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Monday, March 22, 2010

Eat this, not that

There is a series of books with the title "Eat this, not that."  This is my real food version of eat this, not that. Some are really simple changes- just throwing something different in your cart at the store, and some take a little more work.

Sea salt, not iodized salt
Iodized salt is washed, stripped of minerals and bleached. Then, to restore some of what was lost in that process, potassium iodide is added back in. Sea salt has trace minerals, including naturally occuring iodine that is more readily absorbed by the body. Unfortunately, not all products called "sea salt" are unrefined. Look for salt that is a light grayish color that has not been bleached.

Plain yogurt, not commercially flavored yogurt
I'm not saying that you have to eat all your yogurt plain, but if you are adding in your own sweeteners and flavorings, you will add less sugar than a corporation would (unless, of course, you're my Dad and you add sugar to your Cap'n Crunch). You also get to control what kind of sweetener goes in, allowing you to use maple syrup instead of high fructose corn syrup or other highly processed sugars.

Maple Syrup or fruit syrup, not maple flavored pancake syrup
Real maple syrup is a naturally occuring product that comes from a tap directly in the maple tree. Since it can be pricey, we alternate between maple syrup and fruit syrups. But we have completely eliminated the fake stuff from our diets. Usually the number one ingredient in the fake stuff is HFCS, followed by other processed foods, none of which have any redeeming nutritional value.

Homemade bread, not store bought bread
With store bought bread, there is usually a long list of unpronouncable ingredients. When you bake your own, you know exactly what goes in it. You can even do things to increase the nutrition and digestibility, like soaking or sprouting your grains. Besides all the health reasons, homemade bread tastes so good, and costs much less than store bought.

Daisy Sour Cream, not store brands
Daisy Sour cream has one ingredient: cultured cream. Other brands I've seen have around 10. Daisy sour cream is delicious, and I'm sure their short list of one ingredient has something to do with that.

Rumford baking powder, not Clabber Girl
Clabber Girl baking powder, along with most store brands, contains sodium aluminum sulfate. Aluminum is not something we need more of, so it's best to avoid a product that is adding extra.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, not pure olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is cold pressed, and keeps all the nutrients. "Pure" olive oil is what they make after
they make EVOO. They use heat to get the rest of the oil out of the olives. It destroys some nutrients and
also causes it to become rancid, so they sometimes have to add in some virgin olive oil just to make it
taste decent. EVOO is the way to go for health and for taste.

Homemade Broth, not Swanson's
Broth is the simplest thing to make: Add water, bones, and veggies to a pot. Simmer for hours. Drain out the veggies and bones. That's it! Unfortunately, most broth that you buy in the store contains autolyzed yeast extract or soy lecithin. You can find brands without added ingredients. If making broth seems too much of a chore and you are going to buy it, look for a brand that contains: chicken (or beef), vegetables and maybe some salt. That's really about all that should be in there.

Pastured Meat and Poultry, not Factory Farmed
This can be a hard one, because it costs more to get the good stuff. But it's better for the animals and better for us. They have happier, healthier living conditions, resulting in healthier meat on the animals. Their health depends on what they eat (like grass for cows), and their environment. Pasture raised animals don't need routine antibiotics and are generally allowed to grow without any added growth hormones.

This is far from a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will get you thinking. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Note: I got some feedback from my family that my giveaway post was confusing, so let me clarify: you don't have to do ALL those things to get an entry- each one is good for one entry, for a total of up to five. So click here and head on over to enter!


  1. those are great tips. i like when you break it down like this. I feel like i can at least pick one or two things, (k lets be real, probably 1 thing) to start with...and feel like i'm on my way. i had no idea about the salt and baking powder. We do use evoo for cooking alllll of the time, never knew the difference though! there is is this amazing shop in down town temecula where they have an olive oil tasting bar. they let you sample all sorts of olive oils and even mixed ones. then of course you can chose to buy a bottle or two of your favorite. YUM!

