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Archive for the ‘Eating’ Category

Don’t Like Your Fruits & Veggies? 5 Tips to Help You Start Enjoying Real Foods

Slow Food USA

Slow Food USA (Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

I recently had an interesting conversation with a dietitian in which I came to realize that many health educators truly believe that because most of us refuse to eat real, whole foods, they must teach us how to choose the ‘least worst’ of the processed foods widely available to us.

This made me sad for several reasons, not the least among them being the fact that it’s kinda, sorta, a little bit true.

Again, I know this from experience – I grew up as one of the world’s pickiest eaters and there is still a lot of real, healthy food that I find to be, well, gross (though I continue to work toward expanding my palate!).

In too many ways, processed food actually does taste better to us than real food does (and that’s no accident!). You hear it all the time – why are all the things that are ‘good for you’ have to taste so bad??

Personally, I believe that’s another way in which the food industry wins - if you can get people to dislike or even fear real food, you’re happily pushing them further into your processed, junky arms, which is of course their aim.

When I first started moving toward eating more real food (and by real, I mean unprocessed, whole foods – eggs, vegetables, meat, raw dairy, real butter, etc.) I viewed it as a big sacrifice, something I should be doing but didn’t really want to.

While I still may have to defeat that attitude on any given day, I have managed to come up with some simple and pretty easy ways to make it possible – even enjoyable – to the point of loving many foods I couldn’t have imagined touching 10 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Menu Plan (Gluten & Corn Free) – Week of March 25, 2013

Monday Mr Bento

Monday Mr Bento (Photo credit: lynn.gardner)

I’ve recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune issue in regards to my thyroid.

I am very fortunate in (finally!) having an excellent doctor; she suggested that it was certain grains that were likely the culprits in this issue and recommended that I cut out both gluten and corn.

The gluten I was already doing for the most part, but I confess I had no idea about the corn. Cutting out grains has been quite the journey – one I’ve both succeeded with and failed in at various times in the past few years – and recently seeing success with cutting just gluten, I had in fact been replacing it with a lot of corn (organic of course, but corn nonetheless).

But while I was a bit sad to hear her say it, I knew she was right. And as much as I have faith in knowing my own body and understanding in myself what works well for it and what doesn’t, it does hold weight to have a good doctor confirm what you know you should be doing.

So for 3 weeks now I’ve eaten no gluten or corn. It has involved a lot more menu planning and cooking at home, being much more choosy when we do eat out, and learning to fine tune and figure out other foods that aggravate my thyroid (soy. vegetable oils. possibly others – mainly processed foods seem to be a problem).

Several people upon hearing no gluten or corn have asked me the question – what CAN you eat?

Well here’s our menu plan for this week – see for yourself! Read the rest of this entry »

The Lesser of Two Evils – How the Food Industry Wins

Granola Bar

Granola Bar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a workshop given by a registered dietitian of many year’s experience on the topic of healthy eating.

Her talk began with some good advice on shopping for food, meal planning, making ahead and freezing, etc. So far, so good.

But it was when she started talking about what we should actually be eating that I started feeling stabby.

First, the example of the Fibre One granola bars – brought to the workshop as a ‘healthy snack’ option.

Let’s check out the ingredients for the 90 Calorie Chocolate & Caramel Pretzel bar:

Chicory Root Extract, Rice Flour, Sugar, Whole Wheat Flour, high Maltose Corn Syrup, Whole Grain Oats, Vegetable Oil (palm kernel, canola, corn and/or soybean), Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (sugar, chocolate liquor processed with alkali, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavour), Puffed Wheat, Glycerin, honey, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Maltodextrin, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Malt Extract, Cellulose Gum, Reduced Minerals Whey, Milk, Fructose, Nonfat Milk, Baking Soda, Natural Flavour, Yeast, Ammonium Bicarbonate, Colour (yellows 5 & 6 lake, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake and other colour added). Mixed Tocopherols Added to Retain Freshness.

That’s about 39 ingredients in one little granola bar, not counting the twice listed ‘natural flavours’, which could potentially include hundreds more ingredients.

There was talk of eating more veggies, fish, fruits – but a lot more emphasis was placed on counting calories, avoiding fats and piling on the healthy whole grains encouraged by the Canada Food Guide. Fat was vilified over and over again – butter and whole milk in particular – at one point grave surprise was expressed at the idea that anyone even still drank whole milk.

She did admit though that eggs are now actually considered to be good for you (shocker), but overall processed, low fat ‘foods’ were touted as the most reasonable options.

