5 do-able steps to living more organically

I have been looking into ways to improve my blog & I realised I don’t really have a strong message about what I represent.  I mean, it’s obvious that I love food & cooking & my family & home are my world, but I don’t go into a lot of detail about where & why I get my inspiration from.  

Upon reflection, I think it is because I am not one to push my beliefs or opinions on others – I am an ‘each-to-their-own’ kinda gal.  If someone asks me, I will tell them, but I don’t go out of my way to ‘preach’ my preferences.  I am not sure if this is about not wanting to bore people, or perhaps it is to avoid conflict.  Either way, I just don’t tend to go there.  

Well, today I am changing that & I am going to go there!  Let me begin my stating, I love organic produce & I think we should all being growing, stocking & eating it in as many ways as possible.  It is healthier for you, often easy to grow & more than anything, it tastes so much better.  Why would you not swap?

I can hear the outcry now … it’s too expensive, too hard to find, too time consuming, too inconvenient.  To some extent this is true, but aren’t there similar arguments / excuses for any lifestyle choice?  There are those who might say it is cheaper & easier to buy pre-packaged, heavily processed & chemically riddled food for the convenience & in the short term this might hold true, but down the track when your body starts to suffer the ill-effects of overdosing on the artificial, it may well cost you much more than it is worth.  Just saying.  

I proudly buy organic foods! I want a better world for my children, that can only happen if I put in an effort to help the organic farmers to keep doing the right natural thing!

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I firmly believe the above statement.  The more we consume certain products, the more prevalent & affordable they become.  When I first started switching to organic produce, some ten or so years ago now, it was a highly sacrificial way of living.  In order to eat organically, I had to severely reduce other spending on things like take out, clothes & shoes. It was hard, (first world problems hard), but I managed because it worked for me.  Since having children & going back to one income, the pressure to revert back to quick & dirty eating habits has been tempting, but I have to say, the prices of organic products has dropped significantly making it easier to sustain. I think this is because people are choosing products more mindfully & the demand for food free from additives & pesticides has grown, which as we all likely know, gradually increases production & competition, & ultimately reduces costs.  As a consumer, I call this winning!  

Now, let me hop off my soap box & get real for a second.  I am not now, nor will I ever be the type to be hard-core fanatical about any issue, so no need to try & play the hypocrite card.  I am a realist – a busy life, lack of disposable income & plain old temptation get in the way at times, so not everything I touch or consume is strictly organic &/or natural.  However, as a family, we work to minimise foods that are non-organic, processed or artificial where ever possible. I am good with this approach & consider that conviction in itself can only be beneficial in the long term.  A little peace of mind can go a long way towards contentment.

Anyway, enough of that opinion stuff, what I want to do In this post is share the main ways that we choose to live more organically.

1.    Start small – swap it in

There are lots of lists out there that identify the worst & best produce to choose when switching to organic – just Google, “organics on a budget”,or the like, & prepare to be assaulted with options.  In particular, you will find reference to the ‘Dirty Dozen’ – these are foods that are known to be heavily sprayed & laden with residual pesticide.  

 Guide to buying organic: Dirty dozen Plus, Clean 15

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Look through the list, if there are foods on there you eat frequently, start by switching those to organic.  Most are readily available in supermarkets, or organic green grocers. If not available, then stick to eating the ‘Clean Fifteen’, either organic or non-organic.  

Organic or low pesticide produce is much safer & tastier.

2.  Shop smarter – be creative & seasonal

Compare prices & keep an eye out for discounted produce.  It may be a few days old, but perishable produce should be eaten quickly, so if you can use it straight away, grab it at the bargain price.  

Check the freezer section of your local supermarket or wholefood store, often you will find a variety of organic snap-frozen products there.  I am particularly fond of buying berries this way to have on hand year round.  

FarmersMarket

Hit your local Farmers’ Markets for great organic produce at comparative non-organic prices.  There is almost always a bargain to be struck – just be mindful of buying only what you need, as in, will eat fresh, or can cook &/or freeze to avoid waste.  There is nothing more disheartening than having to throw away good food gone bad. I also find going to the market a fun family expedition! There is usually all sorts of stalls & activities for everyone to enjoy.  Definitely more exciting than the supermarket!

Seasonal produce of any kind will always be cheaper.  Don’t buy it if it is not in season, swap it for something that is & you will save big over the year.  It is also a great way to introduce new produce & tastes to your table.  

3.  Sew the seeds – grow your own

Do you have a reasonable size yard or garden area?  Plant an edible garden!  Ditch the ornamentals & go green!  Even if you don’t have a lot of space, something as simple as a planter box in a corner of your balcony can be filled with fresh herbs & leafy greens.  Lettuce & spinach will grow pretty much all year round.  A little potting mix, water & fertilizer & you are all set to be hand picking your produce with about 8 weeks of planting.  You might have to share a few leaves with the bugs, but they really don’t eat much & there are loads of ‘natural pest repellents’ you can make to keep any loss to a minimum.

dirtkids
(Yes … that is my daughter with a flowerpot on her head!)

Kids love dirt, so make the garden a family affair.  A great way to educate your little people about food & the environment is to get them involved in the gardening.  They will love it & are so much more likely to eat vegetables if they have picked them themselves.   

