Frequently Asked Questions

The Leake family at the farmers market

1) I am new to your website, where should I start?

If you’re new here you should definitely check out Start Here, our Recipe Index, and our free Real Food Resources area. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch and be informed of new recipes, tips, and resources as they come available.

I’ve also written three best-selling cookbooks that are geared towards typical families trying to get healthy, delicious food on the table, fast. These are available anywhere books are sold and in many libraries.

2) Why don’t you consider sugar to be a “real food”…isn’t it natural?

Sugar comes from a plant so it is definitely a “natural” food. Some other “natural” foods that we like to avoid are high-fructose corn syrup (from corn) and white flour (from wheat). What all of these have in common is that, aside from being natural, they are so highly refined and processed that the good stuff is stripped away leaving mostly empty calories. Here’s a little more about our decision to avoid sugar and other refined sweeteners – Mini-Pledge Week 9: No Refined Sweeteners.

3) What does your family eat now that your strict “100 Days of Real Food” pledge is over?

When we are at home I estimate that we eat 95%+ real food. Since our pledge ended we’ve incorporated a once-a-week “special treat.” This could be anything from a homemade chocolate cake to a donut from Krispy Kreme, although I do try hard to steer my family away from artificial ingredients and food dyes no matter what. With that being said, we do believe moderation is key so we most certainly let our daughters participate in school celebrations, birthday parties, and other events that often involve junk food.

4) Have you noticed any health-related changes since your switch to real food?

Yes! We switched to real food because we thought it was the right thing to do. What we did not expect was for our youngest daughter’s constipation and asthma to completely disappear. We were equally surprised by how much my HDL level increased (a.k.a. the “good” cholesterol that should be a high number), which jumped up by 50%! I also feel like I have more energy (no more afternoon slumps), and my husband and I both lost a couple of pounds without even trying. For more details check out this link: Our personal changes in health.

5) What kind of milk does your family drink?

We’ve switched both our type of milk and source for our milk a couple of times over the last year. We currently drink the least processed type of milk available in North Carolina (where raw milk is illegal). We buy Homestead Creamery’s non-homogenized whole milk in half-gallon glass bottles from Earth Fare. Since switching to whole milk we’ve also been working to reduce our consumption.

6) What kind of cheese do you buy that is “real food” approved?

When it comes to cheese we go for blocks of cheese that are organic and preferably from grass-fed cows (if we can find it). The pre-shredded stuff contains an anti-caking agent (to prevent it from sticking together) which is a little too powdery for our taste. Also, most cheese is actually supposed to be white so even though the orange coloring is natural and probably a harmless additive I like to stick with white cheese just to make a point. :)

7) I see that your family enjoys foods like cream cheese and boxed whole-wheat pasta, but aren’t those processed?

Actually even cooking is technically a form of “processing” or changing your food. So since we are not on a raw food diet I guess you could say we avoid all “highly processed” foods, which we define as having more than 5 (or any refined) ingredients. Check out our real food rules for the full list.

8) Is there anywhere that you can shop without having to read labels and scrutinize the ingredients?

Unfortunately, no. But the closest you can get is a growers only Farmer’s Market. At a growers only market, all of the produce and meat will be locally grown/raised. There are a surprising number of farmer’s markets out there that allow third-party vendors to sell you anything from Chilean blueberries to Florida oranges (which is, of course, okay if you actually live in Florida!). But even growers only markets have local “bakers” that use their fair share of white flour and sugar so you still have to ask questions. We also like to ask our local farmers if they use any chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers on their offerings because we prefer to eat foods that are as organic as possible, even if they are not USDA certified organic.

9) Where else do you shop for food?

I’ve shared my food shopping routine as well as my grocery template here.

10) Are there any “real food” books you recommend?

Well, first of all, I must recommend my first book of course! It’s part cookbook and part guidebook. The book that originally inspired us to switch to “real food” is In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Two other books I highly recommend are Food Rules also by Michael Pollan and Food Matters by Mark Bittman. I also highly recommend watching the documentary Food, Inc.

11) How do you deal with eating at someone else’s house when they don’t exactly follow a “real food” diet?

It can be tricky to try to eat a certain way without offending your host. For us, taking our “100 Days of Real Food” pledge was a great conversation starter as to what we were doing and why. I am not saying everyone around us fully understood or agreed, but at least they knew about it. :) During our pledge we did not have any flexibility at all so for the most part, we either brought our own food wherever we went (and people were thankful because it meant they didn’t have to figure out what feed us) or we ate beforehand. Now that our pledge is over we have more flexibility so we pretty much just eat what is offered especially since it doesn’t happen every day. We might still sometimes eat a little beforehand or bring a few key food items with us when we travel (like good whole-wheat bread, granola, and tortillas), but for the most part, we just go with the flow. But I will say that after watching us complete our real food pledge, it’s no surprise to our friends and family if we suddenly decide to bring something special along to the next BBQ (like our own organic, grass-fed, nitrite-free, dye-free beef hot dogs)!

12) What kind of oils do you use for cooking and baking?

For baking, we mainly use butter and unrefined coconut oil. For stove-top cooking, we either use olive oil (cold-pressed if I can find it), organic butter (preferably from grass-fed cows), ghee (a.k.a. clarified butter because it does well at higher temps), or yes, we occasionally use lard (from pastured animals) as well. People tend to look shocked when I tell them we use lard and I admit it isn’t exactly an appetizing word, but it is a traditional food that our ancestors survived on for centuries. Here’s more info on using unrefined oils – Mini-Pledge Week 10: No Refined Oils.

