Check the Ingredients, Not the Marketing Claims

Zero-calorie, gluten-free, fat-free, vegan.

So many people are more concerned with what’s NOT in their food than what IS in it!

Does it really matter that your faux cheese has no trace of anything derived from animals or wheat, when it’s ingredient list looks more like a chemistry thesis paper?

Let’s think about this logically…

The way I like to look at it, is…Can you go outside and find this item in nature? Then it’s real food. Meant for consumption. Ideally, every food item you buy would only have one ingredient, itself. However, there are certainly times when you need convenience, in which case I urge you to carefully read the ingredient list. Do all of the ingredients naturally occur on the Earth? Are these the ingredients you would use to make a home made version? Or, as a lot of people like to ask: “are all the ingredients things that Grandma would recognize”? which is a pretty good rule of thumb.

Do not get so caught up in Calories, Fat Grams, Carbs, Sodium, blah blah blah. Simply stated, checking the “Nutrition Facts” is a waste of time.

The big companies have gotten extremely good at tricking us into thinking their products are healthy. Gluten free, All-Natural, Low Fat, well DAMN! This is surely a snack my doctor would recommend. “Diet” and “Light” are terms often used to make people think they are making healthier choices. But please think for yourself and actually read the ingredients.

For example, the peanut butter I buy has 2 ingredients: roasted peanuts and salt (exactly what I would use to make a home made version, if my time was abundant). Contrastingly, Jif peanut butter is MADE FROM ROASTED PEANUTS AND SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: MOLASSES, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT. Sure, it’s vegan. Gluten-free too. But that does not make it right! Recently they’ve come out with Jif Natural (which I’m sure has tricked thousands) that is MADE FROM PEANUTS, SUGAR, PALM OIL, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SALT, MOLASSES (Source: Completely un-necessary, and only slightly more “natural”. I know that all of the ingredients naturally occur on the Earth, but the addition of sugar to every food product is one of our nation’s largest problems. Keep an extremely watchful eye on added sugars. They are everywhere.

The first time you go to the grocery store (with no time constraints), and browse through the ingredient lists of your (once) favourite foods, you will be absolutely shocked.

Check the Ingredients, Not the Marketing Claims | real food. home made.

Stay away from anything that looks like this. Even if it is a “Good Source of 7 Vitamins and Minerals”.

It is SO possible to make easy and delicious meals at home using only ingredients that are one ingredient (themselves). Try not to feel overwhelmed. We are so used to “convenience” foods like grab-and-go pop tarts, but do you know what is naturally grab-and-go? Fruit!

It is only during recent history that our concept of “food” has transitioned from what you would find at a Farmer’s Market to what  you would find in the “Grocery” aisle of Walgreens. For millions of years, humans had figured out a way to feed themselves without microwave pop corn and hamburger helper, so I am confident that you can do it too!

*Disclaimer: of course, if you are allergic to wheat or dairy, or have an ethical stance against animal products, you will know to avoid these things. But please, don’t settle for engineered wanna-be versions.

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Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1

Hi guys,

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. We have been caught in the eye of a Friends watching tornado and gosh, it’s been great! I haven’t been working on any new recipes to post, but I have been cooking up some delicious meals. When a recipe I find really stands out, I add it to my “Recipe Hall of Fame”. Here are some Hall-of-Famers that I sincerely suggest you try!

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Strawberry Basil Smashed Avocado Toast from Love & Lemons

Jeanine’s recipes never cease to amaze me. I love her simplicity and elegance. Most (if not all) of her recipes are vegetarian. Check out her blog – you can even search by ingredient, season, special diet and meal type. But first! Run (do not walk) to the nearest market and grab the ingredients for this toast.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Crispy Chickpea and Butternut Squash Salad by Mountain Mama Cooks

This is a wonderful salad. It’s got it all.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Salmon with Fennel, Oranges, Bell Pepper & Olives by Martha Stewart

This dinner I thought was a work of genius! Throw everything onto a sheet pan, Broil for 8-10 minutes, and you’re done! The final product is so impressive, one would assume much more effort went into it’s making. Make this one for the guy or gal you are seeing, on about the 5th date.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

One Pan Farro with Tomatoes by Smitten Kitchen

This recipe is also made in one pan! You simply add each ingredient to the pan after preparing it, and it all cooks together. Make sure to check the cooking time on your farro, because some is quick-cooking and you could easily end up with a pile of mush. If you haven’t tried farro, it’s a wonderful ingredient. It can be hard to find, though, so check your specialty markets.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa by Sarcastic Cooking

This recipe is absolutely gorgeous. Sure, there are three separate components to prepare, but it really comes together rather quickly. Make this A.S.A.P.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Coconut Flour Waffles by Unrefined Kitchen

This is my go-to waffle recipe. I looooooooove them. And they love me too.

