Living on “real food” shouldn’t be a challenge at all. This is the food we were designed to eat. This is how food exists in it’s natural state. When did eating “real food” become so dang hard?
We should desire it. We should feel privileged to prepare it. We should enjoy eating it.
In real life this “whole-food” thing gets prickly. Time. Time is the enemy….. and my best friend. Depending on how much of it I have available.
I just voyaged through week 4 on this wintertime quest to eat the foods from my own hands.
I was talking with my neighbor the other day about the quacky way we eat around here. She has 3 children with food allergies. Her scenarios are not intolerance, or sensitivity to foods. If you accidentally feed one of her children an egg you need to shoot them with an epipen immediately and either call an ambulance or head to the emergency room.
She has quite the story to tell and has been feeding her family nourishing foods for years in order to help heal their guts. Likewise, she has been managing a kitchen without egg or milk products so her children don’t die. Can you imagine cooking without milk or eggs. We’d starve.
Her family is beautiful and healthy and she has been a trooper of epic proportions. They were on the GAPS diet for over a year and have seen progress.
My food “problems” are more like electives and less like life or death.
Our family was at her house watching some football…. well, everyone else was watching football…. I was visiting. Because we are on a mission to eat only foods from my hands right now, we packed our own “snack foods” for the game. I took enough to share. Eventually the conversation came around to the “Homesteaders Food Challenge” and how it’s going.
My 15 year old daughter chimed in with how fun it was and how good the food is and how much she loves it when we go on these food rampages. She, by the way, is 75% of reason we are on this challenge again.
To my daughter’s viewpoint, my friend and I both laughed and agreed – if someone else would cook all the food for us- we would eat like this forever. Really, I would.
It taste better. It’s better for me. I feel better. I sleep better. I am healthier. I have more energy.
Why on earth would I ever stop eating the foods that I grow and harvest and grind and make with my own hands? Why not just live like this forever and ever amen?
Time. Time. Time.
If someone would stop time every day about 2:00 and let me have 3 extra hours, we could probably come to an agreement. Those extra 3 hours would give me more time to plant, time to can, time to freeze, time to chop and time to cook.
But, life is more than just cooking and eating (at least, I think it is supposed to be more than that. LOL).
This is why the challenge will end and I will buy food from stores and restaurants and go to the pool.
How To Prepare So You Can Live on Only Real Foods.
If you want to change the way you eat you may need to change the way you cook too. If you vow to not eat any chips, processed foods, store bought baked goods or other “corporation” made snacks – you will need to do some planning & work.
I have spent most of the past 9 months eating only foods I have obtained with my hands. There was a Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation that lasted approximately 6 weeks and added approximately 4 pounds to my midsection.
I am happy the brief interlude is over and I am eating real foods again.
My body has decided it is happier when I only eat real foods and is rejecting all other food like substances.
I’m not kidding.
I don’t know what is going on. It seems that once I detoxed my body from all the additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients, and other junk it decided that if I ate it again it would revolt.
I have a few tricks and tips that will increase your chances of being successful and not hungry.
Some of these were deal-breakers for me, in that, if I hadn’t taken the time to do them, I would’ve probably not lasted 101 days.
TIP #1: Double Everything
There is hardly a meal that I don’t double.
If I’m going to go to the trouble to make lasagna from scratch – I’m gonna make a gargantuan amount of it. There are the wheat berries to grind, the pasta to make, the sauce to simmer, the cheese to shred and then the baking. Good night. Yes, I’m going to make 2 pans of lasagna.
By making so much extra, I now have lunch for tomorrow & then some. Lasagna is one of the easiest meals to freeze. I slice it into 1 person servings & seal in zip-top bags. Anytime I need a quick meal I can grab a brick of homemade lasagna.
I do this with everything. Soups, tortillas, chicken, bread, creamed spinach, turnip greens. I always make 2-3 times more than we will eat in a night so I have a refrigerator (and freezer) filled with choices.
When I bake buns I bake dozens. When I make pizza crusts I make dozens. When I make tortillas I make dozens. Then I freeze the extras.
Last night we were all out and my 16 year old son was home alone working on some school work. He texted me and asked what was for dinner. I was not going to be home for a couple of hours, but thanks to cooking in triplicate I could send him a list of 5 dinner options. All he had to do was pick one heat it up. And none of them were made by Stouffers.
TIP #2: Figure out Snacks
Breakfast is super easy: eggs. ham. sausage.
