Tuesday, 29 April 2014

I don't want to feed my family antifreeze! Or why we adopted a clean eating lifestyle.

Welcome to Mommyhood: why my family adopted a clean eating lifestyle & tips
Okay, maybe my title is a little dramatic, but today, I want to write about something really, really important in my home: my family's clean eating lifestyle. I grew up in a home where pretty much every meal was home cooked. My Russian grandma, mom, and pretty much every relative ever cook most meals from scratch. I grew up with that, and loved it. For me, cooking from scratch has always been a given, but whether or not those meals are healthy is a whole other story. Where adopting a clean eating way of life has changed eating habits is my snacking. That has really been a challenge, and that has been where I needed to completely overhaul my thinking and choices.

My husband on the other hand, did not grow up with a Russian granny coming over to stock his fridge full of 10 different dinner options just in case he might go hungryWhen I first started living with my husband, his meals consisted of tinned beans - like the ones in sauce, canned veggies (ick), tinned soup, everything came from a tin. After I started cooking and Hubs wanted to help, he realised that great food can be made from scratch without the aid of  packaged, store bought spice mixes with a whole bunch of extra chemicals/additives, or that the sauce that tinned beans come in really doesn't taste good. He actually said that I ruined prepackaged food for him. Yea, I'm not sorry about that one! 

What I'm really excited about is that it turns out, he loves to cook, too! He even makes amazing creations from scratch, as long as we have the ingredients at home. No problem - if he's willing to cook, I can make sure to buy spices, herbs, and fresh ingredients!  

For us, clean eating has been a process and a lifestyle that we adopted. It took a while to find our groove, but I have to say, my persistence on making sure that more often than not our meals are clean eating friendly was stronger than his persistence that our food be easy (warming up a tin of beans in the microwave). 

And finally, that is the point of today's post! Clean eating can consist of easy cooking and delicious meals! 

Let's start with the basics -

What is clean eating? 

  • It's not a diet, but a lifestyle - an approach to food, the way we prepare it, the way we eat it, and the way we think about it
  • Smaller portions and eat more frequently (healthy snacks and three meals a day)  
  • We don't eat white flour, sugar, breads, or pastas. Instead, go for whole grain options. My family is making the switch to paleo so we aren't eating the whole grain options (much) either.
  • Eat healthy fats (like avocados, eggs, fatty fish)
  • Buy organic as much as possible
  • It's based on knowing what you buy and eat. It's important to read labels and buy foods with a short ingredient list. I found different opinions on the exact quantity of ingredients on a label, but I tend to just buy products where I can pronounce the items on the label. Simple. If I can't pronounce it, we probably shouldn't be eating it. 

What does clean eating mean for my family?

We cook pretty much every meal from scratch. I don't buy pre-packaged spice mixes because they contain a lot of questionable ingredients. Instead, I make my own spice mixes. I read the labels on food products, and make sure that I know what we are buying. 

We have also started using dried beans rather than tinned. It's a lot cheaper even though it does take a lot longer to cook. The great thing about these - I make them in large batches and freeze the extra. You can also make them in a crockpot. 

I also recently made chopped tomatoes instead of using the tinned ones. So. Much. Better. 

I also buy healthier snacks and avoid purchasing junk foods like chips on a regular basis. Sometimes we have cravings, and we will go ahead and have a cheat snack or meal, just like everyone else! I don't like absolutes so we aren't completely removing everything processed or unhealthy from our lives, but we do not have it more than once a week, if that. I think I'd want something even more if we completely cut something out! 

I try to keep our portions somewhat smaller. Portion control has always been a problem for both Hubby and I- if something tastes good, I want to keep eating it even if I'm full. My husband does the same, and we are trying to ... not do that. 

Overall, the biggest change is making most things from scratch. Hubby was apprehensive about this and thought that it would take much longer to cook. And it can. However there are plenty of ways to still follow a clean eating lifestyle while avoiding spending hours in the kitchen:
  • Buy bulk 
  • Freeze extras. Not just leftovers, but fresh fruits and vegetables.I buy fresh produce at the market, and buy extras if they are on sale. When we get home (or the next day), I wash, chop, and throw them in the freezer. This is a life saver on a busy day. I use frozen vegetables like this for stews, soups, casseroles, chili, etc. Basically anything where the vegetables need to cook for a long time. 
  • Use leftovers
  • I make my own spice mixes in large batches, which saves a little bit of time when cooking 
  • Meal prepping - cook up a large batch of rice, beans, hard boiled eggs, chicken strips, etc in one go. Keep them in the fridge for a few days of easy cooking!
  • Freezer meals (how much easier can it get!) 
  • Freezer breakfasts make morning so much more enjoyable! 
  • Try growing your own herbs! I am horrible at gardening (but very persistent!), but I am growing herbs indoors in pots and they have lived for three weeks now! Fresh herbs add so much flavaaaah they are so worth it! 
I found that cooking from scratch is definitely not as intimidating as it seemed at first. However, I know that I have to be prepared, and have something on hand in the freezer or fridge. There will always be busy days, days where things are going wrong, or days when I simply don't feel like cooking. I have to have something in the freezer or we're getting takeout. 

Why adopt a clean eating lifestyle? 

  • I don't want to feed my family or eat foods that contain antifreeze (proteins), which can be found in spice making concentrates, condoms, sodas, salad dressings and beer. Seriously, that is absolutely disgusting. 
  • Carbon monoxide cellulose- this stuff is used in to make packages of meat look fresh. Really though? It's dangerous! Practices like this really make me a bit bonkers. We buy our meat from a butcher, but honestly, I'm not 100% sure on whether or not they do this, too. I imagine not, as all of the meat is freshly packaged at the store where we buy it, but it's something that I will be researching. 
  • Cellulose (which may come from wood pulp or cotton) is sometimes added to shredded cheese to prevent clumping or even ice cream. 
  • Bugs can be found amongst the other icktastic ingredients in some processed foods.
  • Sodas contain loads of sugar, a lot of prepackaged foods contain loads of fat. etc. We know chips aren't healthy. I'm not going to go into detail about it. 
  • Basically, there are a lot of icky ingredients in a lot of foods. I don't want to eat them. I definitely don't want my family eating them. So we aren't. 
  • We want to be healthy, feel good, and have energy! I want to feel good about my choices, and I know that I will never regret eating well! 
There's so much more I can say about this topic, but this post is already pretty long so I'll leave it at this! 

Today, I'm linking up with  Angie at Many Little Blessings and Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for List it Tuesday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Carlos A. Monteiro, Public Health Nutrition Public Health Nutrition / Volume 12 / Issue 05 / May 2009, pp 729-731.
Clean Eating Diet Re-charged: Top Clean Eating Recipes & Diet By Samantha Michaels (2013)