Healthy eating became a priority for me after the birth of Granola Baby #1. As a growing girl, I watched my own mother’s health deteriorate before me, and it was one of the biggest trials of my life. Spending my time after school at the hospital as a teenager wasn’t ideal, and when my mom had the first of what would become a series of massive strokes, I realized that our relationship had shifted as I became her caretaker. That was a difficult shift in roles to deal with at such a young age, and when I had my first child, I resolved to do everything in my power to keep myself from having the health issues that my mom struggled with. I want to stress that I love my mom deeply, and that she is the most gentle, amazing mom. I know that I was sent to be her daughter for a reason. She has taught me priceless lessons and shaped me into the woman I am today. Her strength and resilience in the face of deep sorrow and difficulty are an incredible example to me. She has been through so much and has held on for dear life. I do not discount that in any way. What I want to do, for the sake of my girls, is to live healthier so that I can be an active player in every field trip, back to school night, ballet recital, sport game, graduation, and wedding. I have become passionate about my health because I am passionate about my girls.
Granola Guy also has some health issues that have been resolved by adjusting his diet. He has arterial fibrillation, and it was recommended at 24 years old that he have a pacemaker. 3 years later, he has no more symptoms, and controls the issue with nutrition, supplements, and holistic medicine.
Now for the fun part: what we eat. We began our journey into nutrition 100% plant-based (vegan). That meant no meat, dairy, eggs, or other animal products. We also avoided processed food, refined oils, and refined sugars. If you have interest in the plant-based lifestyle, I would encourage you to read “The China Study”, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. Another, great book on the subject is “Eat To Live”, by Joel Fuhrman, MD. Some great movies to start you off would be “Forks Over Knives”, “Food Matters”, and “Hungry For Change”. In 2013, Granola Baby #1 was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and our world was rocked. We had to cut out all gluten, and I tried to continue our strict plant-based diet as well, but it became extremely stressful for our family to adhere to so many dietary rules, especially as my kids started to get older and go for play dates and started preschool. We decided to become more flexible, and a weight lifted off my shoulders. Granola Baby #1’s reaction to gluten is scary and makes her violently ill, so we made her health and safety a priority, with our dietary needs and restrictions first, and our preferences and choices second. It made things a lot easier. At home, we eat a plant-based vegan diet 80-90% of the time. We occasionally eat eggs at home, and when we are at a family holiday, celebration, or gathering, we choose local, fresh fish caught by a friend to appease the crankiest of relatives. We buy organic when it is available, and shop at local farmer’s markets once or twice a week. Many people have asked me how we can afford to eat the way we do. First, we make sacrifices. David Wolfe (a world expert on nutrition and superfoods) said it best: “We as a culture have our values inverted. We’d rather spend money on rent rather than the best food ever. We’d rather spend money on a car or house, when we could be feeding our children the best superfoods ever – because we don’t know.” Well, I know, so I have no excuse. I want my kids to know, too! I put my family’s health before anything else. We share one car, live in a tiny house, and our kids wear a lot of hand me downs, but we eat like kings. With all of this, we stick to a very strict budget and make this lifestyle work on about $100 a week for our family of 4. Meal planning is a huge factor. Every week, I plan all of our meals, and then create a shopping list. Then I head out to find the best deals. I always check the dollar store first. They usually have organic name brand canned goods for 99 cents. That saves me an average of 30 cents per can, and I always stock up when they are available, because canned veggies and beans make great food storage. Next I go to the Farmer’s Market, because they have the cheapest and best quality local, organic food. Some health food stores are too expensive for a family on a budget to shop at. Ahem….Jimbos and Whole Foods, I’m looking at you. Granola Guy jokingly calls Whole Foods “Whole Wallet”. I could spend all day in that store- there are so many options and shiny, healthy things! But let’s be honest, they are overpriced beyond reason. No wonder people think organic food is a ripoff! For example, a small head of organic butter lettuce is about $5 at my local overpriced health food store. That same organic butter lettuce is only $2.50 at the farmers market and TWICE the size, so I get two salads out of it instead of one. It hasn’t been shipped in from another country, either. It came from a farm 10 minutes down the freeway. The best part of this is that I get to put the money right into the farmer’s hand, without having to pay a middle-man or taxes. Our favorite lettuce farmer knows my kid’s names and we always get the best picks. After the Farmer’s Market, I hit Trader Joe’s. Organic fare is pretty affordable there, especially if you are buying bulk items and ingredients (like sugar, nuts, and Gluten Free Oats). Processed and prepared snacks and meals are more expensive there, so I try to steer clear of them and make my own. If there is something special I want that I haven’t found yet, I head to Sprouts, because they carry specialty items I buy occasionally like nutritional yeast and coconut flour. Once a month I do a huge Costco haul. They have begun to carry a lot of our favorite stuff (hello, coconut oil!) and are a great resource for bulk organic health foods.
I have been working on a post that details our usual kitchen contents and where we buy them to get the best deals on healthy food. I also want to share our weekly meal plans, emergency food storage, 72 hour kits, and the supplements and holistic medicines we use. So tell me, what would you like to see first? Am I missing anything that you would like to learn more about? I am excited to share more, and hope you stick around to see what I have in store. Check out the “About Granola Girl” section up top before you go!