It is tempting to buy prepared, processed foods
. The reality of it all is that processed foods often provide convenience and comfort. Both of these qualities are hardly ever present when dieting
Eating clean takes time, effort, and branching out beyond your comfort zone. Therefore, it is usually the case when people resort to processed foods for many of their grocery needs.
What Makes Food Processed?
Processed food comes in many forms, whether it is a box, jar, or bag. Manufacturers have manipulated or treated the processed foods to maintain their form while on the shelf. These foods have added sugar and preservatives, and they tend to be low in fiber and whole grains. Some companies process the food with large amounts of sodium or saturated fat to maintain their shelf life, too.
There are different levels of processed foods. Makers don’t create all types of processed items equally. They process some foods to make them safe to consume. For example, they must pasteurize and process milk for health and sanitary reasons; however, that doesn’t mean that milk and boxed lasagna are at the same levels of unhealthy.
There are a few different tips and tricks to determine how processed a product is. For example, take a look at the ingredients list. If there is a laundry list of ingredients, or you are unable to pronounce many of the ingredients easily, then this product is highly processed.
Also, a general rule of thumb is that all center aisles in the grocery store are full of processed foods. The outer perimeter contains produce, dairy and meat. While many of these items are also processed, they are not as processed and treated as the center aisle items.
Once you begin to examine how much processed food you eat, you will want to make the switch to more natural products and recipes. Here are four processed foods that you can revamp in a healthier, more natural way.
1. Take Some Stock In This One
You might assume that a product such as vegetable stock is healthy. This ingredient can simplify the process of making soup and it sounds perfectly healthy. In fact, you can even buy the low sodium vegetable stock. So, what is the problem?
Vegetable stock contains added MSG and salt. Even if you buy a low sodium version, you will find BPA in the lining of most cans or boxes. BPA, bisphenol A, is a carbon-based synthetic compound. This is not necessarily the ingredient you had in mind, is it?
To make your own vegetable stock, first think about some vegetables and essences you want in your stock. Some people prefer a strong garlic smell and taste, while others would rather have more herbs. Take this into consideration when planning your stock.
Homemade Vegetable Stock
Homemade stock is easier, cheaper, and can actually taste better than what you buy in the store. Similarly to vegetable stock, you can also do the same with your own probiotics.The recommended vegetables to use include:
- One or Two Onions
- Two or Three Carrots
- Three or Four Celery Stalks
- Four or Five Sprigs of Thyme
- One Bay Leaf
- One Small Bunch of Parsley
Optional ingredients includ
Do notice that there is no salt included.
- Rinse any dirt off your vegetables thoroughly.
- Chop vegetables roughly into small bits and pieces.
- You can peel the vegetables; however, some people like to leave the skin on, as they claim this brings even more flavor to the stock. This decision is entirely up to you.
Once you have chopped all of the vegetables:
After an hour:
- Throw them all into a large pot that can hold them with room to spare for the water
- Cover the vegetables with water and let them simmer over the stove.
- Depending on how concentrated you want your stock, add more or less water. Less water will create a more concentrated stock.
- Allow the stock to first come to a boil.
- Once you see some bubbling around the edge of the pot, cover and bring to a simmer.
- Stir the pot every now and then, and leave the pot on the stove for approximately an hour.
- You want to leave enough time to infuse the water with all of the vegetables you have added.
Strain the water out of the pan carefully.
You might want to remove the large chunks of vegetables before straining.
2. Homemade Probiotics
Kefir is a fantastic way to restore gut health and live a healthier, more active life. However, the kefir you buy in the grocery store is processed.
If you make your own kefir at home, then you automatically have more enzymes
, digestible proteins, vitamins and minerals in your own version. This in turn helps the body build up supply of healthy bacteria and yeast strains.
In addition, homemade kefir can help to manage free radicals within the body. There is more complete protein in the homemade version, which in turn boosts the level of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin B.As if that is not enough to convince you to start making your own homemade kefir, here is an easy and cheap process to do so:
- Obtain kefir grains. You can easily find them online for less than the price of store-bought kefir.
- Place one to two tablespoons of the grains into a clean glass container. A mason jar or quart glass container works well.
- Add two cups of fresh milk to your container. Raw milk is ideal, but any type of milk will work. This includes cow milk, goat milk or coconut milk.
- Gently mix these two ingredients together.
- Cover the container with a cloth.
- You can also use lid and leave it slightly open.
- Move your container into a space where there is direct sunlight. You might find a spot in your kitchen or dining room.
- Allow your homemade Kefir to ferment for at least 24 hours, and do not let it sit for longer than 48 hours.
After 48 hours:
- Pour all of the contents into a strainer.
- Put the grains to the side in a new container and allow them to rest in the refrigerator covered in milk.
- You can save these grains for up to one week.
In order to increase the nutritional value of your kefir, you can leave it after straining at room temperature for another 24 hours.
It will become more sour, but more nutritious. This is only optional.
Your kefir will be edible after the initial 24 hours. Kefir is a super easy way to become healthier without the processed junk, but so is almond milk.
3. Not Your Ordinary Milk
Almond milk is low in fat, but extremely high in energy
, lipids, proteins and fiber. This type of milk has vitamins such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, calcium, ironand zinc.
There are plenty of other benefits as well, so here is an easy recipe to make your own almond milk:
- Purchase a bag of almonds at the grocery store.
- Allow one cup of almonds to two cups water.
- Allow them to soak anywhere from an hour to eight hours.
- After soaking your almonds, you can add some vanilla bean, cinnamon, and even a little bit of sea salt.
- It might seem terrifying, but use an entire vanilla bean. Just chop up this giant bean and throw it into the blender.
Combine all of these ingredients into the blender with approximately two cups of water.
- Blend on turbo speed, and then strain your ingredients using cheesecloth or a straining bag.
This homemade almond milk is a cinch, and it is cheaper than the store bought brands, depending on your ingredients of choice.Eliminating everyday processed foods will enhance your diet, so here is another product that you are more than likely consuming close to every day.
4. Bring Home The Bread
Bread making can be intimidating, but it can also eliminate quite a bit of processed foods from your diet and home. In under an hour, you can prepare freshly made, warm bread in your home using this recipe:
- Dissolve two teaspoons of yeast in warm water.
- Add sugar, salt, oil, and three cups of flour. Bleached white flour is not as healthy aswhole wheat, or even almond flour.
- Beat all of these ingredients until they form a soft dough.
- Move this dough onto a floured surface and knead it until it is elastic.
- Do note that this process will probably take close to 10 minutes.
- Next, place the kneaded dough into a greased bowl.
- Turn the dough to ensure that you have entirely covered the dough in grease. Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm place for approximately an hour to an hour and a half.
Once the dough rises:
- Punch it down once.
- Turn the bread onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half.
- Press each half into a greased loaf pan.
- Cover this and let it rise until it doubles again, for approximately 30 minutes.
- Bake the bread at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
- This recipe should provide you with two loaves of bread that offer approximately 16 slices each.
Eliminating processed foods from your diet is easier than most people imagine. Follow these four recipes to eliminate four of the most commonly-processed products. This swap will allow you to become healthier
and eat much more cleanly.
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Living a healthy lifestyle does not have to be so complicated. Start your new, clean diet today and kick the processed foods back to the pantry shelf.