I’ve been thinking lately about change. Specifically how our family has changed our food choices so much over the past few years.
About 5 years ago I did not cook. I worked more than full time and our meals were dine out, take out or heated up. Once in a great while I might make a roast or something but for the most part, I did not cook.
Shortly after Joe and I were married, our lifestyle changed drastically. I left my job and we moved to the country. I found a new job that was only 40 hours a week and really good hours (8AM to 4PM). I started cooking then more out of necessity than anything. We lived 19 miles from the nearest ‘big’ town so dining out wasn’t easy to do and neither was take out. Plus we had to change our spending habits. I knew how to cook- sort of- since I had done it before but to be quite honest, I had a lot of learning to do. I actually enjoyed the cooking and found I really enjoyed baking too.
After a couple of years later, I read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and that opened up a whole new world of cooking and baking with the focus being on improving our health. I remember being overwhelmed in the beginning by that book but stuck with it. I also remember going overboard quite a bit. I had a time when I was very strict about what we would eat and how it was prepared. Our budget couldn’t handle everything that I felt we should do to change our diet. After some discussions with Joe and using Appendix A at the back of Nourishing Tradition’s for Limited-Time Limited-Budget Guidelines, we formed a plan to slowly change our diet. This made it easier on our budget and on our family.
I’ve noticed over the past few months, that our changes have changed again. We still eat whole/real/traditional foods but things are much calmer or routine. We soak, sour or sprout the bulk of our bread products but we still have the occasional non soaked bread (made out of whole wheat). Our leavening agent of choice is my trusty sourdough starter but about once a week we use store bought yeast (usually for our Friday night bread). We also eat alot of beans.
Beans have been helpful to us in being able to afford switching to a real food diet. A quote from Nourishing Traditions “Legumes or pulses, such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, peanuts and cashews, have nourished mankind for centuries. Throughout the world, they have served as the poor man’s meat. The combination of pulses, whole grains and a small amount of animal protein and good quality animal fat is the ideal low-cost diet. Legumes are rich in minerals and B vitamins. Recent research indicates that legumes contain several anticancer agents. All contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Kidney and pinto beans are high in omega-3 acids; chickpeas are high in omega-6 acids.” 1 Beans cooked in broths have been an affordable addition to our real foods diet. Plus since beans are shelf stable they are something that can be bought when the price is right and kept for some time. Be careful that you only buy an amount you can use a reasonable amount of time. Older beans do not cook well.
If your family is new to beans, you may want to ease into serving them. We all know that beans have a certain ‘reputation’. Soaking the beans before cooking can help with this. Some beans require an acidic water during the soaking time. Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS has put together a nice guide on cooking dry beans with instructions for the acidic water needs, yields and how to cook.
We do get grassfed beef each month. Shortly after we moved to Wyoming we started with a CSA from a local ranch. We get 10 pounds of beef each month. I really enjoy getting our beef. Not only does it taste fabulous but we get a terrific variety. I’ve really enjoyed learning new ways of cooking different cuts. 10 pounds isn’t alot for a family of our size but we are able to make it last along with our wild game and home grown chickens.
Eggs are also a big part of our diet. We have our own free range chickens and ducks (weather permitting) that provide us with the best eggs EVER. We often have eggs at breakfast along with sourdough toast. Sometimes we have eggs for dinner too. Eggs in Marinara is a favorite as is Savory Custard (based off a recipe from Nourished Kitchen, scroll down to find the recipe for Low Cost Acorn Squash Custard)
Another important part of our diet is ferments. We keep a supply of lacto-fermented vegetables on hand. Different types of sauerkraut’s such as Cortido, Kimchee, Caraway Kraut, Red Cabbage Kraut and Plain Kraut make nice accompaniments to meals. We also love Preserved Lemons, Preserved Oranges, Ginger Carrots, Spicy Carrots, Pickled Beets, and Salsa. Boy do we love Lacto-Fermented Salsa! Using a small of amount of ferments as a condiment also aids in digestion. We also like to keep Kombucha and dairy Kefir on hand. Kombucha is a wonderfully refreshing drink. Kefir is terrific in smoothies or in place of yogurt. All of these ferments are very easy to make and require minimal amounts of hands on time.
I think we are in a fairly good routine lately. I’m pleased with the amount of time that I’m spending in the kitchen on a day to day basis which is good since I now work two jobs from home. I do think that my Rotating Menu Plan has really added to my time savings. One thing I’m not spending time on is menu planning. My family enjoys most of the meals that are created. Of course, my husband would prefer a big steak every night instead of a humble bowl of beans but he does say that bowl of beans tastes good 🙂
How about you? Have you noticed a change in the your food choices over time? Are you comfortable with where you are now?
1- Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions page 495