whole milk isn't really whole | suzyhomemaker.net

When you think of the word whole when describing food, you usually think less processed; a product closer to nature. Unfortunately, with whole milk, that is not the case. Whole milk tends to be just as processed as any other milk unless it is raw milk.

So what does the term whole milk really mean? It actually just relates to the amount of fat in the milk. There are regulations regarding how much fat must be in milk.

real food abcs - whole grain

W for Whole Grain

Whole grain can be a real food in your diet and is a staple in many peoples. But the word whole in whole grain can be confusing. Here I talk about what whole really means in a real food diet.

Whole grain
Whole milk
Whole foods
Whole wheat
Whole meal
Whole protein
Whole eggs
Whole fruit

The use of the term whole when describing food has skyrocketed. You see "whole" all over food packages, in ingredients lists, in ads. But does whole food really = healthier, real food? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Whole Grain

At least in the case of whole grains it is a bit easier. The term whole grain means that all parts of the grain were used.  
...100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present {in the same balance} to qualify as a whole grain. (source)
Because all parts were used, you will get more vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids with a whole grain over a processed grain. Whole grain includes wheat, along with rye, spelt, millet, corn and many more.

But sometimes on a food package you will see the term Multi-grain, 7 grain, maybe 12 grain. None of those terms guarantee the whole grain was used. That is when it is important to read the ingredients list. The ingredients list should still say whole grain, otherwise it is not.

The other thing to remember is that ingredients lists are always listed from most to least by weight. So something made with whole grains could have 10 other ingredients first, including white flour. Just because something is made with whole grain, it doesn't mean that it has a lot.

A good resource for learning more about whole grains is wholegrainscouncil.org

And just for fun, a created a quick slideshare presentation on the term "whole." Feel free to share it.

Whole food doesn't always mean healthy food! from suzyhomemaker

For more real food tips, nutrition, natural living and more:

real food abcs - vanilla ice cream

V for Vanilla ice cream

When you think of real food, most people probably think vegetables (I debated a while on having that be my V), fruit, whole grains. Not many people would think of ice cream. But I believe that even dessert can be a part of your real food journey.

When is ice cream a real food?

A real food has real ingredients. In the last real food abc - "U" - I wrote about understanding ingredients lists. When you understand ingredients, it makes it much easier to find real food.

So here are some examples of vanilla ice cream. Would you consider all these ingredients "real food" ingredients?

Store-bought ice cream - Regular
Milk, Cream, Sugar, Skim Milk, Corn Syrup, Egg Yolks, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey, Buttermilk, Vanilla Extract, Guar Gum, Mono And Diglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Annatto Extract And Turmeric (For Color), Carrageenan.
Store-bought ice cream - Fat Free
Skim milk, sugar, corn syrup, polydextrose, maltodextrin, propylene glycol monoesters, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, cream, carb bean gum, guar gum, natural flavor, carrageenan, ice structuring protein, vitamin A palmitate, annatto.
Store-bought ice cream - No sugar added
Milk, Skim Milk, Cream, Maltodextrin, Polydextrose, Maltitol, Sorbitol, Whey Protein Concentrate, Glycerine, Vanilla Extract, Guar Gum, Mono And Diglycerides, Sodium Polyphosphate, Xanthan Gum, Ground Vanilla Beans, Carrageenan, Sucralose (Splenda Brand), Vitamin A Palmitate.

Store-bought ice cream - maybe the best of the bunch
Cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, ground vanilla beans, vanilla extract

The last example has ingredients that I am sure everyone knows. This would be the best choice of the ones listed. Even better? Making homemade ice cream with:

raw milk
pastured egg yolks
organic sugar or raw honey
organic vanilla beans
homemade vanilla extract

bourbon vanilla extract | suzyhomemaker.net
Bourbon Vanilla Extract
 I hope your real food journey doesn't exclude treats. Even ice cream can be real.

