One difficult obstacle to overcome when adapting a family’s diet to be in line with Weston A. Price principles is figuring out how to prepare foods that the entire family will actually eat and enjoy. It’s not only the children we need to impress, but often also the dad and sometimes even the mom! Does your family include hard-to-please, skeptical eaters? If so, I hope you can pick up a few new ideas here and be inspired!
Revamping and revitalizing family recipes can be as simple as replacing refined, denatured ingredients with whole foods in their natural state. For instance, this might mean using unrefined sea salt such as Celtic Sea Salt instead of the bleached white “table salt” that most consumers are used to; or substituting Sucanat or coconut sugars for white sugar (you can even run these through a food processor to create “confectioner’s sugar”); or replacing vegetable oils and shortening with lard, butter and real olive or high-oleic sunflower oils. In most cases, it is possible to successfully switch these items one for one.
QUINTESSENTIAL KIDS’ MEALS
In the 1950s, America saw a growing demand within the food industry to produce easy-to-make, cheap and convenient packaged meals. The trend continued in the 1970s when General Mills answered the call by releasing Hamburger and Tuna Helpers. Years before, Kraft already had beaten General Mills to the punch, releasing its “macaroni pasta and processed cheese product” in 1937 and garnering the loyalty of generations. I grew up on these food industry creations (eating Kraft Mac-N-Cheese with hot dogs), and I’ll bet some of you did as well. The thought of these items now turns my stomach, but at the time they were what we knew and loved.
While none of these products were by any means nutritious, the increase in large-scale industrial farming, the ever-higher input of carcinogenic chemicals and the advent of genetically modified organisms masquerading as “food” mean that today’s conventional products may be especially harmful to the health of our families. All commercially grown grain products are now raised on fields heavily sprayed with glyphosate, which is also being used to “ripen” grains, resulting in a highly toxic end product. Add to that the contamination of dairy products—due to the industrial practice of feeding herds with a high intake of these very same glyphosate-sprayed grains and giving cows recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)—and, together with the widespread irradiation of many foods, we have a toxic “soup” on our dinner tables, one that is completely lacking in actual nutrients.
Responding to consumer pressure, Kraft has given up using artificial colors in its Macaroni and (fake) Cheese dinner in favor of natural colorants such as paprika, annatto and turmeric. Oscar Mayer, in May 2017, announced its decision to abandon nitrates, nitrites and preservatives in its hot dogs, replacing them with “cultured celery juice” (a wild card as far as nitrate content is concerned) and “natural flavorings.” However, that is still not saying much, given the hot dogs’ “mechanically separated” beef, turkey and chicken, along with dextrose, corn syrup and a whopping five hundred and thirty milligrams of sodium from refined salt per hot dog.
A much better option for real foodies is to choose hot dogs or sausages from your local farmer or a grass-fed and nitrate-free choice from a source such as US Wellness, Tendergrass, Organic Prairie or another of the growing list of suppliers now available. (Check the latest WAPF shopping guide for more suggestions.)
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH
Bisquick, the famous Betty Crocker baking mix first introduced in 1931, is a staple in many American households. Its fame comes from the ease with which moms everywhere can make anything from breakfast biscuits to shortcake. If you want to avoid a product that not only is sorely lacking in nutrition but is full of glyphosate-laden GM flour and rancid canola oil, consider creating your own baking mix. It is as simple as mixing four basic ingredients (or more, if a sweeter version is desired). With a homemade mix on hand, you can make all the standards, plus birthday cake, dumplings and whatever else you might wish to bake up!
For lunch, homemade tomato soup is relatively easy to prepare and far surpasses the taste of anything coming from a can. Instead of the usual grilled cheese sandwiches made with storebought bread and American “cheese,” use homemade or other good quality sourdough or artisan bread and real cheese—these make for the best lunch ever! Add a little salad on the side, topped with a dollop of sauerkraut and homemade dressing, and you can’t miss.
THE COLLEGE STUDENT’S STAPLE
I remember being young (and rather foolish), on a very tight budget and hungry back in the early 1980s. There before me in the grocery store aisle were row upon row of cheap, flavored ramen noodles—the answer to the stomach’s need to be filled! Or was it?
For a short time I enjoyed indulging in package after package of those strange, easy and somewhat filling “meals.” My mother was no great cook, and I already was quite familiar with those little cubes called “bouillon” that provided so much flavor to the meals she made. Ramen noodles seemed similar and were not a big deal to me initially, because I had no idea there was such a thing as real bone broth. One day, however, I read the ramen package and knew with certainty that I could not continue to eat them. Even though I hadn’t a clue about real nutrition at that time, I knew very well that if I couldn’t pronounce an ingredient, it probably didn’t belong in my body. And besides, there were those migraine headaches I was getting from MSG in its many forms (see sidebar below). In short, I was beginning to understand (as I hope my readers do as well).
These days, a wide variety of soups, including a more traditional, healthy and delicious version of ramen noodles, grace our table frequently. I make them using that wonderful, health-giving food we all have learned to know and love—real meat stock and bone broth. For the noodle component, I may use “glass” noodles (made from a type of sweet potato starch or mung beans), soaked rice or occasionally brown-rice-and-millet dried ramen noodles, available at Costco and Asian markets. When it is just my husband and myself, we prefer a simple but lovely “ramen” of spiralized zucchini or summer squash.
Regardless of the noodles used, one only need add some diced vegetables, minced cooked pork or seafood, herbs, garlic, shoyu or tamari and a drizzle of sesame oil to have a nutritious, easy-to-make and satisfying meal that is also inexpensive. In our home, this is a favorite with our kids, who prepare it very often on busy days when mom isn’t available to make their lunch.
