For many the start of the New Year brings with it resolutions, plans to start fresh and make changes. Exercise more often. Drink more water. Eat healthier. All good intentions but I find the cold winter months after the holidays are so difficult to get through that I call on happy comforts, like food.
It’s not until the spring weather arrives that I start to feel differently. We start to see the grass under the snow, albeit brown and withered but grass nonetheless. The layers start to come off: hats and scarves, winter coats, even the bulky sweaters. Perhaps it’s this shedding process that has me thinking about eating healthier. That thought that less of me is camouflaged under wool and knits. Sure, not the most altruistic reason to start examining my eating habits but we all start somewhere, we all have our triggers.
I’m not one to go full hog, giving up meat and eating only veggies or switching to an all-organic diet but it is possible to alter family eating habits without doing a full one-eighty.
Beretta Family Farms
With reports in the news about contaminated meat, chemically enhanced poultry, and poor animal treatment, it’s no wonder many people walk away from meat. It is possible to find healthier meat choices and in Ontario Beretta Family Farms is one option.
“Providing healthy alternatives is something we take great pride in doing and we’re there with you every step of the way. Whether it’s grass fed beef, organic free-range chickens or antibiotic free pork, we make sure you have the information you need to make the right choices.” Beretta Farms website
I tried Beretta Farm’s boneless/skinless organic chicken breast for a Chermoula Chicken recipe they sent me (I wish it was posted in their recipe section so I could share it with you). There’s something comforting knowing exactly what your family is eating, which doesn’t seem to be the case with meat and poultry lately, but tasting the difference confirms it. And you can taste the difference. Although Beretta Farm sells meat and poultry they do have a few prepared meals for those nights when you have no real time to cook (yes, those nights can sometimes seem like the norm). We tried their beef lasagna and it was delicious! No super sugar sweet sauce covering the taste of the flavourless meat.
I actually saw their lasagna for sale at a local Whole Foods store but you can order your products online to pick-up at their farm in King City, their Etobicoke office or the Dufferin Grove Market. They do handle delivery too so you can stock your freezer. I think I’ll be stocking up on my next Whole Foods visit.
Real Food Toronto
Finding healthy food choices, meat and beyond, can be a difficult task. I’m not a fan of shopping so the less stores I need to hit the better. The city is full of great products but who really has time to drive around from shop to shop just to find them? That’s where Real Food Toronto comes in, developed by The Healthy Butcher co-founders. My family was familiar with The Healthy Butcher first, having purchased one of our Big Green Egg cookers from them as well as various meats. Real Food Toronto is an online grocery store that not only enables families looking for healthier meat and poultry choices but also “good for you” food choices in a slew of categories. Yes there is a delicious bakery section in case you were wondering.
The idea is to take away the excuse to not eat healthier more sustainable choices because customers couldn’t find them or didn’t have time to look for them. Real Food Toronto does the sourcing for you and delivers the items right to your door. My favourite items tend to fall in the prepared category, like their soups and salads, things that take a little more work on my end but can round out a family meal.
Additional Reading: Simple Start to Healthy Kids
You can schedule your delivery based on a time that works for you (they have both day and evening options). Although you can allow for substitutions should an item not be available, I tend to opt out of this as I’m very specific with what I want. When not all the items I ordered were available I was pleased that my “personal shopper” emailed me the day before to let me know what wouldn’t be included. This made the hand-off easier and surprise free on delivery day.
There is a fee for delivery but the more groceries you order the less that fee is (free if you order over $200 which is easy with a family of five). Plus what kind of value would you put on the convenience of shopping on my schedule from home and less time running around from store to store?
Both the Beretta Family Farm and Real Food Toronto are great options for overall healthier food choices but you can make little steps toward eating healthy too. Barbara’s cereal and snacks are vegan, vegetarian, organic, whole grain and are non-GMO verified. We love their Cheese Puffs for family movie night.
When it comes to breakfast time it can be hard to get kids to eat “healthy” but you’ll probably have no argument serving them Barbara’s Snackimals cereals, based on their popular cookie product. Even with the Snackimals Cinnamon Crunch variety a bowl only contains 7g or sugar per serving. How does that compare to the sugary cereals the kids might crave?
We found both the Cinnamon Crunch and Vanilla Blast cereals were also good for so much more than just breakfast. They made a nice addition to an after school snack with pepper cheese and smoked meat and added a nice crunchy topping to our frozen yogurt treat.
Jax Coco Kidz
I’ve heard the virtues of coconut water from many bloggers and my kids even tried coconut water right from the nut when visiting a market in Hawaii but the taste has never won them over. My kids can’t be the only one who feel this way thus the introduction of Jax Coco Kidz. The small tetra packs are designed to offer kids a drink alternative to the more sugary products now available. It’s made with only 100% pure coconut water and fruit puree or pure cocoa, nothing artificial added. You can get it in Classic Coconut but it was the flavours that interested me, like chocolate, banana and grape.
My son dislikes coconut all together so there was no convincing him to try but my youngest daughter was eager to taste all the flavours we were sent. I must point out she is very literal when it comes to food and how it should look or taste. While most kids would love eating colourful carrots, she finds them unnatural and will only eat the orange ones. No surprise she wasn’t a big fan of the grape flavour but she loved the chocolate. While the chocolate flavouring has more calories and sugar than the classic coconut, it still has forty per cent less sugar than juice! That says something. A great alternative for summer camp lunches this year.
Additional Reading: 5 Easy Luxuries to Treat Your Family
So I won’t be going vegetarian or giving up on carbs this season but that doesn’t mean I don’t desire making healthier food choices for me and my family. I think it’s great that brands like Barbara’s and Jax Coco as well as companies like the Berretta Family Farm and Real Food Toronto are making healthier food choices a viable option for everyone. As consumers we can show other brands that these choices are important by supporting those who are making those changes on our behalf.
Here’s to a healthier 2015, no matter when you start or what changes (big or little) you make.