Back to Basics: Clean Eating - Part I


When I mention to someone that I cook from scratch as much as possible, make my own personal, health and beauty, laundry and household products, common reactions I get are: “You do? Why? How? You can buy that in the store.” I chuckle inwardly because that was my reaction years ago when someone told me the same. Now, I’m walking in those shoes trying to inform curious minds about my family’s journey back to clean eating and natural living.

It all began about three years ago when a friend recommended that my husband and I watch the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. In this documentary, Joe Cross, a man suffering from an autoimmune disease and on more pills than should be humanly taken in a lifetime, chronicles his steps to restore his health. He decides to do it by juicing fruits and vegetables for 60 days. Whoa! What an eye-opener. This guy lost the excessive weight, revitalized his health, and reduced his daily cocktail of prescribed drugs. Mind you, my husband, son, and I don’t have any chronic or debilitating diseases nor are we overweight. By all accounts, our internist and our son’s pediatrician deem us extremely healthy. Watching Joe and others in the documentary made us question what’s wrong with the foods we eat. Food options are more convenient, quicker, low fat, etcetera, but Americans are becoming more obese and unhealthy. Well, one documentary led to another. The next thing I knew, I didn’t want to eat anything, drink water, use health and beauty products, or breathe the air that’s so vital to life. You’re probably thinking, she’s gone off of the deep end, but that’s what happened when I dug deeper and deeper. It gave new power to the saying, “Ignorance is bliss,” but I was on a mission. My mission was to get back to nature.

First I started with what we were putting in our bodies via our mouths. We began going to the farmer’s market weekly. No more buying produce from the supermarket. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not disparaging supermarkets. There are some markets that carry farm fresh, local produce. I was just determined to buy it directly from Farmer John/Jane (of course, after I asked if he/she practiced sustainable farming or organic farming).  Armed with our fresh fruits and veggies, my family and I decided to juice (not like the bodybuilders). I researched the best juicers for weeks because this juicer was going to do some heavy duty juicing. After purchasing the best juicer for our needs, we began to juice and juice and juice. It became a family affair.

The same friend that I mentioned earlier, who turned us on to the food industry documentaries, told us he started to blend his fruits and veggies. It retained the fiber that is lost in the extraction process of juicing. “What? You mean we spent several hundreds of dollars on a juicer we don’t need now?” I shrieked. “No. You can use both,” he replied. Whew! I took to the Internet looking for a heavy-duty blender. After we found the blender that would make the smoothest smoothies, we began blending until our hearts content. I must admit, some of the smoothies took on colors of verdant grass, mud, and horror film blood, but they were delicious. What was a family affair became a family competition. Who can make the tastiest, healthiest smoothies?

The next stop on this journey was cooking and baking from scratch. I went back to the good old Internet. I planned a new farm-to-table recipe every Sunday. I’d have my ingredients list in hand as we strolled the farmer’s market Sunday afternoons. Farm-to-table Sunday became more, more frequent during the week. As I shopped for my staples at the grocery store, I started paying closer attention to the ingredients list on the label. I’ve always read labels for calories, fat, sugar, sodium, but now I checked for ingredients. When simple baking and pancake mixes had more ingredients than what I remembered my grandmother placing on the kitchen table to make breads and rolls, I began to recoil. I left those foodstuffs on the shelf. Guess where I went? Back to the Internet looking for homemade bread, muffin, biscuit, and pancake recipes. I dusted off my unused bread maker that was gifted by my mother 10 years prior. Eureka! I saved it for a reason.