Category Archives: Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Foods

Grocery Shopping for Your Clean Food Diet

By now it should be clear that a grocery list for a clean diet is very different from your typical grocery list.

If you have been cooking for a while, you may be in the habit of filling your pantry, cupboards, fridge and freezer with processed convenience foods that make your life easier.

Since processed foods are completely off the menu, grocery shopping for your clean food diet will become a very different experience.

To help you out and make grocery shopping for your clean food diet easier, here are a few tips: 

Find a Good Source for Fresh Produce

Fresh produce is the foundation of clean eating. We suggest the following choices:

  1. Grow your own produce
  2. Shop locally
Growing your own clean food
Image by brebca

Growing your own fruits and vegetables is the better choice. Nothing beats “grocery shopping” in your own back yard; but, this is not a realistic option for the majority of city dwellers.

If you do have room, you may want to plant a small garden in your yard. Or, plant an herb garden or perpetual salad bowl on your counter.

The next best thing to growing your own is to find locally grown produce.

  • Most areas have a local farmer’s market – find the one in your area.
  • Get to know the local farmers.
  • Check out the neighborhood – there may be someone who is willing to barter or trade for fruits and vegetables.
  • Look for a SPROUTS Farmer’s Market in your area – they often carry local and organic produce – reasonably priced.

If you can find free or inexpensive produce locally, consider buying seasonal produce in bulk; then,  canning or freezing what you cannot use right away for later in the year.

Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store

Shopping for your clean food diet requires that you avoid the center aisles of the grocery store. That is where they stock the processed foods – not the foods you want to buy and eat.

Clean Foods are found on the perimeter of the store – produce, meat, dairy and frozen foods (for fruits and vegetables that are not in season). Be sure to buy “flash frozen” fresh produce with nothing added – especially salt and sugar.

Shopping for your clean food diet
Image by monkey_business

It would be wise to avoid temptation by staying out of the center aisles. Go there last to pick up necessary staples that will probably be stocked in that area and head for check-out.

Also – DO NOT EVEN LOOK at the “impulse-buy” items – candy, chips, etc., which they purposefully stock at the end of the aisles and at the check-out line.

Plan Ahead

Plan your meals ahead of time and always shop with a list. A list keeps you focused and ensures that you don’t forget anything.

This is particularly important when you are trying new recipes. It also hinders impulse buying and keeps you from cheating since the rule is, “you cannot buy what is not on the list” – unless it’s toilet paper, and then by all means buy some even if it is not on the list.

Eat Before You Shop

This may sound crazy, but it is helpful. It works better than you may think. Make it a cardinal rule to never shop when you are hungry.

When you have just eaten a yummy veggie wrap or bowl of fresh fruit, it is much easier to say no to a quick candy bar or box of doughnuts.

Always shop after a meal or at least, after a substantial snack. It will do wonders for your willpower, your waistline, and your health.

As you purchase your clean foods, enjoy the thrill of knowing that you are making some wonderful choices from which your entire family will benefit.

A Clean Eating Family

Trying to stick to a clean eating diet when the rest of your family is eating the same non-healthy diet that they know and love is setting yourself up for failure. It is nearly impossible to stay with it.

So . . . why not get everyone on board and become a clean eating family? When there is no junk food in the house to tempt you, it will be a 1000 X’s easier to stay with a healthy, unprocessed food diet.

The $64,000 question is – how do you get the entire family on board with such a dramatic change?

Hold a Family Meeting

After you have seriously considered and answered the two questions in the previous post – Get Started with Clean Eating, call a family meeting and lay all your cards on the table. Share with them the WHY and WHAT of this new proposed way of eating.

Explain why eating clean, healthy, unprocessed food is so important and why you want to make this change as a family. When you talk about it in a dedicated, passionate way, conveying how important it is to you (and to them) – and ask for their support, there is a good chance you will get it.

A Gradual Change Is Best

Going cold turkey as a family could create too much resistance. It may be more effective to make the change in stages, beginning with small changes at first.

