By Eric on November 10, 2011 64

Nutritionally Challenged

CAUTION: When you open your cupboards for the world to see, you better be ready for them to be scrutinized heavily.

A few weeks ago we recorded a video post after our weekly grocery trip. The post was done from a financial perspective on how we budget our food money, but we received a handful of comments about how poor our nutritional choices were. Yikes! After we wiped the tears away, we realized that you share out of love!

This left us feeling very convicted about the types of food we put into our bodies. This is something neither of us have ever focused on or cared about. We concluded that we are uneducated in this subject and are in need of a nutritional overhaul.

Steps We Are Taking:

  1. Admitting. This is the first step toward recovery, right? We admit we suck at eating healthy, and are severely uninformed on the subject of nutrition. (That wasn’t so hard…)
  2. Educating. We realize that before we can change our eating habits we need to understand nutrition and what good choices and bad choices look like. One reader encouraged us to watch “Food, Inc.,” which we did. I wouldn’t say the documentary changed our life, but it certainly gave us something to think about in terms of changing our food intake. After our gender reveal party we quizzed our moms about the lifestyle changes they have made over the years through Weight Watchers. We are totally open to other great resources you may know of for understanding the basics of nutrition and diet.
  3. Implementing. We know each other well enough to realize we are not going to flip 180 degrees overnight. That simply won’t work for us. But by taking baby steps, we can start to get on the right track toward a healthy lifestyle.

Here is a look at the items from our most recent grocery trip. Again, we’re not perfect, but we made a conscious effort to buy healthier foods than we have in the past. We also discovered that our grocery store uses the Nuval system. It basically has a number printed on the price tag between 1-100 showing you which options are healthy. The higher the number, the more nutritious the item. We found this super helpful the first time around!! Check it out:

Greek yogurt! Light Italian bread! Whole grain cereal and pasta! Skim milk! Granola bars instead of Mini Muffins! Low-sodium soup!

Lots of fruit! Reduced fat salty snacks!

  • Some of the items were purchased to make beanie weenie and spaghetti this week.
  • We promise our freezer is already stocked with our favorite vegetables (peas, green beans and corn).
  • Also, did you know Spaghettios are healthier than macaroni and cheese?

Help Us Help Each Other

I think for the first baby step, we should start with breakfast. If we can start our day with a healthy nutritional breakfast, we will be starting successfully. So here is where you come in. We are asking for your help to come up with some great nutritional breakfast ideas. Leave a comment with the what and the why behind your healthy breakfast food. We already took a step as I bought some yogurt, healthy cereal, and eggs instead of peanut butter toast everyday. Kelsey substituted her powered donuts and mini muffins for the Nature Valley granola bars.

Maybe we can all help each other be more nutritious!



Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. what a great start yogurt and a banana is a quick and easy breakfast

  2. Great post! I am, like you, just starting to figure out what food is good for me and how I can have a healthier diet. In the past I had big issues with breakfast food because it either wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied until lunch (cereal or yoghurt) or it was too heavy for me so that I felt sick right after having breakfast (an English muffin or bagel). After I read a post on 1Cup Awesome I started having oatmeal for breakfast and that was the best decision ever. It tastes good and it is really good for you too. I know you don’t have much time in the morning but oatmeal can be easily made in the microwave and then it shouldn’t take you much longer than 5 minutes.
    I hope you will keep sharing your experiences in the food department :-)

  3. First of all, Congratulations on trying!!! That is indeed the first step in the process. My husband and I, and my parents began our transformation from “unhealthy” to “healthy” about two years ago, after reading the book Blue Zones. Definitely would encourage you two to read it. It is very life changing, and will inspire you to change your lifestyles to a more “healthy” one as you prepare for the birth for you little one. I’ve learned that what you eat now (while you are in your 20s & 30s will affect how you live in your 40s, 50s, and beyond. You want to be around when your child gets older right? Heart Disease, and High cholesterol runs rampant in my family, and earlier this year my dad had a heart attack scare that really has pushed my family to eat much better. Now, after about 2 years of transforming our diets, we eat a high plant based, little to no meat diet, and we are loving it! Now, we definitely splurge every now and then on ice cream, chips, pizza, and hamburgers, but overall we try to stick to the “healthy” choices. We all feel so much better. Anyways, i’ve done tons of research, so if you want some more info or books to read please let me know!

    Congratulations again! From the pictures it seems like you are starting to make better eating choices!

  4. Put steel cuts oats (less processed then quick oats and much better for you) in the slow cooker before you go to bed! Instant breakfast when you get up! You can add rasins, cranberries, cinnamon…oh the possiblilties!!!! AND it will keep you warm and full for hours! And fruit smoothies! I buy big bags of frozen fruit, (no sugar or anything added)and plain yogurt to make them. A few handfuls of fruit, a few scoops of yogurt and a tiny bit of honey and you have a instant yummy breakfast!! Also check out this website: SO many yummy, good for you, easy recipes and ideas!! All the best! I’ve recently made changes in our little family’s diet, due to my husband having Crohns Disease. That website has been life changing!

