I used to think we were fairly adventurous eaters and cooks. And even though I didn’t actually learn to cook until after college, once I did I quickly dabbled in everything from homemade egg rolls to pasta from scratch to my grandmother’s crepes. Nothing could have prepared me though for all the “new foods” that I had to learn about – and now can’t live without – once we made the switch to “real food.” I am constantly amazed at all the items on my regular shopping list that I had never purchased before we decided to cut out processed food…
- Whole-wheat flour
Other real food newbies likely “flirted” with whole-wheat flour on occasion, but no no…not me. I promise you that I had never before purchased or cooked with whole-wheat flour (because I hated anything made with it!) until the start of all this 2 years ago.
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We used to eat boxed granola cereal, but it never occurred to me that you could actually make it yourself (and that it would be soooo much better)! The main ingredient in homemade granola is oats and the first time I made it I found myself saying… “Are plain ‘oats’ just oatmeal?” I’ve never been an oatmeal fan myself (and I’m still not, although I’ve since learned that my kids love it) therefore I never bought oats for any reason, but now I buy pounds of it every week and get worried if our supply is low!
Somebody must have bought at least one bottle of honey before our switch to real food because I remember a tiny bear shaped container of it in our pantry that was all crusted over and crystallized from lack of use (LOL). Now I buy this stuff in big jars and use it in everything from the granola we love so much to our sandwich bread. I’ll be the first to admit that “sugar is sugar” (even if it contains trace nutrients like honey) so we still aim to use it in moderation, but it’s quite a change from my white sugar days. And trust me I used to use A LOT of sugar…brown, white, and powdered. :)
- Kale / Collards
I could not have picked Kale or Collards out of a line-up to save my life. And even a year into our real food journey I still couldn’t say that I had truly adopted these as part of our regular menu. But, today I finally feel like I am figuring out how to not only incorporate, but also enjoy these nutrient-rich leafy greens (and occasionally even get my kids to eat them, too)!
- “Raw” nuts and seeds
To me nuts were greasy, salty and packaged in a blue “Planters” container. I admit I didn’t even know what it meant for them to be “raw” so I can completely relate when readers ask me where in the world to find such a product. (Answer: The bulk bins at health food stores!)
- Pinto Beans
I wouldn’t have been caught dead buying – much less eating – pinto beans and now my homemade slow cooker refried bean recipe (made from dried pinto beans) is one of my most favorite lunches! This might just be the strangest transition of them all…because it’s so ingrained in my brain that I don’t “like” beans.
- Whole Milk
Okay, I shouldn’t say that I NEVER bought whole milk because my kids actually drank it for a short period of time when they were babies, but it is most certainly a beverage I didn’t drink myself (probably since I was a baby). I was a skim milk girl all the way, and I admit that I was a little “scared” to make the switch, but I am so glad I did! Now I know what “real” milk tastes like, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Note to the raw milk advocates…it’s illegal here in N.C., although I am not sure I’d drink it anyway.)
- Coconut Oil and Ghee (a.k.a. Clarified Butter)
These are both unrefined “cooking fats” that I didn’t even purchase until long after completing our 100-day pledge, and to be honest I had no idea what to do with either one! I am finding that ghee is nice to have around because you can use it like butter, but it has a much higher smoke point so it doesn’t burn as easily. Also, there’s apparently not much you CANNOT do with coconut oil…just check out the reader comments in my post about it!
- Lara Bars
I still call these “granola bars” out of habit even though I know there’s no granola in there, but that’s because they replaced my very regular consumption of “Quaker Chewy Granola Bars” (in the old days of course). My favorite Quaker bars were the peanut butter chocolate chip, but sometimes I would go for the variety pack to switch it up. J Now I instead have a stash of Lara Bars (the cashew cookie only has 2 ingredients!!) as the “just in case” snacks in my purse.
This might be a little random, but the point here is that it is never too late to try and “like” new foods. I am not sure why, but I never ate kiwi before last year (that I can recall) and one day my 4-year-old asked if we could buy one. I certainly wanted to embrace her little adventurous food streak (and set a good example about trying new stuff) so I said “yes.” And I am so glad I did because now that I’ve figured out that soft = ripe…I absolutely love kiwis! Who knew?!?
Please share any new-found “real food” that you now love in the comments below!