Real Food Rules


Real Food RulesHow can you make better choices when going to the grocery store? Follow these 10 simple real food rules.

Real Food Rules 

  1. Choose local/organic produce whenever possible.
    This means the produce has been grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. If you can’t afford to buy all organic produce use the Dirty Dozen list to help you avoid the most contaminated. *Tip* when looking at a produce sticker, conventional produce starts with the number 4. Organic produce begins with a number 9 and genetically modified produce starts with a number 8.
  2. Opt for 100% whole wheat or whole grain products.
    Look for the word “whole” in the ingredients. (i.e. whole wheat flour instead of just wheat flour).
  3. Choose foods that are NOT genetically modified.
    Corn and soy are the 2 most genetically modified crops, so always buy organic when products contain either of these two ingredients.
  4. Do not buy foods that contain artificial ingredients, artificial flavors, dyes or preservatives.
  5. Choose sweeteners such as raw honey, 100% maple syrup, coconut sugar or stevia instead of white sugar. Dates also make a great natural sweetener.
  6. Drink water, tea, fresh pressed juices or whole food smoothies. Limit coffee. If you do enjoy coffee choose organic and fair trade.
  7. Shop local whenever possible.
    Join a CSA or visit your local farmers market. Better yet, go straight to the farm. Take a look around, ask lots of questions and learn exactly what you are eating.
  8. Buy foods with 5 or less ingredients.
    Make sure they are all ingredients you can pronounce and you would most likely have found in your great-grandmother’s pantry.
  9. If you choose to consume animal products, limit it to 1-2 times per week.
  10. Animal products:
    -Grass fed meat is best as cows were designed to eat grass not corn.
    -Buy meats that were raised without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones or other drugs.
    -Avoid factory farmed meats.
    -Wild caught fish.
    -Eggs and chickens that are pasture raised.

Need more help figuring out how to eat real food? Start by making these simple real food swaps.

Until next time, keep it real.

Real Food Made Simple


Real Food Made Simple

If you simply google “real food” you will come up with no less than 808,000 articles on the subject. Most of them have one thing in common: they assume that you know everything about real food already. But I know most of you simply want to know “where do I begin?”  To someone that is new to real food or a family stuck in a junk food rut, just figuring it all out is overwhelming.

The learning curve is steep, so today we are keeping things extremely uncomplicated and talking about crazy simple things you can be doing to get started eating real food. Remember, it’s not about making huge changes overnight, sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

  1. Read labels but concentrate on the ingredient list. If it’s got more than 5 ingredients, refined/artificial sugars or flours or ingredients you can’t pronounce, you might want to reconsider throwing it in your cart.
  2. Start consuming more fresh produce.
  3. Stop buying low-fat/fat-free, sugar-free and/or low-calorie anything!
  4. Save all of your veggie scraps/ends and start making your own veggie broth.
  5. When baking, sub out 1/4-1/2 all-purpose flour for 1/4-1/2 cup whole grain flour.
  6. Use coconut sugar instead of “regular” sugar in recipes.
  7. Replace instant oatmeal with rolled oats. Doctor them up with 100% maple syrup, pumpkin puree, or make overnight oats.
  8. Eliminate soda and start drinking more water.  Try this fruit infused water for something different.
  9. Buy bread locally or make it yourself!  I used to be intimidated by making my own bread, but now I feel empowered by the fact that my easy go-to bread recipe has 5 ingredients rather than 35! If you are not ready to make your own, Great Harvest Bread Co. has a tasty Honey Whole Wheat bread you can try.
  10. Meal plan! (Are you tired of hearing me say this yet?!?!) Even if you only meal plan one meal it makes a HUGE difference. Use my favorite meal planner, Plan to Eat, to make it easy!

What are some struggles or successes are you having when trying to switch over to real food?

Until next time, keep it real.

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.

Do You Need a Health Coach?

