We like crackers in this house. Who doesn’t, really? We especially like them salty and with cheese. Porter’s Grandma T came to visit this weekend and since we didn’t have any crackers in the pantry, we took a trip to the store and picked up the kind my husband and his mom like. I won’t name the brand, but here’s a picture:
And this is what the ingredient list looks like:
Did you read that? I didn’t either. I didn’t need to because anything with that many ingredients that look like they belong on the periodic table can’t be Real Food. And what is TBHQ anyways?
We Ate ‘Em
They were crispy and gave off a buttery appearance despite the lack of any actual butter whatsoever. Of course, my son LOVED them. So then it became my job to come up with a recipe that I feel good about feeding to him. I scoured the internet and tried my own recipes and this is what I came up with.
2 cups flour – I used Einkorn, but will be using Spelt in the future
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt, plus some for sprinkling on top
6 tbsp cold butter, plus 2 tbsp melted for topping
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400* F
Put the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. You can do this by hand too using knives or a pastry blender.
Add cold butter, small pieces at a time and pulse to combine.
Add honey and coconut oil and pulse to combine.
Add milk and pulse. It should start to form a ball of dough.
Divide the dough in two and roll each half out onto a separate Silpat mat or parchment paper. I used wax paper on top to prevent sticking.
Using a knife or pizza cutter score lines in the shapes you want your crackers to be. Poke holes in each cracker.
Cook in a 400* oven for 10 minutes.
When golden, take out and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Let cool and separate.
They still make plenty of crumbs, Porter proved that immediately. Enjoy!
The tagline for my blog is pretty self explanatory. I’ve written about all of these topics for a while now and I’ve gotten great feedback about my birth and parenting posts. While I’ve written about Real Food in the past I want to give any of you who are interested some concrete ways to bring a little more of the good stuff into your life.
If you’re a Real Foodie and you already know what’s up, then you probably won’t learn anything new in this post. You’ll just be totally reaffirmed that you are indeed making the right choices and obviously being the best possible you.
You Might Be Interested In Real Food If…
The food you currently eat gives you the blahs, the sads or the crankies.
There are chronic health issues that you’re dealing with, and you either can’t find a solution or want to try to heal on your own before totally giving yourself over to modern medicine. (source)
You want to lose weight and be healthy.
Caring for the environment means something to you.
You want to teach your children healthy eating habits.
It’s time to change up your old routine and learn something new.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Real Food is for everyone: men, women, children, babies, omnivores, vegetarians, conservatives, liberals…YOU.
Easy As 1,2,3
It’s taken me years on my path to Real Food, and I’ve really just gotten into it full time. Like any change, it helps to start small. Change one thing at a time, get used to it, and then take another small step.
I’ve thought about this long and hard and here are my top 3 ways to start getting into Real Food. It doesn’t involve cleaning out your pantry and replacing all your food (I’m for less waste too) so fear not. Use up whatever goods you’ve already got and start replacing them when you need to, but with the Real Food alternatives.
1. Change Your Fats And Oils
Are you still using Canola oil, Vegetable oil and Crisco? They’re BAD. You can learn more about that here and here. Are you concerned about saturated fat and cholesterol? Guess what, we’ve been fed a whole lotta mumbo jumbo about how bad they are for you. If you’re up for some myth busting, check this out. Or you need something more mainstream and scientific, here’s a video from Dr.Mercola.
Here’s what you SHOULD use:
Coconut oil. The unrefined has a coconut flavor and smell which puts me off, but some people love it. I use the refined which has no odor or flavor. It’s GREAT for cooking foods in high heat. In the winter mine gets solid on the counter, but can easily be melted and used as a liquid. Bonus, I use it in the shower to shave my legs and as a facial moisturizer before I get out.
Organic butter from cows raised on pasture, which means they eat grass and non-GMO grains.
Olive Oil for your cold oil consumption i.e. dressings. Don’t use it for cooking, it’ll go rancid.
Tallow (from cows) & lard (from pigs). These can be harder to come by, but they’re great for cooking on high heat and lard from the pig underbelly is good for baking. If you want to render some of your own, check this blog out.
