Eat Real Food: mini-mission

The best way to develop and stick with your healthy eating habits is to keep it simple and to accept today’s mini-mission to eat real food. Processed, packaged food is appealing because it’s easy, fast and convenient. The problem is, after eating it for a while, you start to like it … really like it. Your body craves the highly addictive ingredients and your go, go, go mentality enjoys the ease of opening a box, eating and getting back to it.

Michael Pollen, author of In Defense of Food and Food Rules said it best with these two very simple ideas:

  1. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
  2. “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

Instead of opening another box or bag, eat real food.

Here are a few simple ideas to get you started …

  • Try this simple soup recipe (pictured above). veggie broth, kale, spinach, spices. Pour veggie broth in a pot. Add a handful of Kale and a handful of spinach. Add spices, or not. Heat until soup is warm and veggies are steamed or wilted. Garnish with greens.
  • Eat like Leo.
  • Eat things you don’t like. I didn’t grow up eating kale and the first time I tried it, I thought it was really bitter. Today, I enjoy Kale, especially when I think about all of the goodness it delivers to my body. I developed a taste for kale just by eating it. There is no magic here.
  • Eat Awesome.
  • Peel a clementine. Eat it.
  • Spend money on good quality food. You can get an entire meal (or two) at a fast food restaurant for less than $5.00 but you have to make a choice. Do you want to spend more money today on high quality, nutritious food, or do you want to spend your money later on prescription drugs and healthcare.
  • Try a green, breakfast bowl. (I’m making one right after I publish this post)
  • Buy a farm share. Call farms in your community and ask if they have a farm share program. You’ll have seasonal, fresh produce available at a very reasonable price.
  • Cook with Five Ingredients, Ten Minutes
  • Eat colors not calories.
  • Drink your veggies with a green juice or smoothie.
  • Indulge. Order dessert on date night. Enjoy a bag of chips with salsa. Bake cookies with your children. And then get back to eating real food.

When thinking about your food choices, don’t be aim for perfection, just eat real food most of the time.

If you have a simple, real food recipe, please share in the comment section. 

For more experiments to simplify your life, read Mini-missions for Simplicity. It’s available on the Amazon Kindle store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Kindle books can also be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android.



  1. says

    Great advice Courtney. Funny how simplifying your diet can take more effort – well at least to start with. It does require planning and discipline. I like your message of enjoying food and not seeing high calorie food as an enemy. Happy eating :)

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks Claire! I just tried the Green Breakfast Bowl mentioned above and it was so good! I can imagine eating it for dessert too.

  2. Hilda Ivo says

    Hello Courtney!
    I have been a vegetarian for more than 15 years (I am 31 years old) and I can tell everyone it brings me better health and peace of mind.
    One tip for you: make a research on the benefits of lemon. I read a book about it, but it is in portuguese and it has not been translated into english (I am brazilian).
    In few words: lemon is great medicine to prevent many diseases, including cancer. I had a problem with stomachaches, mainly due to stress/emotional issues, and lemon helped me get my stomach back in shape. Even though lemon´s acid, inside our body its juices turn into alcaline substances that perform a deep cleansing in our body.
    All the best to you, love your website.

    • says

      Hilda, this is so interesting! A few weeks ago I began a ritual of starting my morning with a class of hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice in it. I can’t attest to any big changes, but I do love the quiet, delicious time of drinking it before I move on with my day.

      • Hilda Ivo says

        I drink the juice of two lemons every day, one hour before I have my breakfast, without water, just the lemons.
        This ritual allowed me to quit the medicine for stomach I had been taking. I also quit sugar completely, which really-really improved my health.
        My stomach is back to normal, I don´t remember the last time I got sick and I really feel good.
        I am not subscribing any treatments here, but I really recommend people have a look on some article about the benefits of lemon (and the ugly face of sugar).
        All the best to you.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks Hilda! I am actually using lemons in my dinner tonight and always add a whole lemon to my green juice creations. Thanks for the recommendation .. I’ll research further.

  3. says

    I already follow the eat colors rule. I try to have a rainbow of fruits and veggies on my plate.

    But my only issue was with #1. Did you make your own veggie broth? I usually buy a can, but the post was turning away from processed food. Would you suggest a cup of water boiling with a veggie cube in it like what I would do to make beef broth on the fly?

    • says

      Another thing you can do is keep a “stock bag” in the freezer and save up the stems and ends from veggies that you use in the course of your regular cooking. Just be careful with stuff like broccoli & kale because the flavor can be a bit too strong for good stock. I just use a large Ziploc freezer bag. Don’t put anything spoiled or bad in there, because you’re gonna eat it after all!

      I’ve gone back to eating meat, so I toss in bones, necks and other bits. I also deglaze all of my meat roasting pans and save the liquid (in a mason jar in the freezer) to add to my stock. You could do the same thing if you roast veggies. When the bag gets full take it out and make a big batch of stock. You can add a few extras if you like – especially helpful if your bag is heavy on one kind of veggie and light on another.

