Monday, May 26, 2014

Food for Thought - Unprocessed Family

Don't worry I'm not going to get all preachy about what we should be feeding kids and how this new eating craze I've discovered is brilliant for you. To tell the truth, I don't know what is best. There are so many new diets and lifestyles out there now all claiming to be what we should be eating that I don't know which is fad and which is actually really beneficial for you and your children.

I do feel that our modern lifestyle has gotten lazy and over-processed, our food over-sweet and full of junk. I mean do we really need recipes for doughnut muffins stuffed with Oreos with cookie dough frosting. What is going on? Some of the things I see on Pinterest scare me. Most recipes I find require some pre-processed ingredients. Yes, I can find replacements, but what happened to making things from scratch? I bought a well known series's family recipe book and can't make a large handful of the recipes because I can't get certain pre-made sauces, spice mixes, cake mixes, etc ready available in the US. I get that families can always use a hand and a bit of a shortcut, but sometimes it seems a bit much. 

I do know that the Chief and I don't have the best diets. We like sweet stuff. The Weans' isn't too bad, but I can be stricter with them than I can with myself. I wanted to make a change in how I eat, but being the cook and shopper it would affect the whole family. So after a chat, the Chief agreed that we needed to make some overall changes and he'd go with whatever I decided.

A few problems though. The Mouse is Picky, yes, with a capital P. If it was left up to him he'd eat just a handful of things, currently cheese and pastrami sandwiches. Luckily, what he will eat is healthy, most normal fruit and veg, most meat. But he hates sauces and pureed soups, most carbs, anything new or odd looking. He is mega-sensitive to tastes and textures and would be immediately aware of anything different in meals he recognises. The Chief also has some peculiar dislikes I have to deal with when cooking.

Another problem is that I am amazingly unorganised for a mother of four. I'm better than I was, but I still find it very hard to pre-plan and prep things. I'm trying to do weekday meal plans, so hopefully that will help a bit. I sit down every Sunday now and make out a menu and shopping list. It's worked three weeks so far. Go me. But overhauling our eating habits is going to require much more planning and organising. Eeek. 

There are so many options out there now for healthy eating, but which to choose? How far do you go? Paleo, clean, gluten free, raw, vegan? And I'm sure so many more I don't know about. The all have their positives and their negatives. 

Anything you want to replace or change requires tons of research: new recipes, new ingredients, new shops. I'm not in the good ole US of A, so everything is not on my doorstep and it's all in a foreign language. I'm lucky that I have a few friends who are already into different eating styles that I can chat up for info.

I decided not to go whole hog: my family and I couldn't take a radical overhaul, so I've picked two of our biggest problems as a family: processed food and sugar. 

I'm trying to remove most of the processed food from our diet and make as much as possible myself. So I'm using up things in my cupboards and replacing them with healthier options. Not easy. I'm sure I don't even realise how processed food is these days and what I should be looking to remove, but I'm starting with the obvious. 

It's not easy to do either. We've gotten used to our lazy/easy lifestyles where you can 'fire and forget' a meal or just grab a bag of something. Last week even, I offered to make Mouse garlic bread to go with our homemade lasagna as he's not that keen on the pasta. So without thinking I popped into the shop and bought two frozen garlic bread loaves. Why? Because that's what I've done for years. I never even thought to buy a plain loaf and make my own butter or, even further down the path, make my own baguette and garlic butter. I don't have that amount of time usually, so I will have to decide how far I'm willing to go. I have to think about shopping and eating a lot more. So this Sunday, I made homemade garlic butter to put in a leftover bit of nice bread. And of the kids only Foo ate it when they all usually love garlic bread. It was too strange and new. This is what I'm up against. 

I'm also trying to cut down sugar as much as possible. Tough one. I want to still be able to make the kids sweet things from time to time, but not overloaded with sugar. Still trying to figure out how to do that, but sometimes it appears just to be - cut down the amount of sugar in a recipe. I found a breakfast muffin recipe I've had lying around for years that is full of carrots, raisins, apples, etc. But also full of sugar and oil. 

I recently learned you can replace oil in baking with applesauce. ??!! I mean - who knew? Brilliant. So I cut the 1.5 cups of sugar down to one and replaced the oil, but with applesauce and raisins it still was pretty sweet, so today I remade the recipe and put in less than half a cup of sugar and replaced 1 cup of white flour with a whole wheat flour. Still really tasty. I may try to cut it all out next time and go with only whole wheat flour. So that was mine, Pudding's and Foo's breakfast sorted for the a few days. Yeah, Mouse won't even try the muffins and Bump just picks at them. 

My cupboards are slowly emptying of processed food. We haven't had our nightly bit of chocolate for a few weeks. It's going to be a slow journey, but hopefully not a painful one and it will be worth the trouble. I'll keep you informed.  

You can follow our unprocessed adventure here:
Part 2 - Update
Part 3 - Substitutes

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