2. Shop At The Outer Edges Of The Grocery Store
Better yet, shop at your Farmer’s Market where the produce, meats, cheeses and grains are prepared locally and have a good chance of being non-GMO and/or organic. If you’re not sure you can easily ask the farmer who grew them, because they’re usually behind the stand. Better yet, grow your own.
If you’re like me, however, you have to go to the grocery store in the cold seasons. It makes perfect sense that all the fresh food is at the edge of the store because that’s where the refrigerators are.
Real Food goes bad, so it often has to be kept cold. If the fresh veggies are too expensive, go for the frozen ones. I stay away from cans as much as possible because of BPA and weird chemicals used to coat the inside of aluminum cans.
In the beginning it’s not the most important thing to buy all organic, but try to shop your fruits and veggies from the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen list. In general, pesticides and genetically modified foods are not “real”. Organic or not, whole fruits and vegetables are best.
When it comes to meat, organic is good, but pastured and humanely raised is better. Just because an animal is raised on organic feed does not mean they were treated humanely. If we’re going to consume an animal, make it a happy one!
This is the nice part about knowing your farmer. I have no concerns that the chickens, beef and pigs that we consume had happy lives living as nature intended, because I speak with my farmer every other Friday through the winter and every Saturday during Farmer’s Market season.
I even went so far as to find out how they butchered the animals. My brother makes a good point when he says that slaughter can never be humane, but it can be done with respect towards the animal in the time before they die. Sorry if this is too much friends, but this is what real looks like.
Want to know what healthy animal husbandry is? Check out Joel Salatin and his family farm, Polyface Farms.
It may take some asking around, but chances are good that somewhere near you is an ethical farmer who wants your business. Search the web, ask the butcher at your local natural food store, find that crazy friend who’s into Real Food and ask them (wink wink).
3. Eat At Home More Often
This was really hard for me. It’s so convenient to eat out or get take out for home. Especially when we work non-stop and are generally worn out by a diet and lifestyle that doesn’t give us the vitality we need to go-go-go. We still eat out every Friday night and sometimes more depending on, you know, life.
Mostly I cook at home these days. It takes a bunch of extra work, but it’s worth it to feed myself and my family right. Meal planning helps, and I’m planning a post in the near future that will help with that.
The deal is that most restaurants cook with rancid vegetable oils, use meat from abused animals (have you seen Food Inc. yet?) and don’t cook with organic veggies. Plus they charge you a whole lot more to cook the food for you than if you just bought the Real Food ingredients and prepared it at home. We’re paying for convenience and any $$$ not spent out is a nice wad of dough you can put back into your wallet.
There You Have It, You Can Do Real Food Too!
Remember to take it slow and steady.
1. Change your fats and oils.
2. Shop at the outer edge of your grocery store.
3. Eat at home more often.
As luck would have it, my soon to be brother in-law makes awesome Indian food. More luck, my visiting mother in-law requested an Indian food feast. Hurray! It was all delicious and wonderful and satisfying. My 2 year old ate it up, YES!
Besides the incredible main dishes, what I think absolutely makes the meal are the various chutneys, dips, spiced rice and homemade naan. Considering the spice, and I mean actual spice not heat, of Indian cooking, the condiments present an opportunity to bring even more depth to the meal. Sweet, pungent, tart, and mellowing flavors made our feast that much more enjoyable.
Have you ever made an authentic Indian dish? Let alone multiple dishes in the same day? It’s a painstaking amount of prep work, followed by a spicy and intense flurry of cooking over rippling hot oils. The foundation of the dish has to be taken to the cusp of burnt and then spices added in the right order before adding the protein or vegetable. And only then will the cook be able to turn the heat down and sigh in relief that they are (hopefully) still breathing.
I was told to bring dessert (and I offered up green bean curry, look for that upcoming post) and considering the theme I decided upon rice pudding. It’s made with gobs of milk and cream to sooth any residual burn and bonus, it’s easy. Thing is…I’ve never had rice pudding that I particularly enjoyed, and too often I find it’s ruined by cardamom (better suited to green bean curry in my opinion).
