21 Steps to a Nourishing Diet (A New Series )

221 steps to a nourishing diet

It’s a beautiful (and cold) new year, and I find my mind brewing new ideas and goals about getting ourselves back on track with eating the best, healthiest diet we can. I know a lot of you are doing the same thing as well, with many questioning how they can eat a healthy diet while balancing the rest of life. Eating a healthy, nourishing diet is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make, and also one of the most failed resolutions.

But it doesn’t have to be, and I would love for my blog to help make a healthy diet a practical, doable goal for more of my readers. So, in light of that goal, I’ve decided to take the next two months to sharing tips and recipes for getting on track with a nourishing diet as part of this series. I’m excited this year to have my contributing writers also involved in the series, allowing you to get more than one perspective on this important topic!

I am really excited about this series as it allows us to focus on not just the basics, but also the practical recipes and thoughts that make our eating habits realistic and delicious. It’s going to be a good two months. This series, as we will go more into soon, is based on a traditional diet using traditional ingredients. Like my blog as a whole, it is inspired by Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions (affiliate links) and Dr. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. To get more information quickly, get them from the library or buy them! They are life-changing books, for sure.

Since I am still mapping out next month’s posts for this series, I’d love to hear any suggestions or questions you’d like answered! Let me know in the comments below.

Meanwhile, you may find the following past posts helpful: 

 

The art of eating simple food to save your sanity and your money

Keeping your food menu simple can save you time, money, and your sanity! General thoughts and recipes

Fall is approaching and I am finding myself planning for this year’s school year, getting our menu planning back on track, and even experiencing a sort of “spring cleaning” impulse related to wanting the house in order for the busy fall ahead.

Traditionally the big cleaning projects were done in the spring. One of the reasons for this was because, after a full winter of closed in houses with coal burning heat, the houses could be literally coated with a thin layer of soot. Spring is a great time for cleaning out the house.

But I also find that summer can lend to a bit of a disorderly house after hot weather, low motivation, and extra summer activities without the structure of the school year. I enjoy the more relaxed schedule of summer. But by the end of summer, I am ready for a little more structure again, and find myself desiring the organization I somehow lose every summer.

Menu planning isn’t always my strength. With my long-term issues with low-energy that can occasionally run into the extremes, sometimes it can seem overwhelming to menu plan when you aren’t sure what you will be up for. Thankfully, since we started addressing my iron issues, my energy, though far from perfect, has remained fairly stable. (Oh, the joys of iron!). But for my own sake, and for my sanity, planning simple food is a necessity for most days. Thankfully, simple food can be a joy too.

Plus, I’ve often found that the simpler I keep my menu, the easier it is to save money on our budget. While there are exceptions, simple food lends itself to frugality.

I often notice that historically many meals were also quite simple. In (Amazon links in post are affiliate links) The Good Master – a lovely family/children’s book that was based on the authors growing up years in Hungary –  their typical breakfast consisted simply of a bowl of fresh (raw) milk. When I read this growing up, I was a little distressed at their meager breakfast, but that was because I was relating it to my 2% modern milk. When I experienced the richness of farm fresh, whole milk from traditional breeds of cows whose milk was creamier than many modern cows, I realized how satisfying “real milk” was.

In another classic children’s story, Heidi,  Heidi’s  grandfather and she dine on homemade toasted goat’s cheese and bread. Dr. Price noticed that the typical lunch provided for the hearty and healthy Switzerland children he studied was a slab of homemade cheese and dark rye bread.

I miss dairy. Really I do.

But simple food doesn’t exist simply with cultures that consumed dairy! I recently bought a cookbook for my sister-in-law, Japanese Farm Food. I picked this beautiful book out for her partly because I loved the simplicity of the food (she is half Japanese, and like my husband, adores Asian food). It has recipes that are so simple, but use good ingredients well. A scoop of rice is topped with gently cooked fish, with a dashi-based broth poured over it. So simple, yet so appetizing! Vegetables are simply cooked, but with flavorful additions. Japanese food is so much more than just sushi and the restaurant-styled food we associate with it. In many Asian cultures, a simple broth based meal was served for breakfast – which was really nutritious and simple to make.

Here are a few broad based principles that I find helpful in keeping our regular meals simple.

Good ingredients

Ingredients that aren’t fresh or tasty to begin with simply take a lot more work to taste good. Starting with quality ingredients allows you to serve it simply and still have it taste great. For example, a good quality aged cheddar is simply delicious in a sandwich or by itself. Velveteen cheese? Not so much.

 Keep the basics on hand

Keeping the basics on hand really helps me throw together simple meals at the last minute. What those basics are depend on your eating style and needs. For us, homemade broth, basic vegetables (onions, carrots, celery), rice, avocados, salad greens, chicken (frozen and cooked), beef (frozen or fresh), bread, butter, apples and other fruits, and other miscellaneous items makes sure we are in good shape, menu plan or not.

Roasting is your friend

Simple meals of cut up vegetables, chicken legs, sausages, or meats of choice roasted together are a wonderful way to enjoy a “one-pan” meal that is very tasty too. Roasting is a simple process that deepens, sweetens and caramelizes ingredients – making it a flavorful choice, but also a simple one. You can easily adapt this method to use what you have on hand.