13) I am completely on-board with cutting out processed food, but how can I get my reluctant spouse and picky kids to join me?

No fear…because you are not alone! Here are a few posts on this very topic:

14) Where do you and your family live?

People are sometimes pleasantly surprised to learn that we do not live in a “real food” mecca like New York or California. Yep, we are just a regular ol’ suburban family living in Matthews, N.C., which is a suburb of Charlotte. You can find out more about our family on the “About Page.”

1,009 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions”

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    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Hallie. Lisa often uses Hershey’s Dark. Trader Joes has an organic one and I love Nativas Naturals raw cocao.

  1. Sorry, I have two questions. Should I only be using whole milk when following the real food guidelines. Also, what about whey protein powders?

  2. I have switched to plain yogurt and plain Greek yogurt, but am really struggling. I made the granola and added that to my yogurt plus honey, but I needed to add so much honey to make it palatable, I probably blew any health benefits of the plain yogurt out of the water!!!

  3. what to do if you are gluten free? i cannot find good bread, crackers, waffles etc that follow the “rules”. any thoughts?

  4. Hi there! Ok, I need healthy beverage options. We do not drink soda but the kids typically prefer juice/tea when at home. It is hard to get all of us to drink water, however, I am working on this. The kids have to drink water when at home unless having a meal. My question is what is a good(if any) natural, no sugar juice or tea brand that would be not so bad. What do your kids drink??

    1. Why not brew your own tea? You can control how much sugar, if any, you put in it. 1/2 cup of sugar in a gallon of tea works out to about 9 grams of sugar per 12 oz (tall glass) serving. Tea, coffee, fruits, veggies, oatmeal, yogurt, soup all count toward your daily water goal too. You don’t have to drink plain water either, try adding some frozen raspberries to a pitcher of water and place it in the fridge.

      1. I like to put a few drops of lemon essential oil in my water, it makes it taste so good and has wonderful health benefits (like kicking sugar cravings!)

    2. I really used to struggle with this. I put 1 herbal tea bag in a full pitcher of water and toss it in the fridge. It gives it just enough flavor. I’ll usually even refill the pitcher once with the same bag. And I never sweeten it. Depending on what type of tea you use, the flavor can be very similar to juice. Doing this made me kick my serious Dr. Pepper habit to the curb.

    3. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      …or just add a squeeze of lemon to lime to water. It makes a huge difference. We do a lot of sparkling water with just a tiny splash of an organic 100% juice like pomegranate or cranberry.

  5. Does your simple chocolate sauce recipe harden if cooled? Thinking of dipping pretzels in it for Valentine treats…Thanks!

    1. If you melt together coconut oil and chocolate, you get a sauce that hardens as it cools and is great for dipped foods :). We use it as “magic shell” for ice cream and to make chocolate covered strawberries :)

  6. Courtney Geisendorff

    Hi! I wondering what your thoughts are on haircare, makeup, lotions etc…. I have been reading about all the dangerous ingredients that I’m allowing my children and I to put on our bodies. Do you have any suggestions for healthier options? Thanks!

  7. I was wondering if you could help. I have celiac disease so I can not eat whole wheat flour. What would you recommend in its place.
    Thank you!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Samantha. Most grocery stores have Ezekial bread available in the frozen section. This sprouted wheat bread is a really good option. ~Amy

  8. Hello! I have loved reading 100 Days of Real Food. I have recommended it to many family and friends! I do have a question on Almond milk. Would this be considered a real food or would this be a highly processed food that I should be avoiding? Thanks!

  9. I have a few questions. First off I am completely intrigued and happily planning our transition to real foods, however my youngest son has mild autism, mostly sensory related and from this he is basically a vegetarian that will NOT eat vegetables, only dairy, yogurt, cheeses, fruits, almost any carbs but no nut butters. This makes any real diet changes very difficult. I can’t even sneak in protein substitutes. I do however purchase the most organic and natural products I can for him and our family. My question is for school lunches…..I send him with and individual organic milk products, water or fruit drinks, which we are eliminating, but its his treat so I was wondering what other products you may send for beverages? Second, as far as orange juices, which product do you recommend? Third, your thoughts on organic pure cane sugar? Any thoughts are helpful!! Thanks

    1. Billie your son sounds just like mine a 4 years ago. After doing some research I found out that the cravings for carbs and dairy are related to the autism. There is a chemical reaction in them that causes the foods to act like and opiate and are addicting in much the same way. The book I read (wish I could remember the title) said that there was a 50/50 chance it would help. We eliminated dairy cold turkey since it seemed easier and later the gluten but we didn’t see as big a difference and added it back in.
      After the first 3-4 awful days of withdraw and not wanting to eat much (we let him eat anything else he wanted besides dairy and sweets), things turned around in two ways. First my sons behaviors became less frequently and not as strong. One morning he just woke up a different person and his siblings wondered if he was an alien. And Second he was eating almost the same whole foods as the rest of the family. Now we can tell when he has been having to much dairy because his behaviors change. My oldest son actually makes jokes about finding mozzarella in his room instead of drugs the change is so great. I did use the book “Deceptively Delicious” by Jessica Seinfeld to hid more veggies and proteins in foods that I knew he would eat. Who knew that kids will eat spinach in brownies. My son is now in High School and in the main stream classroom he is doing well in most ways. I would recommend trying this on your son because a 50/50 shot is worth the effort if you can help him in any way. I know it was for me.

