Friday, December 20, 2013

My Real Food Journey: How We Eat Now

The Nourishing Traditions giveaway is completed! Our winner is Kay, who has been informed and will be receiving her book shortly. For the record, we do not choose the winner; the website that hosts the rafflecoptor widget randomly selects one. Thanks to everybody who entered, we really appreciate the feedback from your comments!

If you haven't read parts one and two of this series, you can find them here and here.

Now that the giveaway is completed, I wanted to add a little something about how we eat, which was initially part three of the Food Journey series. There's two things in particular that I want to point out. 

The first one is that traditional, whole, real food is not just weird stuff. I know, it sounds a little crazy when you start hearing about bone broth and organ meats and fermented veggies...but trust me, there's a lot of wiggle room in that series of guidelines, and you can make it look however you want to.

Here's how it looks for us. Our common fare looks like it came straight out of the early 20th century, from a farm family's table. We're talking meat, potatoes, gravy, loads of butter, desserts here and there, basic vegetables, no fancy dishes ever (not our style), eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, and lots of dairy. We basically live on comfort food, except we don't feel bad about it. It's not a guilty indulgence on Thanksgiving, it's way of life. You can be a traditional foodie and have entirely different fare, if you like: liver pate and obscure roasted veggies, fancy grassfed steaks and gourmet local-food cookbook recipes. Go for it if that's what you like. But what I'm trying to point out here is that going traditional will probably be the easiest "diet" you've ever done, especially as far as getting your family on board. What husband actually balks at the idea of a roast and potatoes with gravy pooling over it? Or eggs and bacon? Or a cheesy quesadilla browned in butter? I dare you to tell me he'll turn his nose up and request a grilled chicken breast with a side of steamed veggies. And what kids complain about veggies when they're loaded with butter, or a cheese sauce? Okay, so the organ meats are a little weird-- grind 'em up and hide them in your burgers. You won't even know.

My way with words has eluded me tonight (my muse has possibly started Christmas vacation early), but what I'm trying to say is this: this food is good. It's what you instinctively want to eat. It is not a sacrifice or a struggle to stick to it.

So how can we eat this way without guilt, without worry, without negative repercussions? What makes the difference here is the quality of the ingredients. Pastured meat. Potatoes without pesticides. Pastured butter with all the nutrients still in it. Soups made with real bone broth instead of just flavored water. Gravy made from pastured meat drippings. Veggies with butter on top. Ice cream made with real raw cream and maple syrup. These are the foods of yesteryear, and they're also the foods that will convince your family that you aren't crazy, they won't suffer on this new "diet", and food will actually taste good again. And you'll be healthier.

Okay, so that rant's out of the way, on to point two. Here is a link to the Weston A. Price dietary guidelines. Give it a scan. (Clicking will open the link in a new window.)

Sounds kinda complicated, right? It's not. You'll start with one thing and then work your way into more, and I promise you that in three years you'll be thinking "man, we seriously need to improve our diet". Then you'll look in your pantry and realize that there's no boxes of crackers. Or- wait. There's no boxes of anything! And you can't eat a single thing you own without cooking first. Well, maybe a slice of that raw cheese in the fridge, or the cherries I canned... You'll realize that most of your canned foods are actually living in jars now because you've started saving money (and additives) by canning your own products. And your bread-- oh hey, wait, that jar of sprouting wheat over there is the only bread we have in the house! When you're out of ranch dressing right before dinner, all you have to do is pull your homemade ranch mix out of the cupboard and crisis averted. You'll have a freezer packed full of meat and a cupboard full of ingredients, and you will feel like you rule the world, because you can make anything you want without going to the store, for weeks on end!

Of course, there's always another challenge to conquer, but my point is: you will master this more quickly and completely than you ever expected. Eating well and eating good have never been so synonymous (in the last century, anyway), and you will never have an easier time keeping the wrong things out of the house. Who cares about those old store-bought temptations when you can whip up food so good in your own kitchen that you find yourself turning down your husband's offers to go out to dinner? (True story. He's going to have to find other ways to make long days easier for me.)

While I am a WAPF fan, and that diet works in its entirety for us, I do recognize that different folks have different intolerances, allergies, and flat out health problems that require them to experiment more and cut things out, primarily dairy and gluten. So below is a list I borrowed from Denise Minger's blog, and I'd like to ask you to read it and take it to heart. Instead of a list of what to eat to fit into a specific diet that everybody's raving about (any diet, not just WAPF), I consider this an inclusive recipe for a healthy diet, no matter what you use for building blocks:

  • Eliminate refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other nutritionally-devoid sweeteners
  • Avoid man-made ingredients and fake foods, such as artificial sweeteners, soy-based meat replacements, chemical additives, nitrites, preservatives, artificial flavors, dyes, margarine, and hydrogenated fats
  • Include mineral-rich foods (dark greens, seaweed, animal organs, green juices, or produce grown in well-mineralized soil)
  • No pasteurized, homogenized dairy
  • Emphasize eating foods in their whole state
  • Emphasize (but do not focus exclusively on) pre-agricultural foods (fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, seeds) rather than post-agricultural foods (grains, potatoes, dairy, vegetable oils)
  • Include a large portion of fresh, raw foods and/or "living" foods (kombucha, fermented vegetables, kefir, etc.)
  • Ensure high nutrient density
This really isn't about a laundry list of perfect foods that you must ingest on a daily basis or your body will fall into pieces forever and ever amen. It's about just eating real, whole, food. Have you ever been frustrated by having to learn over and over again how to read labels, as the industry keeps changing definitions? I have an alternative solution: stop buying labels. Buy single ingredient products, and make everything else yourself. Voila, no more label stress! Nourishing Traditions and associated mentalities/books are great for helping you maximize the quality of the food you eat, such as preparing grains properly, but everybody and every body is different, so it's up to you to learn and weed through and find what works best for you.

But if you need ideas, shoot me a note...not because I'm an expert, but because I might as well make myself useful somehow.  :-)


  1. I am so excited to start reading Nourishing Traditions! Thank you so much! I really think the key to all this for me is making a few small changes at a time. Knowing what changes to make, and how to implement them is pretty important too.

    1. I think the key for just about everyone is small's not a very exciting key, but it can open big doors given enough time. :-D