Saturday, August 28, 2010

Snack Time!

Snacks are something I really struggle with. They are the thorn in my side. Breakfast, it's easy to eat something light (usually fruit) and if I pack a healthy lunch, I have no choice but to eat it once I get to work. Dinners have always been on the healthier side with salads and veggies...but snacks are my weakness. Specifically - salt & vinegar chips. I feel like they are a thrill ride, the flavor is so intense and I love it. Anyway, I'm learning that if I pass them in the grocery store, they aren't at home (genius, I know) and therefore, I don't eat them!

Anyway, I'm proud to say that today I got desperate enough to actually snack on celery and carrots. They have been in the fridge for about a week or two. What makes this particularly monumental for me is that Andrew, that foul tempter, brought a bag of salt and vinegar chips home...into my house...and is currently eating them in front of me. They're "all natural" but are still potato chips. The surprising part is that I really like these little green and orange sticks more than I thought I would. I'm hoping I can keep this up!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Local deliciousness

I visited the horse and buggy co-op's a la carte table today ( I was really impressed with how friendly they were! They're in Lynchburg on Thursdays from 3:30-6:30 (I think...check the website) and the vast majority of their goods are for the subscribers. I purchased 2 loaves of bread, made from local Mennonite families, and a bottle of honey. The man I was talking with also gave me a couple of eggs to sample since I was asking about them. They offer co-op shares in a variety of sizes for small or large families. They have fruits, veggies, egg, bread, granola, bison, beef, trout, chicken and a few more types of shares to subscribe to. I'm thinking of signing up since you can cancel any time (I'm a big of a commitment-phobe).

The bread is delish (I got a loaf of honey wheat and a loaf of chocolate) and I'm sure the honey is the same. That's about all I've got! Hope everyone has a GREAT weekend!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Grocery Shopping, Round 1

I finally got out to the grocery store tonight. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought to shop according to the Food Rules that I'd read about. The "New Kroger" has a pretty great Organic section. It's no Trader Joe's, but it's larger than the other two I've visited.

The produce section at this particular Kroger is fairly extensive, so I started there. I picked up some organic fruits to pack in our lunches (which is probably where most of the expense occurred), some greens for a salad and one of the largest portabello mushrooms that I've ever encountered in my life! (Food Rule #33 states that it important to eat some foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi because they are a good source of vitamin B12, which you can't get from most other plants. It also contains probiotics, and aids both your digestive and immune systems). And here I thought there was no nutritional value in mushrooms!

The Organic section was fairly extensive, as I said, although I was in shock over the prices of some of the items. The organic shredded cheddar was $3-something, where the Kroger brand is typically half the price. I did discover, however, that the organic Basmati rice (that I use frequently to make rice like Chipotle makes it) was about 50 cents cheaper than the Kroger brand. I think this may have been an exception to the rule. I like to eat yogurt and granola in the mornings, and was surprised to find that the organic yogurt ($4-something) had nearly the exact same ingredients as Dannon's "All Natural" yogurt (on sale for $1.88). The only things I didn't follow the rules with were 1. buns for my black bean burgers and 2. sourdough bread and 3. Corn chips (that have 3 ingredients...but are still corn chips). I think the best way to get wholly organic bread is to make it - even the "organic bread" had some funky-named ingredients in them. (side note: I've had a bread maker for 2 years in my basement that I got for $5 at a yard sale - it intimidates me because I have no idea where to begin with it). There's a co-op that visits Lynchburg on Thursdays that has bread made by Amish women, so I think I'll start there.

It came as no surprise that the grocery bill was higher than normal, but I left feeling great and like I'd gotten some real, quality food. Granted, this was my first trip after reading Food Rules and starting this blog, so it's all new and exciting - so here's hoping I keep up with it when I'm pressed for time. I'm also hoping that my tastes change and I will eventually crave fresh things...right now the celery I bought last week is still untouched in the fridge. The good news is that I tend to make very healthy choices when I make my lunch the night before - and then I have nothing but that to eat at work - so I have a feeling that the celery will find its way into my lunch rotation.

Dinner tonight consists of an Italian salad, grilled salmon (wild-caught) and brown rice. Does anyone know why you have to cook brown rice for 45 minutes?? That is ridiculous - here's hoping it's worth the wait!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Food Rules

I read the book Food Rules this week and was really inspired. It's nothing complicated and you don't need a degree in nutrition to understand it. I highly recommend reading it. Michael Pollan basically gives you 64 "rules" or guidelines to keep in the back of your head as you are grocery shopping, cooking, out to eat, etc. He sums the book up in 7 words - "Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much." Each of the 3 sections of the book go into detail on what food is (and isn't), covers things like portion control and gives you background on different cultures and how they have survived for centuries on basically the same diet (the Italians, Greeks, Japanese, etc.) It was interesting to read about how the Western Diet, what Americans eat, is so vastly different from anywhere else in the entire world, and how as a result, we have the highest rates of things like heart disease and cancer. I also appreciate that he addresses eating junk food if you make it yourself (because then you'll eat it less often) and occasionally breaking the rules. Anyway, it is a quick read and gives some really great and simple guidelines for how to do what we all need to do to survive - eat.

