UNPROCESSED SNACKS

snack time pm

You’ve heard the news… unprocessed food is IN. Processed junk is OUT! As a follow-up to my tips for not eating processed food, here are some snack ideas to make your life easier.

SNACK WARM-UP: The number one easy, quick, filling, nutrient-rich, tasty snack is…

apple sandwich pm ants on a log pm

FRUITS AND VEGGIES WITH NUTS AND SEEDS – With endless variations and different consumption mechanisms, this is what you can fall back on when everything is moving too fast. A pear with a handful of cashews… nothing could be easier. My gym owner carries around carrots. Like whole carrots. And then eats them when she’s hungry in the car. In her words, “every meal doesn’t have to be a party in her mouth.” My kids eat apple slices dipped in peanut butter most days of the week. I always have what I need to make myself ants-on-a-log (celery with almond butter and raisins). Sunflower seed butter is a great option when nut allergies are a concern. I attempt to be as seasonal as I can with my fruit and veggie purchasing. So right now we are all enjoying apples, pears and persimmons with almonds and pumpkin seeds.

SNACKS 2.0:

popcorn pm

POPCORN - Dress it up or dress it down, popcorn is a cheap crowd pleaser. It is pretty much a given that if I’m entertaining kids at my house there are empty bowls of popcorn strewn throughout the house. I use lots of coconut oil in my stove top popcorn popper and am generous with the seasonings at the end. This is my favorite popper that I’ve used and abused for YEARS: Wabash Valley Farms 25008 Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper (Affiliate link).

tomato feta pm

TOMATO, FETA, BEAN, BASIL SALAD – Who knew this salad could be so easy and so portable? It may look more like lunch (because it could be), but it also is my most recent FAVORITE afternoon bite to get me through the afternoon slump and on to the evening. You simply chop up a tomato (I find Roma tomatoes to be the most portable), cube an ounce of feta cheese, chop up a few leaves of basil, then layer it all with a quarter cup of drained and rinsed beans. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the top and add a pinch of salt and pepper if that sounds good.

And check it out, you can manipulate this salad into hundreds of versions: swap the tomato for cucumber, swap the feta for goat cheese, cottage cheese, parm shavings (or omit the cheese altogether), swap the beans for whatever bean you have that you like (or omit altogether), swap out the basil for any other fresh herb like cilantro, parsley, oregano, change the balsamic to another kind of vinegar or to olive oil, or to hot sauce.

energy bites pm

ENERGY BITES - These are a kid favorite, and though the recipe calls for peanut butter, I’ve made all mine with almond butter. I also skimp on the honey a little and use the mini chocolate chips or raisins. Go to the recipe by Gimmesomeoven, you’ll be glad you did.

hummus boats pm

HUMMUS BOATS – I’ve made a lot of hummus in my day, but the moment it showed up in a “boat” my kids went crazy. It may look fancy, but it is really not. I simply use a melon baller for the cucumber and take the smallest amount out. I simply remove the stem from the mushroom. I simply cut the bell peppers a little wider than usual. Plop on the hummus (my go to recipe can be found here) and serve.

cider jellies pm

APPLE CIDER JELLIES - My son made these the other day without much help from me after I hollered the ratio of one cup liquid to one tablespoon Great Lakes gelatin. We had apple cider from our recent trip to the apple orchards near us, and just like that these snacks were invented. Bring one cup of a sweet juice to almost a boil, stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Take off the heat, pour into a mold (the more flexible the better to get them out), and place in the fridge for an hour or so until hardened.  Pop out of the molds and enjoy!

ferments pm

FERMENTED SNACKS - Probably the number one thing I’d recommend to most people working on ditching processed foods would be to make choices that improve gut health. A great place to start is to incorporate probiotic, fermented foods into your snack routine. My choices include, kefir smoothies, kombucha drinks, fermented pickles, fermented sauerkraut, and yogurt parfait. Quality matters with these snacks. You need to do the research to make sure you are making or purchasing items that truly improve gut health. Pickles with added corn syrup or vinegar are not working for you. Store bought kefir and yogurt with added sugar and “natural flavors” aren’t great options either – you must read the labels. There are great brands out there for these items, but there are MANY brands that are not so great.

