My Real Food Journey: The New Normal


In September, I wrote two posts about reading Tina Holden’s Real Food Journey and how it changed the way I eat and cook. I realized that I never really finished the series with how things panned out in my attempts to integrate these in our daily life. Did the changes last?

We have officially converted to buying only whole milk, which I am very happy about. It is conventional milk, though sometimes I grab a half gallon of organic or grass fed dairy just to mix it up a bit.

There were two major areas of the book that I didn’t address which I’m going to talk about now: grains and sweets.


Photo Credit: PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast via Compfight cc


OK, so I get this, I really do. However, I just don’t have the time or money to buy wheat kernels and grind my own flour. I have, however, significantly cut down on the amount of bread and other grains in my diet in an effort to control blood sugar. That said, I love bread. I’m a sucker for big crusty loaves of homemade bread. My favorite bread flour is the King Arthur unbleached bread flour. I do buy store bought bread for my kids, but we have been cutting back. I buy a whole wheat store brand bread that doesn’t have much added garbage in it, (no high fructose corn syrup, thanks). I’ve considered returning to making my own homemade bread, but it was a ton of work, and I never could make the whole wheat variety turn out.

But I do have a sour dough starter from a friend that I’ve been playing with, which is supposed to help make the sugars hit the body more evenly. I’ve been looking for ways to experiment with uses sour dough more, so I’m happy to add it to as many recipes as possible.

At first I thought I could never handle soaking my grains, but it’s actually become a regular part of my routine now. Not for everything, but I try to do it when I can.  I converted Trina’s soaked muffin recipe so that it meets my son’s dairy requirements. Because I’m making homemade yogurt regularly now, I always have plenty to use as an acidic medium to soak my whole grains. My kids seem to have gotten used to it and no longer complain about the taste, I’m not quite there yet. The soaked dinner rolls looked pretty and tasted fairly good. I also incorporated a sourdough starter the night before so they were very tangy. I think next time I’ll add it in the morning. We’ve also done soaked pancakes and baked oatmeal. Both were eaten without complaint, but not raved over. It’s still a process.

That being said, last night I made sour dough dinner rolls. They were puffy, crusty and amazing. I know they probably weren’t as healthy a choice as the aforementioned soaked whole wheat dinner rolls, but I think there is room for moderation.

We also tried the soaked cornbread, and it was OK, but I do miss my usual homemade corn bread, perhaps I need to use a little more money next time. Which leads me to my next topic.


Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Choosing Natural Sweets and Enjoying Them Wisely

This is tough for me. I love dessert. I’ve recently cut back to having dessert only on weekends. (If I really need something on a week night I have some fruits and nuts or chocolate yogurt). Sugar isn’t heavily used in our house, but it is used. But with my kids especially I try to opt for alternatives specifically honey. We have done the local and raw honey route, but it is rather pricey. So I’ll try it again occasionally but not to the exclusion of conventional honey.

We recently made our first batch of homemade ice cream sweetened with honey. It was great. We made it with fresh peaches too, and the honey and peaches complimented each other perfectly. I’m looking forward to trying maple syrup next.

I also believe strongly in moderation. There are things that I know I will eat that aren’t good for me. But I’ve also learned which things are worth it. I learned this well when I had gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy. I decided quickly which things mattered enough to waste my carb ration on. I once actually threw away a cookie after I had one bite and determined it wasn’t worth it. So I’m not about to give up sugar laden holiday treats, but I can try to limit them the rest of the time so that I can enjoy the indulgences when they happen.

My other small victories on this real food journey are buying my first batch of farm fresh eggs last weekend and trying to incorporate fruits and veggies into almost every meal, at least for my son. (My daughter is so picky that I’m happy if she eats the veggies I serve with dinner. Much slower baby steps for her.) I’m also returning to the pattern of making more things myself. We’ve cut back on buying store bought snacks and trying new ones, like Energy Balls and Chia bars. (Though we’re currently taking a hiatus since my food processor broke). My kids are enjoying these snacks and I like knowing exactly what’s in them.

As you approach your own healthy eating journey, remember that small steps do matter. Don’t try to change your kitchen or your life over night. Find small changes you can live with. Real Food Journey by Trina Holden can be a great resource to help you on your way.

My Real Food Journey, Guided by Trina Holden

Fats, Dairy and Other Changes: My Real Food Journey


Disclaimer: I received this book for free in order to review it. But my opinions are my own. However, this post may also contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support.


