Breakfast!

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Cereal, Pop Tarts, doughnuts, muffins, oatmeal and more. Oh, to eat breakfast as an ancestral/paleo-ish/real food family. This was quite the transition for us. I would eat cereal for breakfast and sometimes dinner. Or, I would break Pop Tarts into pieces in a bowl and pour milk over them and call it cereal (before there was a Pop Tarts cereal, I’m ahead of my time). I wondered how I could eat so much, but then still be hungry 2 or 3 hours later. I blamed it on my metabolism.

Then came the transition to our new way of eating and all of those options went right out the window. What now? Well, it was a surprisingly delicious change. Today I will share how we satisfy our children’s craving for ‘cereal.’ You do not need as much in the bowl as you would with traditional cereal. The fat and protein are much higher in this version, filling you up much faster and keeping you full straight through to lunch time. No more sugar dips leaving you looking for a mid-morning snack! See how it can still be done on a budget?!

In a glass jar or container we mix the following ingredients (feel free to change it up to your taste!)

1 part raw unsalted almonds (can be found in the bulk bins at Whole Foods)
1 part shredded unsweetened coconut (can be found in the bulk bins at Whole
Foods)
1 part dried fruits (we use organic blueberries, cherries and apricots from the bulk bins at HEB because that is what’s available)

Then shake, shake, shake!! I then pour some into each kid’s bowl and cover with milk just like cereal. Delicious, easy and still Real Food!!

What variations would you make??

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Quick and easy lunches

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Yes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy. But, what is quicker than throwing a hard boiled egg or homemade beef jerky in your kids lunch? Real food lunches can be just as simple, loved and gobbled up. No, they may not have a shelf life of 12 years, but is that what you really want?

Here are some of our sample lunches for our kids and ourselves:

1)Hard boiled egg with salt and pepper
Colby cheese
Bubbie’s dill pickles (www.bubbies.com)
Baby carrots and grape tomatoes

2) homemade beef jerky (see recipe below)
Monterey Jack cheese
Grapes
Kale chips (www.bradsrawfoods.com)

3) Applegate salami or soppressata (www.applegate.com)
Raw organic almonds, macadamia nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut
Cheese
Homemade applesauce (recipe below)

As you can see, a bunch of pre-packaged foods are not necessary. And in an effort at full disclosure, my son has gone through a patch of not finishing his lunches. After a light bulb conversation with my mom, I realized that if he never eats his carrots and tomatoes, it’s probably because he does not like them. She could not have PAID me to eat celery. shudder. So, we found he is the only one in our family that loves kale chips. So, it’s a vegetable nonetheless.

They did wonder where their sandwiches went, and are confused by the food pyramid discussed at school. We simply explain that Daddy has the newest information available and that the school is teaching what it knows. It works for a 6 year old. Let me know of your creative lunch ideas, we could all use some inspiration!

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Beef Jerky

2 lbs London broil or flank steak cut in 1/8 in strips
1/2 c coconut aminos (I use Coconut Secret brand. Acts as replacement for soy sauce or Worchestire sauce)
1 T liquid smoke
1 tsp of the following spices: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper

Place all in a large plastic bag, massaging ingredients together.
Marinate for 36 hours or so
Preheat oven to its lowest temp (mine is 170 degrees F)
Line cookie sheets with foil, place wire rack on top
Lay out marinated strips so they don’t touch
Cook for 4 hours and flip strips. Cook another 2 hrs or until looking petrified.
Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Homemade Applesauce

Dice 4-6 Gala apples (or your favorite). I do not bother with peeling, love the skin!
Place in a small crockpot with at least 1 tsp cinnamon. Cook for at least 5 hrs. Mash with a potato masher or a fork. Serve immediately warm or refrigerate and put in lunches! Yum!

Why Real Food?

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It all began for us about 4 years ago…my husband’s thirst to learn all that there is to know about fueling your body really took off. The more he read, the more he shared with me. I politely listened as a supportive wife, until the day he announced that we would no longer be eating pasta. PASTA! The dish I made
once a week with my version of meat sauce, i.e. the cheapest ground beef I could find mixed with Prego pasta sauce. I was floored, aghast, dumbfounded and at a loss of what I could make for the next 10,000 meals. As such, I fought back against the ridiculousness of his demand.

