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Overwhelmed By Real Food? Start Here.

Are you getting overwhelmed by your transition to eating real food? Friends, I talk about baby steps for a reason. If something seems like it’s going to take too much time, effort or mental energy, I get anxious about it, push it further down on the list, and generally avoid tackling that project until I have to. That may be “never” for some things.

I need manageable bites. Tell me to get an oil change for my van, and I will put it off for a week. Hand me a phone number and tell me to call and schedule an appointment for the oil change, and it’s done within the hour. Easy, baby steps are all I can handle. And one thing at a time, please!

I always had a hunch that a lot of people were like me in that way. Kitchen Stewardship® has validated the fact that I’m not the only person who can’t be superwoman, at least not in one impressive leap.

Top 10 Baby Steps to Success with Real Food and Natural Living

Let’s just start with ten –

Top 10 Kitchen Stewardship® Foundational Habits for Real Food and Clean Living

These are some of the foundational things that I do in the kitchen. They are a good place to start because they make an impressive difference – most of them positively impact nutrition, budget AND environment. 3-for-1 deals are the best kind. 🙂

It’s still important to tackle ONE of them at a time, but this list is less daunting to look at than the 100+ Monday Missions we have shared since 2009. Prioritizing is vital to your success! (The Top 10 is in order of importance.)

Take it one step at a time.

If you’re just starting your journey to real food, you really can’t do it all at once. Impossible.

In school, we teach kids to recognize their letters, learn the names and sounds of the letters, then blend them together to make words. We never ask a preschooler to learn to read and write without these basic building blocks.

Consider this list your chance to have some real food flash cards, some floor puzzles to help you get the alphabet in order, and some practice connecting sounds together to make words.

OR get them all delivered right to your inbox in a logical order, once a week so you have enough time to take action (but you don’t have to keep your own list or bookmark this page):

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Format: Each baby step will be listed with two bullet points, the first sharing WHY you want to make the change, and the second giving direction on HOW to make it happen.

1. Cut out Artificial Sweeteners and Trans Fat

Choose Foods with 0g Trans Fat
  • Artificial sweeteners and trans fat are barely related to food. They’re not real food. Don’t eat them.
  • To implement this, become a label reader. You’ll learn a lot in the process, buy less processed food, and begin to prepare yourself for more advanced steps. Click the links to learn about what nasty words to look for on the labels. EDIT 2015 – “trans fat” has officially been banned by the FDA (after they allowed it in foods for decades, harumph). But you should still avoid fake fats, including anything “hydrogenated” or “interesterified.”

2. Use Healthy Fats

Monday Mission Email full fat
  • Americans have a vast imbalance of omega 3s and omega 6s, which causes inflammation and disease. You also need some traditional fats, those we’ve been eating for thousands of years, to replace any trans fats you cut out of your cupboards.
  • What can you do to switch to healthy fats?

1. Switch to full fat dairy – this change doesn’t need any new money or routines, you just pick up a different color container next time you shop.

2. Use butter instead of margarine.

3. Try coconut oil. It’s awesome and versatile!

4. Work on cutting down on industrial oils to reduce your omega 6s (the inflammatory ones). These include corn, soybean, canola, safflower, sunflower, and “vegetable” oil.

5. Try including olive oil as a replacement for the above in cold applications. If you eat salad, you’ll be hard pressed to find salad dressings without corn or soybean oils, so you may need to make homemade dressings, unless you want to spend $5/bottle. (Olive oil is mostly omega 9s.)

No fair, right? That was totally NOT one change. To take baby steps, do them in order, one at a time. Fats are important!

3. Plan Ahead: Meal Planning Is a Must!

Taco Quinoa Chili
  • Meal planning will save money by avoiding impulse buys and emergency pizza nights, and you can balance your nutrition between different meats. Planning makes it possible to do things like soak dry beans and use ingredients like chicken stock or fresh spinach twice in a week to streamline your cooking and avoid waste.
  • Just do it. Use a piece of paper, an online meal planner like Plan to Eat (which will also make grocery lists for you, store recipes, and nearly cook your supper for you…not really that last one), an Excel document, a chalkboard…whatever works for you and gets you planning ahead, do it.

4. Make Homemade Yogurt

Easy Homemade Yogurt
  • At least begin to consume plain yogurt in an effort to (a) include probiotics in your life and (b) reduce your dependence on sweeteners. When you have a lot of it around, you eat it more often, too.
  • My homemade yogurt method makes it easy to make a quart, two quarts, or a whole gallon at a time.

5. Make Traditional Bone Broth

Monday Mission Email broth

6. Use Dry Beans

How to Cook with Dry Beans - Legumes
  • Beans (legumes) pack in the fiber, iron, and protein, all for much less than animal sources of protein (more nutritional benefits). I’m not saying that meat is bad for you – on the contrary, I’d like to see you save money making yogurt, stock, and using dry beans instead of canned, and then spend it on higher quality, well-raised meat.
  • Cooking large batches and freezing adds the convenience of a can (almost) back into the process, and you can find tons of recipes in The Everything Beans Book. Learn to cook with dry beans and save tons of $$.

