One thing I always hear people saying is they just don’t have time to make themselves a healthy breakfast every morning. If you are used to eating nothing (or something packaged) this recipe is for you! It takes just a few minutes to put together, and after you bake it you will have a healthy breakfast prepared for the rest of the week. I top this oatmeal with a mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, and pour a little milk over it while it is still hot. I cut it into little squares for my kids and they eat it with milk like regular cereal. This is a great alternative to boxed cereals for kids because it is real food with real ingredients and is not loaded with sugar like most of the boxed options.
Archives for June 2014
I have to say, this is one of those dinners that will leave everyone at the table asking for seconds! Both of my older boys devoured their first plate and asked for more before I finished my own plate! The key to a great chicken and pasta dish is seasoning your chicken correctly, and making sure to pound it thin. If you have ever tried to recreated a chicken dish from a restaurant and can’t figure out what makes theirs so much better it is probably that they pound their chicken, and use more salt! You see, boneless skinless chicken is virtually tasteless. When you have that hunk of middle meat, you have a portion of the chicken that isn’t sauced. I hate chewing through a fat piece of chicken and getting to the middle. It is like eating a piece of sautéed chicken with nothing on it…. yuck! Therefore, even if I use tenderloins like I did for this recipe, I STILL thin them out. That way I have a nice thin piece of chicken that will have lots of sauce, and no bland middle. It also cooks up more evenly, and you don’t have to cook as long on each side. All the way around, if there is one thing I can stress about the perfect chicken in a pasta dish it is pound your chicken! *If you have no clue what I’m talking about you take this piece of kitchen equipment and gently hammer your meat until it is thinner.
The other essential, seasoning your chicken correctly is easy. After you have pounded and cut your chicken pieces, start heating your sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on low and throw your chicken into a bowl. In a separate bowl throw in a little flour, salt (I suggest course kosher or Himalayan pink sea salt), pepper, and garlic powder. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour before you put it in your pan. This simple step will make a world of difference because it will help you get that nice, golden coating on each side. It also helps to keep your chicken from sticking to your pan (I never use non-stick because of the chemicals), and I always throw in an extra tablespoon or two of flour so that my sauce ends up thick and I don’t have to worry about thickening it up later. Even if there is extra flour just sitting in your pan, you will be happy later when you have a thick sauce! I would suggest looking for the roasted red peppers in the pasta isle of your grocery store. They will come in a glass jar either whole or in strips. Before purchasing check the ingredients. There should not be any soybean oil or additives in the peppers. I found mine in the Italian specialty section of my local store where they have all of the whole parmesan wedges, mozzarella balls, olives, and spreads.
I can’t even explain how excited I am to announce… I have finally purchased a REAL camera! Please bear with me through the process of figuring out how to use it. I have never even operated a professional camera so this is a learning experience for me all around. I can honestly say this is the first picture I have ever taken with a real camera and while it isn’t perfect, it is much better then the iPad photos I have been using! I’m really excited to continue growing my photography and feedback is much appreciated. 🙂
On to the pancakes… my husband actually had a dream that someone from his past was baby-wearing and making lemon ricotta pancakes at the same time. Seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried! Sunday morning I woke up refreshed because somehow I managed to sleep 12 hours after a really long day. It was glorious! Making up for lost sleep usually equates to a big breakfast here, and he mentioned the dream pancakes so I looked around the web but couldn’t find a whole grain version. I found this recipe on Cooking Classy and adapted it to a whole grain version using whole wheat pastry flour and whole spelt. I also made them a second time with whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour, and I have to say I liked the spelt better! I made a few other revisions to their recipe and they turned out fabulous! They are super light, fluffy, and have just a touch of lemon.
*I cook these in a cast iron skillet with about a tablespoon of melted ghee. The key to the perfect pancakes in cast iron is heating it correctly. Put the ghee or butter in your skillet when you begin mixing your ingredients. Keep it on low and let it get nice and warm. I turn it up to just under medium when I begin cooking the pancakes. Low and slow is the way to go! If your skillet is seasoned nicely you should not have to add any more ghee to your pan after the first tablespoon.
I’ll be the first to admit.. I LOVE fried chicken. Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t though?
