FEAST FOR FREEDOM
Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Gluten Free

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Categories: Diet Changes    

Most people know there's room for improvement in their diet. For some people they really don't want to make huge changes, they just want to tweak it.

If that's where you are, today we'll share some ideas that are easy to put in place and won't be a shocking change.

Bottle of olive oil with tomatoes on a vine
Image by: Conger Design

Finding ways to cook your food more from scratch is a great way to make improvements without major changes in what ends up on your plate. Below you'll find several ideas, and links to some related recipes.

Salad Dressing and Savory Sauces:

Salad dressings are often quite expensive, and loaded with low quality ingredients and a lot of unnatural food additives. When you make your own you save the cost of buying it, and you can spend the money on the best quality ingredients and it can turn out less expensive.

A variety of Homemade Salad Dressings

Making homemade sauces for your main meals, such as meatballs or spaghetti sauce are a good way to make delicious meals with no junk in them.

Make your own Creamy Mushroom Meatballs

Soup and Broth:

Homemade broth and soup are another way to really improve the quality of your food, and you can make soups that are similar to what you're used to and like. Soup stock / broth is also a common ingredient in many homemade sauces, and when you make it yourself and freeze it, you'll have it on hand for when you need it.

You can often buy beef bones for very cheap and they make great soup / stock. This makes soup that will contain natural gelatin / collagen, which is a trendy health food at the moment. Making your own soup is way cheaper than buying expensive gelatin / collagen supplements - and tastes way better. In the old days, people used to eat soup every day, either as a hearty soup for lunch, or as an appetizer with their dinner. A little bit of natural gelatin / collagen every day.

A variety of homemade Soup Stock and Soups

Spices:

Making your own spice mixes and blends is another way to reduce the number of food additives. It's also a lot cheaper to buy single spices even if you have to buy several and make your own blends. You can also alter the amount you make of a particular blend, so if you don't use it much it won't go to waste.

A variety of homemade Seasoning Mixes

Buy organic versions of single spices. They will have less additives. Also be sure to read the label on the spices you buy, you want them to be ONLY the spice you buy and nothing else. Watch out for the word "spice" in the ingredient list, it's a legal way for manufacturers to add a variety of additives, including MSG.

Buy some fresh organic herbs. The flavor is superior and makes your food taste great. It's usually more than you can use up before it spoils, so take some of it and dry it. That can be done either in the open air, or in a dehydrator. Store the dried herbs in an airtight container in the freezer, and use it just like you would any dried herb.

Veggies:

Don't buy precut fresh veggies. Grocery stores charge a lot more for chopping things up. Chopped veggies very quickly lose their freshness and get soggy when not used quickly.

Instead of buying canned tomatoes, use fresh ones. It's hard to find organic tomatoes with no additives (salt is ok), and using fresh will reduce the additives. Also note you should only buy organic tomatoes. There is a red food dye that is actually added when the tomatoes are still in the field (mixed in with other field chemicals). Red dye is one of the worst food additives (banned in many countries but not in all).

A good trick with tomatoes is to wash them, dry them, leave them whole, and freeze them on a cookie sheet. When frozen, put them into a bag. When you take them out of the freezer, and let them thaw out, the peels will just slide right off them. You can then very easily cut them up, and they are almost like canned tomatoes. Cut them into 1 or 2 pieces and the juice comes out really easily, just like canned tomatoes.

Cheese:

Don't buy pregrated cheese. If you've ever grated your own cheese and didn't use it all and then put it in the fridge for another day, you'll notice that it clumped back together. Store bought grated cheese doesn't do that because they add food additives to prevent it clumping. This is really an unnecessary additive, and can actually prevent the cheese from melting properly. Grate your own cheese when you need it. You'll save money and have a less processed end product.

Chicken:

Buy whole chickens instead of cut up pieces. You'll save money and get more variety. If there is part of the chicken you don't really like, use it for making soup or stock.

Fish:

Buy only wild caught fish or seafood. They will have eaten their natural diet. Farmed fish are fed a lot of really cheap, poor quality food. They are grown to get as big as possible in the shortest amount of time. If you have access to fish from an actual fisherman, then that's a great place to get good fish. It's getting a bit harder to find wild fish, but when you find it, buy lots and keep it in the freezer.

Label Reading:

If you implement 2 or 3 things listed above, you'll save enough money to buy a couple things premade that are much more expensive. An example would be buying organic ketchup with no additives. Or some other organic, non additive item that you really like that's harder to make yourself. I used to buy really high quality mayo with good oils, then made all my own mayo based sauces with it myself.

Start getting used to reading the ingredients listed on packaged food. It's not vital to learn everything all at once, but work towards getting used to what's listed, and finding some brands that truly are just the food you expect it to be. If you haven't read many labels, you may be shocked at how many foods have a lot of chemical additives and some have almost nothing of what you expect them to have. Over time you'll get to know a handful of products that are less junky, that you can feel more comfortable eating, and even get inspired to make some of your own things if you can't find anything you think is good.

In Conclusion:

There's lots of ways to make changes that won't be a major change in your meals. With some planning and practice you'll be baking and cooking in a more wholesome way and your family will enjoy it, and learn some great new habits right along with you.

If you want some inspiration for more made from scratch meals, check out our Recipes.

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