What is “Real Food” Anyway?!

Real Food” is the newer way to describe what we boomers commonly referred to as “Whole Foods.” The change was perhaps needed to differentiate between a philosophy of food consumption and the natural grocer, “Whole Foods™.”

What is confusing to me, and I believe others, is that there are many definitions of the term “Real Food” and include restrictive diets such as Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan.

Whole food, by definition, is food that is minimally processed, free of artificial additives to preserve and enhance flavor, and usually contain few ingredients. Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan diets may or may not exclusively consist of whole foods, but what better defines them, as well as Paleo diets, are the excluding of certain food groups or individual grains.

Why am I bringing this up?

As a young mother, I was hyper-conscientious. I’m concerned that young mothers will feel they have to increasingly restrict their family’s diet to feed them nutritiously. An example of unnecessarily limiting your families diet is to buy expensive Gluten Free items even if no-one has Celiac disease or a wheat sensitivity.

Some of my recipes are vegetarian, like baked macaroni and cheese, or vegan – a lentil casserole –  however, they fall under my criteria for whole foods and not the other way around.

There is much pressure in the whole foods community to purchase organic products. Organic products are not necessarily whole foods. An example is organic unbleached flour. For the majority of families, buying everything organic is not an economical option or perhaps even available to them.

I would prefer to buy all organic, free-range, and grass-fed items. It just isn’t within our budget. If you likewise cannot afford to buy organic, it is irrelevant if you purchase a minimally processed can of WalMart Great Value Black Beans that cost $.50 or a natural brand from a whole foods grocer that costs twice as much. You have to take the emotional component out of feeding your family and just compare labels. Your wallet will thank you!

I’m going to describe what kind of “real food” my family will and won’t eat. If I roasted some fresh vegetables and served them on a bed of quinoa, I would be in heaven on a non-meat Monday, however, serving that to my family of men would be an epic fail.

What my guys would willingly eat is macaroni and cheese made with whole wheat flour and elbows, whole milk, butter, and white sharp cheddar cheese. I could serve this with non-processed frozen vegetables that I steam and season with butter, salt, and pepper. This meal would be a hit and guess what? It is “Real Food” probably bought at Walmart and Aldi.

The important thing is to serve nutritious foods that are as minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible. It isn’t difficult to convert most recipes that your family already loves to whole food alternatives.

If you have any questions about how I go about running a whole foods kitchen in a budget-friendly manner leave a comment and I’ll try to help.

Have a great day!


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