When I was younger, I remember my parents taking me to Hardee’s after church. Remember Hardee’s? Apparently they are still around. Who knew?!?! I totally thought Wendy’s would have taken them down by now. At that time (20 some years ago) everyone was lovin’ the fried chicken at Hardee’s. You know, because it was the 90’s and people were snackin’ on SnackWells and Rice Cakes…then having some fried chicken. Not exactly how you remember your childhood? That’s probably a good thing! *face palm for SnackWells*
I always got the same thing at Hardee’s. If it was breakfast I would get the biscuits and sausage gravy, and if it was lunch I would get friend chicken. I know, I know, WHHHYYY!?!?! I was a kid though and had no idea this stuff was horrible. Now don’t get me wrong, a piece of fried chicken every once in a while isn’t going to kill anyone, but now-a-days I realize the oil they fry the chicken in is likely GMO and may even contain some preservatives and trans fats. Trans fats = deadly. Enough said!
Then one day a light-bulb went off above my head. How about I make my own chicken in the oven. It will be crispy, juicy, and delicious. No deep-fryer, no GMO oils, no trans fats. Just chicken, butter, spices, and whole wheat flour. Yes, it is THAT easy. And yes, this is one of those times I wish I would have realized this sooner.
For this Oven-Fried Chicken I first marinate the chicken in buttermilk, then pat it dry. After that I season the chicken GENEROUSLY with kosher/pink Himalayan salt, and pepper. I mix the spices together, season each piece, then dredge it in flour. I bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, then give each piece a nice rub of butter, to ensure the skin cooks up crispy and golden. How easy is that?
Not only do I love this meal because it is extremely delicious, it is also really inexpensive to put together, as chicken leg quarters don’t cost as much as breasts, or boneless chicken meat. I served this Oven Fried Chicken with a baked sweet potato and asparagus to add a ton of extra nutrition to this meal. Take a look. 🙂
This is one veggie packed dinner! I love eating meals that leave me feeling good about what I just ate, and this meal is a great example of just that. In the summer I like to mix a ton of different cold salads together which makes meal prep pretty easy. Here are the recipes and instructions for this meal.
Tomato & Basil Quiche
- 1/2 recipe Whole Wheat Pie Crust
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 7 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs or 5 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan or Kosher salt
- fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Instructions: Roll out whole wheat crust and put into a butter & floured tart pan or pie pan. Slice cherry tomatoes in half and finely chop fresh basil. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into tart shell, then add cheeses, tomatoes, and basil. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. This recipe makes one quiche, which serves about 4. *If you’d like a richer quiche, use 7 yolks+2 whole eggs. If not, use 5 whole eggs.
Garlic, Shallot, and Lemon Butter Asparagus
- 15-20 asparagus spears
- 1 Tablespoon salted butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 shallot
- 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- pink Himalayan or Kosher salt to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions: Steam or boil asparagus. In a separate, small sauté pan melt butter, garlic, and shallot together. Allow garlic and shallot to cook over low-medium heat. Once tender, add lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
Tomato, Cucumber, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
- 1 recipe Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette
- 1 container cherry tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 shallot or red onion
- 3-4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
Instructions: Halve cherry tomatoes and slice cucumbers. If you want to get really fancy, take a peeler and peel sections of cucumber to make them look nicer before slicing. Finely dice shallot. Cut mozzarella into small chunks, and mix with all other ingredients. Add desired amount of dressing. If you don’t want any extra dressing, only make a 1/2 batch of the homemade red wine vinaigrette.
Instagram has really opened my eyes to just how many people love their bars. I can’t go a day without seeing numerous people posting pictures of their bar of choice, and quite honestly it makes me want to scream. Somehow food manufacturers have duped a portion of the “health food” community into consuming these less then ideal products, all while believing they are doing something really good for their body. Right now, I’m going to set the record straight about these products, and why you might want to rethink consuming them.
The Protein Problem
First, I should mention Americans love over consuming protein. While it is essential to our bodies, and helps people loose fat and gain muscle, it isn’t a replacement for eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Sometimes I feel people are so protein focused, they forget that not every source of protein is created equal. A good portion of protein and meal replacement bars are made from soy protein isolate, a highly refined soy byproduct that is likely GMO and has been stripped of any good health benefits. Essentially they take everything good about soy away and leave you with just the protein, hence the name soy protein isolate. This doesn’t sound so bad, however nothing that is highly processed is a good thing. It is like comparing an organic grass-fed strip steak to a McDonald’s hamburger. There is a huge difference in how our body’s process these two vastly different products. If you are choosing to go the protein bar route, eliminate any bars using this unhealthy protein.
The Sugar Problem
I have no idea why, but consumers have decided everything should be dessert-like, including their protein and meal replacement bars. Think of it this way, if your bar wasn’t loaded with sugar and called “cookie dough” would you be as inclined to purchase it? What if it was called broccoli casserole? And more importantly, why is your snack or meal dessert based? This is one of the biggest problems with these products, the amount of added sugars in them. Companies have started going the organic route, but even evaporated cane juice and organic sugars are added sugars. Sure, they aren’t as bad as their refined counterparts but added sugar is still sugar that doesn’t need to be there. There are ways to get protein without added 3-4 teaspoons of sugar on top of it, which is exactly what we do when we consume these products.
