Ok, so this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually think about the concept of how grocery stores are laid out.
The fact is, the easiest way to eliminate processed foods from your life is to not buy it! Even if you feel that you cannot afford organic or farm fresh food, shopping along the perimeter of a grocery store is the most efficient way to avoid buying processed junk and pre-packaged meals. Cook from scratch whenever possible, and shop from fresh/real food departments only.
This rule applies even when shopping at a “natural” food store. For instance, even when I’m shopping at Whole Foods, I make sure to stay mostly on the perimeter of the store. The inner isles of a store like Whole Foods are filled mostly with organic junk — processed and packaged foods that are labeled and marketed as “organic” or “all natural”, but are still bad for your health if you actually look into the ingredients. Because of this, my Whole Foods shopping trip usually consists of stopping at the following areas: produce, meat, seafood, nuts/oats/grains (bulk bins), frozen bread (only for the frozen sprouted bread and bagels), & dairy. Occasionally I’ll shop in the isles, but only when I know what I need, and I make sure to go straight to get what I want & get out. The only times I’ll shop in the isles are if I need cooking oils, spices/herbs (including salt/pepper), sugar, or canned tuna (wild caught and BPA free cans!). And that’s pretty much it. Everything else I try to avoid buying whenever possible.
These simple rules are seriously what keeps me eating mostly high quality/fresh foods only, and helps to eliminate the processed junk that I used to eat so much of.
Eat REAL food!
Nina Planck talks about real food vs. industrial food, & the myths we’ve been told (and mostly still believe, unfortunately).
Farm Fresh Milk Warning
Nourishing Our Children shared this picture via Facebook so I had to post it here.
Check out Nourishing Our Children’s overview of raw milk vs. pasteurized milk here.
Back to Basics: Healthy Homemade Ketchup
Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of your store bought ketchup bottle? High fructose corn syrup is often one of the main ingredients (yuck!)
Ever since we finished using our favorite store bought ketchup, I decided to no longer buy ketchup, and that the ketchup we use in our house would only be homemade. Of course, there’s always the all natural, organic ketchup that can be purchased at Whole Foods in case of condiment emergency. But organic store bought ketchup, even in it’s “all natural” state, is still not as healthy as homemade lacto-fermented ketchup.
So here is a healthy, all natural, organic, enzyme & probiotic filled (via lacto-fermentation) recipe. This recipe is SO simple, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making ketchup yourself all along (at least I did!)
3 cups organic tomato paste (I used 4 cans of 6oz Muir Glen organic cans — in the future I will most likely use Bionaturae brand since they come in glass jars instead of cans)
1/4 cup liquid whey (homemade only…click the link to learn how to make your own).
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
2-3 organic black peppercorns (crushed)
1 Tbs sea salt
3 cloves organic garlic, mashed
1/2 cup fish sauce (try to only use fish sauce that has only anchovies and salt as the listed ingredients…I tried to find it, but the only one I could get at the time also had sugar. Next time I will go to an Asian supermarket since they have a vast selection of fish sauce, but for now, I used Thai Kitchen - which has anchovies, salt, and sugar)
Combine all ingredients and mix on low with a hand mixer (you could also just whisk this mixture together yourself, but I prefer the hand mixer to make sure everything is mixed well). Pour into a 1 quart jar or container. Make sure there is approx 1 inch at the top of the jar/container to allow for expansion during fermentation. Leave the jar/container out on the kitchen counter for 2 days to ferment, then store in the refrigerator. Mark the container with the date to keep track of how long you’ve had it for. Will keep for up to 6 months.
I adapted this recipe from Sarah, at The Healthy Home Economist, who adapted recipe from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon Morell.
**NOTE: After the new year (my anniversary with Tumblr), I will most likely be moving Back to Basic posts to SUNDAYS! It will be “Back to Basics Sundays” instead of “Back to Basics Fridays”. I will post this note again before the change is made for sure.
Back to Basics: Roasted Chicken
I’ve been cooking a lot of chickens lately and I love it. So this Back to Basics post will be dedicated to the process I take to make a delicious chicken and what I do with the leftovers!
We have a chicken that came from Clover Patch Farm via the 4 Season Harvest Buying Club (which I’ve previously blogged about here). This was somewhat of a smaller chicken than what we were used to, but it still had lots of meat! This, and all of the chickens we get from the farm, are Freedom Rangers (by choice).