7. Make Non-toxic Homemade Cleaners

Make Homemade Cleaners
  • Not only are most commercial cleaners full of toxins that can harm your family, but they’re far more expensive than simple, homemade cleaners using only a few ingredients.
  • You can put perfectly nourishing food IN your bodies, but if your indoor air quality is making your family sick, it won’t matter. Don’t use bleach. Avoid triclosan.
  • Start with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. You can find lots of ideas for how to use these simple homemade cleaners, plus other products, mostly inexpensive, for the few places the triple threat doesn’t cut it.

8. Learn to Eat Nutrient-dense Foods

Healthy fats in an Avocado
  • Ask not what you can take out of your food, but what your food can put into you. This takes mental energy but not much physical time or money.
  • Read two paradigms of healthy eating:  rather than to work hard at doing a zillion new things, figure out what regular old foods you can focus on to be as healthy as you can (like onions and garlic for immunities, EVOO and avocado for healthy fats, for one example).

9. Do Something About Grains

Monday Mission Email Grains
  • Grains are such a hotly debated topic – some say eat only whole grains; some say those are no good unless soaked, sprouted, or soured; some say soaking is bunk; some say skip the grains altogether.

For baby steps, you can’t get too deeply into that topic yet. However –

  • You should definitely lose the white flour bread and crackers. If you don’t know what to replace them with, don’t. Just cut. (How to know if your bread has white or whole grains.)
  • If you feel like trying soaking grains, start with soaked oatmeal. It’s super easy, pinkie swear. A perfect baby step. Read more about it when you’re ready.
  • Try making homemade bread, or start by keeping an eye out for a used breadmaker.
  • If whole wheat bread seems to be heavy or uncomfortable for you to eat, I encourage you to try going grain-free for a couple days. Just eat meats and veggies, fruits and nuts, and see how you feel. Beyond the trial period, the least expensive way to go grain-free is to buy one bag of coconut flour and find some simple pancakes, muffins, etc. using it, but mostly just eat lots of veggies, legumes, potatoes, fruits and meats. (More elimination diet recipes here.)

I know, another cheater with multiple steps…I’m sorry!

10. Reduce Your Dependence on Sweeteners

Maple Syrup
  • No matter what people say about the health benefits of certain natural sweeteners, the fact is that they all have carbs and contribute less to your overall health than they may harm.
  • The simple step here is to avoid worrying about all those “natural” sweeteners, forgo deciding if paying quadruple for a bag of sugar is worth it – just decrease the amount of sweetener you consume, period.First, cut out all high fructose corn syrup. Whether you believe that HFCS is far worse than white sugar or trust the ‘corn sugar’ commercials, either way, high fructose corn syrup has no redeeming value and adds empty calories and carbs to your diet. It is not healthy in any amount, and it’s a marker of a highly processed food.Cut it out for a week and see if you miss the foods that contain it (LOTS of them). Second, you can also work hard to reduce your white sugar consumption. Try having fruit for dessert in an effort to tame your sweet tooth.

What Comes Next?

In order to accomplish these baby steps, the amount of boxed and bottled food you buy will drastically diminish. If sticking to a budget is part of your balancing act, you’ll find yourself making a lot from scratch – another opportunity to be overwhelmed as far as where to start.

I would recommend taking note of what processed food (box or bottle) you use most often during the course of one week. That’s where you want to learn the “from-scratch” version, because it will affect your family the most frequently.

Also consider the cost savings of making your own over buying a “better” processed version. There are some things, like real sourdough bread, that are nearly impossible to purchase, nutritionally. You have to make them.

Other foods, like butter, cottage cheese, and sour cream, don’t have much financial savings when you make your own, so it’s best, in my opinion (unless you own a cow), to find a good source to purchase those items.

Finally others, like pasta, may just have to remain an exception. That’s something I’ve never made, because I just can’t budget the time to do it, so we simply use pasta less often (I’ve started putting sauces over rice instead – easier and less expensive than gluten-free pasta!).

Last, but definitely not least, be sure to stay connected in prayer. Do your best and give God the rest. He’ll take good care of you.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to better kitchen (and life) stewardship.

If you’re looking for the next steps, I have a few “advanced” baby steps for you right HERE.

Want to SEE what you need to do? Traditional Cooking School has an incredibly comprehensive eCourse called Fundamentals that will walk you through traditional foods step by step. (No videos for you? Get the eBook instead.)

Top 10 Baby Steps to Success with Real Food and Natural Living
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

67 thoughts on “Overwhelmed By Real Food? Start Here.”

