Monday, November 29, 2010

feeling overwhelmed? where to start with traditional foods.

I found this great quote recently and it made me think of our family's journey with food - when we began switching from conventional foods to traditional foods. The quote was "Start wherever you are and start small" (Rita Baily). What great advice that is.

We started with cereal. Yes, cereal. It wasn't a small thing at our house though! My kids used to eat cold cereal for breakfast almost every morning. I'll also admit that they'd sometimes eat it for dinner too. And I'm not talking about the so called "healthy" cereals. They were getting loads of sugar from their Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Mini Wheats, and Sugar Smacks. So, that's where our journey began. With cereal.

We started with going from sweetened cereals to unsweetened cereals. The selection included cereals like Corn Flakes, Cheerios and Grape-Nuts. For me (and them!), this was a huge step, but we did it and stuck to it. That was the key. It was also a s-l-o-w first step. We did this for about nine months or so before moving on to eliminating cereal all together! We replaced it with oatmeal, eggs, plain yogurt with added berries and flax, and several other healthier options. 

Our first "radical" step was adding raw milk into to our diets. I had read about it and was very open to it. I was referred by several friends to a local source, we budgeted it, and then we bought it. We haven't looked back! The kids love it and so do I. My husband isn't a milk drinker so he won't go near it. But, maybe someday.

After we began drinking the raw milk, I found a source of local grass-fed beef and bought a half cow. This step led to eliminating much of the prepackaged foods we were consuming and replacing some things with higher quality. One example of that is nixing the conventional butter and replacing it with Kerrygold butter from grass-fed cows. Another example was to find a local source for free-range eggs and replace them with the conventional grocery store eggs. We used to consume free-range eggs several years back, but we moved to a different state and hadn't actively looked for a new source. At that point, my milk man began selling his free-range eggs so it was a natural next step.  

My next two "radical" steps were 1) trying to get everyone to take Fermented Cod Liver Oil and 2) getting my hands on some dairy kefir grains. My first attempt at making kefir was a complete failure. I killed my grains - and that's a hard thing to do! I didn't let it discourage me though. I tried again about six months later and the grains have been alive and multiplying for over a year now. We love kefir smoothies for breakfast.

As you can see, it took several small steps that led to so many changes in our lives - for the better. It is overwhelming to look at the big picture and to try changing everything at once. Especially if you have a family. You've got to worry about your budget, the time and planning it takes to prepare traditional foods, and don't forget about the picky eaters. I found that by changing one thing at a time, it was possible to see what once seemed impossible.
This leads me to another great quote by Saint Francis of Assisi:
"Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." 

A great source to check out is this article at the Weston A Price Foundation website that covers families and budgeting food. The article is titled "Healthy Eating Shouldn't Cost an Arm and a Leg". She gives practical advice on budgeting, what to buy, and meal plans.
I also enjoy scouring through the Cooking Traditional Foods forum for all sorts of advice. 

More examples...

  • Eliminate canned beans and buy dried beans. Don't forget to soak them!
  • That goes for re-fried beans too.
  • Store-bought milk for raw milk
  • Store-bought eggs for free range eggs
  • Sour cream for organic cultured sour cream
  • Throw away the margarine and replace it with grass-fed butter (Kerrygold)
  • Replace flavored low-fat yogurt (contain loads of sugar) with full-fat plain organic yogurt - add your own berries and raw honey
  • Replace store-bought "dead" honey for raw "live" honey
  • Replace your refined white sugar with sucanat
  • Replace your Mrs. Butterworth "syrup" with real organic Grade B maple syrup
  • Replace your white flour with whole wheat flour (unbleached, unbromated)
  • Replace canned vegetables with fresh or frozen ones. Organic is best!
  • Use Fermented Cod Liver Oil as a Vitamin D supplement
  • Replace "vegetable oils" (peanut, soy, canola, etc.) with unrefined coconut oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil for non-cooking such as for salad dressings
  • Replace your baking powder with aluminum free baking powder (Rumford)
  • Get rid of those MSG filled bouillon cubes and use real bone broth
  • Replace your ultra pasteurized coffee cream with healing coconut milk
  • Replace your morning coffee with organic tea (free of fluoride)
  • Make your own bread with sprouted flour or a sour dough starter
  • Replace conventionally raised beef with grass-fed beef
  • Replace conventionally raised chicken with free-range chicken
  • Throw out the instant oatmeal and soak your oats the night before
  • Toss out the condiments like salad dressing and mayonnaise and make your own to avoid the soy and HFCS
There are many, many more examples I'm sure I'm missing. These were just some I quickly thought up off the top of my head. What was your first step? If you haven't taken that first step yet, what do you plan to start with?

This post is part of:
Hearth and Soul Hop@ Frugality and Crunchiness w/ Christy
Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Cop


  1. Well - you have passed me by leaps and bounds. I think though my first step was many years ago when I banned margarine in my house and began to buy only real butter. I don't buy kerrygold - but I suppose I should.
    Great post - again! You are a natural at this!

  2. I've done several things on your list but you've taken things to a whole 'nother level. I'm sure your life has improved as well! Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  3. I am glad you linked this to the hearth and soul hop!

  4. Hey! Thanks for the comment. Just wanted to mention that the tempature rise spoken of in my post had nothing to do with Ovulation ;o)
    It was in addition to it!

  5. cool, it's fun to read how your diet has progressed. Getting rid of the cereal is a huge first step, for sure! So many of us have grown up with it.

  6. Great post. Since becoming paleo, we (my family and I) adopted almost all these changes as well. Since we are gluten free, we actually make our own coconut bread (coconut flour, eggs, kerrygold butter, salt, little bit of honey) and really love it. i don't know what sucanat is, but when we need a little sugar we just use honey and it works great.

    I would add to your list:

    • Replacing milk chocolate with 73% or more dark chocolate.
    • Bacon and lunch meat with Nitrate free, pastured bacon and ham
    • Margarine with not only Kerrygold butter and coconut oil, but also with Gee
    • Refined salt with Sea Salt