed food.

 

This morning I made homemade biscuits for the first time ever. :001_huh: I had previously only made the kind in the can. I don't want my kids to eat chips. I want them to eat carrots or fruit instead.

 

Where do I start? Are there any easy changes I can make? A place for easy recipes? Can you tell me about bread making?

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You will get great advice here. I just wanted to comment that I have never allowed my kids to eat poptarts. They look longingly at them every time we're in the cereal aisle. I am firmly convinced that they will eat nothing BUT poptarts once they leave my house! So, maybe your diet isn't so bad! :)

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When we made a change, we started with just one meal - dinner. I started making things from scratch for dinner almost every night. Then, I moved onto snacks and made those healthier. We have one night a week (our Friday movie nights) when we get candy and chips. When it's gone, it's gone until next movie night. It gets easier as you go and find the things everyone seems to like. I've got healthy snacks, lunches, and dinners. Breakfast is hard here since we don't all eat it every day. I do allow some pop-tarts every now and then as well as toaster waffles. The other days I make eggs or smoothies. My dds are healthy (except for airway/asthma problems they've had since birth) and have no weight issues so it's working here. I wouldn't try to change everything at once, just go slow.

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I highly recommend Pinterest. I'm learning how to make all kinds of previously bought things. Right now I'm making homemade yogurt! I'm so stoked about that one! I also made my DH some Vietnamese Pickled Veggies tonight. AND I cooked chili and put 3 quarts in the freezer for later use instead of forcing my family to eat it for days on end. I've found some great bread recipes on there. Made some French bread that I sliced, buttered, and garlic to eat with our various pastas. I'm so stinking proud of all the stuff I'm learning to cook from scratch. You can do it too! Good luck!

 

ETA My kids mostly snack on yogurt, cheese, carrots, broccoli, apples, and bananas. I keep all their snacks at eye level in the fridge. Some how I got lucky with my two salad eaters. :-)

Edited by Ruby Sue
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For snacks just buy fruit. When my kids ask for snacks they know they can have whatever kind of fruit is around. They are almost always happy to grab it. Fruit is a get by yourself snack. Chips are a treat, so we might grab one bag of chips at the store, and 10+ pounds of fruit for the week (and yes this is normal amounts for us, my kids go through massive amounts of fruit). They know they can take an apple anytime they want one as long as they throw away the core when done. They know they have to ask about the bag of chips and when it is gone it is gone.

 

We still buy poptarts as a special treat on occasion (DS loved them in the hospital they were one of the few things he would eat, and we needed him to eat). Normally though if you track what my kids are eating for snacks it is fruit, fruit, and more fruit with a side of cheese and some veggies.

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I generally serve fruit and veggies first when my kids are hungry and I'm preparing food. Because the fruit/veg is the only thing in front of them at first, they go at it. If the menu has been light on fruit/veg on a particular day, I'll serve a snack with nothing except fresh fruit, veg, and maybe some milk or cheese. Hunger really is the best seasoning.

 

Organic tastes best and is therefore most appetizing.

 

Make the fruit/veg easy to eat. For apples/pears, I use one of those slicer/corers (or peel and separate in the case of citrus) so it is not much effort to eat. Other easy fruits are grapes, bananas, cut up strawberries. For raw veggies, they eat more if I serve with peanut butter or salad dressing to dip. (Apples are also good with pb dip, and many fruits are fun when dipped in yogurt.) Think outside the box, and offer more than one option to accommodate individual tastes. My kids used to find it fun to eat frozen mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots) right out of the bag, still frozen. One of my kids likes cold salad beans, while the other happily eats lemon wedges. My kid who likes purple was more open to trying purple leaves (red cabbage etc.) than green ones.

 

To me, the point of all this is to develop a habit. To make the good stuff part of the child's "comfort food" so it won't be neglected when she starts making her own choices.

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Since you're not going to be eating the Pop-Tarts or the biscuits-in-a-can any more, you'd might as well give them to me so they won't go to waste. :tongue_smilie:

 

You should save the cream of mushroom soup for someone else, though. That has some form of a vegetable in it, and as such, would be considered too healthy for me at this time. I need to ease into this whole healthy eating thing a lot more slowly than you do.

 

Also, I don't like cream of mushroom soup.

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This may sound really obvious, and I'm not being flip, promise....but don't buy chips.

 

Don't buy Pop-tarts. Don't buy cream soups. Whatever you want to replace, don't buy it. :)

 

That's how we stopped eating those kinds of things years ago. We replaced chips with fruit, yogurt, and cheese for snacks. Sometimes we have tortilla chips with salsa, but usually the only time we eat things like Doritos or potato chips is at our Fourth of July picnic and when we're camping. We started buying wheat bread instead of white bread. I learned how to make a simple white sauce that tastes way better than canned soup. We eat wheat toast with jam instead of pop-tarts. We eat fewer sweets because we have to really want cookies when we've got to make them ourselves. I've learned that some things (salad dressing, for example) are SO easy to make at home that I can't believe I ever thought bottled dressing was easier.

 

It's difficult to adjust at first, but it gets easier, I promise. Pick one or two changes to start with. We stopped buying snacks--chips and cookies--at the store and committed to having one green vegetable on the table at every evening meal. After a while we got sick of broccoli and salad, lol, so we started trying new veggies. If you had told me ten years ago that kale would be one of my favorite foods and that I actually DO love brussels sprouts and beets, I'd have looked at you like you'd sprouted an extra head.