 

So tell me, what real food snacks are big in your life? I’d love to hear them!

Looking for more info on going “unprocessed?” Check out this link to the post with my tips for getting started!

TOP 10 TIPS FOR GOING “UNPROCESSED”

apple heart

I am pumped! Over the moon! Super stoked! My workout group has set a goal to eat only unprocessed foods for twenty-one days. As you can imagine, this fills me with happiness – new people are trying out this way of living that I believe is so important for health and happiness. Additionally, October is the month of the Eating Rules’ “October Unprocessed” campaign that is in its fifth year.

Saying no to processed food is IN THE AUTUMN AIR!!

I just want to sing from the roof-tops, I’ve done this! It can be done! It’s worth doing! I have so much to share about the ups, the downs, the all arounds of this commitment. So, in true Lean.Green.Kitchen fashion, I made a list.

My top ten tips for going “unprocessed” or “NPF” (no processed foods).

Are you giving “unprocessed” a try? Start here:

  1. Make your personal “unprocessed” rules. Everybody has a different definition of unprocessed, so think through what makes sense for where you are at and what you can give to the challenge. Are you going to be able to make every single thing from scratch, or are you okay with buying products with ingredients you have in your kitchen (think marinara sauce, bread, broth, canned beans and vegetables, yogurt for examples). The Eating Rules definition is: Does it pass The Kitchen Test. Could someone with reasonable aptitude in the kitchen make the thing you are buying using ingredients that would reasonably be found in a kitchen? If yes, then proceed. And here’s a heads-up about your personal “unprocessed” rules, they will change over time. It’s a journey.
  2. Plan ahead. It just really can’t be done without a plan. Menus must be scratched on napkins (or inputted into spreadsheets if you are one of those kinds of people), shopping lists must be figured out and executed. Web-sites must be searched for new recipes. Cookbooks must be dusted off. If you are time-crunched (and who isn’t), it’s pretty imperative that you find a chunk of time somewhere in the week to prep ingredients that will make your week go smoother. Cut-up celery and carrots get dipped into a lot more made-ahead-hummus than heads of celery and bags of carrots with a can of garbanzo beans that’s just waiting to be prepared when you are hungry and rushing.
  3. Find a Farmers Market or Produce Stand that works for you. Then go. Every week. No fail. Buy lots of fruit and all your favorite veggies. Buy things you can eat raw when you want to buy a snack at a convenience store. Buy things you can cook when you need a last-minute veggie soup for dinner.
  4. Make a SNACK and TREAT LIST. Write down all the things you can think of that fit into your definition of “unprocessed” and that you would like as a snack or a treat. This list is going to be really important when you are right in the middle of breaking old habits and are feeling overwhelmed and crave-y. Everybody’s list looks different, mine is filled with nut butter/fruit combinations, smoothies, yogurt with granola and berries, veggies and hummus, cut up red bell peppers and cucumbers, stove-popped popcorn, and quick handfuls of cashews. I love blended frozen banana sorbets and fresh fruit with homemade whipped cream for treats. These things must then be available to you at a moments notice… get them on that shopping list!
  5. Make soup. Every week. A big batch. Eat it all week whenever you don’t know what to eat. It’s easy, tasty, filling, nutrient-rich and quick. Did I say easy? There are a million EASY soup recipes (there are a bunch on this site alone!) out there or you can just put whatever you like in a pot and add broth and simmer with some seasonings and viola… soup! This is your “fast food” for that day when it all just falls apart and you are contemplating driving through somewhere. Heating up your soup is MUCH faster and superior in about a million ways. This is your Plan B.