  1. Hi Katie

    Thanks so much for all that you are doing for people like ME !!
    I just happened to come across your website.
    I am feeling hopeless, helpless and overwhelmed.
    Finally gave up consulting with Doctors and specialists about eight years ago and have been self-navigating since then.
    Started off eliminating dairy, wheat, soy, yeast, gluten, etc from our diet, but went through a hugely stress episode last year during which time my husband suffered a reflex syncope and its been steadily declining since then.
    We have been successfully owner managing our own businesses under extremely difficult circumstances for the past twenty years here in South Africa.
    It has been successful in some ways but hugely dissatisfying as far as our health and wellbeing are concerned.
    Fast forward to present and we had recently moved to the coast about a year ago which was very stressful and had to start up a new business.
    We offer services to the largely black and coloured market and so its very intensive and stressful as its consulting based.
    My husband is severely fatigued but unfortunately we cannot afford to take a holiday…we haven’t had a holiday in twenty years…anxiety is through the roof, our diet has been difficult to stick to because we are so tired and stressed and exhausted.
    My husband has lost some muscle mass over the past five years and I am now believing that his immune system is overactive. He contracted hepatitis A about fifteen years ago, but I am now thinking that perhaps it is autoimmune related.
    He suffers from adult cystic acne, exhaustion, tender, sore muscles and body, food intolerances and this includes supplements, restless sleep, body twitches throughout the night, suffer from low blood pressure although this is much better since supplementing with Himalayan salt, and the list goes on.
    We both suffer from huge supplement and food intolerances.
    To cut a long story short, we do not have functional doctors here in our area and are not prepared to go to local doctors as we have been there and done that. In fact we have exhausted our medical aid fund spent on x-rays, blood test, scans and synthetic meds which only dealt with the symptoms. None of the doctors or specialists were prepared to invest in getting to the root cause(es). So we do not have the money to see a doctor nor do we feel conformable going that root again since our health had only deteriorated when we had been under their care.
    My question to you is this – how can we successfully implement the GAPS Intro diet when we are not able to tolerate broths, or fermented vegetables etc.

    1. Oh my Chelle, this sounds like such a struggle! I’m so sorry all this has built up and those you paid and trusted weren’t able to help.

      I’m not a health practitioner in any way but have 3 thoughts for you:

      1. If you can’t get a full vacation, you need to build in “recharge” times throughout the day. Here’s a little explanation of it: and part 2:

      2. When you mentioned broths and fermented veggies, it made me think of a low histamine diet. GAPS is not right for everyone! I would totally search about a low histamine diet and see what you think. Basically open up beyond just GAPS and check out FODMAPs, AIP and more and see what feels like the best fit for your symptoms…

      3. I feel 100% confident that a good functional practitioner could look at your husband’s symptoms and talk to you for a while, maybe check some blood tests, and figure out root cause. If you ever build up a medical fund again, you could work remotely with SteadyMD:

      My prayers are with you today that you find some relief!

  2. Hey Katie,

    I want to commend you for the time you put into looking well to the ways of your household 😉 and then, to thank you for the extra time and energy you spend to share what you’ve learned with others! I am amazed by women, like you, who are able to accomplish so much and are so efficient with their time. 🙂

    The reason I’m commenting is that I have recently been seeing a consistent reaction, through articles being shared by fellow Christians, to the “natural”, “whole”, “real”, “organic”, etc. “movement”. The message of those individuals is that these natural “practices” are rooted in New Age philosophy, and their response to it is a very harsh and urgent push to avoid “buying into it”. Some of these folks were saved out of the New Age lifestyle. I am wondering, first of all, have you seen or read anything similar, lately?

    My desire is to have a God-centered, Scriptural-centered approach to fulfilling my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and homemaker. In my research, over the past
    3+ years, on real food, organics, non-GMO, essential oils, etc., I have read numerous articles, watched a number of DVD’s, and have also had many conversations/discussions, where Scripture and Scriptural principles have been sited, in support of this change in approach to food and health.

    My concern is with the validity of what people are saying/sharing. What is genuinely “safe” and what things, if any, should we steer clear of? There is so, so much controversy about so many various topics, anymore ~ even within the Christian circle. I sometimes feel like I should just forget all of it, but…I can’t.

    Everyone seems so ultra-connected now, yet…not really, you know? (I mean, look. I am commenting on a blog that is written by someone who, for all practical purposes, is a complete stranger to me! Crazy, but sometimes, it is actually the easier way to communicate) :/ Also, there are so many things that can easily be fabricated, cropped, and written as truth/fact now-a-days. It is difficult to KNOW whether what you are reading/hearing and researching is real or not! There are equally as many examples and “studies” to support both sides of the issue, that it is hard to know whether or not fellow believer’s are being genuine in their effort to educate, or just interested in the “latest, greatest” money-making idea. Discernment is huge in this, I know, but again, it is difficult to be discerning with so much floating around out there.

    So, how is someone to settle all of the mixed information that is constantly bombarding us from every angle in life? It is so frustrating to me! I am not even half as disciplined and educated as you, and so many other women of God I personally know, in this area of my life. However, again, it is my deep and genuine desire to be truly lined with Scripture in every aspect of my life.

    Phew! So, do you have any insights into this or is this just something that is only confusing and challenging to me? Please, if you can, try to avoid “sending” me to the Scriptures. 😉 The Scriptures and principles are there. I do realize that, but just like with the political debate within the Christian society, there are supportive arguments for both views and I’m looking for some honest and practical answers that are rooted in Scriptural principles, but able to be applied in a practical daily I hope that this makes some kind of sense to you. I realize it may seem a bit fuzzy, but I’ve tried to be concise in what I have written and clear in what I’m searching for. I hope I succeeded in that! If not… I apologize. Truly, I do. I can be a bit difficult to “follow”. 😐 Thank you, so much, for taking the time to read my comment, Katie! God Bless you!

    1. Oops! I didn’t complete a sentence!
      “…in a practical and daily manner.” Hope that helps make a little more sense out of that sentence! :p

      1. Hi Lisa!
        I hear you, girl, I hear you. It’s so tough to know what’s “real” in the world of nutrition and health, especially since it’s changing all the time!

