Tag Archives: real food

Calories: Friend or Foe?

Today I wanted to talk about calories.

When I was younger, I always thought “You get like 2,000 calories a day? That sounds like a ton, I could never surpass that, so I won’t think about that ever again”.  And then I later wisened up and tried one of those calorie counter apps (actually SparkPeople.com which I found to be an incredible FREE resource) and began to learn a lot.  It was surprisingly easy to go over 2,000 calories a day.  And someone like me with a desk job actually requires quite a bit less.

Although I see temporary calorie-counting as a beneficial way to learn more about the food you eat, there are a couple of flaws to the system. Most importantly, the apps are only able to accurately track items with barcodes, or popular menu items from fast food restaurants.   It is nearly impossible to type in every item from the stir fry you just made (1/8 carrot, 1/8 zucchini….).

Also, a calorie is not a calorie.  Let’s compare 100 calories of Doritos to 100 calories of almonds.  The Doritos enter your body and are not really given a second glance.  They go straight on through to the “junk storage units”.  Almonds, on the other hand, go through an intricate digestion process, which burns calories in the process, and gives nutrients to your body.  And every body digests differently, so the “net calories” in a handful of almonds can vary from person to person.

So, while calories are important to take into consideration, you should keep those “100 calorie snack packs” far away from your kitchen!  When you eat real food, your body will naturally regulate your calorie consumption, so you won’t have to worry about it so much.

Calories: Friend or Foe? | real food. home made.

Let’s face it: who eats 100 calories of Doritos?  That is 8 chips.  If you are still transitioning to real food, try this for an afternoon snack: eat 1 Dorito, and savour the flavour for an entire minute.  Then eat a raw carrot.  Or two!  Same colour, but this snack will actually keep you satisifed until dinner is ready.


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How to Transform Yourself into a Different Person

How to Transform Yourself into a Different Person | real food. home made.

Have you seen the new Burger King commercial advertising 10 chicken nuggets for $1.49? When it came on the TV last night, I jumped out of my seat. “What a fantastic deal!” “That’s too good to be true!” I screamed. Grant laughed and responded with “Are you kidding? You would never eat fast food.”

I thought to myself “Wow.” I have successfully transformed myself from someone who ate fast food nearly every day, to the kind of person with a reputation of not touching it with a ten foot pole.

In the city where I grew up, there was a strip with a McDonalds, a Wendys and a Tim Hortons all next door to one another. During high school, my friends and I would regularly drive thru all three, choosing one item off each menu. My regular order was a McDonalds cheeseburger, Wendy’s chicken nuggets with sweet & sour sauce, and a chocolate chip muffin from Tim Hortons. Not only did a version of this occur almost daily, it was not a part of breakfast, lunch or dinner.

How to Transform Yourself into a Different Person | real food. home made.

Here is a photo of me at the beginning of college.

It’s crazy to think about, but that is just what kids do in high school, and nobody thinks anything of it! There isn’t really much else to do besides get into trouble, and I definitely wasn’t cool enough for that!

So you, reader, are probably not going through 3 drive thrus a day.  You may not even call yourself a fan of the concept of fast food.  You may have even skimmed a couple internet lists of “The 12 Worst Chemicals You Never Knew You Were Eating”.  But I can almost guarantee that you still eat fast food from time to time.  Today is the day to swear it off once and for all.  No amount of “convenience” is worth poisoning your body.  Fast food has absolutely zero redeeming qualities.  Nobody is morally “pro” fast food.  Nobody.  It is not going to be a very controversial decision.

If you are stuck in a routine, however, it can be hard to change.  Let’s say you and your favourite coworker enjoy Wendy’s every Wednesday, or you and the guys/gals routinely go out for Taco Bell after a night at the bar.  Or on family road trips you stop at McDonalds for your beloved McFlurry and French Fries.  It’s hard to break with traditions.  You might feel embarrased to tell the coworker or friends that you are no longer eating fast food.  But I’ll tell ya, it’s just the first few times that are awkward.  Before long, everyone will know you as a person who would “never eat fast food!” and you will feel so great about that.

The moral of the story is, you can change any characteristic that currently describes you.  You can be an infinite number of versions of yourself.  I bet your facebook friend, the avid runner, remembers the version of herself before she went for her first run (even if you couldn’t possibly picture her any other way).

I am going to make my own chicken nuggets this week.  I bread the chicken with falafel mix, and it is divine!  Try it sometime.  Love, Kayla.


CHICKEN NUGGETS (Fried): Chicken Breast Pattie Fritters with Rib Meat Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Flavoring [Potassium Chloride, Flavoring, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin (Corn, Potato), Salt, Chicken Fat, Contains less than 2% (Chicken Broth, Citric Acid, Dextrin, Disodium Inosinate & Disodium Guanylate, Dried Chicken, Mannitol, Modified Cornstarch)], Modified Food Starch, Salt, Sodium Phosphates. BATTERED WITH: Water, Wheat Flour, Modified Wheat Starch, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Sodium Gluconate, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Dextrose, Spices, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Extractives of Turmeric. PREDUSTED WITH: Wheat Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Wheat Gluten, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Sodium Gluconate, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Potassium Chloride, Spice. Breading Set in Vegetable Oil.


