We’re 20 days into our eating re-vamp and I have to say I’m extremely surprised at how well it’s going. After purging the kitchen of processed boxed foods and stocking it with wholesome real food we’ve found ourselves reaching for fresh fruit, veggies or nuts for snacks. Irish oatmeal or hardboiled eggs have replaced cereal on the breakfast menu and leftovers from dinner are my staple for lunch.
I’ve lost the 5 pounds I put on the last couple months and Vance is down something like 15 pounds (of course, he’s also training for a triathlon, so…. ) The only problem I have with real food is that it takes real work. Washing, rinsing and prepping foods and vegetables takes time. To be honest though, it doesn’t seem to take any more time than cooking boxed foods and luckily, I’ve always enjoyed the details in cooking a meal.
I’ve learned a few new things:
What you can and cannot successfully vacuum seal.
Organic fruit is generally more ripe than the non-organic, so don’t buy more than a few days’ worth at a time.
If you don’t have junk in the house, you don’t snack on it.
Black beans go great in just about everything.
It’s very easy to cut up a whole chicken (and save money at the same time).
Three four inch pancakes are more than just filling when they’re whole grain, they’re practically gut busting.
Real Food goes further than you think!!
We’ve been working on matching our real food to proper portion sizes with great success. Yes, 3 – 4 ounces of protein per meal really is enough when it’s served with correct serving of starch and veg. Last night we had steaks with fresh steamed green beans (I purchased three one pound (+/-) bags of fresh green beans for less than $1 each on special and discovered that 1lb is perfect for two servings plus lunch leftovers!!) and an experimental dish of cheesy potatoes.
So here’s my breakdown on the potatoes (which turned out awesome, by the way.)
First of all, if you have a slicer, you’d be surprised at how quickly this side dish goes together.
Second of all, for what came out to be four servings, it only took TWO average sized baking potatoes. Yes, TWO sliced potatoes overfilled a 12inch sauté pan.
I boiled some 2% milk with a tablespoon of butter and added the thinly sliced (thank goodness for the mandolin slicer – they were potato chip thin) potatoes. They simmered for 15 minutes.
Lowered the heat and added 1 cup (+/-) “Quattro fromaggio” cheese blend from Trader Joe’s and stirred carefully for another 5 minutes on low heat, until the cheese mixed with the potato starch and a sauce formed.
That’s it. Quicker than boxed Au Gratin and far more tasty and, for less!! I paid approximately 50 cents for the potatoes and 2.99 for the bag of cheese (we used a little less than half the bag). Milk was like ¼ cup. So, the whole side dish was a few pennies more than $2. What do you pay for all the Chemicals in Betty Crocker’s Au Gratin?
Now, if you’ll remember, this “new” way of eating isn’t about denial or restrictions. It’s about making smarter choices when it comes to food and trying to limit exposure to today’s highly processed and chemical laden foods. We haven’t cut out any real food group. We still consume starch, fats, oils, protein, milk, etc. We’ve cut down on sugar intake and we’ve done our best to eliminate chemically processed foods wherever possible. I’m still at a loss for how to explain this to people when they ask. There is no true name for it. We’re not following the rules of “clean eating” in the strictest sense because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with white potatoes, egg yolks, or whole milk products, per se. It’s certainly not Paleo or South Beach or Atkins or whatever other fad diet is out there right now.
We’ve traded white flour for whole grain flour. Boxed for homemade. Sugar substitutes for natural sugar. Canned or prepared for fresh veggies and fruits. Takeout for quick family meals. Overeating for conscious eating.
We’re just trying to eat real food and we’re incorporating more variety. We try to be “clean” in that our food is as close to nature as we can get it, reasonably speaking.
But… we’re also allowed to splurge a little here and there. Recently we installed a bicycle seat for our son on my bike. He sits in front, not in back because, as far as I see it, if even Charlie Brown makes fun of “Back of the Bike day!” then I have plenty of reason not to want my kid to have to stare at my backside on bike rides. J
If we want ice cream or, more accurately for us, Italian ice, we can walk or bike ride over to our favorite storefront to buy it… and we’ve done just that. The point is that if it’s not in the house, it’s a treat that you’re less likely to overindulge in and you get a bit of exercise in the process of getting it. We also get constructive family time out of it and, hopefully, we’re teaching our son to be more active in the process.
However you look at it, we’re beginning to reap the benefits of eating better and we’re certainly feeling better about what we’re eating.
I’ve learned one more important thing this month that I absolutely wanted to share to those people who are struggling with diet, exercise and weight loss.
When you eat real food, you don’t need to count calories. This is the most surprising for me but it also seems so simple that I can’t believe it took me so much time to realize it. We eat lots of vegetables, yes. But we also eat A LOT of fruit. I’m purchasing 20+ pounds of fruit every week now. Apples, Oranges, Plums, Peaches, Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Apricots, Watermelon, Bananas… the list goes on forever. We also consume nuts (legumes) in large quantities throughout the week. A couple of pounds a week is a large quantity to us. Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts and peanuts go quickly in our house. We consume a variety of cheeses with our nuts or fruits and veg for quick snacks. And we keep a dozen hardboiled eggs in the fridge for when we need a fast protein boost pre or post workout.
Now, I’ve heard of “diets” that restrict fruit or cut it out completely because of the natural sugar content. I’ve also heard of “diets” that limit nuts because of the calorie and fat content. I say Bah-Humbug to those “diets”. Fruit and nuts are filling and difficult to over-eat. (with the exception of cashews, I could eat a half a pound in one sitting! They’re my favorite!!)
So here’s some basic logic for you. When we think of snacks most people reach for: candy, potato chips, cookies, crackers, etc. These have been labeled “snack food” for whatever ungodly reason. They even come in 100 calorie snack packs to convince you that they’re okay to eat for a snack. These snack packs are generally 1-2 oz. So, you can eat 1.5 oz. of potato chips for roughly 100 calories. Open your hand, because that serving will barely fill your palm. Think that 1.5 ounces of fat calories and extremely high salt content is going to satisfy you until your next meal? Yeah, me either.
Now, let’s contrast that. For 20 calories less (on average) you can have a medium sized apple which can weigh between ¼ and ½ a pound depending on variety and season. Full of fiber, naturally sweet, and pretty filling all by itself… It’s certainly more filling than the potato chips and it doesn’t leave you thirsty afterwards. So imagine if you replaced 90% of the “snack foods” in your diet with real foods.
In fact, if you tend to over-eat at meal time, I would highly recommend having a piece of fruit before each main meal. First of all, fruit contains enzymes that help you digest your meal and secondly, the fiber helps fill you up while keeping everything moving in your system.
I stopped counting calories on July 1st and I’ve had better results on weight loss (which I’m not really trying for) than I did when I was working out four times a week (I SO need to get back to the gym, I’ve been so lazy since Warrior Dash) and tracking my calories to stay under 1200/day. I’m less stressed and, in general, feel better all around. I’ve practically traded my home scale for the fruit scale at the super market and I couldn’t be happier.
Now, to tour all of my local farmer’s markets looking for new finds and to check out some new “markets” to see their offerings. Who would have thought that simply changing how I think about food would become an exploration of my world as well?
- The SHIT they put in our food and other highlights. (logicaldaydreamer.wordpress.com)