For example:

  • Grill some chicken and fix a big salad, but also offer hot dinner roles with butter and jam – then, for dessert, serve fresh sliced strawberries sprinkled with Stevia and a dollop of fresh, lightly-sweetened whipped cream.
  • Make your next batch of spaghetti sauce with grass-fed beef hamburger and serve with whole-wheat noodles. Add some sliced cucumbers, avocado and tomatoes as a healthy side, but keep the garlic bread for those who want it.
  • Make Spanish omelets with cage-free eggs, stuffed with real solid chunk, grated cheese and topped with salsa made with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes, plus your favorite Mexican flavorings. Serve with rich 12-grain toast and real butter.

Encourage your kids to take at least a couple of bites of each new healthy dish. If they do not like it, don’t force them to eat it. They will eventually come around.

Create New Family Favorites

After each meal that includes a new dish, take a vote. Find out what they like and what they don’t like. It won’t take you long to find new family favorites and start creating a list. From that list, you can develop other dishes. It is a great opportunity to use your creativity.

Once you have a few solid dishes that work for the family, they (or their variations) can be the center of your meals. Be sure to use the same process with finding favorite clean snacks – and keep plenty of the healthy favorites readily available. (BTW snacks are actually easier.)

Include one fruit or vegetable as part of each meal. Encourage the kids to eat fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds for snacks. Always have them on hand and prepared for easy snacking.

Remember, even small amounts of healthy food quickly add up and slowly begin to replace the processed junk. It won’t be long until junk food becomes a faint memory of the past.

Practice the 80/20 Rule

Every step toward incorporating clean food into your family’s diet is a step in the right direction.

Every meal does not have to be 100% clean. The 80/20 rule works very well in this situation. Make it your goal to have at least 80% healthy foods in every meal. The other 20% can be a little off, when necessary (just don’t let it expand beyond that).

It is also OK if the kids have cake of pizza at a birthday party. The goal is to build a different attitude toward food and make an overall improvement on the family’s diet and lifestyle – an overall move toward healthier living.

Get Started with Clean Eating

Image by nito
Image by nito

You can get started with clean eating in one of two ways:

  1. You can go cold turkey by eliminating junk food, refined sugar products, white flours products, fast foods, and processed foods from your diet – all at once.
  2. You can take a more gradual approach.

Both ways have advantages and disadvantages. Pick the one that is most suited for your personality and approach to life, and give it a try.

If you have the self-discipline and confidence to go cold turkey – go for it! If that doesn’t work for you, choose the more gradual approach.

The important thing is to CHOOSE and stay with it. AND . . . regardless of your choice, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP if you slip up here and there, particularly in the beginning.

The key to success is remembering that you are taking a significant step toward better eating habits that will improve your health and protect your magnificent body.

The first step is to answer two questions:

Why Are You Choosing a Clean Eating Diet?

In order to reach any goal, you must have a powerful personal reason for wanting to be successful. So, before you start, be sure you know why clean eating is important to you and your family. Write it down and keep it upper-most in your mind.

What Does Clean Eating Mean to You?

Be sure you understand the concept of clean eating and define what it means to you. If you are not clear on what you are trying to do – what you will and will not eat – it will be impossible to be successful.

To get you started, let’s look at the basics of a clean-eating diet:

  • No processed food, junk food, or fast food
  • Organic produce
  • Free-range chicken and Cage-free eggs
  • Grass-feed beef
  • Raw dairy, if you can find it

From there you must decide what foods you want to cut completely from your diet.

White flour and refined sugar products are fairly easy. But, you must decide if you want to include whole wheat flour or cut out wheat completely. What about other grains? What about dairy? Will you include it, or not?

What are you willing to give up – and what are the “must keeps” for you?