    2. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Billie. Lisa really only sends water in the girl’s lunches. The same is true for my kids, though sparkling water with a splash of juice is very common in our home (not in lunch boxes). If you do not want to fresh squeeze your OJ, then be sure to find an organic version. As far as organic cane sugar goes, Lisa really only uses honey and maple syrup as sweeteners. You will find refined sugar in just a couple of her recipes but as rule, avoids it in general.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Samantha. Food For Life Ezekial is a good brand. Dave’s Killer Bread and Alvarado Street Bakery are a couple others.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Kimberly. “Real Pickles” is a good brand if you happen to live in the Northeast US. Best advise is to look for an organic brand without additives.

  10. I have a question regarding food labels. In looking at my favourite cereal the ingredients are listed: Toasted Wheat Flakes (Wholegrain Wheat, sugar, barley Malt syrup), Wholegrain Oat Flakes, Wholegrain Barley Flakes, Chopped dates, Raisins, Chopped Brazil Nuts, Cashew Nut pieces, almonds, Sunflower seeds, Roasted Hazelnuts, Pumpkin seeds.
    No GMO’s, no artificial colours, no artificial flavours. With the sugar and barley malt syrup being listed in brackets – I am hoping this means that there isn’t very much but is there anyway of knowing? I realize that there are a great deal more than 5 ingredients but with the exception of the 2 mentioned – they all look pretty good. Thoughts?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Sarah. The ingredients in the parenthesis show the ingredients in the wheat flakes. You will have to look at the nutrition label to see how much sugar added. Other than the question of sugar, I would not worry about the number of ingredients if they are all whole foods.

  11. Hi Lisa,

    I’m located just a bit north of you in NC and I’ve been checking out your blog and various recipes for over a year now. I really like and support the ideas behind your philosophy shared website – however, I NEED your help!!! I have recently worked EXTREMELY hard over the last 6 months to lose over 40 pounds. I have done this simply by counting calories (paying no attention to carbs, fats, or sugars) and exercising 2-3 times a week (walking/jogging/light weight training). I would love to slowly make the shift to real food – but I am so extremely anxious and nervous to do this. For example, I was checking out your “Granola Cereal” recipe – and based on your ingredients and assuming it serves about 12 – that is 378 calories per serving… not including some whole milk or berries. I usually stay UNDER 300 calories total for breakfast and 1200 calories total for the day (unless I exercise – then I add those calories to my daily total).

    Can you help me match both this “Real Food” approach with my low calorie eating to continue my weight loss efforts??


    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Manda. Congratulations on how far you’ve come! We really don’t give weight-loss advice specifically but I do think these posts will help: and

      As a health coach, I will say that 1200 calories a day is not a lot of calories for an active person. Too few calories can zap your energy and sabotage your metabolism. Focusing instead on the quality of the food you are eating, its nutrient density, as well as its glycemic load is a good strategy for lasting weight-loss. :)

  12. Hi! I have a question. I can everything from my garden. I almost always calls for sugar . How do I get around that ? Can I sub? It is ok since Im canning it ?

  13. hi I started this about a week ago its a little hard but I think I can do this my husband has started reading everything in the store and putting it back so what about bobs red mill unbromated unbleached white flour ,hope it good.i made bread with it really good . so I am hoping its good what do you think oh also well this way of eating help with weight loss

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Rhonda. No, that is a refined flour. Look for Bob’s Red Mill 100% Whole Wheat or 100% white whole wheat. Many people switching to real food do find that they loose weight but it is not really our focus. ;)

  14. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

    Hi Nancy. I totally get where you are coming from because I’ve been there. You do not have to strive for perfection right off the bat. Take small steps introducing your kids to things you are pretty sure will go over well….and then get a little more daring. One way to go about it is to do the mini pledges and let them build on eachother: and Keep in mind that you are in charge but it does help to include them in some decision making. Maybe you could go through the cookbook together and pick out the recipes that look most promising. Just don’t give up. It is important and even baby steps move you forward. :)

  15. I have been buying Natures Way childrens probiotics for my kids.
    After reading the ingredients, I realized sorbitol and xylitol are in there. What children’s probiotic do you recommend?

    1. I’ve purchased Culturelle brand and while it’s all natural (no artificial dyes/flavors) it also has a few additives in there. I only use it when my kids are on antibiotics – about once every year or two – so I haven’t spent too much time searching for a better alternative. I hope that helps!

  16. Hi Amy,
    I have been looking around the website and got the book. I really feel this is the right thing to do but
    I am overwhelmed at where to start with my kids 8 and 6. I have been AWFUL in what I feed them and we don’t even sit together for family meals. I have tried in the past to make home made food and am rejected. It came to the point that my daughter (8) told me that she hated having a mom who wants to make home made and organic food. She just wants the store bought stuff and who cares if it’s organic. I gave up at that point. That was a few months ago. I recently came across this website and food babe and my eyes are wide open now. I know I have to do it but am so scared of the rejection, the wasted food and money if they refuse to eat and frankly the energy it will take. Any words of advice? Thanks

    1. Hi Nancy,

      I realize this may be too late but our family recently totally overhauled our eating habits. We have 3 girls, 6 and 9. I should say that it seems like my kids were probably more receptive than yours would be initially since we were likely eating healthier than most, but I found a few tricks to help them give up their beloved Goldfish, Cheez-its and mac n cheese.