Health Coaching

The Health of Our Nation is Declining

It’s estimated that as much as 70% of the adult population is either overweight or obese and 81% of the population takes at least 1 medication a day, with most people averaging closer to 2-3 meds daily. Reasons include symptoms such as high anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, stress, heart disease, insomnia, heartburn, hypothyroidism and more. Most of which are diet related and are both preventable and/or reversible with healthy lifestyle changes.

It’s no secret obesity is becoming a huge problem, even in children. According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Type 2 diabetes, once considered a disease of middle or old age, is now affecting a staggering number of overweight children. Today’s children, based on research, might be the first generation to live less healthy and possibly even shorter lives than their parents.  Clearly all this “healthy” eating isn’t so healthy after all.

What’s the Best Diet?

In today’s society we are bombarded with conflicting health information. One day fat is bad, the next day it’s good. Adkins is the best diet, then Paleo is all the rage. Fruit has too much sugar, now we aren’t eating enough of it.  We have completely overcomplicated healthy eating and it’s no wonder our heads are spinning! But it’s really much simpler than we make it out to be. I love the way Michael Pollan puts it in his book In Defense of Food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Wanting to change to a real food lifestyle and actually doing it are two different things. When we first started out over 3 years ago, the information was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t know what to make, when I thought I was making good choices I actually wasn’t and I spent a lot of time sorting it all out. Eventually, I learned how to navigate my way around the grocery store, how to convert recipes to real food ingredients and put an actual meal on the table. But the process was long, hard and often frustrating.

What is a Health Coach?

Health coaching is a term that’s slowly gaining momentum nowadays, and with good reason. Millions of people nationwide are finding that the Western diet and medicine is often times leaving them fat and sick, without answers to their ills and they’re repeatedly finding themselves disappointed and depressed.

Health coaches can bridge the gap and offer more in-depth support where you otherwise might not know where else to turn. They can also help you achieve health goals that don’t require medical intervention, such as losing weight, creating better eating habits or establishing a new exercise routine. They can fill the roles of confidant, cheerleader, motivator, friend, and when necessary, they can give you a good kick in the pants to get you back on track.

How I Can Help

Our blog has become a source of information to help you achieve your real food lifestyle. But when you find that you need some extra one-on-one attention and guidance this is where I can help. Learn what we can achieve by working together.

Here are 10 things that I can do for you:

  1. Help you understand what real food is.
  2. Determine what is “good” food and “bad” food.
  3. Help you clean out your refrigerator and/or pantry.
  4. Help you navigate the grocery store aisles with ease.
  5. Give you personal feedback on any questions.
  6. Help get a health plan in place.
  7. Help you pick real food recipes that fit within the rules.
  8. Help you feed your family well regardless of your schedule.
  9. Teach you how to cook.
  10. Help carry out a doctor’s nutritional advice.

Don’t try and go at this alone. Together we can get you and your family on the road to a healthier, happier you!

Contact me at for more information or check out our services page to book your service. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss important posts.

Until next time, keep it real.

Simple Real Food Swaps

Simple Real Food SwapsEven when you are aware that making a switch to real food is the right thing to do, it can sometimes be a struggle. What do I buy? Where do I start? Does this fit within the rules? I know that confusion well, as I was once brand new to real food. It’s taken me 3 years of baby steps to get to where I am now. Each day I seem to learn something new which is a constant reminder that it’s a lifelong journey into a real food lifestyle, full of daily decisions to pick health over convenience.

The best way to dive into a processed food detox is to start replacing common foods with their real food counterparts. It’s pretty safe to say that any recipe you use can be turned into a healthy meal by just swapping out ingredients for their real food equivalents. Let’s take a look at some simple real food swaps you can start with.

