“The more ingredients in a packaged food, the more highly processed it probably is.” —Michael Pollan
In January, MP was browsing the new books at our library and came across a cookbook called 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake. The book caught MP’s interest for a few reasons. Like MP, Lisa is a blogger and mother of two, who enjoys cooking and baking. Lisa began her blog after watching a television interview with In Defense of Food author Michael Pollan. Pollan’s common sense thoughts on highly processed foods inspired Lisa to change her family’s eating habits for the better.
Much like MP, Lisa had been filling her daughter’s lunch boxes with what she considered healthy snacks—yogurt sticks, pretzels, fruit snacks and granola bars. Michael Pollan’s Food 101 discussion challenged her to consider the ingredients of the foods she was buying. Lisa was surprised by the amount of preservatives, sugars, and artificial flavors in the snacks she believed were healthy for her kids.
Cover photo courtesy of Harper Collins.
Right around the time MP discovered 100 Days of Real Food, she had begun looking at labels and trying to keep the kids’ lunchbox snacks and juices to 10 grams of sugar or less. It seemed like the logical next step to follow Lisa Leake’s rule of thumb: try to purchase real food with 5 ingredients or less, and whenever possible opt for 100% whole grains and no refined sugar.
MP chose a few recipes from 100 Days of Real Food to start, including homemade granola cereal, tostadas, whole chicken in the slow cooker, and cinnamon-raisin quick bread. She had fun figuring out the family’s meal plan for the week, but shopping posed a few challenges. Like Lisa, MP couldn’t believe how many artificial ingredients were packed into some of our staples. The oatmeal bread MP used to purchase for sandwiches was at least 20 ingredients long. Even the plain almond milk she used for the kids’ smoothies had some ingredients she couldn’t pronounce.
After learning quickly which foods made the cut, MP felt encouraged. Instead of yogurt sticks, CP#1 takes whole milk yogurt to school flavored with real maple syrup. And rather than goldfish crackers, CP#2 brings freshly popped popcorn. Each of them always has a fruit or vegetable in their lunch box, and something homemade from Mom (quick breads and muffins sweetened with honey are a favorite). Their sandwiches are made from whole wheat bread (we like Borealis and When Pigs Fly), which has probably been the biggest transition for two kids who prefer soft sandwich bread. They also go to school with bottled water rather than juice boxes.
Of course, if you read this blog, you also know that we are dessert people. We’ve revamped our weekday desserts to fresh fruit with cream, smoothies, and a simple homemade frozen yogurt (stay tuned for that recipe in an upcoming post). Whenever possible, we save our treats for the weekend. We’re far from perfect, but this new way of thinking about the foods we eat has certainly put us on a great path. MP is hoping the kids will learn a lot from our real food journey.
We have many favorite recipes from 100 Days of Real Food. All of them are so simple and only require a few ingredients. One crowd-pleaser is Lisa’s Mini Lunchbox Quiches. We have them for dinner with bacon or local sausage, potato hash, and fresh fruit. The leftover quiches are perfect for lunch the next day!
Photo courtesy 100 Days of Real Food.
Mini Lunchbox Quiches
Recipe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt (divided)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) of butter, melted
1 ½ cups of milk
1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup of your favorite grated cheese (we used cheddar)
- Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a muffin pan with 12 silicone muffin liners.
- In a medium bowl, blend the flour and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir in the melted butter until the flour is completely moistened. Set aside.
- In a large, glass measuring cup or spouted bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
- Put one tablespoon of the flour mixture in the bottom of each silicone muffin cup. Push the mixture down flat with your fingers so it covers the bottom evenly.
- Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top of the crusts, then carefully pour the egg mixture on top, filling the cups approximately two-thirds full.
- Bake until the eggs are set and lightly browned on top. 18-20 minutes.
To learn more about 100 Days of Real Food, visit Lisa’s blog or shop for the book at your local bookstore.
PS: For more great food tips, see this post on how French kids eat.