For more real food tips, recipes, nutrition & inspiration for your well-being:

real food abcs - understand ingredient lists

U for Understanding Ingredients Lists

I think understanding the ingredients list on a package of food is so much more important than the nutrition facts panel. Originally I was going to write a post about how to read the facts panel, but I rarely read it myself. I think it is much more helpful and much more true to who I am to talk about the ingredients lists on packages of food.

Why read the ingredients list?

The ingredients list on a package will tell you the ingredients. And now you are saying "thanks suzy, so insightful!"
Reading the ingredients list can give you an idea of:

  • how processed the food is
  • how close to a real food it is
  • if the food contains allergens
  • if the food contains dyes
  • if the food contains artificial colors
  • how many types of sugars it contains
  • what type of fat/oil is used
Food companies are not going to give you this information up front. They put the most favorable (for them) information on the front of the package. Consumers have to dig deeper to see how healthy the food really is.

Where is the ingredients list?

Usually the ingredients list will be right under or next to the nutrition facts panel.

How are ingredients listed?

Ingredients are always listed in order of most to least by weight. That means the ingredient that is the heaviest will come first and it will go on down from there. There are "exceptions" to this. If there are 2 parts to a food item, like a bar that has fruit in the middle and a cereal/what type outer coating then they can list the outer coating first even if the fruit part is heavier. Sneaky, huh. I found this out a few years ago.

So knowing that ingredients are listed most to least, you can see what ingredient you are mostly getting. Is sugar near the top? Are you paying for water? Did they mostly use enriched flour but then towards the bottom throw in some whole grain? (and of course prominently display that on the front)

Things to avoid in an ingredients list

This is by no means the be all end all of suggestions. I know I will be forgetting a bunch of ingredients that are good to avoid, but it is a start.

  • High fructose Corn Syrup
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oil
  • Hydrogenated Oil
  • Soy 
  • Canola
  • Non-organic corn
  • MSG
  • artificial colors
  • artificial flavors
  • BHT
  • Propylene glycol
  • sodium nitrates and nitrites
  • sodium benzoate
  • modified cornstarch

Tips to make it easier to navigate packaged foods

  • ignore the front of the package claims
  • look for short ingredients lists (although not a guarantee)
  • once you find a good product, remember it so you do not have to keep searching every time you go to the store
  • make more things from scratch

Eating real food is so much easier than reading food labels. Although in our journey towards real food, there are still food packages in our home, there seem to be fewer and fewer as time goes on. Which makes cooking easier and eating more enjoyable.

For more real food tips, nutrition, natural living and more:

In honor of Pi day (3.14) I am linking up 4 pie recipes that look scrumptious and one of my own.

1. Grasshopper Pie

2. Salted Caramel Pie

3. Chocolate & Dulce de leche Pie

4. Dutch Apple Pie

5. Creamy Peanut Butter Pie 

real food abcs - tortillas

T for Tortillas

This real food abc is going to be a bit different. This is going back to my nutrition roots - ingredients comparison.  I love comparing ingredients in foods. I think looking at an ingredients list is so much more important than looking at the nutrition facts panel. When looking at the ingredients in tortillas you will see some are more real than others.

Just a couple weeks ago I made homemade tortillas for the first time. I was always hesitant thinking they would be difficult, that it would be hard to get them thin and that it would take a long time to learn to roll them out perfectly. But my little one has taking a liking to tortillas and unfortunately the store bought ones do not fit into the 100 ingredient simplified kitchen.

So without prior preparation or planning I went on Pinterest, found some recipes and dived in.

I don't know what took me so long. Easy, easy, easy. But the best part is the ingredients list. Let's start with some store bought.