Filed under Nutrition

Peanut Butter Sriracha Omelette

Peanut Butter Sriracha Omelette | real food. home made.

Hopefully you are not skeptical at all about this breakfast invention of mine.  If you have ever spent the night at my house, there is a good chance you’ve been served a “peanut butter omelette”, which I consider my “super protein breakfast”.  The sriracha takes it up a notch!  You’ve got to try it!

Peanut Butter Sriracha Omelette


  • 2 organic pastured eggs
  • 1 T natural peanut butter
  • drizzle of sriracha (to taste)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • small morsel of grass-fed butter


  1. Melt your butter in a small skillet.  Crack 2 eggs into the pan, smash the yolks and whites so that the two eggs become one even egg layer.  Grind salt and pepper on top to taste.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook until most of the egg is set – you will know when it is time to flip!
  2. Flip the egg over, turn off the heat, and let it finish cooking for about 30 seconds.
  3. Transfer to a plate and drizzle sriracha over one half, and spread peanut butter over the other.  Fold the two halves together to create the “omelette”.

You will enjoy this I promise!   I am not much of a cheese person, and the peanut butter here acts as the cheesy element that most people enjoy with eggs.  Yummmmmm!!  Nutritious and delicious!  Guaranteed to keep you full until lunch time.

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Filed under Breakfast, Paleo, Vegetarian

Grass-Fed Corn Dog Bites

Grass Fed Corn Dog Bites | real food. home made.

This advertisement came in the mail yesterday, and I burst out laughing.  I am going to start collecting these prime examples of our country’s sickening problem with food.  We are equating the word “protein” with “corn dog”?  How did we let this happen?  Protein is one of the prime building blocks of life, I feel so sorry that the word has to appear so large alongside this abominable “edible food product”.

However, corn dogs are not inherently bad.  I believe that as long as you make a dish home made from quality real food ingredients, nothing is off limits!  Not even corn dogs.  Following is a recipe for mini corn dog bites – they are an excellent appetizer to bring to a superbowl party, or any other gathering under the sun (except maybe a vegan potluck).

Grass-Fed Corn Dog Bites | real food. home made. 

Grass-Fed Corn Dog Bites

Yield: 36 mini-muffins


Now, contrast that list with the State Fair corndog ingredients:

Grass-Fed Corn Dog Bites | real food. home made.

When reading the labels on packaged food products, ask yourself the question: “Are these the ingredients I would use to make this item”?  If the answer is no, which it will be more often than not, do not risk it.  Remember, your body is not a garbage can.


  1. Preheat oven to 375º
  2. Whisk butter and sugar together, add eggs, then buttermilk, whisking them all together.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in a seperate bowl: cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  5. Spray a mini muffin pan with coconut oil.
  6. Add a glop of batter to, then press a hot dog section into the center of, each cup.  Each cup should be nearly full but not quite.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cornbread just starts to brown.
  8. Let them cool for as long as you can stand it, and then transfer to a tupperware to bring to the party.
  9. You can serve these at room temperature, or re-heat them in the oven for a bit at serving time.

Grass-Fed Corn Dog Bites | real food. home made.

Now that’s a fun source of protein I can get behind!

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

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Filed under Appetizers, Potluck, Snacks

How to Eat Real Food While Traveling

How to Eat Real Food While Traveling | real food. home made.

While on road trips or during traveling in general, it can be hard to find real food options. There are a lot of fast food and vending machine options, and not much available in terms of real food. In the airport, you can often find a variety of dried fruits and nuts in the book and magazine shops, and sometimes coffee shops will sell apples and bananas at their counters.

When I take road trips, I always bring a homemade “trail mix” concoction with me, and you will find me munching on it while sitting at the table at Wendy’s with my fast-food approving comrades. Don’t worry about looking silly, you will actually look smart.

I don’t like to order even the salads at fast food restaurants.  Just for example, I looked up the ingredients in Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad and found:

Chicken Breast, Water, Seasoning (sea salt, maltodextrin, natural flavors, yeast extract, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, gum Arabic, dextrose), Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Phosphates. Rubbed with Paprika and Spice.  Iceberg Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Spring Mix (baby Lettuces [red & green romaine, red & green oak, red & green leaf, lolla rosa, tango], spinach, mizuna arugula, tatsoi, red chard, green chard), Fire Roasted Edamame, Cucumber, Red Bell Peppers.  Cashews, Onion Garlic Seasoning (onion powder, garlic powder, salt), Canola Oil, Soy Lecithin, Sea Salt, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper. Water, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Rice Vinegar, Chili Garlic Sauce (salted chili pepper [chili peppers, salt], garlic, sugar, rice vinegar, water, modified corn starch, acetic acid), Soybean Oil, Miso (water, organic soybeans, rice, salt, koji starter [aspergillus oryzae]), Lime Juice (water, lime juice concentrate, lime oil), Soy Sauce (water, soybeans, salt, alcohol), Cilantro, Ginger, Mustard Seed, Sea Salt, Garlic (dehydrated), Spice, Natural Flavor, Roasted Garlic, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Red Pepper (dehydrated), Yeast Extract, Oleoresin Rosemary, Citric Acid. CONTAINS: SOY.