The “Fake Stuff” Problem
Not only do these products contain a ton of added sugars, some of them contain FAKE sugars. You see, diet companies don’t want to add calories to these bars because they have to give you the illusion you are consuming something healthy. For this reason they use sucralose (aka fake sugar) instead of real sugar to make your bar dessert-like without adding calories. On top of the sucralose, they have to add fake flavors to make your highly refined soy treat taste like something. Soy and whey don’t typically taste like cookie dough or brownies so this illusion has to come from somewhere, and unfortunately most of the time we don’t even know what they use to flavor these products because the flavorings are listed as “natural” flavors or “artificial” flavors. Not only do they have to artificially flavor your bar, they also have to color it. I’ve seen artificial food dyes and caramel coloring in a majority of these bars. Again, its all an illusion.
The Problems With These Popular Brands
To make this really simple here is a quick cheat sheet of brands with a list of questionable ingredients
1. Muscle Milk– Contains soy protein isolate as well as a few other forms of soy. Likely GMO, also has mono and diglycerides which is a potential hidden source of trans fats.
2. Special K Protein Bars- This is one of the worst offenders! Contains trans fats listed as the first ingredient, controversial preservative polysorbate 60, preservative TBHQ, another form of trans fat, highly refined cottonseed and canola oils, a ton of soy byproducts, and lastly refined sugars. Do yourself a favor and stay away from any of the garbage Special K makes!
3. Nature’s Valley Protein Bars– Contains soy protein isolate, highly refined canola oil, soy lecithin, and “natural flavors”. Also likely GMO.
4. Quest Protein Bars- While these aren’t quite as bad as the others, they still contain sucralose aka fake sugars which should be avoided at all costs. They also contain “natural flavors”.
5. Think Thin Bars- I might hate these the most because they are putting the word thin on their package. They contain soy protein isolate, malitol (fake sugars), and “Natural Flavors”.
6. Clif Energy Bars- While Clif’s ingredient list is HUGE, they do use some organic ingredients. However, the FIRST ingredient in their white chocolate macadamia nut bar is SUGAR! There is also one ingredient they are using that is NOT organic, and that is the soy protein isolate. GMO much Clif? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Do not fool yourself into this illusion, these bars are nothing more then a dessert.
7. Clif Builder’s Bars- Same thing as their energy bars, one of the only non-organic ingredients is soy protein isolate. They are also using “natural flavors” and a ton of sugar.
8. Powerbar– Uses soy protein isolate, malitol (fake sugars), highly refined canola oil, and “natural flavors”. Also likely GMO.
9. MET- Rx Big 100 Meal Replacement Bar- Not using soy protein isolate, however they are using high fructose corn syrup, regular corn syrup, “natural flavors”, a few other forms of sugar, and highly refined and likely GMO canola oil.
10. Simply Protein Bar- soy protein isolate
11. Luna Bar– soy protein isolate, “natural flavors”, loaded with added sugars
12. Pro-Bar Meal- this bar claims to be the “real food” answer to meal replacement bars. While it does have some good ingredients, the FIRST ingredient is added sugars! One bar contains 17 grams of sugar, that’s over 4 teaspoons a bar!!
13. Slim Fat Meal Replacement Bar- This one rates up there with the Special K Bar. I don’t know what isn’t in this thing! It contains soy protein isolate, sulfites, corn syrup, “natural and artificial flavors”, caramel color, real sugar, fake sugar, and tons of really long unknown ingredients. RUN AWAY FROM THIS!!!!
14. Skinny Girl Protein Bars- I have to say, I’ve been wanting to rip this product apart for a long time. Bethanny loved to promote “health” stuff all over her show, but it was obvious she had no idea what she was talking about. I did like her show, but when it came to the food portion she was just lost. Funny because she chooses to put the word “skinny” on a product that is horrible for you. Remember, you might be skinny on the outside, but are you healthy on the inside? This product contains soy protein isolate, soy, “natural flavors” and is likely GMO.
15. Kind Bars- The only thing I can find here is the soy lecithin is likely GMO. They specifically label another ingredient as Non-GMO but do not say their soy lecithin is Non-GMO, which can only mean one thing… its GMO. These do have added sugar but the main source of added sugar is honey which is less refined then some others.
Here’s the thing… we need to stop relying on processed bars and start relying on real food to meet our nutritional goals. With the exception of maybe the Kind Bars, I would not rate any of these as real food, or “healthy” options. Meals aren’t supposed to be refined soy disguised as a dessert, but somehow this is where our food supply has lead us. If you’ve regularly been consuming these products I would recommend replacing them with other protein rich options. Here are a few protein rich ideas:
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Plain Greek Yogurt with raw honey
- Hard boiled eggs
- Beans, bean dips (hummus, white bean dip)
- Shredded Chicken (Roast a whole chicken, pull the meat, and store in refrigerator for quick use)
- Nut Butters
Choose one of these options and add fresh fruits and veggies for a healthy meal or snack that isn’t just an illusion!
Whole wheat pie crust is one of the easiest switches to make if you are trying to eat less refined grains. When I discovered whole wheat pastry flour I was ecstatic! What rock had I been hiding under for all of my life, thinking the only pastry flour available was the refined white version? Soon I started using whole wheat pastry flour in most of my baking recipes (I just used it this weekend for cupcakes and nobody even questioned it being whole wheat!) and I love it! While I don’t do a ton of overly sweet baking, I do make quiche, and other savory tarts often. I got this recipe right off the Bob Red’s Mill whole wheat pastry flour bag and it is simple, quick, and tastes great! Thank you Bob Red’s Mill!
The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Pie or Tart Dough
Let me just throw this out there, making your own dough is quick and easy to begin with. However, the best way I’ve found is using a food processor, or Ninja. I have the Ninja Master prep and it has made dough making quicker then ever! If you have a food processor, you can use the same method. Here it is:
- Put flour and salt in processor
- Cut chunks of cold butter, throw in processor
- Pulse processor a few quick times
- Slowly add cold water until you see everything is wet and coming together
- YOUR DONE!
This only takes about a minute or two and you have your very own whole wheat pie crust!
Store Bought Pie Crusts = Health Nightmare!
I should also mention, those store bought crusts are health nightmares.With ingredients like enriched and bleached flour, partially hydrogenated oils (aka TRANS FATS), and preservatives BANNED in other countries they are not a product I would ever purchase. Not only do they contain all of these hidden ingredients but because they are usually frozen products there is no reason Pillsbury or any other company should be adding this stuff to their products. Any company using ingredients that are known to be dangerous will not see a dollar out of my pocket.. period!
I have been eyeing the beautiful packs of multi-colored cherry tomatoes at the grocery store ALL summer long. Each time I go, I put the pack into my cart and walk away. My kids scream, we grab a few other things, and inevitably I always end up back in the produce section talking my little self out of my way kewl pack of multi-colored tomatoes. Until today… when I put them in my cart and told my colorful produce loving self that today was the day I was taking these babies home! *yessss*
Little did those colorful cherry tomatoes know they were going home with a Greek Pasta Salad loving food blogger, and in their near future they would be slathered with an amazingly delicious homemade vinaigrette and made to mingle with some feta cheese. After that they would be gobbled up for lunch, then again for an after school snack, and again for dinner. Yes, I ate this 3 times today! I shamelessly pulled that bowl out of the refrigerator and devoured those cherry tomatoes and all of their friends like it was going out of style… FAST! So fast I left 4 noodles for my son’s lunchbox tomorrow. *SMH* So now, due to my shameless lack of self control, I will be up earlier tomorrow to prepare something else for him. Might be time to break into that freezer stash of hot lunches… on the 2nd day of school. 😉
The pasta I use in this recipe is whole wheat, because if you’ve been following along you know we don’t mess with that refined stuff. I used a pasta that I could not find a link to on Amazon, Whole Wheat Gobbetti made by Bionaturae. I love their products, and highly recommend any of their varieties if you can’t find the Gobbetti. And seriously.. what the heck is Gobbetti anyways!?!?!
Welcome to peach season! Peach season means summer, barbeques, and tons of goodies that include peaches. Right now I am working on a few different recipes that include these preserves but for now here is the preserve recipe.
The best part about this recipe is it makes a pretty good amount for only using 4 peaches, and it doesn’t contain any refined sugars. I do not believe in making sickeningly sweet preserves and jams loaded with refined sugars so don’t worry, this recipe is not one of those! I sweetened these delicious peaches with raw honey, and only used one other ingredient, lemon juice. These preserves keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks but they didn’t last nearly as long in my house! 🙂
Peeling The Peaches
Before you put the peaches in the pot to make the preserves you have to take the fuzzy skin off of them. It is really easy to do, just boil a pot of water on the stove and put the peaches in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds. Take them out of the water and run them under cold water while attempting to peel away the skin. If it isn’t budging, return them to the hot water and give them a little more time. It shouldn’t be hard to peel the skin off once it is ready.