 

You can do it! Figure out where you want to be and then take it one step at a time. :)

 

Cat

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I generally serve fruit and veggies first when my kids are hungry and I'm preparing food. Because the fruit/veg is the only thing in front of them at first, they go at it.

 

Yes! While I make dinner, I'll put out a big plate of cut-up carrots and celery (sticks) and rinsed grape tomatoes. I'll sub in other veggies as I have them too, but you might want to start with the easier ones. I use a divided plate and put a tablespoon or two of a natural ranch dressing in one of the dividers. They're so hungry at that point that they devour the veggies. Easy peasy! Someone here also shared a great apple dip idea that we use all the time. Mix a few tablespoons of natural peanut butter, a tsp of coconut oil, a tsp (or less) of honey (raw honey is like candy!), and some ground flax seed (if you have it, I often don't, but if you do have, it's great for you) in a bowl, and dip apple slices into it. As you make it more, you'll get to recognize which proportions you like. So delicious.

 

I keep a box of a good baby/field greens mix on hand at all times. Earthbound Farms is good, as is Olivia's Organics--you want lots of greens (baby spinach, dandelion greens, radicchio, arugula, different dark-green lettuces, etc.), not just iceberg lettuce, which is what those Dole mixes seem to be. This makes it very easy to throw salad into a bowl and add whatever toppings you're in the mood for, like ham/turkey, swiss, avocado; crumbled goat cheese, pecans, peas (I use frozen, brought to room temp), balsamic vinegar, EVOO; sliced tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, etc. Or even just the basic salad with a good, natural dressing.

 

You've gotten lots of good advice so far, so my only other point is this: Expect it to be a process, and expect to continue evolving for a long time. Don't beat yourself up about not swooping in and changing it all tomorrow. Accept that baby steps are the path to true change. We stopped eating most of that processed food years ago (though DH brought home a HUGE box of Rice Krispies this morning, and yes, they were oh so good :lol:), and I still struggle with feeding us all more healthfully. It's a journey, so treat yourself kindly :grouphug:

 

Since you're not going to be eating the Pop-Tarts or the biscuits-in-a-can any more, you'd might as well give them to me so they won't go to waste. :tongue_smilie:

 

You should save the cream of mushroom soup for someone else, though. That has some form of a vegetable in it, and as such, would be considered too healthy for me at this time. I need to ease into this whole healthy eating thing a lot more slowly than you do.

 

Also, I don't like cream of mushroom soup.

 

Well, I'll just have to take one for the team and volunteer for the cream of mushroom soup. I'll keep it hidden in the pantry, and no one will ever know of it but us. I'll make sure I don't feed it to anyone else, so as not to contaminate them. I'll be the martyr who consumes it all herself *slurp*

 

I looooove canned cream of mushroom soup. It's a throwback to my childhood that I can't quite get over :lol:

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It takes 4-6 weeks to make a habit. So I suggest picking 1 doable change and sticking with it. After 4-6 weeks, make another and so on. If you try to do it drastically, odds are you will fall off the wagon. You need to do it until it seems bizarre the you ever bought pop tarts at all.

 

Letting the kids grow a few herbs or veggies adds a fun layer. My kid only started liking carrots after eating his own.

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mmm pop tarts. I recently discovered these. Your (USA people) food is evil (in an oh so yummy, how could this be any worse for me kind of way).

 

I like the idea of taking it a meal at a time, except I wonder if I did something like that in my house if the kids would just hang out for the "pop tart" meal and not want to try the rest? I might be inclined to purge and start fresh myself. (Except I'd hide a box of chocolate fudge pop tarts for my own consumption. I think they are addictive.)

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You've gotten lots of good advice so far, so my only other point is this: Expect it to be a process, and expect to continue evolving for a long time. Don't beat yourself up about not swooping in and changing it all tomorrow. Accept that baby steps are the path to true change. We stopped eating most of that processed food years ago (though DH brought home a HUGE box of Rice Krispies this morning, and yes, they were oh so good :lol:), and I still struggle with feeding us all more healthfully. It's a journey, so treat yourself kindly

 

:iagree:

Little steps or you might have a rebellion. Popcorn vs chips. Fruit vs cookies. Yogurt vs ice cream. You get the idea.

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I came up w/ a weekly breakfast plan to help reduce the use of convenient breakfast foods. We like a good breakfast so I have come up with a breakfast idea for each day of the week. We have eggs (or oatmeal for my egg-hater) twice a week. Homemade muffins once per week. Cereal (store-bought) 2x per week, and pancakes or french toast once per week. Most Saturdays are waffle days.

 

I like making my own muffins (and I make a double batch for snacks) so that I can incorporate healthier grains and use less sugar than store bought ones. I have 4 different types I rotate through each month. One of them is chocolate-chip muffins which are probably not very high on the healthy scale. Homemade taste so much better than store-bought.

 

I do have my own wheat grinder and often make our own wheat bread, but I do buy store bread for convenience sake. We also have chickens so right now, eggs are a little more frequent. DH, who is up way before the rest of us, has eggs just about every morning.

