Natural and Better For You
A couple of years before we had kids my husband and I decided to get a new life insurance policy. After getting blood work done for the new policy, we discovered that my husband had high cholesterol. My tests came back fine but with my family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, I knew that making healthier eating choices would be of great benefit to me. I started taking steps to become more informed, cleaned out the pantry and started shopping and cooking differently.
I thought that I was doing very good with our food choices until my twins were 2 years old. We were at friends baby shower and I let my kids have some dessert. One of my daughters broke out in a terrible case of hives after eating a strawberry cake with some artificial ingredients. We spent several weeks trying to figure out what caused the reaction and we narrowed it down to red dye. I suddenly had to be even more aware of what was in the food we eat. Red dye (specifically red #40) is in so many things...even things that are not red! After giving it some thought I started wondering why we needed artificial colors at all and artificial flavors for that matter too. In my quest for no artificial coloring, I became even more aware of ingredients. I was honestly surprised at so many ingredients, some names that I did not even recognize. I decided that I was going to do my best to buy natural foods with ingredients that I understood.
Replacing refined flours with whole grains, using all natural peanut butter (only ingredient is peanuts), lean meats without preservatives when possible and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, was pretty easy. Avoiding artificial colors and flavors took awhile to get used too and grocery shopping took a lot longer at first but it was worth it for the health benefits.
I won't pretend to be an expert on the subject but I want to share a few of the "better for you" and not too expensive store bought convenience foods that I have in the house right now for the kids. In the summer we are busy and I do a lot of spontaneous picnics and outings with my kids and their friends so quick and easy is good.
~Mott's All Natural Fruit Snacks
~Target Market Pantry Unsweetened Applesauce (I make my own canned applesauce every year but always seem to run out so these are a good alternative). I believe that Mott's also has the natural and unsweetened applesauce but the Target brand is less expensive.
~Pepperidge Farm Goldfish made with Whole Grain (my kids begged for goldfish crackers for a long time so I was glad to find these for a special treat)
~Dannon All Natural Yogurt, No Artificial Anything (these do still have quite a bit of sugar but that doesn't worry me too much since my kids don't get a lot of sugar and after all..sugar is natural)
~Hormel Natural Choice (100% natural, no preservatives) deli meats
~Quick Oats 100% natural (great for a quick and healthy breakfast, I buy a big container at Aldi very inexpensively)
~Pure Honey (we put it on our oatmeal to add sweetness). My kids also like to use honey as a dip for many things.
~Ocean Spray 100% Juice, no sugar added. No artificial colors or flavors and made in the USA. (we like the Cranberry & Blueberry and the Cranberry & Concord Grape). I buy this at Target for $2.59 (64 fl oz) which seems like a good price to me. Juice is so expensive these days.
Non-Food products that we switched over to recently:
We have a lot of fun in the sun and this summer we started using "Burt's Bees Chemical Free Sunscreen" with hemp seed oil. It's pricey at $12.99 for a 3.46 fl oz tube but it seems to work well, doesn't smell bad and I feel good about using it.
Another product that I've discovered this summer is "Jason Hand and Body Lotion" (Pure, Natural, Organic). It makes our skin silky soft. I found this at Target on sale for less than $5.00 a bottle.
These are just a few of my finds. I would love to hear about some of the natural snack and lunch foods and products that you enjoy. Please leave me a comment or send me an email and let me know.