Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Simple Changes

As I talk with friends and acquaintances about health, I often hear discouragement and a sense of defeat. There is so much information! So much to know! While there are some big, important steps that require commitment and even lifestyle-change, I'd like to share a few that are more simple. If you make enough simple changes, they will add up to better health.

It is my intention to make "Simple Changes" a frequent topic. For those of you who already practise these things, keep up your effort! For those of you who are newly embarking on your health journey, commit to these small efforts. In time, you will be able to amazedly look back on how far you have come... and how far you have brought your family as well.

I have dozens of these simple changes in my head right now, but I am going to limit myself to sharing just three today. If I shared them all at once, it wouldn't seem very simple, would it?

The first simple change that comes to mind is to buy Natural Peanut Butter. Skip the Skippy. Pass on the added sugar and hydrogenated oils. Read the labels and select a peanut butter that is as basic as peanuts and salt. Some brands add extra peanut oil. We use the Kroger brand. Since we know we eat it frequently, we buy A LOT when it goes on sale. The sale prices are actually better than any bulk prices I have found. If you have the means, you could even go for Organic... but make sure to read the label because several organic brands add in organic sugar!

As you make the commitment never to bring home unhealthy peanut butter, decide to bring home healthy jam as well. There are several brands of jams and jellies that contain only fruit and fruit juice concentrates. When we eat jam, or when I use marmalade in cooking, we use brands that do not add extra sugar or preservatives. Really, fruit is plenty sweet as it is! Most often, we eat our peanut butter with honey since it is more cost effective. (A growing family has to be frugal!) But, we really enjoy fruit spreads as well. Again, if you have the means, organic is even better.

Third, and last for today, find a healthy substitute for white pasta. There are several whole grain pastas available in markets these days. You could opt for whole wheat pasta, but I would recommend eating it in moderation since unsoaked whole wheat can cause digestive trouble. There are also rice, kamut and other grain blend choices. If your children are still getting used to whole foods, you might want to select a half white, half wheat variety for a time. I find that organic pastas are often on sale for as cheap or cheaper than other brands. If you know you will be buying it, you can stock up while you can save money. Or, if you prefer to limit carbs, we often bake a spaghetti squash and use the strands in place of pasta. This is one of the very few ways my children enjoy squash!

I look forward to posting some more "Simple Changes." I like simple. There is so much else going on in our lives... healthy needs to be as simple as possible! Do you have simple change ideas? Please comment to share them with us all!


Noel said...

A garden! I am so looking forward to getting our garden going. I'm in the process now of germinating seeds and I've just noticed some sunflowers popping through the dirt. Yay!

Christian Frugal Mama said...

Thanks so much for the simple ideas! I agree, it can be overwhelming. I am working on the sweetners right now! :)

Jean Joiner said...

good thoughts. i may try the peanut butter...what are specific jelly brands you recommend? i don't eat peanut butter or jelly but my family does. also what are specific brands of pasta you recommend as well? thanks for the simple changes post...hits me right where i am. peace to you.

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Jean...

For Jelly, we often buy the Kroger brand of "all-fruit" spread. Polaner also makes and "all-fruit" that we buy at times.

For Pasta, we love the Bionature brand, but we have to find it on sale because it is pricey. It is a whole wheat that doesn't taste too hard. We DON'T like the Hodgson's Mill pasta... way too sharp tasting. But, Barilla makes a good half white, half wheat. And Kroger brands are usually always good. They do really well with natural foods from what I've experienced.

Hope this helps! It's good to hear from you... take baby steps and you'll make progress :)


noelle said...

One of our first changes was using unrefined sugars. And I started baking our bread Even with unbleached AP flour, the bread has much less stuff in it than most store bought bread. And white bread is pretty easy to make.

We are fortunate to be able to get natural peanut butter with our WIC vouchers. That's all my kids know.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I love this "simple changes" theme so please keep it up :o) I am a beginner and I am still learning how to eat healthier :) now I know what kind of peanut butter to use for my protein shake, thank you!!

Sarah said...

We use Kirkland organic peanut butter - all natural. Also we use brown rice pasta - no one seems to be able to tell the difference between this and regular white pasta! It is pricey, but worth it for our health - we too substitute spaghetti squash - delish!

busymomof10 said...

I love your Simple Changes posts! It is so overwhelming to look at the big picture. Thanks for breaking it down for all of us busy moms!!!!!

I have tried buying the natural peanut butter before -- we couldn't seem to make the switch from Jif. It just sat there and sat there. No one would eat it! Also, do I need to refrigerate the natural peanutbutter? I was doing that -- as I think I read the natural oils would go rancid. Then, it was so hard that we would tear up our bread when trying to spread it. Any suggestions here?

We do love the Polaner jellies. That is usually all I buy, but it is expensive.