Next Steps

  • Go through all your cupboards, pantry and fridge and toss everything that is no longer on your approved food list. If you are going cold turkey, this is critical.
  • Cold turkey may cause you to experience some withdrawal. Do not be surprised it you do not feel well and fight a headache for two or thee days. Your body may need an adjustment period to adapt to the cleaner food and to go through a detoxification process from all the junk you have been eating up to this point. The worse your diet has been – the worse your withdrawal can be.
  • If tossing food in the trash goes against your grain, donate it to a food bank. Or – eat what you have and do not replace any of it. Do no allow processed or junk food to enter your house, or your stomach.
  • Next, cut out all white flour and refined sugar.
  • From there, gradually make more and more changes to your diet until you reach a level of clean eating that you can live with. It does not have to be all or nothing – any changes you make toward clean eating will be good for your health.

Drink Lots of Water

Drink lots of water – notice I said WATER. Sodas and energy drinks are absolutely NOT part of the diet. The only juice you should drink must be freshly-squeezed. Bottled/canned juices are essentially flavored sugar water and are filled with additives.

A cup or two (no more) of coffee each day is OK – if you are willing to stick with plain, organic coffee without sugar and sugary creamers. Herbal teas and lemon water are great alternatives to coffee.

The process you use to get you to a solid clean eating diet is not important. What is important is that you make the change. Regardless of the route you take, you will be amazed at how much better you feel on a clean, “close-to-nature” diet – in other words a diet filled with REAL FOOD.

You will also have more energy and a mental clarity that you may not have realized you were missing.

Good luck and ENJOY!

Clean Eating Diet – What Is it?

A Clean Diet Is a Healthier Diet

A clean eating diet focuses on foods primarily in their natural state – or as close to nature as possible and rarely, if ever, includes processed foods.

Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

It is not one of the latest and greatest weight loss programs – in fact, it is not about weight loss at all (although that can be a nice side benefit). It is a way of eating – a way of life.

A clean eating diet is comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and gains in their most natural, unprocessed form.

Instead of eating white flour, refined sugar, and fatty foods like pizza, white pasta and breads, candy, chips, doughnuts, and fried chicken, switch to clean diet meals filled with heaping mounds of steamed fresh vegetables,  grilled chicken, fish or free-range meat, omelets from “cage-free” eggs, homemade chili, baked potatoes (white or sweet), crisp side salads and fresh fruit.

Essentially, it is making a choice to eat the way we did before fast food establishments were built on every corner and grocery store shelves were packed with convenience foods such as “quick and easy” ready-to-serve dinners made up of heavily processed ingredients.

Clean eating is a diet of “close-to-nature” foods that still contain their full nutritional value. In addition to being fresh and nutritious, they are not loaded with preservatives, additives, and flavor enhancers.

Levels of “Clean”

There are degrees of “clean.” The level you choose is up to you. Any step in the direction of clean is a positive step.

Some advocates of clean eating insist that the only way to go is complete avoidance of all processed foods. Others are more lenient and continue to enjoy butter, cheese, cured meats and cultured vegetables like sauerkraut.

How far you take it is up to you. Cleaning up your diet even a little is a wise choice. For example: Choosing to eliminate all fast foods – or refined sugar products – or making it a habit to prepare fresh dinner meals for your family five nights a week – are all good steps in the right direction.

Prepare plenty of raw or cooked fresh vegetables. Prepare brown rice, quinoa, or bake potatoes and grill your favorite fish or chicken pieces. Finish the meal with a little fruit and cheese for dessert. It is fairly easy to find three or four go-to dishes your family enjoys and build your weekly meals around those dishes.

“Clean” Snacks

It is nearly impossible to find healthy snacks that fit your clean diet when you are out and about; so, be sure to have fresh or dried fruit (w/o preservatives), seeds, or nuts handy for emergency snacking.

Filtered Drinking WaterBe sure to keep your body well-hydrated. Water is by far the best choice – so keep plenty of bottles available at home (and in the car). Herbal teas are next in line of preference, and finally if you must, drink black coffee – but limit it to no more than two cups a day and be careful with the sweeteners and creamers. If you must use them, try Stevia and real cream.

It May Take Some Time to Change

If you have been eating a regular diet of processed and fast foods loaded with sugar, fats, additives, and flavor enhancers, getting used to the taste of real natural foods may take some time.

Once your taste buds adjust, you will be pleasantly surprised by how delicious real natural foods are. The best part is that you will be on the road to better health and your body will thank you for the change to clean eating. It will not have to work so hard to keep you feeling your best.

