What is healthy food??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 01-27-2003, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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In all honesty.....I'm not up much on "healthy" food

I was mainly raised on meat and potatoes (I HATE potatoes!!) Dh was raised basically the same way. In fact, his dad hates everything and if it isn't made the perfect way he won't eat it. FIL puts ketchu on EVERYTHING!

I had decided about 8 months ago to explore different foods and such but it seems that healthier eating is more expensive. At least it was were we were living. Since dh had been unemployed for 6 months I was buying the cheapest food I could find. What I don't quite understand is why is most processed food is the cheapest. You would think it would be the food the had to do the least amount to : But now that dh has a job I'm hoping to get the ball rolling.

What foods would you suggest starting with? Where do I buy food like this? Is it more expensive?

Single Mom to 2 amazing little men. T(7) and B(5)
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#2 of 9 Old 01-27-2003, 03:16 PM
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I guess I haven't done the math, but I can understand how you might think a box of something is cheaper than fresh, but I think when you start to explore the bulk food isles, and find a good source of in season produce you might see that change. Beans, rice and other grains are quite economical and versatile. Fresh veggies can be expensive, but there are almost always great deals. My strategy is to troll the produce, seeing what looks best and what's in season, pair it with a protein source (beans and rice, tofu, tempeh, fish or meat) and then decide how to cook it. I always start with the produce section. If there are nice squash, I pair it with brown rice and red lentils and that's a great satisfying healthy meal. You can do that with pretty much anything - be creative!
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#3 of 9 Old 01-27-2003, 04:35 PM
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The first step in healthy food is that the 'bad' is outweighed by the 'good'. The bad being fat, excessive salt, sugars, chemicals that you can't say the name of and your poor body probably has no earthly use for. The good being vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, carbs for energy and of course taste!

Sometimes it's not just the food but the preperation that makes a huge difference. Take a piece of fish, say a nice cod filet. You steam it, serve it with some rice and a nice veggie, season with some herbs, maybe ginger and soy sauce... a great, healthy meal. Take the same piece of fish, dredge it in eggs, seasoned breadcrumbs, and fry it, serve it with french fries and you have doubled or quadrupled the fat and reduced the nutrients.

The cost issue with processed vs fresh has to do with care of handling and transportation. Take, for example a humble roma tomato. Two actually. One is picked carefully so as not to bruise the fruit or tear it near the stem which will cause it to spoil quickly. It is packed just so to prevent squishing and is shipped very quickly (at significant expense) to your local store to go in your salad or homemade sauce.

The other tomato is picked with less care. It might even be done by machine. No one who cares will ever see it whole. It is taken to a plant with thousands of it's neighbors and pulverised, seasoned, preserved and sealed in a jar. It is now a stable product for the next year or so. Cases of it can be stacked quite high. It is cheaper to ship since the rail companies and trucks know it won't spoil, so they can shuffle it around until it is convenient to send to your store. Plus, virtually every jar shipped out will be sold for money to a consumer. Many of the fresh toms will go bad somewhere along the line and be culled out and thrown away, which drives up costs even more.
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#4 of 9 Old 01-27-2003, 05:26 PM
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One reassuring thing to know is that frozen vegetables are more nutritious than "fresh" ones that were actually picked a week ago and shipped cross-continent. That's because the frozen ones get packed right away w/vitamins intact. The same is true of canned food, but it often has added sugar and salt which decreases the healthiness.

Look for big packages of healthy foods; they're usually a better deal, but check price-per-ounce (many stores put it on the shelf tag) to make sure. When you get it home, divide it among several resealable containers so that you have one to use and one or more to put away for later. Try to find a space in your home where you can store extra food and won't lose track of what you have. That way you'll have enough space to stock up when there's a good price.

If you can find time to cook dried beans (they don't take a lot of attention; you just have to be willing to stay home for a couple of hours to keep an eye on them) they are really cheap and a great healthy protein source. Even canned beans are pretty cheap--50c buys two meals' worth. Rinse cooked or fresh-from-the-can beans to remove the gas-causing stuff.

Look for a co-op or health-food store where you can buy things in bulk using your own container. That often saves money, esp. on organic or all-natural things. Also, look for stores that sell surplus from the big chain supermarkets; often it's stuff w/packaging slightly damaged so that it looks less-than-perfect but isn't damaged at all, and you can find some amazing bargains! (To those in Pittsburgh, I recommend KML at 16th & Smallman!)

