Only a handful of months ago I was buying Blue Bonnet Light ALL the time. I used it for all my butter needs completely convinced that I was eating healthy because it was so low in calories. This was my go to butter when I was on Weight Watchers. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED Weight Watchers and lost a lot of weight on it, but in trying to keep my points down I tended to lean towards low fat, low calorie options that were, unknown to me, chalk full of extra chemicals, toxins, and just plain junk. Check out the difference in making one simple switch. I went from 14 ingredients to 2 and it tastes sooooo much better! And when used moderately it's really not a great difference in points either for those of you out there still doing WW.
2. Salad Dressing
Kraft was my best friend when it came to salad dressings. Especially fat free or low fat varieties. I have found salad dressing very easy to make and with the help of my Facebook friends, I had several recipes to try. This is my favorite one so far: Balsamic Vinaigrette. I plan to try making Ranch and French dressings soon. I'll report back!
3. Cooking Oil
This one was a no-brainer for me. I was a little nervous at first when I heard of using coconut oil to cook with. Would it taste like coconut? The verdict: Not at all. Now let me clarify one thing. I do not cook with VIRGIN coconut oil which is actually a much healthier option but DOES have a coconut-ish flavor. The brand I use is called Lou Ana and while it is more processed than virgin coconut oil, with only one ingredient I find it MUCH better than any alternative. I have used it to fry, saute, and bake with and so far it has worked everywhere I would have otherwise used Crisco or canola/vegetable oil.
4. Maple Syrup
I was shocked when I turned around that cheap pancake syrup bottle and looked at what was actually inside. What was so shocking is that "maple syrup" wasn't even listed in the ingredients! We now enjoy 100% maple syrup with our whole wheat pancakes in the mornings. So simple. All I needed to do was look at the label and make a wiser choice.
5. Kitchen Cleaners
Is there anything more dangerous in my kitchen than my cleaners? I mean what do they put in 409 anyway? I try not to think too hard about it but with a 2 and 3 year old I'm afraid I MUST think about it. At least a little. Of course I try to put them where they won't be played with and I don't imagine my kids drinking them but you just never know. Not only that but there are tons of toxins released into the air when I clean the counters, windows, floors, and attempt to "freshen" the air.
I'm sure we've all heard some rumor about microwave popcorn causing cancer before. Sometimes I feel like everything causes cancer so why should I even try. Ever feel that way? Well I don't know if microwave popcorn causes cancer but I DO know that there is more to it than just popcorn kernels and butter. Recently my husband and I purchased a 1970's air popcorn maker at the local thrift shop for 8 bucks! You can buy a brand new one from Walmart for $20-$30. It is well worth it. The kids LOVE to help make it and I know that the only thing in our lovely snack is popcorn kernels, a bit of butter, and a sprinkle of salt.
When I started examining what was in all the snacks I used to eat and feed my family I was disgusted by the "extras" that made up the ingredient list. So I set out to make my own snacks. You can check out my post, 4 Great Snacks for Clean Eating here. Now, I love to cook and bake but I know a lot of people don't or just don't have time to do it. One thing that would really help cut out those extra toxins is to snack on fruits and veggies. We love hummus at our house. It's easy to make and it's a great dip to give those veggies a kick. My kids love dipping stuff. You can also make a pretty simple yogurt dip for fruit. In fact, I'm seeing a "dip" post in the future! Another option is to buy organic snacks like Annie's Bunnies. I buy these at Sam's club for those times when I don't feel like baking something or I need it fast.
8. Cheese and Milk
Cheese and milk were some of the first things we switched out in our house. You can read about my switch to natural cheese here. Before I started really getting into nutrition I never bought organic milk. Why? Because it's so expensive! Or at least I thought it was. Then I found this great local company that delievers fresh milk to our doorstep. That's right, we have a milk man! The kids think it is the greatest thing that he visits our house once a week and leaves us milk, cheese, eggs, and butter while they are sleeping. But even if you do not have this kind of service near you, consider making the switch at your local grocery store. It is worth the money to not have the extra hormones and antibiotics. Especially if you go through milk as fast we do!
9. Organic Produce
I will admit that this one was a little difficult for me at first. I had a real problem justifying spending so much more money on "organic" verses regular. As I started reading more and more and understanding the kinds of chemicals and toxins that are sprayed on our produce I felt compelled to buy "the good stuff" no matter the cost. I look for sales and I shop at a place here in Denver called Sprouts. I'm really looking forward to the grow season so that I can grow our own vegetables and shop at farmers markets. This switch did not happen over night. Some organic produce is easier to find and cheaper to buy than others. So I started out small and even now, I am still making the switch on some stuff I buy. We tried an organic delivery service called Door To Door Organics for a week and really liked it. It was a bit out of my price range though so I shop sales and find it where I can. Bottom line is, I feel much better knowing that I am doing my best to keep those unwanted and unnecessary toxins out of our refrigerator. I've also found that our grocery budget has not been adversely effected since we no longer spend lots of money on processed foods. It seems to balance out.
Whenever possible I try to make our own bread. Slowly I have switched from buying breads to making our own healthier versions without the preservatives. It always weirded me out a little that my 45 calorie bread stayed untouched by mold for weeks. In a later post I will give some of my favorite bread recipes. So far I've made lots of bread in my bread machine but I've also been making hamburger buns, pitas, corn and flour tortillas, dinner rolls, and pizza crust. It takes extra work and planning but it cuts out a lot of processed junk and it saves money!
As I said earlier these changes did not happen over night but hopefully you have some ideas on how YOU can help cut out the toxins in your own kitchen. Thanks for reading! Have a blessed day.