Biscuits and Gravy

July 21, 2010

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.


On “Being held hostage”

May 5, 2010

Wow. I just read an article from Redbook magazine that the ladies are talking about over at Kellymom.com’s Facebook page. I wont link to the redbook article itself, because it i rife with misinformation about breastfeeding. But there was one thing that really dumbfounded me. The article discusses the (supposed) pros and cons of breastfeeding, and one of the cons is that breastfeeding “keeps mom hostage”. Ugh! I am not going to address the logistics of breastfeeding out and about or pumping to leave baby with a sitter in this post. What I do want to address is this terrible sentiment that I hear echoed everywhere, not just in the context of breastfeeding, but referring to parenthood in general, that children are this awful inconvenience that prevent you from living the life you were living so seamlessly and easily before. Here is a fact: being a parent is different from not being a parent. Taking care of a helpless infant is going to require a lot from you. You are going to have to change your lifestyle. If you do not welcome those facts, you should reconsider having kids. If you expect that your baby is going to be born and then within weeks be completely assimilated into your world and your schedule, well, you are probably setting yourself up for a lot of frustration. But if you are open to the changes to come, the joy and challenge to devoting yourself to the development of a beautiful little person, and excited about the opportunity to help form them into the person they will become, well then, you might enjoy parenting afterall.

I do not feel like I am being held hostage. I love that taking care of my son has allowed me to slow down. Our days are (very) loosely regimented. I have allowed myself much more freedom than ever before. And I really can’t stress enough how much I love spending time with him. I would hate to miss a moment of it, he is so fun, every day he does something different. This is not what being held hostage feels like. This is what being in an amazing relationship with a beautiful little person feels like. And as far as feeding him goes, well, breastfeeding has given us almost complete freedom in our activities. I say almost because even though we don’t have to carry any feeding supplies with us, we still have carry the diaper bag full of diapers to a lot of the places we go. Now there is a parenting inconvenience, lugging diapers around.

Anyway, I say all of this as a stay-at-home mom. I certainly cannot speak to the unique challenges of a (breastfeeding) mother who works. But I tell you what, if I had to leave my little one all day, I would absolutely live for those sweet moments we would spend  nursing when i came home. No hostage situations here.

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