He offered to help come up with new meal ideas that could be an alternative for this mom of a young child. I conceded on making pasta at home. His learning continued as I became more interested in learning how to expand my repertoire of meals. I watched a lot of Food Network shows and even You Tubed how to cut an onion like they do on tv. We still made meatball sandwiches (frozen Costco meatballs mixed with Prego sauce), hash browns mixed with sausage and eggs, and ate cereal.

Two years later, hubby now announced that pizza would be the next staple to go. Once again, feelings of despair, fear, and a pit in my stomach appeared. Seriously?! PIZZA! Another knock down, drag out fight ensued. How dare he declare such a thing when he had no hand in preparing meals?! And organic food is for people who don’t shave their armpits or brush their hair! Once I stopped spinning, he explained that with all that he has learned about how awful carbs, gluten, conventionally raised produce and hormone laden milk is for your body, how could he possibly continue to feed it to his kids?

How do you argue with that logic? Next came my concern over cost. We were both working our tails off and had 2 growing kids and a mortgage. But we sat down and calculated how much we were spending on eating out, convenience foods and my ‘staples.’ Turns out, that way of eating requires much more quantities of food and is therefore almost the same cost-wise. Shocking, eh?!

Tis true. Once we took the baby steps towards grass-fed meat, organic fruits and vegetables, and high-quality dairy, it became easier to eat REAL FOOD. What is real food? It is food that is not processed, pesticide-laden, hormone-heavy, or made with sugar or grains. If your grandmother had the option to eat it, it fit the bill. Why real food? It is nourishing to your body, reduces the incidence of illness, helps you to express the best of your genetic makeup, and keeps your digestive track running smooooothly.

Sean Croxton of www.undergroundwellness.com coined the term ‘JERF’ or just eat real food. My kids love to sing “Every day I’m jerfalin’.”
We have started reading more books, a few favorites being ‘Rich Food, Poor Food’ by the Carlton’s, ‘Deep Nutrition’ by Dr. Cate and my ‘Well Fed’ cookbook.

It has not always been easy, and I have fallen off track plenty of times. Each time, I am reminded why I don’t eat junk because I am greeted with bloating, pain and a trip to the WC for awhile.

So, with my husband in tow, we started combing Pinterest and cookbooks for recipes that would incorporate our new way of eating. Most meals have been resounding successes! I have become quite handy in the kitchen and am eating (and loving) foods that I never would have tried otherwise. My husband and children now love vegetables! It’s all in the quality of the ingredients and how you prepare them.

This is what I hope to share with you all. Recipes that get you excited about food and cooking again, support for those interested in making the switch to real food or even how to just plan for meals.

The wonderful world of eggs

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Eggs are one of the world’s most perfect foods. Think about it, thy have every nutrient needed to create life in one neat little package. Super versatile, easy, kid-friendly and cheap! There is CHEAP and then there is cheap, however (not to mention a cheep, cheep). The best eggs to buy are those produced by free-roaming, pastured chickens. They have not been fed antibiotics or raised eating pesticide laden grains.

Anything you ingest brings with it anything that it has touched, had sprayed on it or what it was raised with. If your chickens and cows have been given antibiotics to make up for their crowded environments, you are taking in those antibiotics when you eat them. Think about how effective your birth control is when you’re on antibiotics or how the medical community is reducing the frequency of prescribing them for your children for ear infections. There is little thought given to how that extrapolates to those that you ingest secondarily. A little food for thought…

So, we love free-range, pasture raised eggs with really orange yolks. You can poach, fry, scramble and hard boil to your hearts content. Hard boiled eggs are a staple in our house, to the point that we are making about 15 per week for our family. Given that, we have attempted almost every way possible to cook them to give us the best looking egg with the easiest to peel shell. So, today I shall share that research with you!

