Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Steps for Successful Transition Into Real Food

So you wanna eat better.  Something inspired you.  You've learned, you've allowed it all to sink in, and you're ready to go!  Welcome to the world of real food crazies.  It's a happy world.  A colorful world.  A world that can swallow you alive if you're not careful.  My transition into preparing real food has been a seven-year journey, and I'm still adding new techniques and recipes to the routine.  Here are some things learned along the way:

This noble journey you have embarked on is one of the most important decisions you can make for your family's health.  If embraced lifelong, it will also benefit your grandchildren and very potentially transform your community (enthusiasm is contagious).  BUT!  It is a process.  If we forget to soak, thaw, bake, or make something one day and our only solution seems to be running to the store for something pre-made, don't despair.  We are making amazing steps toward a new lifestyle!  Celebrate each little success and receive grace for any fallbacks.  Also, give your family grace as their palate transitions to real food.  Above all, we want peace in the house.

Baby steps is the name of the game.  Not only are we introducing new recipes to our kitchen, we are changing our routines.  Traditional cooking isn't time consuming, but it takes forethought, and forethought requires new habits, and new habits take 30 days to set in.  Let's also not forget that we are navigating through the often turbulent waters of introducing our families to new flavors.  Oh, the pure elation of a well received, healthy new dish!  It does happen!  It's also hard to not let the wind get taken from your sails when there are several meals eaten with weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Trust me, I know.  I suggest introducing one new item every two weeks.  This really helps prevent burn out in us chefs and it gives our families a chance to transition without whiplash.  Start with something similar to what your family already enjoys.  For example: my family loves sour cream and we eat a lot of soup.  The first two items I introduced were creme fraiche and chicken stock.  Not only were these introductions extremely nutrient dense and easy to prepare, they were very similar to what we already ate.  No one noticed a difference when I started using homemade stock (oh, but their bodies sure did!), and they actually prefer creme fraiche now over sour cream.  Nothing fuels your fire more than enjoyed, nourishing food I tell you.

We don't have to break nutrition down to a molecular level, but our kids (and our spouses) are smart.  If we explain why we are making what we are making in a couple sentences, constantly keeping the line of communication open, our convictions further cement in us and we impart so much more than serving good food to our family.   Teach a boy to fish, you know...  Also, my kids are included in the kitchen prep daily.  We have an hourly home ec. class every day and we soak, dehydrate, thaw, and make the weeks snacks, sauces, and spreads.  However...  When I'm learning a new recipe, I keep the kitchen to myself.  It's been beneficial for my brain to process a new thing first before the kids help and ask many questions.  I can only do so many things at once.

I posted a video about my menu planning methods a couple days ago, and plan to break it down, meal by meal, as the weeks go on.  I cannot stress how lifesaving menu planning has been, as well as having reminders however it works for you (like I said, I put alerts in my phone for the entire week as to when I need to soak beans, thaw meat, start some sourdough, or lacto-ferment something).  To remember when to soak, thaw, bake or make, a daily to-do list hung up on your fridge along side your weekly menu and/or reminder alerts in your phone or computer is imperative.

Save the extravagant meals for special occasions.  When I first started cooking from Nourishing Traditions, the menu planner was filled with it's dinner, supper, and luncheon recipes.  Needless to say, I was making food for about six hours a day.  I just about withered.  We enjoy fruit and nuts most of the time for snacks, easy-to-assemble breakfasts, and dinners from recipes with a short ingredient list.  Simple dishes can pack a lot of flavor and palatable textures when real, nourishing foods are used.  There have been several requests that my weekly menu plans be posted here.  That would probably help tie all the ends together.  Maybe next week...

We are pioneers, rediscovering the paths our forefathers new so well, but are so new to us.  Pioneers sometimes seem to be a target for teasing from folks who just don't understand.  I don't like to pick fights with them and try to just make light of it as much as possible, but let's be honest.  It wares on a body.  Teasing on top of kitchen flops, on top of your family freaking out... it's a lot.  But we aren't alone!  A friend just started a holistically healthy small group that meets every other week for a couple hours.  It's just a group of us who want to learn from each other, pray for each other, and share fun new things we've made in our kitchen.  I tell you what; when you get a cluster of health-loving friends together and they all start talking it's explosive.  We all left the first meeting encouraged, understood, supported, energized, and inspired.  We all have different reasons and approaches to health, but there is a mutual sense of honor for one another and fresh life was breathed on each of us.  If you know people who are taking steps toward health, even if it's only one or two friends, see if they'd be interested in getting together for a bit on a regular basis.  If you are a lone pioneer and know no one around who knows what "free-range meat" means, feed yourself on some good real food blogs.  Real community is best, but online is good, too.


  1. Just plain awesomeness. :)
    love you foody friend.

  2. Katie, is the holistic small group an open or closed group? Thanks :)

  3. Great post! I've been cooking from scratch from the beginning of our life together, which is coming up on 42 years this year. First off, we were living on military pay which wasn't much when we started out. My late MIL sent me recipes as a newlywed and I started collecting recipes and cookbooks and have been hooked ever since. My fist spark of love for cooking started in home ec. classes 7th - 9th grades. The spark turned into a flame as a newlywed and has not died yet. I love to cook. Herbs, spices, trying new foods, and being thankful to Jesus for it all. Each day is a gift and what we do with our gifts is up to us. Waste or grow!


  4. Very good stuff - I think I've only got points one and two down (grace and baby steps) :)
    Time to go for more!

  5. It's both harder and easier than I thought it would be. I know that doesn't make sense, but I think it captures the uncertainty of beginning the journey toward real food. What I wasn't prepared for are the falls from grace, and oh, yes, they will happen. Last night I had the most wonderful experience, my first fresh peas, ever, grown by my own two little hands. Everything was different, and better, than the canned peas I grew up eating and the grocery store freezer peas I learned to eat as an adult. The smell, the texture, the flavor - DIVINE! Unfortunately I had allowed my spouse to convince me that we should have KFC for dinner last night, so I have been violently sick since 2am. That's something else I was unprepared for. Once you eat almost all real food, the old crappy stuff really takes a toll. The toxicity of that kind of food becomes more apparent when, unused to that kind of food anymore, your body wholeheartedly and violently rejects it. Yuck!

  6. Congrats on the peas! That's SO much fun! Seriously, there is no comparison to garden produce. I'm so sorry about that yucky KFC reaction, Grace! It goes to show your body is becoming more honest. It's used to absorbing real food, and it's losing tolerance for imitations. In a way, it's a good thing! :)

  7. Oh man, do I wish I had like minded people around me. Most people just look at me with a blank stare and probably think, "what in the WORLD is she talking about??"
    That is awesome that you have a small group there!
    And awesome post!
    Thanks Katie!!


  8. Just found your blog tonight and I am so excited about it. Thanks for all your hard work and for sharing your life with us.

  9. thanks for the blog, I'm just starting to try and transition my family into real food and feel so lost and frustrated sometimes. Nice to know others are out there.

  10. You are definitely not alone! Congrats on your transition. Grace to you! xo


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