Month: March 2012

It’s Not Health Food… It’s Just Food.

A couple weeks ago, I was waiting in line at the grocery store check out. It was a busy time of the day [please remind me never to go on a Saturday afternoon... yikes], and every lane was at least three carts deep.

As I skimmed through my instagram feed [I'm iftheywouldnap if you want to find me there], I could see the two women behind me peeking into my cart out of the corner of my eye. One of them said to the other, “She must eat a lot of health food.”

I wanted to laugh, because as I looked in my cart, I didn’t see anything that I would describe as “health food.” Lots of vegetables and fruit, eggs, yogurt, milk, peanut butter… no, not health food. Just food.

While I held my tongue and didn’t say anything to the women behind me, it got me thinking. How did real food become health food? Have we gotten so used to finding our food in boxes and packages that we’ve forgotten how to just eat real food, the way God made it?

By sharing a thing or two about my real food journey here in this normally fabric-dominated space, my hope is that you and your family can take steps toward eating food that leaves you feeling good and nourishes your body.

Disclaimer: I’m no expert. I don’t have a degree in nutrition, and I don’t have all the answers. But drawing from my own experience, I have learned a thing or two. That said, I certainly wouldn’t say that “I’ve arrived,” and I do it all perfectly – believe me, I don’t. And please don’t take this as medical advice. Consult a doctor for that.

My real food journey has been just that – a journey. It isn’t something that happened overnight. I still feel that I have many areas where I could change and improve, but when I look back at where I was even five years ago, I can see a huge difference in my not just my eating habits, but in the way I view food.

Things that I used to crave [like potato chips] no longer appeal to me. The few times they do make it into my cart, and my belly, I wind up feeling icky. When I’m eating food that nourishes my body, I have energy [well, minus my sleepless baby nights…], I’ve seen improvements in my skin, I’ve lost weight, and I just feel good.

So, I’ve compiled a little list of my advice – baby steps to eating real foods that your body will love. [These are not rocket science, and I’m not re-inventing the wheel here. But everybody starts somewhere, and this is where I started.]

  • Don’t tackle everything at once. If you throw out all the foods you’ve been eating and drastically change your diet in one day, you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure. Baby steps means baby steps. Try changing how you eat, one meal at a time.
  • Increase your veggie intake – double or even triple it. Seriously. Fresh vegetables pack a serious nutrition punch, and they aren’t processed. Find veggies that you like to eat without covering them in sauces or cream of whatever soups. Join a CSA, so you’re forced to try new vegetables that you’ve maybe never even heard of before. Shop at a farmer’s market and talk to the farmers about how they like to prepare their veggies.
  • Drink less soda or juice… or none at all. Unless you have a juicer. [But even fresh juice has sugar, so don’t overdo it]
  • Drink water – a lot of water.

  • Shop along the outside of the grocery store – produce, dairy, fresh meats. By avoiding the inner aisles as much as possible, your meals will be fresher and contain less junk. Ninety percent of my grocery shopping time is spent in these outer aisles.

  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Please.

  • Keep easy snacks handy, so you are less likely to eat the junky ones. Veggies and hummus, nuts, air popped popcorn, or homemade granola bars are personal faves.
  • Plant something that you can eat – I have the least green thumb of anyone I know. Gardening is not my thing, even though I try really hard and really enjoy it. But every year, I grow something. Even if it doesn’t yield much or grow as well as someone else’s [Do you grow zucchini that’s bigger than two inches? Come to my house and teach me, because I don’t…] But my kids are learning that food should come from the ground and go to our bellies. I love that.
  • Choose organic produce for those that tend to have a higher pesticide count – you’ve probably heard of the “dirty dozen.” When making the leap to buy organic, that’s a great place to start.

  • Read labels. When I was younger, I used to look at calories, but now I’m much more concerned with the ingredients. Look for food items that have the fewest ingredients, with words you understand. If you don’t know what the words mean, your body won’t either. If they have high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, just put it down and walk away. Please.

  • Use herbs and spices instead of heavy sauces or cream of whatever soups.
  • Make it instead of buying it. This tends to be my motto all around – for sewing and for eating. If I can make it, I should. I have so much more control [and seriously, I l.o.v.e. to be in control… just ask my hubby] I know exactly what went into it, so I can feel good about giving it to my family.