 

As far as cream of mushroom soup...... I still buy it, but I just try to not use recipes that use a lot of prepackaged foods very often.

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My biggest advice is GO SLOWLY.

 

We used to eat a lot of processed food, too. When I got married, that was all I knew to 'cook', because that's what I grew up on.

 

But in the past five or so years, as I learned more about nutrition and health, I wanted to transition away from that. But we were all used to our food, you know? And I know my family; if I made too drastic of a change, I'd have a revolt on my hands.

 

So I started slow. For example, no more Hamburger Helper; I made various pasta with meat sauce dishes. I started buying natural peanut butter insead of conventional; I switched to only buying all natural chicken nuggets instead of just whatever is on sale. Small things like that.

 

Find the fruits and veggies your kids like BEST, and at first just offer those instead of chips. Then, once they're used to eating fruits and veggies for snacks, challenge them by adding in others that are either new or not just their favorite. In fact, I find snacks to be the easiest to be 'extra' healthy with. Nuts, dried fruit, yogurt, granola bars, cheese and crackers, and bread with butter are all popular snacks around here. I don't even keep chips in the house anymore; well, except tortilla chips for Mexican night.

 

Look, we still have some processed foods we eat regularly, like cereal (hey, don't judge me :D, dh insists on having it around). And Zee LOVES poptarts; no, seriously. The boy LOVES them. But I don't keep them stocked in the pantry like I used to. He gets some RARELY as a treat.

 

And for some reason I bought a box of Hamburger Helper a few months ago for the first time in years. Oh my goodness, Zee and my dh LOVED it. It was sad. :tongue_smilie:Zee was all like 'Mommy! This is SOOO good! Can you make this more often?!' I was all :glare: :lol:. I can spend two hours making a homemade lasagna, and he'll eat it. But crack a box of HH and spend 18 minutes and the boy's over the moon.

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Just wanted to add some encouragement...

 

Your family WILL surprise you. Well, at least *mine* did. :001_smile:

 

For example...

 

I learned how to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, including making the stock. At first it felt like quite a big ordeal just for soup. But now that I've done it so many times, it's really not that bad.

 

Zee and dh LOVE my soup. I promise it's nothing fancy. But there's something SO satisfying about seeing your family really enjoy food that YOU made specifically because you want to feed them healthier things. Watching my boys enjoy my homemade soup and dinner rolls is satisfying to me. Yeah, I could open a can of Campbells and pop a can of biscuits. But it is really enjoyable to me to put more love into their food, you know?

 

(And yes, we do sometimes have Campbell's in the cupboard. I'm not *perfect*, lol.)

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This may sound really obvious, and I'm not being flip, promise....but don't buy chips.

 

Don't buy Pop-tarts. Don't buy cream soups. Whatever you want to replace, don't buy it. :)

 

:iagree:

 

Read labels. For example, yesterday I bought peanut butter. (Frankenstorm prep - the 3 jars I had on hand turned out to have been recalled for salmonella. :confused: But I digress...) So the first jar I chose had peanuts, oil, and some other stuff. The next jar had peanuts, sugar, etc. I kept looking until I found one that had ONLY peanuts and salt.

 

If you begin to do this as you replace pantry items, it will be a good start. Now, these things might be a bit more expensive, but remember that they will also be more filling, and more nourishing, so you're getting more for your money.

 

Generally speaking, I avoid added sugar, HFCS, other sweeteners, and anything I can't pronounce. It eliminates a LOT of choices, and I find myself generally shopping the outside loop of the grocery store (dairy, meat/fish, veggies) rather than the aisles.

 

I stopped buying things to drink. No soda, no sugar-water "drinks", no juices. This was a gradual process, and not without, shall we say, feedback. But it was considerably cheaper and helped to develop a more natural response to sweetness. If you aren't used to having a lot of added sugar, then fruit tastes much, much sweeter, and you can satisfy a sweet craving with a Granny Smith apple!

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My kids don't like Pop Tarts. There was a Pop Tarts World store in NYC for a short period that they liked but that is the closest they have gotten to a Pop Tart.

 

I have never bought cream of glop soup so no suggestions there. And the one time I ate Hamburger Helper I got deathly ill.

 

My kids have been deprived of all the good stuff. :001_smile:

 

I would go to your library and check out a ton of cookbooks. There are a ton of really nice kids cookbooks too. Let your kids pick out recipes they want to try. Before you know it you will have 3-4 meals that everyone likes, are easy to make and you can rotate them in/out every week.

 

I love love soup. Homemade soup is so simple to make and freezes beautifully.

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:iagree:

 

Read labels. For example, yesterday I bought peanut butter. (Frankenstorm prep - the 3 jars I had on hand turned out to have been recalled for salmonella. :confused: But I digress...) So the first jar I chose had peanuts, oil, and some other stuff. The next jar had peanuts, sugar, etc. I kept looking until I found one that had ONLY peanuts and salt.

 

If you begin to do this as you replace pantry items, it will be a good start. Now, these things might be a bit more expensive, but remember that they will also be more filling, and more nourishing, so you're getting more for your money.

 

Generally speaking, I avoid added sugar, HFCS, other sweeteners, and anything I can't pronounce. It eliminates a LOT of choices, and I find myself generally shopping the outside loop of the grocery store (dairy, meat/fish, veggies) rather than the aisles.

