It seems kind of silly that in order to feel comfortable writing anything about cooking/food, I feel like I first have to explain myself and my food journey. Everyone seems to be on some sort of “diet” these days, and we are too. We are trying our best to be on a “Real Food Diet”. It wasn’t always this way though. It has been quite a bit of hard work and tons of learning. As I continue to learn more about food and it’s benefits though, I find myself WANTING to learn more.
(PS, when I refer to the word “diet”, rather than referring to a program to reach a certain number on a scale, I am referring to the types of food that we eat.)
When I was living on my own in college, my diet could have been defined as “Price is most important. Nutritional value negotiable.” I survived on bean burritos that could be bought in bulk, pasta and margarine, and cold cereal. If I was getting fancy I would include some well-rationed canned vegetables when they were on sale.
When I got married, I decided to try to cook for my husband. Pasta Roni was my specialty and if I was getting really fancy, I included some grilled chicken. I tried out a few new recipes here and there, but we were both working full-time and going to school and had different schedules, so it seemed like a fruitless endeavor. I did however notice that when we would go to his mom’s house for dinner on Sundays, he would devour the food because it actually had flavor and variety. Truth be told, I looked forward to those meals just as much as he did, and the left overs were priceless.
I think the real turning point in my food journey came when I had a baby and stopped working. I was home all day so I actually had time to try out new recipes (or two if the first one totally flopped). I also realized that I was the one responsible for how my kids would turn out health-wise. My baby had been born healthy, was I going to keep her that way? My husband and I are both tall and skinny, but were we going to stay that way, or would age kick in? Would we eventually become an unhealthy family? Once I realized the POWER that I had to make a difference just in the food we ate, I got motivated to change.
I started watching food documentaries, reading cook books like most people read a new best-seller novel, and talking to friends who cooked well. I realized too, that a well-rounded meal included more than just a main dish. I started adding more fresh ingredients, less cans and boxes. It’s interesting in the difference that made! I didn’t feel so ‘heavy’ after eating. When I found a good recipe that everyone would eat, my desire to find more great recipes was renewed.
One night after a particularly good meal, my husband revealed to me that he had been concerned about the quality (or lack thereof) of my cooking when we first got married. His friend had talked about how his wife started out not really knowing how to cook, but it got better and better until he actually preferred her cooking. My good husband NEVER complained about my cooking, although there were some meals I could see he was totally relieved when I would tell him I thought it was gross and he could just throw it away.
It has been a slow and steady process, but the diet that we are on now is a mostly whole foods diet. I cook most all of our meals from scratch, we have a garden, I process my own fruits and vegetables, etc. People usually say that it is more work in some ways, and more expensive in some ways, but let’s explore that…
More work vs. Less work:
The majority of my cooking time is spent chopping fruits and vegetables. That can take a LONG time. If I spend about an hour at the beginning of the week though, I have all the veggies for the rest of the week already chopped and ready for the different meals throughout the week. Making a salad for lunch or dinner is super easy when you can pull out various ingredients super quick.
Fast food, fruit snacks, etc. can be so tempting for after school snacks, but how much easier is it to set the fruit bowl on the table and let the kids choose their own fruit? Want to get fancy? Most kids love to dip, and will eat more veggies if you make a simple dip for them.
More expensive vs. Less expensive:
Eating in is definitely less expensive than eating out, but cooking from scratch is healthier than opening a boxed or canned meal and tossing it in the microwave. Some of those pre-made meals can be cheaper, but I meal plan and buy in bulk from the grocery store when things go on sale so I never pay full price for ingredients.
I buy my fruits and vegetables in season so they taste better, and are much cheaper. I have certain varieties of apples that I will buy as treats sometimes, but as a rule of thumb, $1.49/lb or less is a good priced apple for me. Besides, an apple right off a tree is WAY better than any $3.49/lb apple from the store.
I have collected our family’s favorite recipes over the past few years and keep them in a binder that I update every 6 months or so. I find that on Pinterest, there are so many recipes that we love, but have modified to add more vegetables, cut out the cream-of-whatever soups, or make it more easy to cook in large quantities so I can freeze some for later. I am excited to share these recipes with you! I feel like I can honestly say I have become a good cook. I have come a long way, and love learning more about food.
I know this is a TON of talking with not many pictures, so I figure if you are wanting to start on a food journey, or just see what kinds of kid-friendly, whole foods we eat, here’s a great recipe to start your day off right: Pancakes!
I have adapted this recipe from one I found in The Mom 100 Cookbook. (I couldn’t find her original recipe online, so you’ll just have to get her book. There are quite a few great recipes in there.)
Before I get to my recipe for the Best Buttermilk Pancakes, I have to tell you WHY they are they are the best. The pancakes are super fluffy. I have used regular milk and they turn out just great. I started doing the buttermilk instead of milk recently and love how it gives the pancakes a spongy consistency and they taste much sweeter without adding any extra sugar. These pancakes never fail me, they always turn out great!
I always love seeing the ingredients all together. It either simplifies or scares me away from trying the recipe!
Here’s the actual recipe for you.
And the finished product.
Just know that these pancakes are super easy to whip up. I have even premixed the dry ingredients and stored them in a bunch of mason jars so that I would be able to make them super quick when our last baby was born. Now I have the doubled recipe memorized and cooked them all up while holding a screaming baby in one arm and practicing spelling words with a third grader at the same time. See, easy recipe!
How does your go-to pancake recipe differ from ours?