Welcome back everyone! I hope you enjoyed the first week of The Real Food Experience Challenge. If you missed the first week, you can get caught up with us by clicking over to Challenge One here. We spent the week getting organized and ready to go for our weekly eating challenges. If you follow along and really put in the effort you will be well on the way to your own real food journey. Step by step gets you there. This is exactly the approach that I took with my own family and I have found that my family was much more willing to accept changes to what they ate when I switched things out week by week. Each week builds on the next and in the end you will discover that you are eating more nutrients dense foods and less chemical, sugar, and salt laden processed foods.
This is a big week. The week you and your family begin your transition from fast and processed food to real food. You’ve been wanting to make this change for a while, but you just haven’t been sure where to start. It can be really overwhelming. I remember the confusion well. It was just a few years ago that I was buried under information and indecision. Today, we dig a bit deeper into some common food buzz words that you see on food packaging. We start our discussion with why you need to beware of the terms “sugar free” and “fat free.”
Why you should beware of the terms fat free and sugar free. There is always more to the story. Click To Tweet
If you were around in the 80s and 90s you likely try to avoid fat at all costs. We were taught that fat is a dietary evil. Recent research has shown that fat isn’t as bad as we were once lead to believe. According to the Diabetic Connect website, “There are good fats and bad fats. Avocados for instance have good fats, but deep fried foods — not so much.” Sugar has been found to be the real problem. Fat free foods are often loaded with lots of sugar. They need something to make them taste good so that you buy them over and over. Low fat, but high calorie foods are not the answer. Look for foods that are naturally low in fat and even healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and even butter.
“Sugar free” sounds healthy right? It sure is if we are talking about foods that naturally do not contain sugar. Foods like non-starchy vegetables (cucumbers and celery), whole grains, and beans. According to LiveStrong.com, ” Currently, there is no differentiation between natural and added sugars on a food label. By July 2018, all food labels will be more clear and list the amount of added sugars along with total sugars. Until then, to limit added sugars, check ingredient labels.” The other issue is that sugar free foods often pull out the sugar and add in the artificial sweeteners.
There is mixed research on the safeness of artificial sweeteners. Many have only been on the market for 10-20 years. It’s hard to know the long-term health affects. Until all of that is sorted out, avoiding artificial sweeteners seems like a good idea when you are wanting to eat a traditional real food diet. According to the University of California, San Francisco’s Diabetes Education Online, “Some foods made with artificial sweeteners may have more calories or fat than the original sugar-sweetened product. This may be the case with desserts and baked goods. Read food labels to compare products for serving sizes, calories and fat. Choosing a smaller portion of a sugar-sweetened product may be lower in calories than the artificially sweetened version!”
Good luck with this week’s challenge. I would love to see your progress. Share food label pictures and questions in the Facebook group and if you are on Twitter or Instagram use #RFEChallenge. Your pictures will certainly help and encourage us all to make healthier changes for our families. Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions or want to share your progress with us. I can’t wait to hear from you!
Make sure you sign up for our Real Food Experience Challenge newsletter, so you don’t miss anything.
This article originally appeared over at Thrive Market. I am sharing this article with permission as part of Thrive Market’s Partnership Program. The post includes affiliate links.
And……..make sure you check out the special offer at the end to find out how you can get a free jar of Almond Butter from Thrive Market. I hope you are enjoying these special monthly offers. Leave me a comment and let me know if you have tried Thrive Market and if you enjoy these articles from Thrive Market.
Decadent chocolate envelops creamy almond butter in this updated take on the favorite classic candy. And since these almond butter cups are only sweetened with maple syrup and raw honey, they’re Paleo-friendly.
Almond Butter Cups
Yield: 24 chocolates
For the almond butter filling:
1 cup almond butter
scant 1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup raw honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the chocolate coating:
11 ounces dark chocolate
Maldon salt, for topping
Combine all the ingredients for the base in a medium bowl and stir until well combined and smooth. Make small teaspoon-sized balls of almond mixture and place in center of each baking cup.
Place dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of boiling water to melt. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
Pour melted chocolate over almond mixture to fill flush with top line of baking cups. Place in freezer or fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour to set. When firm and ready to serve, sprinkle with Maldon salt.
Introducing January’s Product Giveaway
Thrive Market’s Non-GMO Almond Butter
This creamy spread is non-GMO, and ready to take your rice cake, apple slice, or smoothie to the next level. Even better, each jar of Thrive Market Almond butter is made with only one—(yes one!)—wholesome ingredient: Just almonds. No added oils or sugars in sight. Find out more here.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont
Joining The Real Food Experience Challenge is one of the best and easiest ways to learn to eat a healthier real food diet. With just a little bit of practice, it becomes a lifestyle that will stick for good. You are definitely not alone. There will be lots of help and support over at our Real Food Experience Challenge Facebook group . There you will find myself and lots of folks who have been through the program already and are ready to offer their insight and support. Have questions…….ask away. This is the perfect place to ask questions, discover new recipes, discuss issues as they arise, and so much more. We are making friends, having fun, and learning a healthy lifestyle that will really last this time.
