Thursday, March 28, 2013

Becoming Crunchy: Part 1 {Food}

{Don't forget to come follow me on Bloglovin}

It all started shortly after Jax was born. After my horrible delivery with him, I was determined to do things differently next time. I was determined to have a VBAC (which I did!), and so I started researching natural birthing. Around the same time, we also started to slowly change the way we ate. Ryan and I watched documentaries like The Business of Being Born, and Food, Inc. Over the 3 years that followed, things started to shift, little by little, to a more natural way of living AKA "crunchy". 

The biggest difference came about 6 months ago when I discovered a website called 100 Days of Real Food. The website started as a blog documenting one family's journey of completely eliminating processed food for 100 days. It has since turned into a lifestyle for them and has grown to have thousands of followers who are choosing to do the same thing. I began following the page on Facebook and started learning more and more about how much junk is added into our food supply, and how many myths there are about our food in general. Both things that are grown (plants, veggies, meats, etc) and things that come in boxes and bags at the grocery store. I started to realize that a lot of the stuff we were eating (and feeding Jax!) were full of artificial ingredients, flavors, and colors. 

We decided to try a 30-day challenge of eliminating processed food. We had already been eating a lot of organic foods and fresh fruits and veggies, but we were still doing things like giving Jax a Pop-Tart every morning as a snack before his real breakfast. So we threw away all the junk, switched out Jax's Pop-Tart for a piece of fruit or cheese, and started making recipes from only real, unprocessed food. I made a few things from scratch instead of having the store bought, processed version. Things like strawberry syrup, chocolate syrup, granola, and cheese crackers (recipes below). Some of the food was easy to transition to and some of it was much harder. After the 30 days were over, we decided that we wanted to make it a lifestyle change for our family. We couldn't see ourselves going back to eating all the food that we had learned was so bad for our bodies. 

Since then, we have been following these basic "rules"...

*We eat organic fruits and veggies, bought locally when possible.

*We eat local, free range eggs.

*We eat (mostly) organic dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk

*We only eat 100% whole grains (bread, pasta, tortillas etc). And I make most of them from scratch.

*We don't buy or eat anything that has ingredients that we can't pronounce & wouldn't cook with at home.

*When we do buy something pre-made from the store, it has to have 5 ingredients or less. And they have to follow the previous rule.

*We use all natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup. Sugar is used in moderation, and when it is used, it is real sugar, not Truvia, Splenda, Equal, etc.

*We buy things plain/unflavored, like yogurt or milk, and flavor it ourselves. 

For a further explanation of the "rules" and more information about how to successfully eat real food, go HERE.

We don't follow the rules 100% of the time. We still go out to eat at restaurants that we know have processed food, we still let Jax have birthday cake at parties, and I still go through the Starbucks drive through when I'm craving some yummy coffee. But most of the time, I add some cocoa powder, organic half and half, and maple syrup to my Keurig-brewed coffee and it's equally delicious. 

It may seem crazy or a bit over-the-top to some people, but it is what we feel is right for our family. I'm no expert, but I would love to answer any questions you may have. 
Stay tuned for Part 2 {Cleaning Supplies and Toiletries}, and Part 3 {Budgeting}.


-Recipes mentioned above-

Berry Syrup
2 cups organic berries (fresh or frozen, thawed)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water

Combine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender or in a stand blender. Pass through a fine sieve, let cool, then pour into a squeeze bottle and store in the fridge. 

I mix this into plain yogurt or milk, or use it as a topping for waffles and pancakes.

Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup water
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Combine everything but vanilla into a small saucepan over medium hight heat. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool, then pour into a squeeze bottle and store in the fridge. 

I use this to make chocolate milk or hot chocolate.

 1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds, chopped
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250*. Cover a small rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix oats, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl and set aside.

Heat butter and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. turn off heat then stir in vanilla and salt. 

Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, using a spatula to spread it out evenly.

Bake for 75 minutes then let cool to room temperature. It will harden as it cools. Break into large chunks to eat as granola bars or into smaller pieces to eat as granola. Store in an airtight container. 

I eat the larger pieces as a snack. I eat the smaller pieces with milk and cut up banana, or as a topping for yogurt with berry syrup. 

Cheese Crackers
8 oz cheddar (or other mild cheese), shredded
4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
Up to 3 tbsp cold water

Pulse everything (except water) in food processor until it resembles course sand. Pulse in water 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove dough, wrap in plastic and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out dough and cut into desired shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until crispy


  1. Love it! We make our own granola...our recipe is pretty much identical to yours..except I just use cinnamon, not pumpkin pie spice, and walnuts instead of cashews....I am sure once I quit working I will be calling you for bread recipes...the ones that I have tried turned out okay, but nothing delicious. I just bought the stuff to make my own floor cleaner, which I am mildly worried about since we have wood floors, so I am just going to test it on small part to see what happens! Can't wait to read your follow up posts!

  2. This is amazing! I am trying so hard to keep my daughter away from all the processed foods (as it turns out, she has a very sensitive tummy anyway) and we are just starting to make the switch to more wholesome foods. It is not easy, so big kudos! Hopefully someday we will be able to do what you guys are!

    1. You can definitely do it! Start with buying organic for the Dirty Dozen fruits and veggies, and swap white flour products for whole wheat flour. It definitely takes time and some trial and error to switch things and to figure out what works for you guys!

    2. I just found this blog today! I haven't gone backwards yet but I'm sure it will give me lots of good reading to relax with at bed time. :)

    3. Hey Barb! Thanks for stopping by!