From our list yesterday of the 10 things we have been working on changing this is how we did it.
A few years ago I stared buying things in bulk from a Mennonite bulk food store. Here is what we buy in 25 or 50 pound bags and then store them in 5 gallon buckets with lids in the basement and gallon glass jar containers in my pantry upstairs.
- white whole wheat flour
- raw sugar
- brown rice
- popcorn seeds
We used to do our baking with white flour. We then switched to whole wheat flour. That was a hard one for my husband to enjoy because he did not like the heaviness of the bread or the bad taste of cookies. I had a few recipes that I made that were okay but definitely not LOVED by my family. I was so thankful when I was introduced to white whole wheat flour. Basically it tastes very similar to the white flour but has all the whole wheat properties. I would recommend buying this kind as it is just as good as whole wheat but not as heavy as a bread.
Raw sugar was an easy one to switch over to from white sugar as the taste is exactly the same. The only difference that I noticed is that when I made Italian dressing, I would have to let the sugar crystals sit for a few minutes and dissolve as they are bigger and take longer than white, not a problem just something to be aware of.
I definitely do not use as much sugar as I used to, we try and use honey to sweeten things as we know it is better than the sugar. I tried Sucanat sugar which is a cane sugar an even better choice than the raw sugar, but I was just not into the taste. It was dryer, maybe in time if I learned some new recipes but for now I don’t buy it.
Eating oatmeal was an adjustment for my family. For a long time I just used it in energy bites, granola bars, and even no bake cookies!! But my family and myself has learned to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with some homemade strawberry jam or apple butter on top.
Brown rice was another easy one to switch over to. We have an easy way of making it. We put in 4 cups of brown rice into a large pot then pour in 8 cups of water. I put the lid on it and turn the burner on high and let it come to a boil. Once it is boiling hard, I turn it down to simmer a #1 on my range. I then let it sit and absorb all of the water, when I can look into the pot and see it absorbed I shut it off. Usually there is a little bit of water still in the bottom of the pot, I then just leave the lid on and let it continue to absorb the water. I NEVER stir the rice except for when I first put it in with the water. I have heard that it makes the rice sticky to stir it during cooking times. This makes it perfect every time.
Popcorn seeds, we have been slowly using this up more. We will make air popped popcorn and spray it with butter and then add some sea salt or ranch powder mix. We did it A LOT through the winter months and then since it has been warmer,I have gotten lapsed and made more garbage bag snack mix and popsicles for our snacks. But I REFUSE to make another bag of snack mix and popsicle season is coming to an end. I am hoping to be back on popcorn soon. It is the best food! You can eat a whole bowl and it is barely any fat or calories.
Another area was switching from Iodized table salt to sea salt. This is one of those “health” areas that are controversial as to if it is “really” better for you. From what I have read, sea salt comes from the ocean. When it evaporates it leaves behind the salt. This salt contains naturally occurring minerals and involves a minimal amount of processing before it hits the shelf.
Iodized table salt is found in underground mines. It goes through a refining process that is designed to remove virtually all trace minerals. An additive is then placed in the salt to prevent clumping. Iodized salt gets it name from common practice of adding iodine to the salt.
Health experts will argue if one is better than the other and who knows I am not a chemist but if you look at the practices and how they get to your table…sea salt to me sounds like the most minimal amount of processing before eating. So that is what we use.
Oils and butters
I used to buy the margarine sticks and “tub butters” when we were first married. I didn’t like the real butter sticks because it was so hard. I preferred the spreadable form of butter on my bread. I would also buy canola oil –because it was the “better” vegetable oil. Then I started reading about the processes that are done to make the oils and realized I need to stop.
Unlike butter or coconut oil, margarine and vegetable oils can’t be extracted just by pressing or separating naturally. They must be chemically removed, deodorized, and altered. Oils are some of the MOST chemically altered foods in our diets, yet packaging promotes them as “healthy.” There is a whole long list and process that goes along with making margarine and vegetable oils and if you really want to learn how they do it you can google it. It would be a whole post by itself. I am doing the short version—-margarine and vegetable oils—-bad for you!!!
I admit the last few months, I still bought margarine sticks for our cookie baking, but no more! I am just using up what I have in my freezer and then I am done. I buy salted butter to spread on our bread—as it is easier and then unsalted works well for baking. I despised paying for the butter as it is significantly higher in price than margarine, but I realize that with our whole lifestyle change I don’t make cookies as often as we did before so the cost works out to be the same.
I buy our coconut oil in gallon size jars. In the summer it is easier to work with as it melts, due to the heat, but in the winter it is usually pretty solid. If I am going to use it for baking, I just have to heat it up in a saucepan on the stove. Something to get used to. Was always easier to just pour my bottle of canola in, but I would rather take the few extra minutes to melt it, knowing I am doing better for my family.
We also keep olive oil on hand in gallon containers. This is great for making salad dressings or if I want to saute something.