Oh, I remember the days…. Don’t feel like cooking dinner for any dumb reason? – order a pizza. Hungry for something for lunch on the weekend? – make a fast food run for about $20-$25 for meals for everyone (Is number 1 still a Big Mac meal?). Or a bunch of Dollar Menu Cheeseburgers when you are broke. Don’t feel like making lunches? – buy it! And send the kids to school with lunch money! Stopping at the frozen food section of the store and stocking up on chicken nuggets and tater tots? Going to the 99 Cent store and stocking up on Lunchables? Those were some disgusting days now that I look back.
I remember falling asleep while I was trying to work, dreading going anywhere, and an absolute inability to tolerate heat at any level.
I really don’t remember what exactly changed for me. I think it started with wanting to lose weight so I began watching everything I ate. Money also got really tight. I started reading health articles and Natural and Organic-minded magazines and articles online. Later on, I started reading articles by Dr. John LaPuma and getting daily Dr. Mercola emails and made it a point to read each one every day. It has been a very eye-opening experience!
These days are very different. My rules are as follows:
Almost every fruit and vegetable and dairy, eggs and meat needs to be Organic.
It is a known fact that most corn and soy products are genetically modified and the only way to avoid that is to go Organic. There is now even an Organic, nitrite-free hot dog! It is by Applegate Farms (www.applegatefarms.com). I got some of them at Trader Joes last night and you would not believe how great they taste! Trader Joes also has organic, grass fed meats, which are the way to go, but I don’t buy a lot of them, only for a few nights a week, because I can’t afford to more. I try to make somewhat vegetarian meals a few nights a week.
Steer clear of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)
Yes, this is difficult to do but you can avoid most by reading labels. Don’t buy things that contain “modified food starch” or “natural flavor”. There are many others that can be found online. We only use Olive, Grapeseed, Sunflower and Peanut oils in my house. Corn (GMO)and Canola are bad.
Never consume High Fructose Corn Syrup – read labels and avoid it entirely
Yes, it IS very bad for you and this is a proven fact, worse than sugar as well. The details about the multitude of problems it causes can be found on the Internet especially articles by Dr. Mercola.
Don’t buy pre-made cookies, cakes, breads, cake mixes, brownies or brownie mixes.
Make it all from scratch! It only takes a little getting used to and to make sure you have plenty of unbleached flour, butter, eggs, milk, yeast, baking powder, salt, unsweetened cocoa and various other things depending on what you are making. I always have those staples on hand. I work full-time outside the home and have a 2 year old at home and I still manage to do this. The nice thing about bread and hamburger and hot dog buns is that you just throw the ingredients in a bowl and mix and knead and then you can put it aside to rise while you do other things, so there is a break in time there. Within 20-30 minutes you can have buns, just a little longer for bread. I do not have a Kitchen Aid or a Bread Machine. I will share the recipe at the end.
Make your lunch and your husband’s and kids’ lunch EVERY DAY.
It just becomes habit. And no, packaged lunch meats are not going to work. We go between sliced leftover meat, tuna, egg salad, PB&J on the homemade bread, an organic apple, a homemade sweet treat, organic juice, Kettle Chips, sunflower seeds, and or dried fruit. I am more flexible for my own lunch so I usually just bring a leftover to prevent waste. It’s still made to my standards since I made it the night before. I do not use a microwave to heat it and radiate the food so I just eat it cold or room temp. Microwaving changes the genetic structure of food.
Make everything you can from scratch.
I discovered how easy it is to boil and mash beans for Refried Beans. I couldn’t tolerate the weird taste of the canned Refried Beans anymore and now we make them from scratch all the time. I make homemade pizza about once a week. I have the best Chicago Deep Dish recipe which I will share later too! Ok, noodles have not made it to my homemade list yet but who knows – they could be next. I just started homemade tortillas. And you don’t need a fancy machine or device for any of this. I will share that recipe too! Chicken nuggets are easy, cut up the chicken dip it in egg and then seasoned flour then fry in one of the good oils (except olive as it does not do well with frying). Making your own garlic fries is amazing stuff too! Just fry some potatoes and then toss with minced fresh garlic! You can even make your own corn dogs, easily. Check out my prior blog posts for that one. You can use sausage or hot dogs. I am so happy I just found these Organic Hot Dogs!