  1. Artificial sweeteners and white sugar
    Over time, sweeteners have crept into a large variety of products such as salad dressings, boxed cereals, spaghetti sauce and flavored drinks. We can’t seem to get away from them and they are linked to a whole host of different problems including weight gain, headaches, depression, chronic fatigue and more. The good news is there are many other natural forms of sweeteners. Try raw honey (local if you can find it), coconut sugar, stevia or 100% pure maple syrup. As always, no matter what sweetener you choose, natural or not, consume in moderation.
  2. White flour
    Refined white flour has very few redeeming qualities as all the positive traits of the whole grain have been stripped away. When a recipe calls for flour, choose a whole grain flour instead. Whole wheat, white whole wheat, spelt flour, almond flour, oat flour, brown rice flour or coconut flour are all good alternatives. Often mixing a few flours will give the recipe a different flavor and consistency so some adjusting may be in order.
  3. White rice
    White rice, at one time looked exactly like brown rice, but has been stripped of iron, vitamins, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients during the refining process. Choose rice in it’s whole form by buying brown rice. Or better yet, try quinoa or make cauliflower rice for something different.
  4. Boxed cereal
    Many boxed cereals are loaded with preservatives, artificial colors, sugar, salt and empty calories. Opt for oatmeal which comes with a short ingredient list (just oats!) and will keep you full until lunchtime. Top it with fruit and nuts for an extra nutritional punch.
  5. Sugary snacks and chips
    When hunger strikes make sure that you have some smart choices on hand. Grab a handful of raw nuts and seeds, stove top popped popcorn, fruit or veggies. In a pinch you can also grab a Larabar which is made out of dates and nuts. Check out my list of 40 real food snacks for more ideas.
  6. Processed salad dressing
    Heading to the salad bar is a great choice for lunch but salad dressings are loaded with scary ingredients helping to prolong shelf life and give it that creamy consistency we all love. Try some balsamic vinegar or 1/4 of a mashed avocado mixed with 1/2 fresh lemon juiced and save yourself from the added junk offered up in your favorite bottled brand.
  7. Soda, bottled juice or sports drinks
    Hydration is important but before you go grabbing a can of soda, bottled sports drink or juice, remember it’s mostly filled with sugar. Go for water, fresh squeezed juice, green smoothies, pure coconut water or, for a special treat, try fruit-infused water.
  8. Flavored yogurt
    You will run into problems when you eat yogurt sweetened with added flavors. One cup of a “fruit sweetened” yogurt can have some 30 grams of sugar. That’s equal to 7-8 teaspoons! Instead, buy plain whole milk grass fed yogurt and sweeten it with local, raw honey. Better yet, skip the dairy and make a chia yogurt from 1 cup plant-based milk, 3 T chia seeds, 1 date and a splash of vanilla extract. Blend and chill for about 2 hours.
  9. Conventional meat and eggs
    Look for animal products that are local, pasture-raised, grass-fed, and antibiotic-, hormone-and pesticide-free. Stick with wild caught fish. Remember, animal products should only be eaten 1-2 times per week with plant foods making up the bulk of your diet.
  10. Iceberg Lettuce
    Aside of it’s water content, iceberg lettuce just doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. Choosing greens that are dark and vibrant provide you with more vitamins and nutrients to fuel your body. I’ve always been a big fan of adding more greens to our diet so start experimenting and find your favorites!

Everyday you have the power to chose how you will fuel your body. Making simple switches like these can help transitioning to a real food lifestyle much easier. 

Until next time, keep it real. 

Our recommendations:

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.

40 Real Food Snack Ideas

Real Food Snacks IdeasMy kids are ALWAYS hungry. More times than I can count I will feed them lunch and an hour later they say to me, “When are we going to have lunch? I’m hungry.” True story. Because of that, I always have snacks on hand whether we are at home, at school or on the road.

If you follow us on Facebook, you saw in my post yesterday that my daughter came home with a Fruit Roll-Up that a friend gave her on the bus. When she asked, “Mom, look what my friend gave me! Can I have it as a snack?” I read the ingredient list (Lord help me!) and found nothing but GMOs, food dyes and chemicals in that pretty package of poison. But, because 80% of the time we really do eat well and I never want to be the mom that gives my kids a complex about food, I let her try it.

I don’t mind giving in to temptation every once-in-a-while and making choices that don’t otherwise follow the real food rules. As we talked about in my Real Food Pantry and Real Food Refrigerator posts, though, it’s essential to be well stocked so you don’t go grabbing processed foods whenever you feel hungry. This also includes snacks. Take a look at some real food snack ideas to inspire you to make better choices in between meals.

