It’s an excuse I hear from many who choose not to eat a healthy diet – “Healthy food tastes nasty!”
I actually used to believe this myself. I thought that healthy food didn’t taste good, but like a “good girl”, I suffered through it anyway. This is because I had a completely different idea about what healthy food was. I thought that if I was cutting as much fat and calories out of my diet as possible, I was eating healthy food. What were these foods that I thought of as healthy? Fat free mayonnaise, fat free cottage cheese, dry chicken, and for a real treat – baked pieces of cardboard (otherwise known as “fat-free chips”) with low-cal salsa.
With all due respect to fat-free anything – yuck. Just…yuck. Unless, of course, it is naturally fat free. Apples don’t have fat and they still taste good. But that’s because God made them that way. Real food always tastes better when you eat it the way God made it. (Don’t get me started.) But as soon as you start pulling the real stuff (fat, nutrients, etc.) out of a food and replacing it with chemicals to make it “healthy”, the taste of that food is forever altered and well…yuck.
Now, I don’t claim to be the best cook in the world. I have botched recipes, and scared my family and sometimes my guests with some doozies of dishes that just simply haven’t tasted good. But I’ve got to say, now that we’re eating a healthy, whole foods diet, using real food in its natural form – my food tastes so much better than it ever did compared to the days when we just ate whatever cheap, low fat, low calorie stuff I could find with coupons. (Have you ever put fat-free cheese in your enchiladas? I do not recommend it.)
Serve these Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls, and I bet no one would complain about eating healthier food.
Really? These are made with whole wheat and honey? Yep. :)
Now, sit back and close your eyes. Let the deliciousness of the following food list help you know how wonderful healthy food really does taste. (Oh wait. You may need to open your eyes to read. My bad.)
- Compare a chewy chicken nugget from a box, to a juicy beef roast with gravy, roasted potatoes, and carrots – and tell me healthy food doesn’t taste good.
- Pull some hearty, homemade honey whole wheat bread out of the oven and slather it with (real!) butter – and tell me healthy food doesn’t taste good.
- Whip some cream and plop some on top of fresh strawberries – and tell me healthy food doesn’t taste good.
- Grill a steak, serve it with tossed green salad, and corn on the cob – and tell me healthy food doesn’t taste good.
- Scramble some farm fresh eggs with some chopped tomatoes, peppers, and grated cheddar cheese – and tell me healthy food doesn’t taste good.
You can open your eyes now. ;) I think I’m finished thinking of amazing, healthy food that tastes good, but I’m hungry right now, so no guarantees.
My point is – real food is healthy, and real food tastes incredibly good. In addition, it is satisfying, and makes your body feel good, since your body recognizes what you are feeding it when you are feeding it real food. It is delicious food and you feel great as a result. It’s a win-win situation.
Rich chicken broth with veggies and homemade noodles; fresh whole wheat biscuits right out of the oven dripping with honey; a peach right off the tree; garden fresh vegetables dipped in homemade ranch dip; whole grain pancakes with melted butter and real maple syrup….
Ahhhhh, real food. I love it. (And I should probably go eat some of it right now since I’m so hungry and delicious food is all I can think of…)
What are your favorite real foods?
I do a raisin bread with rolled oats, flax seed and sunflower seed for my Old Man. Instead of sugar, I use honey and over half the flour I make in the magic bullet food processor out of the above mentioned. It’s not *low cal* or low carb, but if you’re going to indulge, substitute out as much processed stuff for whole food as possible. I do the same thing when making pancakes, substitute all flour for oats made into flour with the food processor (I like adding flax seed to this because it has some great antioxidants!) and add a scoop of whey protein to up the nutritional content.
Sometimes what we *think* is good for us and what really is good for us are two different things. I remember being in the “I stopped eating red meat for my health” club until I compared the nutrition information of lean cuts of steak with lean cuts of chicken and found I was getting more protein and less fat per serving with the red meat. Same for eggs. Ditch the yolk and you have the cleanest source of protein outside of fish you can find.
I love Mediterranean inspired salads, Feta cheeses, heirloom tomatoes, beef jerky that has been chopped in the food processor instead of bacon bits, hard boiled egg whites and blue cheese dressing! Another night might be Mexican food stylized salads, salsa instead of tomatoes, black beans, avocado slices and ranch dressing! (remember to use a dressing with some fat in it to bind the fat soluble vitamins to so they don’t get flushed with your water!)
