Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Green Diet

I would never classify myself as a green person. I mean, not that I have anything against people who are green, I just don't fit that bill. I do, however, really watch what our family eats. And lately it's occurred to me (or perhaps it occurred to me a long time ago but I am just now taking the effort to do this) that I would like to reduce some of the harmful additives in our daily diet. I think I become especially conscious of this as Brayden started eating more "big boy" foods, and I realized that I don't want to pump nasty stuff into his body. It is, afterall, my responsibility to train him how to eat. So I started looking for ways to do this without breaking the bank. I mean, let's be honest; organic stuff is not cheap, and we just can't afford it. But there were things I could do that didn't greatly increase our food costs and also started reducing some of the things that I didn't want B to have. I figured if I was doing this for our toddler, I'd do this for all three of us. So far it's working well. The three big things I wanted to start working on were: MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Nitrites/Nitrates

What's surprising is that all 3 of these things are in SO many foods. Foods you would have never thought of. We use a lot of ketchup for one of B's favorite meals: sweet meatballs. It literally is one of the few meals I can get him to eat a substantial amount of meat. The problem is that HFCS is one of the main ingredients of ketchup. Thankfully Hunts just started making ketchup without it, so we'll be buying that instead. It's a little bit more expensive, but worth it in my opinion. I also only buy 100%, no sugar added, juice. And even then, B only gets about a tablespoon in an 8oz cup of water. Breads also have HFCS, so I've been purchasing our bread from the discount bakery. There, I can purchase Natures Own bread for a little over a dollar a loaf. We eat sandwiches practically every day, so this one was a biggie for me.

MSG is in EVERYTHING it seems like, so this one has been a hard one for me. For the most part though, we don't eat prepackaged meals, so I am able to avoid the big ones that include MSG. Drew is addicted to Cavender's seasoning, which sadly, has MSG in it, so once our current bottle is depleted there won't be another one in the pantry. It's also in chicken nuggets, another of B's favorite meats. I am not SUPER strict about the nuggets thing, but just try to make sure that they are not a regular in his meal plan. 

Nitrates/Nitrites are commonly found in meats (specifically deli meats, which we eat a lot of), so I've been trying to purchase deli meats and hot dogs that are nitrate/nitrite free. Did you know nitrates were first used as an additive in fertilizer? When I found that out, I pretty much gagged. Now they put it in foods as a preservative. This is why deli meats don't change colors when they are cooked or get old, unlike fresh meat like steaks, ground meats and chicken. This means we have to spend a little more, but it also means we're not putting harmful additives in our foods. 

When B started drinking whole milk, I knew I didn't want him drinking just any milk, but honestly, organic milk is like buying liquid gold, so that wasn't really an option. Thankfully one of our friends suggested purchasing milk at Braum's, a local chain burger place that also has a small grocery side, where they sell milk from their own private dairy herd. What's neat is that their milk is actually cheaper than Walmart milk, has no growth hormones added, and the lower fat milks are concentrated, so they actually have more protein than the Walmart milk! It's important to me to serve B milk that does not have the growth hormones, so this is a biggie for our home. It means that in addition to my Sam's club runs, my Aldi's runs and my Walmart runs, I must also pick up milk at the burger joint. 

The last thing I have yet to be consistent on, but am trying my hardest to be, is butter vs. margarine. We try not to use a ton of butter around here. In fact, a while back I mentioned how I sometimes make my own spreadable butter. I need to get better about being consistent with that because it really is better for you. I'd like to cut margarine and tubbed butters out of our diets completely, but alas, convenience has trumped diet for now. 

So that's what I am doing to help our diets around our house. Someday I'd love to only purchase organic produce (or at least organic produce off of the dirty dozen list), but right now these things are the only thing feasible. I will say though, that it makes me feel good knowing that I am doing what I can to ensure both of my boys are eating healthy and are not putting as many chemicals and additives in their bodies.

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