  5. Congratulations on your changes! I’m a dietitian, so nutrition is one of my favorite topics. I’ll offer some additional resources. I think Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” is a great book, or if you want it in the short version, pick up his “Food Rules”. The 100 days of real food blog is great too. One of my favorite nutrition blogs is from a fellow dietitian,

    You guys are on the right track, and taking small steps is absolutely the best way to make long lasting changes.

    Also, I’ll add, Kelsey, while you’re pregnant, you want to really focus on getting enough protein. So eggs, cheese, milk, peanut butter, nuts,beans, and yogurt (especially greek yogurt) are going to be good choices for you. The Bradley Method promotes the Brewer diet, which is supposed to help prevent complications like pre-ecclampsia. This website explains it in detail.

  6. Yay! That’s great that you’ve decided to eat healthier. I didn’t comment on either your shopping video or the post where Kelsey went into what she eats, but I was so surprised that you guys don’t eat healthier! I see you two as being extremely mindful people, so I think it was shocking that you bought mostly unhealthy food during your shopping trip. But, anyways!

    Breakfast. Yogurt and health cereal is a good start if you’re crunched for time in the morning! When I make pancakes for my kids, I make them with whole wheat flour and sprinkle in some cinnamon. Very tasty! It’s not practical for me to make pancakes every day in the morning, so I make a double batch on the weekends and freeze the pancakes to eat during the week. Once they’ve cooled, I lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and stick them in the freezer for a bit. Then, I removed them and stick them in a freezer bag. It only takes 30-45 seconds to heat them up in the microwave during the week! I used to do the same with waffles, but all three of our kids are going through a pancake kick right now.

    As far as eating healthy, in general, I try to make the things that we love with healthy components. Spaghetti and meatballs — whole wheat spaghetti and homemade turkey meatballs. We don’t eat a lot of red meat, if any. And I only cook meat about twice a week. We try to eat a lot of veggies, raw or cooked. It definitely takes baby steps, though! We haven’t always eaten healthfully, and it feels like it’s always a work in progress.

  7. hey guys! I’ve been reading your blog forever and I never comment. I just wanted to say that I think it’s great your moving in a healthy direction. One thing I love for breakfast is frozen waffles – I usually get the whole wheat ones or make some and freeze them myself with fruit and peanut butter on top. (sliced apples with peanut butter is amazing!! ) I’m sure it’s hard to be so open with whoever reads your blogs and I think it’s awesome. My husband and I love your blog! You inspire us everyday!

  8. I understand the struggle to be healthy. I have extremely health conscious parents but after moving after to school, I’ve backslid a bit. I’m going to second OATMEAL! I’m a university student so it’s important for me to have soemthing quick before an 8:30 am lecture (BLEH).
    It is fast, healthy and CHEAP. Get the large bags of quaker oats (one minute oats are great…I just pour boiled water over them, works fine.) I put a bunch of things on mine, but I quite like dried cranberries/Craisins (sparingly, as they have quite a bit of sugar.) I put brown sugar, or if I’m feeling extravagant maple syrup. Berries are great too, like blueberries or raspberries. Yogurt is great too, I’d avoid sugar free kids. They aren’t necessarily healthier and aspartame is not good for you. I like the Yoptimal fat free kind. So yummy!

  9. I think oatmeal with fruit is the best breakfast. Oats (not instant) are nutritious and the fruit is too. Every morning I eat oatmeal with frozen blueberries and milk mixed in. PS. I’m pregnant too!

  10. Baby steps are the best way to life long changes! I struggle with breakfast too just because I am always pressed for time. Sometimes I like to make a crustless quiche (it’s really easy!) on Sunday night and eat it for the next few days for breakfast. You can use egg beaters and any kind of veggies or cheese you like.

    I’m so glad you watched Food Inc! Did the whole Monsanto thing not make you mad?! That poor old man in the end. We are so grateful to have a Trader Joe’s near where we live so we can purchase foods free of GMO’s. We don’t eat perfectly, far far from it, but our biggest change has been buying grass fed organic meats. Aside from potential health consequences the whole principal of the matter is what makes me upset. The way these big companies treat their farmers, employees, and animals is downright shameful. The people who suffer the most are typically the poor because they can not afford nutritious foods thanks to government subsidies which make junk food cheaper than real food. I grew up in a low income household, and we ate mostly junk for that reason. Ok sorry for the rant…I’m just so passionate about this issue I can get carried way :)

    p.s. If I had you guys metabolism, I would probably not care one thing about eating healthy!