      First, I explained why we needed to change what we were eating, how much better our bodies would feel, and how important it was to give our bodies good fuel. I talked about food companies using sugar, salt and chemicals to trick our brains to want more junk, which played right into my daughter’s indignation at being tricked by anyone (she’s smarter than us all, lol). I did a few different exercises to show them-I showed them how much sugar was in the crackers they like and the tomato sauce they ate, and explained that all this sugar was hiding in foods that weren’t even sweet. I took them to the store and challenged them to find a food they were used to eating that didn’t have any added sugar or chemicals. I talked about this a lot for the weeks leading up to the 10 day challenge. Then, I used the 10 day challenge as an incentive. I made a chart for each of us for each day, and at the end of each day they got to check if the made a good effort. We also all agreed on the rules we would follow:
      1) No foods that aren’t allowed
      2) No complaining
      3) Three bite rule-they agree to try a new food with 3 bites

      At the end, they could celebrate with a non-food treat. To get ready, I had them as a game go through all the food in our house and put in boxes anything that broke the rules. They LOVED this part. Then we put it all in the basement. They got very serious about the challenge, even getting stressed when they ate a snack with sugar by accident at a friend’s house.

      Next, I showed them all the lunches on this web site and told them to choose what they wanted for lunches and snacks each day. They liked getting to choose. Dinner is not our issue so I didn’t do that with them but you could.

      I think the success was getting them into the “challenge” aspect of it. The 6 year old was less successful, as I expected, but overall it went great and we kept a lot of the changes.

    2. I should add that it took a LOT of time. I made everything from scratch, including mayonaise (it has added sugar). I made crackers (not a success), whole wheat pancakes (tastes fine with enough maple syrup) and muffins. I made homemade ranch dressing, homemade taco seasoning, and homemade salad dressing I baked a lot.I drew the line at making my own ketchup and settled for an organic one. But, I have to say that in the end, I found the time and now bake all treats-no more store bought cookies or brownies. I am getting faster at it, sort of.

    3. Nancy, I hope you haven’t given up!
      These changes can seem scary and overwhelming to grown-ups, much less to children who feel like they don’t have any voice in making the changes. That could be where your daughter was coming from. I love Jhana’s suggestions for getting your kids involved.
      We have eaten this way pretty much for the last 54-5 years and my daughter is 7. Every now and then, she still complains that she gets homemade cookies and snacks rather than things out of a package. It bugs me, but it doesn’t change how we eat. I ask her to read the ingredients and tell me what things in that item she actually wants to eat. (We can find ingredient lists for most things inline.)
      Good luck. It’s a journey and it will be difficult sometimes, but hopefully, you will find it’s worthwhile.

  17. Do you have any information on websites I can use for ordering non perishable staples, my grocery store does not have a big Organic section for items like maple syrup, canned tomatoes, pastas, beans etc.

    Thank you


  18. I (and my family!) have been on a real food journey for the past 2 1/2 years, after reading Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food and being directed to Lisa’s awesome website! I recently read the book Wheat Belly, and wondered what Lisa thinks about the whole “avoid grains and especially wheat” thing. It makes sense to me that the wheat that we have now is drastically different than the wheat from ancient times, or even 50-100 years ago. And that it’s in so much of our foods, especially highly processed foods, so we should be eating much less of it. There’s so much contradictory and confusing food advice out there!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Donna. Lisa and her family enjoy eating whole wheat and have not shown any kind of sensitivity to it. If you have concerns, I would look for ancient forms of wheat and other grains. So much is available to us now that avoiding modern wheat is not a huge challenge as long a you are willing to cook/bake things yourself. :) I personally feel far better without wheat and gluten but every body and digestive system is different.

  19. Hi –
    I have a whole wheat bread recipe I love, but it has a little molasses in it, and a couple tablespoons of vital wheat gluten. Are these considered real foods, or not?
    Thanks for your help! (=

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi. Under the rules, we would use honey or maple syrup rather than molasses and we would not add the vital wheat gluten. However, that sounds like a pretty clean recipe if you use organic ingredients.

  20. I put a link to your book on my website, and mentioned how awesome it is. I am just getting started with being a personal chef, but have followed your site for a while (inspired me, and my husband is slowly warming up to healthy food), thank you so much for sharing your families journey. I plan on consulting your book often. Judith

  21. hi,
    I have a question and its about lentils & beans various! I can’t seem to find wether they r ok or not on ure website? Myself my husband and 2 children r trying to follow this oledge as closely as possible but I’m unsure as to these foods!! ?

  22. I am fairly familiar with the site and real food in general. However, I am wondering what the opinion is on almond flour and coconut flour? I noticed Lisa seems to only use whole wheat. Also, what is a good mild flavor whole wheat?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Amanda. Almond flour and coconut flour are great gluten free flour options but can’t be exchanged one to one in Lisa’s recipes. You would need to do a good bit of experimenting. :) Lisa sometimes uses white whole wheat which is still 100% whole wheat but lighter in color and texture.

  23. I have not gotten to read through everything on this site, but I was wondering about stevia and other supposedly “natural” alternative sweeteners like xylitol and erythritol? Are those recommended or should they be avoided. Thank you!

  24. I’m looking for standard “boxed” snacks that my kids would recognize and that also constitute “real food” or something close to it. For example, I looked at Triscuits, which seemed to me pretty benign. Are they? Do you have a list of mass market snacks that are acceptable, or relatively so?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Nicole. Triscuits have refined oil but are among the crackers Lisa used when she first started the pledge. She now uses Ak Mak, whole wheat matzo, or occasionally buys Crunch Master brand. Here are a few packaged snacks in addition: and Also, does a list of the cleanest packaged foods every year. :)

  25. Hi, do you have any mail order sites you can reccommend for buying food. Our grocery store does not have a very big organic section. I’ve been looking on Amazon and they seem to have a lot?



