Nourishing Beginnings: Part 3

So now that I've talked about what we try to eat and try to avoid, I thought I'd try to talk about how we do it. I'm really lucky I started hearing about all this when I first started regularly cooking.

If I had been married five years and had an arsenal of recipes I regularly used, it would have been quite a bit harder on both of us for us to change our ways. And I also was raised to eat fairly healthy so many of the changes I had to make were small and that helped. But even so, the way we eat isn't typical and it takes work to stop ourselves from falling back to our old ways.

When I started to switch, I realized there were two main ways of making our new lifestyle happen: Keeping our mindset but changing the ingredients and coming up with new recipes.

Changing the old ones was easiest on us - at first. It just involved switching from low-fat yogurt and milk to full fat, adding an extra vegetable to a casserole we already loved or making a few substitutions. It's a great place to start because you can make great changes which motivate you to make more. And you can do it gradually so your kids/husband won't revolt because they feel like they are starving.

Take tuna salad. I used to mix mayonnaise, tuna and a stalk of celery and call it a day. Now I use half mayonnaise, half yogurt, onions, celery, a few homemade lactofermented pickles cut up, a can of beans and serve on wheat bread with tomato and lettuce. I easily changed an okay meal to a great one full of vegetables, probiotics and fiber.

But another one of Craig's favorite meals to make used to be the classic chicken and stuffing casserole made with Stove Top and Campbell's cream of whatever-you-want soup. And I won't lie - it's tasty and really hits the spot on a cold rainy day. But now when I make it, I use this recipe and throw in a few extra vegetables as well. It's better but still not needs some work. If I made my own stuffing, it would be all real food.

And we really love chicken packets. I've thought about making my own yogurt cheese to replace the cream cheese and then making my own dough to replace the crescent rolls. But what have I just done to those two meals? They used to be quick and easy. Now they are a big pain and not so great for a weeknight anymore.

Ingredient replacement is also where it can get expensive to do "organic/healthy." People see Annie's macaroni and cheese in the store and think to themselves that they can't go healthy because that box is three times more than the blue one. And unless you snag a really great coupon, Kashi is quite a bit more than the typical box of fruit loops. So yes, it is more time-consuming and/or more expensive to go healthy if you try and stick with your old ideas of what you meals should look like.

That brings me to the second way to do it - complete overhaul. I had to come up with a lot of new recipes in order to make healthy eating work with our budget and not kill myself. I've stopped eating cereal and milk for breakfast. With a little bit of prep work, oatmeal, muesli, or granola and yogurt are just as easy to grab in the morning but cheaper since they don't use much milk. And good milk is like gold around here.

We also eat a lot of beans and eggs. One of the dishes that we brought into our repertoire is this cheesy lentil and rice casserole. It's not necessarily that much healthier than the chicken recipes would be (once overhauled) but so much quicker and cheaper. I can make two or three meals from the same big pot of lentils or pinto beans. And eggs, toast and green smoothies is always a dinner favorite around here. I'll be honest though, not all of those bean meals would have been tasty to me a year ago, but as our diets have slowly changed, so have our taste buds.

And it's worth it. Having a few really cheap meals every week leaves my budget open to the items I feel we need to spend more on. You have to think about your overall budget. It's hard because when you shop you are seeing individual prices but that is one thing I really learned from my grocery challenge last month. Yes, the eggs I'm buying from the farmer's market are slightly more expensive that the typical grocery store egg, but still not as expensive as the meat that it is actually replacing. Same thing with milk, my milk is more expensive but I'm using less of it and getting more nutrition out of it so I think it is worth it.

And we can still have the new healthier versions of my old favorite comfort foods, on the weekend when I want a nicer meal or if I know we are entertaining others who may have pickier palettes.

But where do you find these recipes? Well, other bloggers of course! Here are a few of my favorite healthy foodie blogs. (I don't agree with them about everything, but in general their mindset is similar to mine and I've gotten a lot of good information from them all).

Nourishing Gourmet - Just started a new carnival, pennywise platter, full of frugal healthy recipes!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Cheese Slave
Keeper of the Home*
Passionate Homemaking*

*Not strictly food related but has lots of recipes and nutritional information


  1. Ahhh...Green Smoothies RULE. I love them!!! I'm off to make one now with organic kale, apples, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Yummy and the apples make it kind of "fluffy."


  2. I love the information on Kelly's blog! Had I the money and health for it I would be all over her recipe for sprouted bread. Alas, no Bosch for me, yet.

    Also, read "The Maker's Diet" by Jordan Rubin if you haven't yet. ;)

  3. Kristen - I've never tried applies in them, that sounds good.

    Casey - I've read it and think it is pretty good.

    Bread is the one thing I am stuck on. I don't have a good cheap solution for a sandwich bread - I think I'm gonna keep tweaking my 5 minutes a day recipe to see if I can make it into something that works for lunches. But not until the fall, it's too hot to turn my oven on that high for that long. Last time I did, the water in a pot on top of the stove started boiling!

  4. Kashi is on sale at Target periodically, and right now they actually have coupons to buy one get a box free. So, I got two boxes of kashi cereal for $2.66! That is much much cheaper than fruit loops :)

  5. I saw that, I'm actually planning to go there this afternoon. They also have frozen waffles for sale and Craig loves frozen waffles.