Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to consider your next baby steps to better nutrition.
I really enjoyed putting together the new and revised Kitchen Stewardship Top Ten Baby Steps last week. I was pleased to find out that my list from three years ago held up to the test of time, more or less, and only needed mending, not destruction and rebuilding.
However, as I was making the list of the most important baby steps to better nutrition that also balance your time and budget, I quickly made a second list of the next level of changes I made or am making since that first effort.
The week of American Thanksgiving usually isn’t much of a time to try something new, unless it’s a new appetizer or pumpkin pie recipe. (Although if you’ve never made bone broth, calling dibs on the bones from the turkey is an awesome risk-free way to test the waters!!!)
So again this week, I’m just going to share my next Top Ten list, the “bonus baby steps” and the “advanced” changes. Let me know what you think! After we cover the baby steps in more detail in January with Tiffany of Don’t Waste the Crumbs, perhaps we’ll dive into the advanced level for the next month or so.
Bonus Baby Steps: 5 Changes to Make once You’re Eating Mostly Whole Foods
- Try soaking grains :: do oatmeal to start, and then test out another recipe.
- Make one switch to organic animal products :: What to buy organic? Our family chose raw milk as the first one, although with the amount of eggs we eat and how easy it is for many to find quality-raised eggs, I might choose that one first. Then again, hormones and junk concentrate in the fat, so butter should be important, although it was the very last on this list for us because of cost and availability. If you have an easy source of grassfed beef or pastured chicken, maybe meat is your top priority. Pick one. Make it happen. Even if it’s only part of the time. That’s why this is still a baby step!
- Sprout legumes :: This is definitely the next step to using dry beans in your cooking. It takes more pre-planning, but it’s incredibly simple and even less expensive than just using dry beans. Try this sprouted lentil salad as one way to use your new sprouts. (Most of the time you just cook as usual and use in soups, chili (Recipe available in The Everything Beans Book), whatever.)
- Avoid BPA :: BPA is a probable carcinogenic hormone disruptor found in some plastics. It’s wise to avoid them whenever possible. Here’s a little trick to remember which plastic numbers are no-nos. Better yet, start switching your stash over to glass. (Christmas is the perfect time – did you see the 2012 KS Wish List yet? Glass dishes always make the cut.)
- Use unrefined salt :: Table salt has two minerals; real sea salt has over 60, and it doesn’t take any chemicals to make it white or fillers to make it pour. (Sometimes table salt even adds sugar, but usually some version of corn.) Table salt causes disease; real salt protects against it.
Somewhere in the midst of all these changes, start to consider the mantra:
“If man made it, don’t eat it!”
Eventually, all the baby steps will get you to living that precept all the time (or at least most of the time).
5 Advanced Steps for the Over-Achievers
Got a 4.0 GPA so far on all the baby steps? If you’re ready to move on to AP courses, here are 5 “advanced” real food changes I’ve been working on this year and will continue to tackle in bits and pieces:
- Wipe out the parabens :: I really have pretty much done this. That first mission in 2010 raised my awareness and I wouldn’t buy anything new with the hormone-disrupting parabens. With this mission, I showed you how I got rid of four boxes of personal products and cleaning supplies that didn’t fit my new natural lifestyle! Are you brave enough?
- Cut artificial food dyes:: Once you’ve cut most processed foods, you wont have many colors with numbers on your ingredients list. For Lent, we gave them up completely and found a few surprising places they were still lurking.
- Avoid MSG in all its disguises :: Did you know MSG comes under over 20 different names? Tricky little bugger, and it can act as an excitotoxin, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a poison that gets your neurons all worked up and can be a cause of hyperactivity, among other issues. Again, you’ll mostly avoid this guy once you switch away from processed foods, but it’s a good way to “set the bar” for those foods on which you do compromise.
- Try some unrefined, natural sweeteners :: If you can’t cut out all sweeteners (I’m not there yet!), it’s good to have some options other than white sugar. Try raw honey, real maple syrup, sucanat, and others that I covered in the (someday to be finished) Sweet, Sweet Summer series. As a bonus, try having a no sweetener day, week, or even a whole month. Good challenge!
- Make fermented foods, regularly if possible :: I’m still working on this one, but it’s an important goal to get natural probiotics in your system, preferably at every meal. Fermented vegetables are more potent than homemade yogurt, from what I understand, plus it’s good to mix up your healthy bacteria to have a variety.
For some visuals and personal guidance on a lot of these “advanced” real food topics, try the Fundamentals II eCourse and lactofermentation course from GNOWFGLINS – both also available as ebooks! Wardee, the boss lady there, is one person I’ve learned a lot from on my real food journey. I can just sit at her feet and soak up knowledge and practical tips…
Disclosure: I partner with the ecourses and earn commission. See my full disclosure statement here.