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Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Little Bit "Crunchy" ~ My Family's Journey to Real Food

The Bair-Trax Dairy Farm

Welcome Friends!

I readily admit that I am one of "those people". You know the ones. The "crunchy" mom who is shopping with her reusable grocery bags, buying a cart full of organic produce and not much else in a box, bag or can. I'm the weirdo who drives to my local dairy farm (see pic above!) once a week to buy farm fresh milk and eggs. You should have heard my husband's reaction when I told him I thought we should buy our beef in bulk. "You want to BUY a COW?"  No Honey, just 1/6 of a cow....and an upright freezer, too. Hahaha!

Our journey from Easy Mac and McDonald's chicken nuggets (both of which my 5 year old ate an embarrassing amount of during his toddler years!) to whole, mostly-unprocessed foods has been a two-year process. I have found that baby steps are key to making lasting dietary changes that aren't overwhelming to the chef or likely to cause mass hysteria in the home (What??? You stopped buying Oreos??!! Nooooo!!!!!!). After hearing a presentation on healthy eating and natural remedies, by Dr. Annie Thompson, about 2 years ago--I started making some easy food swaps. Less canned veggies, more fresh and frozen veggies. Less artificial colors. No artificial sweeteners. Fruits and veggies at every meal.

 A few months later, I stumbled upon the blog Kitchen Stewardship. Katie is a wealth of information and I loved reading her posts and recipes. Again, we took more baby steps to healthy eating. I learned how to make things from scratch that I used to buy packaged. Hamburger buns....beans....granola bars.... We started noticing changes in my son's behavior too. After "detoxing" from all of the artificial colors in our foods, he was served some red punch at church one evening. At 10 PM, he was lying in bed wide awake. "Mommy, I can't sleep!" he said. It was a big eye-opener (pun intended!) to us that the food we eat has a HUGE impact on not only our weight, but our immune system, our moods and our energy level. It was time to get serious about changing our diet!

A little over a year ago, I started a Facebook group for other like-minded "crunchy chicks" like myself. Thus, the "Crunchy Granola Chicks" FB group was born and within two weeks it had more than quadrupled in size. This thing has truly taken on a life of it's own! I continue to be grateful for the wealth of information that these ladies provide me. After asking the right questions of the right people (Thanks Liz!), I had located a source for organic milk, grass-fed beef, raw honey and free-range eggs. Did I mention that these things were almost in my backyard??? Seriously!! How had I been  completely oblivious to the wonderful resources God had provided to my family--within 5 miles of our own home!

Jackson showing how tall his carrots have grown!

Last summer we started a garden and were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to grow things like spinach, lettuce, carrots, and even watermelon! Jackson, my preschooler, was SO excited about harvesting all of the wonderful things that we grew ourselves (and equally as excited about actually EATING them!).

Charlotte at the Troy Farmers' Market
What we didn't grow in our garden, we were able to find at the local farmer's market. My sweet little Charlotte went with me nearly every week and Jackson was always anxious to see what new thing we would come home and show him (like purple "green beans"!). My grocery store trips last summer were pretty minimal, when you consider that most of our food came from the farm or the farmer's market! Less trips to the grocery = one happy mom!

‎7 Bartlett pears, 7 green bell peppers, 8 yellow onions,
3 cucumbers, 1 lg zucchini, and 25 lb of apples....
drum roll please...$17!! So amazing!! Locally grown,
unsprayed with pesticides & CHEAP! What more could you want?
Oh--organic milk and eggs? Maple syrup? Got those, too! ;)

I couldn't cook the meals that I do, the way that I do, without a WRITTEN meal plan. Trust me...the "written" part is KEY! I have tried to "fly by the seat of my pants" method when it comes to meal planning and it always, always ends in an 8:00 dinner or worse yet, take-out pizza! LOL! You see, when you stop buying frozen dinners and other pre-packaged "helpers"--all you are left with is a fridge and pantry full of ingredients. Planning ahead (thawing meats, cooking double or triple batches, prepping veggies, etc.) is the secret to getting fast, healthy meals on the table for your family. I hope that in upcoming blog posts, I can share some meal planning tips and ideas with you and help you realize the time and money that can be saved by creating a written, weekly plan.

See what I mean? With the exception of a few boxes of
"healthier" cereal....just a bunch of "ingredients".
Prior planning is a must when eating a "real food" diet!

Wow! Anybody still there? If so, THANK YOU! I promise that future posts won't be so "wordy", but I really wanted to share my family's journey with you and help you understand that we haven't always been "crunchy". And don't think we don't eat out or buy junk food on occasion. We do! My kids are not deprived of candy or ice cream or birthday cake (despite what my extended family might think!!). I believe in the 80/20 principle. We eat healthy, homemade, real food at least 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent of the time, we eat the Standard American Diet (SAD). It's all about moderation! Our bodies are God's gift to us....what we do with them is our gift to God.



  1. Ashley this blog is Ah-Mazing!!! So proud of you, keep up the good work and help your kitchen-inclined friend out;) where do you get maple syrup, honey, organic milk, free range eggs and beef at? Can I just shadow you one day! Lol

    1. The maple syrup I got from Stonewall Farms when they were set up at the Troy Farmer's Market last summer. They also sell their syrup at the Troy Meat Shop, but it seemed pricer to me than it was at the FM in the bigger jars. I get my free range eggs, milk and beef from the Bair-Trax dairy farm near Fulton Farm. I can get info to you if you are interested. The milk is only available through a herd share option (I can explain later), as it is raw milk. We bought our beef in bulk, but they also sell hamburger (ground and patties) there at the farm. Anyone can stop by and pick up eggs and beef (as long as they have some available!).

  2. Very cute blog! This is something that I want to work towards... healthier eating, more organic foods. I do cook almost everything from scratch, but I am scared away from organic because of the price. ( My budget for my family of 7 is $50 weekly.) I think I need to look in my "backyard" too, to see if I can get those things like milk and eggs, honey and beef close to home! :) I will definitely be coming back to your blog! :)

  3. Kayla, thank you for stopping by! Eating organic is significantly more expensive and couponing is nearly impossible. Prioritize poultry, eggs, meat and dairy first, then produce and lastly grains. Baby steps! :)