Here's a true horror story, of sorts, for Halloween.
I know I shouldn't complain about healthy foods. After all they are healthy and good for you and all. I'm not a young creature anymore and bad eating habits are starting to catch up to me. And, being a Dad (or Monster Dad, as it were), I also agree that it's important to instill healthy eating habits in my Little Monsters. But...
The Wife has been on a mission over the past few years to get us all eating healthier foods. As someone who wasn't exactly watching what he ate for the first thirty years of his life I can certainly see the wisdom of this. Unfortunately, all those years of less-than-healthy dieting has made me rather enjoy food that tastes good (read junk food). It's not the easiest thing to transition from McDonalds and Chinese takeout to whole wheat and soy-based food products. The Wife's main enemies seem to be high fructose corn syrup and anything processed or prepared (which is pretty much everything I enjoy eating).
Like I said, I'm all for eating better. However there's only so much vegetarian lasagna (heavy on the spinach) and tofu stir fry one guy can take. Every once in a while I need a junky break. Luckily The Wife understands this (at least to a certain extent anyway). Last week we had Lasagna with meat AND without spinach. What a treat! While we've never really done a heck of a lot of takeout (mostly due to financial constraints) we did used to eat a pretty good amount of prepared foods (frozen pizzas, meals-in-a-box...) back in the pre-kids day. I do miss this stuff (though I have to say that The Wife does make a very tasty homemade pizza dough). Besides tasting good, these prepared foods were some of the few things that I could actually "cook" myself (giving The Wife a little break from the cooking chores). Even with this potential benefit to her, prepared foods are still pretty much verboten in our household.
We used to eat white rice with many meals. It's interesting in way to see how we've slowly evolved from the evils of over-processed white rice to more organic and natural sides. The white rice was initially replaced with brown rice. It wasn't quite as good, but sometimes pretty close. The next step was couscous. I had a tough time with this one at first but it kinda-sorta grew on me a little bit. Nowadays we're frequently presented with a side called quinoa. I'm not exactly sure what this stuff is, but I do know that I'm not a big fan of it. Oh, for the simple pleasure of a mound of plain-old white rice with a touch of butter and salt!
One constant battlefield that we have between us is the basic food staple of bread. As a kid I loved the taste, texture and even color of Wonder white bread. While it doesn't necessarily have to be Wonder, I still do prefer white bread in general. While white and wheat breads are made with pretty much the same ingredients, apparently the processing process that the grains used in white bread go through makes it very unhealthy. A mystery to be sure, but that's what I hear anyway. I don't have a huge problem with wheat bread--at least as long as it's pretty much like white bread except for the color. When you start introducing terms like "whole grain", "multi-grain", "twelve grain", "whole-oat" and stuff like that, the bread becomes much less palatable. When I can actually see grains, seeds and nuts in my bread I feel it's gone a bit too far.
I can understand that all these grains and things are good for you, but does it have to look like someone spilled birdseed all over your bread? It becomes a dry, crumbly mess. If it's a good thing to have all these thingies in the bread, why can't they throw them into a blender, pulverize them and then add them to the bread dough? If five pounds of seeds and nuts mixed in the bread are a good thing, then why aren't five pounds of the same stuff blended into a fine powder also good for you? Do they think that if we don't actually see all this stuff embedded in and on the bread that we won't believe that they're in there? Or that we won't believe it's good for us?
Anyone remember the "Seinfeld" episode where George is eating a sandwich and exclaims "This bread has nuts in it!"? Well, that's how I feel at times. Here's a semi-related story. The Wife used to belong to a church that was somewhat earthy-crunchy. I used to go with her on occasion. As a kid my family belonged to a more "traditional" kind of church. while I was never a huge fan of going to church in general, when I did have to go it was always a treat to be there for communion. It was kind of neat to get a little square of white bread and that tiny glass of grape juice. It certainly didn't fill one up, but it was a treat just the same--beyond the obvious religious connotations obviously (hey, I was a kid after all). Anyway, the church The Wife went to had a couple different ways of doing communion. One of them was similar to how we used to do it in my childhood church. You'd stay in your seat and ushers (or whatever they are) would bring bread and wine (juice) to you. The only difference was that they'd use all kinds of different breads. You never knew what was coming. Sometimes it would be a store bought bread, sometimes a freshly baked bread made by one of the parishioners. Sometimes it would be a form of pita or some other less-common type of bread. I thought of the Seinfeld episode when I accepted my little piece of bread one time and saw that it had bits of nuts and grains embedded in it. I had to stifle the urge to blurt out "This Body of Christ has nuts in it!" (a la George Costanza).
The culmination of all this bread blather was when The Wife recently brought home something called "Ezekiel 4:9". Yes, that is the name of a bread. Apparently the religious connotation of the name comes from the fact that this "bread" contains many elements mentioned in a passage of the bible: Wheat, Barley, Beans, Lentils, Millet and Spelt. What the hell is SPELT?!? It advertises itself as being a "100% Whole Grain Bread". But this stuff goes way beyond the garden variety whole grain bread that we usually are subjected to. It's also "Flourless and Low Glycemic". Not only that, but it's "Sprouted" (whatever that means). The Wife keeps this stuff in the freezer. That seems a bit weird to me, but she explained that, since it has nothing at all unnatural in it, it really doesn't have any shelf life. The thing that disturbs me the most about this bread (as if all the above wasn't enough) is the fact that the wrapper touts what it calls "The Live Grain Difference!". I guess this is somehow related to the fact that it's "Sprouted", but the way they put it I feel like the bread is actually alive--a living organism of some type. It has to be kept in the freezer to keep it in hibernation so it doesn't become some kind of bakery created Frankenstein bread monster loaf or something!