        I guess I figure that I can look at things through a lens of “did God create this?” “Is this impacted by the Fall?” and “Does it work for the good of my family and society?”

        So like cancer – impacted by the Fall. But what else? Probably lots of things that God did NOT create. So I can try to avoid those things in good conscience – but also have some balance and not freak out about them 100% of the time, since fear is also not of God (I write that to remind myself not to freak out about junk food my kids eat!).

        Trans fats are a good example, or MSG – not created by God. Made in a lab in the last 100 years. So, I try to avoid those.

        Butter. Animal meat. Dairy. All natural things actually part of nature and created by God. Given to man. So I’m cool with that stuff!

        Does it work for the good of society? Organics traveling 1000s of miles to get to me. Hmph. Up in the air – good or bad? That’s where it gets tricky- the most natural option might have some layers of negative things too.

        So I don’t think there’s one right “godly” way to eat, other than to be mindful of your body, of creation, and pray about decisions so that hopefully you can do God’s will regardless of what the latest fad is. I would certainly not eschew all healthy living info or EOs or something simply because they might have rubbed shoulders with the New Age folks.

        I don’t know if that helps at all, but do know that you’re not alone in feeling a little adrift and overwhelmed!!!


        1. Yes, it absolutely does help, Katie! Thank you, so much, for responding. I think a sort of “filter” is what I was searching for, and the manner in which you responded definitely explains how I can evaluate information and apply it in a practical way, yet keeping in mind God’s principles. Goodness, it’s just so easy to get distracted and “pulled” this way and that, and then, end up in utter confusion! Thank you, again, and God’s blessings!

  3. Hello Katie,

    And thanks for the great website! Found it while doing research on convection ovens. I want to replace my 1998 high wattage microwave and old fashioned toaster oven with a convection oven for health reasons.

    I was diagnosed with lymphoma a few months ago, and am now starting chemo next week. Eating better of course has been on my mind. I used aspartame for DECADES and a lot of it and can’t help but feel it played a role in current health issues. I was doing a lot of crystal lite and noticed it’s effects on short term memory and when I got the diagnosis decided to quit it. Hard! It was as bad as quitting smoking as I have a real sweet tooth. I went through withdrawal for about 1 month. I am now drinking herbal tea instead. A positive change and of course I feel much better and have my memory back!!

    I am trying to cook more whole foods and have switched out potatoes for rice. I bought a halogen convection counter top oven (with a GLASS bowl) a few months ago and am using it to cook. What a difference! I want to update my kitchen and make cooking more healthy and easy for myself as I am single. I also made my first ever chicken stock soup from the carcass of a whole non-gmo chicken. Felt so guilty the last time I thew it away. No more. I am giving some of the stock to my queen who just had a little 5 weeks ago and she loves it. I will be eating next week on chemo.

    I will be using your site as a resource — just what I need right now. I too am Catholic so I was delighted to see you are as well. I will be sharing your site with friends as well who are interested in eating cleaner. There’s nothing like home cooked meals!

    Thanks for the great site! It looks great!

    1. Welcome, Colleen, and I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but I pray that it just ends up being the push you needed for healthy living and nothing more. My dad weathered chemo 2 years ago and is cancer-free now: May God bless you with great energy next week, and may that chemo do its job!! Blessings, Katie

  4. HI Katie:
    So nice to find another believer, in a food blog.
    I’ve been cooking and baking for 50 years.
    Even earlier than that my Grandma was an influence on me, and I love being in the kitchen.
    I believe no matter how long we’ve been cooking we can still learn new things.
    I have a daughter named Kate, so your name drew me in.
    When cooking I try to cook healthy, but it is hard as my Mama (92) has a different view of cooking and will only eat certain things. I’m her caretaker. She gets around pretty good but is starting to forget.
    I would love to eat better as I am not very hearty, and have a noncancerous brain stem tumor, really low bone density amoung other things.
    Eating healthier I feel sure would help with these.
    I too am sensitive to scents, so am looking forward to reading your cleaning solutions.
    My goodness how I’ve run on!
    I’m happy to be here and to know you!

  5. Carol Stevenson

    Hi Katie,

    I found your website when I was looking for Eating Grain Free, and Glad that I found you. In the last year I have had a lot of Health issues, mostly Gallbladder. So I have now found a NaturalPath Dr who wants me off of Grains.

    I tried your Grain-Free Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Porridge Recipe this morning and I quite enjoyed it, this coming from a person who was not crazy about Pumpkin.

    Thank you

  6. Thanks for the info ‘Top 10 Kitchen Stewardship Foundational Habits’. I got an email from you asking if i have taken any baby steps, 11-15-2015.(I’m a procrastinator in my email too.) Yes, I have. I don’t remember how I came to your site but I’m blessed because of it, I think it may have been a search I was doing. I understand what you are saying about trying to do everything at the same time, it doesn’t work out right and we get frustrated and give up, so I’m trying not to do that and it seems your site might help me with walking the little steps, I should say you are because you are part of your site.

    Thank you.

    Rose B

  7. Thanks for the info ‘Top 10 Kitchen Stewardship Foundational Habits’. I got an email from you asking if i have taken any baby steps, 11-15-2015. (I’m a procrastinator in my email too, sorry. I just saw it yesterday.) Yes, I have. And I don’t remember how I came to your site but I’m blessed because of it, I think it may have been a search I was doing. I understand what you are saying about trying to do everything at the same time, it doesn’t work out right and we get frustrated and give up, so I’m trying not to do that and it seems your site might help me with walking the little steps, I should say you are because you are part of your site.

