By now, we know that most processed foods contain more sugar, fat and salt than natural unprocessed foods. Their convenience may be appealing, but the toll they can take on your health may make you think twice. So why not combine convenience, health and low costs by making foods yourself? You may be surprised to learn that most of the foods you’ve bought in a grocery store—like granola and mayonnaise—are actually quite easy to make in your own kitchen. Check out the list below and pick out a few (or all) to try!
Like a surprising number of “healthful” cereals out there, granola can be incredibly high in sugar, not to mention the price tag attached to it. By making it yourself, you can control how sweet and expensive your breakfast is.
- 3 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
- ½ cup pumpkin seed
- ½ cup coconut flakes
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup coconut oil
As an option, you can add spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, throw in some nuts, and replace the maple syrup and brown sugar with other sweeteners like agave nectar or honey. Then mix everything together and pour it over a sheet pan, spreading it evenly. Bake for 45 minutes at 300⁰F, stirring it after 20 minutes.
Hummus is a delicious snack, but boy can it get expensive! Luckily, it is very easy to make as long as you have a food processer at the ready and 10 minutes to spare.
- 1¾ cup chickpeas, cooked, drained and peeled
- ½ cup tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
- 2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ¾ teaspoon table salt, or more to taste
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- Approximately ¼ cup water or reserved chickpea cooking water
Blend chickpeas first and then add the rest of the ingredients, blending until smooth. Add paprika, ground cumin, or any other spice to find a combination that you enjoy most, and eat with your favorite organic veggies.
Salad dressings are notorious for being high in sugar and for containing gluten, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats. If you’re looking for a healthful and very easy DIY vinaigrette, add the following base ingredients to a mason jar, shake it all up and pour onto fresh greens.
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- Pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper
Depending on your preference, feel free throw in a few spoonfuls of Dijon mustard, fruit jam, orange juice, or sesame oil. Or experiment on your own!
Mayo tends to get a bad rep for being high in fat, but it is actually low in saturated fat. When made at home, the freshness is irresistible.
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar or white-wine vinegar
- 1½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
In a standing mixer, mix the egg and mustard together, and slowly add ¼ cup olive oil. Then mix in the vinegar and lemon juice. Slowly add the remaining oil and pepper. Cumin and paprika can be added for taste, and it’s ready to spread on a sandwich!
Nothing beats fresh pesto in the summer, and once you know how easy it is to make it yourself, you’ll be asking why you’ve been buying it from the grocery store for all these years!
- 4 cup fresh basil leaves (preferably organic)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup Parmesan
- ¼ cup Pecorino Sardo
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts and garlic in a blender and add the cheese and salt until smooth. You can pour this delicious sauce over fresh pasta immediately or put it in the freezer to save for an easy-to-make dinner in the winter when you’re craving that summer taste.
6. Ice Cream
Homemade ice cream always tastes better than something from a carton. Follow the basic ice cream recipe below and add your favorite additions such as chocolate and peanut butter for a customized flavor.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- Your choice of flavoring
In a small pot, add the heavy cream, milk, sugar and salt and let simmer for 5 minutes until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. In another bowl, whisk yolks, and slowly whisk a third of the hot cream into the yolks. Then pour the yolk mixture back into the rest of the cream in the pot. Return pot to medium heat and cook until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture through a sieve and then cool at room temperature before letting it chill for at least 4 hours. Pour into an ice cream machine and follow the instructions for delicious soft serve.
By going homemade, you can avoid worrisome additives or high sugars and fats found in your processed foods. Pro tip: If you do see a stabilizer listed in a recipe, remember that carrageenan is a safe bet. And for the healthiest options, be sure to use organic ingredients. Bon appétit!