Once upon a time I went to the grocery store and came home with a LIVING basil plant by accident. I don’t do plants because I live in an apartment with 3 kids and a husband and well… boys love dirt! I’ve tried and tried to love on a plant in my very own home but it never really seems to pan out the way I was hoping.
Like the time my mother in law sent me a plant when my middle son was born. I had such high hopes, I brought him home from the hospital with the new baby and he was like a new member of the family. We took him outside, we gave him a great home, and he even moved all by itself! Planty was his name and I have many fond memories of him brightening my day with his wonderful natural presence.
Then one fateful day my baby grew into a toddler and started tearing up my house. Little ol’ Planty never even saw the big bad toddler coming. All of a sudden Planty was flipped upside down all over the carpet, his dirt everywhere.
“What should we do with him?” I asked my husband, who kindly suggested Planty be banished to the porch forever. As the days grew shorter and the nights colder, Planty began to shrivel like a poor ol’ fellow and one day…. I knew it was his time. The plant I tried so hard to love on, was gone forever, his leaves shriveled and yellow. RIP Planty!
Now, what is a mom of 3 boys to do with a basil plant that will inevitably be ruined by one of them? For now Basil Man is sitting in a mason jar on a window sill, unharmed by any children. Here is sweet Basil Man now sitting pretty as a food prop! Isn’t he beautiful! 🙂
Speaking of basil, nothing puts a smile on my face like the smell of fresh basil. Why buy something in a box and miss out on such a wonderful smell and taste? With this recipe you will never have to miss that perfect fresh basil smell again. Just like my Unprocessed Hamburger Helper recipe, this is the all REAL ingredient version of a processed classic that contains nothing but awful ingredients.
Speaking of ingredients it is time for me to go all ingredient freak on you because this is important stuff, right? OF COURSE! The boxed version of this includes partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), MSG, monoglycerides (potential hidden trans fats), GMO cornstarch, hydrolyzed soy protein, artificial colors, and a few other questionable ingredient. For reals General Mills? Like are you trying to kill people or are you trying to kill people?
Thankfully, we never have to turn to General Mills again for this delicious dinner. It is SO SIMPLE and easy to make yourself and the ingredients are quite obvious. Cheese, buttermilk, basil, tomato, salt, spices, VIOLA! This is made just like the old classic…. brown the beef, add the other stuff (except the basil), bring to a boil, let simmer, enjoy the goodness.
I have to say, I am loving strawberry season already! Nothing beats the fresh, local strawberries we get that are tiny, red, and sweet! I have been putting them in literally everything, including this awesome salad. This salad is a huge hit at summer picnics and parties because it is different and addictive. If you take this to any function this summer, don’t expect to bring any home. 🙂 The dressing of this salad is my homemade red wine vinaigrette. Click here to get that. I promise it is super simple and contains only a few ingredients. I don’t have a specific measurement for the dressing to go on the salad, but with any salad, just eyeball it and only add a little at a time. Remember, you can add more but can’t take dressing away once it is already on it.
At times it is easier to find inspiration when you have the whole meal in front of you! I decided to start doing complete meal inspiration to help viewers visualize what unprocessed and real dinners look like. I get a lot of questions about what we eat, and while some of the recipes give a little insight, this lays out exactly what we eat in a meal. I’m not able to attach two recipes to one post, so for the red wine vinaigrette for the salad click here.
We love fish, especially Flounder (sorry I know I need to mix up my fish recipes!). I think part of eating unprocessed foods is using different ingredients and keeping it fresh. My husband and I were both thinking about shallots for some reason so he picked up a few at the grocery store, and BAM! I have a brand new recipe to share. He tends to get random things at the grocery store which is awesome because so many new recipes of mine come from him picking up unexpected items each week. If you are just getting into eating unprocessed foods one of the best things to do is try new things, and fill your refrigerator with fresh produce and herbs. I made a nice white wine sauce to bake over this flounder, which included butter, shallots, garlic, lemon, white wine, and fresh parsley. Not only is it beautiful, it tastes amazing!