Seared Ahi. *drool* Go to your fish guy and ask for SEALED sushi grade ahi steaks. SPAG(no EVOO) both sides and when the steaks are room teperature sear to medium rare on all sides. The center should be warm but still very rare, this is a beginners sushi dish – fear not, this is why we ask for sealed – still frozen sushi grade.
I do a wild rice with sweet onion and spinach that is well reviewed. An easy win, slice zuccini lengthwise, drizzle with basalmic vinegar, salt-pepper-onion powder-garlic powder and put on the top rack of your BBQ grill. AMAZING. You could put them on a bun and eat them like hot dogs if you wanted – although way better just on their own. :D
You can absolutely cook healthy good. You can also make bread in under two hours. It’s all about working smarter not harder!
Your cooking sounds amazing! You had me drooling. :) I would never throw out the egg yolks though. It’s the best, most nutritious part of the egg (pastured, of course).
I agree with you, Laura! I used to eat fat-free ranch dressing. That stuff is really gross. Blech. I once tried to make a grilled cheese sandwich and I slathered the bread with fat-free butter. Ew – it never melted. Eating real food most definitely tastes better. There really is no comparison. And your list just made my stomach growl. :)
Ashleigh L. says
I agree with you 100% – the best food tasting that I ever eat usually comes straight from a garden and is cooked in a steamer, stove top or oven. I grew up eating meals of carrots, peas, beans, meat directly from a farm or butchery, potatoes and/or rice, and that is how I cook my main meal on a daily basis too. It is a real treat to have a “one dish meal” like cottage pie, macaroni and cheese, or lasagna, but even those meals are made at home from the raw ingredients.
Thanks for this post! I enjoyed reading it and shared it with my friends.
I never feel richer than when I’m eating a meal of fresh from the farm fruits and veggies. My favorite is gazpacho. I’m just waiting for the green peppers to come in!
If done right, healthy food can taste awesome! Totally agree with Mandy.
We have been replacing all that fake food with real whole foods and we love it! Only problem is that we have all gained weight. Not quite sure what is going on there. We have cut portion size down and have limited desserts but the number on the scale keeps creeping up. We won’t ever go back to fake food though. Guess we will just have to step up the workouts!
Tracy, I’m the same way. I can’t figure out why this is happening. I make almost everything from scratch (haven’t mastered bread making yet) and the numbers are creeping up on me. I’ll admit – I *love* carbs, so that is probably the biggest part of my problem. However, I mistakenly assumed that by taking ut all the junk and replacing it with whole, real foods would help with my weight issue. I still haven’t gotten it all figured out yet. All I know is that by taking out all the junk, my children are more focused and quicker to obey me than before. And THAT is a good enough reason for me to keep doing what I’m doing. :)
I think eating high protein vs. carbs is the key. And making sure you’re not over-doing it on fat. I’m not saying eat low fat foods! I just try not to pile my butter too high or douse my fruit with too much whipping cream. But the carbs is the biggie, I think. So, eggs and meat and kefir and Greek yogurt…or some high protein with every meal and most snacks. I think it’s not just the whole foods that’s important, it’s the ratio of fat-carbs-protein most times you eat.
For me, I have had to really watch my portion sizes. Somehow I get into a rut of thinking that since I’m eating whole wheat and non processed sugars and etc, that I have permission to eat however much I want, whether I’m still hungry or not! And that’s when my pants get tight. ;)
I don’t have to watch portion sizes at all when I eat the right foods. I eat a “primal” or “paleo” based diet which means no grains, very little sugar and fruit. I feel soooo much better than I used to.
I have lost 10 pounds by eating tons of fat (I was very low fat before and I think my body was dying for fat). The first thing I would do would be to stop eating carbs at breakfast and instead eat fat and protein. I eat a hamburger with butter a lot of mornings while my husband eats eggs and sausage. I don’t seem to do well when I try to eat eggs and sausage – each person is different.
I know it seems like it would be too expensive, but I found I don’t need as much food the rest of the day if I start out on the right foot. Good luck to you!!!
Thank you so much ladies for all the suggestions! It is nice to know I am no alone in what i have been experiencing and that I can be successful!!!!
I think for many people they think real food tastes bad because is isn’t what they are used to. Fake food has so many chemicals in it, sodium and nasty fats that your brain re wires to think this is how food “should” taste. Then try eating an apple or banana and yeah, it does taste bad, if your brain thinks a Big Mac is the standard by which “good” food is measured.