 

Healthy Food on a Modest Budget

Image by cienpies
Image by cienpies

Many people think it is impossible to eat healthy food on a modest budget. They have been led to believe that it is a luxury reserved for people with higher incomes.

Those who are struggling financially find it hard to justify spending $20 on fresh produce from the local Farmer’s Market or on grass-fed beef when they can feed the entire family on the bargain menu at the local fast-food drive through for the same amount.

A good case can be made for why making the “fast food” choice is not actually a savings when you factor in your family’s health, medical bills resulting from poor health, and environmental issues related to unhealthy food choices.

However, powerful arguments can lose their strength when addressing families that are struggling from paycheck to paycheck, just trying to get by.

The point of this posting is to assure you that it is possible to change to a healthier diet without destroying your budget.

Below are a few steps that can help you move in that direction.

1.     Eat Less Meat

Protein is important in your diet. We have heard that for decades. We are also traditionally a meat and potatoes society. For many families, meat is served at practically every meal – and always at dinner.

A simple change that can give you breathing room in your budget is to serve meat three or four times a week for the dinner meal rather than every evening.

The money you save can be used to buy quality grass-fed beef, pork, or cage-free/pastured chicken – preferably from a local source, if available.

Seek out a local herdshare program in your area to save even more money. Buy a quarter or half-cow when you have some bulk cash and store in the freezer (Field to Freezer).

If you shop around, it is possible to get good quality meat for a low price-per-pound and have enough meat for an entire year. Of course, this is assuming you have a large enough stand-alone freezer (which may require an up-front investment.)

2.     Join a Co-op

Most major metropolitan areas have co-ops. There are a large groups that cover several states, plus smaller local ones.

Search Google for those available in your area. You should be able to find some excellent options. They typically offer bulk organics, produce, spices, grains, nuts, and seeds for close to wholesale prices. This means that you can stock-up on the items that may have been too pricey to purchase in regular stores.

3.     Trade Dollars with Yourself

Start tracking how you spend your food dollars. For the next month, write down everything you spend on unhealthy items:  fast food, take-out, junk food, sodas, sweet snacks, energy drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, buying lunch, etc.

At the end of the month – total the cost of unhealthy foods and unnecessary food expenditures. Make a commitment to spend those dollars on healthier foods that you can prepare at home.

For example, if you find you are spending $40/month on energy drinks, make a commitment to stop drinking them. (They are exorbitantly expensive and dangerous to your health.) Put the $40 in a food kitty for purchasing local raw milk.

4.     Buy Locally

I have talked about CSAs (Community Support Agriculture) programs before, and encourage you to check them out. They are similar to herdshares for produce.

You invest a specific amount annually, which helps cover the operational costs of a local farm. In exchange, you receive a box of produce at regular times – usually once a week.

This is a great deal. You get locally grown, farm-fresh produce for about the same amount you pay at the grocery store and also reap the benefits.

  • It is much healthier for you.
  • It is much better for the environment.

You should also be able to find a local delivery service that offers reasonable prices for delivering locally-grown foods. You can set up a standing order for fresh raw milk and cream, pastured eggs, and seasonal vegetables.

You can help pay for such a service with the money you save by not having to drive to the grocery store as often.

Another option is your local Farmer’s Market.

My city has one that is open every Saturday, year round.  There was also one in Manhattan that I enjoyed tremendously when I live in NYC.  It is a good bet that there is one in your area, as well.

5.     Shop at Sprouts Farmer’s Market

Finally, at least, shop at “SPROUTS.” This a grocery store that is more like a Farmer’s Market than a supermarket.  I hope there is one in your area, because it is a good default if none of the other options are available.

It has been my experience that produce (much of it organic) along with bulk nuts, grains and spices are far less expensive that the regular grocery store chains.

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It may take some diligent research to find what is available in your area, but I promise, it is worth the time and energy.

You may be surprised at what you discover about how to include healthier foods in your families’ diet even though you are on a tight budget.