When I first started wanting to move away from more processed foods, I did some research and realized that there are multiple ways to define the terms “whole foods” and “clean eating.” The most basic definition of whole foods is foods that are processed as little as possible and don’t contain any unnecessary additives (such as dyes, thickeners, etc.) In this vein, Skinnygirl defines whole foods as “unprocessed and unrefined food products or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, food dyes, artificial ingredients, fillers, etc. Examples of whole foods are whole grains, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, unprocessed meats, fish, unprocessed dairy, and eggs.” I also came across the term clean eating which can also be defined as eating whole foods or a particular way of dieting. Check out The Gracious Pantry for more info. on clean eating.
Defining eating whole foods or clean eating as eating minimally processed foods seemed logical to me. When it came to things that would only require one or two ingredients, like juices, choosing between products or making my own didn’t seem too hard, but I wondered what eating whole foods would mean for more complicated items, like chips, breads, etc. I need to preface this by stating that I don’t love cooking. I don’t loathe it, but I can think of a million things I would rather do than be cooking, and to be honest it doesn’t come easily for me. So, I was not about to turn into the merry homemaker who spends hours and hours in the kitchen so that her family can have fresh baked bread, hand-churned butter, etc. I do have an impatient toddler who gets annoyed if I’m away from her for more than one 25 min. (the exact amount of time of one of her TV shows). So I needed to set some parameters that were realistic.
Many of the health food blogs I have come across in researching how to switch to whole foods fall under one of two categories. The first is the somewhat extreme environmentalist who buys everything at Farmers’ Markets or gets them from his/her own farm and the other is the mom with school-aged kids who gets loads of baking done while the kids are away. I love the Farmers’ Market and our local Co-op, but they are somewhat inconvenient and pricey, and I have a clingy toddler so I don’t have lots of time to spend in the kitchen making from-scratch goodies. I go to the grocery store once a week, and if I get a chance once every other week (sometimes just once a month) I make it to the co-op or Farmers’ Market and the local meat market. So in this blog I plan to share recipes that I’ve adapted to be more whole food friendly, but I also plan to recommend healthier store-bought products that I come across.
Here are the parameters that I’ll be using to determine if a product or recipe is whole foods friendly:
- Contains no artificial colors or flavors
- Contains no artificial preservatives (just looking at a label I define these as hard to pronounce words that aren’t obviously recognizable)
- Contains no processed sugars or artificial sweetners (such as words ending in -ose)
- Does not use all-purpose processed white flour (in recipes I substitute King Arthur’s White Wheat for all-purpose flour)
- Contains no artificially processed oils (such as canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) (in recipes I use coconut oil, and in certain products I will accept sunflower oil)
- Contains healthy fats rather than artificial trans-fats (such as butter rather than margarine)