 

I stopped buying things to drink. No soda, no sugar-water "drinks", no juices. This was a gradual process, and not without, shall we say, feedback. But it was considerably cheaper and helped to develop a more natural response to sweetness. If you aren't used to having a lot of added sugar, then fruit tastes much, much sweeter, and you can satisfy a sweet craving with a Granny Smith apple!

 

:lol: Pauline is funny. But she's right, too.

 

I don't regularly buy pop, juice, Gatorade, etc. We we usually have to drink is milk, water, or homemade iced tea. I also got the tea down to 1/2 c. sugar in the gallon pitcher. Now, I don't care for iced tea. But my tea drinkers (cough dh cough) insist on it always being available. And if I don't sweeten it at all, they don't like it. But 1/2 cup for a whole gallon? Not bad. I think way back when I started I used like 1 1/2 cups. I look at it this way; koolaid would have FOUR cups of sugar for a gallon. I'd much rather them drink tea with one eighth the sugar, right?

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I generally serve fruit and veggies first when my kids are hungry and I'm preparing food. Because the fruit/veg is the only thing in front of them at first, they go at it. If the menu has been light on fruit/veg on a particular day, I'll serve a snack with nothing except fresh fruit, veg, and maybe some milk or cheese. Hunger really is the best seasoning.

 

Organic tastes best and is therefore most appetizing.

 

Make the fruit/veg easy to eat. For apples/pears, I use one of those slicer/corers (or peel and separate in the case of citrus) so it is not much effort to eat. Other easy fruits are grapes, bananas, cut up strawberries. For raw veggies, they eat more if I serve with peanut butter or salad dressing to dip. (Apples are also good with pb dip, and many fruits are fun when dipped in yogurt.) Think outside the box, and offer more than one option to accommodate individual tastes. My kids used to find it fun to eat frozen mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots) right out of the bag, still frozen. One of my kids likes cold salad beans, while the other happily eats lemon wedges. My kid who likes purple was more open to trying purple leaves (red cabbage etc.) than green ones.

 

To me, the point of all this is to develop a habit. To make the good stuff part of the child's "comfort food" so it won't be neglected when she starts making her own choices.

 

:iagree:

I do the same thing with giving them veggies/fruit when they ask for a snack. When we do our morning snack, I give them one graham cracker and the raw fruit or veggie that I planned for lunch. I make big batches of chili, Brunswick stew, BBQ, and base for chicken noodle soup, so it is time intensive for one afternoon, then I can pull it out when I need it.

 

I found a good recipe for breakfast cereal bars (I think I googled blackberry breakfast bars), that I make then freeze. I can make a quadruple batch with several kinds of fruit filling, then pull them out for breakfast. They have oatmeal and fruit in them, and I cut wayyyy down on the sugar. My kids like baked oatmeal for breakfast, which you can make at the beginning of the week and have at least twice. I make old fashioned oatmeal and throw frozen blueberries in with a teaspoon of maple syrup.

 

My kids love all kinds of beans, so I buy them dry, cook them in the pressure cooker, and they eat with a small amount of cheese sprinkled on top. For lunch I will make breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese, and a little bit of ham. My little two like grape tomatoes straight up, so that is an easy snack. Hummus with pitas or cucumbers is another favorite. The two little ones will also eat guacamole with celery, carrots, or cucumbers.

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You don't have tor give up your Cream of Mushroom soup, just make it yourself!

 

Condensed Cream Soup (equal to 1 can condensed soup)

 

Wisk together 1 cup cold milk and 2 T cornstarch.

Add 1.5 T butter, 1/4 tsp. salt, dash of pepper, and 1 chicken bouillon cube.

 

Stir constantly until it starts to boil, then turn down to low for about a minute until thickened.

 

At this point you have cream of chicken soup. To make it mushroom, add a drained can of mushrooms at the end.

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PS, there are "health" pop-tarts, LOL. I recently bought some whole-grain ones without icing. I had never served pop-tarts before. However, my kids had gotten some at school, with the frosting, and they turned their nose up to the ones I bought. No problem, I ate them - they were really tasty and a nice texture. The kids can go back to plain wheat toast if that's what makes them happy. :)

 

It may be hard to believe, but my kids have never gotten much "processed food" (the "bad" kind we're talking about here), even though I don't really cook. When they started eating table food, I put a lot of effort into researching dietary ideals against what was available in the stores. Generally, for every "bad" food item, there's a pleasing substitute in the healthy food section of a good grocery store. It may not always be the most perfect nutrition, but neither is a delicious homemade casserole. ;)

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As others have said, go gradually. Don't worry about "homemade" so much at first. Educate yourself about nutrition and set nutrition goals. Start changing what you buy to meet your goals.

 

Accepted goal: 5-9 servings of fruits/veges per day is optimum. Whatever your family eats on the average, aim to increase it by a serving per day. That will require you to be looking for ways to get fruit or veges into breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner. Fruit on cereal, on waffles, in oatmeal , in plan yogurt. Veges can be put in an omelet or frittata. Snacks: plain fruit or bananas or apples with peanut butter, veges with hummus, etc. Lunch and dinner: focus on packing in veges: for instance, make homemade soup. (Soup would be my first inclination toward doing homemade. There are very few soups available to purchase that are not super-high in sodium. You can make them easily, and more cheaply than canned.)

