Today we have Nina from Shalom Mama sharing her real food confession!
How “into” real food are you? (how long have you been doing it, how many different foods do you make from scratch, etc.)
At the end of 2008, my husband and I discovered Dave Ramsey. Our lives haven’t been the same since. Deciding to get out of debt was the catalyst for so many changes in our lives and transitioning to a natural, healthy way of living was no exception.
Pregnant with our third child (with a very small infant), we also decided that it would be best for me to stay home and for my husband to find a second job. Thankfully, as an EMT, he was able to find one that fit our schedule perfectly.
And so I began cutting our budget. I quickly learned that cooking from scratch would help us a lot and by planning simple meals, I was able to feed our family on $180 per month. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the healthiest food, but it was still from scratch.
I kept learning, and soon discovered that good nutrition would keep us healthy year round and so I began switching over to a whole foods diet, learning more about grass-fed beef, raw milk, coconut oil and fermented foods.
I also began trying to heal my body of a rash that I’d had for most of my life. After experimenting with different foods (eliminating then re-introducing them), I discovered at the beginning of 2011 that my body reacted to sugar, corn, wheat and dairy.
Since then, I’ve learned how to make many grain-free meals (thanks Kate for your awesome resources), incorporated a lot more veggies and eliminated almost all processed food.
Today, I make from scratch:
- Bread (the family still eats it)
- Nut butters
- Almond milk (this is new)
- Yogurt (sometimes)
- Salsa (when tomatoes are in season)
- Pretty much everything. I steer clear of food that comes in boxes and instant anything. We buy some canned fruits on occasion and uncooked flour tortillas.
What I’ll buy:
- Tortilla chips
- Kettle potato chips
- Chocolate chips (I see a pattern here…)
- Hard pretzels
- Sandwich bread (sometimes)
- Granola (sometimes)
What is one food you just can’t make yourself? (even if you’ve tried a lot…!)
I wish there was just one food. I’m pretty good at cooking, but baking is another story. Thankfully, most of Kate’s desserts are easy for me, but my husband is usually in charge of baked goods. Something about following directions that I just can’t get.
Fermented foods are also a challenge. I’ve tried water and dairy kefir, kombucha, yogurt and sourdough bread. The sourdough was a success … once, but I haven’t been able to duplicate it.
The yogurt turns out well, but nobody would touch the dairy kefir. I have a suspicion that my husband would be really good at the fermenting as well, since he’s successfully brewed his own beer.
How much of what your family eats is *really* homemade? (vs. storebought, restaurants, etc.)
I’d say 95% of what we eat is homemade. Sometimes I’ll pick up pizza dough from the store if it’s on sale or a rotisserie chicken from Costco, but for the most part, we eat at home.
My husband and I will go out for dinner a couple times a month for date night, but taking our family of 6 out to a restaurant isn’t something we really like to do. I’d rather cook a special meal at home. I’m a bit frugal.
What is one junk food or processed food your family still eats?
Again, just one … oops. If you come to our house and look around, chances are you’ll find: store-bought ice cream (our raw milk dairy closed), kettle chips or a cherry pie that I bought in a moment of weakness.
I’ve also been known to buy mac and cheese (Annie’s of course ) when my brother baby-sits our kids.
What is the worst thing your family’s eaten in the last few months? Why?
McDonalds. Enough said, right? We were invited to a friend’s birthday party in the park one day and as we headed over it started to rain. So we ended up in the McDonald’s play place.
I don’t want our food choices to alienate us from our friends (and I had no lunch prepared) so I ended up buying lunch there for us. It had been quite a while since we’d eaten anything from there and I felt awful the rest of the day. McYucky.
What’s one area where you won’t compromise, no matter what? Why?
I refuse to buy food with corn syrup in it, MSG (or MSG by its other names), margarine (or other “healthy alternatives”) and foods that I know have been genetically modified. If you hang around my house, you’ll probably hear me say, “I want real food, not a science experiment.“
I want my family to eat foods the way they’re grown. Or with as few ingredients as possible. I just can’t bring myself to buy food with ingredients that I can’t pronounce (even cherry pie) or that I know will make us sick.
What’s your best tip for eating real food in the real world?
Focus on what you can eat, instead of what you can’t and keep it simple.
When I realized all of the food that I couldn’t tolerate, I was devastated. All I could think about was that I’d never be able to eat bread again and I couldn’t stand it. I would dwell on it so much that I would eventually give in, binge and feel awful for a few days.
I’ve had to learn (oh so slowly) to focus on what I can eat instead. I can eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. I can eat baked potatoes and bacon and hummus. I can even eat a lot of sweets. Looking at it from a “glass half full” perspective helps a lot.
I’ve also learned to keep it simple. I don’t know about you, but I get tempted to make things extra fancy. And complicated. I tried to make different foods every day of the month and failed miserably.
There’s nothing wrong with eating the foods you love over and over again. Especially if they’re simple and delicious.
Trying to live a better, healthier life isn’t really worth it if you spend all of your time stressing about what you’re eating or spend hours in the kitchen creating healthy meals. There’s no need to over-complicate it.
Simplicity is a very good thing.
What’s the worst thing you’ve eaten in the last few months?
Nina Nelson, of Shalom Mama, is an unconventional mom determined to live a life of adventure and purpose. She does that alongside her husband, Ian, and their four crazy, adorable kids. She loves reading, snuggling and giggling at miniature horses.
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