  26. Hi! We have been making the switch to no processed food! We have been doing the 80/20 rule for a little while now but I did have a few questions. My 16 month old soon is a real food eater but he absolutely loves animal crackers, pretzel sticks, and crackers in general. We did not offer these to him but they did at nursery. I looked at the ingredient labels of even the organic kind and there are so many ingredients in the crackers and animal crackers. Do you have any alternatives that are just as tasty for him? And the organic pretzel sticks that I have found have soybean oil and wheat flour, are those ingredients ok? Thanks so much. We are still new on this journey and still learning!

  27. There are a lot of websites that suggest drinking almond or rice milk instead of cows milk. What do you think of these options?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Niki. If you are looking for a milk alternative, be sure to look for those that have the fewest ingredients. Milk alternatives are good for those who need to avoid dairy especially. ~Amy

  28. I agree with your philosophy for eating healthy but I am wondering how the average family could ever possibly afford to purchase an organic turkey. I looked at them with every intention of buying one this Thanksgiving but the prices were outrageous! The small turkeys were $50 while the larger ones for a family gathering were as much as $75. Most families can’t afford this price. Where did you buy your turkey and did you pay these prices?

    Thank you!


  29. Hi

    Total newbie here from the UK, I follow are very restricted low fat diet after years with a eating disorder, and I am fascinated with basic/natural/healthy, although apprehensive with starting your plan. Image started to incorporate various aspects.
    After years on low fat expensive cereal bars which I realise are full of sweetners etc I am looking to make the switch, I have located your recipes for larabars, however I was looking for a alternative shop bought item for ease. We have Nakd bars in the uk, what is your view on them?

  30. I have a question, and I’m not on facebook or any social media, what is your opinion of evaporated milk… I know it’s processed, but how much compared to other processed food. I don’t use it much except for a couple recipes for eggs or cheese.

  31. Hi There!
    I love your website and facebook page. I’ve been following you for about two years now. I also bought your cook book!

    I am looking on Amazon to buy organic items that I can’t buy here. Also looking into seasonings – what organic seasonings do you buy or does it even matter when it comes to that?

    Thank you for all that you do!!!

  32. Hi! I first want to thank you for sharing all your hard work with us! I’ve had numerous health problems and have been on the track to eating cleaner. I just have a quick question. What is the average calorie intake for your meal plans? Thanks!

  33. We have greatly enjoyed following your journey on facebook in cutting out processed food, as our family has began our own gluten free journey four months ago. We were devasted (I know it’s a strong word, but that’s how I felt!) to find out the Ziplock containers were discontinued, and so we purchased the yumboxes last week. Our whole family LOVES them – they make it so easy to pack our lunches, it’s unreal. What we do have a question about, however, is how you keep the food inside cold? I have tried putting a few ice packs in my daughter’s lunch bag next to the yumbox, but she says her food just isn’t cold by lunchtime (less than 4 hours later) – I guess the cold just doesn’t permeate through the plastic yumbox? Any suggestions on how you do that?

    Thanks for any help you can offer :)

  34. Hi, I bought your book a couple of weeks ago and first let me say I love it. I’m in the process of converting our kitchen to “real” foods. Over the past year I have removed almost all processed foods and we’ve been making our own 5 ingredient whole wheat bread. I’m still working on the pasta, not a fan of whole wheat so we’ve cut consumption of it way down to once or twice a month, when my supply is gone I will convert to all whole wheat and just learn to like it. My question is, what do I do about dried spices, are they allowed on the whole foods lifestyle?

    Thank you,

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Sally. Dried spices are absolutely fine. Just pay attention to ingredient labels to be sure there is nothing in the spices that you aren’t expecting. ;)

  35. Hi there. I bought the book when it first came out.
    I noticed that you say you buy 100% pure maple syrup grade B.
    Why grade B? At Costco I have only found 100% pure maple syrup grade A. I was just wondering why you use A instead of B so that I can begin to look for it.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Sandra. Grade B syrup is darker, richer, with a more concentrated maple flavor- “harvested” late in the season. Grade A is fine to use, too. It is just less intense flavor-wise. There is no difference in the processing. ~Amy

  36. Could you please tell me why you use honey and 100% syrup instead of stevia? I have always read that stevia is much better for you and now I’m very confused.
    Tks for all your help on the website. I have enjoyed learning new ways to be healthy.

  37. I am just beginning this program and I really need some help. I have read all the rules and all the lunch box blogs, but i haven’t found any realistic options for my 12 year old daughter that will only eat chicken nuggets, applesauce, and bananas. She will “try” a bite of the grown up dinner, but she is incredibly picky. Help!!! She is willing to try this but I need realistic lunch options for her school lunches. She won’t eat soup, she usually only eats turkey and crackers with applesauce and cheese flavored crackers. She is having headaches and we all really want this program to work for us. Please help me with suggestions. Thank you in advance!!!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Denise. Have you read through the picky eater posts? Here are a few:,, and You can also make your way through the recipe index and pick out the ones you think your daughter might be willing to try: ~Amy

  38. I have been eating this way for over a month now and I really love it for so many reasons. However, I’ve noticed that I am constipated and feel bloated, tired, and sick quite often. Has anyone else had this complaint? I wonder if it’s just my body adjusting to an entirely new way of eating. I did not make the changes slowly, but rather all at once.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Dawn. It is normal for your body to have an adjustment period when completely overhauling how you eat. Can I ask what has been the biggest changes for you regarding what you ate before and what you are eating now? ~Amy

  39. Molendyk Michelle

    I have a request. Could you make a 1 page printable with all of the most important suggestions needed while grocery shopping? It would be a huge help when I can’t remember all the details. Thank you.