I can’t stress this enough.. making your own dressings is an essential part of eating unprocessed foods because store bought dressings are some of the worst products on grocery store shelves. It gets even worse because almost all of the companies making bottled dressings use unethical labeling to trick consumers into thinking they are getting a quality product. In reality 95% of bottled dressings are made of soybean oil, MSG, preservatives, and unlabeled ingredients under the “natural flavors” loophole. I’ve talked about Hidden Valley Ranch, so I won’t go over that again. However, sometimes vinaigrettes slip through the cracks because people assume they are just oil and vinegar. Here are the ingredients in WishBone’s Balsamic Breeze Salad Spritzer (I couldn’t find the Red Wine one online, hopefully they don’t make it anymore):
Ingredients: Water, Balsamic Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Salt, Distilled Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onion Juice, Garlic Juice, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavors (Soy), (Sorbic Acid, Calcium Disodium EDTA) Used To Protect Quality, Wine, Sulfur Dioxide (Used To Protect Quality).
These ingredients just make me sad. I would honestly look at this product and think it was a healthier alternative to regular bottled dressing because you just spray it on. The only ingredients this product should have are olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices. I have NO idea where the high fructose corn syrup, EDTA, or emulsifiers came from. Shame on WishBone for tricking consumers like this!
With that being said, this salad is one of my favorites! I’m a feta lover, and the saltiness of feta cheese pairs perfectly with strawberries. I also threw in some walnuts, spinach, and watercress and had a delicious salad loaded with tons nutrition. I mentioned previously, I can’t attach two recipes to one post, so if you want the dressing recipe click here. To make this salad just desired amount of ingredients with a small amount of dressing and enjoy! A little bit of this dressing goes a long way!
See that? Yeah, right there. Real ingredients. Yep, it is totally do-able and totally easy to make Homemade Hamburger Helper with real ingredients and spare yourself some trans fat, MSG, and chemical laden food dyes. Not to mention a bunch of GMO’s and stuff that you can’t even pronounce. Why were we ever eating that crap again?
Can you imagine all this time, Betty Crocker has been pulling the wool over our little ol’ eyes and making us believe this stuff is actually food? Yeah, those days are over. The power of the internet has come to bite Betty in the butt, that is, if Betty Crocker were even a real person!
Just like all the fake food items with the name Betty Crocker on them in the grocery stores today, the name itself is fake as well. True facts here people, the Betty Crocker you’ve been imagining in your head for all these years is actually a nobody. *Moment of silence for all the Betty lovers*
General Mills is actually behind the name Betty Crocker, and ohhhhh aren’t they just the sneakiest little devils. Making people think for all these years that if you wanted to be a good at home cook you should buy their crappy food-like items and feed them to your family. All the while, Betty isn’t even a person and if she were you know she wouldn’t be eating that crap because the Betty in my mind is a smart Betty!
My Betty wears a cute apron and is smiling to great everyone at the door of her perfect home. Her children are well behaved, her house is immaculate, and her husband is a real hunk. She spends her time doing charity events, helping under-privileged children, and she was even a Girl Scout Leader when her perfect daughter was a Brownie. Sound like anyone you know? Of course not! 😉
Now that the Betty Crocker is fake cat is out of the bag let’s move on to discuss just how many disgusting ingredients General Mills has managed to stuff into one box:
- Partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat)
- MSG and Yeast Extract
- Refined Grains
- Fake food dyes
- Caramel Coloring
- Added sugar
- Sulfiting agents
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- A ton of sodiums that have weird names
I guess the ingredients speak for themselves. No, just no, is all I have to say about that. I know, you know, we all know this is garbage and nobody should be eating it, so why does it have to taste so good??
The tasty goodness does not have to die like the Betty Crocker we just put to rest. No, no! I will not let that happen! Fear not, your fat days can now be complete with your very own Hamburger Helper made with… wait for it… REAL STUFF. Real stuff including milk, cheese, water, spices, whole wheat noodles, and salt. Yes, that is it. Put your pantry staples together and you have one of the creamiest meals your kids will be begging for (just like I used to beg for that boxed crap) every week.
Throw some cheese on that……
We had some bananas get brown really quick, so it was banana bread time! I adapted an old banana bread recipe to make it with whole, natural ingredients and it turned out fantastic! Quick breads are just that… quick! It takes only a few minutes to put together and it is delicious. This bread it great for lunchboxes or after school snacks.
This recipe features whole spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, mascobado sugar, maple syrup, and salted butter. I love using salted butter in recipes like this for a little touch of saltiness to go with the sweet bananas.
