So, we are trying to eliminate as much processed food as possible. However, I am not being a Nazi about it! At first when I have an idea to do something I just jump in whole hog and then burn out, beat myself up and get frustrated, feel like a failure, etc, etc, etc. You'd think by now I would learn that this is my pattern and go little bits at a time with a big endeavor/lifestyle change! But alas, I still do it! That has been the case with trying to not eat processed food (and just about every other endeavor I've tried) and would feel bad for feeding Catherine Multigrain Cheerios which besides bananas and strawberries and milk with molasses, has to be her favorite food! After several falls down this road, I've lightened up a little and decided that I'll just go a little at a time and if we never get rid of the Cheerios, it will be ok!
|Catherine enjoying her oatmeal!|
After so much reading and research and scouring of the internet and books about food and sugar, toxins, pesticides, organics, etc., etc, I've come to realize that something bad can be said about almost everything we eat, even the whole unprocessed food found on the perimeters of the grocery store. Yes, there are some really bad things I don't want to touch, but definitely not all.
Take eggs for instance. For years we've heard that eggs are bad, they raise cholesterol, etc. But I've read lately that that has been proven not to be the case. And in fact we need cholesterol for our brains and hormones to function properly. Yes, some people have high cholesterol but from what I've read there are other factors coming into play from a myriad of malfunctions that cause this, one of them being our processed food-sugar laden -Western diet, not from eating a pure food like eggs.
But then, what kind of eggs? There are so many options! Just normal? Cage-free? Pastured? Unpasteurized? Vegetarian fed? Added Omega 3???? It is really ridiculous!!!! And this is just for eggs! There are this many options for most of our food! No wonder I almost despise grocery shopping and menu planning. What kind of eggs do I buy? Well, I'd love to buy the ones from pastured chickens, that have been able to run around in the grass eating bugs and worms and seeds and all things that chickens are supposed to eat in the fresh air like the chickens that used to roam around in their yard down the road from us in the village in Lebanon, beside the donkey in the field next door. :) Not cooped up tightly in an artificial environment where they can hardly move! BUT, these pastured eggs are very expensive! So, I've tested a lot of different eggs and I've hit a middle of the road priced egg that I like. I picked the ones that have the brightest yellow yolk. That means there's lots of good stuff in there. These were not from the amish farms or the local farms, but just the Whole Foods brand, not organic eggs.
Trying to buy the purest food can be STRESSFUL and EXPENSIVE, so, I'll do what I can and not fret about it.
All that to say, breakfast has been relatively easy to go unprocessed for us. Yes, we do still eat cereal occasionally, mostly on Sunday mornings when we are in more of a hurry. It is usually some sort of Cheerio type cereal of varying brands with as little sugar as possible along with Rice Chex and/or Barbara's Oat Crunch that I get at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers. But usually I try to add some sort of protein like bacon, sausage, nuts, etc.
But here is out normal routine. On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, I try to have some sort of oatmeal dish. This normally is comprised of an oatmeal mix I make up ahead of time that has mostly organic quick oats, some cinnamon, chopped pecans, naturally sweetened cranberries and some salt. Let's be honest. I can't eat oatmeal without the salt! Oatmeal has been one of those things that I have a hard time getting down without lots of added ingredients! So, I scoop that mix into our bowls, slap a slab of salted butter in each bowl along with a bit of maple syrup and sometimes a scoop of pumpkin or butternut squash puree. Then I pour hot water over it all, mix it up and let it sit for a few minutes. While that sits, I heat up some chicken apple sausage. (I know many say that microwaves are bad and I would probably agree but I just haven't made it that far down this journey to be able to eliminate it altogether!) Then I add bananas to fare and that is our meal for all of us for at least a few days a week. All my kids love it and me too. Eric gets a variation in that I put a 1/2 cup scoop of my oatmeal mix in a snack bag that he takes to work. He heats it up in water and puts honey on it.
Another oatmeal dish I make from time to time is baked oatmeal. Here is my recipe for that. It is a combination of my sister's recipe and one from Simply in Season, a cookbook I've grown to love and use often.
Baked Oatmeal for a Crowd (or for a family with children & husband that eat a lot!)
Preheat Oven to 350F.
Dry Ingredients: Mix together in a large bowl-
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (or sucanat or raw sugar) - you can use less!
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup total of nuts, seeds & dried fruit of your choice, in any combination.
Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together -
2 cups of milk (any kind you like!)
4 TBS coconut oil or olive oil or melted butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup each applesauce and pumpkin or butternut squash puree or any 1 cup combo or single.
2 tsp vanilla
Combine wet and dry ingredients. Spread into a 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.
I've also seen recipes where you can take crumble up this baked oatmeal and heat it in the oven again until it is toasted and then use it like cereal. Put some in a bowl and pour milk over it and voila! We haven't tried that yet though.