Real Food for Real Families

Why we eat unprocessed food and why I became a Pampered Chef consultant. www.learning-grace.com

I became a Pampered Chef consultant this month. If someone told me I’d be doing this even six months ago, I’d probably tell my friend to shut up. All our journeys take surprising turns that make sense in retrospect. So, here’s the backstory:

Ken and I enjoy food and I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I’m also very interested in how what we eat affects us. In the fall of 2013, around the time J was diagnosed with autism, I began seriously looking into various diets and how they could help. I have seen how diets like Feingold can be game changers for some kids. So, after quite a bit of research we decided to cut as much processed food from our diet as we could. I started reading labels. I did a lot of research. I felt really overwhelmed, so I just took it one step at a time. The blog 100 Days of Real Food helped me a lot.

I started with our baked goods (stop right now and go read the side of your bread bag, that’s a long list, isn’t it?). I figured out how to make our own 100% whole wheat bread and tortillas, I’ve even made bagels. And then I moved on to change other things. Over time, we ditched just about everything that comes from a box. I admit—a few items have made tBagel-making is fun! If I can do it, you can do it, too. www.learning-grace.comheir way back into our lives lately. It’s a constant balancing act.

The differences we saw in J’s behavior and especially his eating habits amazed us. Before we eliminated processed foods, he would only eat about five or six foods. I hesitated to make the switch to whole, unprocessed foods because I didn’t know what he’d eat. But we tried it out, anyway. We were amazed to see how his palate changed in about a week. Suddenly he was eating a wider variety of healthier foods. Even today, if we go on vacation and the kids eat lot of processed foods, they’ll become super picky until I get us back on track.

It’s taken a lot of learning and kitchen experiments to find a liveable balance for us. I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen, and we don’t have a huge grocery budget. (We are also New Yorkers and don’t have a car, so our shopping choices are limited.) You will find some convenience foods in our kitchen, but I’d say our diet is probably 80–90% unprocessed foods.

During this time, I’ve found myself talking to others struggling with some of the same things: how to provide their families with whole healthful meals with limited time and money. And I’ve found that helping others make these same changes is a passion of mine. But, I’m not a nutritionist, dietician, or chef. I’m just someone who’s read and tried a lot of different approaches. I’ve thought about a bunch of different ways to incorporate food into the next iteration of my career, but all of them require a large up-front investment of time and money, both of which are in short supply these days.

Then, a couple of months ago I was invited to a Pampered Chef party, and it clicked. I love Pampered Chef products—they are truly innovative and help make cooking easier. The quality is also great—I have some Pampered Chef stoneware that’s old enough to vote, and I use it every week. Being a Pampered Chef consultant would also provide a way for me to talk about eating real whole foods and how to make it possible for everyday families, while getting some good tools in their hands to make this leap feasible.

So, here I am a new Pampered Chef consultant, having parties and learning the ropes! I started a Facebook Page, if you want to follow this particular journey of mine.

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Being Present

There are a lot of times when I should let go and enjoy the moment. I get too caught up on the end result or what’s next, to remember where I am.

After an exciting weekend of breaking in a new scooter, waffles from his favorite restaurant, a kid’s play, the farmer’s market, and a trip to a really cool playground, I asked J what was his favorite thing from the weekend. He replied, “cutting carrots with mommy.”

We had made applesauce carrot muffins together in what I thought was a near disaster (as cooking with toddlers always is). I was impatient and losing my cool as S and J threw flour and fought about who could stir. They took turns putting carrots into the food processor (in the chute, while it was off). J ran away every time I pushed the button to shred them because he didn’t like the sound. That 20 minutes with a half-crazy mommy somehow trumped all the wonderful stuff we did that weekend.

It was humbling, to say the least.

I should have relaxed a bit and enjoyed that moment. There are a lot of times when I should just let go, enjoy, and be present. I get too caught up on the end result or what’s next, to remember where I am. I miss out on the magnificent cherry blossom display overhead because I’m staring at my phone. I’m rushing the kids while they stop to inspect an ant on the way to the grocery store. I’m sitting on the couch, holding hands with my husband after the kids have gone to bed thinking about the dishes in sink. I rush through so many experiences that could have been so much more meaningful because I am too focused on something other than the present moment.

 If I had known that this was going to be the highlight of J’s weekend, I would have found a few more carrots (and maybe some zucchini) to toss into the food processor.

Thinking back, I remember S and J having fun while throwing carrots down the food processor chute, but I didn’t really stop to enjoy it with them. I was concentrating on getting to the end of the muffin making so I could move on to something else. I can’t even remember what it was right now—that’s how important it was.
Maybe we’ll cut some more this afternoon.

Our constant connectivity to people and events that are elsewhere takes us away from what’s right in front of us. I know saying this is nothing new, it’s just something I need to be reminded of on a regular basis. I think I’m going to make “cutting carrots” my new mantra to help me remember to stop thinking about where I’m not and just be where I’m at.

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