    I guess your words were working in the back of my head because I just started yesterday, almost a month later, anyways it’s a start. I rearranged a cabinet, I usually get nervous about everything, but yesterday I was calm and enjoyed doing it. Then I read your email and then it kind of fell together. Sorry this sounds like rambling. No matter, I want to thank you for being there and understanding that there are others out there like you, I thought I was the only one that thought like that.

    Rose B

  8. I just found your post and love it but the earliest is 2009 r u more up to date then that I live in southeast Michigan and am having a hard time finding fresh flour I bake a lot and need fresh flour do u know anyone who does it thank u

    1. Hi Jeanne,
      I updated this post this year, so it’s all good. 🙂 I am in SW Michigan so I don’t know the East side well. Surest way to get fresh flour is to grind it yourself I suppose…if I were you I’d find a health food store near me and call and ask if they grind flour. Good luck! 🙂 Katie

  9. Niletza Esquilin

    Excellent post, Katie! This information is incredibly helpful. I love coconut oil too.I use an organic coconut butter that is tasteless and odourless. I don’t especially like the taste or smell of coconut, although I do like coconut water, and don’t want the food I cook in it to taste of coconut either.

  10. We homeschooled our children, some of whom would have been labeled ADHD by the school system, given the chance. Some of them drove me CRAZY until during my 5th pregnancy, when I developed terrible chemical sensitivities. This was the beginning of chemical-free living for us, and it was forced upon us — it’s hard to function as a family when Mom can’t wash the dishes, the laundry, or even her hair. While searching for answers for myself, I had to necessarily change the diet and living environment of our entire family. The effects on our children shocked me. Our son, who could NOT control himself most of the time, became a normal, sane human being. That was all the encouragement I needed to continue down this path.

  11. Hi, I am new to this blog and really interested in serving more wholesome food. We make a lot of stuff on our own but are always looking for more that we can do ourselves. We live in a rural village in Alaska with no stores at all so the ability to “shop locally” isn’t really an option. For someone like me who has to ship in all of our groceries, how do you recommend me getting these wholesome grains and meats, etc? We are hoping to have a garden here this summer and do a lot of canning, which I have never done. We also hope to catch salmon and pick lots of berries in July. Any suggestions you can think of?

    1. Kristi,
      First, your goals with gardening, salmon, and berries are PERFECT for Alaska, so you’re definitely on the right track and capturing your best possibilities.

      As for meats, I’d try to source elk/moose/other local items if possible. Other than that, it will be expensive, so meat will almost have to become a “seasoning” rather than the central item in your meal. Tropical Traditions and US Wellness Meats are two places you can order from, and sometimes TT even has free shipping to AK! (although I’m not sure of the refrigerated items) Many people order whole grains via Amazon, Azure Standard, and other places, so it all depends on who delivers to AK. I hope that gives you someplace to start! I recommend buying in bulk to save $…

      Good luck with your new real food journey! 🙂 Katie

      1. Thank you! That is most helpful! What do you consider canning essentials? I have a large stock pot (not great quality).

  12. Pingback: Necessity Is The Mother of Invention: Living naturally on a budget | Landon Gilfillan

  13. Sandra Goldstein

    This information is incredibly helpful. It can be terribly overwhelming when you begin on a real food journey -but it does get easier over time! The baby steps you provided are manageable, “bite size” pieces of information. Healthy eating is truly a dynamic process.

    I think many of us have become accustomed to eating out of packages for the sake of convenience. It’s all about making the time for the health of you and your family. Making healthy eating and real food preparation a priority is a great jumping off point. For me personally, once I figured that part out, the rest was actually quite fun and easy. Seeing what worked and what didn’t work for me (like those controversial grains!) was all about trial and error.

    I love that you talked about full fat foods. It’s no coincidence that with the advent of commercial fat-free or low-fat foods coincided with the obesity and diabetes epidemic. I find that good quality fat at a meal keeps me satiated and crushes my sugar cravings. And I too love coconut oil. It’s so versatile -I get a bit panicky when I run out!

    Cutting out added and artificial sugars has probably been the hardest part for me in my transition to a real foods diet. I do my best to avoid HFCS, but I do indulge in the occasional treat from a local bakery. What are your thoughts on eating some of these “less real” foods in moderation? Is it all or nothing? I know you mentioned eating fruits when a sugar craving hits, but do you have any other tips for those (me!) with a major sweet tooth?

    Great post. I’m going to keep these tips handy for when I need a real foods refresher!