That is far too many ingredients for me.  Plus, I don’t like giving these companies my money.

When I get where I’m going I will stock up on my essentials.  Luckily in L.A. it was easy to find my favourite brands.

How to Eat Real Food While Traveling | real food. home made.

There solves the breakfast problem.  I always have to have my peanut butter banana toast within a half hour of waking up, or I get grumpy.  “Going out to breakfast” always takes so long; by the time everyone is finally showered, dressed and ready to go, and then you wait for a table, it is lunch time anyway!  Lunch and dinner are usually eaten out during vacation, and luckily in L.A. everything is free-range, grass-fed, and organic!

We had so much fun on our trip, I can’t wait to go back again someday.  My favourite part was probably the availability of real food.  Here in Michigan, the term is hardly, if ever, used.  I don’t even have any real foodist friends, do I?…..

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Filed under Nutrition, Snacks

Turkey Apple Cherry Jam Sandwich -or- “Jammy Sammy”

Turkey Apple Cherry Jam Sandwich -or- "Jammy Sammy" | real food. home made.

I’ve been planning to make this sandwich ever since I got home from Traverse City, the Cherry Capital of the World (most likely).  Last night, however, the biggest flood in recent history hit our region, and I almost couldn’t make it to the grocery store!  Our basement flooded knee-deep, and we spent all of last night and all of today pumping out the water, throwing out everything that was wet, and re-organizing everything that was salvageable. I found time to bike to the market, thankfully, so I could put a nice dinner on the table after such a stressful and hectic 24 hours.

Turkey Apple Cherry Jam Sandwich -or- “Jammy Sammy”



  1. Slice your fruits and vegetables (I use a mandoline to make life easy!)
  2. Toast the bread
  3. Make the jam sandwich!
  4. Enjoy.

Turkey Apple Cherry Jam Sandwich -or- "Jammy Sammy" | real food. home made.

(What I do next is chop up a heart of romaine, divide it between two lunchbots, add my extra tomato, turkey, apple, and onion slices, and top with dried cherries.  Perfect for mine and Grant’s lunch tomorrow.)

After losing so many “valuables” I definitely have a greater appreciation for the invaluables.  It’s been very cathartic going through everything, to say the least.  Here is a photo I salvaged of me and my dad from July 1995 in Rapid City, MI.


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Filed under Brunch, Dinner Ideas, Lunch, Sandwiches

The Confusing World of Egg Marketing

  • Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs
  • “Grain Fed” / “Vegetarian Diet”
  • “Free-Range”
  • “Natural”
  • “Omega-3 Enriched”

These are all slogans you see on different varieties of egg packaging at the grocery store. But what do they really mean?

First of all, brown eggs are no more “natural” than white eggs. Different breeds of chickens lay different coloured eggs, and that is that.

“Grain Fed” and “Vegetarian Diet” are both problematic. Chickens are not vegetarians. Ones that are free to roam in the pasture eat insects, which are vital to their, and our, nutritional needs.

What can be considered “Free-Range” by technical standards is not what you picture in your head when you hear the term.

“Allowed access to the outside” is how the USDA defines “free-range.” This inadequate definition means that producers can, and do, label their eggs as “free-range” even if all they do is leave little doors open on their giant sheds, regardless of whether the birds ever learn to go outside, and regardless of whether there is good pasture or just bare dirt or concrete outside those doors!  (Mother Earth News)

“Natural” is a big labeling problem – I’m not sure there are ANY regulations on this one.

As far as the Omega-3 enriched eggs, these are basically conventionally raised chickens except their feed is supplemented with an omega-3 source like flax.

What I’ve found is there is no right answer. I’m not sure any of these options are any better or worse than any other. In my local Kroger, for example, they have eggs that range from 0.99 cents to 5.49 a dozen – all with varying packaging materials and marketing slogans. The dollar eggs have simple styrafoam packaging, and the expensive eggs have cardboard packaging with nice fonts and green coloured logos. Each appeals to a different demographic, but they could very well be the very same eggs inside.

 The Confusing World of Egg Marketing | real food. home made.

Here is a chart that outlines some nutritional differences between conventional eggs and true free-range eggs.

The only way to know for sure that the eggs you are feeding to yourself and your family are chock full of nutrition is to purchase them from a local farm. John Henry’s sets up at the Royal Oak farmers market on Saturday mornings, Birmingham farmers market on Sunday mornings, and does bi-weekly delivery to many cities in Michigan.

Believe me, you will taste the difference. And for $5.00 a dozen, you can’t beat it!  The best part about the eggs from John Henry’s is opening up the carton in the morning and seeing this:

The Confusing World of Egg Marketing | real food. home made.

For more reading on the health benefits of pastured eggs, read Meet Real Free-Range Eggs

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Filed under Breakfast, Nutrition