(Here's me and my amazing family, who are the 18 Hour Kitchen taste testers!)

Hi folks, I'm Kelly Buffington of the 18 Hour Kitchen. I am thrilled to share my food and health journey with you. I love to experiment in the kitchen, and as a wife and mother of two young boys, I always have eager taste-testers. My successful experimentation in the kitchen is what ends up here.

I would like to introduce you to this blog by defining my philosophy of "healthy eating," as this is what forms the basis of all my eating habits and by default, my posts. But first, let me give you a little history...

Teen Years: The Lies of the "Fat Free" Movement
Growing up, I was raised on the Standard American Diet. I hit my teens at the brink of the "fat free" craze, and, careful to maintain my figure, I thought that by not eating fat, I would just always stay thin. I was thoroughly convinced (by some very direct and misleading marketing) that eating fat made a person fat. So I avoided it- at all costs. I vividly remember walking the aisles of the grocery store with my dad, taking packages off the shelves and flipping them over to check nothing more than the fat content. Anything that said "0 grams fat", I threw in the cart. And food from packages (not fresh, whole, real foods like vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds) was primarily what I ate. In those days, I equated food and eating with something that just had to be done to survive, not ever making the connection that what I ate would impact my quality of health. In fact, I automatically thought a food was healthy if it was low in calories and low in fat, paying no attention whatsoever as to the ingredients in the food I was eating.

Mid Twenties: God's Gift of Real Food
Fast forward into my mid twenties, just a few months after I got married, I was browsing books in Target and picked up a book with a title that intrigued me called The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin. I was going on a trip and thought this would be good plane reading material. Well, in short, that book changed my life, changed the way I viewed food, changed the way I ate. Period. I was, for the first time, introduced to real, whole, natural food (and the notion that fat is indeed necessary and good for the human body!). And from the moment I started reading that book, my journey in real food began.

I started reading more, researching more, seeking the proprieters in the real food movement like the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, Dr. Mercola, EatWild.com, and RealMilk.com to name a few. I started learning to actually cook food (and not just open up a package and follow the directions on the box) and try experimentations with foods new to me, like avocados, and onions, and mangos... (yes, these were really "new" to me at the ripe age of 25!). I learned about natural foods co-ops, CSA's, farmer's markets, and local farms. And the more I learned, the more passionate I became about bringing others with me on this journey.

I made a 180 and was now an advocate for real and nourishing whole foods, foods full of the good kind of fat, foods that God created. So all my family and friends started defining me as a "healthy eater", you know, because I no longer ate donuts and french fries. But the interesting thing to me is that when someone is classified as a "healthy eater", there are a million different definitions of what healthy eating is! What's right, what's not? Is vegetarianism or veganism or gluten free or primal or soy or dairy avoidance or low carb or no sugar what makes a person healthy?

I believe the correct answer is different for each person, as everyone's body is unique and responds to different foods in different ways. For me, I have learned that I have a gluten sensitivity, so if I consume grains (which I only do in very small amounts), they are always gluten free. But if I didn't have a gluten sensitivity, I would indulge in sprouted grains occasionally. I also avoid most forms of dairy, but again, if I didn't, would indulge in raw milk (as my son does on a daily basis). See, what's right for one is not always right for another, even in terms of real food.

My Real Food Manifesto
However, that being said, I do firmly believe that there are some foods that- no matter who you are or what your body is like- should never be eaten (see my "Not To Eat" list below). I believe that humans were created to eat lots and lots of vegetables (particularly dark, leafy green vegetables) and fruits, and that vegetables and fruits should provide most of a person's daily carbohydrate intake. We were not created to eat sugar (at least not much of it) and that sugar is highly addicitive (watch out for any food that creates an addiction, with the exception of kale, I guess!). We were not created to eat food that has been genetically modified. We were not created to eat dairy that has been pasteurized and homoginized, or cows or chickens that have been given steriods and hormones and antibiotics. No, we were created to eat real, unadulturated, whole, natural, organic, unprocessed food!

So here is my list of what to eat and what not to eat, as defined by the 18 Hour Kitchen Health Philosophy. Now whether you agree with all or only some of my list, that's your choice and you know your body (the yoga instructor in me says, "Listen to your body!"). Here goes:

To Eat:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts, seeds, and their butters
  • 100% grass fed beef and other clean red meats
  • Cage free, organic chicken and other clean poultry, including eggs
  • Clean fish (with fins and scales)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flax, hemp, walnut, avocado (etc.) oil
  • Raw milk, and its cheeses, and its yogurts and kefirs
  • Raw creams, and its ice creams
  • Butter from grass fed cows
  • Coconut (oil, meat, flour, water, milk)
  • Organic, fair trade coffee, tea, and 70% or darker chocolate
  • Sprouted grains (although I only eat gluten free grains due to my gluten sensitivity)
  • Natural sweeteners, such as stevia, Xylitol (Xylosweet), agave nectar, 100% pure maple syrup, and raw honey
Not To Eat:

  • White flour 
  • White sugar and artificial sugars
  • Conventional meats and poultry
  • Conventional dairy, especially fat free and low fat varieties such as skim and 1% milk
  • Vegetable oils (including soybean, safflower, canola, etc.)
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • MSG
  • Dyes, additives, chemicals, preservatives
  • Trans fats
  • Soda pop
  • Shellfish, pork, and other unclean animals

These lists are not exhaustive, but should give you a general idea as to how I feed my family, how I cook, and how I write recipes. I believe we were only created to eat real food, and my prayer is that as you join my in my cooking adventures, "you may enjoy good health," 3 John 1:2.