If you’re anything like me, you read Emily’s homemaking posts each week and are inspired — to eat healthier, plant a garden, cook more from scratch, or maybe just cook at all. I’ve been reading her posts for the last couple of years and have implemented a lot of her recipes into my family’s diet. Going from Mac & Cheese for dinner (or pizza delivery) to homemade quinoa patties isn’t a transition that happens overnight though, especially if you’ve never heard of quinoa before.
Dietary changes can take some time to put into practice, even for Emily. As she shared in her post about cutting back on refined sugar, it has been a “journey.” I thought I’d share the small, easy changes I’ve made over the last few years to help my family eat healthier and cut back on sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup). Here’s a few simple ways we’ve cut back on sugar without really noticing:
I feel good feeding my family things that have one ingredient. I made the switch to pure maple syrup a few years ago and will never go back. No added ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, just pure maple syrup. Not only is it great on pancakes, it can be used in baking too. If you’re ready to stock up, Costco has one of the best prices around.
I grew up eating Jif and Skippy and I think they are delicious. I used to walk past the glass jars of Adams peanut butter and think that only hippies bought it. But once I had kids to feed, I started thinking about what I was eating more. I now either have Adams peanut butter or Kirkland Signature Natural Peanut Butter in my cupboard (Fred Meyer’s Natural Peanut Butter is a great deal as well). Jif and Skippy will always taste good to me, but I like eating peanut butter that has no added sugar even more.
Cereals are full of empty calories and lots of sugar. They are a great habit to give up. The last time my kids had Fruit Loops I ended up dumping out the box and swearing that I would never buy them again. I don’t know what it is about Fruit Loops (sugar+food coloring), but it makes my kids crazy.
One of Emily’s recipes that has become a staple in our home is her Maple Cluster Granola. I could eat it for every meal. As she says in her post, “Good luck waiting until the granola cools to start sampling.” The recipe has simple, versatile ingredients, is easy to make, and tastes delicious.
My other favorite breakfast “cereal” is overnight oatmeal. Chia seeds are all the rage right now and having them with some oats and fruit for breakfast is a great way to start the day. As long as there is coffee too of course.
This one is really simple! Emily has talked about it in her posts and I’ve put it into practice when I’m baking. Whatever a recipe calls for – use less! Chances are you can cut back a little bit without even noticing a difference in the flavor. Or start cutting back a lot and tell your taste buds they are going to have to get used to it.
Have you looked at the sugar content in the Greek yogurt you have in your fridge? Yikes. I think I’d be better off eating a pop tart. It’s really unfortunate that sugar makes things taste so darn good.
Once you’ve bought that pure maple syrup I mentioned, or stocked up on raw honey at Costco, you can start buying plain yogurt and adding your own sweetener. Top it off with some homemade granola for a really delicious treat! It’s great to be in control of the ingredients. If you want to go all out, Emily can show you how to make your own homemade plain yogurt.
This is a tough one. Since I seem to be running late all the time, it’s nice to be able to toss a granola bar or fruit snack to my kids when we’re in the car. My number one strategy for not eating pre-packaged convenience food it to simply not buy it. What I’d like to do more of is make my own. Emily has some great snack food advice as well as some recipes.
I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but some time ago our country started putting corn in everything. Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch – it’s in a lot of what we eat. Take a look in your refrigerator and at the cans in your cupboards. It’s a hard thing to avoid.
Did you know that most condiments like salad dressing and barbecue sauce can easily be made at home? And when you make it yourself, you have control over what’s going into it. I haven’t followed through on this one yet, but I have strong intentions of making Emily’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. For a really simple dressing, try some Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette. Homemade jam is another great addition to your refrigerator. With Pomona’s Universal Pectin (Amazon), you can control the type and quantity of sweetener.
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