 

Goal: Get rid of trans fats first. Don't just read the part of the label that says "trans fats". It often says 0 when in fact the product contains trans fats. Look for "partially hydrogenated...oil" . Just never buy those products. Shortening and margarine are trans fats. Oils & butter are better for you.

 

Goal: Move away from white flour . Many people are reducing grains in general, but if you still want your bread, move up the ladder to whole grain breads. You can do this gradually. Just get bread with a little more fiber each time. If you eat white bread, the hardest change will be the color, since it's so obvious. After you change color, you can begin to look for bread with higher fiber. Comparing homemade white bread to a good brand of store bought wheat, the store bought will win nutritionally speaking. (Though nothing beats homemade bread for flavor!) Barilla Plus pasta looks just like white pasta, but is made with quite a bit of bean flour so is high in fiber and other things that are good for you. My kids never noticed the difference when I switched.

 

Goal: Cut down on sugar. Again, gradually. Lots of fruit around. Put it in a clear bowl on your table, so it's accessible. You can invest time in homemade desserts (ONLY as a substitute for store-bought ones) that can make a significant difference on the sugar/type of fat level. I think time spent in substituting homemade brownies or cookies or pie with less sugar would have more nutritional impact that homemade biscuits (which are usually made from white flour and shortening).

 

Strategy: start reading labels very carefully and comparing one product to another in the store. My example above of Barilla Plus pasta is one example of how you can significantly change your family's nutrition while not totally taking away their favorite foods.

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My favorite step-down from pop tarts: whip some softened cream cheese with a bit of vanilla, a little powdered sugar, and some berries. Spread on graham crackers.

 

Sadly, way more addictive than pop tarts. :glare::tongue_smilie:

 

You can freeze them too--yummy "ice cream" sandwiches...:D

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Just wanted to add that we are on the same journey, tho a little stalled at the moment.

 

One thing that we noticed (finally) is how much salt there is in processed food. Things may taste bland to you until your taste buds readjust. They will, tho.

 

I would do

 

Snacks first

Sugar second

Dinner third

 

If you can transform dinner, you can transform lunch, if you eat leftovers! But it is a big deal. Baby steps!

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I stopped buying things to drink.

 

This made a HUGE difference in our family. We drink milk with breakfast and drink water or tea the rest of the time. (Except for the occasional bottle of wine for dh and I.) It also made a big difference in our budget, leaving budget room to accommodate some of the more expensive fresh and organic foods we were buying.

 

Giving up soda (which dh grew up drinking, but I didn't really drink) was kind of a "well duh" idea for me, but it was such a light bulb moment when I realized that the kids could drink water instead of juice, and no one would shrivel up into a tiny little dehydrated prune, even if they were certain of it.

 

ETA: Forgot I have a book recommendation, Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. He lays out why processed foods are cheaper and why they're not as healthy to eat. He managed to get a whole book's worth out of his basic rules for food: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. It's an interesting read.

 

Cat

Edited by myfunnybunch
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Might I suggest a healthy menu planning service like Fresh 20 to help get into a new pattern? This site makes 5 healthy meals from 20 ingredients, no cream soups included. It could be a way to eat healthier, less processed foods for one meal without you having to make too many choices - the shopping list is included each week.

 

Also, look at the MyPlate.gov website. I bought printed, divided kid plates to make it easy for everyone to see if they're getting the right amounts of fruits and veggies and not too much grains and meat. My kids have asked for more veggies to fill the veggie section of their plate, so you can't go wrong there! :)

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We've been transitioning to healthier foods over the last several years. We still have busy weeks where we're not eating very well, but they are getting rarer. I also still have a long ways to go. Most of my friends are healthier than us, so I feel like we haven't gotten very far because I'm not making my own yogurt or drinking unpasteurized milk. :lol:

 

We've taken lots of baby steps...eliminating one problem at a time or adding one new food at a time. I just gave up potato chips...we'd been eating them with sandwiches 2 days a week. I occasionally replace them with blue corn tortilla chips and salsa or guac. More often, we serve them with just a fruit or veggie. We've also been having a lot of homemade soups for lunch.

 

I've learned how to cook quite a bit from scratch. I rarely buy anything boxed or frozen. I can make a pizza from scratch in 30 minutes...which isn't much longer than a frozen one takes. I've noticed when we use fresh foods, I re-use them as much as possible. Left over meats, veggies, or beans often are made into soup. Leftover potatoes become potato "pancakes" (I add an egg and cook them on a griddle).

 

I also love the book Saving Dinner! It gives shopping lists for weekly dinners. There are very little processed foods and lots of fresh veggies. I've had to make some changes to appease my family (mainly potatoes instead of rice when possible or subbing veggies), but most of the recipes are pretty good. She also lists possible side dishes which helps with the planning.

 

Now I need to go back and read through the previous posts for more healthy food tips! :lol:

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Cream of xxxx soups weren't much of an issue here (DD1 and I are both extremely sensitive to MSG) but it's sooooo easy for me to fall into the habit of (overly sweetened) cold cereal and the occasional PopTarts for breakfast, just out of convenience.