  11. Yogurt with fresh fruit, a bit of granola, walnuts and sliced almonds has been a favorite of mine. I also eat oatmeal (the packets are really quick). You can add fruit or nuts and a bit of brown sugar for some extra flavor. The important thing is to start out with protein and fiber to keep you going longer without hunger. Greek yogurt has more protein than traditional yogurts. Egg or egg white omelets with some cut up veggies are also good. And Eric, don’t give up the peanut butter completely – it has lots of protein and nut oils are the healthy kind. :)

  12. Here are two of my favorite quick breakfast meals:

    Crunchy Yogurt:
    Greek Yogurt (Plain… less artificial flavoring)
    A drizzle of honey
    Fruit (whatever is available and seasonal!)

    Breakfast Burrito:
    1 Whole wheat tortilla
    1 egg, scrambled
    1 tablespoon of salsa (We have some homemade salsa from my mother-in-law… try to find low sodium salsa!)
    A few leaves of spinach (can be scrambled with the eggs)
    A LIGHT sprinkle of shredded cheese

  13. Good job, you guys! I think this is a great first step. Kelsey, I’m like you with my breakfast eating, except instead of mini muffins, I was ADDICTED to Pop Tarts. It was hard to stop eating them because they were just so easy, but I think your switch to granola bars is a good one!

    A good way to add some oomph to your breakfast is blueberries. I’m always reading how they are a “power food.” You can just toss a few in your yogurt or cereal, or even just eat a quick handful. It’s something small, but easy!

  14. I will be the first to admit I hate eating healthy! My husband started forcing me to eat healthy when we were dating, I would eat donuts everyday and be happy but I know I can’t forever! The worst part about eating healthy for me is that it cost SOOO much more than just eating junk food. But you can do it on a budget, if you kind of plan before you go to the store. But will someone please tell me why junk food cost way more than fruit and veggies?

    Breakfast at our house is always different, and usually quick! I myself drink Carnation Instant Breakfast, chocolate flavored. I buy a big thing of it and scoop it out into my skim milk. Infants and small children drink this too, so I get made fun of, but I find it fills me up and is actually not awful for you. A lot of time we will do a bowl of cereal, so many good healthy options out there. We do oatmeal a lot, especially since it is cold. I sprinkle mine with brown sugar because we always have that in the house. We eat eggs A LOT. Fried with a whole grain english muffin, or toast. Or scrambled. My husband thinks you shouldn’t eat too much of the yoke if you are watching your cholesterol, so he always pulls his out before eating. Sometimes, if the eggs are on sale we buy lots and hard boil a ton at a time so that we can quickly eat those for a quick breakfast or snack later in the day. Of course fruit, or yogurt, my husband is on a greek yogurt kick, I prefer just normal, just have to find what kind you like. There are lots of great options for breakfast, and you can switch it up everyday!

    And on a weekend morning we may splurge and make pancakes or french toast! If we were good the week before :)

    Good luck! I’ll have more opinions when you ask for lunch/dinner/snacks!

  15. I am way impressed with your attempt! I notice I don’t eat very healthy either. My meals are always one sided. For example, I make spagetti but I dont make a salad or eat fruit or anything else with it. I’ll make chinese food, but won’t eat veggies with it. I know I need to get better too!

  16. This morning I really wanted a cinnamon roll. But since I am home sick with strep throat and no breakfast places deliver, I made steel cut oats with brown sugar and 1% milk. Steel cut oats are less processed and thus better for you.

    For breakfast, I usually eat over easy eggs and english muffin or greek yogurt with extra fruit.

    Good job eating better! It can be a difficult transition to make (and sometimes more expensive), but you will feel better!

  17. I eat oatmeal or have a protein shake for breakfast. In the shake I use 1 cup low-calorie coconut milk, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 scoop protein powder, 1/2 banana, cinnamon (anti-oxidants), and chia seeds (omega 3s). The protein makes it actually last a little longer so I’m not hungry 1 hour later like I am with cereal, and the shake is far more healthy than a protein bar. My husband usually has yogurt & fruit or the protein shake.

  18. So glad that you guys are making some changes. If you do not have it already, you HAVE TO download the fooducate app. All you have to do is scan the barcode of two similar items and it will tell you which one is healthier and why. This is a great way to start to educate yourself!

    • We’ll have to check that out. Do you shop at Hy-vee? Thoughts on their Nuval system? Sounds similar to fooducate

      • Good for you guys!
        I have found the Nuval helpful..sometimes. Just because something is low-fat, high fiber, ect. does not mean it is good for you..

        One super easy way to tell whether something is good for you or not is to look at the INGREDIENTS.. Less is more! If there are things you cannot pronounce or do not know what they are, then you should not be eating them…they were not make for our bodies.

        I know it’s super hard, because of the way our food system has become soo highly processed and cheap…but the way I like to look at it is what was naturally God given to us(fruits, veggies, legumes, meats..) is nutritious food to help us live. Everything man made is not really food, it is just edible.

