Friday, April 01, 2011

Food That Makes Us Good

"You are what you eat," they say.

We all know eating good food makes us feel great, and that eating unhealthy foods will only make us feel gross. As a family on a budget, we know it's challenging to always buy good, whole, raw foods. But I think if you can afford any amount of healthy foods, it will benefit you in the long run. Every bit helps.

Here are some ways we try to eat healthy in our family:

1) We buy raw, fresh milk from a local farmer. (We do what?!) Now, before you freak out about how dangerous that is, hear me out. It does have some risks to drink raw, but the benefits are higher. It's also an expensive addition to your diet, but I truly believe it is the best money we can spend toward our health. Not to mention, it is truly the best milk I have ever tasted. The cows feed on grass only - and a little barley (to make it sweet). The milk is unpasteurized and contains no growth hormones. It's full of vitamins and nutrients. I'm doing some reading on the topic of milk and continue to be shocked at the current state of "modern milk." Just a few stats (all from the book to the left): 40% of cows that provide the milk we buy from the store are infected with mastitis; the average life span of the cow on a pasture is 12-15 years, but in confinement (where store-bought milk comes from), the cows live only an average of 42 months; confinement cows (due to high-tech breeding and feeding schedules) produce 20 times more milk than is needed to feed a calf, and this means a dilution of vitamin and nutrient content; most cows develop lameness and infections in their legs due to standing on concrete all the time. Cows were meant to only eat grass - but in confinement they are given growth hormones and fed a corn mixture - because it's cheap, not healthy. Cows are not intended to live off of such a diet, and they are usually sick because of it. It's unfortunate that people continue to think milk from these animals is great - just because it has been pasteurized. Another thing to know about homogenized milk is that the fat particles in the milk are broken down to such microscopic sizes, they can easily slip into our bloodstream. Milk that has been left in its "original" form can easily be processed and broken down naturally by our bodies. People who are lactose intolerant are sometimes able to drink raw milk because it has not been altered; our digestive systems know how to handle the right kind of milk. That being said, it took me many years to warm up to the idea of raw milk...but as long as we can afford it, we're never going back. If you're going to make any health choices, look into raw milk!

2) We eat ample amounts of butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and we avoid margarine, vegetable oil, and shortening. People often avoid the the first list because they think it's fattening and will clog your arteries and give you a heart attack and you will die. Again, our bodies know how to break down and use the good nutrients from the "good fats". Our bodies need fat. Our brains need fat, our cells do too. If you eliminate all good fats from your diet, your body simply can't function as well.

3) We try to avoid high fructose corn syrup because unlike what the commercials say, it is not okay in moderation. The problem with this is that it is practically in everything! It's also extremely cheap, making products with only sugar very expensive. But we try.

4) We try to avoid "edibles" - things that are so processed, with so many complicated ingredients, that you wonder if it can be in the same category as "food."

5) We try to keep artificial coloring out of our kitchen. It has been shown to cause brain and behavioral changes, so we can deal with our cookies not being bright purple! This is also hard to do, as artificial colors can be found in fruit juices and even yogurt. As someone who gets headaches and whose throat swells from the red and orange colors, I try my best to keep it out of my kid's diet.

6) We also buy organic eggs and meat from our local farmer. Again, they're more expensive, but very worth it. Instead of having meat as our biggest dish, we use it as a side dish instead, or as an ingredient in the meal. The eggs just taste so much better too. Very brightly colored and tasty.

7) We started to make kefir and I'd like to make my own yogurt. The good bacteria is so beneficial to your health.

8) We try to take vitamins (vitamin c, d, cod liver oil) every day.

9) We try to avoid fried foods, but French fries get us every time. ;)

10) I've been trying to cook more meals from scratch. Tomato sauce is easy and inexpensive, but a bottle of it from the store often includes preservatives. It takes more time, but it's better for your health to cook from scratch.

11) We stopped using our microwave last year. People swore we'd miss it and bring it back upstairs. I don't miss it, and I know our food is better reheated on the stove or in the oven. And we really don't find that reheating on a stove takes much longer.

Of course, there's always exceptions. We love our pizza and pop (not soda), our chicken wings and candy. My daughter already asks for junk food while we're shopping in the store. But we can definitely try, right? :) Every bit will help.

Share the ways your family tries to eat healthy!


LittleYogini said...

Amen! My sentiments exactly. It's been hard moving to another country and trying to navigate labeling and/or their food industry so I've gotten a little off track.

P.S. my slow cooker (for things like sauce, stock, etc) and rice cooker are my most used kitchen gadgets.

Mountain Mama said...

Oh, I'm trying too! I'd love to try some of that raw milk. We are surrounded by farmland here in our new home and I'm sure I can find somewhere to buy it if I try - and I will! I do buy the milk w/o growth hormones, but I had no idea about all the benefits of raw milk. Thanks for sharing that info! I love it when I drive to the store and I see so many cows roaming freely and eating grass and clover...exactly as it should be! I also buy organic eggs and try to cook from scratch as much as I can. I never buy those processed snack foods from the store anymore, although my son also asks for them. It is a battle sometimes, but he knows that mama's cookies taste better anyways. I always try to sneak in good-for-you stuff when I make my homeade cookies - like oatmeal and milled flax, and whenever I can, I substitute a mashed banana or applesauce or even milled flax for margarine or butter. We do still have our microwave in the kitchen, but honestly, it never gets used. Like you, I prefer to reheat things in the oven or on the stovetop, or even in the slow-cooker when appropriate because it uses less energy and doesn't heat up the house in the summertime.
I'm very happy that we've connected here. I look forward to getting to know you better :)