Freedom Rangers are free range, and raised on pasture. They grow slower than the Cornish Cross breed and have bigger legs/thighs due to the exercise they get during their lives by being free range. (Hah, that was my very brief explanation).
*ABOVE: I’m not sure why the chicken looks dark in some areas like in the wings & towards the top of the chicken (right hand side) — it wasn’t this color in person, it must have just been the lighting.*
First step was to cut off the neck, which comes attached! This time I did this part all by myself, without the help of my boyfriend who is usually the neck-cutter. I was very proud of myself!
Next, rinse the chicken thoroughly in cold water and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Drizzle oil onto the bottom of pan to start, then place chicken in the pan.
Season the chicken by rubbing with oil of choice (just don’t use those rancid vegetable oils!) and adding spices/herbs of choice. This could include any combination that you like. I tend to use any of the following: Basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and salt & pepper. I rub the chicken with these seasonings on all sides. I also juice a lemon and pour the fresh squeezed lemon juice over the chicken, but that is optional. I put half of the lemon (sliced up) in the cavity, along with some farm fresh/grass-fed butter, about a quarter of an onion (chopped), and all of the seasonings that I used for the skin of the chicken.
At this point, I chop up the rest of the onion to place in the pan, around the chicken, along with any vegetables I want to add for dinner that night. I like: red potatoes, zucchini, carrots, celery (mix & match). Other vegetables also work fine, just use whatever you like!
Oh, back to the farm fresh/grass-fed butter! I put about a 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon of butter under the skin of the chicken, just between the meat and skin at all 4 corners of the breast (at the top and the bottom end of each breast). you’ll have to separate the skin from the breast a bit with your fingers but it’s not a big deal…just slide your fingers under the skin.
Roast the chicken at 475 degrees, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. (It could need more or less time depending on the size of the chicken). This step is to brown the skin a bit and to get it to be a little crisp.
Remove pan from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Add 1 cup of water to the pan (maybe 2 if needed — personal opinion). *Picture below*
Cover pan and place back into oven for an additional hour and a half, depending on the size of the chicken. Sometimes I leave it in a bit longer. I use a meat thermometer to double check to make sure it’s completely done.
Next, I take the chicken out of the oven and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. This allows the juices to settle within the chicken.
And without ever basting, you will have the most tender, moist, and delicious chicken ever. It is seriously. so. good.
The first time I made a freedom ranger chicken (this exact same way), I made homemade gravy to go with it, and we ended up not even using the gravy because the meat was so good alone.
At the bottom of the pan will be the delicious juice that came from the chicken (obviously cooked with the vegetables and all of the seasonings used to cook the chicken). DO NOT WASTE THIS! It is so, so good. I put this in a container to be used when making other chicken meals (leftovers from the chicken we just made), add it to soups, rice, mashed potatoes. ANYTHING that you want to add some extra flavor to (in an easy and healthy way…throw out the boxed, processed stuff. You don’t need it when your cooking with the drippings from the chicken!)
This small container lasts longer than I originally thought it would because I only need to use about a tablespoon at a time/per meal. It solidifies and becomes gelatinous/jell-like (rather than the liquid that’s pictured here. This picture was from before it was refrigerated), due to the gelatin from the chicken. This is the good stuff.
As far as the left over meat: We’ve gotten anywhere from 6 to 9 meals out of any given chicken. Just look at how much chicken is here after I took all of the meat of of the bones (I tried to separate the dark meat from the white meat):
And this is after we’ve already eaten our dinner for that night!
Granted, there’s just two of us (my boyfriend & myself), but it still impresses me! This chicken was the smallest chicken we’ve had thus far, at 3.75 pounds, and it still made 9 meals. NINE MEALS FOR TWO PEOPLE! At $4.39 per pound, this particular chicken cost us $16.46. That’s $1.82 per meal (for the chicken, not including vegetables or any sides I make), which comes to only $0.91 per person, per meal of chicken. Awesome?? YES!