Fats, Dairy and Other Changes: My Real Food Journey


I’m working my way through Trina Holden’s book and making changes and adjustments to our lifestyle accordingly. I see all of this through the lens of a child with food allergies (dairy and peanuts) and my own pursuit of a diabetes friendly lifestyle to prevent my developing diabetes in the future. I’m not going to go through every chapter of the book, but I am going to hit my favorite parts and mention how it has changed my eating. (I say my because making this a family affair is still a process).


Photo Credit: JeepersMedia via Compfight cc

Getting Rid of Stuff You Can’t Pronounce.

OK, I’ve mostly done this. I guess I could substitute homemade cookies and granola bars for Kashi bars and organic animal cookies. I can work on that. I also know that the alternative milks we purchase probably have unhealthy ingredients in them. I regularly make homemade soy yogurt and my son drinks almond as well. Both are made with manufactured milk, but the yogurt is much cheaper than the store bought yogurt. Neither turned out the way I wanted so I’m going to keep doing my research and look for good solutions.

For me, getting rid of stuff I can’t pronounce means making almost everything from scratch, which is exhausting. This is something I used to do when my daughter was young, but with two little ones running around and starting homeschooling next year, I don’t know if we’d still eat if I had to make absolutely everything from scratch. But I am becoming more mindful of what we put into our bodies. My ideal is that everything we eat be as close to its natural form as possible. So fruits and veggies are better if locally grown (sometimes even backyard grown) and if not organic is preferable. But sometimes the organic cost is too much for our budget. The way my kids go through strawberries in the summer and eggs all year round we would spend our budget just on those two things. But I remind myself that a conventional strawberry is still better than potato chips and a soda.


Photo Credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML via Compfight cc

Having a Menu Plan That Works for You

Yeah! Menu plans are not new to me. I used to try and make a month’s worth at once, but that didn’t work. Lately I waffle between doing a week or a few days at a time. Usually I start with, what I can I make with what I have? Then what do we want to have next week, before I hit the grocery store, usually on a weekend. Grocery shopping has become a complicated affair around here. The store we buy most of our organic and specialty products from is a little further away so we only get there once a month. So there are certain items we need to buy there, or wait until next time. Then we hit the local Sam’s Club and discount grocery story Bottom Dollar almost every week. Sometimes just to pick up $.97 a lb peaches, and butter (they have the cheapest price in town) or Sam’s Club for Greek yogurt cups for my husband’s lunch.


Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan via Compfight cc

Embracing Good Fats

Ok, this is something that we’ve already started doing at our house. I love using butter and I would use it for everything except . . . my son has a dairy allergy. So I can bake with butter, since the heat helps break down the milk proteins but I can’t cook with it, yet. So my go to choice has always been olive oil. But now I’m wondering what I should do instead? When I emailed Trina she suggested I try refined coconut oil. I tried making eggs with extra virgin coconut oil once and it made me nauseous. I don’t mind baking with coconut oil, though I do notice a significant texture change and sometimes there is still the slightest flavor of coconut which is OK, but gets boring after a while.

I’ve always cooked with olive oil. No one in our family has ever had gall bladder problems that we know of, but I can see her point. I’m going to try refined coconut oil, but if it really doesn’t fly with my family, I’ll keep using olive oil, but I bake almost exclusively with butter. Sometimes compromises are necessary.  I have started using bacon grease for making our regular morning eggs and so far it’s very tasty.


Photo Credit: paul+photos=moody via Compfight cc

Best Dairy for Your Family

I’ll start right now by saying I don’t believe in raw milk. Sorry. Unless I milk the cow myself, and even then there is no guarantee the cow hasn’t been colonized with listeria or e-coli. But I also understand the theory behind why homogenization destroys some of the healthy parts of milk. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a compromise mentioned.  Low temp pasturized milk or milk that is pasturized but not homogenized. However, my husband and I disagree strongly about this. He believes in getting milk like God intended, in a paper carton or plastic jug from the grocery store. (I suspect he feels similarly about his meat arriving in plastic). I decided it wasn’t worth the marriage, so I have mostly let this go. Though I still feel curious about what non-homogenized milk is really like.

My son drinks protein enriched almond milk. I recognize that this is not a great choice. But I do still worry about getting him enough calcium and protein and this makes me feel a little better. I recently started making my own yogurt again and I’m experimenting with making soy yogurt with Silk. Yes, I know, soy is evil. But for me half the point of yogurt is as a healthy protein source, which it isn’t if you use anything but soy or regular milk. But at least Silk is non-GMO and organic. When I don’t have time to make yogurt, my kids and I eat Stonyfield Farm. I’m open to other possibilities however including making yogurt with homemade almond milk. It won’t have the same protein content, but at least I’ll know exactly what is in it.

