Any kind of soup/stews (I like to send these in their thermoses for school lunch)
Are there any healthy types of lunchmeat, hot dogs, breakfast cereals?
Also, what oil do you use for cooking?
There are "better" versions of all of those things. But I wouldn't recommend necessarily trying to make all of them from scratch right away if you've been doing everything processed, or you might burn yourself out. These are the things I use:
Waffles and pancakes: Bob's Red Mill Organic 7 Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix
Oatmeal: McCann's Steel Cut Oats (in the crock pot overnight is easy)
Cereal: Cascadian Farms Raisin Bran and Clifford Crunch for kids
Also, what oil do you use for cooking?
I use Olive oil primarily.
Even if you don't do Once a Month cooking or freezer cooking, Once a Month Mom has good info on whole foods diets, with their own section: http://onceamonthmom.com/menus/whole-foods/
Book loving, editor mom to 2
Well, have you been making these things all along, or buying them? That makes a difference. Then I'd start defining which changes you want to concentrate on right now. Cutting sugar? Healthier oils? Organic ingredients? Removing/reducing preservatives? Pick a couple and start there. Trying to do it all at once is liable to lead to a revolt.
If you've been making the foods, then I'd take the recipes that you're currently using and you know are liked and start making small changes. Use a healthier oil, cut the sugar, use a sugar alternative (honey, sucanat, whatever), substitute part of the white flour, etc.
If you've been buying them all along, then your family is in for a shock. I don't know any way to make whole healthy homemade foods taste like the processed garbage. But after getting them used to the whole healthy homemade stuff, the processed stuff starts tasting like what it really is. And really I'd start with the easy stuff. Pancakes, oatmeal and muffins are simple. For pancakes I use a GF mix (Pamela's) usually, but I've also been known to make them from scratch using whole grain flours (like Buckwheat). Oatmeal I do a mixed grain hot cereal in the crockpot overnight or else I do baked oatmeal if I want a change. I add fresh and/or dried fruit to it so it's naturally already a bit sweet. I also cook it in half water/half milk and I add a big dollop of CO to the pot, so it's more filling. For muffins, take any muffin recipe, and start adjusting it. Again, healthier oils, less sugar, whole grains, stir in spices, nuts, fruits, whatever you like.
Granola bars are a lot more difficult IMO. I'd concentrate on buying a brand that you're more comfortable with. We buy Annie's granola bars, they're the only ones I could find that didn't have HFCS, soy or wheat.
For cereal, we typically stick to Barbara's Bakery. Mostly I buy Puffins, but sometimes Shredded Oats. I also like Kashi's Autumn Wheat and their puffed grains. It really depends on what you're after though - for a truly "healthy" cereal, I'd stick with a homemade granola. Boxed cereals are mostly just about convenience - there are plenty of articles around on the unhealthfullness of even your whole grain "natural" cereals.
Soups/stews aren't that difficult. Start with what you know is liked. Go from there. Learn how to make a real stock from bones. It's not difficult, nor is it labor intensive. I tend to make it in big batches and freeze it in 2-3 c portions, I probably have 2 dozen bags in the freezer right now.
Cristeen ~ Always remembering our warrior ~ Our is 3, how'd that happen?!?!
We welcomed another warrior in May 2012!!
2012 Decluttering challenge - 575/2012
For cereal, Nature's Path has some good ones, like their corn flakes, that are a lot like regular ones but tasty. Of course Cheerios are always good. Kashi makes good cereal too, especially their GoLean crisp. It's easy to make your own granola too. See recipe below. We like Kashi's granola bars. You don't say what kind of soups your family eats. We eat a lot of veggie soups here. Miso soup is super easy. You can make it really simply w/water, miso, tofu and strips of seaweed for flavor. You can also buy dashi packets in many grocery stores too. I like to sauté diced onions and sometimes garlic and ginger before adding the rest of the ingredients. Not typical but quite delicious.
A basic vegetable soup starts with a base of sautéed onions and garlic, then add veggies of choice, making sure to add the veggies that need to cook longer (like carrots) early in the process. Adding in a can of garbanzo or cannellini beans boosts the protein and the taste. You can also puree a can of either beans (along w/a can of whole beans) and add the puree to the soup. That'll thicken the broth which is nice. Flavor w/some fresh or dried thyme, oregano, basil, etc... Whatever you have on hand. This is also a nice base for chicken vegetable soup too. Or you can add matzoh balls to it also. My girls love matzoh ball soup but are vegetarians so I always make it at home b/c most commercially available matzoh ball soup has chicken in it.
Here are a couple of easy recipes.
2 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds or pecans
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup honey or real maple syrup
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbl. cinnamon
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3/4 – 1 cup dried cranberries or dates
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl stir together oats, coconut, nuts, and all seeds. In a medium bowl, whisk together honey or maple syrup, oil, and cinnamon. Stir into oat mixture. Spread oat mixture evenly onto greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake in 300 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately turn out onto large piece of foil on counter. Cool, add dried fruit and then store in tightly covered jars or plastic bags at room temperature for up to two weeks. For longer storage, store in freezer bags in freezer.
For pancakes, mix 1 C flour of choice, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder together. Add 1 giant spoonful of plain yogurt, and 1 egg, beaten. Add cinnamon and nutmeg if you like them. Then add milk until the mixture is fairly thin. Add berries or bananas if desired. Cook as usual. Top with yogurt, warm berries (heat in a pot w/a little water until they begin to fall apart), or syrup. Makes enough pancakes for 3-4 people.
I'd take it one step at a time. If you were buying pancakes/waffles/muffins then start making them but use mostly white flour. There is a huge difference in flavor between purchased and homemade and very crunch whole grain homemade. Two muffins my kids like and they freeze well: http://weelicious.com/2011/05/25/banana-chocolate-chip-muffins/ http://weelicious.com/2011/09/27/very-berry-muffins/
You might consider some healthier convenience foods all of which have been mentioned before here: Bob's baking mix, Nature Path Raisen Bran and some others, Kashi granola bars. For oatmeal, just switch to whole grain Irish or Scotch. It freezes well too. Flavor however you like. We used to make it with half milk and water but it turns out the kids prefer it with plain water.
Also, if you haven't done a lot of healthier cooking and living, don't get sticker stock. Regular supermarkets have *terrible* prices on healthier food compared to health food stores or even a Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Regular cereal is like $1.50 per box more there.
For hot dogs and lunchmeat, I think it depends on your needs. One thing to for it something that is nirtrate-free. I think of meat sliced in a deli as being more likely to be contamination free but that they may or may not be sure.
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