Oh, Food….how I love you.
Over the past few months, we’ve been slowly changing our eating habits. They weren’t all that horrible before…or rather, I should say we probably ate like most Americans do. Lots of crackers and cereal and snacks in little packages…an apple or banana every once in awhile, and our vegetables were mostly of the canned variety. Moving to Seattle meant having a little bit more money since Clay finally had a job, so I was able to rethink our diet a little bit more….not to mention I finally had a kitchen that more than one person could comfortably fit in, so I actually enjoy being in there and cooking isn’t quite the chore it used to be. As I mentioned before, last year I discovered what it meant to actually cook something from scratch.
Things I didn’t know you could make without using a box mix that I have since added to my cooking repertoire: brownies, hot chocolate, cake, muffins, biscuits, pancakes, pizza, cookies, etc., etc., etc…. Since I’ve been regularly making some of these, (mostly biscuits, pancakes, pizza, and cookies) now it just seems weird that I would buy them in a mix. And when I read the ingredient list of such mixes, I can’t imagine why they have such odd things in them like high fructose corn syrup and soy and other things I can’t pronounce. There is such a satisfaction to being able to name every single ingredient of something you’re eating because you were the one to include it.
So I slowly began eliminating as many processed foods from our diet as I could, and I’ve really enjoyed experimenting and learning more about how to actually make food. As silly as it sounds, I’m still kinda surprised when I realize that I can usually make most of the things I’ve always just bought. For example, last week I made homemade mayonnaise! We don’t eat vegetable oils anymore, and I could NOT find any mayonnaise in the store without them. I found a recipe online, so I tried it–and lo and behold, it was SO easy and SO good!!! (I did add an extra yolk) It really took about 4 minutes, and because I used olive oil instead of flavorless vegetable oil, it had such a great flavor. I normally don’t even like regular store-bought mayonnaise, but I definitely loved this kind!
I’ve started buying regular whole, unsweetened yogurt instead of the nonfat sugary stuff I used to get, and I LOVE it so much more now. (my favorite is the Stoneyfield Farms brand) It was a small adjustment getting used to the taste, and at first I didn’t like it at all. I started by putting sugar and/or strawberry jam in it, and I slowly decreased the amount until now I really love it just plain. Eating whole rather than lowfat means that there are more healthy fats to keep our appetites satisfied for longer and it’s one step closer to the way it came out of the cow. Not to mention, whole milk yogurt is so much thicker and creamier and tastier, I don’t think I could go back to lowfat! Buying plain yogurt also allows you to customize exactly what you want in it. You can still add sugar if you want to, and I’m betting it will take a whole lot less to taste good than is already added to the store-bought kind! You can also choose if you want to mix-in things like fruit, nuts, maple syrup, vanilla, jam, etc… This morning I found an easy recipe for making homemade yogurt in the crockpot, and I can’t WAIT to try this! (should probably finish the two big containers of it that are in my fridge first) I’ll let you know how it goes…
It’s been a fun process to experiment with making things homemade that I used to always buy in the store, and honestly, it has NOT been hard. When you’re used to just mixing some powder with water and an egg and all of a sudden you have pancakes, it’s only a couple extra steps to add baking powder and salt. When I realize how few ingredients it actually takes to create most things, it kinda grosses me out now when I read the super-long ingredient list on the store-bought items. I’m not saying I’ll never buy any processed food again, but avoiding them has been easier and more fun than I expected. If you’re a mayonnaise lover, I highly recommend you trying to make it yourself, you might be surprised at how easy and fun it is! And it definitely made for a very tasty chicken salad.
What food do you normally buy that you’d like to try to make at home? What processed food would you like to give-up or have you given-up?