I can’t believe 7 days have gone by already! Our 7 day real food pledge is over, and it seems like it went by in a flash. I had such high hopes for our pledge, but I think the biggest thing I learned was that 7 days wasn’t really long enough to take in everything I’d hoped. I was so excited to start our pledge and I looked up so many new recipes. It was really fun. But the truth of the matter is that my husband and I are only a family of two. We don’t eat that much. My new recipes could have fed us for about three weeks, I think, but we just couldn’t get to them all in 7 days. So, hopefully over the next few weeks I will have some new recipes for “Try Something New,” that we just never got to while doing this challenge.One habit we were forced into that I think will stick with us is label reading (ingredients, especially). On Saturday morning as we were cooking breakfast, we were reading the labels on some of the things in our spice cabinet. My husband likes to make scrambled eggs with cheese and also some spinach-herb dip mix from Tastefully Simple which he shakes in the eggs. We had decided not to use the mix, just assuming that it either had more than 5 ingredients and/or probably contained something artificial in it, but we were surprised (and delighted) to realize that it had absolutely nothing fake in it at all! The same could surprisingly be said for McCormicks Salad Supreme Seasoning Mix (romano cheese and 3 spices). Our Wyman’s chicken bouillon, however, had an ingredients list which my chemistry-degreed husband stumbled over and was longer than some children’s books. Who knew? Things like that were interesting to learn about and the knowledge we gained can help us make better choices in the future.We had a major stumble on Saturday night. Saturday was a beautiful, perfect, snowy day. We spent the day together, doing chores and hanging out and attempting to make cheese – a lengthy experiment which I will document later. We had planned on Greg making a crock-pot of chili that night, which would cook overnight and be ready to go on Sunday for football. We soaked kidney beans and thawed hamburger (locally raised, yes) all day long in anticipation. Then it was 10:30 at night and he was getting ready to put the chili together when we discovered we had no homemade tomato sauce and that our normal brand of organic tomato sauce contained added sugar. By that time at night, all the Co-op type stores were closed, and we doubted we could find anything to substitute at the regular supermarket. Also, it was SNOWING OUTSIDE. But what else could we do with all that meat and those beans? So we broke the sugar rule and used the tomato sauce we had on hand. Haha, live and learn – now we know what’s in that sauce anyway. Actually, learning what’s in it made me happy we purchase it because it had only 5 ingredients, nothing fake, and we like it a lot.
I made homemade granola with oats, nuts, coconut, honey and spices on Sunday. This was crazy-easy to do. I just dumped all the ingredients together and baked it. It turned out really well, although not super-sweet. I don’t have a real taste for sweets myself, so we really liked it here. However, some people might want to add more honey for a bit more sweetness. Greg has eaten it plain as a snack in his lunches, and I like it as a breakfast cereal. I chopped a whole banana in it and ate it with some 2% milk (from hormone-free, grass-fed local cows). So good! The fats from the nuts and milk make it have sticking power, something that I love since I’m not a between-meals snacker. We will definitely continue to make this cheap and easy granola.
I had bought pumpkin seeds at Mississippi Market to put in my granola, and my husband wanted us to get extra so he could roast them and have them on hand for snacks. Basically he just dumped the seeds in salt water and soaked them for a while, then baked them and lightly salted them. Ohmyhell, these things are like crack – almost TOO good! Anyway, we both LOVE them and love having them on hand for lunch snacks and just a quick snack here or there. The first batch is already gone – we definitely need more.
Eating with kids: We have two nieces who we are close with and spend time with on a regular basis. Often when we eat together, we order a pizza or go to Noodles & Co. or something easy like that. I am happy to report that doing real food with the girls was easy, painless, and actually fun. I don’t think they knew the difference, since they are accustomed to a lot of decent food in the first place. Both eat most vegetables, and neither had a problem with whole-grain bread, so we had an easy meal of grilled cheese and veggies. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough broccoli! It was cute, too, watching my younger niece helping my husband prepare dinner. She thought it was fun and it was nice to spend time together in the kitchen catching up on our day while making some simple food.
It was nice to learn that a lot of our staples were real food-approved, so we could choose from a nice variety of favorites for meal ideas. For instance, Greg’s French Onion soup (minus the French bread; we just used whole grain that we had on hand), grilled cheese, tomato basil soup, Angry Trout wild rice (minus the craisins – we couldn’t find any without added sugar), mushroom-cheese chicken breasts. Easy staples that we rely on a lot, but I think this also prevented us from trying some new things. Oh well, it’s not really a bad problem to have, I guess.
The biggest benefit for me concerned my soda (and fake drink) consumption. After not having these things for seven days, I find that I don’t really want them very much anymore. I drank a lot of tea during the seven days, and I am continuing to do that. So much better for me, our budget, and everything! My husband did think it was difficult at first, just because the 12-pack of soda was still sitting on the counter, and he would reach for one without even thinking. This just goes to show you how we get into mindless habits sometimes. Maybe just keeping the soda in the fridge or in a more out-of-the-way location would be helpful in curbing that for him. This is also why I think it can be helpful to get rid of something entirely if you don’t think you can say no to it. I am not really emotionally equipped for that myself. I have found that I do a lot, A LOT better if I know I am able to have something if I want to. If things are around and I know I can have them if I really want to, I do a great job of regulating myself around them. Other people I know need to have them gone entirely. For me that can make me sad and a bit emotionally unstable. It’s all about finding what works for you.