The How’s and Why’s of What We Eat

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!

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11 thoughts on “The How’s and Why’s of What We Eat

  1. Love this! I’m really excited to hear even more details about where you buy specific foods as well as you weekly meal plan! You are so awesome. I can’t wait to read more, seriously! Love, love, love that you’re doing this. Did I use the word “love” enough?

  2. Kelly Jo, I am amazed at how knowledgable you’ve become. I work closely with David Getoff (www.naturopath4you.com) who’s on the board of The Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (www.ppnf.org) which is the top authority on nutrition. Having had a radio program on wellness, I’ve learned a lot. And, my son (Dr of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture & Herbology) and daughter (MS in nutrition) keep me on my toes. Your information is impeccable. Just a couple of things I’d like to share. I’m told that human bodies need meat (grass-fed only) and as raw as possible. Be careful about fish. Pacific fish is now radioactive (from the Fukujima nuclear plant leak in Japan), so only Atlantic fish: preferably wild Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies. Overall, you’re on target and doing a great thing with your blog. You’ll be helping a lot of young mothers. You Go Girl !! Cheryl Sherrell (p.s. Give your Mom and Dad a big hug for me! They’re the most dear people in the world).

    • Thank you, thank you Cheryl! I have been hearing more and more about the radioactivity in Pacific fish, and it is so sad. I will definitely have to do further research before we have some more fish (probably Thanksgiving)! I’m flattered you took the time to read and comment. So good to reconnect with you- I hope you are well!

  3. So excited to learn. 🙂 what I struggle with is planning and prepping meals for an entire week. I typically hit Trader Joes/MOMs (is that an east coast store?) on the weekend after running a bunch of errands, and end up grabbing just what I “think” I will need/want for the week and by Wednesday Im reaching for a basic salad and frozen entrees as Ive not planned and dont have enough ingredients/dont have enough time to prep to make what I want. For example, dinner – after work and the gym, its typically 7/8 pm and all I want to do is grab something quick and easy – Im hungry and tired so I fix something small for dinner and just want to relax. So weekend meal planning and prep are what Im looking forward to hearing your thoughts on as well as examples of your grocery prep lists and what meals they make. 🙂 xo

    • I hear you. I struggle with the “I don’t feel like cooking” stuff, too. I have a stash of canned low sodium, organic Amy’s soups for those days. I get them at Costco and we like to pour them over a sweet potato or baked potato. Or sometimes we have refried beans and some avocado smashed on a corn tortilla with the addicting “Organic No-Salt Seasoning” from Costco. It helps that I usually have a motley crew yelling “I’m hungry!” and I feel obligated to feed them something remotely healthy 🙂 I am going to try and post a meal plan every week!

  4. I’m curious to learn more from you because much of the research I’ve done and people I talk to are very well off financially. I haven’t been able to really lean on any one authority because I feel like I don’t really fit into their mold. We are a young growing family with limited income and that makes this a little harder. I have noticed that sacrifices have to be made and the more I cook from scratch the less money we spend on groceries. We also have a major sweet tooth so suggestions on what you guys do in that realm would be most helpful. It is hard to make adjustments when there aren’t immediate physical consequences. We have no major health issues and since we all wake up the same the next day it’s harder to see the day to day value of real nutrition, even though we all need it. Very excited to read subsequent posts!

    • Yeah, it seems like most people only eat healthy because they can afford to. I have to be careful and keep myself from getting caught up in a lot of health food gimmicks. I try to keep perspective by reminding myself that EVERY food in nature is a superfood, and is amazing for my body. Not just the $15 bag of maca powder at the store 🙂 My husband has a MAJOR sweet tooth, and I make lots of homemade granola, cookies, snack bars, etc to to fill the processed sugar void. I will plan on sharing some of my favorite recipes. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and also for commenting, as I know you are a busy mommy 🙂

  5. Thank you! This was SO helpful! Denis and I went to Trader Joe’s this past summer, and it was our first time, so we didn’t realize that if we would’ve just bought bulk items it would’ve been cheaper. After your info on farmers markets, I found out that there is one in Idaho Falls from April-October, so at least for the spring and summer we can get our produce from there! Still trying to figure it out for the Fall and Winter. I’ll keep looking. I found a “Wealth of Health Natural Market” in Idaho Falls, so maybe we’ll go check that out. Thank you so much!

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