January is a one-of-a-kind month. Unlike the others that seamlessly roll right into one another, January always comes with a fresh slate. Regardless of what happened on December 31, it’s nearly forgotten the next day.
We see this in our homes. We don’t just flip a page on our calendar when the end of December comes – we bring out an entirely new calendar. We get new planners to hold our appointments and to-do lists and toss the old ones away. We even create newness in our lives: a new exercise routine, quitting a bad habit or having a different outlook on life.
There’s some newness at Kitchen Stewardship too this month. Well, a few new somethings really, but I don’t want to ruin any surprises.
Throughout the year, Katie challenges you to try something new at the start of each week in order to be a better steward of your health, the earth, time and money. These next 10 weeks or so will be slightly different – Katie isn’t going to challenge you to do anything.
Instead, your Monday Missions are coming from me.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I am not a professional. I haven’t even been doing this real food thing for very long.
But that’s the whole point.
Six months ago I read Katie’s “Overwhelmed? Start Here” post. Which, by the way, if you’re new too, go ahead and read it and then come back. You’ll feel so much better. [Katie's note: That post has been updated since Tiffany looked at it, but I asked her permission and we streamlined some things!]
I looked at her top ten recommendations, took a deep breath and got to work. Some of the steps were easy (meal planning came naturally) and some were downright frightening (you want me to make yogurt?!).
But as I continued to make baby-sized strides, my kitchen became healthier. Each item on that list challenged my family and I to completely rethink food and even dared us to break the rules we had been taught about eating.
As a result, my family is eating real food. Nourishing food. Food that does so much more for our bodies, and surprisingly, we spend less money on food now than we did when we first started.
I want this for you. For every single one of you. Because it’s totally achievable and completely worth the effort.
I am not superwoman. I cannot devote hours upon hours to one small task. I am the average someone you see walking on the street. Someone who has a family and personal commitments. Someone who gets overwhelmed when the kids simultaneously start making requests while the husband calls on the phone to discuss an important matter and all the while dinner is burning on the stove. I’m merely someone who is trying to do the best she can with the resources she has.
The Monday Missions for the next few months reflect my experiences during the first six months of my real food journey. Each one of them has made a tremendous impact in some way. If you ‘re looking to improve your health, starting with your kitchen, I recommend them for you too.
Check this out: Follow the Baby Steps board on Pinterest by clicking HERE.
With the newness that January brings, let’s take a look at our kitchen with a fresh set of eyes and resolve to take those baby steps together. Your mission this week – should you choose to accept – is to remove trans fat from your kitchen.
What is a Trans Fat?
Easy Version: It’s a perfectly good liquid oil that a chemist has turned into a solid oil using their lab equipment.
More Scientific Version: Brace yourself and read my write up here, then come back.
Everyone (including those government folks) agree that trans fats are bad. They do not come from the earth. They are created by fallible man, in a lab. Our bodies are unsure what this stuff is nor what to do with it, so it’s pushed aside and stored as fat.
This is the stuff that clogs our arteries and tissues. This is the stuff that makes it harder for our bodies to work. We must get it out of our kitchen.
How do we Find Trans Fat?
“Trans fat” is a line item on every nutritional label. However, reading the number at the end of this line is not enough. Manufacturers are sneaky. They will cut corners and manipulate whatever and wherever they can in order to sell their product.
Outsmart the corporations, bypass the outlined box and go straight to the list of ingredients. You’re looking for any of the following words, and/or variations of the word. These are the secret code words manufactures use to try to hide the fact that the item contains trans fat.
Most of us have heart of at least one of these, but I’d venture to say the last one is new to many of us. Remember, manufacturers are sneaky.
When the FDA implemented the requirement of trans fat to be on the nutrition label back in 2006, the greater society became aware to the dangers of trans fat. People began to shy away from products containing trans fat (rightly so) and in turn manufacturers lost money. Not wanting to go out of business, they had to come up with a work around. Their Plan B is known as interesterification.
The interesterification process begins when chemists take a perfectly good oil and bombard it with hydrogen – a process called hydrogenation (sound familiar?). Admittedly, the process does not result in a trans fat per se. However, this process is relatively young and the results of early testing show that interesterified oils have the same health risks as trans fats.
Trans fat are way more than not healthy. They’re not safe. And they’re certainly not real!
Where can we Find Trans Fat?
Every single one of these items has some sort of trans fat in them. I found and tossed all of these in my first kitchen raid a few months back. Some of you are probably shaking your head (and fists) at me with these processed and boxed items, but as I mentioned – I am the average person walking on the street.
- Some of these were Nana’s snacks when she was in town.
- My husband cannot resist those Girl Scouts and their little pleading smiles (especially when they’re in your church), and how can you say now hen the smile belongs to a friend at church?
- I never thought to read the label of hot cocoa.
- When looking for an easy on-the-go snack, Special K seemed to be reliable.
- Crackers? Popcorn? Seriously?
We cannot take anything for granted. We must read every single label and attack with discernment. Even if the stuff inside tastes good, the trans fat inside causes it to be more like plastic than food.
And frankly, that’s just gross. Going back through these pictures is causing me to have trans fat on the brain. What does a newbie foodie do when she’s got some down time? She scours her kitchen again for trans fat. Here’s the result of my strike just a couple weeks ago:
Yes, that would be shortening in those small rectangle packages. They’re right next to a box of cake mix and instant hot chocolate. Oh yeah, and some microwave popcorn too.
Go ahead, blow that picture up and take a good look at what was lurking in my kitchen, even after I thought I had purged it all!
I’ll spare you guys the excuses because one word describes it – convenience. We all succumb to those highly skilled marketers who target those who don’t always have time to make it from scratch – us! It’s way easier to open a box, add an egg and butter and be done with a batch of cookies.
But some things are worth the fight. I believe hydrogenated oils are one of the battles we need to be willing to take on so that we stop poisoning ourselves with this crud that big companies are trying to pass off as food. Turning a blind eye and pretending to ignore it won’t make the issue go away, and it certainly will not help us in our real food journey.
If you haven’t already, make the leap this week to ditch trans fat – all of it – from your kitchen. If you find yourself in the mood for cookies while purging, this ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe – with three types of chocolate – is pretty stellar.
Where is the most surprising trans fat in your kitchen?
You will not want to miss a moment of this series – catch the previous posts right HERE and be sure to sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed to continue following along. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.
Tiffany is a newbie real food eater who is trying to master and incorporate nourishing foods into her kitchen without breaking the bank. She documents her baby-sized strides at DontWastetheCrumbs.
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.