Now the challenge begins - schools starts on Monday and life gets kicked into high gear. My battle plan is to keep these rules in mind as I grocery shop tomorrow, and not let any "edible food-like substances" into the house, so that when I come home at the end of a long day and want to just flop on the couch, I'm only able to eat fruits, veggies or whole grains. One statement in the book says that if you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not hungry. Fortunately, I love apples (this was under the rule "Eat when you're hungry, not when you're bored"). I'm anticipating that I will have more energy and stamina, which will certainly come in handy when I'm working with kids who have behavioral disorders.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This is tough

This weekend we had my parents' into town. I think the only truly organic thing I ate was organic all natural mustard that I bought last week. And some fresh fruit, but that's nothing new. Oh well, it's a start....

Tomorrow is my first day back to work, and at a new job. While I've thoroughly enjoyed the laziness that comes with having the summers off, I think it will be good to get back into a routine of some sort.

Last week I perused the "organic" aisle (there were 3 tiny aisles in my local Kroger) and was shocked at the prices of some - well, most - of the food they had. It's literally double the cost! I really think this whole process would be much easier (and more cost effective) if I lived near a Trader Joe's, or even a Whole Foods. In the meantime, I got some great locally grown veggies and have been working them into my meals. I made a Ribbon Salad last week with zucchini, squash and carrots. I cheated and used a dash of italian dressing instead of the suggested lemon/olive oil concoction. It was actually delicious! Those are 3 veggies that I really like.

This week's endeavor is going to be baba ganoush - which is basically egg plant and hummus. (sidenote: I tried making my own hummus at home once and it was a waste of both time and money - way cheaper and easier, and tastier, to buy some) I got purple and white eggplant at my co-op this week, so any recipe suggestions would be appreciated. I have no idea what to do with the stuff but wanted to try it.

Wish me luck, I'm going to check out the newer Kroger in our area tomorrow night, I hear they have a better "organic" section....peace out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mountain Run Farm

Day 1. So far so good. I'm eating all natural yogurt with honey and granola (and was surprised to see how many un-pronounceable things are in my granola!) The OJ is all natural. I highly recommend Simply Orange - and would also like to mention that there's a $1 off coupon on Target's website, or maybe it was Anyway, it was extra cheap this week.

So in my research I've come across Mountain Run Farm. It's about 45 minutes from me and they have a great philosophy on raising beef cows (and pigs and chickens). They're all grass-fed, which is the way it's supposed to be according to Michael Pollan - the guy from Oprah (whose book, Food Rules, I ordered last night). We really don't eat a lot of red meat, in fact I can't remember the last time I bought it, but I am willing to give this a try. Their ground beef is very reasonable, around $5.20/pound. I'm hoping to make it out there one weekend this fall before I'm in the mood for chili. Has anyone from the Lynchburg area heard anything about it? Also, does anyone around here know where to buy deer meat? That's a decent, more lean substitute for things like chili or taco soup. (Sidenote: I'm more than ready for fall and all of my fall recipes...and OSU football, and scarves and sweaters....bring it on!!!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let the games begin

Starting today, the Hutcheson household is going to attempt to begin eating an all natural diet. Or at least mostly natural...

I was inspired this afternoon by watching Oprah. While I don't believe in everything she says, she had the author of "Food Rules" (who also had something to do with the movie Food Inc) and he was explaining the benefits of an all natural diet and something clicked. He described the majority of food in the grocery stores we have as "edible material." It's nothing new, it's pretty commonsense to understand that I shouldn't eat processed foods, but like I said, something simply clicked this time. I only have one body, and as I am facing my 30th birthday, I want to make sure I'm taking the best care of it that I possibly can.

My hope is that this blog will help to keep me accountable to sticking with this, and to finding new recipes, ideas, etc. My biggest challenge is going to be ridding my diet of Coke Zero. I love this stuff! It contains zero calories, but it also contains things that I can't pronounce, so it's got to go....eventually. (Baby steps people, baby steps...) I did a quick look through the pantry and fridge and was surprised to see how many chemicals I consume in a day, from sour cream spaghetti sauce. I was encouraged, however, to see that my black beans and Simply Orange OJ are well withing the paramaters of "all natural" so I guess that's a start.

So, feel free to join me (and Andrew, whose support and accountability I'm relying on) as we attempt this positive change. I'd say we eat relatively well, we're certainly not unhealthy & we watch what we eat - but after listening to the benefits of an all natural diet I'd like to make some changes. I'm sure it won't be easy, and I'm also sure that it will have to be gradual. These things don't just happen overnight! I plan on posting recipes that I find, websites that are helpful, etc. and will gladly accept any and all suggestions/input/advice!

Wish us luck....