        Good luck and keep at it!

        • i have to agree with laura on the nuval system. while it can be a good starting point, it definitely has it’s faults. just because something is “low fat” or “reduced fat” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. when they take the fat out of things, they are usually replacing it with sugars or other man made ingredients to try and make up for the lack of taste. i think one of the easiest things to do at first is to stick to the parimeter of the grocery store. that’s where you will find the healthiest, lowest processed items: fruits and veggies and dairy and meats.

          since you’re at a hyvee, have you tried anything in their nutritional section? they have great organic cereals and whole grain pastas and sauces and things and the hyvee brand is usually a pretty good price.

          for breakfast i do a lot of whole grain toast with peanut or almond butter, eggs, or oatmeal. fruits are always great. i don’t know if you all have a costco membership, but they have organic instant oatmeal packs there…the instant isn’t as good for you as the steal cut, but it’s much faster and a pretty good option on the go.

          i saw you got the greek yogurt, eric..way to go! i buy the plain and use it instead of sour cream on tacos and in recipes. i just put it in a bowl and micah is non the wiser. :)

          i’ll be curious to see if you guys notice a difference in how you feel. congrats on the changes…having a baby can really change what you worry about, can’t it?

  19. GREAT POST GUYS! To be honest, I have always wondered why you weren’t eating very nutritiously, but now I think I understand that you were just a bit ignorant!

    I have done quite a bit of research on food and nutrition in general and here are a few comments:

    1. From what I remember, you eat snacks in addition to your 3 meals a day! This is great and keep it up! Just make sure the snacks are healthy too, not a time to splurge.

    2. Breakfast IS super important like you guys were saying. I learned in a recent lecture that breakfast is the most important meal to take in protein, so basically people who are skipping breakfast and having steak for dinner are doing it backwards! I eat eggs every single morning for breakfast. Also, it is important to avoid lots of sugar for breakfast(hard to do!) because the amount of sugar you eat for breakfast, sets up your blood sugar level for the day.

    3. Protein and fiber. The more protein and fiber you consume, the more full you will feel, and for longer, helping you to avoid unhealthy foods.

    4. As a general rule, the less packaged, the better. When grocery shopping, try to stick to the perimeter of the store, thats where the unprocessed foods are!

    5. DON’T GIVE UP! A lot of readers are throwing a lot of information at you, but Eric, take that love of learning and throw yourself into this! Read, read read! Just think of how much healthier you and your wife and your baby will be!

    • Thanks for the encouragement. you are totally right. We were so ignorant, and because we are both thin, we ignorantly thought that we were healthy…..silly us…

  20. I am so excited for you guys! My husband and I have made huge changes over the last year to our diets and nutrition, and it has been a wonderful journey. One resource that we worked through and loved is “Real Food on a Real Budget,” which you can find on the Keeper of the Home website (Google it, I don’t think I can post links). It goes through how to make homemade, healthy, nutritious, even organic foods and meals (and why you would want to) even on a tight budget. Our grocery budget is about $40 a week, and it is totally doable! I find we actually save a lot by making homemade.

  21. Good for you guys!! See, blogs are super helpful!
    One of my favourite breakfasts is a feta-spinach omlette, it is SO good, it tastes like your eating something super unhealthy but I promise your not (My recipe is just for one so if you are both going to eat it, double it)
    ingredients: 2 eggs, handful of spinach chopped and stems removed (I dont like eating them, but you can leave them on) and a chunk (is that even a size..?) of feta cheese (you can use whatever kind of cheese you want, feta is just soaked in brine so its extra salty).
    Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, it should look like spinach covered in egg with cheese. Put it in a frying pan, let the under layer cook until its solid then flip one half onto itself and cook for three-four minutes, flip and cook for another few minutes. Cut into the middle to make sure its cooked the whole way through. Enjoy!
    I don’t know the exact nutritional value but its got protein from the eggs and spinach which helps boost your metabolism for the rest of the day (and helps feed the wee one) and a full serving of veggies in the spinach.

    Good luck with your nutritional journey guys, this is going to change your life!

  22. Hi. I just wanted to say that I am so impressed with your humility and vulnerability with this post! I really like your idea about starting with breakfast. By myself, I would be pretty bad at eating a healthy breakfast but my husband now keeps me on the right track! We like:
    -Dippy eggs and soldiers (I’m English, you may need to Google this.)
    -Bagels (I don’t know if the Nutella I heap on mine detracts from the nutritional value?!)
    -Oatmeal (you can do it in the microwave then add on a whole load of goodies. I like bananas and honey.)
    -Omelette (then you can throw in leftover veg from the night before)

    I also find Pinterest a good place for simple ideas for breakfast.

    Hope the breakfast endeavours go well!


