12 Jul

I went to the grocery store the other day.  I moved to a new state about 9 months ago and it has taken me that long to commit to a single store. There are several in the town we live in.  I have tried them all, but I finally settled on this particular store because it offers a larger selection of produce and has a lot of natural, organic and gluten free choices.

I am not in love with this store, the baskets are horrible if you have more than one child and their aisles are way too small for maneuvering if you have a lot going on. I am also confused by the amount of non food items they cram into their store. I spend a whole shopping trip telling my toddler that I will not buy her camping gear or scented candles. I would also like to give my two cents to whoever thought I would appreciate having a trillion balloons displayed at every checkout.

But, (sigh) I have to admit, their food choices, however more pricey they are, does give the customer the opportunity to feed their family a bit more healthy.  For the sake of my wallet, I have had to really stick to my grocery list and not buy a lot of packaged foods for my toddler. This is of course a good thing, since we are trying to eat less packaged foods, even if they are organic.

Grocery shopping is where I begin to display some anxiety. Often times, when reading all the blogs and Facebook posts out there on organic and natural foods, I see that the author has either left out the issue of price or they continuously tell the reader that the health of their family is worth the cost. I agree with the latter. But, there are some of us who struggle monthly with a budget and when we see that a large container of regular strawberries is $3.99, it is really hard to pick up the same sized container of organic strawberries for $6.99. It took me a very long time of doing research to finally justify the $6.99 box. Yes, I feel my family deserves the best quality of food there is to offer, my wallet does not always agree.

My recent switch to organic and natural foods has a lot to do with me no longer working. When I was working fulltime, I never really felt like I had the time to do any research on the subject. I worked a job that kept me preoccupied both at work and at home. I cared about what my daughter ate, but with her in daycare, I was unable to control the foods she ate while she was there. They did not allow outside foods unless a child had an allergy. Now that my full time job is raising my two daughters and running a household, I feel like part of my new job is to invest in the healthy eating of my family.  (I am of course not saying anything bad about working mothers, I was unable to handle the high stress of my job and anything else that went on around me.)

I have recently become a vegetarian, something I never thought I would do. For some reason, when I breast feed, I either crave certain foods, or there are foods that gross me out.  With my second child, I find meat to be extremely unappealing.  My being a vegetarian is really throwing my husband for a loop. I no longer share in his enjoyment of BBQ and steak house restaurants. Eating out is hard for me because I also have celiac disease on top of being a vegetarian. Oh, and did I mention that I have never liked fish or shell fish of any kind. It’s a good thing we don’t eat out a lot.

When going meatless, I also lost a lot of my baby weight. I was grateful for that. I still take prenatal vitamins because I am breastfeeding and I take a B-12 supplement daily due to the lack of meat. I am thinking of cutting out cheese as well. I don’t drink milk or eat yogurt because of lactose issues, but I love cheese and it has been really hard for me to give it up.

Now that I am vegetarian, I am eating all sorts of foods I have never eaten before.  I actually don’t mind tofu and have experimented with it when making Asian food, Italian food, and preparing it on its own.

This week I made a cheesy quinoa dish.  It was really good and I enjoy the fact that quinoa has a lot of protein in it, about 6 grams for every 1/4 cup.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups of Quinoa

3 cups of water

Olive Oil

1 small package of mushrooms (I used baby bella)

2 cups of spinach

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ cup of soy milk (or milk, rice milk, almond milk, ect)

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Prepare quinoa by placing the water and quinoa in the pot and bringing the water to a boil. Cover and let simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan on the stove, sauté the mushrooms in olive oil (you don’t have to use mushrooms and spinach, any of your favorite vegetables will work well). I like to add garlic salt to my mushrooms for flavor.

Once the quinoa and mushrooms are done I add the soy milk and cheese to the quinoa. I then stir in the mushrooms and spinach adding salt and pepper to taste.

I place the cheesy quinoa into a glass dish and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees. I also will sprinkle a handful of cheese on the top.

I enjoy experimenting with different recipes now that I am not eating meat, my family however,  is not as excited. So far my picky toddle refuses to try this dish and my husband uses his excuse of being on a diet not to partake. He also does not like mushrooms.

I am happy about my food choices right now and am hoping to become more educated on the subject of organic foods and GMOs. I really want to be able to provide the best quality of foods for my family and I am working on getting them to try new foods.


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