Mini-Pledge Week 12: No Sweeteners

Knowing our society’s obsession with all things sweet I have a feeling this could be the most difficult “real food” mini-pledge yet. But don’t feel discouraged because even if you only join us for a day or two, I promise it will still be an eye-opening experience proving just how sugar-obsessed our society really is. And I am not just referring to white sugar and other refined sweeteners, which we already tackled a few weeks ago. I am talking about all added sweeteners even including honey and maple syrup. As I’ve said a thousand times before, no matter what sweetener you chose (natural, organic, raw, etc.)…a sugar is a sugar and it should always be used in moderation. So what better way to learn how to reduce your consumption of sweeteners than to completely live without them for a few days? And if you think this challenge sounds like a daunting task then right there is my proof that we really are sweetener-obsessed after all.

So here is next week’s mini-pledge, which starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 12: May 30 – June 5 – Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Continue Reading »

Recipe: Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread (for Bread Machine)

I recently bought a bread machine and have been experimenting with different recipes. I am still playing around to find the perfect whole-wheat sandwich loaf, but in the meantime I hit the jackpot with this cinnamon raisin loaf. The first time I made this bread the entire loaf (pictured) was gone in just under 24 hours. And no, we did not have any house guests…it was just my family of four chowing down like it was our jobs. At one point I had to cut the children off mainly because I wanted my loaf to last us longer than a day!

I finally made more though and have been using it to make sandwiches – with organic cream cheese in the middle – for my daughters’ snacks at school. They even love this bread enough for it to serve as a “dessert” after dinner. If you don’t have a bread machine I think it’s worth the investment since it’s nearly impossible to find decent whole-wheat bread at a typical grocery store. I bought a Panasonic machine that was recommended by several friends, but I’ve also heard from readers who found a machine they love from their local Goodwill store. The only complaint I have about my machine is that I wish I didn’t have to wait an hour or two for it to beep before adding the raisins (since you don’t put them in with the rest of the ingredients). Other than that though I’ve been very happy with it! If you have a machine that you love please tell us about it in the comments below. Continue Reading »

Giveaway: Duralex Glass Bowl Set with Lids ($39 value)

I don’t know about you, but it seems like I’ve been hearing one negative thing after another about storing and cooking food in plastics. A friend of mine was just telling me that her husband got rid of all their plastic storage containers and went out to buy glass bowl replacements instead. Between the concern over BPA and if we should be heating foods in plastics in the first place I’ve been wondering if we should follow suit.

Luckily there seem to be plenty of covered glass bowl alternatives out there that I suspect would last much longer than Tupperware anyway. And today I am going to give away a free set from Duralex! We started using this very same set last week, and I love them so far. First of all they are stackable so they don’t take up very much room, secondly they serve a dual purpose because the quality is nice enough to serve food out of as well, and lastly the size range seems to be appropriate for our needs. I think we may get a second set so we can do away with plastics all together!

Continue Reading »

Mini-Pledge Week 11: Eat Local Foods

Community Dinner at the Matthews Farmers' Market

After “taking something away” during the last two weeks of real food mini-pledges who’s up for another challenge where we instead add something to our diets? I’m actually rather excited about this next mini-pledge because I’ve become such a big fan of eating local foods and supporting local farmers who, frankly, do a much better job than all those big factory farms! I confess that just a little over a year ago I had never even stepped foot in a farmers’ market, and now here I am looking forward to it every Saturday morning and even setting my alarm for it.

I don’t think it is realistic for anyone to eat locally 100% of the time, but it is certainly possible to incorporate some local foods into our diets every week. And who wouldn’t be on board with such a proposition that happens to make a great deal of sense? Did you know that the produce in the supermarket (whether it is organic or conventional) travels, on average, 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate? Not only is all that travel taxing on the environment, but it also gives the produce a chance to lose some of its nutritional value along the way. And the varieties of produce chosen to go on such an adventure are limited because factory farms are only interested in fruits and vegetables that travel well and can survive a long shelf life.

So here is next week’s mini-pledge, which starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 11: May 23 – May 29 – Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey. Continue Reading »

Real Food School Lunches III

With less than a month left of school I am trying hard not to give in to the simplicity and ease of having my daughter buy her lunch. While slacking off at the bitter end is tempting, these thoughts are thankfully short-lived. So my hope is that one more lunch post will help rejuvenate us all so even during these last few weeks we can continue to send our kids to school with healthy, creative, homemade school lunches that contain nothing other than real food!

In my first two posts about school lunch ideas (post I and post II) I shared that my daughter goes to a peanut/tree-nut free school. As a result the school has an “approved” snack list that shows what food products parents are allowed to send into the school. To me their little snack list not only shows what is approved, but it also serves as kind of a suggested list of items that you could and should send for your 6-year-old to eat at nine in the morning. Some of the items on their list that immediately jump out at me are Wendy’s frosties, skittles, oreos, fritos, airheads, cheese puffs, twizzlers, chips ahoy, and gummy bears. In fact, only 17 out of the 200 hundred items (8.5%) are what I would consider to be “real food” approved. And you know I pay attention to what the kids are eating when I volunteer in my daughter’s class (which happens to be during snack time!), and I see that some parents are unfortunately taking these snack “suggestions” to heart.

So rather than sitting here and complaining about it what better thing to do than to try to fix the list? Continue Reading »

Another FREE “Real Food” Meal Plan!

I am thrilled with how popular the first two “real food” meal plans have been! The obvious next step was to of course create another one. And going forward my hope is to create these meal plans seasonally so we can take advantage of some of the fresh, tasty, local produce that is available at various times of the year. Therefore this meal plan is entitled “Meal Plan 3 – Late Spring,” and I’ve put stars next to all the shopping list items that are currently available at our local farmers’ market. So once again, this is what you can expect to find in Meal Plan #3:

  • One 7-day practical “real food” menu plan designed for busy families
  • Complete meals listed each day for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner with leftovers incorporated
  • Food quantities calculated for a family of four Continue Reading »