is the Eat to Live diet affordable and kid-friendly? (part I: breakfast)

A good friend and mom (HI FRIEND!!) wrote and asked me some practical questions about how to eat the Eat to Live way. I first mentioned here, back in November.

Her two main questions:

1. Which recipes have been hits with my kids?


2. How in the world do you make it affordable?

Well. *clears throat* *prepares for long dissertation on subject*

The hard thing about making a wide-reaching dietary in our house (or one of the hardest things, really, because there's been a bunch of hard things) is the fact that every meal had to change, for everyone. Snacks changed. The content of the refrigerator and freezer REALLY changed.

And I would say that the change is so dramatic and full-scale that it didn't happen overnight, but, weirdly enough, it did. One day Sean and I were eating toast and cereal for breakfast. The next day, bam! Smoothies. And every single day since.

One day we were having regular family stuff for dinner--stuff like tacos in shells, frozen pizzas and store-bought caesar salad mix from a bag.

The next day--Dr. Furhman's Better Bean Burgers. No salt. No oil.

The best "next day" transformation of all, though, was that one day, and many days before that, I had hours and hours of stomach pain and cramping, despite eating a gluten free diet. I thought I must have Crohn's disease, or gastritis, or something equally horrific. I saw a GI specialist who recommended I have an endoscopy. I couldn't leave my house at times; I let pbs kids babysit my little ones; and I curled up on a ball on my bed, waiting for the pain to abate.

The next day--and praise God for it--it stopped. The cramps stopped. The pain stopped. And every day since then that I have played by these crazy, counter-cultural yet doggedly logical rules of healthy eating, my stomach and I are at peace. It's my own little miracle. Without this, I would have never identified grains as the culprit of my stomach issues.


- READ THE BOOK. I am a skimmer. I glean the necessary tidbits. But I took the time to really read Eat to Live. I read the book, every paragraph, not just the first chapter and a cursory glance at the table of contents and recipes. I wanted to know why we were making this change. It's worth it. Read the book. Get a used paperback copy for a few dollars on amazon.

- We don't do this perfectly. I currently have contraband tortilla chips in the pantry, plus dark chocolate and paleo pecan chocolate chip cookies from walmart in my freezer. Sean, being a better human than I in most regards, doesn't eat that junk. :)

- You do this perfectly, you lose weight. You do it 75% perfectly, you still lose a little weight. That's my experience with it.

- You need a reason to do this. Our family has our reasons, somewhat outlined above. But the bottom line is that this is how everyone should be eating. Everyone. That's about it.

Alright! Onwards and downwards.


We bought this Ninja blender for $120 on amazon--only $100 now! On black Friday it was down to $68. DEAL!

It comes with one large capacity blender, a smaller blender blade, and two travel cups with lids that can fit on the small blender blade to make a one-person smoothie. This combo of items has been working well for us, though I wash almost all of that, every single day. All the parts are dishwasher safe, but the big blender container doesn't fit in my dishwasher.

Our basic morning smoothie:
1 banana
2-3 big handfuls of chopped kale or baby spinach
2 T seeds (ground flax or chia)
2 cup frozen fruit (we use 1 cup mixed berries and 1 cup mixed other fruit)
1 cup-ish of unsweetened soy milk
-- some POM juice (maybe 3 tablespoons)
-- or some Naked smoothie


I make Sean plug in the Ninja in the laundry room bathroom so the motor doesn't wake up the kids. Ha.

This concoction makes about 48oz of smoothie, and fills this many glasses:

Papa Bear, Momma Bear, and three baby bears. All the kids pretty willingly slurp this down, provided they don't get a brain freeze. Steve, at 18 months, drinks the most of all, and usually out of my cup. Little stinker.

Where to buy

So! That's the kids-love-to-drink-it portion. Now for the budget!

Berries: I buy the big bags of frozen mixed berries and mixed frozen fruit at Costco and Walmart for about $10/bag.

Seeds: I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill whole (not pre-ground) flax seeds and grind them myself in small batches with the smaller blade of the Ninja. I think the bag cost about $5-6 at a grocery store. The chia seeds pictured above don't need to be ground, and those came from Walmart for about $5. Lasts a long time.

Soy milk: TRADER JOE'S, for the win. It's tough to find soymilk/alternative milk that is not only unsweetened, but also with range of the acceptable sodium limit of Eat to Live. The general sodium rule for a processed food is equal calories to sodium mg. So, if a soy milk has 100 calories per serving but 200 mg of sodium per serving (as most do), that's too salty. But! Trader Joe's unsweetened soy milk is 90 calories/serving and 85 mg/sodium. AND, it's the cheapest soymilk I've found, at $1.79/container. I buy four at a time and store 'em up in my pantry.

Bananas: I feel like I buy bananas every day, but I'm pretty sure they're cheapest at Costco. Anyone know if they're cheaper elsewhere?

Kale: I buy a bunch or two of kale at my local grocery store every week, then prep it every few days (cut out the thick center rib and give it a quick shred). I'm pretty sure it's more expensive when bought pre-shredded in bags.
However: Spinach: Look at Walmart in the bag salad section, and you'll see huge bags (like 16 or 20 oz of something) called "cooking spinach" for $2.99 or less. Deal!

POM juice: I get the huge container at Costco for $8.99 and it lasts about a month. Buy it anywhere else and it's exorbitant. We're also trying to sub in the smaller sized Naked juice smoothies that are on sale at Costco this month; about $12.99 for a 12-pack.

Whew! That's a lot. And even after all this... my kids still want a bowl of cereal with their smoothie for breakfast. Hahahaha. So it goes.

Is this the cheapest way to feed a family? No. Is it the healthiest? Arguably so. I readily admit that we've increased our grocery budget the last few months to accommodate the change. Sean and I made that decision together, so I could focus on getting the right food in the house to make new meals, rather than making the cheapest meals possible.

But Is it possible to make it work, even on limited grocery budgets? And almost any kid will drink a smoothie. Will kids eat the other stuff too?

Expect answers to those question and full-on bloggy tomes regarding Eat to Live lunch and dinner meals to come in the next week! And thanks for the question, dearest friend.