Brian and I have never exactly had 'much money.' We don't have much disposable income and never have, and rather than living an inflated lifestyle using credit cards, we just don't do a whole lot of things that cost money. One of the things we don't do is eat out much. When I was working and Brian was in school, we still ate at home most nights but that doesn't necessarily mean what we ate didn't come from a can or a jar or a box. I wanted to make a change to that, but I just didn't have the time and energy to make a meal from scratch every single day. So when I quit my job and we moved halfway across the country and I decided to be a housewife and eventually do some work from home (all in like 2 months), one of the things I wanted to focus on immediately was making good dinners every night.

I've done pretty well for the most part, I'd say, and I am really proud of my efforts to cut WAY back on our reliance on pre-packaged foods and reducing like whoa the amount of chemicals and preservatives and how-do-you-pronounce-this foods. I never bought into the idea that low-fat and fake processed foods are better for you - I just use less of the good stuff. (I'd rather have a tablespoon of real butter than a tub of Smart Balance.

In that vein, I have begun to think about how to augment the actual healthful factor of what we're eating. (Because homemade pizza is awesome, but it's still just pizza.) Introducing new vegetables, seasonings, cooking methods, etc. It's been fun. And it's been really cool too - I am so much less intimidated by 'real cooking' and a lot of things that would have put me off a year ago are now on my list of things to try. I've started with some really basic things - like making bread from scratch, experimenting with home-made chicken broth, and making cream sauces from a roux and even making Chinese and Japanese sauces (like teriyaki and plain stir fry brown sauce) from scratch. 

So when I saw a recipe for a healthy healthful corn and potato chowder, I made immediate plans to bookmark the site. And then I read the ingredients list, and stopped short. Ingredients included canned corn, canned brand-name chicken broth, Velveeta, bacon bits, and fat-free half and half. (And potatoes of course.) I reeled.

First off, I'm not sure how a cream and cheese-based potato soup could be called healthful (although it could easily be called AWESOME). But really...I don't see how something with Velveeta in it could ever be called healthful. Bacon bits aren't real food either (unless you crumbled up half a pound of bacon in a jar too). And I've already mentioned how I feel about fat-free stuff.

Certainly this recipe is less-bad-for-you than if it were to come from a calorie-laden restaurant vat or a tin can that you dilute and heat up in the microwave. But to me, there's a big difference between less-bad and actually good. Maybe Velveeta, mass-produced chicken broth from a can, and pseudo-meat are a step in the right direction, but they in and of themselves do not a healthy life make.

Maybe I shouldn't publish this opinion. I don't necessarily have room to talk, and my eating habits are far from great (I might have had 2 miniature York peppermint patties while writing this). But can I be the only one to raise my eyebrow to this notion of healthful eating? Is this recipe really what we think of as a good food decision? I don't know. Maybe. But maybe not.


  1. for me, it's a bit of a balance. I don't have time or money to use ALL fresh ingredients so I'll do some of my ingredients fresh and some things out of a can (like canned corn).

    And making my own chicken broth totally intimidates me. But I totally agree with you on "fat free" stuff. gross.

  2. It's tough trying to find actual "healthy" recipes that don't use junk in them. It takes a lot of work to find them, but they're out there. Try looking up organic recipe sites or something. You don't have to buy organic, but I bet their recipes would be pretty healthy.
    Fresh is best, but I usually stick to frozen (2nd best) since we can't eat the food that fast.
    I'm totally with you. Give me real butter; I'll pass on the what-exactly-is-that stuff.

  3. RATS I put the wrong date in the auto-publish :) You girls are awesome tho. Kaylene - on my agenda this week is another go at making my own broth. Last time I used way too much onion and it was like onion water. I'll let you know!

  4. I'm so glad you wrote this! I agree with you 100%. My ideas of what is healthy have most certainly changed. Previously, I'd take any reduced fat, reduced calorie product I could find as a "healthier" option that what I used to use. But now I'm more interested in eating less processed stuff, and eating less food overall. I'd rather have real butter than Smart Balance any day of the week (and less of it). I definitely don't have this figured out yet....I still need to eat more veggies and less carbs. I still have more work to do on cutting back my grocery bill too. Just wanted to let you know that you're not alone!!


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