  40. Hi Lisa

    I totally love your website and your cookbook. I have very recently starting switching my family over to real food and trying our best to cut out processed foods. It has been a process but we are working very hard at it. I have been trying to find a brand of Almond Milk that is of the non-processed type, is there a brand you can recommend or is there is a list ingredients that you would recommend I look for. I am in Canada so our brands may be different then yours. Thanks for you help!

  41. I am trying to gather myself and family to start this journey. The one item I cannot seem to find is what yogurt do you deem acceptable? Is it only plain, organic and we add our own fresh fruit? I have looked at all the different yogurts in the store and they all have more than 5 ingrediants and for sure some I cannot pronounce.

    I appreciate your help!


  42. I’ve heard and read a lot about wheat being bad for you (for example, the books _Wheat Belly_ and _Grain Brain_). But I notice you still use whole wheat products. What is your opinion regarding this?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Jody. The Leakes have no sensitivities to gluten, wheat, or other grains and believe whole grains to be a healthy part of their diets. ~Amy

  43. Where did she buy the drawstring little bags that she puts the thermos’ in for snack? I don’t see them listed under lunch time supplies (which is impossible to find on it’s own – website needs an overhaul!).

  44. I have read a number of your articles and we have made a number of changes, though we have some more to make. However, I read the article about the oatmeal in a jar for snack. And it said that you added homemade vanilla extract to it. Then I read the article about how to make it. But what I wasn’t clear on is, does the alcohol dissipate in the extraction process? As my son has enough health issues, I am concerned about pouring the equivalent of vanilla vodka in his food that is not being cooked. Right now I buy organic vanilla, but I have never used it in anything that is not cooked. Thanks!

  45. For years we had a normal sized fridge and a chest freezer and I was home most days. I’d buy in bulk, shop healthy, cook and store extras in the freezer. Fast forward to now: poverty level budget, full time work and school, very small fridge and no extra freezer, and almost no place to store things so buying in bulk is limited to very few things.
    1. What are some tips for cutting down cooking time without requiring extra cold storage? (I can spend about 30 minutes a day cooking and otherwise it’s a major project for a weekend.) Limitations: cannot store much in the fridge so preparing food for more than one day at a time isn’t an option. I don’t want to sink to the level of keeping convenience (non) foods on hand but some nights I’m so tired I grab a peanut butter sandwich and call it dinner. (Adams peanut butter, Dave’s Killer Bread… )

  46. I needed to replace my Ziploc containers from last year. I got them at Target, so went there and there wasn’t even a place on the shelf. Instead of searching all around town, decided to use Amazon, but they are unavailable. Argh! I searched for similar ones, but was not happy with the style and reviews. Some that were very similar said they were not leak proof. Have you found another source for them?

  47. I’m so happy with the cook book and even bought the smoothie pops you suggested! I made the chicken soup Saturday and tried to freeze half of it for anther dinner and the mason jar cracked :( I even left space for expanding.. Do you have any suggestions for this?? Thanks!!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Kayla. Sorry that happened. Be sure you are using freezer safe jars. Also, jars with rounded shoulders won’t allow for expansion of the food. You should use wide-mouth jars that are wider at the top than at the bottom with tapered sides. This shape will allow food to expand upward as it freezes. ~Amy

    2. Make sure you don’t put the cap on tightly during the freezing or thawing. I can use the narrow mouth jars without incident as long as I remember not to over fill or over tighten.

  48. I have just started buying blocks of cheese from Trader Joes and love doing it. My question is how do you store the cheese after it has been opened and how long does cheese usually last?

    I love your website and your book.

  49. Our family’s meals are now about 90% organic. I make certain I purchase all of my dairy products (milk, butter, yogurt, etc.) organic and/or grass fed. Your ideals are very much in line with mine as far as cooking and ingredients. So I am curious if you make exceptions for different cheeses. I buy most cheese that is organic but there are some that I simply cannot find. Imported cheeses are never organic. Are these ok and free or hormones?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Amy. Bovine Growth Hormone is banned in the European Union as well as in Canada, Japan, and Austrailia. :)

  50. Hi there…love your site. I’m curious what your thoughts are on eating a vegetarian or vegan diet. We (and by we, I mean me, all the while dragging my four kids along…lol) have been eating this way for about three years and have begun revisiting my reasons for the switch. I see you guys eat a variety of things including dairy and meat. I respect your opinion on all things food, so I’d love to know why or why not you’d go completely veggie/vegan. Thanks for your info!

  51. Lisa and family! I have been so inspired by you, your book and your journey. I am a mom of three, work part time, and my husband owns his own business. Needless to say we are busy people. Your recipes are easy and simple. I found myself talking non stop about artificial coloring in foods and how it effects my daughter personally that I ended up collaborating with two good friends and created a website/blog to spread the word (set to launch in a few weeks – I can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you have done and shared it with all of us!!

  52. I am trying to convert a recipe into a real food recipe. Currently I am stuck on a substitution for ketchup (meatloaf). Any suggestions? I would really prefer not to use it!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Brie. There is really not substitution for the tangy sweetness of ketchup, but you could try a tomato sauce instead. ~Amy

  53. I use the reusable muffin cups but mine leave a soap like taste on my muffins. Have you had this problem? I have tried two different brands and still no success.

  54. Hello! I found this website by following a link on mywisemom. I love it! I would like to gradually read through this blog starting with the first post. However, clicking on 2010 took me to the final post of 2010. Is there a way for me to read the postings chronologically? Thank you!

