Better Off Well


Rex, Recipes, and Red Dye #40

rex sauce

Rex is 9. He likes to work on his Rainbow Loom, he wore an inflatable sumo wrestler costume for Halloween, and he loves hockey probably as much as he loves Doritos. But something's been changing in Rex's home, and he's been a part of it.

For the past three months, I've been working in Rex's home. We've cooked and we've shaken things up. The family pantry is starting to change, one snack at a time.

Rex can't get over that the colors in the candy he loves started out as oil, probably from a refinery in the Yellow River Delta of China. (Check out Twinkie, Deconstructed for more facts like this.) He's surprised by how many of the foods he snacked on listed high fructose corn syrup as one of the first ingredients.

Rex is starting to take power into his own hands. Creating his own recipes.

Take Mott's, for example. Rex's mom learned how easy it was to make homemade applesauce. Rex saw that his Mott's snacks added mango and peaches, so he wanted to try that.

"I love peach stuff," he says.

 rex peach mango applesauce

With mom's help, they created Rex's Mott's Sauce. Adding peeled peaches and mango was pretty easy, but Rex learned that peaches need a little longer to boil down, and that they're not so easy to peel.

But he loved the result. No cinnamon necessary, he says. We tried it in my home and we have to agree. Yumness.

Not to be out-done, Rex's older sister Ellie is getting in on the fun. Helping her mom to make popcorn, kale chips, and baked stuff squash has taught Ellie much about how easy it can be to prepare yummy food.

She even created her own artisan salad, using chopped cucumbers, red onion, olive oil, vinegar, and black pepper.

Two weeks ago, Rex and Ellie decided they didn't want McDonald's anymore. "Mom, this doesn't make me feel good," Ellie said after downing a few McNuggets.

Most nights food is made at home now, with far fewer trips through the drive-through.

"I can't believe how easy it is to make your own food," says Mom. "Even salads used to intimidate me. Seems so silly now."

And that's how it begins.

Baby steps.


Pantry cupboards don't change overnight. Habits can take years.

That's okay.


The point is to start. Learning what's in our food is key. Knowledge is indeed power and once we understand what's in our food and how it affects our bodies, moods, focus, weight, sleep, and energy levels is often motivation to start switching up to better alternatives.

So what's the family favorite right now?

"I like the homemade salsa," says Rex. "I like to eat it with corn chips."