Week 1 Challenge:
This week is our week to get organized and begin your food education. After the holidays my kitchen is a mess and I’ll be getting organized right along side of you. If you don’t cook on a regular basis, your kitchen is going to be going through some big changes. This week’s challenge has 3 parts:
It’s time to toss out or donate all of the processed food both in the cupboards and the refrigerator. If you think it’s not healthy, then it’s probably not. Look for ingredients that you are not familiar with and ingredients that you can’t even pronounce. Those are usually no good! You will also want to toss out all of the holiday leftovers. They are old now. There is no reason to keep that tiny piece of leftover turkey. You are going to want to make room for lots of real healthy food. Give the sink and counters a good scrub down, wipe down the cabinets, and organize your pots, pans, and cooking utensils.
Grocery Store Research
You are going to be changing the way you shop if you have been primarily buying processed food. Look at your local grocery stores and find out where you can do the bulk of your real food shopping. Are there stores in your area that carry bulk grains or stores that carry a wide variety of organic produce? Which store in town has the best prices on organic foods? My husband and I realized that one of our favorite stores for organic produce only carries “natural” tomato sauce in a can. The other store in town (with less organic produce) actually carries more canned organic items. Keep in mind that you will now be shopping primarily the perimeter of the store. There is no reason for you to dive into the processed food middle anymore. Make some notes to make your meal planning easier.
Label Reading 101
Start reading labels. Not the front of the package, but the back of the package. Look at ingredients. A rule I like to use is that if a packaged product has more than 5 ingredients, I usually don’t buy it. I try to avoid products that are full of ingredients that I don’t have at home to cook with and ingredients that I can’t pronounce.
There you go……..a quick overview of this week’s challenge. There is plenty to do no matter where you are on your real food journey. I’ll be back later during the challenge week with more information to help you with each of these challenges.
Good luck with this week’s challenge. I would love to see your progress. Share before and after pictures in the Facebook group and if you are on Twitter or Instagram use #RFEChallenge. Your pictures will certainly help and encourage us all to make healthier changes for our families. Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions or want to share your progress with us. I can’t wait to hear from you!
This post contains Affiliate Links.
Let’s be honest. We all ate a lot of cookies and fat slices of pie this holiday season. And they were delicious! But in this brand new year, here’s what we can and should do: seize the opportunity to recommit to daily, fresh, home-cooked meals for the whole family.
I’m excited to announce that my friends over at Super Healthy Kids are running a special sale this month to help do just that!
Throughout the month of January, Super Healthy Kids is letting you sign up for a totally FREE week of their dietitian-crafted meal plans.
You’ll receive a customized meal prep video, a shopping list, and nutrition data for every meal in the plan. And you’ll gain access to over 4,000 easy recipes that are packed with a rainbow of fruits and veggies to appeal to even the pickiest eaters.
It gets even better. Once your trial week is up, you’ll receive a whole YEAR of these incredibly useful resources at 50% off the usual price.
In fact, each week of meal plans, recipes, prep tips and shopping lists costs… wait for it… only $1.71. That’s about as much as one serving of chicken nuggets from your kids’ cafeteria! The investment is SO worth it. Join today!
Don’t just start 2017 off on the right foot– stay on the right path all year long. Super Healthy Kids makes it possible! Here’s a happy, healthy new year for you and yours!
Make sure you sign up for the Real Food Experience Challenge too. We are offering lots of great tips, tricks, and advice to get you started on a real food journey of your own.
This blog often comes up in discussion while I am sitting with other parents at dance class or football practice or wherever the kids and I may be. What can I say……real food is a passion of mine. As parents we want what is best for our families, but health and nutrition information can be so confusing. In an attempt to cut through the confusion, I decided to stick with real food. I define real food as food that is as close to its original form as possible. Food that is not full of chemicals and additives. When I prepare real food meals, I use ingredients. Sounds simple, but when talking with friends some common concerns always come up. Today, I am addressing those concerns and the solutions that my family has discovered over time.
Common Real Food Concerns
My family would starve. No, they will not. The goal here is to allow your family to have better health. We don’t want to starve anyone. It takes a while to figure out your new favorite meals and snacks, but real food is actually more filling than processed food. Think about it………no more empty calories. Nutrient dense food is far more satisfying than empty calories.
I don’t have time to cook. That is what I thought for years and years too. I was so busy running kids around that I really and truly felt there was no time to cook. As a full -time working mom of 4, I have figured out how to find the time to prepare healthy real food meals. It is possible!
I would hate for my family to miss out on their favorites. This is where I’m going to be a bit blunt. Sugary snacks, soda, and fast food meals every night just are not good for your family’s health. They don’t need that stuff on a regular basis. However, there are plenty of my family’s favorites that I have been able to convert to real food. Anyone else have a kid that can’t get enough of mac n cheese? Yep, you can make a real food version.
Change is just too hard for my family. I get it. My family hates change too. I have found that making a few changes each week rather than everything all at once really helps to ease the frustration of change.
My family doesn’t like____________(insert disliked food here). That’s fine. They don’t have to eat anything they don’t like. We are not trying to create a nation of kale lovers. There is plenty of real food to love.
Eating healthy is too expensive. It can be. Frozen pot pies for 69 cents sure are cheap, but there are plenty of ways that I have found to keep the price down. I can share those with you. Eating real food doesn’t have to bust your grocery budget.
Eating real food can become your new normal. It just takes practice and determination. The kind of determination that we mothers have when we set our mind on something we want. If you have decided that giving up processed food is right for your family, I have plenty of resources to help. Find out more about The Real Food Experience Challenges here, and make sure you sign up for the email program. Help is on the way!
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