some real food advice

Since eating a cleaner diet, I've read a lot about the importance of ingredient lists and how to avoid processed chemicals that our bodies were never meant to eat. These chemicals started appearing in food around the time women went into the work force. Because they were no longer staying at home full time with one job being "cook," the food companies took it upon themselves to "help out" and create food that was fast, easy, and tasted good. What resulted was over processed frozen (and fresh!) food that can last in a fridge or pantry for months/years. Now it's the consumer's job to decipher what is in "food" and what is not. This is where places like Whole Foods have been able to capitalize (and rightly so). Although not everything they sell is a whole food or necessarily clean, the store does a pretty good job of helping the consumer weed out the processed food that yet convenient, has destroyed the American diet and the health of most people. Here are some examples of how to shop smart, in order to eliminate some of the crap in conventional food. 

In the picture above, the left peanut butter is Aldi natural creamy and the right jar is JIF low fat peanut butter. Note that the left peanut butter is not paleo approved but is very much a more cleaner version of the peanut butter that most people will buy. This is a good "real food" replacement and decent way to start eating cleaner, perhaps even on your way to the Paleo diet. Americans assume that because a product is "low fat" that it is automatically better for you (and won't cause as much weight gain) as the full fat version. But not many people ask themselves: should peanut butter have 12+ ingredients? Are our bodies meant to digest these additives? Eating something fake or chemically engineered in a lab is very deceiving to our bodies and does not always mean the weight gain will not happen. Take a look at artificial sweeteners: these can trick our bodies into actually holding on to (or gaining) weight because biologically, our anatomy has no way of knowing how to process this through digestion. ALWAYS choose the product with less than five ingredients and ALWAYS know what the ingredients are -- if you don't or can't even begin to pronounce the ingredient, put it back on the shelf. Ingredients to especially avoid: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and hydrogenated oils. 

In this picture, the butter on the left is grass-fed butter and the stick on the right is not grass-fed. Grass-fed butter comes from cows who are pastured in a natural environment eating what cows are meant to eat: grass. Grain fed cows produced the milk/cream for the butter on the right. Much of my reading revolves around another food chain theory: when the cows eat what they are biologically supposed to eat, we are healthier when we eat their dairy because no one is being fed "filler" grains like corn. Grass-fed milk, cheese, and butter can be hard to find and a tad more expensive but not impossible. Kerrygold is a great brand and both Costco and Aldi carry their products (beware Aldi does not have their butter…. yet?). From the picture, isn't it evident that the butter on the right is richer and closer to nature? And to go one step further, I'm continuing to research the theory that cholesterol in human diets isn't always due to the fat content, it may be due to the fillers that we feed our livestock (like grains, corn, etc). Grass-fed products, I've read, can actually enhance the good cholesterol instead of adding to our bad cholesterol. 

 

Just a couple tips for those starting to clean out pantries and refrigerators in search of a cleaner, truer diet! 

roasted red cabbage

I'm always looking for different vegetables to buy when I venture to stores that aren't my typical neighborhood grocery. Aldi only has so much produce selection and even though it's decent quality and cheap, the lack of variety can get old. I picked up a head of red cabbage at Whole Foods and didn't have the energy to shred it for coleslaw… just seems like a lot of work! So instead, I found a recipe from Primal Palate's Gather cookbook that entailed chopping the cabbage in halves, and then in fourths before roasting in some butter and spices. I simply used sage, thyme, salt and pepper and omitted the rosemary, since our house isn't a big fan of that herb. If memory serves correctly, the roasting time is 45 minutes at 425 degrees. The non-paleo hubby liked it better than the sautéed cabbage that I've made in the past. 

cauliflower rice

I've been meaning to try cauliflower rice for some time now but really, it seemed like a lot of work: dragging the food processor out, cutting up the cauliflower, etc. The last time I was at Costco, I saw their 3 pound bag of cauliflower florets for $3.99. To me, buying it already cut up is worth some extra money. Plus, I knew we would have some florets left over for snacks or another meal. I also had some chicken thighs that I thawed and realized both were in Danielle Walker's Against All Grain Sesame Orange Chicken. You can see the chicken dish in an earlier blog post. But as for the cauliflower rice, I obtained that recipe in her Against All Grain cook book as well. As to not copy it straight from the book, here's a link to a similar recipe on her website: http://againstallgrain.com/2011/03/25/paleo-saffron-cauliflower-rice/

I didn't add the spices mentioned in the recipe above -- just onion and garlic. And also, I used water instead of chicken stock. But the cooking steps were the same! Honestly, it was hardly as much work as I originally thought and from now on, I think I'll be leaving my food processor out on the counter because I know I'll use it more for healthier options from here on out. It doesn't motivate me to use it when it's stuck in the back of the cabinet. 

2 pounds of cauliflower florets, minced onion, and minced garlic. 4-5 servings $3.04

2 pounds of cauliflower florets, minced onion, and minced garlic. 4-5 servings $3.04