Lots of vegs and fruits freeze well, so you can buy them on sale and freeze for later. I'm sure there are detailed instructions about this somewhere, but I've had good success w/2 basic principles: Get the air out (put in a zippered plastic bag, seal almost all the way, suck the air out w/your mouth while pushing on the bag, then seal completely) and only freeze things you want to cook before eating, because they'll be mushy raw.

We make most of our meals from these staple ingredients:
rice (organic, bulk)
pasta (bought in 5-lb. bag)
frozen broccoli, cauliflower, peas (in winter)
vegs from an organic farm share (in summer)
carrots (always cheap)
cabbage (buy 1 or 2 on sale; slice thin and freeze)
onion (always cheap)
tomato puree (I buy the gigantic can, make spaghetti sauce, and store it in jars in back of fridge until ready to use--lasts about a month, and we eat a lot of spaghetti)
peanuts, cashews, almonds (organic, bulk--good protein if you're not too concerned about fat)
canned kidney, black, green beans
orange juice (from frozen concentrate)
canned corn, pumpkin, apricots, pineapple (in winter)
fresh fruit (whatever's in season and comes from fairly nearby)
cheese (not the healthiest, but good protein in moderation)
eggs (always cheap, esp. the 18-pack)
plain nonfat yogurt
quick-cooking oatmeal (organic, bulk)
raisins (organic, bulk)
powdered instant soymilk (organic, bulk--add to oatmeal, batter for baking, creamy soups, etc., for extra protein)
whole-wheat flour and brown sugar for baking
soy sauce (giant can from Asian store)
olive oil
plenty of spices (way cheap in bulk--favorites are garlic, ginger, oregano, cinnamon)

Hope that gives you some ideas! Happy eating!

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#5 of 9 Old 01-27-2003, 08:23 PM
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Just a thought...Organic food is more expensive, but we are worth it. You and your kids and our planet. If we all buy it, it will get cheaper, and the rest will get the idea. We deserve to put healthy food into our healthy bodies.... good eating!!!
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#6 of 9 Old 01-28-2003, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the list ladies!

I'm really getting interested in this. I love the idea of cooking. I've never had a chance. Dh and I are not into "heavy" meals. We like things that are light. We eat a lot of squash and lots of pasta. I'm interested in finding an organic food store or someplace to buy things in bulk like youhave talked about. I recently moved and before I was living in farm country! Now I'm in Newport News VA and from what I've seen its mainly city!

People thought dh and I were fruity before! hehehe

Single Mom to 2 amazing little men. T(7) and B(5)
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#7 of 9 Old 01-28-2003, 04:22 PM
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I cook beans in a pressure cooker - much quicker, better taste and they give you less gas When I lived in N California, away from a natural food store, I participated in a buying club with a natural foods distributer...basically getting together monthly and buying/splitting cases of good food
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#8 of 9 Old 01-29-2003, 10:03 AM
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What kind of food do you like? If you like Italian food, borrow some books from your library about how to make your own pizza, sauces, etc. Once you get a feel for making what you like you will figure out how to improvise and add more veggies and use meat differently - more as a seasoning and less as the main slab (that is how I grew up and I hated it even as a kid!) Mexican food is easy to make nutritiously and inexpensively, most food is. Read cooking magazines (Canadian Living and Cooking Light are good ones) whenever you get the chance just to familiarize yourself with what healthy ingredients are out there and how to use them. Start with things you like and that will help. Buying in bulk is a great idea, as is planting a garden in the summer.
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#9 of 9 Old 01-29-2003, 03:49 PM
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I think there are 3 easy things to do to eat a lot healthier.

1. Read ingredients on all your food (you'll be surprised!)

2. Cook your own food

3. Cook from raw/unprocessed ingredients as much as possible

If you buy lots of unprocessed fruits and veggies (no salt, sugar, etc. added), whole grains (like brown rice, oats, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta) and lots of beans, then you will be headed in the right direction.

My advice, take it slow. Change a few things at a time so you don't end up with a house full of food you don't know how to cook and don't want to eat. (This is what my aunt did when she decided to start eating better).

Good luck.

Megan Davidson, Labor & Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Anthropologist, Mom to August (9) and Clay (4), Partner to Shawn.

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