The Process of Eating Less Processed

Weaning My Family Off of Processed Foods – While Sneaking in Some Hidden Fruits and Veggies


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“Doesn’t that do bad things to the food?” He’s Seven and Gets it.

For family movie night this past weekend, we watched Planes, the story of a crop duster who competes in a race around the world. As we are watching the plucky crop duster go about his work of spraying crops, my seven year old son does that seven year old thing of asking questions and wants to know what the plane is spraying on the plants. I explained that they’re chemicals to kill weeds and bugs. Without even missing a beat, he says, “But doesn’t that do bad things to the food?”Crop Duster

Turns out that the idea of chemicals on our food being bad is so obvious that even a seven year old gets it without any prodding. I know that scientists will tell you that you can actually ingest a certain amount of these chemicals without causing damage. But on a common sense level, it seems best to avoid eating chemicals that are in fact made to disrupt cellular function of other living things. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to feed my family all organic in order to avoid these chemicals. I do my best, buying organic when I can. And our best is all any of us can really do. In the meantime, I’ll explain to my boys that yes, these chemicals aren’t very good for us, which is why we have to wash their fruits and veggies.

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Queso Worthy of the Super Bowl – Without Velveeta

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For better or worse, snacks are an integral part of football watching at my house. And usually, those snacks have involved “football cheese”, or Velveeta mixed with salsa. So this year, after I started feeding my family less processed foods, one of my husband’s first questions for football season was what he was going to be able to snack on during games.

Obviously, Velveeta does not make the less processed cut. I mean, a “cheese” that can last years without being refrigerated… you don’t even need to look at the ingredients to know there’s very little natural about that. (And don’t even get me started on the so-called “Velveeta shortage:…)

I tried a few different recipes over the course of the season looking for a reasonable substitute. Some used a cream sauce base, others were just melted cheese. And this is what I decided is the best less processed queso or “football cheese”. It uses cream cheese (which still isn’t perfect – but is far better than velveeta – and if you can afford it, there are organic versions that only contain milk and cream).

Less Processed Football Cheese
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup hot salsa (Look for a brand that contains only ingredients you could actually use in your own kitchen without added chemicals or sugar. Or you could make your own by pulsing together 2 small tomatoes, 1 jalepeno pepper, one clove garlic and one small onion with a teaspoon of salt in your food processor)

Mix all ingredients together and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds until bubbly and hot. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or carrots and celery sticks. YUM!