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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Do you do this? Is it a switch you've made from buying a bunch of junk? If so, did you start to feel different after the switch?

I guess I'd also just like any advice/insight/opinions y'all have on sticking to natural foods.

Today I went grocery shopping and avoided any foods with ingredients that I couldn't recognize. That sh*t is expensive, but I really like the idea of knowing what I'm eating - and knowing that it's not all those unnatural ingredients. I fully intend to eat whatever I want if I'm going out for a meal (which isn't very often), but I'd like to continue keeping only natural foods in the house. Oh, and I'm a vegetarian if that makes a difference, so meat is not a subject that needs to be covered!

Just hoping to hear from (or about) other people who do (or have done) this successfully.

Thanks!
 

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Natural or organic is just a fad, and it really doesn't mean what people think it means (like equating to automatically healthy).

Sugars and grains are still bad, milk is now just overpriced milk, and you're paying a premium on vegetables and fruits that are covered in organic pesticides instead of synthetic ones (read: chemistry definition of organic).

It's hardly worth the price hike and seems to go hand in hand with a deplorable anti-GMO slogan (GMO does not equate to bad).

You should really just focus on eating foods that are real foods. Staying away from stuff you really don't know about is a good start. Potatoes and grains are still something that should be avoided. Fish is absolutely excellent if you still eat it. Dairy is great if you can handle it.

But if anything it's going to be the bag of potato chips that totes natural under its logo like it's some kind of badge and automatically means it's healthful that's a danger.
 

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I think OP means whole foods like primarily fruits, veggies, and basically anything without a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, right? I made that transition a few years back when I had to save money and cook for myself; it was cheaper for me to avoid the junk food. I found that I could eat a lot more but still keep my weight down. I feel better too; not so moody, sleepy or depressed anymore. Not saying that it was an easy thing to do because I had mass sugar and salt cravings. But since I've moved back home now, there's always sweets and salty snacks around that are sooo tempting and I'm finding it hard for me to stick to my previous diet. You have the right idea of not buying it to begin with. You can't eat it if it's not inside your house.
 

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Personally, I felt much better when I started making every meal from scratch. Plus there's something unsettling about looking at a fake roast made of lentils and seeing it has sugar and/or HFCS in it.

I'm a vegan, so I know what you're talking about with the crazy expensive mystery veggie food. Sometimes its just bordering totally ridiculous, Kale chips 9 bucks for a tiny box. Crazy.

Here are two natural fake meat ideas:
http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/homemade-seitan/
TVP as a replacement for soy crumbles (which is literally just vegetable protein that's been dried out).

Aside from this, if you're cool with tofu that can be turned into basically anything you want. Tempeh is great with potatoes and starchy vegetables, if you're looking for a hardy meal.

1. Get every conceivable spice you may need from Mustard Seed to Turmeric to Chives. Don't be afraid of pre-mixed spice blends until you get your bearings. Penzey makes some great blends. Big recommendation for Arizona Dreaming and Mural of Flavor.

2. Stock the pantry! Keep some staples around. Vegan With A Vengeance (book by Post-Punk Kitchen) has some great tips on other stuff to stock (like Pureed Pumpkin is handy). I always keep the following:
Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes
Yellow Onions/Sweet Onions
Garlic
Rice (usually short grain/japonica), Quinoa, Amaranth, or whatever Grain you prefer
Pasta (linguine, cavatelli, and orechiette) - in most cases they don't load these with unnatural ingredients. Look for pastas that are primarily just semolina flour, many are. Pasta by hand is an admirable goal, and delicious but very time consuming.
Beans (canned Black, Light Red and White Kidney, Blackeyed Peas, Chickpeas, Refried Black Beans - be careful many brands have lard or heavy oils)
Canned or Boxed Stewed Tomatoes (Pomi is a good brand)
Frozen Produce (collareds, mustard greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, edamame, broccoli rabe) - recommend Whole Foods big time on this one
Nuts/Seeds (Pepitas, Walnuts, Raw Cashews)
Sauce-y Stuff (Soy Sauce/Tamari, Aji Mirin, Rice Vinegar, Liquid Smoke (you may want to omit this), Toasted Sesame Oil, Red Chili Paste or Chili Oil, Miso - I tend towards Asian Cuisine)

Any fresh produce is best to grab as you make food, or if you plan out dinners you can grab them at the start of the week - but generally plan to use fresh stuff within a week (two at most). Your mileage is going to vary, mushrooms tend to get slimy relatively quickly, but you can keep an unriped avocado for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Just ask yourself if you're really going to dedicate some time to try and use the produce in the next week.

3. Experiment! Some great websites:
veganyumyum.com
theppk.com
veganbaking.net (they have great recipes that you could very easily non-veganize)
Sometimes you'll fall flat on your face, but cooking from scratch is a skill like any other. If you keep buying raw ingredients you stop staring in the pantry going "I'm hungry and this is a pain in the ***," to "I'm hungry and I know what I want to make" pretty fast. Once you get comfortable, you can do things like make a pound of seitan and play around with it over the course of a week in different dishes.