  6. Make small changes. If you are currently eating a lot of processed foods and don’t feel super proficient in the kitchen, then don’t decide to make your broth, beans, cheese, yogurt, bread, etc. from scratch. Just make sure you read every label that comes in your house and that you know and approve of everything listed. This might not be the best time to decide you need to give up dairy or cut out coffee. Those may be great NEXT steps for you once you’ve got this step down. I wouldn’t recommend deciding to count/log your calories during this time. It’s so irritating to have to write down ingredient after ingredient of all your home-made food. Give yourself a break and realize that if nutrient-rich food is what you are buying, then that’s what you are eating. Good enough.
  7. Start off the day right. Make sure you are prepared for awesome morning success. The momentum of nailing it right out of the gates can make the whole day go smoothly. Everyone is very different regarding what they are interested in for breakfast and when they feel best eating it, so you need to experiment around until you find your sweet spot. For kicks, let’s compare what I had for breakfast and what someone rushing through Starbucks had for breakfast. Today I spent ten minutes putting together the following: a matcha tea with honey and coconut cream (the creamy stuff at the top of the coconut milk can) and a one egg scramble with zucchini, spinach and avocado. My Starbucks friend had a pumpkin spice latte and a mass-produced scone. I estimate my breakfast had less than 5g of sugar. My Starbucks friend had 75g (that’s about 1/3 of a cup of sugar). We haven’t even mentioned the laboratory-made chemicals that my SB friend’s body will need to detox. Or the conditions of the cows who produced the dairy in both SB products. So which of us is better prepared with long-term energy and nutrients on board? Who’s immune system is optimized, mental/emotional energy ready, physically prepared to take on the day? Do you agree that people who start off the day with a feeling of success are more likely to make better decisions all day? Set yourself up to be one of those people.
  8. Tell everyone you know. It can’t be a secret. People will cheer you on, ask you questions, not care, find inspiration, keep you accountable. Don’t lose out on this help by being secretive. And then enjoy it every time they don’t share with you – notice that you aren’t invited to the drive-thru runs, you aren’t offered Halloween candy, no donuts are gifted to you (forcing you to say no thank you). The best situation for your success is to have a few people join you. Form a lunch club that brings lunch to share, invite a few friends to get together and prep crock-pot starters, have a few contacts in your phone that you can text when tired/confused/overwhelmed/hangry and in need of support.
  9. COOK!! To nourish yourself and your loved ones is the greatest gift you can give. It’s an art. It’s chemistry. It’s love. It’s power. Find a cookbook that you love, and use it. Scroll through a few food blogs that fit your way of life. Invite over friends and family and cook for others. Invite no one over and cook everything for yourself. Fall in love with your favorite pan. Ogle over a new wooden spoon. Get your best chef’s knife sharpened. Learn the definition of mire poix. Learn how to chiffonade basil. Grate your own cheese. Buy high quality salt and keep it in a beautiful jar.
  10. Enjoy the process! It isn’t easy, but it is so worth it. Eliminating or reducing the amount of processed food you eat can lead you down all sorts of new, healthy paths. Each little step you take leads to another.

My personal testimony is proof that by taking little steps and making little tweaks to your lifestyle choices, in a matter of months you will be in a very different and very positive place. Truly, what I eat now versus what I ate six years ago is night and day different. I’m still taking little steps and making little tweaks. That, to me, is the power and the fun of striving for health and happiness. Onward!

 

RESOURCES:

It always helps to have lots of resources when making a change. Here are a few of my go-to places for support and information.

100 Days of Real Food Blog- Awesome story. Fun family. Fantastic blog with tons of resources.

100 Days of Real Food Cookbook (affiliate link)

The Gracious Pantry Blog – Clean eating recipes for just about everything!

Oh She Glows Blog – Beautiful vegan recipes that everyone will love.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook (affiliate link)

Against All Grain Blog – Fail-proof grain-free recipes. Great site.