  55. If a label says that it contains less than 2% of certain things does that mean it would be a “real” food? Or are even those minute traces bad?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Melissa. Those still count on the 5 ingredient list. It doesn’t take much of chemical to cause harm. Of course, not all are equally as bad but we just avoid them all. Generally, if you don’t recognize the ingredient or if it is something you would not find in your panty, you shouldn’t eat it. ~Amy

  56. I may have missed this on your website but I am looking for different things to drink! What drinks do you and your family drink besides milk and water? Are there any other options? Thanks for your help!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Carla. Those are Lisa’s family’s main drinks. Sparkling water with a splash is 100% fruit juice is a great option. Coffee, tea, wine, and beer are enjoyed, as well. :) ~Amy

  57. Hi!
    I wanted to say how much I love your new cookbook! It has opened my eyes so much. I always believed we were healthy eaters but was stunned at what we are really eating and giving our kids once I started going through our labels. We have already started meal planning and making great school lunches for our kindergartener!
    I do have a question that maybe you have addressed before and I did not come across, I sure hope you have some time to answer it.
    Our sons school refuses any kind of nuts. I would love to make him some granola bars, do you have a recipe that does not include nuts? Also, what recipe do you use for a crust base such as for a pot pie or a real food fruit tart? Thanks again for changing our lives!
    Nadine D.

  58. What bread do you buy from the harvest bread co.? Do you buy other stuff there. We have a store 1 hour a way I plan on going there next week. Thanks! Angie

  59. I am wondering how to start modifying some of my recipes for baking to cut out the sugar and substitute honey or maple instead of brown sugar. Do you have a ratio or a recommendation on how to make over baking recipes?

  60. Hello! I am in need of some advice or direction toward previous posts or direction in general!
    I am a 24 yo soon-to-be graduate student and I will be living on a very limited budget. I have struggled with my weight my entire life and am now at the point where my weight gain is affecting my health. I need a lifestyle change and I sincerely think this is the best choice for me – since it is about nourishing my body with food that is best for it.
    I need help help finding resources that will assist me in adopting a real food diet on a limited budget. Can you help?

  61. Hi,
    This is a great website with so many fantastic resources! I am looking for a high-fibre cereal such as Fibre 1 that would be considered a real food. Do you have any suggestions?


  62. Can you explain why refined flour is considered an unacceptable food, while oil is considered an acceptable food? In both instances, nutritious parts of the whole food have been removed and a product with few nutrients remains. I just really don’t understand what the difference is – seems kind of arbitrary to me so I feel like I must be missing something.

  63. Hi! I’ve recently discovered this blog and I’m officially addicted! But I do have one question/concern: my family and I have started this new lifestyle and have been going strong for a week and one thing I’ve noticed is how much more fat we take in. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! I’m just wondering if I should be concerned about it. It’s really hard to get over all the years of watching calories and fat content. I would say we definitely eat less, but it’s still higher in fat than we would normally eat. I would love an opinion or some tips on this matter! Thanks!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Bridget. The Leakes don’t count fat grams, calories, or the like. The whole low fat era has done way more harm that good, unfortunately. Healthy fats are essential for the body and brain to function properly. Here are a couple posts that might ease your concerns: ~Amy

  64. Hi, I came across your blog while searching for lunch ideas for my daughter. I just saw on our school website that our school is now a peanut-free school. This is hard for us because my daughter does not enjoy meat (maybe a processed chicken nugget now and then, sorry, but true) and is a very picky eater. Basically, the only sandwich she will eat is peanut butter with jelly which is no longer an option for us. Is there a post written about vegetarian/peanut free lunch option for kids? I’ve read that the food allergies are on the rise and this would be a great subject to blog about. Thanks!

  65. Hi,

    I was thinking about using avocado oil in my cooking? And what about organic durum wheat semolina pasta? Are they both considered whole food?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Melanie. Avocado oil is a great healthy fat and can stand up to high temperatures. Be sure that the pasta you choose is 100% whole grain. ~Amy

  66. I’m wondering if anyone has personal experience or research on the effects of a real food diet, on digestive disorders such as acid reflux, crohns, or irritable bowel syndrome? Or any suggestions on where to find that information? Multiple members of my family have diagnosed digestion problems (as well as just really not feeling as healthy as we should). We’re hoping a real food diet may help, but are there any extra suggestions or things we should pay attention to when dealing with particularly sensitive digestive systems?

    1. Hi Kelsey!

      Besides using this awesome blog to help out yourself and your family, my fiance and I discovered a blog called Empowered Sustenance. The writer began her real food journey in order to end her ulcerative colitis, a really harsh digestive disorder she’s had since she was young. The results have been incredible.

      Check it out, I hope it helps!

  67. I am an insulin pump diabetic. I love the recipes and am switching to whole foods so your website is definitely helpful for me and my family. I am struggling a bit because I desperately need the nutritional breakdown on recipes due to the fact that my insulin pump is programed by the amount of carbohydrates I eat per meal. Can you help me? Is there a place I can go to find out the nutritional information?

    Thanks :)

  68. I am wondering if you have serving size/nutritional information posted for the recipes in your meal plans.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Tracy. We don’t. Our focus is on helping folks get the processed stuff out of their lives and practicing portion control. ~Amy

  69. I’m lactose intolerant and currently use almond milk or coconut milk (not pure coconut milk) when needed. I’m guessing these are not considered “real” food, but what would you suggest for those who can not have real milk?