I’m not one to back down from a food just because I haven’t found the right recipe, so I hopped on the web and studied a variety of rice puddings. The two that I focused on, before finally coming up with my own, were Alton Brown’s recipe and this one from Single Dad Laughing. My goal was to make a sweet, creamy real food version of this classic dish that still held the texture of soft rice. What came out of my experiment was creamy (not mushy) flavorful and sweet, and no cardamom.
Maybe because my palate is cleaner due to my better diet of late. Or maybe it’s the lack of sugar I’m taking in, but this pudding was good. Like, REAL good. Sweetened with maple syrup and coconut milk (which wasn’t as overpowering as it could easily have been), it was simply lovely. This made a great dessert, but would also make a nice addition to breakfast, or as a snack, or straight from the fridge on a spoon. However you eat it though, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Real Food Rice Pudding
2 tbsp butter, organic/pastured
1.5c cooked white rice
1.5c whole organic/pastured milk
1/2c half & half OR cream
3/4c coconut milk (not coconut water)
1/4c maple syrup
1/2c soaked raisins
Place raisins in a bath of hot water to plump.
In a saucepan over medium heat melt butter and add rice. Mix until rice is covered in melted yummy goodness.
Turn heat to med/high and add milk. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil (stirring) and then turn down to a simmer. Stir regularly for 5-8 minutes until mixture thickens.
Add cream, coconut milk, maple syrup and mix. Make sure it’s still simmering. Stir until even thicker and bubbly, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Drain raisins and add to pudding. I think a handful of sliced almonds would be a nice addition too.
Pour into a dish and cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap/wax paper. Allow to sit on the counter for 2.5 hours or refrigerate and it will firm up but maintain that beloved creaminess.
We ate ours at room temperature and that was perfect, but (again) if you absolutely MUST indulge before the allotted cooling time – no one would blame you!
I just got back from the Boise Farmer’s Market with this bounty of food:
3 dozen pastured eggs from Green Goat Dairy, summer squash, cucumber, onions, peaches, sunset beets, lettuce, cauliflower, garlic and a flat of berries (red, yellow and purple raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries)
I’ve also been listening to the Real Food Summit, which is going on for a few more days and you should totally check it out. What is Real Food you say? Isn’t all food Real Food? Not anymore. People are finally getting hip to what real food is and are co-opting the term. It’s also been known as the slow food movement and to some extent the organic food movement. Organic food, however, has been around long enough to be corrupted a bit, mostly in terms of animal treatment. Here’s a really excellent explanation of Real Food. The gist of it is, if the food (fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, etc.) have been raised and grown in the way nature intended and then are cooked in a way that your great great great grandmother would have prepared them, it’s probably real food. The key word to look for in meats and dairy foods is pastured. This means that cows and goats (herbivores) get to eat green grass in the full sun, chickens and birds (omnivores) are free roaming to scratch the earth and to eat bugs and plants, and piggies (omnivores) are given room to run and root in the earth.
For a long time it’s the way I’ve wanted to eat, but couldn’t quite identify how to express it. This way of eating has always made sense to me, despite my love for Hostess cupcakes and all things chocolate. The nice part is that it’s entirely possible to make all the foods I love out of real foods. The drawback is that it’s not always convenient. That simply means planning ahead, which I’m getting good at now that Porter is around.
I’ve started my Real Food journey by changing the fats I use. I’m stocking up on organic pastured and cultured butter, cooking with coconut oil and only using olive oil in it’s raw form. Canola and other veggie oils have been proven to be bad for your heart and health and those are out the window. I’ve also started going to the Farmer’s Market and getting to know the farmers.
When I take the time to eat good meats, fats, dairy, veggies and fruits I feel amazing. It’s only when I don’t eat that way that Real Food becomes a hassle. I’ve gotten of my diet of healthy eating and I’m ready to get back, so here are my top 5 favorite veggies (there were some ties):
5. corn, organic and non GMO
4. beets, wrapped in foil and cooked on high heat for about an hour (thanks America’s Test Kitchen)
3. asparagus & crook neck squash, from a local garden and grilled they are so sweet and tasty
2. onions & bell peppers, any way you want to prepare them, I’ll eat it
1. lettuce, give me a crunchy bitter/sweet salad any day