  23. Great great post! I love how willing you are just to open yourselves up to this little community you’ve built and say, “hey, we’re learning here and we want to share this learning curve with you all!” It makes me not want to tuck my insecurities or areas of my life I need to work on away, but open myself up more and let people know I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it! So inspiring!

    As for healthy eating tips… I love this quote “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” I think it just means in terms of quantity, not quality. A good size healthy breakfast is the best way to start a day and kick-start that metabolism. I love oatmeal (which a ton of people have mentioned before me), yogurt (plain vanilla or greek), fruit, eggs and black tea with milk. My newest fave thing right now is a small whole wheat tortilla, plain yogurt spread all over it, then sprinkled with granola and strawberries. Roll up and enjoy! I make two of those.

    Work with what you love, but don’t be afraid to try new things… Making any kind of change to a diet can be a daunting task, but like you said, it’s all about baby steps! Remember this though: You’ve got a whole cheering squad on the sidelines! Go Kels & Eric!! :)

  24. right now i’m on an oatmeal kick (usually do yogurt/fruit but i like eating something warm in the morning when it is cold outside). i do a 1/2 cup of raw oats, add a teaspoon (or two) of brown sugar and some combination of craisins, raisins, nuts, frozen blueberries. add in hot water (i usually boil some in a kettle while i’m packing my lunch/snacks for the day) and it is ready to eat in a matter of minutes. i also eat a boiled egg every morning – usually just boil 5 eggs at the beginning of the week and eat one each morning.

  25. I read your blog every day- I can’t remember how I stumbled on it, but I’m so glad I did. You guys live a real life and are brave enough to share it with everyone. I am blown away by your humility and openness. Thanks for taking what could have been a big negative and turning it into a positive. Thanks for being real :)

    I’m of the “if it doesn’t have a mother or didn’t grow from the ground, don’t eat it” food camp. Whole foods all the way. My turnaround came a few years ago and I’ll never go back. Part of that decision was so that my body would be as health as possible for my future kids. Funny how much that motivates me! With the attitude you’ve shown here, your kids are going to think you rock ;)

    Blessings to you and your new little one!

  26. Hey guys! Hang in there. It is great to hear you are doing such intentional steps to eat healthier. But don’t lament your previous eating too, too much. Both of you are beyond healthy in your weight – and as this study showed, that is a huge part of the whole thing,

    : )

  27. Hey I think this is awesome. I also read the other blog and was kind of surprised what you were eating but you are brave to do this in front of all your readers! I have a lot of respect for you guys! Walking how you talk. I am also a Dave Ramsey advocate! Debt Free! wahooo! One thing I have learned doing a budget too is eating food that isn’t processed like veggies, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc actually lessened our food budget. It is a lot easier for us to stay on budget when we eat more natural foods compared to pre-packaged foods. Not sure if that is encouraging but hopefully it is. Good luck and props to you guys for taking peoples words and challenging yourselves with it. I think that is awesome!

  28. Yay, this is really exciting to hear! I have to admit that after your post about what you pack for lunch, I was so concerned for your tummies. I’ve been vegetarian for the past few years, and NOBODY cares more about people’s digestive health than vegetarians, trust me. :)

    Some of the commentors above have talked about eating meat-free for many of their meals, so I thought I’d link to a few sites for if you want to occasionally try that out. Some have tips for eating more veg-friendly (though do be aware that some are more propaganda-esque than others, *ahem* PETA, so tread lightly) while still getting proper nutrition–it’s just as easy to be unhealthy on a vegetarian diet as it is on an omnivorous one.

    And just as a personal disclaimer, I don’t problems with people eating meat (my issues are with the livestock industry), especially since y’all are expecting and your baby is going to want what she wants. Nonetheless, my diet made me appreciate food and nutrition in a completely different and wonderful way, and the more options you have to play with, the better, I think. Good luck and keep us updated!

  29. i’m so happy to see that you’re making changes to your diet. i didn’t comment on the last food post, but I was definitely surprised at your food choices. The biggest benefit I find to eating healthier is that it decreases our food budget significantly. The other aspect is making a commitment to cooking at home. You might like the “once a month cooking” method when you spend an afternoon cooking and freeze a bunch of meals for the month so it’s just a matter of popping it in the oven when you get home from work. Google it, you’ll get lots of tips and ideas. Good luck and don’t give up! You’re setting the precedent for your child(ren). Making healthy choices now will help them grow into healthy adults.