Against All Grain’s Meals Made Simple Cookbook  (affiliate link)

Eating Rules Blog – Champion of the October Unprocessed Campaign

Lean.Green.Kitchen Blog – That’s right, this entire blog is dedicated to this topic! Whether it be the truth about what’s actually in “natural flavors” or how to clean up nacho cheese dip for the Halloween buffet or why I bought a cow, this site is here to share all I’ve learned along my food journey with all who are interested.

The Lean.Green.Kitchen Facebook Page – Lots of ideas, inspiration and resources.

 

Need help? Just ask! This is my FAVORITE TOPIC and I love to share with and support others making this step. Go get ‘em! In fact I’ve written my Six Beginner Steps to Real Food – maybe that’d be a good place to start!

6 Steps to Real Food

It’s October. Let’s Enjoy Treats, Not Mindlessly Gorge on Them. We Can Do This!

pumpkin blog ready

Welcome to October. This past week I had a little a-ha moment and wanted to share, in case it resonants with you as well.

Last weekend I made a few homemade treats for my husband’s birthday. It was so fun and so easy because I used ingredients that included sugar, flour and cream. With these ingredients everything was basically guaranteed to turn out dreamily (and it did!) I made brownies, cookies and chocolate ice cream – all the birthday boy’s favorites.

Then we had a few people over and we ate them. The end.

It should be the end, right? That’s how treats work in the perfect world:

  • There is something celebratory going on.
  • A person lovingly makes a special food using pronounceable ingredients.
  • A group of people come together and enjoy the treat in accompaniment with other fun activities.
  • And then we move on in our lives back to nutrient-rich conscious eating for our health.

But this is October, so that’s not how treats will roll out for most of us.

  • We will be bombarded with little packaged candies in every house, school and work cubby,
  • Pinterest-worthy Halloween themed treats will be at every event (big or small), and
  • Pumpkin spiced sugary hot drinks will somehow be desired and easily obtained every day.

I encourage us all to make this October the month we evaluate our mindless treat eating and drinking habits.

  • If you don’t feel like your energy is as high as you’d like it,
  • if your immunity is not as strong as you would like it,
  • if your belly is not as tight as you would like it,
  • if your mood is not as peppy as you would like it…

… then you may wish to experiment with turning treats back into what they were designed to be: a special celebratory accompaniment to other fun activities made and consumed with happiness and love. If consuming a treat won’t make you feel wonderful in every way, then SKIP IT!

If you love baking, hot sweet drink consuming, and the smell of pumpkin spice, then use your powers for good and make beautiful, autumn-y, cleaned-up, nutrient-rich, real foods using ingredients that build us up and power us forward. Here are a few of my recommendations:

Pumpkin Spice Mini Muffins from the Gracious Pantry — I use whole eggs or flax “eggs.” Egg whites are so 2000.

Pumpkin Spice Granola from Sally’s Baking Addiction — I say ditch the egg whites and use two extra tablespoons of coconut oil.

Upside Down Apple Tartlets from Elana’s Pantry found on Rubies and Radishes — Just go look at these. They are beautiful!! (I haven’t made them, just drooled on my computer over them.)

Pumpkin Spice Creamer from Coconut Mama — I don’t even like coffee and this looks yummy. I’m going to add it to my Chai tea!

Healthy Halloween Treats on Pinterest — There are SO many great ideas for ways to incorporate Halloween into your food without sky-diving out of a plane into ProcessedFoodTown and/or SugarVille. If you have the time, energy and creative spirit to throw a little holiday fun into your October, then I say you do it! And this Pinterest link leads to hundreds of ideas to get you started.

candy rain This is what SugarVille and ProcessedFoodTown looks like when the candy rains down. ;)

Enjoy October everyone!

 

Interested in the Lean.Green.Kitchen’s Halloween Manifesto? You’ll find it here:

Halloween Manifesto  Halloween Manifesto