Sunday, June 27, 2010

Intro... better late than never.

Let me just get it out there that I am NOT tech savvy, at all. Thus, there were some issues in the beginning (like not being able to join the blog, not being able to publish my intro post, etc.) So, if my regular post doesn't show up, please be patient because I probably hit "save" rather than "publish." *Whew* Ok, now that that's out of the way:

I'm Elizabeth. I'm 21 (and a half!). I was born in New Jersey, but have moved all over the country because my dad was in the Marine Corps.(Semper Fi!) However, my darling hubby, Dave, comes from a long line of southerners and lived in the same small southern town all his life. Somehow, we ended up in the same city, him for work and myself for college. We met at church and became best friends. We were married in May of 2009. In spite of our very different backgrounds, we share most of the same goals, values, hopes and dreams: a simple home full of love, laughter, family and good food made from our own garden.

One of the things that we have in common is a love of food. My biological father's side is pure Italian (my mom was the first non-Italian ever in the family, think "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" style), and my mom's side is Polish, German, Irish, and Native American. Yes, I'm stubborn. Yes, I have a temper. And yes, I can cook, and I have the hips to prove it. (Chicken parm, ravioli from scratch, lasagna, homemade red sauce, perogies, homemade stuffed cabbage)My husband grew up Southern. Not Paula Deen's butter-covered, everything covered in cheese, wrapped in bacon and then fried style either. His Paw-paw had a huge garden and he spent summers going outside and eating peas right off the plant. Fruits and veggies were always fresh, fresh, fresh. It's not a meal without at least three veggies and some kind of bread. Most importantly, meals are simple: Piece of chicken/ steak/ pork chop/ fish, green beans, corn on the cob, salad, mashed potatoes or rice, and cornbread. Now, just because he can cook like that, doesn't mean he did/does. The man LOVES his red meat, bacon, blue cheese dressing, Taco Bell, etc. Don't even ask how many trips we made to Waffle House when we were dating/ engaged!

I don't know if it was watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution or my scripture-based study of health (probably a combination since they were happening around the same time) that brought me and my husband (No, "my husband and I" is not the correct way to say that) to the decision to dip our toes in the "real food" movement, but either way, I'm glad it happened.

First of all, what is this "real food" stuff?

What "real food" is not:
1) Eating everything organic. (There are PLENTY of organic products that are not real food and vice verse.)
2) Being a vegetarian/ vegan
3) Just for hippies!
4) Always super expensive/ hard

Now that we have that out of the way... much like "natural childbirth" there are as many definitions as there are people, and my style is far from the only/best one. For our family, eating real food is about eating things that are good for our bodies (and avoiding those that aren't) because our bodies are gifts from God and are not to be defiled. (1 Corinthians 3:17 "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.") These things include grains, fruits and vegetables, small portions of meat, poultry and seafood. We try to avoid things like artificial flavorings, colors, preservatives, sweeteners, etc. (Basically: food is not made in a lab. It comes from the Earth.)

This way of eating isn't completely new to me. My whole life I have been plagued by migraines (so much more than just a bad headache)and I have a skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa (EB... here's a link: http://dermatology.stanford.edu/gsdc/eb_clinic/eb-faqs.html)in which my skin becomes covered in painful blisters after minor trauma (like kicking a soccer ball). I'm very blessed to have only a mild case, but it is painful nonetheless. I've had to avoid artificial sweeteners (and caffeine except in small amounts like a chocolate bar in a two week period or one caffeinated soda in a month) my whole life. An EB outbreak can be triggered by artificial colors, especially Red 40. Needless to say, I'm used to skimming lables.

But it wasn't until I got married, watched Food Revolution, started to go heart-healthy and trying to get hubby and myself into better shape (you know, other than round) that I began really reading labels (originally for sodium content). I began saying things like "Honey, how do you pronounce that?" for over half of the ingredients. Hubby's a scientist and he had no clue what some of those things were. That made me uneasy about what we're eating. Furthermore, I found recipes for (easy!)heart-healthy things from scratch that I usually got from a bottle or pouch. I noticed how much better it tasted and how much better we felt after eating it. The first things to go were those bagged frozen meals. ("Go" as in we ate them to use them up, or we gave them to missionaries from our church. I'm just too cheap to throw things out.) We rarely have any type of soda or chips (except corn chips made from actual corn, salt and oil ...like Fritos) except as treats. (I make some killer nachos!)We also put the breaks on boxed dinners (Hamburger Helper) and mac-and-cheese. We still have some on hand for those nights when we're just beat, and we figure it's better than fast food, but we've cut down a lot.

My crock pot(s)and my stock pot (20 quarts... yeah, it's huge) are my BFFs. We get veggies from our farmer's market (or grocery store when there's a better sale) and cook up a big batch. Then we portion them out and freeze in plastic containers. A few months ago, we got a HUGE bunch of greens (Yes, this Yankee cooks collard greens!)for $3. We still have 3 or 4 containers in the freezer. When we need a "quick" veggie, we just pull out the container, run water over the bottom to loosen it, and pop it in a pot over medium heat. (The juice is already in there.) My favorite has to be the chicken broth I made. Chicken leg quarters were on sale for $.59/ pound (less than half price around here). I bought a ton! Boiled them until the meat fell off (great for stir-fry, chicken salad and using up the last of the "helper.") Then I boiled the bones with some herbs and spices and veggie peels. So much better tasting than boxed/canned broth and no preservatives! Easy, easy, easy! Be on the look out for tons of "real" frozen dinner recipes!

We aren't purists by any means. We still go out to dinner, most (80%) of our bread is store-bought and, like I said, we keep some boxed mac-and-cheese on hand. But we're a work in progress. From what I've read, baby steps are key. I hope the coming post will provide you with little things you can do to make your life easier and healthier.

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