  1. Assorted fruit
  2. Dried fruit
  3. Fruit leather
  4. Cucumber slices, broccoli, baby carrots, grape/cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, etc. These are all great eaten plain or dipped.
  5. Ants on a log. Take a celery stick and spread cream cheese or nut butter in the groove. Top with raisins to make it look like “ants” walking along the celery.
  6. Edamame (organic only)
  7. Cucumber sushi or veggie cups
  8. Unique Wholegrain Sprouted Pretzels
  9. Lundberg brown rice cakes topped with nut butter or cream cheese and sliced fruit or raisins.
  10. Whole wheat crackers (like Triscuits but made without oil. Whole Foods 365 brand or Giant’s Nature’s Promise brand) or RyVita with Artichoke and White Bean Dip.
  11. Organic popcorn. Pop yourself on the stove top with a small amount of oil and sea salt.
  12. Larabars 
  13. Mary’s Gone crackers with tabbouleh.
  14. Ak Mak crackers (vegans beware-these do contain dairy) topped with organic cream cheese.
  15. Trail mix
  16. Apples dipped in nut butter or hummus or made into a apple sandwich.
  17. Applesauce. Make yourself or find “one ingredient” applesauce like Eden Organic or Trader Joe’s. Try these Little Green Pouches for the little ones.
  18. Banana “nice cream” (try my mint chip version!)
  19. Chocolate “milkshake” (with spinach! Recipe to come).
  20. Chocolate fudge pops. Add chia, spinach and/or zucchini and blend to make it even more healthy.
  21. Muffins- I love the muffins from Let Them Eat Vegan. I usually sub 1/2 almond flour for some of her recipes and use applesauce in place of some of the oil. To make them really fun, I use these Pantry Elements Silicon Baking Cups. My kids love them and I love that they are reusable and create less waste.
  22. Maple Banana Bread
  23. Smoothies (like my green smoothie)
  24. Chocolate PB avocado pudding
  25. Chocolate zucchini muffins
  26. Fresh fruit popsicles. Like these layered ones or just throw in chopped fruit like this one. Make them more enticing by using these Zoku Classic Mold Pops.
  27. Raisins
  28. Plain whole milk (or unsweetened coconut milk) yogurt with granola.
  29. Fresh squeezed juice (if you own a juicer).
  30. Dates. Try them plain or stuffed.
  31. Whole grain toast with fruit spread or nut butter. I love Ezekiel raisin toast.
  32. Applegate Farms organic lunch meat roll-ups (only on occasion).
  33. Whole grain pita triangles and salsa or hummus. Make chips by taking pita bread and cut into triangles. Spritz with water and sprinkle on spices of your choice. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes turning once.
  34. Guacamole with homemade corn chips
  35. Go Raw Cookies
  36. Sushi. Take a whole grain tortilla or whole grain bread that has been flattened with a rolling pin, crusts cut off, and load it with veggies, bean dip and roll up. You can also use nut butter and jelly. Slice into small sushi rolls and let the kids use chopsticks for a fun treat.
  37. Roasted chickpeas. From Sally’s Baking Addiction or Weelicious
  38. Chocolate banana bites. Melt Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips in a double boiler. Cut up bananas in large chunks. Dip in chocolate so half of the banana bites are covered and sprinkle chopped almonds, peanuts or cashews on the chocolate. Freeze for approximately 30 minutes.
  39. Leftover pancakes/waffles.
  40. Chia pudding

So there you have it. I’d love to hear from you. What are you and your family’s favorite go-to snacks?

Until next time, keep it real.

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.

Real Food Refrigerator and Freezer


Real Food Refrigerator

I’m not gonna lie. I’m a little afraid to show you what’s lurking inside my refrigerator. There could possibly be a half eaten sandwich or a cut up tomato I forgot about rotting somewhere in the black abyss. It wouldn’t be the first time I found something on the verge of growing legs and walking by itself, and I sure as heck know it won’t be the last.

