In Shanatopia, I would grow, pick, and prepare all of my own food.
A 9-5 job and an extreme lack of any agricultural skill make this next to impossible.
But learning how to choose minimally processed and wholesome foods has been a continuous and utterly confusing journey.
You know, I guess it’s not the processing that bothers me because almost all foods are processed in some way or another. Highly nutritious foods like milk, yogurt, olive oil, and grains undergo some processing before they hit store shelves. Even if you frequent your local farmer’s market and select the freshest, organic produce odds are that you are going to take your juicy beefsteak tomatoes or zucchini and make your grandmother’s famous spaghetti sauce or maybe a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread. However you prepare your produce, it usually goes through some sort of process before it goes in your mouth.
So it’s not so much the processing that is bothersome, it’s all the chemicals, additives, and artificial flavorings that are so disturbing.
Take seemingly innocent yogurt for example.
I eat it almost every day.
Blame it on those darn Yoplait commercials that sucked me in with their enticing dessert-like flavors. Boston Creme Pie! Strawberry Cheesecake! Pina Colada!
But some of the yogurts have ridiculous amounts of added sugars, sweeteners, colors, and other scientific and non-food sounding ingredients (exact ingredients aren’t even listed on the Yoplait website).
If blueberry yogurt is going to be blue, I prefer it turn that color from actual fruit and not FD &C Blue # 2
Not to mention that original yogurts (not fat free) have almost as much added sugar as a Snicker’s bar.
That’s just silly!
It’s just as easy to buy a big ol’ tub of plain yogurt and add whatever fruit my little heart desires that day. Throw some frozen blueberries and yogurt into a small container in the morning before work and the blueberries will be thawed and ready to mix by lunch time. I save myself from ingesting unnecessary ingredients, get the added benefit of real, whole fruits, and I save money in the process.
The easiest way to make sure you’re not consuming chemicals that you wouldn’t touch without a lab coat and goofy looking goggles is to look for short ingredient lists. See if you can find foods with less than five ingredients listed.
Take the SWAP challenge!
Swap out chemical heavy foods with their whole (or as close to whole as you are willing to go) counterparts.
Like cereal? Try quick cooking oats and add your own toppings (You can even eat it cold!).
Like M & M’s? Try Chocolate covered Almonds
Like potato chips? Pop your own popcorn
Like flavored yogurts? Buy plain and add your own fruit, honey, and granola
Like Snickers? Try peanuts with a square of dark chocolate
Like ice cream bars? Try a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts
What’s that? It doesn’t taste the same? I know. It’s because your taste buds forgot what food tastes like without a pound of sugar added. Remember how you had to feed your baby peas and carrots 37 times until they learned to like them? It’s the same for adults. You will learn to love and even crave these foods. Try it for a week. You’ll love it. I promise.
I already know what I eat on a day-to-day basis but I want to hear from you!
What swaps will you make this week?