1. First, pick the right size of sauce pan or pot that will adequately hold all of your eggs, giving them enough space to not cause cracking by them knocking into each other.
2. Place your eggs in the pot and fill with enough water to just cover.
3. Cover the pot with a lid and turn on the heat.
4. Bring to a boil.
5. Once boiling, turn the heat off and set a timer for 18 minutes.
6. When the timer goes off, drain the hot water and replace with cold.
7. Let stand for at least 10 mins (sometimes up to a couple of hours in my house depending on what emergency comes up)
8. Set up a cracking station with your Tupperware, compost bin (if you utilize one) and a towel.
9. Hit an egg on the large bottom part first to break the air bubble.
10. Roll the egg on it’s side with enough pressure to crack the whole perimeter.
11. Start peeling like an orange and see how much you can get off in one peel!
12. Repeat for the next dozen or so eggs…

These keep for up to a week in the fridge. We put them in the kids’ school lunches with a bit of Celtic sea salt and pepper, put in our salads to bring to work or have available for a quick meal on the go. They also make for a quick real food approved egg salad that you can mix with homemade or pre-made guacamole. It is soooo delicious and an extremely satisfying meal.

Enjoy!!

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Fall treats

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I love Fall. I have many fond memories of picking apples, hiking in Brown County state park, going to Feast of the Hunters Moon, watching leaves change colors and more growing up in Indiana. There is truly nothing like Fall in Indiana. That is, if it is not already snowing. My friends and I would pick bushels of apples and turn them ineto apple pies that we would leave on people’s doorsteps. Yum! The flavors of fall have to be my favorite…apple pies, apple dumplings, apple cider, apple butter and especially apple slushies at Conner Prarie from what else, The Apple Store (shout out to Miss Bea).

So, what does a real food eating family do to serve their fall flavor hankerings? Well, follow me to the 2 recipes below. These are now a staple in our house during this time of year. They are quick, easy and portable. We pack them up for basketball games, road trips or just keep in a bowl in the kitchen for when you just need a little something. Enjoy!!!

Baked Apple Slices:  http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/cinnamon-sugar-baked-apple-chips// (note: I left out the sugar)

Pumpkin Pie Almonds:  http://kneadtocook.com/pumpkin-pie-roasted-almonds/ (note: I swapped the agave nectar out for local honey)

The beginning

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I need to start somewhere and since I’m not sure where that is, I have been paralyzed for months. With that said, I was reminded that how I spend my Sundays preparing for the week is a plan not many others come up with. So, my first post with you all will be about preparation.

I started a new job on 11/4 that puts me in the office from 7:30-5 5 days a week. That leaves little time to do much meal prep for my family of 4 (daughter who is 6, son who is 4 and my uber-busy husband who is in the midst of college basketball season). Thus, my Sunday prep day is a must for maintaining any sense of sanity.

It all began Saturday morning with a blank grocery list, my iPhone with Pinterest pulled up and my calendar. From there I determine which nights actually require meals (no meal prep on basketball game nights!). I put a !, but really the food is not exactly the best. But, it is free and we usually end up with a salad and meat of some sort. Back to the meals I have control over…I then try and rotate my proteins. That means a beef dish, chicken, pork or eggs, seafood, etc. Ideally, we aim for a different protein each night of the week to ensure complete nutrient coverage. I compare what is in my freezer (I totally stock up when Sprouts has a deal on grass-fed ground beef or there is a similar deal online) and what we haven’t had in a while. This week resulted in:

Sunday: Greek marinated chicken http://www.recipefavorite.com/2013/07/greek-marinated-chicken.html?m=1 with roasted broccoli ( broccoli, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper)

Monday: Game night!
Tuesday: Chili (ground beef in freezer, canned organic tomatoes, butternut squash, bell pepper, onion, Stellar Organic red wine and beef stock).
Wednesday: balsamic marinated flank steak http://pointlessmeals.blogspot.com/2011/05/grilled-balsamic-flank-steak.html?m=1
Thursday: crock pot ribs (we have gymnastics from 5-6 that night so hubs can turn on crock pot with seasoned ribs and a bottle of Lost Gold IPA at lunchtime so dinner is ready when we get home)
Friday: nephew’s bball game

From that menu, I determine what I have on hand versus what we need. I hit the Farmer’s market and Whole Foods on Saturday. Sunday was marinating chicken for dinner that night, making marinade for flank steak, cooking chili in crockpot to reheat for Tuesday, making beef jerky for the kids’ lunches and laundry. Sounds like a lot , but there is now very little to do each night of the week to end up with a tasty, healthy, nutrient-dense meal that everyone can enjoy. This has simply become a habit and way of life in the crazy world of the Schwartz family.

Come back to learn more ways we have incorporated eating real food into our budget and everyday life.

-Tracey