 

My kids love fruit for snack and we go through it fast, some days I'm amazed. Another thing they like for snack (or sometimes for lunch if we bulk it up enough) is a snack tray. We use the divided serving tray/chip dish (the one given to us as a wedding gift that sat unused in the cabinet for many years!) and cut up whatever kind of fruit and veggies we have on hand. Carrots, celery "smiles" (just thinly chopped celery) or ants on a log, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper slices, fill the center circle with a mix of raisins and sunflower seeds. Add in some lunch meat rolled up (if you eat lunch meat), almonds and cubes of cheese for more protein. There will occasionally be graham crackers in there, one for each kid, or a handful of goldfish crackers.

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I would start with just one meal a day and focus there, not even trying to change anything else. So that could be snacks, dinner, lunch, or breakfast. Or even one specific meal per week - Sunday lunch or dinner, for example.

 

You also need to practice meal planning and using a cookbook or recipes.

 

FWIW, I don't think homemade biscuits are a health food but that's just me ;).

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We followed the menu plan from this site for awile. http://deliciouslyorganic.net/meal-plan-registration/?wlfrom=%2Fcategory%2Fweekly-menu%2F

 

It really helped us change our food habits. I can hardly stand to eat out now that we've gotten use to no chemicals, low sugar, etc.

 

The recipes in this plan were very good. I recommend them.

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The blog 100 days of real food is a great place to start learning about eating healthier/ more natural food.

 

Also, http://www.superhealthykids.com has lots of great ideas.

 

Thanks... I'm checking out the 100 days blog now!

 

I'd take a different tactic...identify WHY you do what you do. Is it habit? Is it being intimdated by the thought of a change? Is it not knowing how to do things differently?

 

Once you've identified that, you can set about making changes.

 

I think there are two main reasons we eat the way we eat now. One is it is how DH and I both grew up eating. Two is that it is convenient. The kids can get a pop tart themselves and eat it in the car on the way to church. Biscuits from scratch require 30 minutes of me cooking. So, I think I need to learn to cook differently and also make time for it. I may need to make extra muffins Saturday so they can grab a leftover on Sunday for a fast breakfast. It's just hard to get in a new habit.

 

If you don't want them to eat it, what is it doing in the house?

 

It is hard to eat what isn't there.

 

I get what you're saying... I'm not sure it is quite this easy for me.

 

Sure, it's easy to get rid of pop tarts and chips. But, we eat sandwiches for lunch a lot. I don't want to buy wheat bread containing preservatives. I want to make bread. However, I don't know how to make bread! So, I need to learn! I also don't know how people fit breadmaking into their schedule. Do you do it once weekly? Every morning?

 

I don't want to buy "healthy" boxed cereal. *I* don't like oatmeal. What can I do for breakfast that won't take up the entire morning for school? We do eggs a lot now, but everyone gets tired of eggs. We also eat sausage... but how do I get more natural meat?

 

What about cheese? Isn't most cheese heavily processed? Does anyone make their own cheese? How often? How do you do it?

 

For dinner, I might make chicken breasts with salsa in the crockpot. How processed is salsa? Should I make my own salsa to put in the crockpot? How do I do things like this *and* manage to get out of the kitchen long enough to teach?

 

I'm not really wanting to just cut junk food out. I'm wanting to cut all processed food out. What about pasta? Taco shells? Tortillas? Cheese? Bread? Chicken broth? Meat? Tortillas? Dinner rolls? Snack crackers? Yogurt?

 

I'm fine with the kids eating cookies... I just want to make them with real flour and sugar and butter. Does this make sense to anyone else?

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I can make you feel a bit better by saying that... Well, Pop Tarts can be substituted first with Nature's Path ones :) and Cream of Soups are really easy to make :) Just flour, water, and for us... butter :) Easy to make organic cream base... and if you mess up just blend it and go :)

You can also make all your mixes up before hand with organic everything... (at least for the "Dirty Dozen" things) and are so much tastier :) I've also seen Pop tarts made with pie crust (can be homemade) and jam :) Pinterest is great for those :)

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We ate a lot of processed food for a while....frozen dinners and pizzas...it was for convinience. We have crazy schedules. I have learned a lot more crock pot recipes and now we eat a lot more fresh food. We have had no processed meals this week and no eating out, but we have not lacked for flavor and variety!

 

I love allrecipes.com!! I have a spinner app on my phone, pick an ingredient, a meal, and a time for prep....spin....and try something new! The full sit will make a shopping list for you now :)

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Thanks... I'm checking out the 100 days blog now!

 

 

 

I think there are two main reasons we eat the way we eat now. One is it is how DH and I both grew up eating. Two is that it is convenient. The kids can get a pop tart themselves and eat it in the car on the way to church. Biscuits from scratch require 30 minutes of me cooking. So, I think I need to learn to cook differently and also make time for it. I may need to make extra muffins Saturday so they can grab a leftover on Sunday for a fast breakfast. It's just hard to get in a new habit.

 

 

 

I get what you're saying... I'm not sure it is quite this easy for me.

 

Sure, it's easy to get rid of pop tarts and chips. But, we eat sandwiches for lunch a lot. I don't want to buy wheat bread containing preservatives. I want to make bread. However, I don't know how to make bread! So, I need to learn! I also don't know how people fit breadmaking into their schedule. Do you do it once weekly? Every morning?

