Welcome to the sixth week in our 10 week series on Natural Living! I hope that you learn something that will help you on your journey to natural living. Wherever you are, just jump right in! Hopefully we can all inspire each other to live more mindfully, one step at a time. (Some links in this post are affiliate links.)
This week’s focus is on eating naturally. There are so many different ideas out there on what constitutes healthy eating. It can be downright confusing and hard to keep up with what is “good for you” and the “bad” foods. For this week, I’m simply focusing on eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. This effectively rules out processed foods (whose introduction into our society has wreaked all sorts of havoc). What some consider processed varies, but I found a good rule of thumb in the Six Ingredient Challenge I participated in. Take a look at the number of ingredients in an item and if it is more than six (and has many you can’t identify), chances are it is not a very natural food. This is basically the way I strive to eat, although there plenty of times I fall short of this (and I might have just finished eating a cookie while typing this post! Eek!) The point is not to eat perfectly but to learn more about what it is you are putting into your body and be more intentional about your choices by shopping ethically.
It’s become en vogue to try to source foods locally, to get back to our roots so to speak. I think this is a wonderful thing and hope it becomes more common and not just a short-lived fad. I wrote about 8 ways to find local produce although there certainly may be even more than that. I included farmer’s markets, foraging, community supported agriculture, community gardens, home gardens, indoor/container gardening, specialty stores and U-pick. As far as foraging goes, not only can you find some great plants and herbs that can help with all sorts of ailments, but you can make some delicious food as well like yarrow omelettes and yarrow tea or nettle soup for starters.
While I enjoy eating baked goods, I don’t like the process so much myself. When I do bake, though, I try to use natural sweeteners like honey or real maple syrup, although the chocolate beet cake I made for my daughter’s first birthday did have processed sugar at my husband’s request. Some great recipe books I love for baking with more natural ingredients are Treat Yourself and Smart Sweets. Of course, not all baking is for sweet things. You can bake your own crackers, for instance, to avoid all of the preservatives and yucky ingredients found in most store bought crackers.
I’ve shared many of my menu plans here in the past. I even have a whole month planned out with shopping lists and recipes here on the blog. While not every single one of these have meals that would meet the criteria of eating naturally, a lot of them do. If you are looking for a simple way to plan meals that are in the vein of eating naturally, you may want to look into one of the many clean eating menu plan subscription services provided nowadays. They do all the work for you which is pretty nice.
After unsuccessfully trying out whole foods cooking years back with my husband did not go so well, I picked up a cookbook, The Six O’Clock Scramble, recommended by a friend and we both really enjoy the meals in it. Now my husband is making kale chips and drinking green smoothies with the best of them, but he did not start out so enthusiastically. Speaking of green smoothies, they are so popular for a reason: they are fantastic for your body and delicious to boot! You should definitely try one if you haven’t yet. Just start out with something super mild like spinach if you are skeptical and you’ll find yourself craving green smoothies just like I do! These days I find myself making my own chicken broth instead of buying cans and using fresh tomatoes from my own backyard. We even tried a CSA a few years back. And last year my husband and I made a ton of delicious summer salads. I am looking forward to them again now that summer is almost upon us.
If you have a fancy blender like I was blessed to receive this past birthday, you can whip up some delicious soups or even dessert like cheesecake! I’ll admit, I mostly use mine for the aforementioned green smoothies, but I have enjoyed the occasional hot soup from it, too.
Getting kids to eat well is always a hot topic and probably always will be until the end of time. I can imagine how frustrating this must be for some parents when they really want to make sure they are meeting all their toddler’s nutritional requirements, but their child is not much interested in eating what is offered! A good foundation will go a long way so starting out with the best nutrition possible can’t go wrong. We chose to use a baby led approach to solid foods and emphasized vegetables, fruits and some whole wheat pastas. It was easy and fun and I believe it has fostered a love for many different tastes and textures in our children. Another way to foster a love for vegetables is to grow a garden with your child. My daughter loves checking “her” vegetables with daddy.
If you struggle to get vegetables and fruits into your kid’s diets, you can always add them to meals they otherwise enjoy. Though I don’t promote being sneaky with your kids, I do enjoy the recipes in Deceptively Delicious. It has lots of the typical kid fare but with vegetables or fruits pureed and added to the dishes in unique ways. Healthy snacking is certainly important as well, since it seems sometimes they eat more snacks then actual sit-down meals. I like the idea behind the nibble tray from Dr. Sears. You basically have a little tray with veggie and fruit dippers with nutritious dip options always available to pull out when your littles get hungry. And a little dessert is okay sometimes, too. Make it something nourishing like baked custard with fresh fruit and everyone wins!
One big area most of us struggle with is getting enough water. I personally love drinking water but just don’t think to do it during the day. I can go through most of my morning and even afternoon and only have one cup of water without even realizing it until I’m thirsty. Some fun ways to get more water in your system is to add something fun to it, like fruit infused water. Alternatively, if you just really aren’t fond of water, drink tea! Tea has fantastic health benefits and you are bound to find a flavor to suit your tastebuds. I love drinking loose leaf teas for all of the rich flavor they have as compared to tea bags but do keep some tea bags on hand when I’m feeling too lazy to make loose leaf.
I’ve listed some of my favorite sites for finding good information about eating naturally and finding delicious recipes.
- LAQ Fitness
- 100 Days to Real Food
- Hybrid Rasta Mama
- Keeper of the Kitchen
- Heavenly Homemakers
- Kitchen Stewardship
- Modern Alternative Kitchen
- The Cheapskate Cook
- Becoming Crunchy
- The Nourishing Gourmet
- Certified L.E.A.N. Health Coach
- Stacy Makes Scents
- Green Smoothie Girl
- One Hungry Mama
- Once a Month Mom
- Mama in the Kitchen
- Foodie Fresh
- Keeper of the Home
- Super Healthy Kids
Natural Skincare (May 5 – May 11)
Natural Baby Care (May 12 – May 18)
Natural Haircare (May 19 – May 25)
Natural Cleaning (May 26 – June 1)
Natural Wellness (June 2 – June 8)
Eco friendly Clothing (June 16 – June 22)
Reducing, Reusing and Recyling (June 23 – June 29)
Natural Mouthcare (June 30 – July 6)
What Living Natural Means to Me (July 14 – July 20 )
Want to participate? Learn more in my Call for Submissions post.