Over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic, painful, expensive and often debilitating diseases. One of the dominant causes of chronic diseases in our country is the poor quality of the foods we consume. The average American ingests up to 10 pounds of chemical additives and a staggering 150 pounds of sugar each year. We eat food-like substances packaged in colorful and enticing boxes and bags. These so-called foods are frequently inexpensive as well as quick and easy to prepare. However, the true cost of a steady diet of super-processed, prepackaged foods will eventually show up in chronically poor health.
I have spent several years studying healthy eating lifestyles and what type of plan to follow to best avoid food-related illnesses. Recently, I taught a Bible study, The Daniel Plan, which focused on consuming whole, unprocessed foods. The plan encouraged you to begin with a two-week fast from wheat, sugar and dairy products. Being the teacher, I wanted to lead by example, and I encouraged my family to go along with the changes I was making in my personal eating plan.
I asked each of my three children to tell me their favorite snack food, which turned out to be crunchy, fat-laden potato chips; super-sweet sugar cookies; and salty, over-processed pretzels. At that moment, I realized my children were junk food junkies who preferred salty or sugar-laden snacks. They balked at the idea of giving up the familiar food they were used to eating.
One of my daughters asked, “If we went on this fast, what would we eat?” I came up empty-handed. It was difficult to think of healthy snacks that could replace the unhealthy ones; yet give the same delicious satisfaction. I needed to provide nutritious, yet delicious, snacks which my skeptical family would find to be great substitutes to the usual processed foods. That afternoon, I went to work in my kitchen and made the following nutritious snack foods: healthy, homemade granola; sweet and tangy dehydrated strawberries and mangoes; refreshing fruit smoothies from frozen strawberries, raspberries and blackberries; crunchy dark chocolate-covered nuts, seeds and currants; and delicious chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour.