Man, am I every learning a lot about food, additives, natural and organic food and so forth on our journey. So much of it has been WONDERFUL, so I wanted to share it here for anyone else who might even be the least bit interested.
I started simple. About a year or so ago with several MOPS speakers talking about organic and healthful options for eating, I started perking up a bit. I decided, as many of you know, to dive right in and join a CSA and it was a PHENOMENAL experience (cost $250 for 18 weeks of products). I love our farmers "Jean and Dean" I mean, how cute is that? They are a young couple full of passion and excitement and make the entire experience fun. They offer "farm days" to come and visit help, see or pick up your CSA box. Truly awesome. In fact, this Saturday they get their baby chicks and we are hopefully headed out to see them and join in on the fun! It was through them that at the end of our CSA program last year I invested in 1/8 of a cow ($210 for 20 lbs ground beef, a bunch of steaks and roasts and other odds and ends). The down side to this was it didn't arrive until Feb so I was pretty sad waiting for it. Our farm also offers fresh eggs and chickens. Way cool.
To get started or find your local options for a CSA start with Local Harvest to see what is in your area. Otherwise, visit local farmer's markets and you'll get tons there OR find out who may offer a CSA program or fresh meats/chickens/eggs in your area. I still haven't bought our farmer's eggs -- I think they are a bit pricey compared to the cage free organics I can get elsewhere. However, I wish to have the farm fresh ones...I might start splurging.
And then I discovered that perhaps Luke's behavior and early signs of ADHD could be helped and prevented by following the Feingold Diet. We've eliminated all additives (color and flavors), preservatives and salicylates based on this particular diet/lifestyle. I've been so pumped lately seeing all of the US attention on food dyes and artificials in our food andpotentially changing legislation on these things in the US which would be awesome!
As a mom, I really thought I WAS giving my child healthy snacks. I thought items that boasted "whole grain" and "good for you" and "made naturally" were enough. I thought things like healthy granola bars (Nature Valley) and "Goldfish" made from whole grains WERE good choices. In fact they are not. I can tell you that I really really wanted the best for my kids (and easy for mom doesn't hurt either!) But it turns out that things that are marketed as GOOD FOR YOU, just aren't always good for you!
So while we had made some good changes starting last summer, I've been buliding on those changes and building FAST. Cleaning my pantry, reworking my system, chucking my old grocery game type of thinking (MUST STOCK UP NOW!!!)...and that was the hardest thing to part with -- saving money. I lost that "idea" of getting a good deal. Turns out I ws addicted to it. But really, do I need to stockpile 12 boxes of Cheerios at a time? Or because the Cheeze-its are on sale, do I really NEED them? In my "old" life, I did. I liked to save a buck, have snacks on hand and believed that snacks that SAID they were healthy WERE!?!? I'm an average American mom.
I was overwhelmed and consumed and crazy. I felt deflated and scared. But I'm here to tell you, it's really pretty easy! Easy to make changes when you've been thinking one way for a very long time. I think it will be easier to save money when I get a better grasp of what my family uses and needs the most. And for me, what made the WHOLE THING easier was that I already HOME COOK a lot. It wasn't a new skill for me to learn. I already love to bake and Ashley had already gotten me started on making the world's best BREAD!!! Which is totally approved and yummy and good and easy once you get started! (not for Gluten free though, although there are instructions and help with that too!)
So I had the bread, had the meat, had the veggies/fruit in the summer and now had given up on my OLD WAY of shopping and started to develop a new one. Well, still developing to be totally honest.
So what easy snacks am I giving the kids now? Because the good Lord knows I cannot home make EVERYTHING (although I will try) and sometimes you are on-the-go and need fast and easy snacks! Here are a few of my favorite: Annie's Snacks -- cheddar bunnies, graham bunnies, mixes, etc -- al yummy! Target sells these and often has them at a discount, even better! We also love all things Trader Joes -- some things there we love are the Peanut Butter filled pretzels, Reduced Fat Cheese Curls, Peanut Butter Cups, "this Fig walks into a bar"...granola cereal bars, Trader Joe O's and MORE! Luke can also have regular ole Lay's potato chils, Fritos and Tostio's -- look at the ingredients and you can see why! 3 simple ingedients! YAY! This all makes life easier for us!
Along the way with advice of good and helpful friends as well as helpful people on the Feingold message board, I've learned a TON and am still learning EVERY SINGLE DAY. The things I'm still considering are: buying food in bulk and storing them (things like flour, butter, etc); buying more poultry the is locally raised; investigtaing Raw Milk and the ins and outs of this; making my own -- ice cream, mayo, butter, etc. There are so many things that you can just make (duh). And another important one is revamping ALL of the cleaning products we use. I'm currently do most all of my cleaning with vinegar and water OR Seventh Generation all purpose spray.
Here are some awesome website links to share that I've loved...
Want to save money buying organic items? Check out Organic Deals
Tips on making my own baby food -- a recommendation from Ashley (which, I've been making or producing all of Noah's food!) Check out: Wholesome Baby Food
Another good wholesome site: Mambo Sprouts
And my FAVORITE SITES that I could get lost on DAILY are: Heavenly Homemakers (which has an AWESOME post today with all kinds of great info, tips and getting started stuff) and This Lunch Rox (also has an awesomepost today). These sites are LOADED with good info and WONDERFUL recipes!!!! There is an abundance of info here.
If you are like me, right about now you feel OVERWHELMED. It is consuming. And you know what, there is almost TOO MUCH info out there. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all of the things I "should" be or "could" be doing for our family and our kids. There is an abundance of info, ideas, cool thoughts, amazing lunches and so forth. But what it really comes down to is taking small steps for good nutrition for your family. One step at at time. Would I love to make rockin' lunch boxes for my kids? Yep. Would they care any more or less? Probably not -- what matters is that it is nutritionally sound and yummy at the same time. I think I can do that.
Share here if you have other tips, tricks or suggestions. I think we can all grow together. And for the record, I'm not here to judge nor am I a Saint. I myself pounded down a big ole Dairy Queen over the weekend and very much enjoyed every bite of it without guilt. All things in moderation, eh? :)
(programming note. I feel naked doing posts without pictures! And ... Noah is 8 months old as of yesterday! I still need to take his pictures and do an update this week!)
(another side note. My parents were here this weekend and before they left my dad said "I see 100% change in Luke and huge improvements in Bella too." If that isn't proof in the pudding, then I don't know what is! That meant the world to me, Thanks Dad!)