Real Food Tips: 8 Ways to Avoid Processed Food

  1. Read the ingredients label before buying anything. For years, if I even looked at food labels, I was reviewing items such as fat grams, calorie count and sugar content. While this may be important to some, the best indicator of how highly processed a food is can actually be found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you should reconsider before buying.
  2. Increase your consumption of whole foods, especially vegetables and fruits. I am sure you’ve heard similar advice a thousand times, and I hate to tell you it is true. This will help to displace the processed foods in your diet, and will actually make your food selections in general very simple. No more counting calories, fat grams, or carbs when your only concern is selecting whole foods that are, as Michael Pollansays, more the product of nature than “the product of industry.”

    Homemade Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread

  3. Buy your bread from a local bakery. I actually used to eat white bread, but what I bought for my husband from the grocery store was what I thought was whole-wheat bread. When we finally checked the ingredients and found 40 different items on the list, including white flour and sugar, we decided it was time for a change. Why would there be so many on the list if it only takes a handful of ingredients (like whole-wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt) to make bread?
  4. In addition to your bread choice, when selecting foods like pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers always go for the whole-grain option. And don’t just believe the health claims on the outside of the box.  Read the ingredient label to make sure the product is truly made with only 100% whole grains – not a combination of whole grains and refined grains which is unfortunately how a lot of so-called “whole grain” products are made. The white flour or other refined grain alternative is simply high in calories and low in nutrition, which reminds me a little too much of sugar.
  5. Avoid store-bought products containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and those “that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients,” says Michael Pollan. Despite the mixed research on if HFCS is really worse for you than good ol’ white sugar, it just happens to be “a reliable marker for a food product that has been highly processed”.
  6. Don’t order off the kids’ menu. The next time your family is out to dinner avoid the kids’ menu. Those selections are most often things like pre-made chicken nuggets, deep-fried French fries, pasta made with white flour, and so on. Instead try assembling some sort of side item plate with a baked potato and whatever vegetables your kid will eat and/or try sharing some of your meal.
  7. Visit your local farmers’ market the next time you need to restock your fridge. According to Michael Pollannot only will you find “food that is in season, which is usually when it is most nutritious”, but you will also find a selection of pesticide-free produce and properly fed meat products. It is also better for our environment to purchase locally grown products as opposed to supermarket produce, which on average travels 1500 miles from the farm to your plate.
  8. Lastly, to once again quote Michael Pollan, he says to “eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” If you had to peel, chop and deep fry potatoes every time you wanted French fries then you might not eat them very often. Only eating “junk food” such as cakes, sweets, and fried foods as often as you are willing to make them yourself will automatically reduce your consumption.


If you think you are ready for it consider taking either our 10 Days of Real Food Pledge or our Real Food Mini Pledges!

Guest Post: 10 “Real Food” Mobile Apps

by Andrew Wilder

Hello, 100 Days of Real Food readers! Lisa has asked me to share a guest post with you while she’s on vacation, and I’m thrilled to be here. My story is remarkably similar to hers and her family’s: Until a couple of years ago, my diet was filled with processed and fried foods. After slowly gaining 30 pounds — and eventually having my “ah-ha!” moment — I started exercising and eating more healthfully. I lost the extra weight, and felt great. During that time, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, which led to my own October Unprocessed challenge last year. I discovered 100 Days of Real Food somewhere around the same time, and Lisa and I met in person at a conference a few months later. We immediately became friends, of course, since we’re kindred spirits!

Any time I can find tips, tricks, or tools to help make eating healthfully easier, I get really excited. One device that has helped me tremendously is my iPhone. With this little magical gizmo always at my side, I can look up nutrition information, figure out which seafood is the best for my family and my planet, and a whole lot more.

A little while back, I posted a list of 27 Apps for Healthy Foodies, on my own blog, and for this post Lisa has asked me to narrow the list down to just ten — with a focus specifically on apps that will help busy families. So without further ado, here’s my list of top ten apps for healthy foodie families. If you have other favorites, please share in the comments!