If you’re into real food, you’re probably feeling a bit stabby by now too. If you’re not into real food, you may find my frustration confusing. But as someone who has finally discovered the importance of eating real food after a lifetime of filling my body with processed crap (much of which I believed was good for me and all of which has affected my body in terrible ways), I couldn’t in good conscience keep quiet. Read the rest of this entry »

Making More Than Dinner

Guest Post contributed by Amber Beam, author of Weeknight Paleo: 9 Weeks of Quick & Easy Gluten-Free Meals

Photo credit: Dinner Series

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a little impatient. I’m that person who’s always monitoring the clock, tapping her foot in the elevator, and wondering how in the world the lady in front of me in the supermarket checkout line is still writing checks! It’s by far my greatest area for improvement (that’s a PC way to say weakness).

Impatience isn’t always a bad though! I have learned and flawlessly execute some amazing time saving strategies in the kitchen. I love reinventing leftovers and beating the clock to get quick and easy recipes on the table in under 30 minutes.

But I’ve noticed this hurried pace often follows with a quick inhaling of my culinary masterpiece and lots of TV watching. So I’m striving to change that. In fact, here are a few ways I plan to make more than dinner.

First, dine with friends. I plan to have dinner at least once a week with company. As soon as I hear the word company (guests, for those who might not speak southern American English), I think pull out the steaks. But I’ve found it doesn’t have to be a fancy meal to be fun. In fact, I tend to serve casual food because it sets the stage for a relaxed meal, and really who can be pretentious holding a burger? Instead of focusing on fine dining, the evening will center on great conversation, making eating an experience rather than the first stage of digestion. Read the rest of this entry »

Giveaway – Weeknight Paleo {2 Winners – 11/2 – Worldwide}

This week’s October Unprocessed Meal Plan dinners have been based around my recently acquired Weeknight Paleo cookbook by Amber Beam. I saw Amber was selling the eBook version of this tasty looking cookbook for a steal at $9.99 and decided to pick up a copy – I was so impressed that I went to Amber to ask if she would donate one to give away here (I love sharing the love when I find a great product!).

Amber generously agreed to donate not one but 2 copies of the Weeknight Paleo eBook – 9 Weeks of Quick & Easy Gluten Free Meals, and is offering a special discount to Becoming Crunchy readers as well (let’s just say that while the $9.99 deal is no longer available, you’ll still get to take advantage of it!).

So what’s so special about this cookbook?

To start – it’s all real food, all the time. Yes, it is Paleo – and I know not everyone is into that bandwagon, but even if you’re not all about the grain free I can promise you you’ll love this book if you’re at all into real food cooking. These recipes rock the unprocessed ideal – and with all the concern over GMOs, dyes, sweeteners, and all around fake food, it’s always helpful to add as many real food options as possible to your arsenal.

Especially because this real food cookbook is simple! It’s not named Weeknight Paleo for nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

October Unprocessed Week 3 Meal Plan

These past few weeks have been insane. And amazing. I am loving the whole experience of October Unprocessed so far – we have been eating such awesome food and feeling so great (and really noticing it the few times we’ve slipped). It’s also all been a lot easier and more positive than I thought it would be.

There are so many keys to this – the support on Facebook. Knowing that so many others are committed to the challenge this month. Having the husband be so on board. The changes I’ve already noticed in my body and attitude.

Of course, it’s not all been easy. I’ve had to give things up to make the time to cook all this food. I’ve been tired and stressed and seriously tempted to order pizza. But overall it’s been totally worth it.

I didn’t post a meal plan last week, but we did stick with the program – just did a lot of basic meals that were fast and easy. It’s been surprising to me this month how many of those kinds of meals there are within the realm of real food. If I have a weakness as a cook it’s something of a tendency to make things complicated. And it’s that weakness that makes me get home at 5PM after working all day and absolutely not want do anything about dinner but head through a drive through.

So I’ve been super excited about the simple, easy, tasty meals I’ve been able to throw together on weeknights and find that they are just as good as the most elaborate of meals. In my search to come across these kinds of recipes, I was thrilled to come across Amber Beam’s cookbook, Weeknight Paleo, which promises healthy, unprocessed recipes in 30 minutes or less.

This week all of our weeknight dinners will be coming out of that cookbook, and I’m looking forward to reporting back on the experience on Friday – along with sharing a giveaway of 2 copies of Weeknight Paleo! There is so much about this cookbook that I already adore, though I’ll wait until Friday to share more – here is our week’s meal plan in the meantime. Read the rest of this entry »

Pinterest Inspired Meal Plan :)

I love Pinterest. Who doesn’t?

