Over the past few years, as I have learned more and more about the way food is produced and processed here in the United States, I have tried to change my eating habits to correspond with a more thoughtful lifestyle. The first of these changes was when I went vegetarian in 2004. For a long time now, I feel like I have been trying (and mostly failing) to completely, or at least largely eliminate processed and packaged foods from our diet, and sticking to whole foods prepared in our home. I did well with this for a while, but when I got pregnant last year, I was ultra tired all the time, and now that I have a small child to take care of, I do not have a ton of free time to spend cooking up delicious gourmet meals like I used to. The challenge now come from how to come up with healthy, whole foods meals that are quick to make and with enough variety to keep my husband happy.
To Bill’s credit, he is an adventurous eater, and is willing to try just about anything. But on occasion, he protests to simple meals. I am the primary cook in our household (I hate to feel like I have to make this caveat, but I do it anyway: this is not because I am the woman, this is because I love to cook and have serious skills in the kitchen). I am also the primary grocery shopper. When I ask Bill for input on what he might like to eat, he usually comes up with ideas that incorporate processed foods (usually in the way of faux meats), or concoctions that would require 5 or 6 different out of season vegetables for one course, putting it outside of our small budget. A couple weeks ago, I asked if he would like to take a week to do a beans and rice challenge while we sorted out a minor budgetary crisis. To him, this sounded boring because it meant to him a bowl of plain beans and plain rice every night for a meal. To me it meant tacos, chili, veggie burgers, chana masala, mujadara and an italian-style dish, with sides of veggies found at the farmer’s market. Sometimes it takes some coaxing to open up his mind a little.
Breakfast had been one of the hardest times to get away from processed foods. Bill usually eats bagels, and I usually stick with some sort of high fiber cereal. As far as processed foods go, these aren’t so bad. But I did want to have some whole food ideas up my sleeve. I do love a bowl of oatmeal with some agave, cinnamon and nuts, and am trying to eat that (along with a smoothie) for often. But my beloved often turns up his nose to oats, so on the weekends, we have to think of something else. Pancakes are always welcomed, but I always feel guilty starting the day off with that much maple syrup. Last weekend I proposed to Bill that we make some whole wheat biscuits with smoked almond gravy. He was suspicious, but I persisted, and even convinced him to whip up the gravy while I tended to the babe. He obliged, but didn’t like the looks of the biscuits I had in the oven. “The last time you made biscuits, they tasted like flour”. “Bill, the main ingredient in biscuits is flour. Of course homemade biscuits taste different. The reason that pilsbury biscuits taste the way they do is that they are full of chemicals and trans fats. You have to change your expectations of what a biscuit is supposed to taste like”. When I got the biscuits out of the oven, he mentioned that they looked dry. I told him he could use some butter if he wanted (actually, we use Earth Balance vegan butter). So we sat down to eat. And the meal was delicious. And Bill told me that it was good, and that he was mad that it tasted so good! I laughed a little at that.
So what is the point of this long, rambly entry. I guess just the lesson that if you want to change your lifestyle, you probably need to change your expectations first. Considering that Atticus will be joining us for meals very very soon, this change needs to happen quick for us. We don’t want him to become hooked on processed foods, and we certainly don’t want eat foods in front of him that are off-limits for him, so we will probably only serve them up at the rarest of occasions. Being a parent really causes you to look at you life under a microscope, and I consider that a positive thing.