Go Whole Wheat as often as you can.
My husband absolutely refuses to eat whole wheat bread so I have to make white bread, but at least it has good stuff in it. He just deals with the whole wheat noodles.
I also steam vegetables instead of boiling.
My family’s typical weeknight meals are pizza, hamburgers and fries, chicken nuggets and fries, noodles and marinara, tacos, tostadas, turkey/vegetable meatloaf and mashed potatoes (ok, I will post that one too), and there is always a side vegetable.
Believe me, if I can do it, you can do it. I work full time during the day and have just become accustomed to the habit of making everything and not giving myself a choice in the matter. If I did, and if we had the money too, we would probably be eating like crap again and feeling that way too!
4½ teaspoons active dry yeast (I buy it by the 2 pound bag, otherwise one packet is 2¼ tsp)
2 cups hot tap water
4 Tablespoons organic sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 organic eggs
1/3 cup sunflower, grapeseed or peanut oil
5+ cups unbleached flour
Mix yeast, sugar, salt and water in bowl. Add eggs and oil. Then add flour until it holds together enough to remove from the bowl to the counter and knead it for about 4 minutes, adding more flour to the counter if needed. Wipe out the bowl, butter it lightly and put the dough ball in them remove and place upside down so both sides have butter. Cover and place in sort of warm place for about 20 minutes to rise to about double. Punch dough down. Each batch will make 2 loaves of bread or 16 hamburger buns or about 28 hot dog buns. So this batch you have made can make one loaf of bread and 8 burger buns, or one loaf of bread and 14 hot dog buns, 2 loaves of bread, and you get the idea. For bread, take half of the dough and lay it on a lightly floured counter and roll it up from the bottom, pinching the underneath to seal and pinching the edges and folding slightly under. Place in greased loaf pan. For hamburger buns just lay a half on the floured counter and cut out like biscuits with a wide cup (they will rise upwards and around in the oven) . For hot dog buns just break off pieces and shape to slight hot dogs bun shapes. Place buns on greased cookie sheet, hamburger buns, 8 fit on one cookie sheet and 14 hot dogs buns fit on one cookie sheet. Bake at 350-400 until done. I have baked them at either temp or in between and they turn out fine either way. Buns can be sliced right away but for bread that is good for sandwiches, wait until the next day to slice it. Just cool it and put in a bread bag.
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Crust
Makes a 15 x 10, 2 inch pan
2¼ teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ cup hot tap water
½ cup good oil
½ cup organic cornmeal
3½ cups flour
Mix yeast, salt, sugar, and water. Add oil. Mix and add cornmeal and flour. Mix and knead just a little. Wipe out bowl and grease with butter. Place dough in bowl, then turn over and place in warm place, covered up for about 30 or so minutes until about double. Punch down and press into the big pan greased with butter. Put in all of your favorite topping in whatever order you like!
Homemade tortillas or taco shells
1.5 cups cold water
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup organic cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Makes about 12
Mix all until smooth. Heat non-stick, lightly oiled 8 or 10 inch skillet until water beads off. I found a great nonstick pan with no dangerous Teflon or fumes. It’s called the Ozeri Green Pan. I love it!!
Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter in the pan and quickly move it around to spread the batter into a round shape that is thin enough to be a corn tortilla. Cook about 1 minute and flip over for another minute. After you have made these, heat about 1/2 inch of good oil (except olive) in the pan and fry one at a time. You can fold them over while frying to make taco shells.
2 pounds of healthy ground turkey, organic if you can find it
1 cup ground bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup ketchup
6-7 carrots, shredded
2-3 zucchini, shredded
½ head cauliflower, steamed and mashed
Mix everything together and put in lightly greased, 13x9x2 glass baking dish. Bake at 375 for about 30-45 minutes.