 Soup is your friend as well

Granted I am biased because I adore soup, which is why I wrote, Ladled: Nourishing Soups for all Seasons, and I know that not everyone has this same love as I do. But I have known more than one person who didn’t think they liked soup until they tried homemade soup. Soup is so nourishing when you make it from homemade broth and fresh ingredients. They are also so versatile and you can easily use whatever you have on hand. Once a soup is made, it keeps well for at least half a week, and makes a tasty snack/lunch/dinner on another day.

 Certain repetition is helpful

On the one hand, I kind of hate the American-styled family dinners where literally you use the same recipes and rotate through them every.single.week. Not only is this boring, but it will keep you limited in the wonderful world of food. However, on the other hand, a certain repetition can keep you on track, and can help you utilize favorite, simple frugal meals that you know your family likes. Plus, I love it when I am cooking something I’ve done so often I can practically cook it in my sleep. Less-stress, happier cook, happier family = very good thing.

Recipe ideas:

Simple meals for us include: Rice or quinoa bowls (like this Mexican Quinoa Bowl), Cabbage and hot dogs served over rice or quinoa, Tacos, chili (get my paleo chili recipe here), spaghetti sauce made with nourishing ingredients and served with gluten-free pasta and/or grain-free noodles, simple teriyaki chicken served with rice/quinoa and steamed vegetables, breakfast dishes served for dinner,  chicken soup (makes the broth and soup at the same time) and Thai Curry.

Those are some of my ideas. I’d love to hear what dishes you use to keep your food simple, healthy, and frugal! 

Chocolate Sourdough Cake


“How nice things taste out of doors!” sighed Diana comfortably. “That chocolate cake of yours, Anne . . . well, words fail me, but I must get the recipe. Fred would adore it. HE can eat anything
and stay thin. I’m always saying I’m NOT going to eat any more cake . . . because I’m getting fatter every year…….Diana slyly cut herself another “sliver” of the chocolate cake……..She picked up the plate which held the remainder of the chocolate cake. . . looked at it longingly . . . shook her head and packed it in the basket with an expression of great nobility and self-denial on her face.”

Chocolate, sweetness, a tiny tang from the sourdough, and a moist texture comes together in this delightful sourdough cake. Simple to make, it rises wonderfully in the oven through the natural yeast in the sourdough and the help of baking soda. I love not only it’s delicious flavor, but how easy it is to make! And like Diana from Anne of Green Gables, you will be reaching for a second piece.

I somehow missed out on the Anne of Green Gables series growing up. I know that I would have loved them if I had found them then. By the time I reached High School, I was reading more of the heavy weight novels of Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Leo Tolstoy along with biographies and non fiction work. I was truthfully a little bit of a book snob and wondered why people read “lightweight” books.

However, I was cured of my snobbishness when morning sickness and the heart defect of my first child added a lot of stress into my life. I didn’t want to curl up with a dark book, I wanted to read a happy one. And so, I found the Anne of Green Gables series and discovered that they were not just children’s books after all. While there are certainly a few funny characteristics of her writing style (some of her characters, like Dickens, can be pretty unusual), as Anne grows up she faces both the happiness and sorrows of life in a true to life form. The sorrow that Anne feels at the loss of her child and other life situations rang true to me (this isn’t surprising because the author also lost a child). She later faces a war with her boys on the battlefield. Even though L.M. Montgomery brought Anne through a realistic life, the overall atmosphere is not darkness, but hope and life.

These are the type of books you want to read when your own life is stressful and you just need a quiet hour of reading. They are suitable for children but I have found that I can enjoy them as well. They are well written and joyful, definitely a book series I look forward to sharing with my own daughters. I now have the tradition of reading through the series when I am bed ridden with morning sickness.

As far as where my own chocolate recipe came from, before I got married my Grandmother gave me a King Author’s Flour cookbook full of baked goods. One of the recipes that caught my eye was sourdough chocolate cake. I’ve always kept it in the back of my mind, and with my husband’s birthday this month, I thought it was time to try it. I couldn’t find that cookbook, but thankfully found the recipe online here. It really only took a few changes, such as having a longer soaking period (to reduce anti-nutrients), and upping the quality of some of the ingredients to make it a cake that I feel very comfortable serving!  This cake is definitely going to see our table many times!

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Sardine Salad with Toast

“And really it was a wonderful tea. There was a nice brown egg, lightly boiled, for each of them, and then sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey, and then sugar-topped cake. And when Lucy was tired of eating, the Faun began to talk. He had wonderful tales to tell of life in the forest.”

After sharing a favorite quote from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, I thought that sharing a recipe inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia series would be appropriate as part of the For the Love of Food and Books series. For my “sardines on toast”, I developed a hot weather appropriate recipe (and frugal to be part of Pennywise Platter, which is up now), using fresh in season tomatoes and cucumbers, flavored with parsley, and lightened with lemon juice, and served with buttered toast and a big salad. The sardine salad was almost reminiscent of tabbouleh!  It was perfect during a hot afternoon.

I served it all on a large platter for everyone to eat as they wished. You can eat the sardine salad with the green salad, or on the buttered toast. I did both. It was great! Sardines have just a slightly more fishy taste than tuna, so if you enjoy tuna you may enjoy sardines too. Plus, sardines are generally recognized as sustainable, as well as being low in mercury and high in Omega 3′s. I bought the Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the brand Wild Planet this time.

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