Friday, December 30, 2011

He Who Spelt It Dealt It

Over a year ago I wrote in Night of the Living Bread about The Wife's proclivity toward healthy foods and how it collides with my history of less-than-healthy eating. While we've had some pretty heated debates over this subject I certainly do have to appreciate the fact that she is making an effort to reform me so that I will actually live a little longer. As I age I'm starting to see the effects of decades of eating pretty much whatever I wanted. All that saturated fat and cholesterol is starting to catch up with me.

I've recently written about both sugary cereals (Return of the Monster (Cereals)) and Spam (My First Taste of Spam!)--even though the spam I was talking about was the electronic type rather than the sodium heavy canned meat product. In light of these recent posts it seemed like a good time to revisit the topic of scary-sounding healthy food products in my household.

We still have fruit smoothies made with tofu for breakfast. We still have tofu and spinach lasagna on occasion. We still have cous cous, quinoa and wheat barley for sides instead of the evil that is white rice. And we still have multi-grain (at least a dozen minimum), all natural wheat bread instead of white bread most of the time (this includes the infamous Ezekiel 4:9 "bread" detailed in the earlier blog). A few weeks ago I was wondering what we were going to be eating for dinner on a Friday night. Seeing as how it was a Friday I was kind of angling for something tasty. The Wife surprised me by announcing that we were going to be having burgers and fries for dinner! Needless to say this isn't a regular meal in our house. I had seen a package of ground beef in the refrigerator and knew that we had a few frozen french fries in the freezer (another thing not frequently found in our home). I got pretty excited by the prospect of a "normal" meal of burgers and fries and almost fell for the ruse. Then The Wife asked me if I could put the burgers in the oven for her. BURGERS IN THE OVEN?!? What was going on? I looked at these "burgers" and realized that I had been had. They almost looked like hamburger patties, except they had a bunch of green stuff sticking out of them. I believe it was spinach. Not only that, but one of the main ingredients along with the ground beef was... Bulgur Wheat! Not just any bulgur wheat would do either. This bulgur wheat was "all natural" and contained soy for good measure. Yum!

While it probably seems obvious that nothing much has changed since the last time I wrote about this subject, I still thought it would be fun (interesting? scary?) to take another look at a few of the products that have found their way into our house lately along with this wonderful bulgur wheat. And I still have no idea what bulgur wheat even is.

Needless to say, Cookie Crisp definitely isn't something The Wife would bring into the house. I was guilty of this a while back, but just had to throw this one in here. The funny thing is that even sugary-sweet breakfast cereals have attempted to get into the whole healthy eating thing. I'm well aware that this stuff isn't healthy in any way, but find it hilarious that General Mills touts the fact that Cookie Crisp is a "Whole Grain" cereal. In fact, apparently General Mills cereals are "America's #1 Source of Whole Grain at Breakfast", according to this box. It makes it a bit hard to know what is actually good for you when it seems like everything is telling is about its healthy and all natural ingredients these days.

I'm all for having noodles with a meal. We used to have regular pasta pretty frequently, but that has been replaced by whole wheat pasta. Doesn't seem like a giant difference, but there definitely is a difference. Now the product pictured here isn't pasta of course. These are Soba Noodles. And these are special because they go beyond the common "whole wheat" designation and are in fact made of 100% Organic Buckwheat! Yet another item to add to our ever expanding vocabulary of healthy foods.

The beloved (by some at least) cous cous. This has become a popular rice alternative in our house.

Here's Pearled Barley--another rice alternative for a healthy side dish. In our house it also finds its way into delicious soup loaded with vegetables...and noticeably void of meat.

Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal--a wonderful addition to almost any food. Now if this stuff doesn't get your juices flowing, nothing will! I know about the benefits of fiber and Omega-3 fats in a diet, but have to admit that I've never heard of Lignans before and don't have any idea what the heck they do for you. Strengthen your ligaments?

I'm used to berries being a fruit that you can get either fresh or frozen. I'm familiar with blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. But Wheat Berries were a new one to me when they made their first appearance in our home. How's this for an appetizing description: These whole grain wheat berries are made from "High Protein Number 1 Dark Northern Hard Red Spring Wheat". I can remember a more innocent time not that long ago when simply calling something "whole wheat" was enough of a designation to get people excited about the health benefits of your product. We've come a long way since then baby!

And for breakfast we can forget about such old favorites as the Monster Cereals and Cookie Crisp seen above. In fact we can even forget about such previously thought to be healthy cereals as the much dreaded Cheerios and Wheaties. Instead we can now chow down on the sublime taste of Musli #3! I think it goes without saying that this cereal is all natural. Check out the ingredients too. The first three listed are Whole Grain Spelt, Whole Grain Oats and Barley Flakes. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

And, finally, here are a couple more bread choices to go along with our frozen supply of Ezekiel 4:9. Both of these loaves come from Jessica's Brick Oven:

Tuscan Pane Whole Wheat bread. Not to be confused with run-of-the-mill wheat bread, this one is made using Stone Ground Whole Wheat. I have to admit that I can't really figure out what exactly makes bread so much healthier and more appealing when the wheat in it was ground on stones rather than metal (or however they grind all that pedestrian wheat found in more common breads).

Surprisingly enough, the people at Jessica's Brick Oven don't even mention the fact that this is an "Artisan" bread. You have to look at the label on the back to discover that comforting bit of information (as well as the fact that this bread is "Rustic"--and I'm not sure exactly what "Rustic" entails or what makes rustic bread better than more "urban" types of bread). "Artisan" is another popular term in foods that I don't like. I picture an "artist" painstakingly crafting individual loaves of bread one at a time--when I know that no matter how healthy a bakery is they are still churning loaves out in some mechanical manner. Remember a few years back when Wendy's was promoting their now-discontinued deli sandwiches that were served on "artisanal" bread? What a joke!

Last but not least is Jessica's "Ancient Grain" bread. This echoes the biblical grains touted in Ezekiel 4:9 bread. And of course it also contains our old friend spelt! You'll also note that this bread contains the hallmark of all the healthiest and earthy-crunchiest breads out there: a generous portion of nuts and seeds on the OUTSIDE of the bread. It seems like healthy eaters are suspicious of a bread's true all-naturalness unless they can actually see all the grains and such on their loaves. Couldn't these nuts and seeds provide just as much of a health benefit if they were in the bread dough instead of being on the crust? In general I'm not a big fan of old and stale bread (who is?). For whatever reason, calling this bread "Ancient Grain" just doesn't sound appetizing to me. I'd prefer the grains in my bread to be the newest and freshest ones available. I suppose that's just me though...


  1. awesome post, man, awesome ... what a lot of work!

  2. Yeah, it IS a lot of work trying to eat all this stuff! Heh-heh, just kidding... Seriously though, thanks for the kind words Keith!