We are coming upon a milestone in our household, one which I couldn't be more proud of. In just a few weeks, we will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary of eating clean and ditching overly processed, additive laden foods. The journey to get to where we are was not always easy nor perfect, and had plenty of bumps in the road and allowed for a lot of flexibility, but I feel great about how far we've come as a family. On a daily basis, the majority of our meals are packed with nutrients, low on chemical additives and preservatives, and leave us feeling well fed and happy, allowing for occasional indulgences free of guilt.
I shared a few posts back my approach to eating healthier with our family, and a lot of it involved flexibility and patience, but don't get me wrong, I did draw some hard and fast lines along the way. Starting with the foods pictured above. These were the first 7 processed foods we ditched as a family (Nutella not shown), and these were the foods that were essentially the hardest to kick. I started here because I knew we were in a sense addicted to them, and the contained the most harmful ingredients including artificial colors, hydrogenated oil, fake "meat', and loaded with preservatives (not to mention they contained little if any nutritional value). Each month I'd stroll through Costco and stock up on the giant bottles and packs of these items, being none the wiser that there were healthier, more nutritious versions of these items available, which we would love just as much. Here's what I swapped this for that with.
Coffee Mate Creamer: If you're interested in going dairy free, you can try coconut milk or almond milk, but if you're like me and crave that richness that something like Coffee Mate offers, then try just good old-fashioned half and half, organic if possible. Organic dairy products have shown to be more nutritious than conventional milk, and it offers the nice creamy goodness you're used to with creamer. If you like it a little sweet, then try adding just a small teaspoon of real maple syrup. It may take some getting used to, but I promise eventually you'll grow to love your new routine just as much, at least I do!
Fake Maple Syrup: The fake maple syrup is just another form of high fructose corn syrup with artificial caramel coloring and little nutritional value. True maple syrup contains only 40% fructose, and offers lots of solid nutritional value including manganese, zinc and magnesium. It is more expensive, but it's also sweeter, so you have to use less. I just make sure I do the pouring and limit how many times we're eating pancakes throughout the week to make the bottle go farther!
Eggo Waffles: While Eggos aren't terrible for you, their not great either, in that they don't offer the nutritional punch a homemade waffle can give. Eggos are high in sugar as well, so they don't give kids the brain power they need to get through an intense morning at school. If your kids love waffles like mine do, try making big batches of your own instead, on the weekend, and freeze leftovers to eat throughout the week. Homemade waffles can be supped up with nutritional add-ons like wheat germ and flax seed, not to mention can be made with whole wheat flour, and they freeze and store beautifully. I pop mine in the toaster just like an Eggo and reheat them throughout the week.
Chicken Nuggets: These little nuggets were my go-to easy meal at least 1-2 nights a week. The "meat" is overly processed, breaded and fried, not to mention are made with antibiotic laden chickens. I'm sure there's healthier organic versions out there, but I wanted to just cut these from the kids diets completely, so for a quick and convenient meal in a pinch, I'll make a box of Annie's Mac N Cheese. Ideally though, I bake up a big batch of healthy homemade baked chicken nuggets. Again, they're baked not fried, and store and freeze beautifully. My kids swear these taste way better than fast food or frozen nuggets too!
Cheez Its: Oh man these are my weakness, I must admit, and I don't know who misses them more, me or the kids. But one thing's for sure, these were like crack in my house and the kids couldn't get enough of them! We haven't eliminated "crunchy salty" food altogether, but instead we now opt for olive oil & sea salt popcorn, or simple plain tortilla chips. Eating better doesn't mean giving up all fun and yummy foods that give us pleasure, it's about finding healthier alternatives we can grow to love just as much.
Margarine: Oh boy did we love our margarine! That salty flavoring and the way it spreads on toast so smoothly! But wow, so bad for you not to mention overly processed to the point of resembling nothing like its original. We have now switched elusively to grass fed butter, which has a wonderful rich flavor and comes from cows allowed to feed off grass instead of corn and grain, making it more nutritious for us! I leave a small bowl of it out on the counter so it's at room temperature, and spreads just as well as margarine, and none of us no longer misses that old tub of yellow stuff!
Nutella: Make your own, it's easy I promise! Get the recipe for nutritious, refined sugar, palm oil free homemade Nutella on my site.
Let me know if you have any questions, or need suggestions for different processed food items you and your family may be "addicted" to at home!