I like to read blogs, especially food blogs. I love being inspired by new recipes and healthy alternatives to tried and true family recipes. I truly believe that our culture, the North American Caucasian culture, has a lot to be accountable for when it comes to food and our relationship with it. People are dying from food addiction and abundance and in all honesty it’s disgusting. Food is too cheap and the cheaper the food the more unhealthy it is. Most of us struggle with self control when it comes to snacking and junk food, and in turn we often hate ourselves, our bodies, because we’re too fat and unhealthy…and then we eat to comfort ourselves. This is really messed up if you think of the thousands of people worldwide who die of starvation daily.
Recently I’ve tried a few healthy substitutions in recipes and a few recipes that have surprising ingredients. It feels so great to be eating better and more creatively! Eating should be a positive, enjoyable experience. Not one filled with guilt and regret.
Here are a few things I’ve tried:
- Chia Seed – a great source of omega 3 and a substitute for fats in recipes when mixed with water
- Grain-Free Fudgy Brownies from The Everything Beans Book, the main ingredient is black beans!
- Eating more beans – dried, soaked, cooked…not canned as much
- Veggie pizza – we pretty much always make vegetarian pizza now with whole wheat crust. We don’t use any sauce, just a layer of tomatoes and then top it with whatever we have in the crisper and finishing off with low fat cheese. Delicious!
- Low Fat cheese – the same price as full fat but with a lot less of the bad stuff. I really notice now when I eat full fat cheese. Even the low fat stuff isn’t that healthy, but it’s a step in the right direction, right?
- Drinking primarily water. We never have juice (let alone pop) at home anymore. When I have the occasional drink of something sweetened I can really taste the sugar (or artificial sweetener, which is even more distasteful). It’s crazy how you can train your taste buds, just like you train them to need sometime sweet after you eat a meal or when you drink tea.
- Ground flax seed – I put it in pretty much everything, it can also be used as an egg substitute in baked goods when mixed with water
- Homemade granola instead of store bought cereal (which are filled with sugar, even the plain ones like Shreddies) I use the granola recipe from Kitchen Stewardship – one of my favourite recipe sites right now
- Plain low fat yogurt! We only buy natural yogurt and add flavours or fruit to it as we want. This reduces the sugar and preservatives! I would like to try making my own at some point, I’m a little scared for some reason though
- Making things from scratch and therefore eating less packaged foods (which are high in sodium and preservatives)
There are so many more things I want to try, like eating less refined sugar and dairy (which is known to be difficult to digest). We are trying to reduce our meat consumption to only local/free range/grain fed meats. This is difficult because these meats are often quite a bit more expensive, however, you can taste the difference and if we eat less in general and more protein substitutes like lentils, than it should balance out. We are also getting a CSA box from Sunshine Miles Farm this summer and are very excited about having local organic veggies all summer!
Now, I do have a sweet weakness and I’m trying to have self control when it comes to sugar. This is very hard for me, especially because I enjoy baking and one of Tim’s favourite things is baked goods. I just try and see it as a challenge to make some of our favourite recipes healthier. I also try not to be too hard on myself, especially when there are special events or holidays. Portion size is key, and having a taste of ice cream or another dessert to curb that sweet tooth is very different from having a large slice or cake or bowl of ice cream (also known as a “Cross-sized dessert” in our house).
I also have a carb weakness…especially if there’s fresh bread in the house. What that really comes down to is self control and only have healthy breads around.
The biggest thing for us is just not having those junk foods in the house, because if they’re there then we’ll eat them. I really need to make an effort to have fresh veggies cut for snacking on in the fridge and lots of fruit around because if it’s there than I will eat it!
Changing your diet to include healthier ingredients does take planning and that’s why I love menu planning. Every week I sketch out at least 5 planned meals that we’re going to have (hopefully with leftovers for lunches) and then we go grocery shopping for the necessary ingredients. This reduced (eliminates?) food waste, promotes trying new foods and eating healthier and doesn’t really take much time. I know I haven’t been posting my menu plans lately but I have been making them (for the most part)! You’ve got to be flexible when menu planning and you’ve got to think about your schedule, but once you’ve got it down to a routine it’s a pretty painless endeavor. I definitely recommend it!
Do you do anything to alter recipes to make them healthier? Do you have any delicious and nutritious foods/recipes that you want the world to know about? Please let me know!!!