  14. Pingback: My nutrition & healthy eating guidelines - How I think.

  15. hi, just found your site as i was looking for better ways to cook for my family as i have had a heart attack and my husband has type 2 diabetes … we have been struggling for years as what is best to cook and buy and i’ve been cutting down and still don’t seem to get anywhere … i’m overweight and try as i might never seem to loose any… i’ve done ‘some’ back to basics but i see i’m just gonna have to ‘bite the bullet’ and start your baby steps to changing full time to basics …. i think your site is great … and look forward to reading more and being slightly overwhelmed like the rest …lol… but as with everything your right … *baby steps* thanks

  16. what do you think about home canning? certainly not a lot of vinegar/salt recipes, but making beans and canning for convienance, canning your own spaghetti sauce when your garden is overflowing with tomatoes, etc. I have been eating a pretty whole foods diet for many years, sugar and lots of carbs being my main vice, and I am a recovering vegetarian trying to get over the mental blocks I have to eating meat. My family raises chicken and rabbits for meat and I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat them even though I know they are good for me! I have been able to incorporate fish, at least. Anyway, I appreciate reading your posts. It is encouraging.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Great question, and very timely! I do can some things, especially tomatoes, which are actually healthier (releases lycopene) when cooked. And I do pickles, cause I like them. 🙂

      If I grew my own green beans, etc, I would probably have to can b/c I don’t have the freezer space to put it up, so you know, you do what you can! Def. make that spaghetti sauce, and work up to adding the meat – you can do it! I think it’s awesome that you’re making the attempts! (and so sorry I missed your comment for so long)

      🙂 Katie

  17. After having to give all four of my children asthma treatments every day for years, having major back problems, and then getting tendonitis in both ankles which caused me to sit more than play with my children, I made a massive overhaul in our diet. We were already half way there, but adding more vegetables, little to no processed foods and more water and yogurt, along with the other items on your list above, have turned our entire family around. EVERYONE’s asthma went away within 6 months, my tendonitis…gone, back spasms.. gone. I have more energy than I’ve had in years. I still struggle with cravings for sweets, but am thankful that I know how to fill up our family with good things that GIVE us ENERGY and Strength. I trust the Lord, as well, to sustain us each and every day. THANK YOU. Food is medicine!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      My jaw literally dropped when I read your success. A.Maze.Ing. I am so thrilled and blessed to be even a tiny part of your journey. What incredible turnarounds! I’m just speechless. Yes! God is so good to give us good things to eat! Yipeeee!!

      Many more blessings to you and yours,

  18. I just discovered your blog today, and I think I’ve spent every spare moment reading various articles and making a list of things to change now and later on. We are pretty good about eating homemade foods, mostly because my husband hates restaurants and most processed food, but I still rely on things like canned beans (the extremely reduced sodium kind) and sweetened yogurt (with a good ingredient list) and the like. But I think I’m about ready to take some more steps, so here I go!

  19. Melinda Tichelaar

    I know this post is old, but I just found it today. I really appreciate your exploration of getting everyone on board. My husband is the stay-at-home parent and *I* am actually the one dragging my feet on some of these things. When he stopped buying white flour, I sighed. When he started paying extra for farmers market chickens, I got tense. But the kids a) haven’t even noticed their cookies, waffles and pancakes are whole-wheat and b) definitely have noticed how much better our meat tastes! Thank you for blogging.

  20. Wow, this is a great article, and an important topic to share with friends and family. I think living in this way is often perceived as very difficult, or not worth it, by people who have yet to try it, but when it comes down to it, it only takes a few lifestyle choices to live a healthier, fuller life.

  21. This is just what I needed!!! I have been struggling with everything you mentioned. And I become overwhelmed and it all seems to be an insurmountable task. I hope with your encouragement and tips that I too can be on my way to better kitchen stewardship(and in other ways as well!!! Thanks

  22. Another one to see that especially talks about foods and what we eat, why we’re sick & getting cancers is Food Matters-both this one and Food Inc. can be watched directly from Netflix. Both are “Must See” & can convince husbands & others into wanting to change their diet pronto!

    1. Stephanie Wasenko

      I am totally into making everything homemade without all the added (unnecessary) ingredients and try my best to support our local town by visiting the markets and eating local. I believe it will help in terms of long-term health and just feeling better in general. I have seen Food inc., and they certainly stretch the truth in that video. They had a goal in mind and they certainly did what they could to make sure people saw it. Now, I am not to say there aren’t bad people out there who don’t raise their animals the right way but that is a very unrealistic look at most farms. There are bad doctors, pet owners, and teachers etc., but not everyone works that way. Farmers are in it because they love to do what they do and I am a farmer. I do have a feedlot ( very small-100 head) but know every cow and care for every cow individually. I always wonder how much research has been done after people watch it to find the credibility/sources of information behind it. I do believe we need to care for our animals and it is a challenge to feed our ever-growing world but I also believe there needs to be a better relationship between people in cities who are a few generations removed from the farm and their food suppliers/farmers. Like some of you mentioned, getting to know these people by visiting the farmers and local markets can do a lot of good. I don’t want to sound as though I’m defending the video, because I am not but think about reality and think about what farmers have to go through to make the food they make today. They don’t make the rules/regulations. They only work hard to grow the food. Go meet a local farmer and ask ask ask away everything you’d like to know. I believe farmers want to help educate and they will help you to understand what farming is on a personal level rather than taking what we see on TV as being true all the time.

      1. Stephanie Wasenko

        Oh and I also love the recipes and will totally be trying them. Especially the english muffins! Who knew they were so easy!

  23. Jennifer @ Just Peachy in Dixie

    I’m a new follower through email subscription. I am so happy to have found your site. I’m a couponer (NOT extreme), that is discouraged with what I’m saving on. I’m hoping to gain knowledge on how I can stretch my dollar on the healthier side of the grocery store.