I’m reminded again how different prices are in different areas of the country. Trina says she pays $5 a gallon for store bought organic milk. Ha! I pay more than $4 a gallon for conventional milk, try almost double for organic Typically, I buy a gallon of skim milk and a gallon of whole. But I’m transitioning to only whole. Mostly because I don’t drink much milk unless it’s with a baked good, which has also become rarer. We also use it to make homemade ice cream, which I love.  But for some new challenges, I have started making my own yogurt again and I’m willing to try kefir and even separate whey from my yogurt to make other yummy things. Again, sometimes compromise is necessary to satisfy both budget and relationships with those you love. It sounds good to me.

My Real Food Journey, Guided by Trina Holden


Disclaimer: I received this book for free in order to review it. But my opinions are my own. However, this post may also contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

My Real Food Journey, Guided by Trina Holden


Photo Credit: notarim via Compfight cc

My Food History

When my husband and I were first married, I was a full time student so our meals revolved mostly around things that were easy and affordable. We ate Pasta Roni with vegetables, and boxed cheesy potatoes and mac & cheese. We were smart enough to realize how important fruit and veggies were, so we ate lots of those too.

Over the next few year we made some adjustments to our diet. We added more whole grains, we used fewer boxed products. Then when I became a stay at home mom and keeper of the finances, I went on a quest to save us money by eliminating as many store bought products as possible. If it could be made from scratch, I tried it. Something stuck around, like homemade bread. Others were passing fads, like homemade croutons and crackers. (We eventually stopped buying both).

Things Get Stickier

Then our second child was born. Suddenly life became much more difficult. I stopped making homemade bread and started resorting to more convenience type foods, like boxed pancake mix and granola bars. When our son was underweight I spent all my time feeding him, nursing, pumping, making high fat solid foods (like avocado and sweet potato with olive oil). I needed to have healthy things like store bought yogurt and Kashi pizzas at the ready, because otherwise I didn’t eat. And if I didn’t eat, I didn’t make milk. Suffice to say if I didn’t eat, my son didn’t either. Finally last summer I started trying to find normal again. Continuing to eat healthfully (I thought) I put on 10 pounds after weaning. I have gained another five since then. I’ve lost a few here and there but always gained them back. I trained for a 5K, lost no weight and then injured myself. I currently workout 5 days a week minimum and for a long time I couldn’t lose weight or inches.

Searching For a New Path

I don’t eat many processed foods, but I figure that having a few around for weekend meals is better than fast food. I also need to find a way to have ready snacks that my kids will eat, that are healthy that don’t cause me to go crazy. My kids are hungry all the time, I’ve tried cutting out snacks and they will literally weep and hang on me until I give them something. They are very active kids and I think they just can’t eat enough at one meal to keep them going to the next one. But I also can’t be in the kitchen constantly, I’ll go crazy.

Plus, my son has food allergies and part of his desensitization protocol for dairy is certain baked dairy foods. I’ve tried making him muffins according to the requirements, but he won’t eat them. So I usually give him whole grain Goldfish crackers, which also satisfy the requirement. I’d use other options if I could think of any. Because of his food allergies, other easy real food snacks like cheese sticks (whether homemade or store bought) or apples and peanut butter (he also has a peanut butter allergy) aren’t an option.

I thought I’d found a way of eating that worked for us. But, I’m not able to maintain a healthy weight and I feel like my children don’t have very well balanced diets either. So I have to find something new that works for us.

Enter A New Voice

When I began reading Trina’s book I immediately sensed her gentle heart. Her desire is clearly to educate not convert. I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine this sweet woman condemning me occasionally getting Chick-Fila or giving my kids Kashi bars. The spirit of this whole book has felt like kind friend trying to help me along my food journey. We may not all make the journey in the same way or have the exact same destination in mind, but our goals are the same. Healthy family and healthy life.

Do I agree with everything Trina says in this book? No, and you probably don’t either. If you did you probably wouldn’t need to read it. But there is a great deal of logical good food wisdom in this book that almost anyone can benefit from.

So for the next couple of weeks I’ll be talking about Trina’s amazing book and how it’s helped me along my real food journey.

 Fats, Dairy and Other Changes: My Real Food Journey Part II


Disclaimer: I received this book for free in order to review it. But my opinions are my own. However, this post may also contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support.