Last week, our panelist shared how they became interested in healthy and nourishing food. Many of you also shared your inspiring stories as well in the comment section. Thank you all so much! It was so interesting and helpful to hear the background stories of so many of you.
Now we come to the next question. “How did you make the transition to eating nourishing food? What challenges did you face, and how did you succeed?”
I hope that their stories encourage you that change can happen and it is possible. Once again, I would love to have you all join in on answering this question as well!
Nourishing Food Panel
We will start with Stephanie from Keeper of the Home
Slowly! Though I was eager to make the transition, I realized that realistically, it couldn’t happen all at once. There were too many changes to make, budget constraints to consider, learning curves to maneuver and new skills to develop. It was just too much, and so I chose a few things and started there.
The first area that we really committed to making a change in was switching over to entirely grass-fed meats, poultry and eggs. This was a tough one, as we were on a very tight budget at the time. What it meant was that we ate a bit less animal protein, but of a much higher quality, and supplemented it with lots of good quality plant proteins (beans, legumes, seeds, whole grains, etc.). The next area that I really wanted to make a change in was our dairy. Unfortunately for us, raw, grass-fed milk was simply not an available option for us. So, we opted out of drinking and using milk. Instead, we stuck with yogurt (organic when possible, and I eventually learned to make my own to reduce the cost). I watered the yogurt down when I needed to use it in a recipe in place of milk or buttermilk, and this worked just fine. We compromised by continuing to eat cheese, and eventually found a good source of raw, natural cheese that we now buy in bulk once a month.
The rest of it came more slowly. It took me over a year before I really began to experiment with soaking my grains. I hated to learn to bake all over again, and struggled to get consistent, pleasing results in the beginning (a baker I am not!). Blogs like this one have helped me to add a lot of new recipes to my repertoire, as has Sue Gregg’s Whole Grains book (the recipes in Nourishing Traditions just haven’t always worked for me). In the couple of years, I have added kombucha, kefir and many new fermented foods to our diet, as well as moving to 100% natural sweeteners and good fats and oils. I have also added many new things, such as the raw milk we eventually found locally, found some more affordable organic and grass-fed butters (and yes, there is a difference between the two), cod liver oil, organic veggies that I began growing in my own garden and a plethora of other nourishing foods.
We are not completely there yet, but over the past 4 years, we have moved forwards in leaps and bounds! It in incredible what can happen over time, if you persist in your efforts and continue to add new elements of nourishing foods little by little!
Amy (my “real life” friend)
My transition to eating nourishing food has been slow and steady! I have two small children and am pregnant with my third, so I have to pace myself and keep my priorities in line. While I do believe feeding my family nourishing food and improving my health are very important, it’s not worth becoming a stressed out mom over it, by trying to tackle too much. I attempt to make one small change at a time, then give myself time to incorporate it into my life.
I have also discovered that sometimes I procrastinate in trying something new, as I feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. However, once I actually do it, I realize the task was far easier than I imagined! I just recently tried sprouting, and it sure was easy! But- once again, each little thing added to daily life can add up, so take it slow, plan ahead and use routines to manage all the little tasks.
I also have been challenged by attempting to feed my husband healthy food and to please him at the same time! The two often conflict! There is an abundance of variety with nourishing food, so I make it my “job” and challenge to find those ways of healthy cooking that he will like. Then some things he just ends up tolerating, and I compromise on a few things as well. I must confess that I still buy him “bad treats” from time to time!
Kimberly from Hartke is Online
As part of our health “kick”, we also moved to buying organic produce at the grocery and low mercury fish through mail order. We began using vitamins and supplements, also. One day, my brother in-law, who is an environmentalist, told us that grass-fed meats were the best. We found a buffalo farm about an hour away, and began buying grass-fed buffalo meat. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the Weston A. Price Foundation, and got plugged into the local chapter, that I found out that there were sources of grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken and chicken eggs.
The Nourishing Traditions cookbook was intimidating at first, so many of the concepts were unfamiliar to me, such as culturing, fermenting, soaking, bone broth. I took some classes through the local chapter, did a lot of Internet research and also tackled one thing at a time. It took me about a year to gain confidence with these traditional preparation methods. I found the yahoo groups such as Discussing NT, and Raw Dairy very helpful.
And Sono, my sweet mother-in-law
As in all positive dietary changes that one hopes to make permanent, there are certain aspects that are small adjustments and others that require more effort. After being convinced of the basic premises in the Nourishing Traditions philosophy of food, I started implementing changes one at a time.
The Lord made it very easy for me because one of my dearest friends, who introduced me to NT, also began developing a food service business based on Weston-Price. The hardest obstacle, finding a source for raw milk, was overcome immediately.
