If you are just beginning the journey toward a more natural kitchen……you may be wondering where to begin. I have felt the same way. It is overwhelming and frustrating to desire change, but not know where to start. I would like to share with you some of the first steps that we took when beginning our “real-food journey.” This list is by no means extensive, just a few stepping stones that got us on our way.
- Drink WATER – This can be very challenging for some and easy for others. Incorporating pure filtered water into your diet may be a very simple concept…but what can be difficult is cutting out all of the other drinks that we become accustomed to. Beverages like soda, artificially flavored and/or sweetened drinks, and especially anything “diet” can cause health issues. Many of these contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners – known to be hazardous to your health. Now this will obviously take time. If you are craving a flavored beverage, make yourself a pot of herbal tea, sweeten it with a small amount of natural sweetener (raw honey, maple syrup) and chill. Keep it in the fridge to aid in battling those cravings for a soda. There are some great water purifying systems out there today. Many people love and trust the Berkey Water Filters and some use a Brita. In our present situation, we fill 5 gallon water containers at our local supermarket’s purified water station. It is also a good thing to reduce plastic consumption and avoid bottled water – we love our stainless steel Klean Canteen.
- Choose whole and fresh foods instead of packaged foods – Avoiding packaged foods can help to rid your pantry of unneeded additives, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners and flavors, refined flours and sugars, and chemicals. Sadly, when convenience foods are made and packaged they are filled with many ingredients that don’t do your body any good. By purchasing fresh produce and whole foods, you can avoid many of these harmful items.
- Eat out less – Now I know it is so easy to swing by the coffee shop and grab a bagel on the way to work, but it can become a bad habit that allows for unhealthy foods to get into our diet daily. Most restaurants use cheap ingredients to keep costs down, and while it may taste good, it isn’t good for you. And when you eat at home more often, eating out becomes more of a treat.
- Plan to cook at home more – Now this may be a difficult one for some. Today in many homes, both people work and it is hard to find the time to make home-cooked meals. But with a little planning ahead and by enlisting some help from the family you can incorporate simple, yet nourishing foods into your family’s daily diet.
- Begin to learn traditional food preparation methods – There are many wonderful resources out there to help you learn all you need to know for your real-food journey. From books to films, real-food bloggers and e-courses, you can find all the information that you need. Begin by investing in some basic books and work your way through them at your own pace. Below is a list of resources to get you started.
- Plant a garden – If you have the space, plant a few tomatoes and see what happens! Having more fresh vegetables in your diet is a huge step toward improving your health. If you can do more than that, great. If not, a pot of basil on your back porch is a step in the right direction. We love lasagna gardening at our place!
- Do not become overwhelmed – Learning the best ways to prepare whole, nourishing food will take a lifetime – so enjoy the journey! Don’t allow this transition to frustrate or cause anxiety, it is a process. Each day make small choices toward a goal of a traditional cooking lifestyle. Eventually all of these “little” choices will add up to one major change! One thing you can do is choose an item that you eat a lot of (eggs, chicken, etc) and begin finding a farm fresh source for that item. This way you transition your pantry slowly, not all at once.
- Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions“ – This is an encyclopedia of information that will surely get you started, but do not be overwhelmed by it – take your time.
- Nina Planck’s “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” – an in-depth look at what foods our bodies need to be healthy.
- The film Food Inc – it is very informative and will make you aware of the dark-side of food production.
- Real-food bloggers: Wardeh at Gnowfglins and Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking are two real-food bloggers that I have learned and continue to learn so much from. Look at the resources on their site and enjoy the wealth of information. Subscribe to Wardeh’s newsletter for blog updates and lots of info and check out her resources here! Check out Lindsay’s steps to whole food eating here!
I hope this gets you started. It is such a process to figure out what works for you and your family when it comes to real-food eating. Everyone’s situation is different….whether your challenge may be food allergies, picky eaters, or a limited budget, or a lack of time, educate yourself and find ways to change (no matter how small) and incorporate nourishing foods into your diet. Stay tuned for more ways to add nourishing foods and cooking methods into your kitchen!