Store-bought Tortilla #1 Ingredients:
Enriched bleached wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, vegetable shortening (interesterified soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil and/or palm oil), contains 2% or less of: salt, sugar, leavening (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate and/or sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium sulfate), preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid, and/or citric acid), distilled monoglycerides, enzymes, wheat starch, calcium carbonate, antioxidants (tocopherols, ascorbic acid), cellulose gum, dough conditioners (fumaric acid, sodium metabisulfite and/or mono- and diglycerides).
Store-bought Tortilla #2 Ingredients:
Water, Modified Food Starch, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vital Wheat Gluten, Powdered Cellulose, Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Palm Oil), Wheat Protein Isolate (Wheat Gluten, Lactic Acid, Sulfite), and contains 2% or less of: Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate and/or Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Sulfate), Cellulose Gum, Preservatives (Calcium Propionate, Sorbic Acid), Distilled Monoglycerides, Enzymes, Wheat Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Antioxidants (Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid), Natural Flavor, Sunflower Oil, Sucralose, Canola Oil, Triglycerides, Dough Conditioners (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite and/or Mono- and Diglycerides)
I have a hard time seeing the real food hiding in all these ingredients. Now look at the ingredients in homemade tortillas.

Homemade Real Food Tortilla Ingredients:

Lard or Tallow or oil

When you compare the ingredients, it is clear that homemade wins out for "real food".

Although I am not big on reading nutrition labels, I think it a good idea to look at ingredients lists when buying processed foods so you can find ones made with the best (and usually least) ingredients. It is not easy to always make things from scratch, but sometimes looking at ingredients labels will give you that push needed to make the effort (i.e. the guilt of buying crap, which happens to me all the time).

For more real food tips, nutrition, natural living & more:

Homemade immune boosting jello | suzyhomemaker.net

This simple recipe for immune boosting jello is the perfect winter treat for kids or adults! 

I have never made homemade jello until this week. The only jello I have ever had came from a box. And even then, it was rare for me to make jello. But since researching the benefits of gelatin and wanting to get more it in my diet, I decided to make some. 

This post may contain affiliate links

Why is this immune boosting jello? I added some elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup seems to help support the immune system. It increases production of cytokines (immune modulating agents) to help stimulate the immune system to go to work. source source Elderberry syrup is a great natural way to enhance your immune system as we enter into the winter months.

Homemade Jello Recipe

2 cups (minus 2 Tbsp) 100% organic juice - This is the juice I used, but you can substitute another juice. I have also used Ningxia. 
~ 2 Tbsp gelatin (find high quality gelatin here)
1 Tbsp raw honey
2 Tbsp of elderberry syrup 

Directions: In a small sauce pan, proof your gelatin by adding it to the juice and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Add the honey and heat the mixture over medium heat for about 3 minutes. It does not need to boil, but it should be very hot and all the gelatin and honey should be dissolved. Remove from heat and add the elderberry syrup. Pour into glass dish and place in fridge for a few hours until it sets.

You can also add vitality essential oils to this after it has cooled a bit. Heating essential oils decreases their therapeutic benefits, so letting the mixture cool a bit is best. 

This is a great way to get more gelatin in your diet and also enhance your immune system. 

For more nutrition tips, education and inspiration for your well-being:

Skinny Shamrock Shakes - they are all over Pinterest. I am sure many people think they are a healthy alternative to a regular milkshake. But when you start looking at the ingredients in some of the recipes, you will see that skinny can be scary.

the skinny on skinny shamrock shakes | suzyhomemaker.net

I debated about writing this post. I was thinking maybe I shouldn't be so nitpicky. But then I remembered why I started this blog; to help educate others about real food and real ingredients. So I am picking some nit.

