Changing Ingredients For A Nutrient-Dense Diet

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Are you thinking about making changes in your dietary choices that are more traditional and nutrient-dense? This process can seem daunting, even to the most experienced cook. But making those changes can cause a huge impact on your health – in ways you might never imagine.

It may seem like too much to go into your pantry, throw everything out, and start from scratch. But, just by making a few simple changes – like switching from rancid, genetically-modified, artificial fats such as shortening and canola oil to healthy fats like butter and tallow, you can lose that extra 20 pounds you’ve been fighting for the last decade, or perhaps reduce the amount of colds and flus you catch each year. The possibilities are endless!

I want to thank Marilyn Moll from from The Urban Homemaker for allowing me to post this great list of getting-started ideas in your kitchen from her site. It provides some basic ideas about how to change out some of the not-so-healthy ingredients in your kitchen for those that are healthier and better for your body.

Making changes from processed foods to natural, nourishing foods does more than just satisfy our bodies. It also provides us with a sense of satisfaction about preparing foods from scratch for our families, supports our local farmers and food growers and our own communities, secures sustainable and humane farming practices for the future, and keeps our environment clean by not putting our dollars toward companies that pollute our health, water, soil, and air.

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If you have decided to transition over to a more nutrient-dense diet based on Nourishing Traditions or Eat Fat Lose Fat, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. This post will summarize ingredient changes to make existing recipes in your kitchen more NT (Nourishing Traditions) friendly.

Ingredient changes:

Replace commercial baked goods such as bread, biscuits, muffins, crackers, tortillas, and others, with: breads, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, etc prepared using fresh whole grain flours which use the Two-Stage Process. If you do not have a grain mill, many batters can be prepared with whole grains using a blender.  Locate additional recipes for baked goods here.

Replace any refined sugar with: Rapadura, sucanat, muscovado, raw honey, maple syrup, or Stevia (use the green variety, not white powder or the liquid).

Replace white flour with: freshly milled (if possible) whole wheat flour, spelt or kamut flour, sprouted whole grain flour, or other freshly milled flours. Flours that are not sprouted can be soaked overnight in 2 tbsps whey, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.

Replace water and bullion cubes or canned stock with: Home-made chicken or beef stock.

Replace shortening/other artificial fats with: virgin coconut oil or palm oil, or butter from grass-fed cows (or raw butter, if available).

Replace canned cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, and other creamed soups with: homemade white sauce, add your own flavorings. Recipe: 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp whole wheat sprouted flour, and 1 cup stock. Multiply this out for the number of cups you need for healthy and tasty homemade cream of chicken soup.

Replace vegetable oils such as canola oil or corn oil with: coconut oil or butter, olive oil or Mary’s Oil Blend, written about in Eat Fat Lose Fat (equal amounts of coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and sesame oil). Use a variety of healthy fats for good balance of essential fatty acids.

Replace canned fruit in syrup with:  fresh or frozen fruit w/a little honey and enough added fluid to make the recipe

Replace skim, 1% or 2% milk with: raw milk or coconut milk

Replace flavored yogurt with: raw milk or whole milk yogurt.  Add real fruit or 1-2 tbsp all-fruit preserves to sweeten.

Replace dry milk with: coconut milk powder

Replace constarch with: arrowroot powder

Replace canned beans with: dry beans that have been soaked overnight in water with vinegar added. Drain in the morning. Then add fresh filtered water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until softened. Drain. Add to your soup or stock and cook 4-8 hours.

Replace soy, rice, or nut milks with: Raw milk from cow or goat

Replace refined table salt with: Real Salt or sea salt (minerals should be visible in the salt)

Replace sodas and juice with: carbonated water, Nourishing Traditions ginger ale, kvass, kefir soda or other fermented drinks. See Nourishing Traditions for more information.

Replace commercial cheese with: raw milk cheese whenever possible.

Replace commercial mayo and salad dressings with: homemade dressings and mayo from NT’s recipes or use good quality mayo or good quality dressings that contain no soy, cottonseed, or canola oil. Try Wilderness Family Naturals mayonnaise.

Replace pasta with: spaghetti squash or brown rice pasta, or other whole grain alternatives which have been soaked or sprouted, or long-fermented.