I know a couple of years ago as I was starting to make different food decisions I was trying to eat more fruit instead of processed sugars, and fruit just tasted gross. I knew in my brain that the super ripe banana should be plenty sweet, but compared to all the Nutrasweet I was drinking, that banana tasted like nothing.
I choose to take 3 weeks off of ALL SUGAR. No fruit, ketchup, honey nothing. Then went back to trying fruit. The difference was amazing. Now real fruit is more than enough to fix a sugar craving. I can’t even eat over ripe bananas they are too sweet for me!
It takes time for your brain to relearn what food is supposed to taste like!
What you said is so true! But it’s not only with sugar for us, we find that if we consume wheat regularly we crave more wheat/sugar stuff and when we majorly limit all wheat and non-fruit sugars out, the cravings go away. So we try to keep any wheat or non-fruit sources of sugar to less than twice a week, anything more and we feel a difference. I do think it’s very easy to overdo the healthier sugars, for awhile there we were getting in the habit of having some form of added sugar everyday, and even if it was “healthier” it was still taking a toll on our health and making us want more and more.
We are going through a huge food transition. Its not that we didn’t eat whole foods before, but learning how to balance them. Also, I got rid of all white in my house…white sugar – which is found in TONS of things I didn’t even realize…white flour, white potatoes…anything like that. Simply going through my cupboards and getting rid of anything that added sugar (or sugar substitutes) has made a HUGE transition in our eating. I still struggle with balancing the whole how far to go thing. Do you use coconut flour instead of white? Do you use Palm Sugar instead of honey because of the lack of fructose? Things like that. But honestly, just removing the refined sugar makes me feel better about what I’m feeding my kids. I’m definitely going to try the whole wheat pancakes…cuz we tried some almond meal ones today and they were gross! :0)
I love my fresh from the garden salsa. I seriously can not eat the ‘other’ stuff any more after switching over a year ago.
Now that I’m SERIOUSLY hungry from the list I’ll have to go find a snack.
We are switching over to eating more ‘natural, whole foods’. Does any one have any web-sites or books that really SPELL IT OUT.
We’re a bit new to the whole process but really want to embrace it as much as possible so that my Husband and I, plus our two young boys (& any future children) can be the healthiest they can be.
God Bless. Thanks in advance.
If you look on my categories page, and click on any of the series’ under the “Healthy Eating” subtitle, you might find a lot of information there that helps spell it out for you in an easier way. Specifically look in the “Getting Real with Food”; “Feeding the Family”; “Our Healthy Eating Journey”; and “Simple Steps Toward Healthy Eating” posts. There’s a lot of information there, but hopefully not too overwhelming! :)
Thanks Laura I will do that.
There is SO much good stuff on your web-site I tend to over look stuff.
LOVE THIS SITE!!! And your recipes. I’ve yet to try one that my oldest
won’t eat. Thanks so much.
Since I have started making whipped cream from scratch, I’ll never go back! My family loves it so much! Just last night my six year old asked if we could eat that with blueberries for dessert. Sure sweetie! :). We love your ranch cheddar burgers (they’re best on the grill) and we all love a nice big steak. I just learned how to grill so I’m going crazy with that. I made shrimp with just some olive oil and herbs the other night and it’s one of our new favorites. When we do eat more processed stuff, none of feel great afterwards.
I’m digging pineapple right now!! It’s one of my favorite foods!
I struggle SO MUCH with portion control..I like to eat more even if I’m full….And really if you eat a lot of butter (which I am guilty of) you are going to have a hard time losing weight! It’s just simple facts. If you eat a meal made with two sticks of butter and have two helpings or so..it’s going to add up fast! If you eat a meal of protein and veggies, and fruit, it is A LOT easier to burn off! You have to burn more calories, and fat then you are taking in! It is difficult, but can be done! How hard you workout depends on how much you burn to! I’m trying to do 40 minutes of very hard workouts every day! I can already tell it’s trying to help! Pray for me that I get my portions under control!
Healthy fats are good for us, but it is easy to take in too many calories. Base meals around vegetables, meats and fat should be a a fairly small portion compared to vegetables.
I have this AWESOME recipe for cheesy veggie soup that basically just has a whole mess of veggies, cheese, flour, and butter. It doesn’t even take any seasoning, but the veggies are so good you don’t need it! My husband is a die-hard meat lover, but this is the only vegetarian recipe he goes out of his way to ask me for :) (it’s also AMAZING with homemade bread on the side!)
Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents says
You are SO right! Real food tastes sooooooooooo good!
And fat free cheese? Yuck! You might as well eat rubber. My inlaws eat it and I won’t touch it. You can hardly get it to melt and when it does melt, it turns into a weird blubbery substance. It’s a science fair project. Nasty. :-)
Jello non-fat pudding (in those individual servings) was the LAST STRAW for me (back when I thought healthy meant low-fat!) I wanted to cry – it tasted so “fake”! It is so great to know that homemade pudding made with REAL food ingredients is healthy and o.k. and we don’t have to be satisfied with a cup full of chemicals anymore! (just can’t eat half the pot – ha!) I think we’re ready for Laura’s homemade pudding pops again! Let’s hear it for summertime!
Susan F. says
I enjoy beef straight from organically cared for cows that my brother-in-law raises every few years. We also grow a garden and my mother has laying hens. There is nothing as nice as a home-fresh egg. I have Crohn’s Disease so have a lot of dietary challenges including times that I can’t have grains, fresh veggies etc.
I would encourage families who are trying to switch to ease into whole wheat, brown rice, whole grains. Do half and half for a while.
The other piece of advise would be make as much as you can from scratch. You avoid the preservatives, dyes, and other nasty ingredients none of us can pronounce!
I completely agree with your premise of “real” food being much tastier AND healthier! I love fresh veggies and fruits. But I do take a tiny exception to the notion that just because you add whole wheat to something it is healthy. Chocolate chip cookies made with whole wheat are not healthy – chocolate chip cookies by their very nature are not healthy. That is not to say they aren’t healthier than the chemical laden, overly processed garbage that comes out of a bag at the store. Some foods are just never going to be “healthy” no matter how much better the ingredients are. Just my two cents. I love reading your blogs – thanks for the wonderful information :)
As my chiropractor once told me “A filters cigarette is healther than a nonfiltered one, but it still doesn’t mean you should smoke it.” I just thought of that when I read your reply :-)
I think people that don’t like real food, often haven’t found a recipe they like. For instance, we had a large garden growing up and every year my brother and I dreaded asparagus season. My mother always served it the same way, microwaved to mush with a pat of butter and sprinkle of salt on the top just the way Dad liked it, yuck! My brother and I would chew up our required 2 pieces as fast as possible followed by milk as a chaser. I now take that same garden asparagus my dad gives me and blanch it to put in alfredo pasta, souffle-ed omelets with goat cheese, or simply oven roast it with olive oil, parm and sea salt on top, delicious! I’ve also learned that steamed broccoli tastes better with butter, sea salt AND lemon juice on top. Zucchini needs a little garlic or tomatoes, bread crumbs, herbs and cheese in a gratin. They say kids have to try something 10 times before they learn to like it. I think the same is true for adults. Try cooking a particular veggie 10 different ways before saying you don’t like it. (Even if you didn’t like that veggie as a kid) Also, think outside the supermarket. My local supermarket is great for things like bananas, lemons and organic greens, but I would never buy peaches there. I buy those at a specialty fruit market(when they are in season). I buy peapods, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, etc. at my local farmers market. Garden fresh produce is usually packed with flavor because it is grown in real nutrient rich soil and eaten in season. You can’t blame someone for eating an insipid grocery store tomato and saying they don’t like real rood, but a Farmer’s Market tomato with fresh mozzarella in caprase, outstanding! It’s so easy to eat seasonally in the summer!
This is such an interesting topic to me! I’m gradually moving my family to a whole foods diet and we are experimenting with this, but hubby is trying to lose weight. Any experience with losing weight while eating whole foods?
all I have to say is “Avocados.” Any way. Any how.
Karen Dee says
Oh Laura, these cinnamon rolls are just wonderfull! I used whole wheat pastry flour. The dough was pretty soft, but, it raised well and baked up great. I am sorry it didn’t turn out for some as it is such a good recipe. Do you think coconut oil would work in this in place of butter?
My favorite healthy foods are the fruits and vegetables we pick right out of the garden. Our grill goes all year long with shish-ka-bobs, grilled veggies and even grilled pineapple and peaches. We also love salads and sandwiches with whole grain breads and lots of fresh veggies. The sandwiches taste so good you do not even need meat. We also make our own preserves and peanut butter. Yum.
Laura, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your website. So many people today make healthy eating a time and money consuming ordeal. It doesn’t have to be that way! You approach things from such a practical and common-sense perspective…what a blessing that is to all of us! Thank you so much!