I started a series of posts on what to stock your kitchen with now that you have thrown out everything you previously bought that didn’t fit within the rules of real food. If you missed it, you can take a peek into my pantry and see what I stock it with. Today we are going to snoop inside my real food refrigerator and freezer. Enter at your own risk.

In the fridge

  • Fruit-grapes, pineapple, apples, blueberries, strawberries, lemons, oranges, roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes (tomatoes are actually a fruit!).
  • Vegetables-spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, spring mix, cucumbers (both large and small), red, yellow and orange bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, ginger, turmeric, celery, cauliflower, yellow squash, zucchini and carrots.
  • Grains-(Always refrigerate after opening) whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, almond flour, and spelt flour.
  • Seeds: Flax seeds (whole and ground), chia seeds, and quinoa.
  • Almond milk (both store bought and homemade almond milk)
  • Condiments-yellow mustard, dijon mustard, ketchup, vegan mayo (NOT real food), hot sauce (hubs likes things spicy!), organic tamari, organic vegan Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, red curry paste and low-sodium veggie broth.
  • Dairy-organic mozzarella cheese (buy in blocks-not already shredded), organic butter (best to find grass fed butter or Ghee)
  • Garden of Life kids probiotics
  • Organic hummus
  • Peanut/almond butter (homemade), sunflower butter, strawberry jelly.
  • Ezekiel brand english muffins
  • Organic pastured eggs
  • Coconut milk yogurt-unsweetened
  • 100% maple syrup
  • Organic salsa
  • Vegan cream cheese (NOT a real food, but I’ll replace once I find a suitable recipe to replace it with)
  • Homemade elderberry syrup (to combat colds and flu).
  • Brita filtered water

In the freezer

  • Ezekiel brand english muffins (extra package)
  • Ezekiel raisin bread
  • Parsley cubes (I froze parsley that was starting to go bad to add to my green smoothies)
  • Muffins-blender peanut butter muffins and banana chia muffins.
  • Homemade “unmeatballs”
  • Pureed crookneck pumpkin
  • Wheatgrass
  • Green Vibrance
  • Soaked almonds (for making almond milk)
  • Homemade veggie burgers
  • Pastured chicken drumsticks
  • Blueberries and strawberries
  • Whole bananas (peeled and frozen)
  • Applegate Farms turkey lunch meat (for occasional lunches)
  • Organic pizza crusts
  • Ian’s chicken nuggets (for fast dinners when mama needs a night off)
  • Leftover juice pulp from juicing (to make homemade veggie broth)

On my counter

  • 3 bunches of bananas, package of dates, garlic, 3 avocados and organic whole grain bread.

There you have it! Hope you enjoyed the tour of my fridge and freezer. Remember, the best real food fridge and freezer is one that is overflowing with fruits and vegetables. Let the other items serve as condiments to your meals.

Also, check out my favorite real food snack ideas.

Until next time, keep it real.

Real Food Pantry

real food pantry

At this point, you may have begun to clean out your fridge, freezer and possibly even tackled your pantry. Good for you! Now one of the biggest stumbling blocks is trying to figure out what exactly you need to buy to restock your kitchen, real food style. Keeping a well stocked kitchen is essential for following and sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Without it, it is so easy to be led astray as you run through the drive thru or reach for that box of processed “quick food” because you failed to have anything else on hand to make a quick meal.

I remember those early days in our quest for all things “real.” I’d go to the grocery store excited to try to find things that would fit within the rules, only to wander the store for hours and come home with what seemed like nothing that would sustain us for a few days let alone the whole week. How was I supposed to make a meal out of a can of beans and a bag of oats? Through trial and error, and a whole lot of research, I have finally figured out what a well stocked pantry looks like for us. Welcome to my pantry. Come on in and take a look around, but please excuse the mess.