Day 17: Whole wheat apple and oat pancakes, mixed fresh fruit, carrot sticks, and scrambled eggs
Day 18 (Not Pictured): Lunch on the Go! Included my Fruity Nutty Oat Squares, organic cheese stick, and strawberries
Day 20: Homemade Tomato Soup, grilled cheese on Ezekiel bread, carrot sticks, and strawberries
Day 22: Raspberries, grapes, white bean taco, avocado, and kalamata olives
Day 23: Carrots, strawberries, raspberries, dye-free jelly beans, mushroom and eggplant over whole wheat penne tossed in my classic creamy Alfredo and Herb Sauce
Day 24:Red plum, raspberries, mayo-free egg salad on Ezekiel Bread, popcorn, and cheddar roosters
Day 25: Dippy egg, homemade shoestring fries, Ezekiel Bread, eggplant and mushrooms, and strawberries
There is nothing more infuriating then reading the label on a baby product, only to find out it is loaded with chemicals, artificial stuff, and preservatives. There are harmful chemicals lurking everywhere in the baby market, even in products used by hospitals and pushed by pediatricians. I will never forget the day the pediatrician convinced me my baby would never survive without Vitamin D drops so I went to Target and purchased the only brand there. When I got home I realized it contained artificial dyes and polysorbate 80, a controversial preservative. I was furious Enfamil would be using these harmful ingredients in Vitamin D drops of all things!
I’ve compiled a list of some of the best natural products I have found for my kids, from trusted brands choosing not to use harmful ingredients. I’m covering everything from wash, to feeding products, to sunscreen, to Vitamin D drops so keep on reading!
The Best Natural Baby Products
I can’t say enough about their products. The smell alone is enough for me to keep me coming back for more! Every time I smell their baby wash I think of how small Christian once was. To be honest I’ve been using their baby lotion for about 2 years now, and it has even helped lighten some of the stretch marks I had from being pregnant. All 3 of my boys currently wash with this daily and that is what puts it at the top of the list.
I also found California Baby to be a great brand, using a really gentle formula for their washes. They have a huge line of products and have products that are unscented for even the most sensitive skin. I liked their calendula version the best out of their line, and we also used their conditioner for my son with thicker hair. I have to say, this wash will not lather hardly at all, but because it is so gentle I understand why. It still left my kids smelling distinctive and clean. They have everything from powder to sunscreen and also have a trial pack to see what you like. The price tag is big for this one, but it lasts forever! I think I only went through 1 and a half bottles in the first year of my son’s life.
3. Lavanila Baby
I use the Lavanila line myself and LOVE their deodorant! I have routinely used their perfume and lotions for a few years now, and their baby lotion is just as amazing. I can’t even put into words how good their products smell, and the best part, they are 100% natural! This lotion is super hydrating yet gentle. This would make a great shower gift because it is not a brand people are that familiar with. The price point is spot on, and the product is wonderful!
When it comes to a chlorine free diaper, Seventh Generation is a great option. We used their diapers for quite some time and they are just like all the other disposables, without all the chemicals and chlorine. The best part, Seventh Generation runs coupons frequently so check around for those! They aren’t overpriced and I thought they compared to Huggies. Overall, I was always very happy with their diapers and wipes!
4. Child Life Essentials Vitamin D Drops
If you are breastfeeding and choose to go the Vitamin D route as suggested, Child Life Essentials has drops without the artificial dyes and questionable preservatives. Here are the ingredients in their drops compared to Enfamil’s:
Child Life Essentials:
Vitamin D3, Organic Virgin Olive Oil, Natural Mixed Berry Flavor
Glycerin, Water, Polysorbate 80, Citric acid, Vitamin D3, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Artificial Flavor, Artificial Caramel Color
The ingredients in Enfamil are just ridiculous, shame on them for using their already popular name to push a Vitamin D drop loaded with chemicals and artificial stuff!
6. Burt’s Bees
When it come to sunscreen there are many options out there for a more natural approach. I LOVE this sunscreen stick that contains no fragrances or parabens. The active ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are common among sunscreens. Burt’s Bees also has a whole line of baby washes, and while I can’t say I’ve tried them, they are worth checking out. Also, when this stick says “No Mess” they really do mean NO MESS! I have not found a sunscreen that is easier to apply then this one. When it comes to putting sunscreen on a baby’s face the last thing you need is a messy product paired with a squirmy baby. With this nifty stick you will never have to go through that experience again!
7. Honest Company
I haven’t tried their diapers, but I have heard great things about them! Honest Company is awesome if you are looking for stuff for the whole family plus your home. They have everything from cleaning supplies to teethers! I love their mission and am totally on board with their silicon teethers, that are free of harmful chemicals that no baby should be chewing on. When your in the market for something your baby will be regularly putting in their mouth, of course you want to go the natural way!