 

I don't want to buy "healthy" boxed cereal. *I* don't like oatmeal. What can I do for breakfast that won't take up the entire morning for school? We do eggs a lot now, but everyone gets tired of eggs. We also eat sausage... but how do I get more natural meat?

 

What about cheese? Isn't most cheese heavily processed? Does anyone make their own cheese? How often? How do you do it?

 

For dinner, I might make chicken breasts with salsa in the crockpot. How processed is salsa? Should I make my own salsa to put in the crockpot? How do I do things like this *and* manage to get out of the kitchen long enough to teach?

 

I'm not really wanting to just cut junk food out. I'm wanting to cut all processed food out. What about pasta? Taco shells? Tortillas? Cheese? Bread? Chicken broth? Meat? Tortillas? Dinner rolls? Snack crackers? Yogurt?

 

I'm fine with the kids eating cookies... I just want to make them with real flour and sugar and butter. Does this make sense to anyone else?

 

You have to figure out what works for you. Start with one thing at a time and just do that thing. If you do everything at once you will lose your mind and decide it's not worth it.

 

For example, with the bread...FTR I make bread but I don't think that is the be all and end all of feeding my kids. I make it because I like to make it. If I buy bread, and I do sometimes, then I buy whole wheat bread made without high fructose corn syrup. I can live with that.

 

For snacks, I do buy boxes of granola bars. My kids are in a lot of activities and sometimes you need a 'grab and go' snack. So, again no high fructose corn syrup. That right there cuts out most of the low quality food. Then I am looking for a decent amount of fiber, some protein count etc. Is it perfect? No, but I can live with it. For drinks on the go we have water bottles that only get water in them. No juice.

 

And as for making bread, find a friend or friend of a friend who makes bread and as for a couple lessons. Or, buy a bread machine and follow the directions. That is the easiest solution.

 

As for the processed state of cheese, it depends on your definition of processed. I don't think cheddar cheese is highly processed. It has milk, rennet and salt. Now, if it is in individual slices and is spelled "cheezee' then it is processed. Or, if it has the word 'food' in the title. Don't eat anything that they have to label as food.

 

How processed is salsa? Well, read the ingredients! Can you recognize most of them? Is it tomato, onions, vinegar, jalapeno, sugar and some preservative? If so, I would be ok with it. That isn't much different than if you made it yourself.

 

What has spurred this sudden conversion?

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I would like to take steps towards eating more naturally. Not necessarily healthy, even. Just less processed food.

 

This morning I made homemade biscuits for the first time ever. :001_huh: I had previously only made the kind in the can. I don't want my kids to eat chips. I want them to eat carrots or fruit instead.

 

Where do I start? Are there any easy changes I can make? A place for easy recipes? Can you tell me about bread making?

 

I just wanted to let you know that 10 years ago, we were where you are now. My youngest would eat almost nothing but waffles with cream cheese and chicken nuggets.

 

Make changes slowly. Take a look at your regular grocery list and come up with a substitute or two every couple weeks. My kids would still eat chips over carrots any day :) but we just don't have chips in the house very often.

 

I don't make my own bread and I'm OK with that (Aldi's bread doesn't have high fructose corn syrup in it, so that's what I buy).

 

I make macaroni and cheese from scratch. Cook noodles (add some veggies to it), make a white sauce, add cheese, mix all together. My kids still think the blue boxed stuff is fabulous, but they have been brainwashed enough to call it "macaroni and fake cheese" :D.

 

I don't make biscuits but once in a blue moon, and then it's only drop biscuits (stop mocking me! :)) I hate oatmeal too but we have it once a week anyway. I just grin and bear a couple spoonfuls. Boxed cereal used to be the only thing we ate for breakfast, but now it is a junk-food snack.

 

Here's our "breakfast schedule":

Monday - Scrambled eggs and toast

Tuesday - oatmeal w/berries/fruit

Wednesday - fried eggs and bacon/fruit

Thursday - greek yogurt with fruit/berries/granola

Friday - scrambled eggs with cheese and toast or drop biscuits

Saturday - pancakes

Sunday - fried eggs, pastries (from the "day-old" rack at the grocery store)

 

To replace "cream of something" soup, I use 1/2 mayonaise and 1/2 sour cream.

 

I've recently begun making my own ranch salad dressing/dip http://allrecipes.com/recipe/ranch-dressing-ii/ (I use 1/2C Mayo, 1/2C buttermilk, 1/2C sour cream)

 

and ketchup http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/homemadeketchup.htm

 

Again, can I remind you to go slow? You have lots of little ones and cooking "real food" takes time and planning. Don't fret if you have setbacks and buy those stupid poptarts on occassion. ;)

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I've been very happy with the Fresh 20 menu plans, both in terms of organization and the quality of the recipes. Each week's menu has five complete dinners, a shopping list, and a list of things that can be prepared ahead. Emphasis is on fresh, seasonal, minimally processed ingredients.

 

http://www.thefresh20.com

 

There are occasional half-price Groupons for a years' subscription.

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lots of good advice.

 

when we made the switch, we did it Very Gradually. i switched from homogenized milk to 2 %. after a few months, we switched to 1 % milk. at the end of two years, we were drinking non fat milk.