Having a high quality raw milk source from grass-fed cows, I started to learn the ropes of skimming cream and culturing. The results were delicious, so it was easy to develop the rhythm of making our own kefir, cream cheese, crème fraiche, and butter right away.
Though for a few periods in our family life we had local, organic, free-range meat and poultry, these often disappeared as an older couple retired or a young man went off to college. My friend’s efforts, once again helped develop local, stable sources for beef and poultry. In fact, the beef farmer we are blessed to buy from has the 2nd highest CLA count in the nation.
Having been in an organic produce club for over 15 years at that time, I had an excellent source of produce including a weekly farmers’ market as well as connections with other people who cared about healthy foods. Eggs from a local farmer, whose chickens lived entirely naturally, were already part of our diet.
Making nutrient-dense, beef and chicken stock was a very important addition to our diet. Though I had made my own broth occasionally, I had never simmered it as long and never understood the incredible benefits and taste of this version. Once you make the NT stocks, you will be pleasantly hooked to one of the best foods in the world. Though this was an addition to the way I had been cooking (I had normally resorted to purchased, organic broths) and could seem like a lot of work (compared to opening a can or box), it has been easy to make stock preparation a normal part of my cooking rhythm.
I always order soup/stock bones with my beef orders. And I use my chickens in such a way to regularly have lots of necks, backs, feet, etc. for stock preparation. Besides making huge batches of beef & chicken stock, I also make an extra quart of chicken stock weekly whenever we roast chicken with the leftover carcass and meat juices. This quart has an incredibly rich and unique flavor and I can freeze it for later, use it in my cooking that week or feed it to an invalid.
With everything I need in stock (no pun intended) I normally have quarts and quarts of beef or chicken stock in my freezer! They are always ready to make soups, simmer stew meats, cook legumes in, and simply enjoy!
Some of the other new things for me that required transition were: soaking nuts, soaking grains, and fermenting vegetables & fruits. I usually tackled one new thing a week and then figured out if and how we could manage it.
We always ate nuts and seeds but had not soaked them in salt water to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors. Though this was different, it was a virtually painless new habit. For my first try, I followed Sally Fallon’s recipe for our favorite nut, the almond. Soak, drain, dry, and store. Not bad at all and everyone liked the results. I added a gallon jar of crispy nuts to our pantry shelves one at a time over a period of months.
Then I developed a rhythm for nuts as I had with stock. I purchase 10-25 pound bags of organic nuts and store them in my freezer. When the jar of crispy nuts gets low, I take 12-16 cups out and soak, drain, dry, and store them. In this way I always have the healthy nuts I need for snacking and recipes that call for them ready and waiting.
Soaking grains was painless for the cereals and rice. One of the more challenging adjustments was anything with flour in it. Pancakes and waffles soaked in my kefir were easy and popular. Coming up with recipes for cakes and pies was not. The soaked flours did not have the desired textures. The bulghur flour often altered the flavor of our recipes. Since we never ate many of these desserts traditionally, we simply changed our special occasion treats to homemade ice creams, eggnog, and kefir smoothies.
Having baked our own breads off and on for over 25 years, I was interested to try a sourdough bread. A friend had a good sourdough starter to share so I did not have to start from scratch. I found my sourdough bread to have a more consistent outcome than my yeast breads.
I discovered that I had actually eaten homemade fermented vegetables as a child. Our German neighbor had taught my mother how to make sauerkraut in the old-fashioned crock way and my Japanese mother had made kimchi for years, too.
Naturally those were the recipes I tried first, along with the dill pickles. I had a wonderful network of like-minded cooks so there were many helpful tips shared: use plenty of garlic in your dill pickles for better flavor, add a slice of horseradish to keep the cucumbers from breaking down & softening, caraway seeds in the kraut offset the variance in flavor from the whey, cut back on the pepper in the kimchi recipe, etc.
Two things that were challenging at the beginning were: new recipes and new flavors. I tried many of the Nourishing Traditions recipes and they often were not as well received as my own. I found I could stick to our old favorite recipes most of the times and just make the nourishing adjustments.
Some things, we simply dropped from our diet (as I mentioned earlier with the infrequently baked cakes and bar cookies). But there were other things that we ate often in the past that did not make the NT transition. E.g. my family always loved the homemade granola I made in the past. Though I tried to make soaked versions, it never had the same texture and they did not like any of them. So we have lived without it since then.
New flavors can also be hard on our families so I learned that I needed to make some changes gradually so they would not notice. An example of this was the use of coconut oil in sauteing vegetables. Several of my children could barely eat it because the flavor and smell was too different or strong for them. So I went back to olive oil with a smidgin of coconut oil and slowly over a few months changed the proportions until it was all coconut oil. Now the children are fine with it in anything
Now it’s your turn! What steps did you first take? How did you make the transition?