Like ramen, everyone loves spaghetti with meatballs in tomato sauce, right? Making a homemade sauce is not a big problem for most people—homemade sauce is easy, tastes better and can be made with homegrown or other organic tomatoes. On the other hand, considering the aforementioned problems with conventional grains, the more important choice may be to use sourdough bread crumbs or ground pork rinds in your meatballs instead of purchased bread crumbs or panko. In addition, organic and grass-fed ground beef will provide not only wonderful flavor but better nutrition.
A spiralizer can make fast work of zucchini or summer squash, turning them into delicious “pasta” to carry all that goodness into your mouth. (Grocery stores now carry these freshly prepared vegetable “noodles” in the produce section.) Or, for excellent flavor and added nutrients, try making lasagna with thinly sliced, steamed zucchini instead of traditional lasagna noodles. Topping the lasagna off with real aged Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, will lift the flavor to the sublime!
REAL ICE CREAM
Most people have come to expect cake from a box (at best) or the typical, overly sweet birthday cake purchased from the local grocery store bakery, smothered in brightly colored icing made with shortening, sugar and neurotoxic food coloring. People top that off with ice cream containing the same fake colors and flavors, along with high fructose corn syrup and even antifreeze (propylene glycol), which is a standard ingredient in nearly all commercial ice creams. Although some might say, “If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it’s safe for us to ingest, who are we to question it?” But this is not okay! So what is a concerned parent to do?
Our family has made many cakes with sourdough, sprouted grains or alternative non-grain flours. Last year for one child’s birthday I even took a sourdough bundt cake to a church gathering where almost no one is interested in “health food.” My expectation was that most people would pass by such a creation and that my family would eat the cake and have leftovers for home. In fact, nearly everyone at the gathering had a piece and devoured it. Several people even begged for the recipe!
Not everyone has an ice cream maker, but it is quite easy to make a perfectly acceptable homemade ice cream without one. A simple mixture of cream, honey or maple syrup, vanilla and egg yolk make a fine, French-vanilla-flavored treat. The addition of a little cream cheese helps ensure a smooth texture even when frozen in a glass container. Occasional stirring while freezing “whips” air into the final product, making it more like what comes out of a carton at the grocery store. With other options such as added organic fruit or nuts, one can create a wide variety of flavors sure to please even the fussiest of party-goers.
For more ideas, see my article, “Drink That Milk! Eat Those Peas!” in the Spring 2009 edition of this journal. I would love to receive your requests and suggestions and to hear how your own recipe transformations are going. Send questions, recipes, tips and photographs to my email (email@example.com) or leave them in the comments section on the Weston A. Price Foundation website. Bon appétit!
WHAT IS IT?
Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), palm oil, salt, contains less than 2% of: autolyzed yeast extract, calcium silicate, citric acid, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, dried leek flake, garlic powder, hydrolyzed corn protein, hydrolyzed soy protein, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, natural and artificial flavor, onion powder, potassium carbonate, powdered chicken, rendered chicken fat, sodium alginate, sodium carbonate, sodium tripolyphosphate, soybean, spice and color, sugar, TBHQ (preservative), wheat.
Answer: Store-bought ramen noodles.
MAUREEN’S MAC N’ CHEESE
• 1 pound brown rice elbows, cooked or cooked soaked brown rice
• 16 ounces shredded grass-fed cheeses (any combination you prefer)
• 1 quart whole milk from grass-fed cows
• 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
• 1/2 cup butter
• 2 teaspoons dry mustard
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
In a large bowl, toss the hot pasta or rice with melted butter. Combine milk with the dry ingredients and pour over the pasta/rice. Stir in the shredded cheese. Put in a large baking dish that has been brushed with butter. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. This dish goes well with nitrate-free hot dogs from pastured pork or beef.
“NUTRIQUICK” BAKING MIX
• 4 cups sprouted flour(s) or grain-free flour mixture
• 2 tablespoons aluminum-free baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons each butter (or ghee) and lard
• 1/4-1/2 cup sucanat, coconut sugar or monk fruit (optional)
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl or food processor. Cut in soft fats. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
To use, add one egg and one tablespoon fat per cup of mix, plus 3/4 cup of milk or coconut milk for muffins or cake (as well as one teaspoon vanilla). Add a little more milk for pancakes.
To make biscuits, chill the fats and cut into mix with a pastry cutter. Add 3/4 cup milk per cup of mix, stir and drop onto a baking sheet by the spoonful. Pop into a hot 425º oven for 15-20 minutes. Adding herbs or spices along with grated cheese can provide many delicious variations.
SOURDOUGH BIRTHDAY CAKE
• 1 cup sourdough starter and 3 cups whole grain flour
• 1 cup honey, 2 1/2 -3 cups milk or coconut milk, 2 tablespoons each melted lard and butter, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 eggs, lightly beaten
• Ground spices (optional): 2 teaspoons each cinnamon and cardamom, 1 teaspoon each nutmeg and cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ginger
Mix starter and flour and let sit at least six hours or overnight, covered with a clean cloth. Alternately with the eggs, add remaining ingredients (including optional spices). Mix well but do not overbeat. Pour into a greased and floured bundt or other cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350º oven for approximately 30 minutes. After cooling, ice with cream cheese frosting (8 ounces soft organic cream cheese, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla) or eat as is. This makes a lovely breakfast cake, too.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2018.