The thing that I’ve found about eating real food – about taking baby steps to eating well – is that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You don’t have to clear out your whole pantry and start from scratch, regardless of what you’ve seen on TV. When you start making changes, you will want to keep going. Your habits will change, and you won’t want to eat those foods in your pantry anymore.

But that being said, give yourself some grace. I will never claim to be perfect. We don’t eat a completely unprocessed diet. I don’t make every single meal from scratch. Not all of our veggies are organic. I let my kids eat [gasp!] chicken nuggets. But every day is a conscious choice to think about what we put in our bodies, and I take that choice – for myself and my family – very seriously.

Here are a few resources that I love:

Kitchen Stewardship
Simple Homemade
Simple Bites
101 Cookbooks

Are you on this journey too? What are some things you have done that have helped you to get started making baby steps toward eating real food?

Next week, I’m going to share a simple meal planning tool that I’ve been using, and what eating real food really looks like on a weekly basis in our house.

[And there will be more sewing to come too… with a newly crawling, still not sleeping through the night baby, sewing has taken a back seat to life. But I’ve been working on a few things that I’ll show you soon!]

Inspiration “Cork” Board

Confession time: I absolutely LOVE cooking competition shows. Iron Chef, Next Food Network Star… [sigh, I miss cable] So when I was given the opportunity to participate in a crafty Iron Chef type Scribble Challenge, I was so super excited.

I was sent a box of craft supplies from Scribble Shop and given the challenge of making something using all of them.

I was sent the following supplies:

metallic stamp pad
Mod Podge
stencil
raffia
Dress It Up embellishments
glass gems
paisley shapes
popsicle sticks
colored pencils 

With these supplies, and a few of my own, I made an inspiration board to go above my sewing table.

From my own supplies, I also used:

burlap
cardboard
rub-on letters
thumb tacks
Elmer’s glue
fabric glue
stapler

Instead of buying a cork board [because I am cheap!], I stacked three pieces of cardboard together. I used the regular glue to stick those together. I stretched a piece of burlap around the cardboard and attached it with my stapler.

Using the stamp pad and the stencil, I added a “painted” embellishment.

I added some of the self-sticking paisley shapes to the other side and raffia around the whole thing with fabric glue.

With the colored pencils, I colored one of the popsicle sticks. I used my rub-on letters to spell out the word “create.” I covered the popsicle stick with Mod Podge, to seal the letters onto the stick.

I used my fabric glue [because I was too lazy to go fire up the glue gun...] to attach my thumb tacks to the glitter Dress It Up embellishments and the glass gems. Is it okay to love thumb tacks? Because I totally do.

Thumb tacks ready to be used!

You can check out Scribble Shop on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. Plus, you can use the code FONLYNAP to receive 15% your craft supplies on Scribble Shop until April 30th.

Disclosure: I was given this product for my participation in this challenge.

Linking up to these parties!

change a shirt from short to long sleeves in 10 minutes

Short to Long Sleeves – a Quick and Easy Tutorial

Truth be told, long-sleeved shirts get much more wear around here than short-sleeved. While our summer season isn’t very long [insert sad face here], we do have a great spring and fall.

So when I found a grey polo for my two-year-old on clearance, I snatched it up, knowing that I wanted to change it from short to long sleeves. Partly for weather reasons, partly because seriously, a plain grey polo… well, it’s plain.change a shirt from short to long sleeves in 10 minutes

So, grab your plain old short sleeved tee, and get started!

I cut off and used the sleeves of a different shirt to make this quick fix… super quick. If you don’t have a shirt to use [but I know you do - check the back of your closet - you'll find one!] you’ll have to make some tubes for sleeves. But by using existing sleeves, you don’t have to worry about hemming or much cutting.

Next, I used the sleeves of a shirt my little guy already wears as a guide for how long to make the sleeves. You want to cut your sleeve to be just above where you are going to sew it.

The shirt sleeve was a little larger than I needed it, so I just trimmed it down a bit. How much you trim will depend on how wide your kiddo’s shirt sleeve is and how wide the one is that you’re going to attach.

Now zig-zag stitch across the open side of the sleeve.

Then simply pin the shirt sleeves inside your short sleeves. Stitch with a straight stitch along the existing stitching. [say that three times fast...]

Bye bye, plain short-sleeved polo.

Linking up here