I separate the meat into smaller portions (enough for a meal for two) and wrap them up separately. I put the individual packages into the freezer and have quick, easy, and delicious meals ready to be taken out of the freezer, defrosted and heated up for dinner again. I do all kinds of things with the left over meat, but our favorites have been: Chicken over mashed potatoes (with sides of vegetables that we choose at the time) along with some of the drippings from the chicken that was saved as well, or a stir-fry with either rice, noodles, and/or vegetables of choice. We love it.
And lastly, because we don’t like to waste any of this awesome chicken, I do not throw out the bones!! I use those to make chicken stock for soups. If I do not make the stock right away, I freeze the bones to be used for stock at a later time. I’ll post about making stock in a future Back to Basics post! (This is important part of the chicken process!)
That’s all for now, but I hope this post inspired someone, anyone, to go out and get a farm fresh, Freedom Ranger and try this!
Back to Basics: On a Quest to Eating Traditionally…
I’ve previously posted an introduction to my new venture in life: eating traditionally (video included). Today’s Back to Basics post is in regards to some of the changes that I’ve made so far in my quest for a healthier lifestyle. Most of the changes I’ve made are small things here & there, removing some ingredients used & replacing them with healthier, less processed & unrefined choices. All of these things are simple steps to take in order to begin traditional eating. Most importantly, remember: Any positive change (big or small) is better than none at all.
Here are some of the things I switched out over time:
- Conventional fruit & vegetables to organic. As much as possible.
- Pasteurized milk to raw (unpasteurized) milk. Raw milk must be grass-fed/fresh from a farm.
- Anything white to anything in it’s whole (unrefined/less processed) form. This includes white flour -> whole wheat flour, white rice -> whole grain rice, white bread -> whole grain bread, white sugar -> sucanat/or other natural sweeteners. (I did switch to Sugar in the Raw before I realized even that wasn’t sugar in it’s purest form…just marketing at it’s finest).
- Conventional, store bought (factory farmed) dairy to grass-fed/pastured only dairy. Including: Eggs, Butter, and Cream.
- Store bought (factory farmed) meats & eggs to local/farm meats & eggs.
- Prepackaged/processed snacks/foods to made from scratch foods.
- Vegetable Oils (rancid) to healthy oils. Corn, canola, & soy oils are oils that I never buy, no longer cook with, & always look for in the ingredients lists of any packaged foods that I might still buy (such as bread, mayo, ketchup, salad dressings — If/when I don’t make my own). These oils are replaced with coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil.
- Regular/processed Apple Cider Vinegar to Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Regular/processed honey to raw honey.
- Table salt (iodized) to Sea Salt.
- Improperly prepared grains to traditionally (properly) prepared grains. With anything I make from scratch with grains, I make sure to properly prepare the grains first. I’ve also been switching from regular whole grain store bought breads & bagels -> only traditionally prepared (sprouted) whole grain breads & bagels.
- Store bought items with High Fructose Corn Syrup to items with only natural sugars. This includes pantry items that have High Fructose Corn Syrup as a main ingredient, such as: Jelly (Grape) -> natural/organic grape jelly.
- Pam cooking/baking sprays (oil in a can) to oil in a Misto oil sprayer. The mistro sprayer allows you to use any oil that you want, without the use of toxic chemicals and propellants in the can.
- Canned vegetables to fresh or frozen (organic).
Items I added to the pantry & shopping lists that I never used to use before:
- Grade B Maple Syrup (not grade A!)
- Fermented Cod liver oil
- Butter oil
- Liquid Whey (homemade only)
- Arrowroot powder
- 100% Cacao (REAL cocoa)
- Molasses (Blackstrap)
- Fine & coarse sea salt (including pink Himalayan sea salt)
- Aloe Vera juice/liquid
- Fish sauce
- Coconut oil (organic, extra-virgin, unrefined)
- Rapadura/Sucanat (whole cane sugar - unrefined/unbleached)
- Raw honey
- Raw apple cider vinegar
That’s all I can think of for now! Hopefully this helps give some insight on how I have been transitioning to more traditional eating habits.
For the upcoming weeks Back to Basics posts, I will go into detail of how some of these ingredients can be used and why they are important to have in your pantry/diet. I will also post recipes in the future, as well as products that I’ve invested in & how I made the switch from using less processed/packaged foods and condiments, and more homemade/from scratch items.
“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
― Michael Pollan
Go Back to Basics!!