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Big changes but not a big effort

24 May

It occurred to me when I was grocery shopping the other day that we really have made some great changes and that these changes are now part of our everyday habits.  I don’t need to think too much about it now; it’s routine.  My shopping cart isn’t full of processed foods but instead full of vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs etc.  That’s not to say there isn’t processed food but I tend to get processed food from stores such as Wholefoods where the chances of finding unnecessary additives is much lower (not ruled out though). I bake cookies instead of buying them and not only is it not that hard its actually fun and the kids can help.  We occasionally bake bread (not as often as I’d like but hey I’m not perfect) and yes, its still white because I’m picking my battles and my kids won’t eat anything else (but its thick and crusty, doesn’t have preservatives in it and tastes pretty good). We are still learning as we go but the point is we have made some big changes but this hasn’t translated into a big effort. There was a bit of work at the start to work out what was out and what was in but now it is routine and when I’m waiting in line at the store I’m pretty happy with what’s in my cart.

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Butter or margarine?

21 May

So I’ve found myself with a small dilemma- butter or margarine?  Thinking that animal fats were “bad” for many years we’ve used margarine on toast (while continuing to cook with butter).  My spread of choice was Nuttlex (an Australian product) with a list of not too-scary ingredients (sunflower oil, non-genetically modified canola oil, vegetables oils, emulsifiers, flavors (?) and vitamins).  But, with the move to the U.S this is one of the many products not available so I went in search of a replacement. At this point I should point out that the first few grocery shops in this country took FOREVER! Anyway, the point is it has been difficult to find a spread without a long list of ingredients.  I found one which was free from many of the additives I’ve been trying to avoid but I still have my doubts about some of the ingredients, especially in terms of GMOs. So I’ve made the switch to whipped butter which has two ingredients: cream and salt. So which is better I wonder- margarine or butter?

Cutting down on additives

29 Apr

The real jumping off point for me came from reading information on Sue Dengate’s “Fed Up” website http://www.fedup.com.au.  This site has a great list of additives to avoid and became my starting point.  (I should point out that this is Australian-based so the additives are referred to by numbers but the names are listed so you can make it applicable to other countries and there is a list of additives to avoid in the U.S.)

I started in small steps by cutting out (or at least reducing) artificial colors, switching to bread which doesn’t contain calcium propionate (Brumbies in Australia) and margarine that doesn’t contain sorbates (I use Nuttelex in Australia).  Not difficult at all. The biggest change was really starting to read all the ingredient labels at the supermarket, learning to identify which ones to avoid (again using the information on fedup.com.au) and then finding out whether there was a better alternative.  Sometimes this could be found in the supermarket, for other foods it meant more home cooking (more on this later) and sometimes (with some protest from my boys) cutting it out altogether.

Note: I should point out that the “fed up” website isn’t geared towards those of us trying to eat more unprocessed, organic, non-GMO food but it is a great resource for identifying and avoiding all those additives in processed foods.

Starting our real food journey

28 Apr

We are a very ordinary family; mum, dad, two gorgeous boys. We like to think we eat well (most of the time) but at the end of last year when my youngest son started getting rashes around his mouth and severe nappy rash which seemed to appear after eating tomatoes I started looking into our diet. I need to point out that  this is not a blog about food intolerances.  We do not appear to have any major intolerances and we certainly are fortunate enough not to have our lifestyle or diet dictated by them.  However, my son’s apparent reaction to tomatoes last year began a real interest in the food we were eating and I started to investigate ingredients and their possible effects.  And I discovered that our diet involved a lot of processed foods with ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. So we started making some changes to try and reduce the amount of additives and preservatives.  We made further changes when we moved from Australia to the U.S earlier this year and discovered that even the same brand of products have different ingredients in different countries.  We also discovered (and try to avoid) the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup in the U.S.  Without a lot of effort we have managed to make some  changes to our diet and now most of the time consume a diet of “real” food.

This blog shares what I have learnt and continue to learn about the food we eat and the enjoyment that comes from cooking with real ingredients.

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