Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food for Thought

I just had to share this little tidbit I learned this week. I just finished reading Michael Pollan's"Food Rules" book, and am about halfway through a book by Dr. Furhman called "Disease Proof Your Child." Both are great reads on feeding your children and family a whole foods diet- basically just feeding them real, unprocessed foods. Dr. Furhman said that at the beginning of each day they cut up some fresh fruits and veggies and put them in bowls on the kitchen table along with some selections of raw nuts. They leave this food out the whole day for the family to snack on. It's really a simple thing, but I tried it out this week and it had amazing results.

Especially since we home school, my kids seem like they are eating 24-7. And, not always the best of choices. But, I cut up several different types of raw and steamed veggies, one big bowl of fruit, and put out several different types of nuts throughout the week. The result: They stopped asking me for food between meals. They would just go over and eat what was out. They were eating raw fruits, veggies, and nuts all day long too! I found that my husband and I were going over and snacking on the produce too. And since the whole family was eating good stuff throughout the day, I didn't find myself worrying or nagging them to eat up veggies at mealtimes. I still served them, but it wasn't like that was all they were going to eat for the day, so it made me feel really relaxed.

When I got home from the market, I took about 30-40 minutes and washed all the produce and cut it up and put it in containers in the fridge. Each morning it took me all of about 5 minutes to set stuff out. I made sure to put out different stuff every day and put out stuff I know my kids like, plus some foods that they've never tried. I learned this week that Benjamin loves red bell pepper. Over the course of a couple days he ate 2 raw bell peppers himself! Bradley ate an entire jicama this week, plus an array of other great foods. Savanna really like the broccoli and kale salad. I found that I really like raw celery and carrot sticks. I've never eaten too many veggies without some sort of dip or dressing, but since they were all just out solo, I found I was munching on them throughout the day.

This week our snacking table consisted of: carrots, celery, jicama, bell pepper, kale, artichokes, peanuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, strawberries, oranges, cucumber, tomatoes, apples, cantaloupe, and peas...isn't that cool?!? Just thought I'd pass on this little tip!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grandma's Pasta Gravy!

I have slowly been adding more meat and dairy into our diets. I am not a big meat eater- never have been. I just don't care for it, so I tend to not cook a lot of it. My kids don't do well with dairy from cows either, and Brad has his whole allergy issues. Plus, I have done too much reading about what happens to our food before it hits our tables, especially in the animal products realm, that it has been a slow adjustment for me to bring these into the home. So needless to say, our menus have been strictly limited. However, I have started to transition from the extremist view of complete abstinence from certain foods to one of an informed consumer. I have found some great local farms that sell organic, free-range, grass-fed meats that I feel good about supporting. I also buy my kids goat products which tend to be healthier not only because they are easier to digest, but because they don't contain the hormones, antibiotics, etc. that a lot of dairy products from cows contain. So, we still eat mostly a plant-based diet, but have our animal products in moderation throughout the week. The meat or dairy tend to be the side dish of most meals we make...we follow Dr. T. Colin Campbell's rule from his great nutritional study, "The China Study," which says that 90% of our diet should come from plants, 10% from animals. Anyway, the kids are doing great with the changes, and we've made some very yummy recipes lately! It feels liberating. :)

Here is my grandma's recipe for pasta gravy. You can make this without the meat or with some kind of meat substitute, but we made it with the organic ground beef from New Frontiers health food store.

3 lbs ground beef
2-4 chopped garlic cloves
1 large red onion
2 large cans of tomato puree
1 large can of Italian seasoned chopped tomatoes
2 small cans of tomato sauce
Seasonings to taste: LOTS of garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasonings, oregano, and parsley

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a small pan.
Cook meat or meat substitute, if using, and drain.
Combine the onions and garlic with the meat and all the rest of the ingredients.
Cook over low heat for several hours or put in a slow cooker for the day.

Pour over noodles, grilled or fried eggplant, use in lasagna, etc.

We poured it over fried eggplant and served it with garlic bread and salad- so good!

This recipe made enough for 2 meals (for the whole family), and we had three jars on top of that left over! We store our pasta sauce in mason jars in the freezer for up to 6 months.