* creamer - I can't drink my coffee without creamer. For years I've been using store bought vanilla creamer in my coffee. I knew it was terrible but I wouldn't go without my coffee and I couldn't drink my coffee without it. I finally found a homemade one I love. It's definitely not what I'd call healthy with the sugar content, but at least it's all natural. 1 1/4 cup milk, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and a tablespoon or two of vanilla. I have a glass bottle that had vanilla syrup in it that works perfectly for a container.
* We've switched to pure maple syrup. Lu has been eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning for a while and I don't want to use that other stuff!
* black beans - no more buying cans of black beans. I'm trying to cut back on a lot of canned things and black beans are so easy to do in the crock pot! Here's the method I kind of use. Sometimes I add a bit of spices and garlic.
* iced coffee and ice green tea concentrate - We use Pioneer Woman's cold brewed iced coffee. I LOVE it Vietnamese style! When coffee is too heavy I like to use Amy's green tea concentrate.
* oils - I've started using coconut oil in place of vegetable oil as well as in place of lotion for my body! It's kind of the rage online right now and I'm actually really happy with it. I also got a Misto that I fill with grapeseed oil instead of Pam or another spray.
* We've put flaxseed in everything from smoothies and yogurt to cookies for quite a while now. Just recently I read about chia seeds. I haven't tried them yet, but I'd like to try this recipe for refrigerator oatmeal so we'll be checking them out. The health benefits sound crazy!
* popcorn - This change was made quite a while ago, but I need to recommit to it. I once read an article about the top 5 foods that experts avoid. Microwave popcorn was on that list because of the chemicals in the bag. One of the listed possible side effects was infertility. It was banned from my house at once and I decided my girl would not be eating it! Instead, we make microwave popcorn in a plain brown paper lunch bag and add a bit of butter and nutritional yeast. Here's a "recipe" from Alton Brown though I would never try stapling the bag and then putting it in the microwave... that sounds like a terrible idea! I am going to try using a bit of oil and salt in the bag though, I've never added anything to the bag before.
*canned tomatoes - another one from the top 5 no-no's. We're going to grow our own and a friend and I are going to ATTEMPT some canning. We'll see how that goes...
* salty chip alternative - I LOVE salty chips and could eat far too many if I let myself. My weakest time is usually right when we get home before dinner is ready. I try to make batches of roasted chickpeas to leave on the counter. The crunch and slight saltiness cure my cravings. I do it a bit differently every time but here's a good starting point: rinse a can or two (or 3) of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans and spread out on a tin foil covered cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over them then add seasonings. I always add garlic powder, onion powder, and kosher salt. I also add one or more of the following: cayenne pepper, curry powder, chili powder. Shake the pan to distribute and roast at 400 for anywhere from 40 minutes - an hour shaking the pan every 20 minutes or so. Just make sure they get nice and crispy - they're pretty terrible if they're soft in the middle.
* ice cream - this isn't a healthy one, but we've enjoyed a few batches of homemade ice cream. It's still better than store bought! ;) We got an ice cream maker last summer and just a couple of weeks ago I made chocolate for the first time. Jim's proclaimed it the best chocolate ice cream he's ever had. I think our favorite is still the lemon sorbet though. It's so good on a hot day and will be amazing with a little vodka this summer.
Phew - you're a rockstar if you made it through all of that! I'll be back with the changes to non-food items. I'm sure you're holding your breathe right?