I recently finished reading Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food". He basically explains that over the past 50 years or so, the food available to us in grocery stores has become less and less "real". Food science has removed and added so many ingredients to our foods that most of it is no longer food. Many foods have an ingredient list a mile long, full of words I can't even pronounce.
I read this book nodding to myself, believing that I was a very healthy eater who avoids most high-processed foods. And to some extent, that is true. But then I started looking a little closer at ingredient labels and I realized that we are eating a lot of really weird things. For example, I recently came across a recipe for homemade bread crumbs. I thought "This is silly, why make them at home when I can buy them for a couple dollars? Surely store-bought bread crumbs don't have weird ingredients in them, right?". The next day I picked up a package of plain bread crumbs and was shocked to see about 25 ingredients. So then I went home and made my own breadcrumbs. Number of ingredients? One.
As I was reading Pollan's book I learned that a friend was trying to give up all processed foods after reading this website: 100 Days of Real Food. I went to the website and was instantly hooked. I loved their story and decided to start making a few changes with what I buy and feed my family.
My two major changes are the following: 1) Read all food labels. If a food contains more than 5 ingredients or words I cannot pronounce or products I wouldn't find in my own pantry, don't buy it. 2) Try to make more foods from scratch. (Intimidating, I know!)
Here are a few "real" foods I have made from scratch recently.
Popcorn (I've been doing this for the past year or so after hearing how many scary things are in microwave popcorn. I buy my kernals at Trader Joe's and pop a big batch on the stove every couple weeks, then divide into sandwich bags for quick snacks. Coconut oil is a good option to use for this)
Egg Casserole Bites (I made these over the weekend to pack in Adam's lunches for work or to eat for an easy breakfast. Delicious!)
Easy Cheesy Crackers (These are really good, as long as you don't bite into one expecting it to taste like a Cheez-It. Ryan declared them "yutky" but Adam ate almost all of them! Bonus: these only contain 3 ingredients!)
whole wheat pancakes, granola, bread, granola balls, and fruit leather. (Click on the links for recipes)
Making foods from scratch that I would normally buy from the grocery store has been pretty fun for me because I love to cook and bake. I am hoping that if we can eat a cleaner, more "real" diet most of the time, it will give us a little wiggle room to more fully enjoy things like eating dessert, eating in restaurants, or just eating a little junk food here and there. It's all about balance.
So tell me, do you make anything from scratch? Have any good recipes to share? Up next I want to try making my own salad dressings.