Saturday, March 23, 2013

The New "Normal"

So, I know I was totally supposed to meet back with y'all on Monday to do menu planning but since I had so many extras last week AND I forgot to plan in corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty's day, I ended up with enough meals planned to take me through this week as well. I ended up substituting a ready made rotisserie chicken for the grilled chicken late last week and then turned the leftover chicken half into a very nice chicken and rice soup (I just threw the whole carcass into the crock pot with veggies and added a bag of wild rice at the end!).

I have a back load of new recipes to share and one food project I'm working out the recipe for (its going to be AWESOME when its perfect!). But I don't really feel like talking about those today. I have been stewing for the last few days about something I was told. I just haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

My youngest attends a preschool on the campus of the local elementary school. We do drop off and pick up in the front of the school and while we are waiting, there is often chitchat in the group of parents.  On Thursday, one of the moms was talking about her recent experiences in trying to get her son onto a gluten-free diet. One mom was sharing her story of complete failure and I wanted to offer some encouragement. I suggested a few of the real food blogs and resources I like online in the hopes that it might give her some meal planning ideas. She was not interested. Her reply was,"I just want to be able to feed him normal food, you know human food."

Since when did processed junk in a box become NORMAL HUMAN food? Yikes!

It seems to me, that this is the basic problem with our diet. Food from a box IS the new normal. Its what's expected. Its what the average person eats. Taking away someone's boxes is cause for panic! Now, I will admit, giving up the boxes is a challenge. It is difficult because it does take more time and effort to do it yourself. I really wanted to help this mom out but she really isn't ready. Here is what I wanted to share with her-

If you need a box or pre-prepared foods, there are some great (healthy, real food) options out there. These are my favorite packaged foods I buy:

1) Bagged salad-- Grill up some chicken or fish, whisk up a quick vinegarette and presto!
2) Rotisserie chicken-- watch out for seasonings & spices which may have additives and colors-- try to get a "naked" one if possible.
3) Instant oatmeal-- mix in a scoop of frozen fruit with the water before cooking it (stove top or microwave) to make your own flavored varieties. Bob's red mill makes a gluten free variety.
4) Bagged frozen rice-- comes in white or brown. 2 minutes in the microwave, not 20 minutes at the stove.
5) Organic jarred marinara-- cook up some pasta (whole wheat, gluten free or whatever floats your boat), toss with a jar of sauce, add a salad or some veggies and done!
6) Bagged frozen fruit-- grab some to add to cereal, oatmeal, stir into plain yogurt or mix into smoothies.
7) Snack mix-- we love getting dried fruits, nuts or a combo. Some stores have bulk bins where you can really go wild. Our current favorite actually comes from Sam's club -- cashews, raisins, dried pineapple and coconut.
8) Peanut butter-- what doesn't taste better with peanut butter? Opt for no sugar added or peanut only varieties. We're liking Whole Foods 365 unsweetened organic no stir right now.
9) Precut/prewashed bagged veggies-- broccoli is a favorite (raw for a quick snack with dip or steamed in the microwave for a fast side dish) but we've also recently enjoyed the precut chard and kale. And I threw a whole bag of peeled baby carrots into the crockpot with my corned beef. So easy!
10) Pre-mashed (sweet) potatoes: For a ready to go side, these are awesome. We've been getting this from Trader Joe's. It is a bag of frozen mashed sweet potato "discs". Dole out how much you need, microwave and season to personal taste! No added ingredients, just mashed sweet potatoes!

Anyways, thanks for listening. I'm just frustrated that I actually have information that could possibly help another person and I didn't get to share.

I'd love to hear about your favorite box substitutes. What ready to go items do you like from the store? Comment below and let us know!

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