  30. I recently took a nutition class…..first you want to eat 6 servings of grain a day 3 of those 6 being whole grains processed food like white bread and pasta are big diabetes contributors so try to limit processed carbs. You want to eat 3-5 serv of fresh veggies and 2-5 servings of fresh fruit….all canned food is higher in sodium so for heart health avoiding canned food over fresh produce is a big heart health plus. Fat…fat isn’t bad…low fat foods are usually substituted with fake sweeteners which can be cancer causing so when looking for foods what for saturated fat or hydrogenated oils…these are the bad fats…polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats actuallly reduce your cholestoral levels so fish is high in good fats…you should eat fish 2-3 times a week…walnuts avocados and other nuts and fish are high in good fat….hmm I think that sums it up. Let me know if you have any questions, I changed Dave and my diets completely last winter when I took the class, it’s a big change and takes some getting ideas to but after a few months the unhealthy foods don’t taste as good as they used to. Good luck! Happy eating!

  31. Spaghettios may be “better” than mac ‘n cheese but it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Also, be careful with “reduced fat” or “reduced sugar.” That can be a trick, meaning it’s not any healthier than the original product.

    What kind of pasta do you cook with? I haven’t cooked with white in years and recently switched to brown rice. Whole wheat would work well too. You’ll get used to the slight texture change.

    Some of my favorite health foods include: SPINACH (love it raw or in smoothies), sweet potatoes, quinoa, nutritional yeast, strawberries, chia seeds, legumes, especially chickpeas, black beans and soy and broccoli.

    My biggest piece of advice: RESEARCH. There are so many studies out there on the different foods we eat and what they are doing to our bodies. But you have to draw your own conclusions. I have chosen to eat a primarily vegan diet while my husband usually adheres to the Mediterranean lifestyle-lots of fish, veggies, olive oil.

  32. Oh, and FYI, Trader Joe’s is often cheaper than Hy Vee. I thought for sure their produce would be more expensive, but it’s not. And their health food items are also much cheaper.

  33. The HyVee Health Market section has an automatic 10% off on Wednesdays!

  34. Good for you guys! I buy quakers instant oats (NOT the packets because those are crammed with sugar), add hot water/or milk and heat it up, and then I add a pinch of brown sugar, some sliced almonds, and some cranberries or blueberries. So tasty! And I make mine at work by just adding hot water and letting it sit for a minute or two. Good luck!

  35. There is so much good advice in the above comments, I don’t want to repeat anything but just to encourage you guys to keep making small, thoughtful changes.

    Drew and I already ate really well in Sydney but since moving to Tonga have really had to rely on cooking more from scratch and using less canned items. I
    t does take more time but the benefit is enormous… check out how much salt are in the soups and canned beans you guys bought. Its usually more PER SERVE than you should have in a day!

    Keep up the great work!

  36. I LOVE nuval! although nutritionists i’ve talked to have said it’s not a label-replacer, i love that at quick glance you can get an idea of how good/bad something is for you! even something simple like yogurt: i thought, all yogurt is probably about the same, right? NOPE. regular old yogurt has a value of 19 to around 90, depending solely on brand choice! i had no idea ingredients in yogurt could vary that much, but it’s sure a timesaver when i dont want to read the backs of labels all the time!

  37. oh, my breakfast hint: make a huge batch of smoothies and freeze them in old yogurt containers or whatever tupperware you have to spare. grab one from the freezer, and by the time you get to work, it’s thawed enough to eat. i dont use any sugar, i find that some flavored yogurt, frozen bananas, all kinds of berries, and maybe a splash of milk or ice cubes are all you need for a very sweet smoothie….the more frozen fruits you can use, the less ice or milk you need, if any. food processors work better than blenders for this, just fyi :)

  38. What a great step you guys are taking. My husband and I have been trying to cut out frozen and more processed foods that have lots of preservatives and use more fresh food. It means shopping more frequently and really thinking about putting meals together, but I feel so much healthier when we do that. Good luck in your new food adventure!

  39. Thank you for being so transparent and open. I think the accountability with your readers will be a great asset to you guys! I am a teacher and I’m often rushed in the mornings, so I like something that is quick and easy, as well as healthy. Personally, I love to eat smoothies for breakfast. I like to buy frozen fruits with no sugar added, or fresh fruit in season when it’s cheaper. If I buy fresh fruit, I wash it and spread it out on a baking sheet and stick it in the freezer. Then I can dump it in a freezer bag and have good fruit for a while! Depending on what fruit I use, I either add orange juice or milk with my fruit and blend it in our smoothie maker (knock-off Magic Bullet from Walmart!). Sometimes I add plain yogurt and some honey for a different texture. It just depends on how I’m feeling that day!
    Another way my husband and I eat healthier is by hiding vegetables. I know that sounds like something you would do with kids, but I do it for my husband! He never liked veggies while growing up, so I try to cut up vegetables and put them in meals like spaghetti or enchiladas. It works and he hasn’t complained yet!
    Can’t wait to see how your eating changes over time as you try out different ideas. Hope it goes well!