    We are not very finicky eater and enjoy the taste of healthy food. I am VERY lucky that my DD loves healthy choices. She would much rather have the broccoli rather than the french fries when out in a restaurant and prefers whole grain bread over white. However, we are guilty of having some unhealthy processed foods in the house!

    I’m so happy to have found you through “Girls to Grow” Saturday Salutes. I look forward to gaining much knowledge here!

    I also would like to invite you to my brand new “Thrifty Peach Blog Hop” (debuted 8/16/11) next Tuesday to share one of your great posts. I think my readers would love to hear from you.

    I hope you have a blessed weekend!

  24. Thanks for the advice. My favourite is No. 3 “make homemade when it counts!” I stopped trying to make sauerkraut since I can get probiotics from kefir, which is a lot easier to make in my opinion, and I still have more important things to change about our diet. Love the picture!

  25. Olive oil has more omega-6 than omega-3. Canola oil actually has more omega-3’s than olive oil (also more omega-6, but ratio may be similar).

    Flaxseed oil is probably the best omega-3 to omega-6 ratio; more 3 than 6, and a lot more 3 than olive and canola.

    I think we should be careful with oils, in general though, especially when heating (their chemical structure changes).

  26. Hi 🙂

    We have had a fair share of health problems in my family lately (a lot of them are mine as well), and I have just been researching on how to better our health. I too feel a little overwhelmed with all the changes I have to make (and with health problems it is sometimes difficult to just do the basics to get by), but this week I bought only basic ingredients and produce, and have been making our bread (and a few batches of cookies as well ;-p) for us all to eat. That is a big thing for me, but I promised myself a week to see how well I could do, and to give a point to start with and ‘tweak’

    I can see there has got to be a lot of changes, but I decided to just take it one babystep at a time, and I wrote this post about it:
    link no longer available

    I love your blog, and I am sure you will see many more comments from me as I look around and READ, READ, READ! Thank you for giving a true, balanced, healthful and REALISTIC example, and reading this post (and many of the comments also) have made me feel like these small changes at a time will add up to become a BIG change

    Warmest blessings,

    1. Angela,
      I’m already proud of you! I just did some processing and thinking about our food purchases (and budget) after two years of making baby step changes, and I’m telling ya, one thing at a time makes a MASSIVE difference. I can’t even believe how far we’ve come, and in the first year, it made no difference in our budget at all. God bless ALL your efforts!!! 🙂 Katie

  27. Leslie @

    Oh, thank you SO much for this post. I’m already doing most of these, but it’s going to be my go-to post to refer other people I’m “converting,” into understanding that the small first steps are the ones that will lead to a healthier foundation!

    Again, I am just so enamored with all the information you’re providing here! I can feel myself being “realer” already.
    .-= Leslie @´s last blog ..Very Important Things – Watch and Do Now! =-.

  28. Katie,

    I would just like to tell you that your blog is wonderful. It is my favorite ‘nourishing food’ blog. The way you write makes me feel like you are right there in the kitchen with me, helping me figure out just how to tackle all of these changes! I have 7 mo. old twins in cloth diapers who nurse constantly and am still able to make time to soak my beans/grains, make my own bread, etc. (Homemade yogurt & wild sourdough are next!) I just want to let anyone who is overwhelmed know that they can do it!

    1. Kate,
      You are my new hero! 7mo twins in cloth diapers?? That alone is amazing, and you can spend time in the kitchen, too. Wow. My dear friend has 1yo twins, and she still seems to be juggling so very much. Of course, she also has a 5yo and 3yo, so the household is pretty busy. I am very impressed with you commitment!

      Don’t tell anyone, but my dirty little secret is that I never used cloth diapers! Yikes!

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments – I’m happy to be invited into your kitchen (I’ll watch the twins for you next time, and you cook dinner. We’ll make the men do the dishes, right?) 😉 Katie

  29. Beth Farnsworth

    Have any of you seen “food, inc”? We used our free $4 amazon movie credit for it…so informative. that’s what actually kicked off our healthier eating move!
    .-= Beth Farnsworth´s last blog ..Confessions of the “Good Deal” =-.

    1. Beth,
      I hear so much about it…but so haven’t found the time. I would love to see it! Glad to hear another good recommendation, and welcome to KS!
      🙂 Katie

  30. Pingback: Eating Healthier « Proverbs 31 Gal

  31. Jamie/penguinsandladybugs

    Your site is great (I’m fairly new to reading it)….and this post was MOST helpful! I enjoy reading more! Thanks for giving us baby steps ideas along the way!!

  32. Musings of a Housewife

    This is such an important topic to discuss, as I think often our posts about all we are doing sounds overwhelming.

    I always say to start with what you eat the most of, change that, and then move on down the list.

    We started out by switching our milk to grass-fed organic, and eventually to raw.

    I was already buying good bread, but I eventually started making my own (but that was NOT one of my first changes) but we do eat a lot of sandwiches so buying good bread (without HFCS and trans fats) was important to me.

    I found a source for pastured eggs and chickens and started buying that instead of industrial eggs and chicken at the store. I started making chicken stock and storing it.

    We bought a half a cow, grass-fed, locally raised, and stocked our freezer.

    Beyond that, I try not to make things with cream of fill-in-the-blank soups. (I used to use them a lot.) I try to buy either local or organic veggies (it’s hard to find veggies that are both).