4.  Share the load – buy in bulk

If you are buying organic seasonal produce & there is a lot of it around, you can buy in bulk & preserve your food. This can be as simple as bagging & freezing it, or if you are so inclined, making your own preserves.

makeit

(Goggles are totally a thing when avoiding onion tears apparently)

As well as fresh produce, you can switch your pantry staples to organic, same as above, swap it in gradually.  The best way to keep your cost down is to buy in bulk.  You may have a local co-op or wholefoods who sell this way, or there are some fantastic online businesses who provide great products & quick service.  Get together with like-minded friends & order together, this can cut the cost per kilo & save on freight.

bulkbuy

(You can find out more about Bulk Wholefoods here)

5.  Stop making excuses – cut out the crap

There are increasingly less barriers to maintaining a healthy fridge and pantry.  Organic products are available & affordable if you are prepared to make the changes.  I think the visual below speaks volumes.  

comparecost

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I cannot pretend that I haven’t & wouldn’t prefer the chocolate at times, but less is definitely better when it comes to processed foods.

Eat fresh, eat whole, eat real food.  Your body will thank you for it.

Cheers,

Jodie xx

Cook!  Eat!  Enjoy!  

Pumpkin Soup

 
Pumpkin Soup
 
Next soup on my list of favourites is a simple but delicious Pumpkin Soup.  The one used here is from our own little pumpkin patch.  We had a very healthy crop, all plump, moist & bright with orange flesh.  I love cutting into a whole one & pulling back to see such crispness & colour – it always make me smile.  The photos below are as I took them, with no adjustment to the brightness or saturation, just garden-fresh, vibrant, natural colour.  
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Roasted Potato & Leek Soup

 
Roasted Potato & Leek Soup
 
The Winter is well & truly setting in where I live, with frosty mornings turning the lawn into a crispy white wonderland & grey clouds hovering low, covering the sun, making the days misty & cold.  The desire to surround oneself with warm comfort both inside & out becomes paramount.  For me that includes coats, scarves, boots & hearty, warming Winter soups.
 
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Why I write

When I got the email from the lovely Amanda from Cooker and a Looker to be part of the ‘Why I Write’ blog hop, I have to admit to feeling all squirmy inside, partly because who doesn’t like to know someone they admire & consider a friend is thinking of them, & partly because I always get nervous about these kinds of posts because I struggle to find words!  I will do my best however, so here goes.

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Chocolate Chia Pudding with Whipped Coconut Cream

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We had dinner with some very special friends on the weekend.  Although we had decided to just have take-away for the main part, I couldn’t resist throwing together a little dessert experiment to try out on them.   I wanted to keep it light & healthy-’ish’ & needed to cover a few dietary preferences including being vegan friendly & of course, fussy child friendly.
 
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Black Plum & Roasted Fig Bread

 
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Are you an impulsive person?   Or one of those wondrous, enigmatic types, who make considered & thoughtful plans about what actions you might want to take?  I wish I was the latter, but reality is, I am impulsive & tend to throw myself head long into an idea when it hits me, with little consideration for what comes next. While these impulses are (rarely) life threatening,  (think bungee jumping & white water rafting), they often leave me slightly panicked, at times with an empty wallet & always thinking, “Holy crapola, what do I do if …. [insert relevant potential consequences, particularly of the over-dramatised & catastrosphic kind] …?”
 
Having admitted that, I am still alive & while I don’t always get it right, I manage to work my through my impulses to get a (mostly) positive result, (think starting a blog).
 
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Pumpkin & Pistachio Cheesecake Stacks

 
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We have had a good crop of pumpkins this season & when thinking of ways to use them, I kept coming back to the idea of warm & inviting pumpkin pie, laden with a soft mousse like, spice filled centre, surrounded by a crunchy crust, laced with ginger & butter.

I remember working with a lovely lady some years back, who was over here in Australia from the US.  We were chatting about her plans for her family’s upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.  She was describing all the fabulous dishes she would be making & how excited she was to have the opportunity to bring a little piece of her home to life here.  It was towards the end of the conversation that she appeared to almost physically deflate & she looked at me & said, “The only disappointing thing is the I can’t find any pumpkin.”  

To say I was confused was an understatement!  Pumpkins are everywhere in the supermarkets & green grocers – they come in all shapes & sizes, various colours & types.  Without wanting to sound condescending, I said to her, “Did you check the fruit & vegetable section at the supermarket?”  

She looked at me as perplexed as I felt & said, “Is that where they keep the cans?”

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Ladybird Caramel Mud Birthday Cake

 
Ladybird Caramel Mud Birthday Cake
 
April is a big birthday month in the extended FreshHomeCook family unit!  Included in there is our baby girl Maisie.  She turned two this year & I can tell you I have no idea where that time went!  I love birthdays, being able to get loved ones together & share the joy & celebration.  As with any celebration in my family there must be CAKE!  

It appears that my partner & I have become birthday cake aficionados!  It all started with setting ourselves up to make a Brown Bear (as in Eric Carle’s brilliant book) for our son’s first birthday, some four years ago.  While we are not exactly professionals, with each birthday we seem to get just a little more complex & just a little better.  We work well as a team, I am the better cake baker & icer (if that’s a word!) & J-man is the shape designer & decorator!
 
Last year, for Maisie’s first birthday I made a Dragonfly cake, thanks to the lovely ladies at Cake2theRescue.  After making that cake, we realised we could do the design & making ourselves with a little planning & a whole lot of fun (kind of)!
 
For our son’s fourth birthday we made our own version of Willbee the Bumblebee that was a big hit!  This cake was based on Maisie’s favourite character from Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, a cartoon on ABC4Kids, Gaston the Ladybird.  Truth be told, J-man & I love this show as much as the kidlets – it is made by the same good folk that make Peppa Pig & is just as unpretentious, fun & very funny!  If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth seeking out an episode to watch.  Oh wait, here’s one I prepared earlier … 
 

 

(Video Source)

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