Healthy Living Saturdays: Variations

Prior to my interest in slow food and clean food, we had a real problem with eating out. There was one month that we spent over 350 dollars—on top of groceries—on going out to eat. Yeah, I know that’s a lot.

Of course we still go out to eat now, but we have a budget and we try to use it for going to restaurants instead of fast food. Meal planning has helped curb the eating out, but when we have friends over on weekends, it’s really difficult to not go to Burger King with them. So I’ve been doing “variations” of out favorite fast foods on weekends.

For instance, tonight I did pizza pasta. Yes, it has many of the bad things that pizza from Papa John’s does, but you’d be amazed at how much better the same foods are for you when you prepare them yourself. Restaurants just cook differently than you do at home (maybe that’s part of the reason it tastes so goooood). They cook their veggies in fat and add preservatives and I have yet to find a fast food chain that serves organic anything. So my pizza pasta uses organic beef, mushrooms, sauce, herbs, and pasta. I also chose to not put as much meat in it as the recipe called for. My breadsticks were made from (mostly) wheat. You would be surprised at how much healthier this meal is for you than a pizza from one of those chains. And it’s delicious too!!!

What variations do you make at home to simulate your favorite fast food? How do you make it healthier?

Also does anyone know of a recipe for whole wheat breadsticks?

Healthy Living Saturdays: Whole Foods

No, I’m not talking about the store. Whole foods meaning foods that are whole. My goal this week has been to each almost everything made from whole foods. I realize there will be the occasional processed food that makes it into my diet, but I’ve been avoiding it as much as possible.

So what is considered a whole food? Obviously, I’ve been making dinners that don’t use condensed soup as an ingredient (which is surprisingly difficult by the way), but it goes beyond that. It’s not just processed and unprocessed—there’s a lot of gray area.

I obviously use fresh organic produce and fresh hormone-free meat. Technically the organic dried herbs I use are processed, but I would consider drying and grinding minimal processing.

We’ve been trying not to use refined sugar, but it’s in everything and I can’t substitute with honey yet because Peanut isn’t old enough. I’m still figuring out substituting other things for sugar like pure maple syrup. What about corn starch? I’ve been listening to The Omnivore’s Dilemma audio book lately and I am beginning to question that corn starch I use to make gravy. What do you even use instead of corn starch?

I feel like I’m cooking “from scratch” when I use things like canned beans and chicken bullion cubes. How “from scratch” is that really? I checked out the ingredient list of my chicken bullion cubes today and was appalled at how much stuff there is in one of those cubes. So do I need to make all of my chicken broth from boiling bones? I don’t even know how to do that.

So when I say I’ve been trying to eat whole foods, what I really mean is I’ve started the process of getting rid of processed foods. One day I would love to be one of those people who buy their meat from the farm and make mayonnaise rather than just buying a bottle, but it’s all in steps. So for now, I won’t use things like condensed soup in my dinner. I won’t buy frozen pizza and packaged cookies. I will take small steps to start eating whole foods and maybe one day I’ll be one of those people who don’t crave pop-tarts.

Starting Weight: 163 lbs

Current Weight: 158 lbs (still)

Photo Credit: Hart Healing Arts