Over the last couple of weeks, I have been sharing some of my important Eating Green tips. It’s been very helpful for me to write out the ins and outs, and the hows and whys for each principle, and seeing how they play off each other.
The 13 principles as of right now are these:
- Mostly Vegetarian (emphasis on MOSTLY)
- Paleo-ish (emphasis on ISH)
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods- fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, unprocessed meat.
- Eat local- join a CSA/farm share, go to a farmer’s market, grow or raise your own food.
- Eat only grass-fed, pasture-raised, free-range meat.
- Choose seafood approved from Seafood Watch.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Stay away from center aisles.
- Do homemade foods instead of store-bought.
- Bring your own lunch instead of eating out.
- Do simple or single ingredients.
- Use natural sugars (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar) in moderation. A little goes a long way.
- Try to buy food unpackaged, or in as little packaging as possible.
- Get to know your food. Do a little research.
Today I want to talk about principle #8- Homemade foods over Store-bought.
Principle 3 talks about eliminating processed foods. But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite treats now and then. In fact, I encourage people to still enjoy pizza, pie, snack bars, and desserts. I have one simple caveat. Make it yourself.
Michael Pollan said in his documentary series “Cooked”, you can eat anything you want, just make it yourself from scratch. I’ve learned to make some incredible food because I live and breathe by that statement.
When you make your favorite treats from scratch instead of buying them from a store, several things change to the benefit of your health and the environment.
- You get to decide what goes into your food. When you buy store bought treats, the Big Food companies decide what you are eating. If you look at the ingredients label, you find there are very few ingredients you can pronounce, much less healthy and good for you.
However, if you make the food yourself, you know exactly the ingredient content. Lactose intolerant? Use an alternative to butter, either coconut oil, olive oil, or even applesauce. Don’t want to eat refined sugar? Try honey instead. Want to avoid palm oil (I hope so, if not re-read my post on the dangers of palm oil)? Make your favorite treats sans the health and environmental hazard.
- You eat less of the bad food. I love the shit out of bread products, I’m not gonna lie. If there is bread in the house, I will eat it. It’s the perfect mindless snacking food- make a sandwich, toast it, stuff a whole piece in your face. I love bread, but I know it’s not the best choice for me, fitness-wise, and environmentally. So, instead of buying it, I decided if I really want bread, I will make it. I’ve created several great recipes using local, clean ingredients.
The thing is, making bread products isn’t exactly easy, or convenient. I can’t make them every day. So, I usually save the breads for special occasions, when I’m super motivated to bake, or well, when I’m insanely bored. To keep me from boredom eating, I instead accomplish a lot of boredom baking.
When I boredom bake, I end up not eating as much of the food I, because, point #3,
- You appreciate the homemade food more. It takes a lot more effort to make your own pie from scratch than it does to just buy one from the store. When I pull that pie out of the oven, it fills me with intense pride. Look at that pie! LOOK AT IT! Notice I didn’t say “Eat that pie.” But I can, and I will often try a little of it, but I rarely eat more than a slice or two of a homemade item. I’m too proud.
- You can more easily follow ALL the Eating Green principles how you want to. Cut back on plastic, sodium, meat, sugar, and your carbon footprint.
- You get to play with your food. This is the cool thing about making homemade treats. You get to play with flavors. I love trying new recipes, and changing them to make them totally my own. I started making Panna Cotta with coconut milk instead of regular milk, and while I did use regular (animal collagen) organic gelatin at first, I am playing with agar agar to substitute and make it vegan. It’s delicious, so far.
I also make my own protein bars, using dates, coconut oil, nut butter, and my favorite brand of protein powder. I have my own take on breads, some using gluten free flours, some Paleo approved flours, and some with regular flour. But they are all tasty, and I LOVE experimenting with food.
- You save money. Sure, it probably costs more to buy a container of protein powder, dates, coconut oil, and nut butter at the beginning. But the amount of bars you make in a batch, and the amount of batches you can make from your ingredients saves you lots of money in the long run. A protein bar costs on average $3 a bar (out here, at least, I just checked the store today). The cost for your ingredients, even if you get the best quality and pay more for them, can run you upwards of $100. But then you can make about 5 batches from all that. And each batch makes 10-12 bars. That’s 50-60 bars, for $100. If you bought 50 bars at the grocery store, it would cost you $150.
I’m sure there are some other bonuses to making your own food. You cut out nasty ingredients, and unnecessary ingredients and cut calories, cut trans fat, cut unnatural ingredients.
So, stay home, and make your own treats. It’s better for you, your wallet, and the environment.
Here are some of my all-time favorite homemade treats:
Protein bars 12 servings (but I’m betting they won’t last) 350 calories, Carbs: 21.4g, Fat: 21.2g, Protein: 18.6g
- Chocolate protein powder- can use vegan or paleo style proteins if desired
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 4 Tbsp almond butter
- 20 Medjool dates, pitted
- ½ cup almond or coconut milk, divided
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- ½ cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit (besides dates, because that’s just overkill)
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp walnuts, chopped (or other desired topping)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 servings of protein powder, the coconut oil, and the nut butter. Mix with a fork until a crumbly dough is formed and all ingredients are blended.
- Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper. Transfer the protein base into the pan, and press to spread it to all sides and firmly in place. Let set in fridge for at least one hour before adding filling to the base.
- Place dates, chia seeds, and ¼ cup milk in a small saucepan. Heat for about 5 minutes, or until dates are softened
- Transfer contents of saucepan into a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Spoon and spread the nougat mixture on top of protein base.
- Sprinkle dried fruit over filling.
- Rinse the same saucepan as the date nougat filling, and then combine cocoa powder and remainder of milk over medium heat to make a smooth syrup. Pour or brush the chocolate syrup over the date nougat.
- Sprinkle nuts on top of chocolate. Place in refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup melted coconut oil
- In a medium sized bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients.
- Slowly add the eggs and coconut oil and stir until smooth.
- Place a piece of parchment paper in a small bread pan. Brush some olive oil to keep the bread from sticking. Fill the pan about 2/3 of the way with batter.
- Set oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Caveman Candy 4 servings- 291 calories, Carbs:12.7g, Fat: 24.5g, Protein: 7.2g
- 1 cup nuts (almond or hazelnuts work best)
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- ¼ cup pure cocoa
- 1 Tbsp honey
- Place nuts in a food processor and grind to minced pieces
- Melt honey and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add cocoa and ground nuts, mixing everything together.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour mixture onto parchment paper.
- Refrigerate until hardened, about 2 hours.
By the way, I just have to give a shout out to my AMAZING husband, Chris, who took the photos of the food. Yes, I made the food. Yes, that is real food in the shots. They look fantastic and that’s because I have a kick-ass hubby who likes to try new things, like eating my creations, and taking photos of food.