  40. Andrea and Nathan November 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    We’re not model citizens when it comes to eating healthy, so we don’t have words of wisdom on the subject… per se.
    However, since both of us work within the ag industry we want to speak up and share a few things with regard to organic food, GMO’s and Food, Inc.
    In your quest for knowledge, check out this link to learn more about organic veggies, I think you’ll be surprised.
    On GMO’s… Just about everything has been genetically modified. Scientists have had their hand in farming since the 80’s–improving seed to increase yields and feed the world. (Okay, so that’s a little dramatic, but you see where we’re going with this.) Nathan could write a whole blog about this topic alone… so I’ll refer you to him if you need a history lesson and crash course in agriculture and common farming practices.
    And our best advice after watching Food, Inc.– Visit a farm. Specifically someone that raises cattle and see what kind of life the cows live, ask a farmer questions, and really learn about where your food comes from. We are kinda picky in the meat that we eat, but we’re also very fortunate in that we have access to farm raised beef from a number of sources. With the internet it’s really easy for anyone to gain access to farm raised beef. One of the sites we recommend, we know the owner of this business, is He’s here in Iowa, in fact just 45 minutes from DSM. He provides meat to local restaurants, and has customers like us all over. These cows are hormone free–they graze on grass, are fed corn that this farmer grows and silage from his own fields. (That’s about as local and grassroots as it gets!)

    Sorry for the long comment, but this seems like the time to stand up and ‘AgVocate’ as we all learn about healthy eating together Thank you so much for being willing to learn more about nutrition, and acknowledging that there are many ideas of what works, what’s right, and what to believe… We love following your blog, keep it up. Great post and lots of good comments!!

  41. I’ll admit that breakfast is not my healthiest meal of the day. I love cereal & almond milk. I tend to stick to whole grain cereals, like bran flakes, etc…I know a breakfast with more protein would keep me full longer, but I’ve struggled to find one I like consistently. For now, I stick to cereal & almond milk (did you know almond milk has more calcium per serving than cow’s milk?) and then eat a snack around 10 am. My husband, on the other hand, loves oatmeal. He makes a large batch in the crockpot and stores it in small containers in the fridge. He heats up a serving in the morning and tops it with peanut butter, dried fruit, and nuts. I don’t like oatmeal, but I’ve learned that I DO like oat bran as a hot cereal.

  42. I think the main thing to ask yourself (that I ask myself) is whether what I am buying or making as close to its origional state as possible? Has it been processed a lot? Is it white? LOL WHOLE GRAINS all the way! Its an easy change that only takes a litlte bit of adjustment as the texture is a little different. Look at the ingredients on packaged stuff-can you pronounce them? If not, put it back. That’s a start. You are right-its baby steps!

  43. Great for you guys! I know that baby girl Williams will be the biggest beneficiary of your new changes! I agree with everyone above re: reducing processed foods. Did you know that certain food dyes have been definitely linked to symptoms of attention problems and hyperactivity in children (and are banned in the UK for this reason!!)? As someone who works with kids with learning and behavioral difficulties including autism, I can attest to the MAJOR differences that changes in diet can make in a child’s behavior, attention, mood and general comfort in his or her own body. Let the new addition to your family be your biggest motivator when better nutrition feels hard, expensive or overwhelming!

  44. Breakfast is one of those things that people spend more on when they buy junk, which usually is not the case. Here are some great affordable and healthy options that I allow myself to have:

    1. Oatmeal with Milk and Dried Blueberries (buy these pieces separately, not the packs! It tastes like your muffins too!)
    2. One (or two) Eggs, fried/hardboiled/poached with Whole Grain bread, (look for bread without added sugars and as much whole grains as possible, try Ezekiel bread if you think you can afford it)
    3. Whole Wheat Pancakes/Waffles with added fruit (make the night before and freeze)
    4. Turn to the Bible for help. Have you ever heard of the God’s Diet? Processed foods are not meant for our bodies. Ezekial and Genesis Bread from Food for Life are made from Sprouted Grains, not processed flour. You can find coupons for these online if the price is to high. But really, at 5 dollars a loaf, it isn’t too bad. It isn’t bad because you are replacing so much of the other junk you are putting into your system! It contains protein and GOOD carbs!
    5. Remember that many of your meals can be prepared ahead of time! So look for making recipes from scratch and then freezing them. For instance, cook up a bunch of that chicken you love along with whole grain brown rice, and then reheat it in a pan with water while you warm your vegetables and rice. You can make delicious pilafs, grain salads, etc. Be adventurous! :) God Bless you and your health.

    • And remember that you can always be allow treats! Chocolate is not a bad thing! Look towards more homemade options though. You’d be surprised at how many ingredients are in packaged goods, and how few are in the homemade options. Mac and Cheese is fine for you too! Just eat the right kind. Something that I do to get veggies into diets, is add it right into the sauce. When making homemade mac and cheese, I’ll grate in carrots and bell peppers! Eating healthy does not mean cutting out all your fat, sugar and carbs! It means finding the right kinds, and taking all the fillers out of your life.