So, hopefully I’ve introduced you to some new recipes to try and some new bloggers to follow! REAL FOOD RULES!!!

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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner Ideas, Hall of Fame, Lunch, Potluck, Salads, Vegetarian

Things To Do In Nashville & Louisville


When you visit The Pharmacy at 731 McFerrin Ave. you will have the best burger of your life! I got the “Farm Burger” and it was life-changing.  Their outdoor Biergarten is fabulous, and I would recommend sitting there if the wait is doable.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Check out Exit/In at 2208 Elliston Place for live music. You have a good shot at catching a local or touring up-and-coming band in an intimate setting for a reasonable price.

Katy K Designs at 2407 12th Ave. South is a lovely store – fun for browsing vintage clothing and unique jewelry and accessories.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles at 2911 12th Ave. South is in the same neighborhood, and definitely worth a stop. It might not seem like much at first glance, but this place breathes a new life into the term “popsicle”.  I got a yogurt-based popsicle with fruits and nuts inside.  The park across the street is perfect for a leisurely stroll while you enjoy your treat.  Good location for a first date.

At Centennial Park (2600 West End Ave.) there is a life-size replica of the Greek Parthenon.  Why? Nobody knows.  Bring a frisbee and perhaps a blanket, book and/or picnic, and spend an afternoon at Nashville’s most famous park.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

The Johnny Cash Museum at 119 Third Ave. South was collectively our favourite destination on our trip this week. This relatively small museum is jam packed with memorabilia, video footage, and well-worth the admission fee.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint  at 3108 Belmont Blvd. was such a great spot for lunch (or dinner!) The Hillbilly Taco (pulled pork with BBQ sauce on top of a cornbread pancake) blew my mind and went down in the books as one of the best flavour combinations I’ve experienced. One of the few joints that has truly mastered the cornbread recipe.

The Patterson House at 1711 Division St. is a Speakeasy that tries to keep itself exclusive with it’s discreet signage, but just walk up the stairs at the Catbird Seat and pull back the curtains to experience a hand-crafted cocktail.  Every drink is $12, cell phone use is discouraged, and your bill is given to you inside of an old library book.

Grimey’s Records at 1604 8th Ave. South is the best record store I found in Nashville.  I would have bought some records here, but since I was traveling, I bought a cassette tape instead.


When I first got to Louisville, I arrived 3 hours before my Airbnb was ready, so I camped out at Highland Coffee at 1140 Bardstown Rd. It was the perfect place to relax, have a latte and a frittata, and play Words with Friends. I felt very welcome here.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

I then took an Uber and checked into the house I was renting in Germantown through Airbnb at 1120 Samuel St. I would recommend staying at this exact house if available, or somewhere nearby. Germantown is a great neighborhood with walkable bars & restaurants, a Kroger nearby, and an overall central location.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Walking through Downtown Louisville’s Main Street on a Friday night, you will be underwhelmed with the amount of activity.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

However, two things I would recommend checking out are the Kentucky Science Center and the “funhouse mirror” outside of it, and looking in the windows of the expansive Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. If you are visiting during the day, I would imagine both of these places to be well worth a visit inside as well.


Guestroom Records at 1806 Frankfort Ave. is the best record store I’ve ever been to! It’s like they went out of their way to make sure to have everything you would ever want.

Fat Rabbit Thrift & Vintage + Astro Black Records at 1000 E. Oak St. was one of my favourite stores this entire trip!  I bought a record, a cassette tape, a CD, a DVD, some magnets and some stickers. This store offers an eclectic array of items in tons of different mediums. I loved it.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Pitaya at 955 Baxter Ave. is a boutique store we have at home too. I just love this store. The prices are very reasonable and all of the clothes and accessories are very cute.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

These are some of the souvenirs I bought at the aforementioned places on my week-long trip to the South. I hope this post might help as a guide the next time you are visiting either Nashville or Louisville!  It is always a pain finding recommendations for things to do, because you can’t easily Google “Things to do in _____” but I am hoping now you can 🙂


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Stop Making Excuses for Your Healthy Decisions

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to berate anyone, I just want to introduce you to a new way of thinking.

