As a stay-at-home mom, I am privileged to have the time and resources to develop healthy, tasty, and budget-friendly food options for my family.
This was not always a priority for us, however.
In April of this year, my husband was diagnosed with a blood clot. Although related more to the fracture in his ankle, this experience absolutely gave me pause. If such a serious health issue could happen to a man not yet thirty, who could say what other maladies could come up? How could our weight and other health issues negatively impact the work we were called to do? Were we really being good stewards of our bodies?
The answers to these questions made all of us think.
Enter healthy eating. Sometimes I feel like a short-order cook: Bean has diet restrictions and is one of the pickiest eaters I know, Riley has diet restrictions (and is also very picky), even the dogs have diet restrictions; while Peanut and I have no restrictions (yet), I figured a truly healthy diet wouldn’t harm anyone, so we may as well go all-in. Thus we embarked on our healthy eating journey–five months in, and still going (pretty) strong!
Less than 25 grams of sugar a day. Year of No Sugar: A Memoir got me thinking about how many empty calories and health issues stem from refined sugar. Once I started reading the labels of foods, I was shocked at where sugar was and how much was in our food. Peanut butter? Check. Crackers? Check. Bread? Check and check–high fructose corn syrup was present in high quantities in the brand of bread we usually got. At least with fruits you got good nutrition and fiber; it seemed that the processed foods were unnecessarily loaded with the yucky stuff. We had a head-start on this one–none of us drink soda or juice, and candy is a rare treat in our house.
Less meat in our diet. On average, we eat meat 3-4 times a week. We implement a lot of salmon, lentils, eggs, and the like to ensure we get our protein and other beneficial nutrients. Beef is served a couple of times a month now, instead of almost daily. Chicken and turkey have been in heavy rotation for our meat meals. Bonus: a vegetarian/flexitarian approach to eating is also good for the environment!
Cheap. Our grocery budget is approximately $400 a month for a family of six. Just because we added a couple high-end “hippie” stores to our bi-monthly grocery trek didn’t mean I wanted to break the bank, especially with only one income. This was a challenge initially–healthy, quality food that also matches our values (organic, non-GMO, etc.) does not come cheaply. We have to prioritize what organic goods we purchase, for instance; the “Dirty Dozen” is top of the list. Growing our own food helps too!
After only six weeks on this “Common Sense Diet”, I was down to pre-Bean weight, Riley was nearly to his goal weight, and our various “numbers” (blood pressure, etc.) were down as well.
I am sold–it does take more time to plan and prepare these meals as opposed to processed, pre-packaged foods, requires budgeting and shopping around, and we do still
binge splurge from time to time–deprivation benefits no one! But our energy levels, moods, positive example for our kids, and the enormous health benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks.
I will write more about this lifestyle change in the future, but in the meantime, enjoy a favorite lunch recipe, a la Ronnica, courtesy of Whole Foods.
Simply Delicious Homemade Hummus
2 cloves garlic
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste–can be found near the peanut butter in health food stores)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari (I substitute liquid aminos–can be found near the soy sauce in health food stores)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Put garlic in a food processor and pulse to roughly cop. Add garbanzos, tahini, 1/4 cup water, lemon juice, tamari, cumin, coriander and a pinch of cayenne (you may add more later to increase the heat), and process until creamy and smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill for at least one hour.
We love to spread this on Food for Life pitas!