Also, my buddy swears by slowcooking beans. Apparently that's amazing and you pretty much don't have to do anything aside from mixing ingredients and leaving them to cook while you're at work, school, whatever.

I think that's all I got for advice!
 

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Awesome.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Natural or organic is just a fad, and it really doesn't mean what people think it means (like equating to automatically healthy).

Sugars and grains are still bad, milk is now just overpriced milk, and you're paying a premium on vegetables and fruits that are covered in organic pesticides instead of synthetic ones (read: chemistry definition of organic).

It's hardly worth the price hike and seems to go hand in hand with a deplorable anti-GMO slogan (GMO does not equate to bad).

You should really just focus on eating foods that are real foods. Staying away from stuff you really don't know about is a good start. Potatoes and grains are still something that should be avoided. Fish is absolutely excellent if you still eat it. Dairy is great if you can handle it.

But if anything it's going to be the bag of potato chips that totes natural under its logo like it's some kind of badge and automatically means it's healthful that's a danger.
I didn't say I was eating organic foods. By natural foods, I meant real food. I'm not sure what you mean by natural, but I mean naturally occurring foods.
 

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Awesome.
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884 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Personally, I felt much better when I started making every meal from scratch. Plus there's something unsettling about looking at a fake roast made of lentils and seeing it has sugar and/or HFCS in it.

I'm a vegan, so I know what you're talking about with the crazy expensive mystery veggie food. Sometimes its just bordering totally ridiculous, Kale chips 9 bucks for a tiny box. Crazy.

Here are two natural fake meat ideas:
http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/homemade-seitan/
TVP as a replacement for soy crumbles (which is literally just vegetable protein that's been dried out).

Aside from this, if you're cool with tofu that can be turned into basically anything you want. Tempeh is great with potatoes and starchy vegetables, if you're looking for a hardy meal.

1. Get every conceivable spice you may need from Mustard Seed to Turmeric to Chives. Don't be afraid of pre-mixed spice blends until you get your bearings. Penzey makes some great blends. Big recommendation for Arizona Dreaming and Mural of Flavor.

2. Stock the pantry! Keep some staples around. Vegan With A Vengeance (book by Post-Punk Kitchen) has some great tips on other stuff to stock (like Pureed Pumpkin is handy). I always keep the following:
Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes
Yellow Onions/Sweet Onions
Garlic
Rice (usually short grain/japonica), Quinoa, Amaranth, or whatever Grain you prefer
Pasta (linguine, cavatelli, and orechiette) - in most cases they don't load these with unnatural ingredients. Look for pastas that are primarily just semolina flour, many are. Pasta by hand is an admirable goal, and delicious but very time consuming.
Beans (canned Black, Light Red and White Kidney, Blackeyed Peas, Chickpeas, Refried Black Beans - be careful many brands have lard or heavy oils)
Canned or Boxed Stewed Tomatoes (Pomi is a good brand)
Frozen Produce (collareds, mustard greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, edamame, broccoli rabe) - recommend Whole Foods big time on this one
Nuts/Seeds (Pepitas, Walnuts, Raw Cashews)
Sauce-y Stuff (Soy Sauce/Tamari, Aji Mirin, Rice Vinegar, Liquid Smoke (you may want to omit this), Toasted Sesame Oil, Red Chili Paste or Chili Oil, Miso - I tend towards Asian Cuisine)

Any fresh produce is best to grab as you make food, or if you plan out dinners you can grab them at the start of the week - but generally plan to use fresh stuff within a week (two at most). Your mileage is going to vary, mushrooms tend to get slimy relatively quickly, but you can keep an unriped avocado for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Just ask yourself if you're really going to dedicate some time to try and use the produce in the next week.

3. Experiment! Some great websites:
veganyumyum.com
theppk.com
veganbaking.net (they have great recipes that you could very easily non-veganize)
Sometimes you'll fall flat on your face, but cooking from scratch is a skill like any other. If you keep buying raw ingredients you stop staring in the pantry going "I'm hungry and this is a pain in the ***," to "I'm hungry and I know what I want to make" pretty fast. Once you get comfortable, you can do things like make a pound of seitan and play around with it over the course of a week in different dishes.

Also, my buddy swears by slowcooking beans. Apparently that's amazing and you pretty much don't have to do anything aside from mixing ingredients and leaving them to cook while you're at work, school, whatever.

I think that's all I got for advice!
Thanks! I just had time to skim your post, but I'm going to come back and read it more closely.

Frozen vegetables are my new best friend! I do try to keep a lot of other things you listed on hand too, so that's good to hear I'm on the right track.

I don't know about you, but I prefer to avoid fake meat - I can sometimes handle the crumbles because they mostly add substance, but if something tries to be textured like meat, I can't stomach it!

Thanks again!
 
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