The previous postings in this series focused on kitchen organization. Part 1 focused on organizing and filling your pantry. Keep the ingredients on hand for your favorite meals. Be more organized and spend less time in the kitchen with the meal planning techniques found in Part 2. In this post, we will focus on Healthy Living by making Homemade food.
Homemade Food is the Best Food
To take control of your health, it is imperative to understand what is in your food. I know that there are varying opinions and “scientific evidence” about what ingredients are good for you, and which ones are not. As a rule, I try to avoid chemicals, gums and overly processed ingredients in my food. I try to keep it as simple as my grandparents did.
These are some common additives that I avoid in my diet:
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
This is a very highly processed ingredient. HFCS has very strong links to increased rates of Diabetes, Weight Gain and Cancer. HFCS was developed to increase usage of a surplus of corn. The manufacturing process includes the use of enzymes and mercuric acid to remove the glucose. Aside from sodas and sweets, HFCS is hidden in many food items, such as sausage and salami.
Sodium Nitrates & Nitrites
Sodium Nitrates and Nitrites are used as food preservatives, primarily in meats. They give ham, and similar foods, the pink color we associate with them. They are also known to prevent botulism. However, with today’s reliable refrigeration and freezing capabilities, I would question the need put them in almost every “processed” meat found. The evidence seems to be conflicting about the potential side effects of Nitrates and Nitrites. However, they have been linked to Digestive Issues, Cancer and even Type 1 Diabetes.
Gums are used to bind the ingredients of food together. They also act as thickening agents. Common gums found in foods include Carrageenan, Guar, and Xanthan. At first glance, gums should not be that detrimental to your health, as they are derived from natural foods. Most of the warnings say to only ingest in small quantities. The problem is, you can’t tell how much is in the food you’re eating. Plus, they are found in a wide variety of foods. Gums can be found in almost all processed dairy foods such as cream cheese, ice creams and yogurts. They are also found in baked goods, and sweets.
Carrageenan is derived from a red sea weed. It has been linked to ulcers and stomach cancers. Studies have shown that Carrageenan causes inflammation, and has even been linked to glucose intolerance.
Guar Gum comes from a bean plant. It works by absorbing water, which it does in your intestines. Although it has been claimed by some to be beneficial to your health, there are potentially serious side effects. Guar Gum has been linked to gastrointestinal distress and constipation. According to LiveStrong.com, it also interferes with the absorption of nutrients.
Xanthan Gum is manufactured by introducing fermented sugars to special bacteria. According to WebMD, it is safe to consume less than 15 g per day. Since the quantity isn’t listed on any package, you cannot know how much you are eating. Additionally, it can have laxative effects, and may interfere with blood sugar levels.
Cooking Without Chemical Additives
I avoid eating foods with additives from the list above. I accomplish this by making my own meats, baked goods and some dairy items. You might be thinking, I spend all my time in the kitchen. Well, I don’t. I use many of the meal planning techniques found in Part 2 of this series. I also make most of these foods in bulk, allowing me to prepare them on a monthly basis (or even less than that).
We regularly make Homemade:
I occasionally make Homemade:
How I do it
The key to running an Efficient Kitchen is organization. I know what we like to eat, and I keep the ingredients on hand. I also use many of the meal planning techniques previously discussed. Rather than making just what we need for a meal, or even a week, I make food in larger batches.
For example, I turned 17 pounds of meat into breakfast sausage, hot dogs and brats. While the actual process took two days, the active time spent was only about three hours. For three hours of my time, we have at least two months’ worth of food in the freezer. We have the convenience of having brats to grill, at a moments notice. Plus, these brats don’t have high fructose corn syrup, sodium nitrates or nitrites. Most of all, they taste amazing.
Papa C loves his ice cream. However, his belly does not love carrageenan and guar gum. So, we make our own ice cream. We make a nice, dark chocolate ice cream. It has less sugar, and no gums. Making ice cream takes about half an hour of active time per week. However, it is completely worth it.
Time well spent
How much time do you spend zoning out on social media, or in front of the TV? According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, we spend 2-4 hours per day watching TV or playing on the computer.
With proper planning, it would take 1-2 hours per week to prepare your own Homemade Healthy Foods. You are worth that small amount of time. In addition to healthier eating, time spent in the kitchen is a great way to involve the kids. Not only would you be spending quality family time together, you are also passing along valuable skills.
Where to start
If you’re like me, you will want to jump in with both feet and start with everything. Don’t! Make a plan. Decide where you what you would like to impact the most.
- If you would just like to be able to answer the questions “What’s for dinner?”, than start by organizing and stocking your pantry. Have the ingredients on hand to make your family’s favorite meals.
- Perhaps, you would like to make sure your family has a healthy and nutritious breakfast. Then start with making some Homemade Sausage and Eggs Cups.
- Maybe you would like to eat healthier at lunch, and reduce your spending. Do this by planning for leftovers, and cooking multipurpose meals.
Finally, if you need some assistance, you can sign up for the Mama Cranberry Efficient Kitchen, Healthy Living work book. This printable workbook contains a Pantry Organization Workbook, a Weekly Meal Planner, plus an organized Grocery List.