This inspiring mom and daughter team is a perfect example of what so many people could achieve...with the right attitude, commitment and persistence! Meagan is a dedicated wife and full-time working mom with two great...and busy...kids. When she first heard about Eat REAL America, her comment was "I don't cook." Well, that was NOT because she didn't know how to cook. Like many, she had just become frustrated with trying to please her family over the years and the processed and convenience foods crept in until they became the routine. Although skeptical, she was intrigued enough to sign up for an Eat REAL America membership...and it didn't take long for her to see a positive change. In a matter of weeks, she was hooked! She was enjoying it so much...and seeing so much success with her own family...she purchased an Eat REAL America gift membership for her mom, Karen.
It has been inspiring to watch Meagan and Karen over the past few months. They keep each other on track when it may be tempting to revert back to old habits. They share their ideas, excitement, frustrations and successes with each other. They have become "accountability partners" to each other to stay motivated and committed to REAL food, even on those crazy-busy weeknights when it seems like there is just no time to prepare a meal.
So what exactly happened?!
Meagan and Karen were kind enough to share a little more with us...
What made you want to try to focus on eating more REAL food?
Meagan: I had given up...I would try new recipes only to end up frustrated and upset that my family didn't like them...it became a waste of my time! We were eating the same things over and over...you know, the usual stuff like spaghetti, tacos, hamburgers...when I would ask what everyone wanted this week, the response was always "I don't care," so I just made what I knew was "safe" even though most of the time it wasn't healthy. I liked the thought of trying something new...I just needed the ideas.
Karen: I had no central, convenient place for ideas. It just takes so much time to research and find good recipes, and then you never know if you will like them.
Once you started preparing and eating these meals, what made you want to keep going?
Meagan: The variety of ideas, the convenience of the shopping list, the recipe box...and the flavor! Our kids have actually enjoyed trying and finding new things they really like! We are not having the same boring meals anymore.
Karen: We have liked everything we have tried! And we love that everything is full of flavor and uses fresh ingredients!
What have been some of your favorite meals?
We made the Savory Root Vegetable Soup in the crockpot! We added leftover steak and some baby kale the last few minutes of cooking. My 14 year old loves it!
We LOVE the Slow Cooker Enchilada Soup! My son called it "nacho soup" because he crumbled tortilla chips in it and thought it tasted just like nachos!
My husband wouldn't stop talking about how great the flavors work together in the Shrimp and Avocado Salad! Because he loves to grill, we decided to marinate the shrimp in the dressing and grill it....WOW! He wants to use that marinade for shrimp tacos too!
My 14 year old daughter comes home after school, sits down with a bowl of the Easy Roasted Salsa and says that she has been thinking about it all day! She has declared she could live off of this salsa!
The Pumpkin Almond Butter Bars are a repeat request from EVERYONE in the family! Some eat them for breakfast, others for an after school snack and even for dessert with a scoop of natural vanilla ice cream! My daughter says the ingredients for these need to be a staple in our house!
I have made almost all of the overnight oatmeals -- they are great! Just last night I made the Baked Apples with Oatmeal Cookie Granola - YUM!
What changes have you experienced with how you are eating now?
Meagan: We have a running joke in our house right now...everyone says, "is there kale in this?" But seriously, it's very rewarding to see our family enjoying healthy meals and requesting them to be repeated! Our daughter has said "I like the variety...we don't have boring meals anymore, and we know a lot more about our food." The thought of having pizza night (with delivery pizza) makes me cringe...it doesn't even sound good. We used to always buy pre-made dressings (you know, the ones inside the bag of salad...yes, we were THAT lazy) and now we make our own and try different ones all the time -- we have found so many we like. My husband says "they taste so fresh and flavorful"...of course they do!
Karen: My husband craves the hamburgers at our high school concession stand...he thinks they have the best burgers! We were getting ready for a basketball game recently and I asked him if he was going to get a burger at the game. He said, "No, I think I will eat some of our leftover Zesty Shrimp Stir Fry before we go." Now that is amazing! At a recent bible study, where there is always sweet treats of every kind, I didn't crave anything...I didn't even want the cake...and I have always had a big-time sweet tooth!
What has been the biggest reward?
Meagan: I don't dread cooking anymore! My family likes the meals so much they have even gotten involved in the meal planning. It doesn't feel like a waste of time! I used to hate making the grocery list, but now it is already put together for me and our daughter WANTS to help pick the recipes for the week, and even requests new ideas! Plus, our shopping goes much faster. We are spending less because we are not buying things we don't need -- by the time we leave the produce section, 2/3 of our shopping is done.
Karen: We feel better, healthier and are loving the flavor -- it is so nice to have meal ideas that taste great and are full of flavor! And, we are also spending less time and money shopping...there are aisles in the middle of the store we don't even visit anymore.
Eat REAL America comment...we thought these were two VERY profound statements:
"By the time we leave the produce section, 2/3 of our shopping is done."
"We are spending less time and money shopping...there are aisles in the middle of the store we don't even visit anymore."
These statements provide a fantastic image of what eating REAL food looks like!
What has been the benefit to experiencing this together?
Meagan: When you make something that tastes great and everyone likes it, you want to tell someone else -- it's an encouraging challenge. We love letting each other know what we made and liked...I recently took Mom some of the sauce from the Slow Cooker Carne Asada Steak because Dad loves to put it on his eggs in the morning and she gave me some of the Banana Dark Chocolate Granola!"
Karen: It is so much fun to share with each other, mostly because we know each other's likes. If she tries something and likes it, then it makes me want to try it too.
What would you tell others?
Meagan: It's not about a crazy complicated diet, it's about eating REAL food. After you make several recipes, you realize 'I get it!' It makes you more aware of what you should be eating and what foods and ingredients are best to keep your meals healthy and flavorful. And, it's worth it! The variety, the convenience and the taste make it all worth it. I wasn't trying to lose weight, but I have lost several pounds...without even trying or feeling deprived...that has been an added bonus! You will feel better and you CAN get out of the rut and get off your wheel of the boring routine!
Karen: I agree with Meagan -- I am so much more aware of healthier food. Now I notice a huge difference in the flavor of meals not made with fresh ingredients -- they just don't taste as good!
Thank you Meagan and Karen - we truly appreciate you sharing your story with us!
We all know someone who needs a little motivation or inspiration to change their current routine. They may be "stuck in a rut," have super-picky eaters or have just let processed and convenience foods become the routine. Maybe they need an "accountability partner"...and perhaps YOU can be that person! It can be as easy as agreeing to make the same Eat REAL America meal on the same day, and then comparing thoughts. This will likely lead to "what's the next meal we can make?" Before you know it, your partner may have developed some new habits, some of which may literally be life-changing!
If you help someone by being their accountability partner, or if you make a successful change yourself, please share your story and successes! That's what the Eat REAL America community is all about!