I even actually do/make/try the things I pin on a relatively regular basis, though probably not enough to justify all the time I spend on there. So this week I’m putting my Pinterest where my mouth is and planning all our meals around stuff I’ve pinned. It’s time to take advantage of all those great ideas!

(Not 100% grain free, but mostly :))



Wednesday Read the rest of this entry »

Grain Free Menu Plan ~ September 10

Boiled eggs. Boiling time from left to right: ...

Boiled eggs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In our journey to healthier eating we seem to have about 2 weeks out of the month that we do pretty great and 2 weeks that we do pretty awful.

I’ve got a pretty good guess on the reason for that (moon times have not been my friend lately) but in the meantime am trying to be grateful for what we have been able to do – and get the husband on board to offer more assistance in the kitchen during the weeks I’m feeling ‘off’.

The most exciting recent development for me is that I’ve finally gotten Dave to really work with me in eating a total real food diet. With his help and encouragement I know I will be that one step closer to making it work. We’re planning a grain free upcoming week and hoping to fully transition to what’s called the Paleo ‘diet’ very soon (something we’ve been doing off and on for several months now) – in our very busy schedule it seems like the strongest possibility to me to make a real food plan work.

We’ve also signed up to participate in October Unprocessed this year – should be a fun group with some great support – definitely stop by to check it out if you are interested!

In the meantime, here’s this week’s meal plan: Read the rest of this entry »

Chard & Feta Tarts

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously colored stems on sale at an outdoor farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any of you with CSA boxes to pick up (or get dropped off) this summer may be looking for creative ways to use Swiss Chard – I know I always am! Try as I might, I’m just not a huge fan of it sauteed (though it is pretty decent with eggs).

I’ve also enjoyed it roasted with shrimp and au gratin and contemplated making it into chips (have you tried that? Is it as good as kale?) and tonight decided to do a little experimenting with stuff that was leftover in the fridge. As it turned out to be quite tasty, I’m sharing it here – and would love to hear of your creative ways to use chard!

Chard & Feta Tarts

  • 1 recipe puff pastry – store bought or homemade
  • 1 large bunch Swiss Chard
  • 6-8 Garlic Scapes
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
  • Feta to top
  • Salt & Pepper

This was a really easy dinner that could probably be modified according to what you have on hand (alternate chard with any other green; alternate garlic scapes with garlic, green onions, leeks, or any kind of onion). I even used the food processor to make it really quick. Read the rest of this entry »

3 Lunches for 5 Days in 10 Minutes or Less

A lunch sits on a blue tablecloth with a brown...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I bring lunch to work every day. This is mainly because I am way too lazy to actually leave my building to drive somewhere to get food (thank goodness there are no food sources IN my building, or I’d probably lose my ‘willpower’ like that!).

There are other reasons, of course – it saves money, and I’ve been on this kick of trying to eat real food and more recently, not consuming meat that doesn’t have a source I know and trust. It’s pretty limiting – but in a good way!

Thus, my brown bags (reusable handle bags, really) and the ever constant question of how will I fill them up. Some things are standard. I keep a tub of yogurt in the fridge at work for a morning snack that I top with organic local honey and crispy walnuts. Larabars used to be a fixture until my grocery store recently raised the price of a box by $2 (!) so now it’s generally a piece of fruit (I cannot get by without snacking at work – especially in the morning. I don’t know how people who don’t survive until lunch!).

Breakfast is almost always eggs – fried, scrambled, boiled. Sometimes I’ll do cheese and fruit, or if I’m being terrible I’ll go through the Tim’s drive through on the way to work, but that’s usually an act of desperation (breakfast – again, something I cannot survive without).

So that leaves lunches, which, if I’m not careful, can get real boring, real fast. And I don’t like that, so I’ve devised multiple ways to avoid the 5 sandwiches a week trap - creative cooking to provide tasty leftovers, actually making things on the weekend specially for lunches (this stuffed chicken was my pièce de résistance)but then there are the days I haven’t thought very far ahead and need to make something in the morning – fast. I keep ingredients for the following 3 ‘recipes’ in my kitchen and know that I’ll always have something on hand when I’m in a rush that actually tastes good and keeps me going through the afternoon.

Note: The following recipes do use a microwave, which I normally am not a big fan of recommending – but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And I justify myself by not having a microwave at home. ;) And no, I do not judge you if you have a microwave. And yes, you could potentially be awesome with a thermos and avoid a microwave altogether with the following if you were way awesomer than I am. OK that was a long note. Anyway…

Here is my 3 Lunches for 5 Days in 10 Minutes or Less Meal Plan. Read the rest of this entry »

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