Guilt and the Grocery Store

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Guilt & the grocery store

As someone who has struggled with her weight all her life (and not just my adult life or since having kids – since I was 8 or 9 years old), I’m afraid I think way too much about what we eat around here. Especially since I became a parent, I am constantly thinking ahead – what am I going to serve for dinner? How long until we need more milk? Why do parents bring Oreos as a “healthy snack” for kindergartners? (WHY??)

I am an overthinker by nature, too, and I’ve discovered that leads to major anxiety and irrationality in several areas of my life. Of course, it also leads me to blog, so it can’t be all bad, right?

I fear that I way overthink food.

I desperately want my children to have a healthy relationship with food. I want them to understand what real food is and why we try to not pack ourselves full of things like preservatives and sugar. I want them to like to eat healthfully but not feel deprived, not feel the need to sneak chips or candy bars at any given chance.

Man, is it hard to figure out the balance.

Since we’ve been married, I’ve run the gamut from only spending $40 a week on groceries and couponing like crazy to trying to eat all organic, grassfed, happy eggs, etc. And when I go to the grocery store, I feel like I am in a guilt spiral.

When I'm at the grocery store, I feel like I'm in a guilt spiral.
source: Caden Crawford via Flickr

The kids want granola bars. Should I buy granola bars? Should I buy organic? Kashi? Do I have time to make some at home? And if I do, will they actually eat them?

Should I buy cheap eggs or supposedly cage-free eggs? Do I think Walmart’s cage-free eggs are actually from free-range chickens? Organic butter? Normal butter? In-between butter?

It’s EXHAUSTING. It makes me detest going to the grocery store. And I want it to change.

In an ideal world, I truly would hit up the farmer’s markets and buy produce, meat, and even dairy if I could there. I’d feed my family all grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. I would make everything from scratch and love it. But here is the truth: we have three small children and at least one of them is home with me at all times. We live on a teacher’s salary plus the small income I make from freelance work. Mr. V reminds me that we almost qualify for reduced lunch. We are not lacking, but right now I just cannot make the money and time investment to eat the way I think I want to in my head.

I read stuff like this and wonder, were those the glory days? When people lived in blissful ignorance of what their food choices might do to their health? Would I rather be ignorant … or guilty?

There’s got to be some kind of balance, right?

I recently backed out of a Facebook group that made me feel constantly bad about making compromise choices. About ever letting my children near food dye or flour. It’s me, it’s not them, for the most part. And I have to do what I can to back off the guilt before I start getting ulcers.

It’s not just me, right? Do you all feel the tension? What does it look like in your life? I promise not to judge either way, I’m just interested to know. (See some of the conversation happening on Facebook today.)

P.S. Thank you to JessieLeigh and Donielle for sharing your real grocery trips and inspiring this.

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread: It Can Be Done!!

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A few weeks ago, I pulled a cookbook off my shelf, searching for a bread recipe. I’ve been baking up bread at least once a week to feed my kiddos and the bachelor who lives downstairs.

I love bread-baking, in case I haven’t mentioned that a time or twenty. I love the smell of the yeast, the ingredients learning to cling together. The rising dough. A soft, brown crust.

I’ve mostly been making white bread lately, with a cup or two of whole-wheat flour thrown in. Even though it makes me cringe, it’s just so much easier than fussing with whole-wheat bread. The whole-wheat recipe I’d fallen back on time and time again required soaking of grains, 10-20 minutes with my mixer, and a bread that tasted like honey to me. (I’m just not a huge fan of most honeys, and although I use it I don’t want the taste to be overwhelming.)

So anyway, I made a recipe for simple bread loaves from Food That Says Welcome, a great little paperback cookbook from Barbara Smith—Michael W. Smith’s mom! It was the puffiest, softest bread I’d ever made. I lovingly called it “pillow bread” and gave the recipe a big star. But … I wanted to make it a whole-wheat bread, since white flour has basically no nutritional value.

I’ve decided the key to this puffy bread is triple rising. Yep, you heard me. Yes, that adds additional time to bread-baking, which is already a lengthy process. But it’s totally worth it. And, as this recipe shows, it can even make 100% whole wheat bread soft and puffy. I’ve NEVER had a 100% whole wheat bread that wasn’t dense.

So, whole foodies, your problems are solved. Make this bread. Listen to the rave reviews. Smile because you know the secret. And if you’re feeling generous, share the recipe.

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread Loaves

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread Loaves

Ingredients

  • 5 tsp. or 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 c. warm water, divided
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 1 T salt
  • 6 c. white whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur White Whole Wheat)

Instructions

This recipe can be made either in a stand mixer with dough hooks or mixed by hand. Because there is not a lot of kneading, it’s not too bad to do by hand.

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over it. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat. Add honey and sugar and stir together. Let cool slightly – it’s OK if it’s warm, but not hot.

Add butter mixture, salt, and remaining 2 cups water to the yeast and water in the bowl and stir well to combine.

One cup at a time, add in flour and stir until it’s combined. When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until all the flour is worked into the dough. [Or, use speed 2 on your mixer with dough hooks.]

Cover bowl with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and then let rise again, about another 45 minutes to an hour.

Separate dough into two equal balls. Press each ball into a rectangle with floured hands, roll up lengthwise, and then tuck ends under. Place loaves in greased loaf pans.

Cover pans and let rise again 30 minutes, until dough is to the top of the pans.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until loaves are golden brown and sound a little hollow when you tap on them. Let loaves cool completely before slicing and serving.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2012/04/fluffy-100-whole-wheat-bread-it-can-be-done/

Nondairy Coffee Creamer for Whole Foods Enthusiasts!

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In this whole sort-of-no-dairy thing, I have found I really only miss two things: cheese and milk in my coffee. I can’t do much about the cheese because I don’t like to eat soy either. But I’ve experimented with my coffee creamer of choice.

Almond milk is OK, but it is just not very creamy, and the store-bought varieties have a lot of additional icky stuff in them. I think David can tolerate heavy cream OK (since it’s mostly fat), but it is EXPENSIVE, especially organic. And then every time he is fussy and pulling those legs up, I have to wonder: did I do it with my two-cups-a-day habit?

[For those of you who are just tuning in and think I am nuts, I am on a mostly-non-dairy regimen for my nursing 3-month-old. He seems to be able to tolerate baked good with milk products in them, but that’s it. Oh, and butter. Hallelujah.]

A while back I ran across this recipe for a whole-foods non-dairy creamer. It hadn’t really crossed my mind again until I was reflecting on my coffee dissatisfaction at the grocery this week. A lightbulb went off over my head and I picked up a can of coconut milk for experimentation.

I like my coffee pretty sweet so I decided to just incorporate the sweetener into the creamer. Although my coffee still isn’t the color whole milk makes it, it’s a lot closer. And actually creamy.

Nondairy Coffee Creamer

Ingredients

Instructions

Blend all together in blender until frothy. Refrigerate for up to a week.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2011/03/nondairy-coffee-creamer-for-whole-foods/

Honestly, this isn’t quite sweet enough for me, but it probably is for most people. I added a tiny bit of maple syrup to my creamed coffee and that did the trick.

Have you found other nondairy solutions for coffee? Do share.

Added to Real Food Wednesdays, Things I Love Thursday, Tasty Tuesday, and Delicious Dishes.