      I generally make a big batch of stock every month or so and then freeze it in mason jars, so when I need a few cups I just take some out of the freezer and voila! I have a friend who freezes hers in smaller ziploc bags, but I don’t like to store liquids in contact with plastic, nor do I put plastic in the microwave so I use glass instead.

      Hope that helps!

      • says

        What a great idea! I had the same thought about the broth used in Courtney’s recipe, so it’s nice to hear ideas. I’m not wowed by my own efforts at broth, which I make by typically following your ‘odds and ends’ method, EcoCatLady. I shall have to go on tweaking, I guess! Well, I’m spending it all down now to prepare for a move, but after that… glass jars sound like a good plan- thanks!

  4. says

    I love kale! I’ve found I can add it to most dishes: raw, steamed, wilted. Once a week I make a batch of kale chips and keep them on the counter in the kitchen. When I need a “chip” fix I grab a handful of kale chips instead of processed potato chips.

    Kale Chips

    A bunch of kale rinsed, pat dry, cut away centre stem.
    Toss with olive oil, a hint of salt and cracked pepper (personal preference)
    Bake 400 degree in regular or toaster oven. Time depends on size of bunch. I found about 15 minutes for one bunch.

  5. Stella June says

    Raw beetroot salad is delicious and so easy to make: Grate the beetroot, a bit of onion and carrot if you like, add lemon juice and some olive oil, herbs, salt and black pepper. Super healthy and tasty.

  6. Emma says

    We’ve eaten real food since my eldest son was born. We couldn’t afford processed ready meals anymore. Now we wouldn’t go back to them. Real food is the best.

  7. says

    Isn’t it astounding that we have to distinguish between ‘food’ and ‘real food’ what a strange world we live in. I sometimes struggle to enjoy Kale, but if it’s done the right way I love it. The kale and spinach soup is definitely getting a trial run, it looks delicious.

  8. says

    I think I have a unique perspective on this one. I’ve got multiple serious food allergies, most of which are to things that fall into the category of herbs & spices. This means that any food which lists on the ingredients “spices” or “natural flavors” (which is about 99% of what you find in the typical grocery store these days) is off limits for me.

    When I first received this diagnosis I viewed this as punishment from on high. Surely I’d offended the gods in some way or another and I was being forced to endure torture in response. I remember walking through the grocery store with tears in my eyes and feeling like I couldn’t eat anything. The unfairness of it all seemed overwhelming.

    But gradually I began to see it as a gift. I learned to cook everything from scratch – which saved a LOT of money, and made me very, VERY aware of everything I was putting into my body. The result was losing 40 extra pounds and enjoying wonderful health. But the thing is, I’m not sure I would have been able to stick with it if the penalty for falling off the bandwagon was some nebulous “health” concept. When the penalty for messing up is a trip to the emergency room, or a body covered with hives, it’s much easier to comply!

  9. says

    I learned to cook from scratch from my parents. We sometimes had a meal where something came from a box but it was rare. I can remember staying at a friend’s apartment with my husband and taking care of her daughters for the week. Supposedly she had sufficient food stocked up for all of us to eat for the week. I couldn’t find it. All I found were side dishes in boxes: no meat or real veggies! I went out and bought some. I really thought I had misunderstood her. Nope that is what they ate all the time!! I was shocked.

  10. Anne says

    I agree with Emma and EcoCatLady: real food ends up being cheaper than processed food. We are a family of 2 and this is pretty much the way we’ve been eating for a year and not only have we lost some weight, we are also spending less money on food.

    We’re preparing lunch boxes everyday which makes a big difference. We used to spend at least 10 € each on lunch every workday (eating out in Paris gets really expensive). Also, I guess we eat less because we mostly ingest “good” calories with plenty of nutriments.


  11. says

    This inspired me to act on something that has been an obstacle to eating more fruits and vegetables….getting to the market often enough since I hate shopping…so I googled and found a delivery service, and I will try all the local ones till I find the best one. I just chose their basic ‘mixed box’ of in season produce, as I figure I can work with whatever they send, and it should be better value. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • says

      My first stop is always the produce. I always pick the same stuff, habit. I love the idea of a “mixed box” showing up at my door. Then instead of the same old-same old, I’d have to figure out what to do with what arrived. Probably would come up with some new favourites.

  12. says

    This was an awesome post. Because of it, I’ve found Jules Clancy and her blog. So many yummy recipes, I don’t know where to begin! Thank you, Courtney!

  13. says

    thanks for mentioning my ebook! and it’s amazing how many folks don’t see the value in point #6 — i hear complaints all the time that whole/real food is expensive, typically being told to me while that person is drinking a $5 latte. :)