  2. Another common item I've replaced lately is peanut butter. Now I get pb that has the ingredients of peanuts and salt. Nothing else. You can even get unsalted if you wish.

  3. Another thing about broth I've noticed is they all have MSG. It's in broths and bullion cubes. I found one that doesn't have it in that I buy from the regular grocery store. The front of the carton says "SWANSON, natural goodness chicken broth, 100% fat free no MSG, 33% less sodium", It's the most expensive one though, imagine that! It's in a 32 oz carton not a can.

    Haven't made my own and don't think I ever will. So I will settle with this for now. I can't bring myself to pay over $3 for a carton of the natural stuff from a health food store.

  4. oh, I also meant to tell you you won my bib giveaway, you can find my email on the side of my blog and let me know what you choose :)

  5. yuck, I just read a bit more about autolyzed yeast extract as apposed to MSG, don't want my family to eat that either...

  6. tamlynn, good thought about the peanut butter. We use Adams and it only has peanuts and salt. It's really good!
    edeenut, I know what you mean about paying more. I can't always bring myself to pay that much either! Sometimes cost is my motivating factor to make it myself. And I'm so excited I won the giveaway! I'll come over to choose my son's bib!

  7. I'm glad to know that about the Daisy. Nowadays I never really bother with sour cream since it has so much junk, but I never looked at their ingredient list. Though I did learn recently from leaving a small glass of raw milk out that making one's own sour cream may indeed be that easy. *laughs*

    Also want to second on the baking powder. When I started doing real/traditional food last year and needed to buy some, I did check the labels for alum. Lo and behold, the kind previously used in my house was rumford anyway!

  8. Eat butter, not margarine!
    Great list! This is how I need to see it, tell me what to replace what I am currently using with a better choice!

  9. syncreticmystic, glad to help bring back sour cream into your life!
    Christy, ditto to butter!!

  10. these are great. I do all of those, so I'm feeling pretty special ;-) I wanted to add that if cost is keeping you from eating pastured meat, try making friends with a hunter or a fisherman. We have a freezer full of elk that we got for the cost of processing. Many sportsmen like to kill or catch more than they can eat themselves so taking that meator fish is a win-win-win (hunter, you, wildlife).

  11. Costco's store brand of peanut butter is nothing but organic peanuts & salt...and it's just as cheap as the regular stuff. They also usually have almond butter for a really good price. Breakstone sour cream has the same blissfully short ingredient list that Daisy does. Now, when you want a quick French onion dip, take some sour cream, add garlic pepper, salt, & minced onion till you think it tastes right, & enjoy! Yes, it really IS that simple. And ALL the store bought dips have MSG--and I just could not bring myself to buy any of them to feed to my kids. So I experimented.

  12. Kris,
    Great idea. I actually do know someone who hunts... I may have to see if he can bring something back from his next trip.
    Heather, good to know about the sour cream, thanks.

  13. This is a great list! I do all of them as well except I don't make ALL of our bread, but some of it, and I often use "light" olive oil for baking when I don't feel like melting coconut oil. It's not much of a problem in the warmer months, though. I have considered stopping the light olive oil, so maybe this will give me incentive to do so!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog last week. I appreciate your comments!


  14. I like what Michael Pollan says on the subject: "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much." By "Eat Food", he means real food, not the food-like products that dominate most grocery stores.

    I'm outside of Melbourne, Australia on a trip right now and went to the local IGA grocery store last night to pick up a few things. I was annoyed/frustrated to find not a single peanut butter option that contained just peanuts and salt and all of their sliced deli meats had "bonus" ingredients, like soy protein. That's one of the nice things about going home to Seattle -- so may great markets and local whole food to chose from.

  15. okay, I bought some meat with bones! Going to make beef broth this week!

  16. Way to go Tamlynn! Make sure you save the fat off the top for cooking with later!
    I have tons of chicken bones to deal with; I'll probably be posting about that later this week.