8. Evenflo Glass Bottles
There is something I just don’t trust about plastics. Mounting research is showing even BPA free plastics leach chemicals into liquids so I don’t want to take that chance. Although my youngest wouldn’t take a bottle we were prepared to use glass because it is a safer alternative to plastic, especially given the fact that most people heat formula for babies before they drink it. These bottles are priced really reasonably and are a lot safer then plastic! There are also a lot of other brands selling glass now including Dr. Browns and Avent, likely because they know plastics are harmful and consumers are becoming more conscious of that.
Again, I don’t trust plastics. If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen this absolutely adorable bus plate by Innobaby. When I was on the search for a stainless steel baby plate for my youngest, I saw this and had to have it! It comes with a lid that makes it even better because it is easy to store food in the plate. Less containers equal less mess so I’m on board there! Innobaby also makes stainless steel sippy cups and a few other food related products. Check them out if you are on the market for stainless steel feeding items!
I would love to hear from other mom’s using natural products! If you love something tell me about it in the comments so we can share the natural goodness!
Today for lunch Theodore had persimmon, black bean, chicken, and avocado taco on a Non-GMO blue corn taco shell (Garden of Eatin), a dried fig and oat ball, and sweet potato fries. My kids LOVE beans so the taco was simply my White Bean Taco recipe using black beans instead of white and adding chicken. I ate the taco topped with some of my Homemade Ranch Dressing, and let’s just say I probably would have funneled that into my mouth if I could have!
Persimmon is a fruit that looks similar to a tomato. It is orange in color and could very well be mistaken for a tomato if it wasn’t cut. When you cut it open, it isn’t seedy and has the texture of a dry cantaloupe. It is mildly sweet, and very tasty! I eat it as is, and so do my kids. The only thing with a persimmon is that you have to be sure it is ripe before you try to eat it, unless you want to taste something extremely bitter! I always leave them out on the counter for a day or two just to be sure. When it is ripe it should be bright orange. Persimmons are rich in dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin c, and beta carotene. If you have never tried them it is time to get on the persimmon train! Theodore was unsure of persimmons the first time he had them but has since started liking them! We don’t get them often because they can be expensive but since we like to get different fruits at the grocery store every week they do end up in our cart from time to time.
Today Theodore had steamed asparagus, carrots, homemade ranch to dip, watermelon, grapes, shredded chicken from our dry rubbed whole chicken last night, and a potato/zucchini “muffin”. For some reason he is still unsure if he likes watermelon, so I cut it differently to see if he would try it. I think it is the seeds he is not too fond of, but I tried anyways. If cutting it a different way doesn’t work, I’m going to make some pops out of it and then I KNOW he will like it! Once he gets a taste for the flavor then maybe he will eat it as is. Christian (the baby) LOVES watermelon, and so do I so I’m sure Theodore will come around soon.
I have talked about the ingredients in Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing before, and if you didn’t see the post here it is. Overall the ingredients are a mix of highly refined unhealthy oils, MSG in a few forms, and abbreviated preservatives. Definitely not a product I would feel comfortable feeding my family! I make a few different dips for veggies, but my Homemade Ranch is the best one! The spice mix I use can be used in a number of ways, so making it up ahead of time never hurts. I also just used this mix on my Dry Rubbed Whole Chicken, and I’ve also used it on potatoes. I haven’t tried this spice mix on anything that it didn’t taste great on!
One other notable thing is I do not use mayo as a base for dressing as it is GMO and contains soybean oil and preservatives. I’ve found organic sour cream to be a great alternative!
This recipe is simple and easy! Mix the spices together, then mix it with sour cream and milk to make homemade ranch dressing. It can also be used as a dry rub, or seasoning for potatoes or veggies. A versatile and delicious mix of spices!
Here is what to mix for the dressing:
- 1/2 tsp ranch dressing spice mix
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/8 cup milk
- addition cracked black pepper and salt to taste
Whole chickens are severely under-rated! I can’t tell you the last time I have cooked with boneless, skinless chicken breasts because not only are boneless, skinless chicken breasts super expensive (3 or 4 organic are about $12), they are also dry if you don’t cook them right, and tend to lack flavor.
I choose to bake whole chickens because I’m not a huge fan of the Crock Pot movement that has swept America (cake in a Crock Pot, really?!?!). There are a few different ways I season whole chickens, but this dry rub is one of my favorites! This is the same seasoning blend I use for my homemade ranch dressing, but it takes on a whole new flavor rubbed on chicken skin! It is loaded with flavor, and everything blends together nicely. It is really a classic, savory, and slightly salty end result. This chicken can be served with anything from roasted potatoes, to rice, or a nice salad. This recipe makes a bit more then I needed for 1 chicken but I use this mix in other cooking so extra doesn’t bother me. If you don’t want extra cut the recipe in half.