    I use sucanat and honey in baking and try not to buy processed snacks.

    It really is a journey, taking it one step at a time is KEY.
    .-= Musings of a Housewife´s last blog ..Black Fashion Friday =-.

  33. the second letter you received raises some great questions yet to me the answers aren’t as simple as I wish they were!

    the sad fact is people do get “used to” the taste of “garbage” food, ie. highly processed food that isnt made with real food ingredientsand is instead made with flavor enhancers (msg and worse), trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and food colorants.

    i think a lot of moms are scared their children will stop eating if they stopped offering the usual foods they are used to. for a while, like a day or two, a child may not eat much, or anything, if all of a sudden put on a healthier diet.

    but if you child is not on the autism spectrum or doesn’t have other neuro/psycho/social issuesor other special needs, chances are they will never starve themselves to the point of any health danger.

    kids have a natural, perfect desire to survive and thrive!

    try to offer fresh fruits (most kids seem tolike fruit), vegetables, whole-milk dairy products, meats and maybe some 100% whole grain foods and they will soon eat it, so long as nothing crappy is offered. meaning NO soda or sugary drinks, not even juice (at least not every day), as its all empty calories that fill them up so they arent hungry for actual food.

    start simple and make a “normal” meal, like hamburgers and home fries using grass fed ground beef, 100% whole grain buns, potatoes fried in coconut oil or tallow or lard and seasoned with sea salt,oregano and paprika. steam broccoli lightly and cover in melted butter and some freshly grated parmisean cheese. let them have a dollop of ketchup (look for one made with no hfcs like whole foods brand) and feel good about feeding your family good, simple food.
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Eliza Jane is One Year Old! =-.

    1. Emily,
      Awesome addition to the tip list. Our family’s favorite summer meal was pretty much what you described – it is made BETTER than standard with all the good ingredients!
      Thank you so much,

  34. What a great post. One thing I think about is how this isn’t a ladder straight up, it’s a spiral and a roller coaster. I was doing great for a while – organic meat and veg, no eating out, hardly any sweets, non toxic cleaners – and then life got in the way. I’m crawling my way back out, baby step at a time. This week’s habit – flossing! Next week’s – organic produce!

    Thanks for a great post.
    .-= Alyss´s last blog ..What to Do with Green Tomatoes? =-.

  35. Excellent post, Katie! I have been working on changing things over for over 10 years (omitting bad oils, HFCS, etc. and grinding my own wheat) but only came across “Nourishing Traditions” 2 years ago. I felt completely overwhelmed – again! I had to read the book 2 or 3 times in small sections to just get a grasp on it and begin to take those baby steps you mentioned. Finding blogs at the beginning of this year and gleaning all the wonderful information from them has been an absolute livesaver for me. I am sure I would have abandoned the whole process if I hadn’t had this “online support system” Thanks so much to you and the other real food bloggers who break it down for us so well!
    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    1. Elaine,
      I don’t grind my own wheat yet, but I’m thinking a grain grinder is on my Christmas wish list. Next Monday’s mission is to soak your oatmeal, which I think is a great baby step (b/c it’s ultimately so easy) toward the whole grains issue, which I haven’t really touched here at Kitchen Stewardship. Thanks for the uplifting note!
      🙂 Katie

      1. Lenetta @ Nettacow

        Katie, I’m looking forward to the post on soaking oatmeal. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while . . . but I guess I need to see it in a few places before I get the nerve. :>)
        .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Link Roundup, Sew, Mama, Sew Scrap Buster Edition =-.

  36. I’ve been working on my family’s diet overhaul for just over a year now since my daughter’s cancer diagnosis. Before that time, I would have said that our family ate healthier than most. But after that diagnosis, I really put a lot of effort into it. I would tell someone new to this to #1: absolutely get rid of the HFCS and the veggie oils (except Olive oil) . If they do nothing but this, or if they spend months focusing on this alone, then their family’s diet will automatically be better.

    1. Amy,
      What a motivation to work on your family’s diet…I’m so thankful you shared this with us. May I ask how your daughter is doing? I can’t imagine working on all this in the midst of a health crisis, but then again, there’s no more important time to do the overhaul. Good for you for taking a look at dietary health as one source of healing for something as monumental as cancer. I’m sure you know more about treating disease via nutrition than I do. One thought popped into my head, and I remembered this fact b/c I read it when I was sharing a meal with a friend with cancer: Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions says not to use dishwasher detergent when caring for someone with cancer – to handwash and rinse twice instead. I’m guessing you could also use a natural DW detergent, but I’m not sure. May God bless your family with great inner peace and a focus on the joy of Heaven, as well as healing here on earth.
      In Him,

  37. Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    I very clearly remember the feeling of being overwhelmed with all the new info I learned about eating healthier. It seemed that more was coming at me by the hour. This is bad, this is good, that will kill you, don’t buy those!

    I wrote a similar post to help my readers who are where I was not so long ago:

    Thanks for joining in on Real Food Wednesday, Katie. 🙂
    .-= Kelly the Kitchen Kop´s last blog ..Real Food Wednesday 11/25/09 =-.

    1. Kelly,

      Thanks for providing that link – I had thought at one point of including it in my post, but when I was finishing it up I completely forgot. Baby steps are key! Have a great Thanksgiving…Katie

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