I thought long and hard about what topic I wanted to use as my fifth post in this series and after careful consideration I decided to end with my ultimate rule for healthy eating: consuming REAL, WHOLE foods.

Striving to keep my kitchen stocked with REAL ingredients and WHOLE foods is not as complicated as some people make it out to be. My number one goal after leaving the grocery store is not only to stay within budget, but that the foods I’m purchasing were made with foods grown from God’s green earth.

At this point, perhaps you are thinking, “now THAT is impossible. How can I avoid all those other foods?” How about we start with learning how to read an ingredients label. It’s quite simple really; if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, then don’t buy it. For example, last night Brandon was checking out dressings at the grocery store. He picked up a ranch dressing and started reading the ingredients (he’s definitely learning so well). As he began struggling to read some of the ingredients among the list, he realized that he should put it back. GOOD JOB LOVE! Not so hard is it?

Healthy eating can be EASY and FUN (if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t be as consistent as I am)! As you know, I don’t follow “food rules,” but if there were to be one “rule” that I try my best to live by, it IS keeping it REAL.

In my opinion, REAL foods are SO much tastier than something you find in the freezer section or at the drive thru. When was the last time you tried your Grandmother’s apple pie and said, “gosh Grandma, that frozen pie tastes so much better than what you have just made from scratch,” (well, unless your Grandma can’t cook, but you get the idea).

You would be amazed at how many dishes you can make with REAL ingredients and WHOLE foods! Most of my recipes are dishes I grew up eating! The only difference? I made a few substitutions to not only add REAL ingredients but also enhance the nutritional profile; whole wheat to replace white flour or noodles, adding fruit or extra vegetables to dishes, or utilizing herbs and spices to enhance flavor (hello turmeric!). Make sense?

After this week, I want you to feel empowered to make smart choices when you are at the grocery store and to utilize those cookbooks lying around your house. A lot of recipes I feature are slightly healthier versions of some of your favorite meals!! Once you try a few, you’ll begin to realize how easy it is to make a normally unhealthy dish in to one that is heart healthy and disease preventing!