Here are some of the ingredients I found in recipes around the web that make these shakes "healthier."

double chocolate sourdough loaf | suzyhomemaker.net

This double chocolate sourdough loaf is a great way to use up sourdough starter instead of tossing it. When making a starter, you will discard some of it as you feed it. But instead of just throwing it down the sink, you can use it for other recipes.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sourdough starter *
~ 1/4 cup chocolate chips

*If you have less than a cup, add enough milk so that starter + milk equals 1 cup

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  • Grease 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. 
  • Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda in bowl. 
  • In a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, mix butter and sugar until creamy. 
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  • Add ~1/3 flour mixture then alternate with ~1/3 sourdough starter. Repeat until both have been used up. 
  • Pour into prepared pan. 
  • Bake for ~14 minutes.** 
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips on top
  • Bake for another 20-25 minutes** or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 
  • Let cool before serving if you can wait!
**My oven tends to run hot. You may need to add some time to your baking. Also the chocolate chips will sink to the bottom if you add them immediately. 

linked to: Tuesday Talent Show, whimsy wednesday

Apparently sourdough bread is my new obsession since I cannot stop posting about it.

To catch you up on the impromptu sourdough series:

real food abc's - s for sourdough
sourdough recipe round-up
learning how to make sourdough
and tomorrow will be
double chocolate sourdough loaf

So what is in your sourdough?

I titled this post learning how to make sourdough and not how to make sourdough because I am still in the learning process. However, I am so excited with the results so far, that I really wanted to share.

Learning to make sourdough bread | suzyhomemaker.net

The above loaf is my 2nd attempt at making sourdough. The first attempt was a dismal failure. But I did not want to give up. I wrote last week about how sourdough is a real food. Store-bought loaves have been a part of my real food kitchen, but they are more expensive than homemade and there is no guarantee that they are using traditional fermentation techniques, which makes sourdough healthier. So I have been on a quest to make my own.

The sourdough starter

I have tried to make starter before and it would either never sour, or it would mold. So after reading the Simply Sourdough book several times (great book & affiliate link) I dove in. I referenced this book every single day, usually twice a day while I was feeding my starter. It was so helpful.

She suggests using pineapple juice in case you may have mold. I took this advice since the last batch I made did get mold. But this time...success, I had no mold. I guess we don't have good bacteria in our house so the pineapple juice really helped.

Now there are a ton of articles online on how to make sourdough starter. There are even some that say it only takes a day, but I truly believe that in order to have a strong starter that will make your bread rise and help decrease the phytates and anti-nutrients in the wheat, you need to let your starter grow a while. In the book, she talks about feeding it for 10 days. I was able to bake a loaf with some at day 6. It was not as sour as I like, but it tasted great. I personally don't think people will have as much success doing a one day starter. Prepare to be in this for the long haul. It'll be worth it.

The bread recipe

I used 2 different recipes. Sometimes I think reading the same information from different sources can help the level of understanding.  I combined the information from the recipes in the book, along with a recipe from this site. I liked the idea of weighing the ingredients.

So I decided to weigh instead of measure the ingredients. I don't know that it would make a big difference, but I do have to say that dumping ingredients onto a scale instead of measuring them in cups is so much easier. I think I am going to be weighing much more often from now on.

The ingredients (almost the same as the clever carrot)

150g starter
250g water
25g olive oil 
500g flour - I just used all purpose
10g kosher sea salt  - I don't think the type of salt matters, it just happened to be what I had on hand

Directions: I followed the directions from both the book and the website. I did not use a dutch oven, but I did use a stone. I also decreased my cooking time because my oven always cooks hot. I also used the olive oil technique in the book (notice I am not telling you what it is so you have to buy it. I want to support my fellow blogger)

The results

The BEST bread I have ever eaten, truly. Not only did it look spectacular and fancy, it tasted great; addicting. I wanted to keep eating it. I am so excited to no longer have to buy sourdough bread. And I can't wait to use an older starter that may be a bit more sour. I love really sour sourdough bread, with a really hard crust.

Although I am still learning, I am so happy with the results so far. I would love to say I will never buy store-bought sourdough again, but...well, it may happen. But I am sure it will not taste as good and I will long for a homemade loaf fresh out of the oven.

And just in case you didn't get a long enough look, here is (in my opinion) my beautiful sourdough.

sourdough bread | suzyhomemaker.net


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