This weekend was spent in the Fort Worth area of Texas.  We met up with a dozen and a half friends and painted the town red.  We witnessed the marriage of our friends Paul and Heather, and experienced probably everything Fort Worth has to offer (at least the best stuff!).  Throughout the trip I noticed multiple people remarking how one of our friends “couldn’t drink because she is pregnant” and this type of speech irks me considerably but I was never before able to put my finger on exactly why.

When you say that somebody cannot do something, it takes the personal responsibility off of their shoulders, which I think belittles them.  If I were pregnant and somebody told me I “couldn’t drink” I would lash out and say (respectfully, of course) “I have the capability to drink. If I bring this glass to my lips, would not the spirits easily pass down my throat?  I am choosing not to drink for the health of my baby.”  Something along those lines.  And I feel that our friend deserves the same respect for her commendable decision.

Here is a photo of all of us at Torchy's Tacos!

Here is a photo of all of us at Torchy’s Tacos!  Photo credit: Amanda O’Brien

When it comes to eating out in restaurants, how many times have you heard “I will get the salad, because I am on a diet”.  Or “no dessert for me, I am on a diet.”  It must be that people are ashamed to refuse dessert or eat healthy just because they want to!  I have broken this habit a long time ago.  It is just as easy to say “I’ll have the salad because that sounds delicious”, or “no dessert for me please” (you don’t need an excuse).

Next time you find yourselves belittling your or others’ decisions with excuses, try and think of another way to word it that praises people for their healthy decisions.  If we keep feeling ashamed in this way, it will only hurt us as a society.


Here is a photo of me in our Airbnb backyard located in the historic neighborhood of Fairmount in Fort Worth.

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Filed under Alcoholic, Nutrition

Couscous with Broccoli and Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs

Couscous with Broccoli and Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs | real food. home made.


For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (from a local farm)
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg white (from a local farm)
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t italian seasoning (salt-free)
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

For the dish:

  • 1 cup israeli couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups free range chicken broth
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli, chopped then steamed
  • 6 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 T basil infused extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t italian seasoning (salt-free)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400º and mix all meatball ingredients together by hand in a bowl.  Form into roughly 16 balls, and place onto a wire rack nestled on top of a sheet tray.
  2. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, steam your broccoli in a wooden basket on one half of the stove, while you cook your couscous in a smaller pan on the other side.  Steam the broccoli until it is tender but retains the last bit of crunch.
  4. To cook the couscous, bring your chicken broth to a boil, add in the couscous, cover, reduce heat, and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of your ingredients, adding them into a large bowl.  As your elements finish cooking, add them to the bowl as well.  For the meatballs, I chopped them into quarters.  You will not need the whole batch, so you can save some for a midnight snack – or to use in another dish tomorrow.
  6. Top with parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve hot!

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Kayla’s Kobb Salad

Kayla's Kobb Salad | real food. home made.

Kayla’s Kobb Salad


  • romaine leaves, chopped
  • kale leaves, torn
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • green onions, sliced
  • turkey breast from a local farm, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • hardboiled pastured egg, sliced into wedges
  • sunflower seeds

Serve with a homemade honey mustard dressing.

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Filed under Dinner Ideas, Gluten Free, Lunch, Paleo, Salads

Coconut Oil Popcorn

Know what is silly about popcorn?

Coconut Oil Popcorn | real food. home made.

Butter-flavoured microwave popcorn is consistently on Top 10 Worst Foods To Eat lists, but not a lot of people know that homemade popcorn can be one of the tastiest and healthiest snacks you can eat! Following is a simple recipe that produces the best popcorn you’ve ever made at home!

Coconut Oil Popcorn


  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup organic popping corn
  • sea salt to taste
  • (optional) additional melted coconut oil or grass-fed butter for drizzling


  1. Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a large pot with tight fitting lid.
  2. Add 2 corn kernels to the oil in the uncovered pot and wait for them to pop.  Then, the oil is ready!
  3. Add the rest of the kernels, put the lid on, and shake every 10 seconds or so.
  4. When the popping slows down considerably, remove the pot from the heat and shake everything around for another 10 seconds.
  5. If  you are drizzling with extra oil or butter do so now, otherwise just add your desired amount of salt and shake to coat.

Now it’s time to curl up and watch a movie!  Last night we watched Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

I love keeping my extra popcorn in an air-tight container and snacking on it throughout the week.  If you’re lucky enough to have any extra!  I know we didn’t.

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Filed under Gluten Free, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian