Healthy Eating Questions Answered

Here are some more of your questions answered!

From Kim:

1. Raw sugar. When can you substitute it for white and what is the ratio? 2. Whole Wheat flour. It is insanely dense. Since we aren't use to that if I cook with it I usually do half and half, wheat to white. Do you have suggestions for how to use 100% but still get the fluffiness you get with white? Or how to cut the density?

Okay - raw sugar. This is a great question! I never use white sugar, so for everything I make I use the raw/turbinado sugar. I use it just the same as I would white sugar - the ratio being 1:1. And if the recipe calls for brown sugar I just use all raw sugar. Brown sugar is white sugar doused in molasses. Raw sugar simply hasn't had all the molasses removed. In the case of a recipe calling for brown sugar - you're golden with the raw!

One of my tricks is to throw some of the sugar in my food processor and grind it up for a minute. The crystals are naturally large and will be more noticeable in your baking. A quick grind helps a lot!

I buy my sugar from the food co-op in a 50 lb bag! It's cheaper and very convenient. I just divide it up into gallon size ziploc bags, and I am good to go!

White and whole wheat flours... There is a flour you can buy called white whole wheat. It's a lighter whole wheat flour which may be a great choice for you. If you can't find that and still want to use 100% whole wheat flour in your baking, but don't like the density, choose a whole wheat flour that isn't stoneground. My preferred whole wheat is pastry flour. It's finely ground and very easy to work with. I find it leaves my breads, pancakes, waffles etc. with a great texture and isn't heavy. I also do half white, half wheat in some instances. I'm not a big fan of heavy baked goods, unless it's a hearty bread for soup. I do try and use mainly 100% whole wheat when baking, so the pastry flour works great for me.

This question is from Rebecca:

As you know, food is becoming more expensive and as a newly married couple the budget is tight. Do you have any suggestions for how to feed just two people on a tight budget and still be very healthy?

Megan had some awesome menu planning tips the other day. If you'd like to read about them visit Life Every Day.

As for eating healthy cheaply, the best thing I can suggest is to make as much as you possibly can yourself. I pretty much never buy anything in a box, anything pre-made, or pre-packaged (except Annie's!). I make my sauces from scratch, my marinades, every meal, and all our baked goods. I do buy bread, because right now it's just easier. It's my one concession.

Another option is to join a food co-op. You can buy large amounts of healthy foods at a huge discount. Many food co-ops also order organic produce and offer it at a much lower cost to you than the grocery store.
A CSA may be another option during the growing season. Since there are just the two of you, you may be able to freeze or can the extra veggies for use during the winter months. Utilize farmer's markets, local fruit and veggie stands. You could look for a local farmer who sells beef - you may be able to buy part of a cow, already packaged up, at a reduced price because you'd be buying it in bulk.
Lastly, watch those sale flyers from your local grocery stores. When there is a good sale on an item you use regularly - stock up.

I think Megan's post will be the most helpful for you though!

From Michelle:

1. Have you always eaten this way or was it a change made as you became an adult?

My mom radically changed the way she fed our family when I was 10 years old. We went from eating typically "American" to whole wheat, raw sugar, no MSG. It was shocking!
I ate healthy pretty much all through my years at home. After I left home I returned to the "normal" way of eating. Basically not giving any thought to what I was putting into my body. It wasn't good. After I moved back home, before I got married, I returned to healthy eating. I haven't looked back since. I even recruited Daniel - the one, who for breakfast, ate pop tarts and drank Dr. Pepper!

2. Where do you find your recipes?

I find a lot of my recipes in the Cooking Light magazine, tons are from my mom, More with Less is one of my favorite cookbooks, and I scour websites like Epicurious, Allrecipes, and other blogs, of course!

3. Breakfast for the kids is hard around here. I grew up a cold cereal girl (as did my husband) and I'm afraid my children would stage a coup if I took away the Honey Nut Cheerios. Any suggestions? What do y'all do?

My kids aren't big cereal eaters. I do lots of pancakes, waffles, muffins, yogurt and frozen fruit, eggs, toast, bagels... you get the idea!

Mother's brand of cereal has a great alternative to Honey Nut Cheerios, called Honey Bumpers. The problem is the cereal tends to be expensive. Especially if it's eaten every day and by multiple children. There are other brands out there - Cascadian Farms,
Back to Nature, Nature's Path, and Barbara's Bakery are just a few. (they are all so "naturey" aren't they!)

If your kids are really, really stuck on Honey Nut cheerios, what about mixing half and half with the plain cheerios? It would half the sugar, but they are still able to have the sweetness they love.

4. What type of bread do you use?

I was using Barowsky's - which is hands down, the BEST healthy bread out there. Unfortunately it isn't available here in New Mexico, so I buy Rudi's. It is an okay alternative. I have my eye on that Barowsky's site though- it looks like I will be able to buy bread online soon! Yeah!
I completely enjoy making my own bread, and did for years. But right now with my children's ages and needs, making bread has fallen by the wayside. I look forward to being able to bake bread for my family again on a regular basis.

A few of you asked for some bean dishes and meatless meals. I've got some really great ones, for instance, Mexican Rice and Beans- one of our favorite meals! I'll try and dig up some more, but in the meantime Brittany over at Four Little Men is going to be your girl. She has some really great info on beans, as well as recipes.

I will get back to more of your questions in the near future!
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