Want to be healthier, but not sure where to start? Come along with me on my journey to live a healthier, more sustainable life. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking the plunge overnight. Start with small changes that add up to big results!
Multiple factors play a role in your overall health and wellbeing: exercise, diet, emotions, circumstances, etc.
One huge factor in my life is diet. I've been shifting my culinary habits to lean more toward “homemade” – in contrast to eating out with a hefty bill. Homemade meals are not only cost effective but they can also be healthy and leave you with a peace of mind because you know what enters your body. I won't mention any horror stories featuring greasy grimy kitchens with a potbelly chef who doesn’t care about quality and combs his locks over the chowder.
Well, no more! Take steps toward self-sustainability and learn to cook and treat yourself right!
Back on my great-grandparents' homestead, they lived “farm-to-table,” consuming what grew in their garden and what their livestock provided for them. Now, the path from farm to consumer goes something like this: farm, to manufacturing plant, to packaging plant, to distributor, to truck, to grocery store... and then, finally to table. Nutrition is lost in the mix and we are left with a mysterious end result.
If you are wondering how to live a “from-scratch” lifestyle as I do, consider making five easy swaps in your diet and kitchen to get going in the right direction. Changing old habits—especially convenient ones—is difficult. For example, it's easy to drive to a store and pick up a bottle of salad dressing, but have you ever considered making your dressing from scratch? The taste is noticeably better, and homemade dressings tend to have minimal ingredients. I don’t use store-bought dressing now because once I started making homemade dressings, I never looked back. This is similar to baking homemade bread: after trying it, store-bought bread never seems as tasty.
Making simple swaps in the kitchen will increase your awareness to food sources and what you are consuming. Here are 5 easy swaps to a healthier lifestyle:
1) Make your own breadI made the jump to homemade bread earlier this year, and now there's no better option for me. Get my homemade bread recipe here. It's incredibly easy, and the taste is impeccable. I tried the store-bread I used to eat, and it sat on my counter because it tasted “off.” I believe that was due to additives I've weaned my palate from by consuming HOMEMADE bread. I don’t add any funky ingredients I can’t pronounce; as a result, my bread palate is cleansed!
2) Make bone or vegetable broth
I used to buy lots of vegetable broth from the store. I used it in many vegetarian recipes; I never wanted to run out. I found a better solution: make it at home. Save vegetable scraps, like carrot shavings, onion ends, and broccoli stems in a gallon freezer bag. When the bag fills up, I make vegetable broth in my Instant Pot with the scraps, water, and seasonings. If you prefer bone broth, save bones from your meat and do the same! Make bone broth in the Instant Pot as well, and it's incredibly easy! No more store-bought broths loaded with salt and preservatives. All you need are Mason jars to store the broth in and something to cook it in! I prefer my Instant Pot as it makes the process easier than stovetop, but do either!
3) Shop at Farmer’s Markets
With summer in full swing, head to your local farmer’s market! Farmers and local growers are eager to sell their produce and meat to you! A word of advice: ask for the name of their farm, where it's located, if they allow visitors, and if they have social media. There seems to be an upsurge in scammers buying produce from the store to sell at farmer’s markets (pretty pathetic), so inquire further into their farming details. If they aren’t quick to respond or they offer sketchy answers, skip over to the next stand! I love supporting LOCAL and, if possible, I want to SEE where my food is grown or taken care of! Farmer’s markets are fun to browse, and it's great to support local growers, but don’t end up with a bag of high-priced goodies from a weird grocery store.
4) Switch out salt
Table salt is convenient, but often highly processed (eliminating minerals) and caked with anti-clumping preservatives that are hazardous to health. Typical table salts go through a bleaching process and have other harmful additives introduced—No Thanks! No wonder salt's only selling point is the added Iodine. Don’t worry, such hazardous waste may be harmful and toxic but it has Iodine, a nutrient you desperately need (sarcasm). Lol, there are healthier ways to incorporate Iodine into your diet. A tastier, more-natural option is Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. Although this type of sea salt is low in iodine, it's unrefined so no toxic additives.
5) Make your own dressings
Making your own dressings may seem stressful and complicated, but it's incredibly easy! The internet is littered with homemade alternatives to your favorite salad dressing. I love making homemade sauces for my tacos, salads, and rice bowls—it's so dang easy! I generally use oils, homemade mayo, salt, pepper, cilantro, and jalapenos. These ingredients are my go-to's for making dipping sauces or dressings, but you can make tasty dressings and sauces from your kitchen that are easy using fresh ingredients! Again, the taste difference will have you never craving store dressings again. You also save money—woohoo! All you need is an Immersion Hand Blender set like this and you are an instant salad chef!
I hope these easy steps to a homemade and healthy lifestyle encourage you. Make these swaps with me and let me know how your journey to self-sufficiency is going!