Nuts and Seeds

  • What to buy: Buy a wide variety of raw, unsalted nuts (preferably organic). Avoid nuts roasted in oils if possible.
  • How to use it: Nuts and seeds technically should be soaked first (then dehydrated) to neutralize enzyme inhibitors which make them harder to digest. The only time I soak nuts is when I am making nut milk. Shame on me.
  • How to store it: I store most of the nuts in my pantry in glass jars. Some items such as chia seeds and flax seeds I store in my refrigerator after they have been opened.
  • What’s in my pantry: Walnuts, hemp seeds, whole flax seeds (I grind my own), whole almonds, slivered almonds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Grains and Flours

  • What to buy: If you can tolerate grains, buy a wide variety of grains and flours. When purchasing whole grain pastas buy whole wheat, quinoa pasta, brown rice pastas and soba noodles. Always look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list.
  • How to use it: Grains, like nuts, should be soaked.
  • How to store it: Some I store in my pantry such as pastas, oats and rice, while whole grains and flours should be stored in your fridge or freezer for optimal freshness once opened.
  • What’s in my pantry: Brown rice, arborio rice (not a whole grain), quinoa, bulgar, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour, corn flour, brown rice flour, rolled oats, wheat germ, almond flour, whole wheat spaghetti, black bean spaghetti, buckwheat soba noodles and brown rice spring roll wrappers. I also have a few boxes of Annie’s organic whole wheat shells and cheese for those “just in case” kid meals.

Beans and Legumes

  • What to buy: Beans and legumes are highly nutritious and really cost effective. While canned are often more convenient, they do contain more sodium. If you are buying canned, choose ones that are no salt added and are in BPA free cans. I like Eden Organic brand.
  • How to use it: Beans can be thrown into all kinds of dishes. On top of salads, in soups, in chili, replace meat in tacos, in veggie burgers, blended for dips and even made into great tasting desserts. Chickpea blondies anyone? If you are preparing dried beans they need to be soaked prior to cooking them. At least 8 hours should do it, but if you want to soak overnight, that’s fine too. Adding a seaweed like kombu or kelp while cooking help make the beans more digestible. Rinse canned beans thoroughly in a colander before using.
  • How to store it: Dried and (unopened) canned beans can be stored at room temperature in your pantry.
  • What’s in my pantry: Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, green lentils and a bean soup mix.


  • What to buy: Sweeteners, both refined and natural should be used at a minimum. When you do need a sweetener, it’s best to choose ones that are in their most natural, raw state.
  • How to use it: In tea, coffee and in all your favorite baking recipes. Coconut sugar is substituted in a 1:1 ratio. Up to 1 cup, honey can be subbed equally for sugar. Over one cup, use about 2/3-3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar. This will affect your liquids, however, so remember to reduce by 1/4 c for every cup.
  • How to store it: All can be stored in your pantry, except for maple syrup which needs to be stored in your refrigerator once it’s opened.
  • What’s in my pantry: Organic coconut sugar, 100% maple syrup and raw honey are my favorite sweeteners. I very rarely use stevia or organic Turbinado Sugar (for my occasional coffee drink) but have it on hand as well as blackstrap molasses and brown rice syrup.


  • What to buy: Keep all of your baking and cooking essentials on hand at all times. I like to bulk bake muffins, pancakes and other baked goods and freeze them. They make fabulous snacks, lunches and are great for breakfast on the go.
  • How to use it: In all your homemade baking recipes. Throw away those boxed mixes. Homemade is where it’s at!
  • How to store it: In a cupboard or pantry.
  • What’s in my pantry: Baking soda, aluminum free baking powder, organic vanilla, organic unsweetened cocoa powder, cocao powder (notice the difference in spelling. They are two separate items), arrowroot powder, organic cornstarch, organic cold pressed olive oil, organic canola oil (only for occasional baked goods), organic extra virgin coconut oil, Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar (I’ll replace with brown rice vinegar once it’s gone), balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar.


  • What to buy: Buy a wide variety to “spice up” any meal. (I know. I’m cheesy.)
  • How to use it: In all your baking or cooking. Don’t be shy to try lots of different spices to find a flavor that you like.
  • How to store it: In a cupboard or pantry away from the heat of your oven or stove top.
  • What’s in my pantry: Himalayan sea salt, kosher salt, sea salt, ground pepper, peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, ground ginger, whole cloves and ground cloves, cardamom, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, dill, basil, oregano, Italian spices, wasabi powder, cayenne, garam masala, bay leaves and thyme.