Seafood Watch iPhone App

Continue Reading »

Recipe: Vegetable Pancakes

This is another one of those recipes where you can throw in whatever veggies you have on hand (and need to eat!). That is my favorite kind of recipe because I love it when you can still make a dish even if you don’t have all the “exact” ingredients. Plus if you don’t like a certain vegetable then leave it out…you can use whatever you and your family like!

Vegetable Pancakes from 100 Days of Real Food

And I must share that my picky daughter, who normally doesn’t even eat very many vegetables, asked for thirds of the pictured vegetable pancakes. I used a mix of sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini. I think the sweet potatoes helped to “sweeten it up,” and she absolutely loves sour cream so this side item ended up being a very big hit! Continue Reading »

Real Food Tips: 12 Ways to Deal with a Picky Eater

Winning over your picky eater is no easy task, but (in most cases) it can be done! Following is a list of tactics to hopefully convince your child that “real food” is good stuff. Also, don’t forget that it can take time for one’s palette to adjust to new tastes so if you experience some failed attempts at first don’t be discouraged!

Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes

1. Start by switching out the refined and processed ingredients in meals they love for healthier ones. Some recipes to consider: Whole-Wheat Macaroni and Cheese, Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Whole-Wheat Pizza and Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes (pictured).

2. Give your child a good first impression of the real food you want them to try even if it means deep frying sweet potatoes to make French fries, making sweet zucchini bread, or coating fish in almonds and topping it with a butter sauce. Once your child thinks they like “fish” you’ll have a better chance of getting them to eat it next time (even if you cook it differently). Continue Reading »

Giveaway: L’EQUIP Nutrimill Grain Mill!

The winner of the L’EQUIP Nutrimill Grain Mill is Alecia Shannon!


There is no better way to kick off “Whole Grains Month” than with giving away a Nutrimill Grain Mill! Valued at more than $250, I am absolutely thrilled that our newest sponsor L’EQUIP asked me to give one of these away. I was the lucky recipient of a Nutrimill at Christmas last year and before that I honestly never knew how easy it was to grind your own grains. And I also did not know how good and fresh food would taste when made with freshly milled flour. You can completely forget that pungent and stale “whole-wheat” taste from store-bought baked goods!

I admit though, when I first heard of people milling grains at home I thought it was a little crazy myself. So in order to help break down that barrier I recently published a post (with a video) entitled “Grinding your own wheat is not crazy after all.”  As you can see in the video the process is really fairly simple, especially with a high-quality machine such as the Nutrimill. And for me the process is completely worth it knowing it allows me to make the most nutritious and best tasting whole-grain foods possible!


Nutrimill Grain Mill (pictured) by L’EQUIP

Product Features:

  • 20-cup capacity grain mill that keeps all the vitamins and nutrition in every batch of flour
  • The world’s first variable texture control mill for creating fine or course flour Continue Reading »

Real Food Tips: 21 Essentials for Freezer, Pantry & Fridge

The timing for this post is perfect because my freezer has never been so beautifully stocked in my life. I’ve actually been wanting to share that my husband and I are lucky enough to be going on the trip of a lifetime tomorrow. While our children stay home with the grandparents we will spend the next 15 days exploring Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and China. I absolutely love to travel and desperately want to see as much of the world as possible so this trip is honestly a dream come true for us!

Our Freezer

So what does this have to do with my freezer one might ask? Since we have two different sets of grandparents who are generous enough to fly here and baby-sit I decided to take it upon myself to hook them up. Not only is my wine rack fuller than it’s ever been, but my freezer is stocked to the max with homemade soups, breads, tortillas, breakfast items, muffins, etc. I also bought and froze lots of locally and humanely raised meats like whole chickens, flank steaks, ground meat, bacon, and pork tenderloin. I even found some fresh North Carolina seafood that I threw in the freezer, too. The idea is that they won’t have to worry about buying any food other than fresh fruit and veggies while we are gone. Oh, and this will also guarantee that my children will mainly be eating “real food” approved items in our absence…c’mon you know that has something to do with all this, too. :)

So without further ado, here are 21 “real food” freezer, pantry, and fridge essentials including pictures from my own kitchen (click images and then click again to zoom in)! Continue Reading »