It’s all the rage – everyone’s talking about it, buying books, taking courses on it, hell – it’s even on Oprah! And we all know what happens – once Oprah says it works – it’s as good as gold. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against Oprah – I actually enjoy her shows and think she brings better quality programming to many North Americans who otherwise would succumb to the mind-numbing television world of The Bachelorette and The Hills. But “The Real Food Diet”….come on! At least the Zone and the Atkins had formulas to figure out and food combining principals – none of them worked mind you – but at least they had a patentable design that gave them a reason for their fame and following. “The Real Food Diet” is about back to basics living…there’s no rocket science involved: eat fresh foods, eat foods that are intended for your region, and avoid anything processed, chemicalized or artificially synthesized.
But guess what? Unless you read labels, this can be a more daunting task than one might think. Here are our Top 10 Ways to Make it Real Easy to Eat Real!
1. Eat without a label. Apples, brown rice, sweet pototoes…even meat (not my area of expertise – but still applicable in this scenario) – what do they all have in common? NO INGREDIENTS! Anything natural is all part of the Real Food for Real People movement….join the parade!
2. Shop the outside of a grocery store. The “real food” is usually mechandised around the perimeter of the shop with the “junk” taking up the majority of the inner aisles.
3. If you can’t pronounce it – don’t eat it. Simple as that.
4. Avoid “vegan” products. Yes I know that sounds ridiculous (and probably bad for business!) coming from a vegan chef & product producer – but most vegan products contain chemicals and colourings to try to simulate animal products (think vegan hot dogs, chicken nuggets…hell, someone last weekend tried to sell me VEGAN SHRIMP!) or else they contain lots of sugar or artificial sweeteners to make them tolerable to the taste. Choose all-natural, hand-made vegan products – like Daily Apple’s fruit sweetened Little Miss Muffins!
5. Eat local. The best way to eat real food is to know where it “really” comes from.
6. Party like it was 1949. Seriously. Before all of the processed foods came into being, people got up on Sunday mornings and made pancakes from scratch, with real maple syrup! Soups were made from left-over produce. Eggs came out of shells – not cardboard boxes with a chicken picture on them. Try it…it’s easier than you think.
7. Grow it yourself! Now I’m not the expert on this one (no green thumbs here) but if you want to really know what you’re eating, what better way than DIY. I’m committed to starting an herb garden this season. I’ll keep you posted.
8. Think fresh. If it has a shelf life of 2 1/2 years it’s likely not totally “real”. Avoid foods with preservatives and shelf stabilizers. Sorry Entenmans! We did love your coffee cake!
9. Shop regularly and avoid the bulk warehouse stores. Change your food buying habits and buy on an as-needs basis choosing fresh, local produce. Or better yet, sign up for a community food-share or box program and use what nature gives you!
10. Go naked! Well, at least your food can. Let the natural flavours of your favourite meats, vegetables, and fruits shine through and try not to mask them with sauces, mixes and dried seasonings. Use fresh herbs, sea salts, natural vinegars, and lemon juice to zest up your meals. It may take a bit of time to re-train your taste buds, but when you do the flavours will be UNREAL!!
Happy eating everyone.
In Oprah We Trust