Miscellaneous items in my pantry

  • Raisins, goji berries, dried mango, canned coconut milk, cereals (Ezekiel sprouted whole grain cereal, Trader Joe’s bite sized shredded wheat, Uncle Sam original cereal, Cascadian Farms multi grain squares and Joe’s O’s), homemade granola, homemade muesli, jars of cashew and peanut butter (made with one ingredient and used if I get in a pinch and don’t make my own), rice sticks, can of wild caught tuna (hubs likes this every now and then), silken tofu, diced tomatoes, no salt tomato sauce (in case I’m in a pinch and can’t make my own), low sodium veggie broth, organic ketchup, unsweetened organic applesauce (made with just apples), nutritional yeast, organic popcorn kernels, raw cocao nibs and, of course, vegan chocolate chips.

Hopefully this is helpful in beginning to stock your pantry real food style. Don’t forget to check out some real food snack ideas and how to stock your fridge/freezer.

Until next time, keep it real.

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.


Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m new here. Where do I begin?

Welcome! We are glad you are here and are interested in learning about real food. A great place to start is the getting started page which details the first steps to a real food lifestyle.

What can real food do for me?

I believe there is a simple way to feel better, look better, get rid of your medications and live a life that is full of, well, life. I believe that is achieved with eating real food. Think of your body like a car. It wouldn’t be fair to expect it to run optimally if you aren’t providing it with the appropriate kind of fuel. Your body is the same way. Expect to get out of it what you put into it. So, if you are feeding yourself junk, don’t assume that your body will work like a well oiled machine.

How long will it take to see or feel results?

During my own real food journey, I started seeing results within the first week. By month 3 my taste buds had changed dramatically, my skin started clearing up, I had a boat load of energy and I had dropped 15 pounds without really trying. Everyone is different, but I would expect that even implementing little changes will affect you in big ways.

What kinds of foods do you preach?

While I believe that a whole foods plant-based lifestyle is absolutely the way to go, I realize others may not fully be on board. So, in case you don’t want to give up animal products 100%, I encourage you to get most of your nutrition from plants. This includes fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. If you choose to add animal products into your diet, I recommend you limit them to 1-2x’s per week. Make sure they are organic, grass fed and/or pasture raised whenever possible and, of course, local if you can find it.

What do you eat?

I eat a mostly plant-based/vegan diet. I would say that 80% of my calories come from plants. While I feel my best when eating a whole food plant-based diet, I do allow myself to be “imperfect” about 20% of the time.

Do you eat dairy?

Yes and no. I do buy cheese (grass fed/organic/cheese blocks) on occasion and we sometimes stop at the local ice cream parlor on a hot summer days. That said, I can’t tell you the last time I bought a container of cow’s milk, yogurt or creamer. If you want to find out more about why I choose to be *mostly* dairy free, read about it here.

If you don’t eat much meat, where do you get your protein?

I’m glad you asked! Did you know that Americans are actually consuming too much protein and a plant-based diet will give you all the protein your body needs? Greens, beans, seeds and nuts are filled with protein. I am working on a post to educate you on our specific protein needs and will link to it when it’s finished.

Do I have to eat “perfectly” to see results?

No! Even small changes can produce big rewards. We have been known to stop at Subway for sandwiches, ordered in a greasy cheese pizza on Friday nights, gone out for ice cream for a school function, I even let my kids try Cheetos to quench their curiosity, and Philly soft pretzels are my absolute downfall. It’s difficult to be “perfect” all the time, and honestly, I really wouldn’t want to. It takes a lot of work to make everything from scratch. Even mama needs a day (or meal) off once in awhile! Just make sure those are every once-in-awhile treats. Aim to eat at home 5 days per week and then forgive yourself when you consume something that doesn’t exactly follow the rules on your off days. Remember, just because you mess up at one particular meal doesn’t mean your whole day is ruined.