    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi. Look for an almond or coconut milk with the fewest added ingredients. Also, organic soy milk usually has fewer than three ingredients. ~Amy

  70. My daughter will be 11 months soon and as of right now I send in some food to daycare with her so she can get used to solids. I only send her in with real food, fruits, veggies, whole wheat crackers, oatmeal etc. She doesn’t eat much and still relies on breastmilk for most of her nutrition. The teachers at daycare have made comments that she is reaching for the other kids food, which the daycare provides – not all real food and some of which is processed -chicken nuggets, patties etc and nothing is local or organic. They do try to be healthy with lots of fruits and veggies and “whole wheat” breat (but I don’t know if real whole wheat)though i know it’s not the best quality.

    My goal is to try to send her in with things from home that mimic their food, but have you ever had to address an issue of your children just wanting what the other kids are having? My husband and I for the most part only eat real food, local/organic when possible and want to raise our daughter to eat the same. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Danielle. If your child is accustomed early on to your food and she understands the “whys” behind it, you will have a much easier time than those trying to break bad habits. You are bound to run into some tough situations and it is okay to be a little flexible but you are laying a really important healthy foundation. ~Amy

  71. I was wondering if you offered a “fix my recipe” segment on this site :). I have tons of recipess that are not healthy that my family just loves! Case in point, every time we go camping they want these spaghetti pockets. Made with wonder bread and white floor pasta. For the record, that stuff is not in my home. Anyway, do you think it would work with organic pasta sauce, whole wheat organic pasta and whole wheat bread? I’m afraid of burning the sandwiches in the pie irons. Any help would be fabulous!,, thanks so much!,,

  72. Is there a link where you have all of your freezer meals (and snacks) and anything that can be frozen in one place? Or do I just need to go through the recipe index and see what I can freeze and what I cant? If its all in one place, please let me know, I am expecting a new baby in a month and I want to make as many freezer foods now that I can. Thank you so much :-)


  73. We are trying to cut down on salt. Is there a nutritional breakdown for your recipes?
    Do we just use nonprocessed foods and not add salt?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Niki. We do not provide nutrition information. We want people focusing less on numbers and more on incorporating more real whole foods into their diet. You are welcome to leave the salt out or just cut back the amount in any of our recipes. :) ~Amy

  74. Hi, I’m new to your site; just found it looking for a pulled pork recipe. Like what I see but I just have a quick comment. I’ve been eating organic, real food and been a gluten free “sugar avoider” for over 2 years. Started on this track because of my son’s gluten intolerance and some of my own health issues. My comment is that I don’t think treating horrible food as a “special treat” is a good idea. While I sometimes let my son try something new or eat certain foods like NAAN which are not gluten free but part of an otherwise really healthy meal at a restaurant – I never treat it like a special thing. I think if you do you are just doing the worst thing you can possibly do. The food that is special is the perfect organic apple or the gluten free bread or the organic pulled pork. The other food, the junk food is “poison”. A little bit of poison is still poison. It’s not special. Using this approach my son has no problem not eating a sundae with M&M’s at a birthday party. He just doesn’t want a little bit of poison just ‘cuz it’s somebody’s birthday. AND, he’s making a big impact on what his friends eat. I’m sure that your kids can be opinion leaders, too. Hope you aren’t offended….just trying to share what works for me. Oh, and he threw down the gauntlet one day and said I couldn’t make a sugar free, gluten free Key Lime Pie. Which I did. And that was special!

  75. I found a Morning Glory Muffin recipe (below) that sounds good and fairly “healthy” I think, but it calls for 1 1/4 cups sugar. How do you know how much honey/maple syrup to use instead of sugar? Do you have a rule of thumb? Or is it better just to use the sugar since it is homemade? Thanks for your help!

    Original recipe makes 18 muffins
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1 1/4 cups white sugar
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups grated carrots
    1 apple – peeled, cored, and chopped
    1 cup raisins
    1 egg
    2 egg whites
    1/2 cup apple butter
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
    2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ

  76. Would really love to see a post about spices (if you do have one please share the link with me :D) We would like to know what spices are good to use, which spices we should be staying away from should we be buying organic spices? etc… Thanks so much!!!

  77. Hi~

    I wasn’t sure where else to ask this question… I have been trying to purge my house of all plastic used in the kitchen (slowly but surely). I have been looking for the perfect sized bowls for my kids (they aren’t toddlers – 6, 8, 9) but am completely lost. I want BPA free, obviously, so I am looking at glass. There seem to be so many discussions on whether or not Corelle or Duralex are lead free and what is the better choice, etc. Or do I go the stainless steel route? Aaaaah! Do you have any input on this? Thank you!

  78. Is there a post available on substitutions? For instance taking a recipe that calls for all purpose flour, can you evenly substitute whole wheat flour? I am looking to see what healthier twists I can make to some already family favorites and I am just starting to make the journey :-)

  79. Gilda de Armas

    I need to buy liquid Chlorophyl I am looking at one that has the following ingredients:

    Chlorophyllins, purified water, methylparabens, spearmint oil, polyparabens
    Also need to buy Vitamin C 1000mg… any suggestions… I have a sensitive stomach
    Are not parabens bad for you ?
    Please let me know….if you can email me….

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Gilda. Sorry, that is just not something I am familiar with. As a rule, we avoid any additives whenever possible. I do avoid all parabens but I do not know anything about those in particular. ~Amy

  80. will these green smoothies nececessarily make you loose weight? im not looking to loose any weight but want to eat healthier and feel better. Also is it ok for kids to have them?

  81. Do you ever make your own nut butters? If so, what appliance do you use or can recommend? A regular blender just does not do the job and I do not have a processor. I would like to get something else but the prices can be so high, I am a little worried.