Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Clean Eating

My biggest new year's resolution is to positively change my and my family's eating habits. It's something I've been thinking about and learning about for the last few months.

It started when I was at the library with my kids and stumbled upon a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  I read a few paragraphs and was instantly hooked, and as cheesy as this sounds, the book changed my life. 

It's not that the book is so brilliantly written or full of information that is particularly ground breaking, but it did open my eyes to things that I had never thought about in terms of eating. Things like just how much processing goes into some "foods", how those "foods" shouldn't even be called food because they're really just manufactured products designed to never rot (so gross!), how the products that make the loudest health claims are actually the farthest thing from healthy.

From there I read his other books, and then other nutrition books, to visiting websites devoted to clean foods to talking and learning from friends who have embraced healthy eating to where I am now- ready to completely clean up my family's diet.

Take cereal for example.  My kids love Lucky Charms. Love, love, love it.  Commercials for this cereal play during their cartoons, there is a fun website kids can visit to play games, and the box claims to be a good source of whole grains. It's gotta be good for kids, right?

In fact, it's number three on the list of the top ten cereal with the poorest nutrition ratings that are advertised to kids. 

For lunch I'd make them some frozen fish sticks and box macaroni and cheese, followed by a warmed up bag of frozen pasta for dinner.  That, in a nut shell, was our highly processed, nutritionally low diet.

I hear so many people say, "there's way more autism/attention deficit/obesity/heart disease/cancer/blah blah now than there was twenty years ago" and once you start learning about nutrition and food and how real foods affect the body versus how manufactured food products affect the body, it starts to make sense

This, in case you couldn't tell by my rambling post, is my newest obsession.

And I've jumped right in.  I purged the boxed macaroni and cheese, the remaining Lucky Charms and so much more, and went on a major healthy food haul.  I'm in the process of restocking our pantry with healthier alternatives like whole wheat flour and beans and oats, etc. It's going to be a process but I'm fully committed and Clay is too, which makes this a thousand times easier.

One of the things that I worry about is our hectic weekday mornings when the kids and I are rushing to get ready, get breakfast and still make it to school and work without being too late.  Knowing this, I set aside some time yesterday to make something I could freeze and easily reheat in the morning.

I threw out our $3 box of 6 highly-processed, full-of-sugar frozen french toast slices and spent an hour (if even that!) making a whole loaf to freeze, using only whole-wheat bread, cage-free organic eggs, milk, vanilla and ground cinnamon.  I feel lucky that our local grocery store carries an awesome selection of natural and organic store-brand items, many of which (like this bread), contain five ingredients or less.


The process was so easy! And considering it cost me $5.39 to make sixteen slices of french toast, the benefits aren't just nutritional.

This morning I popped in a french toast slice for each kiddo and they toasted while I cut up some bananas.  Easy peasy.  Narls and Em ate it without the slightest hesitation, without even batting an eye at the whole-wheat flavor of the bread.  I served it with 100% pure maple syrup - a pre-measured amount, in a bowl for dipping; I found my kids eat less syrup this way.  My goal is to eventually pair french toast/waffles/pancakes with a heated sauce made from a berry puree, but that's an adventure for another day.