My kids are super picky, how do I get them to embrace real food?

My kids can be picky too, but there are definitely ways to get them to eat healthier without too much fuss. Read about 10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy for some tips!

Do you offer coaching?

YES! I would love to share my knowledge with you and help you reach your goals together. Please check out my services page for more information.

Until next time, keep it real.

7 Steps to a Real Food Lifestyle


7 Steps to a Real Food Lifestyle

By now you have a better understanding of exactly what real food is and the rules of real food hopefully you are convinced a real food lifestyle is the way to get healthier, slimmer and feeling better. Congratulations! What’s the next step?

  1. Have a family meeting and decide on a starting date.
    Make your family aware you will be making some changes. Assure them although things will be different, there are still many great tasting foods similar to the ones they are used to. Keep everyone involved in shopping and picking out new recipes to try. The more involved everyone is the more likely they will embrace the change.
  2. Throw away all the processed junk.
    I know, I know, I know. You’re going give me some shameful debate that you spent good money on all that food. Look, I can appreciate your argument, but let me make this easier for you. You didn’t buy “food.” You bought “garbage” and “garbage” belongs in your garbage can. Not your pantry. You should feel good about returning it to its rightful spot. There is no nutritional benefit to processed food. You are not fueling your body with the best. Instead, it is keeping you from being your best.
  3. Go shopping.
    While at the store, read ingredient labels and remember the rules of real food. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. If there are more than 5 ingredients on the label, don’t buy it. If it’s white, it ain’t right, and therefore, don’t buy it. If it isn’t made with something you’d likely find in your great-grandmother’s pantry, you guessed it, don’t buy it! Check out my real food pantry and real food refrigerator for inspiration. Better yet, sign up for your FREE real food shopping guide with all the products that are real food approved.
  4. Fill your refrigerator with whole plant foods in a variety of colors.
    Never tried a dragon fruit before? Don’t be shy, give it a go! Don’t even know what a jicama looks like? Ask the produce man! Have no idea how to roast brussel sprouts? Google it! Try new things. Food will taste different once you retrain your palate. If you don’t like something today, don’t give up on it. Soon an orange will taste like the most amazing thing you’ve ever put in your mouth.
  5. Meal plan.
    Get a few new recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and put them in your meal rotation. The recipes don’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. One meal a day should include a large salad with oil-free salad dressing. Check out our recipe page for ideas. Find out why meal planning is so important and how I do it here.
  6. Start cooking from scratch.
    The simplest way to avoid processed foods are to make things yourself. Then you know exactly what is going into them. I like to “bulk bake” or “bulk cook” and freeze foods for later. This technique can save you from those nights or mornings you are in a rush which often leads to slipping up.
  7. Breathe.
    This lifestyle is not about perfection. If you slip up at lunch time, you still have dinner to recover. Standard American Diet (SAD) foods will be all around at work, school, family gatherings and restaurants tempting you at every. single. turn. Aim to “get it right” 80% of the time and you will be making vast improvements.

Until next time, keep it real.

What is Real Food?


What is Real Food

Real food isn’t complicated and was never intended to be.

“Real Food” has become a trendy and popular term used lately to describe food that has not been processed or modified from its original state. However, what we find at the grocery stores today, which is produced by big corporations, is actually not food at all. It’s imitation food or what we refer to as “Frankenfood.”

Real food is not:

  • Food that sits on a shelf for years and is still edible.
  • Refined and striped of it’s nutrients.
  • Colorless
  • Man-made in a lab and contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
  • Instant
  • Artificially flavored
  • Found in a box, in a can or in a bag.

Real Food is:

  • Food that goes bad within a couple days or weeks. Food is supposed to rot.
  • Alive
  • Vibrant
  • Has 5 or less ingredients. All of which you would find in your great-grandmother’s pantry.
  • Requires some preparation.
  • Authentically flavored
  • Found in nature growing on trees, bushes and in the ground.

Your next step is to read about the 10 Real Food Rules to get you going!

Until next time, keep it real.