"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm a mom on a mission.

For lots of reasons, I'm trying to get my family eating only naturally grown and raised foods. I know ... I know, it makes us sound weird. That doesn't mean there won't be the occasional ice cream cone or dinner out in the future. The kids don't need to cry because a friend at school brought birthday donuts and now they can't have one. I remember my parents doing that to us as kids and it was so hard, though as an adult I can see now what they were trying to accomplish.

I'm doing it for a lot of reasons. Good health, alertness and mental clarity, support of local farming, elimination of artificial everything. I've got a tower of soapboxes so high, it may, in the end, topple over and leave me laying on the ground upside down with my skirt over my head but I'm giving it a go just the same. I like processed and packaged for convenience just as good as the next guy. I'm quick to take the easy way out nine times out of ten. This is going to take a little more work on my part and I can't say we won't have a set back or two. But I love the self sufficiency of feeding my family off what the good Lord intended for our consumption.

It comes at you from all angles, the garbage. Then we wonder why we are tired, or this headache won't go away, or our kids can't seem to focus, or they're too off the wall. I'm no expert but maybe there's a connect to what we are putting into our bodies and how that nourishes our minds. I want my family to make better choices and those choices start at home where 95% of their meals are produced. And so I've been making a change.

Good intentions start with a plan. So here we go: No white flour, white or refined sugars, dyes, preservatives, corn byproducts, etc.

And I came up with three weeks worth of meals that take only natural ingredients:

We're already two weeks in and here's how things are going:

For the first two weeks we've eliminated all desserts to wean ourselves off of the "need" for something sweet. Next week I'll try some recipes substituting honey or dried raw cane juice (sucanant) for family night treats. It's made the kids more aware of their sugar intake on a daily basis. I was so excited to see one of the children choose gum rather than candy out of a prize bowl at the school fundraiser this week because, as she told me later, it was a better choice.

Some recipes will have to be tried and tried again. I fail, I'll admit it, but with some minor changes some things get better with practice.

My family will eat just about anything with good bread as a side. Bread is key. It really is the staff of life. I spent every day, two batches a day, simply trying to perfect the right loaf of 100% honey, whole wheat bread last week. We're talking from grinding the wheat straight through to the end. I've made half white/half wheat for years but that all wheat thing is quite a hurtle. And every bread maker you talk to will swear by their recipe but it's all subjective. I finally succeeded on Thursday after a long week of making everything from french toast to croutons out of flopped loaves. But, good bread on the side will forgive any other trial and error in the main dish area along the way. I wanted to make sure I had that one under my belt right out of the starting gate.

Bulk up -- and no, that doesn't mean store up fat for the winter because mom's got a crazy notion to starve us from the good stuff. To keep from getting burned out in the cooking and baking department, I've got to know how much my family will eat. I made two trays of homemade granola last week that lasted one hour. Best to spend one school morning making a bucket's worth rather than sighing over the fact that it was inhaled so darn quickly.

And, I do cut corners. I could make my own peanut butter and may try it just for kicks, but the natural grocery store in town does the same thing -- without the kitchen mess. On the flip side, I whipped up some mayonnaise from scratch the other day which left me wondering why I'd ever taken so much time to drive to the store, take kids out of the car, go in, put bottled mayo in my cart, fight same kids off the candy at the check out, and make the return trip home with crying folks in the back seat. Some things are that easy.

Dinner extras make good kid's lunches. Fruit is always on hand as a snack so no one gets hungry because blood sugar levels are also key.

And above all: Don't get discouraged (like that day I had to confiscate the case of Diet Coke I found in the trunk of my husband's car)

My children have finally moved from groaning about my ruination of all their fun to actually looking forward to what I might make next. I do so love the simple things in life, the back to basics. Our transition has been easier than I thought and it makes me feel good to be living off of the land. I'm excited about the new things we are trying and tweaking and want to keep a record of successful recipes along the way. Not all of the recipes are mine but giving credit where due, I'll log them as favorites along with their sources. And if you have one your family loves -- please share it! We'd love to try it too.

Now, if we can just get through the Halloween to Easter candy gauntlet -- wish us luck!


  1. I think diet coke has got to be the worst thing you can put into your body. Sometimes I'll catch Jeff - an empty pop in the car or we'll be out and he'll order one. I always have to give him a hard time because it is just so bad for you. Glad to know someone else out there understands! Good luck with the rest of it.

  2. We must be kindred spirits! We made this change a couple of years ago and it wasn't as hard as I thought. Jason does miss his meat when I insist on an all vegetarian meal, but for the most part my family has taken to it really well. Sheldon and Emma love our green drinks(they call them Shrek smooties). Things went downhill when I was pregnant with Grace and everything needed to be quick and easy, but we're slowly getting back on track. I would love your bread recipe and I have a really yummy, fast one if you want it.

  3. I'd love it! My next quest is for whole wheat rolls. Something I can throw sandwiches on for kids in the morning or put extras in the freezer. I've heard of the green drinks - what's in them?

    And I hear you about the baby thing -- ramen noodles were our best friends!

  4. Marlowe--we love green smoothies--I actually learned about them from Melanie! Here are directions for how we make ours: http://crayzdaze.blogspot.com/2010/01/green-smoothies.html

    I have one child who would absolutely die if I took all of the sugar out of the house. He has been an addict since he was a small child and it makes me crazy. I'm impressed with both your kids' and husbands' willingness to try it!

    We eat almost everything homemade, but there's just no give in our budget to do it either all natural or all local, as much as I would like that. The place that we pick strawberries has their own beef, and I looked at their prices in hopes that I could buy there--but $5/lb for hamburger???

  5. Cindy -- thanks for the link! I'm going to give these a try.

    I'm with you on the expense of doing a local, natural diet. It can cost. But I find that off setting the two meals a week that I make with meat with four meals that are meatless, seems to level out the budget. And, I'd love to purchase everything locally too, but I do find that a bucket of honey from the bee farm down the way costs way more than a half gallon jug at Costco -- and that stuff is currently a staple.

    I can't believe how well they've done off the sugar. That doesn't mean we haven't had an indulgence or two but we did go out for a milkshake as a reward for all of our goodness recently. Every one of the children could only drink half and complained of not feeling so good later. Let that be a lesson to me.

    Going sugarless for three weeks has made my kids come home from school and eagerly inhale a plate of whole wheat/honey brownies -- regardless of their desire-ability. Surprising how the mediocre can quickly become the oasis!

    But, practice makes perfect ....