Lunch is equally easy: leftovers from the night before (remember – I always double meals so there is plenty).
Dinner is dinner: this is when I bake, prepare, cook, fry, saute, etc. I do the majority of my cooking around dinner time.
Every day around 3:30 I want something to eat. And this is the problem. It’s not breakfast. It’s not lunch. It’s mid afternoon and I’m starving and I don’t want to cook yet (I am usually warming into dinner mode, but don’t want a secondary project to cook just to have a snack.)
What do we do for that annoying middle of the day snack time?
During summer snack time is a cinch. Go outside and eat whatever you want. Sugar snap peas, berries, cherry tomatoes, peppers, peaches- these are the perfect snacks, always ready to eat, always delightful.
Since it’s winter, although we do have quarts of canned peaches, snacks are falling more into the bread category. We mill our own flour & a muffin is not a cake in this house. It is a healthy, filling, nutritious food.
Breakfast is another time when I double recipes constantly. If I’m making a batch of blackberry muffins or apple scones or waffles or sausage biscuits I make 200 of them and freeze them. OK, I don’t make 200, but I do make 50 and it is worth every mintues.
If I triple the waffle recipe & freeze them the kids can toast waffles for breakfast for weeks and I don’t have to cook. Same with the muffins, biscuits and scones. These freeze so well. I package them in 1 serving per zip-top bag so they are simple to grab and eat.
These little packages of baked goods are great for that 3:30 crash. They are ready to eat in minutes and are so satisfying. I feel good about feeding them to the kids (and eating them) because of the fresh milled flour.
TIP #3: Always take Food
This is my disaster. I leave the house, plan to be back by lunch and don’t make it home until after dinner. I live in the middle of nowhere, so “running home” for a bite to eat is stupid. It only takes a couple days of accidental fasting to learn this lesson. When I leave the house, I’m prepared.
I’ve drive around the country with massive amounts of food packed in the back of my minivan. I don’t enjoy ending up in town with nothing but a can of peaches to eat for the day. I have a little cooler that I fill with all things quick and easy and portable (thanks to my frozen baked goods and leftover dinners).
My home may be a 30 minute drive from everything, but our pawn shop is central to just about anywhere I go. We have a little kitchen area in the back room where I can toast, broil, heat or refrigerate foods for emergency consumption.
TIP #4: Have an Emergency plan
If I end up working late at the pawnshop or at a friends home later than planned, dinner can be a problem. Cooking only real foods, from scratch is not a “last minute” kind of cooking. The meat must be thawed. The pasta made. The vegetables simmered.
I am pretty legalistic about my commitment to see this thing out til the end, so eating at a restaurant isn’t an option for me. I want the junk out of my body & eating at restaurants is failure for me. Who knows how the meat was raised? If the veggies were organic? How many preservatives, additives, or other unwanted extras are on the plate? Oh, and the salt. I like salt. I use it liberally when I cook, but I use real salt or pink himalayan for the most part. I don’t want to consume massive amounts of white, table salt.
If you double recipes when you cook you will be able to eat well on nights that you can’t cook.
If I have homemade buns in the freezer – I can make egg sandwiches in 4 mintues.
If I have pizza crusts in the freezer – I can chop veggies & get homemade pizzas in the oven in 10 mintues.
If I have frozen lasagna bricks in the freezer – I can pop them in the oven.
Cooking ahead is a saver. It will save you from having to cook every night and give you something to eat on those busy days when major dinner productions aren’t possible.
TIP #5: Invite Friends & Family Over
When I do these real food challenges, I really miss eating out at restaurants. It’s more than just sitting at a table and having someone else cook for you. It’s the fellowship, the companionship and the camaraderie that happens when you enjoy a meal with loved ones.
I have found it much easier to have friends and family over to my home or to go to their homes. If I’m hosting – everyone’s on the Homesteaders Food Challenge. I can plan the main menu & be certain there’s plenty to eat. Guests can bring sides or even desserts (gasp) if they want – but I pass on those things. Remember, I’m eating the foods of my hands.
As long as we are at a home (mine or a friend’s or a family’s) it’s easy to stay true to the challenge & I don’t have to be the weirdo packing a lunch box into a restaurant.
Not only is having company over to dine on your awesome cuisine FUN – it really helps me endure through to the end. I enjoy cooking & entertaining & it is a nice distraction for me so I don’t sit around thinking about all the food I’m not eating.
Have fun with it guys! It’s your health. It’s your body. It’s your life.