  45. Breakfast:

    1.) 2 eggs(however you like them done), turkey bacon, whole wheat toast, orange juice or glass of skim milk.

    2.) Strawberry(or any type of low fat yogurt really) yogurt with banana and granola in it. And raisins. And dark chocolate chips if you want a treat in it, orange juice.

    3.) Cheerios or Grape Nuts cereal, toast and eggs.

    • I was surprised to find out that dark chocolate is healthy for you. (like everything, in moderation of course). I LOVE dark chocolate and will have to try it.

      • Yep dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate! So dark chocolate chips from Trader Joes would be good to get and put in yogurt!

  46. I use greek yogurt as sour cream too! You really can’t taste the difference. And as for my favorite healthy breakfast: yogurt and granola. :) I also love making smoothies in the morning: a handful of frozen berries, half cup (ish) of your favorite yogurt, half a banana, a bit of milk and (my secret ingredient) a bit of apple cider (i buy the packets that are sold by hot chocolate). Anyway, I throw that in my magic bullet and it’s delicious, healthy, and way cheaper than buying a smoothie elsewhere. Enjoy your road to healthy eating! My general rule is to buy as many fresh things as possible, as many organic/all natural things as I can fit into my budget, and a few choice unhealthy splurges. :)

  47. My favorite breakfast is a green smoothie, I promise it is delicious! I start with a banana, coconut milk (has more nutrients than almond milk), a mix of berries, and add either kale (without the stem) or spinach. It sounds weird to have greens in there but the fruit masks it completely. You can even prepare the ingredients in a plastic bag so in the morning you can just throw it in the blender with the milk!

  48. Oatmeal with cut up fruit on top – use rolled oats. I make mine with vanilla rice milk or almond milk, oats, some cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of pure, real maple syrup. I cut up strawberries, and and raspberries and/or blueberries if available (frozen ones are okay with oatmeal as well, since it is all mixed together).

    I find the sugar intake (the REAL sugar from fruit) leaves me energized without a crash. The oats last a long time, giving me good fiber and energy to last until lunch time, and you get comfortably satiated.

    Food is important. I applaud your efforts to change how you eat. I encourage you to continue. Eliminating processed foods, like soups, etc., will change your life (and your bank account. No matter how cheap canned soup and spaghetti-o’s are, it’s not cheaper than some good beans with rice and spinach and a handful spices that can be frozen for leftovers!).

    Great book resources are anything by Michael Pollan, starting with In Defense of Food. Also, an added movie to watch (available on Netflix) is Forks Over Knives. Remember your health! And good job. :)

  49. Good job you guys! Nutrition is soo important! It´s not just to loose weight, it´s to prevent diseases in the future! And for you kels it´s very important now. Everything you eat, you are feeding it to your child! Remember to take omega 3. I would buy a flax seed oil, and take 1 tbs every morning. And add in some chia seeds and walnuts. A good thing is also to try 1 new vegetables every week. A fresh one. That will help you take babystep in increasing vegetables in your diet. Good luck! :)

  50. please look at this: there is much more online about this… Just google and you will see. Omega 3 in your vitamin is not enough. So adding walnuts, chia seeds, fish, good quality fish oil (cleaned for heavy metals) and flax oil. It´s great to add it to your daily diet! :) Then you will get a little clever stinker ;-)

  51. Hey Eric and Kelsey!! I started reading your blog this summer (I’m a reader of 1 cup awesome). I actually switched jobs in Sep and decided to move all my email subscriptions to google reader. I didn’t get around to switching them all at once and have been doing it gradually. So anyway, finally got subscribed to you over Christmas and have been spending time catching up on blogs today while some new furniture is getting installed in my office (reading blogs is a great way to pass the day ;) ).

    I’m not horribly outspoken and didn’t wanna be negative about your nutritional choices so didn’t make any public comments but was SOOOOO happy when I came upon this blog post!! These new choices are much better! :)

    I have always been interested in health and nutrition and received my bachelor’s in Nutrition Science. My goal and passion is to help people in any way I can in becoming healthier, mainly with a focus on children. It is so important that they learn healthy habits at a young age. I have a young daughter and it’s so fun to hear the random, health-related things that come out of her mouth. If you have any questions or want to know more nutrition-wise, please let me know!!

    Congrats on the baby girl!!

  52. I really love that you posted this. I’m not great about eating healthy. But sometimes when my friends tell me what they THINK is healthy I have to stop them and say ‘no’. Real butter shouldn’t have oil in it, bottled iced tea has almost as much sugar as Cola, veggies don’t count when you smother them in cheese, and whole grains are not the same type of carbs as sugary drinks. You can still eat all the bad stuff you just need to be AWARE that it is bad. And try to cut back & go for the good stuff more often. I’m really impressed that you guys have been working so hard to be healthier! Hope you can keep it up.

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