 

i switched from white bread to cracked wheat bread, because the texture was similar. then mushy whole wheat bread. then regular whole wheat bread. then occasionally 8 grain. again, about two years. (we did this and milk simultaneously).

 

the third piece of this was that we worked on meat portion size.

 

then we worked on meals.

 

i started with breakfasts. we started "muffin mondays" where i baked muffins. the first year, i used a mix. the second year, i added new things to the mixes. the third year, i made them from scratch. the fourth year, i committed to only making ones with 30% fat or less.

 

we added in home-made mcdonald's parfaits one morning a week. (granola, vanilla yoghurt, frozen berries). we layer them in wine glasses. presentation is everything. ;)

 

other breakfasts include: homemade waffles on sundays (with extras for those days during the week when we need them), bagels with lox on saturdays. we make french toast sticks, eggs benedict. we use packaged oatmeal. we make home made croissandwiches. we really did find that if we found a few home made alternatives to fast food they loved, it was much easier.

 

the thing that turned lunch around was our bread maker. dc will eat any kind of soup if there is homemade bread to go with it.

 

its such a worth while goal. go for it!!! start one or two of the simple ideas folks have posted here while you work on figuring out the rest of how you'd like to approach it.

 

hth,

ann

 

ps. we dealt with soda by giving it up for lent several years in a row, and then announcing that we were giving it up for good. we still will have it occasionally when we're travelling. it worked for us.

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Where do I start? Are there any easy changes I can make? A place for easy recipes? Can you tell me about bread making?

 

One tip:

Buy a 10lb bag of potatoes and make everything from them - mashed, shredded hashbrowns, home fries, scalloped potatoes, french fries, etc.

 

I also only bake cookies, I never buy boxed.

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About two years ago, I was getting out a snack for the girls and I thought, "Why am I feeding them from a box or a bag?" :001_huh: We (mostly) stopped getting crackers, cookies, pretzels, etc. Now our mid-morning snack is a tray of:

 

  • Apple slices + celery sticks
  • Grapes (cut in half) + carrot sticks
  • Cantaloupe cubes + romaine lettuce pieces
  • Pears + cheese slices
  • Strawberries + cucumbers

I try to fill half of the tray with fruit, the other half with vegetables. So that's snack, along with cold water to drink.

 

 

 

Breakfast is oatmeal, cream of wheat, or scrambled eggs. Again, a few years ago, I thought, "Why am I feeding them oatmeal packets or cereal bars?" :001_huh: It's easy to make oatmeal from "scratch." We line up our options for toppings: real maple syrup, honey, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, cream, raisins, banana slices, blueberries, blackberries (never all at once, LOL)! So that's breakfast, along with 2% milk to drink.

 

 

 

Lunch is homemade soup. Again, why was I feeding them soup from a can? That's okay for the Zombie Apocalypse stock box, but not everyday. :001_huh: So now, every Monday, I make a HUGE pot of soup, and this is lunch for the week for all of us, plus some for my parents. Ham-bone & split pea soup, beef-vegetable soup, chicken-corn chowder, chili -- all these soups are cost-effective and full of vegetables, flavor, and nutrition. So that's lunch.

 

 

 

Supper...? Well, we need to work on that, around here it's usually PBJ for the kids. :lol: But as an example of our good suppers ;) -- We come home from Sam's Club with two rotisserie chickens ($4.88/each x 2 = $9.76), which are cheaper than uncooked chickens! Add a homemade salad ($3.00), add a steamed vegetable ($2.00), and you have a great meal for under $15 that is better than Chicken McNuggets.

 

 

 

Also, pay attention to what you drink. Water, water, water. Tea, tea, tea (unsweetened). We also drink carbonated water (no sweetener) from Sam's Club. If you add a little juice for flavor, it's better than soda (which we never drink). Water is better than juice. Whole fruit is better than juice, because it has all the nutrients and more fiber. Soda is anathema, a curse be upon it.

 

 

 

What I realized was that better eating is the result of better FOOD SHOPPING. If you don't put it in your cart, you won't put it in your bodies. If what you have at home is healthy, you'll all get hungry enough to eat it. HTH.

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I can make you feel a bit better by saying that... Well, Pop Tarts can be substituted first with Nature's Path ones :) and Cream of Soups are really easy to make :) Just flour, water, and for us... butter :) Easy to make organic cream base... and if you mess up just blend it and go :)

You can also make all your mixes up before hand with organic everything... (at least for the "Dirty Dozen" things) and are so much tastier :) I've also seen Pop tarts made with pie crust (can be homemade) and jam :) Pinterest is great for those :)

 

This is great! Thank you! Pop tarts from pie crust and jam! :D

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You've gotten some great advice. Maybe you'll find this helpful - I have a boatload of cookbooks that I made one recipe out of and then stuck the book on a shelf and never opened it again - or used the recipe again! I finally found two cookbooks that I find myself using again and again. I have found both of these really helpful:

 

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School - the author is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate but don't let that scare you. She takes a group of women who aren't comfortable cooking and teaches them some simple basics that can get them through any meal.

 

Jamie's Food Revolution:Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals - Everything I've made from his cookbook (around 8 or 9 recipes so far) has been a hit. I have NEVER consistently re-used this many recipes from ONE cookbook.

Edited by Mothersweets
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