So, what exactly does eating "Real" food entail? For us, we are basing our definition from the 2 fabulous books by Nina Planck: Real Food: What to Eat and Why? and Real Food for Mama and Baby. Real food is traditional...it is unprocessed (or as minimally processed as you can find), whole, and natural. It is the stuff your ancestors ate...before there was margarine, breakfast bars, and Cool-Whip. It is not low fat--it is "good" fats. It is not low cal. It is making sure you are eating foods that are high in nutrients, and eating them in a way that your body can ABSORB the nutrients.
--We'll be switching to whole milk. The fat in whole milk contains the vitamins A & D. In order for calcium to be absorbed efficiently, you need these vitamins.
--We'll be eating fish twice a week in order to boost our omega-3 intake. We'll do our best to find wild caught fish, as available.
--We will cook with and eat natural fats: cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, grass-fed butter.*
--I learned from reading that certain vitamins are "fat soluble," meaning that they are either contained in fat (such as vitamin D in milk) or if you eat them in other foods, you need to eat a fat with them (such as butter) in order to aid in absorption. The fat soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K(12). Beta-carotene and lycopene (antioxidents) are also fat soluble. For us, this means we will be adding butter or olive oil to our vegetables and salads.
Those are just a few examples. The main gist is avoiding refined foods and eating traditional foods. We aren't being super strict and do have some "cheat" items--Lucas gets to keep his Yoplait yogurt for lunches (he is not so much a fan of the plain or vanilla flavors--and since yogurt is a good source of calcium and fat, I figured it's not a big deal). We aren't doing this to lose weight or anything--just try and eat healthier and more effectively (make use of the vitamins and such). We also don't plan to avoid eating out. This isn't all or nothing, I guess is what I'm saying.
I am excited that we'll be trying a bunch of new recipes this month--and cooking more with whole grains. I plan to post the new things we try, so watch for that. If I get my act together, there may even be a featured link on the sidebar soon for the February Foods. No promises :)
A final reminder about the books: they are a great source of knowledge, but keep in mind they are not written with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in mind. I find her research she presents on why she is no longer vegan interesting, but since I've never researched the other side, can't really say much more than that. If you have questions, let me know!