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The Urban Homemaker is a family run business dedicated to teaching and promoting “old fashioned skills for contemporary people”. UH offers back-to-basics products for physical and spiritual family health. They believe the products and skills offered promote a more healthful diet, the virtues of thrift and self-sufficiency, and enable homemakers to fulfill the Biblical mandate to be keepers of the home in the spirit of Titus.

When making changes to ingredients in your kitchen, unless you are ready, don’t feel like you need to do everything on this list at once. Pick three items and focus on those for one or two weeks, then pick three more.

Make a list of the things you’ve changed and each week and add to it. At the end of two months, look back through your list and notice what you’ve changed and which of those you’ve committed to and what difference, if any, it has made in your health.

In the near future, I’ll be posting more about how to make changes in your kitchen and health that will bring noticeable change to your life.  Until then, here are some other posts you might find useful:

Breakfast makeovers – you really can rise and shine!

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Waste not want not: tips for saving in the kitchen

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, hosted this week by A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

30 Comments

  • December 30, 2010 - 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Great article, Raine. the list you published is super and sensible, and way better than buying the already “aged” product off the shelves. By the time you buy those products, the oil which is virtually always of the long-chain-fat variety, is almost always stale and bad for consumption; either that or they’re loaded with preservatives which . . . . . . !

    Where you mention “Whole Flour” it wold be good to add ‘with hulls’ (palea;) The hulls contain quite a lot of Silica which has been largely a missing ingredient in our diets since modern times nearly 100 years ago.

    The benefit of silica is it acts as the “carrier” of calcium when it comes to getting it where it’s most needed, inside the bone. This is the major cause of low bone density and the primary cause of things like bone fractures in seniors. The common answer to this problem is NOT gorging one’s self on Calcium supplements because using this technique results in several other problems, including Fibromyalgia,

    John Howieson
    For more, visit

    • December 31, 2010 - 9:25 AM | Permalink

      Hello John – thanks for your comments! Yes, this is meant to be a general list of changes to be made, and I didn’t want to change or add content to it because it is Marilyn’s article. I think these are good first steps for many people who are new to the process. You are right though, there are many important trace minerals and other elements we aren’t getting in our diets. I have a recent article about calcium supplements and getting calcium from a real foods diet here:

      http://agriculturesociety.com/green-living/how-to-get-more-calcium-in-your-diet/

      • December 31, 2010 - 10:08 AM | Permalink

        Thanks Raine for the link – a “must read” – I couldn’t ave said it better :)

  • December 30, 2010 - 10:26 AM | Permalink

    Great list Raine! I hope you have a blessed and Happy New Year :D

    • December 31, 2010 - 9:26 AM | Permalink

      Hi Diana! Thanks for visiting and I wish you and your family many blessings and happiness in the new year as well! x0x0

  • December 30, 2010 - 12:08 PM | Permalink

    An excellent article. My pantry is close, but there are a few areas I am still working on.

    -Brenda

  • December 30, 2010 - 2:32 PM | Permalink

    These are great suggestions — I will circulate the link…thanks — also, it would be great to somehow customize to place, or emphasize local, too. See, for example, http://resilientfarmsnourishingfoods.blogspot.com/2010/12/pacific-northwest-holiday-foods.html
    Best, Gigi

    • December 31, 2010 - 9:29 AM | Permalink

      Hi Gigi – thanks for visiting, this post is by Marilyn from Urban Homemaker and the focus was on getting out unhealthy ingredients from your kitchen. Of course I always push for local and sustainable on my blog, so that goes without saying. I wanted to keep the content as close to her original(without getting penalized by Google SEO) from her web site, so I made few changes to the wording, but definitely wanted to include this post because it has so many easy and simple trades of bad ingredients to good ingredients that I think people can swallow easily who are just getting started. Baby steps for many are the key. :)

  • January 2, 2011 - 3:53 PM | Permalink

    Does anyone have a good recipe for soaked whole wheat pasta?

  • January 24, 2011 - 1:26 PM | Permalink

    Just a comment on the dried beans … If you try soaking beans in an acid medium, they may not soften (depending on the natural acidity of your water). I actually have to correct my water with baking soda in order for the beans to soften. (I rinse the beans before actually cooking them.) I am not sure what this does to the phytates, but I do find the beans are more digestible and give us less gas this way.

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