In which Deb Kristina doesn’t know what cuts her oatmeal

liarscoverthumbnailI miss enjoying food for the sake of it. But now the healthy living culture and environmentalism and trying to model healthy eating habits for my kids combined with alarmist reports about hidden dangers in our food (additives! Transfats!) have me feeling guilty every time I write a shopping list and anxiety-ridden over meal preparation (and as we know from my comments on the “Debs in the Kitchen” week, I’m no Martha Stewart).

I find myself arguing with TV pundits – and when I do this, my kids give me strange looks – when they come up with new unhealthy things every minute. We switched to wheat bread because it’s better for you than white bread. (Since when did white bread turn evil?) Then I found out that our “multigrain” bread is actually not that great, that it’s “whole grain” bread that’s supposed to be so wonderful. Then I checked the relative prices in the grocery store and had to scrape myself up off the floor.

Now Dr. Oz on Oprah is going on about “steel cut” oatmeal. Seriously? I was feeling all virtuous eating Quaker Oats but my oatmeal is not cut with steel? Does it matter how it’s cut? I’m sure five seconds online could answer this question but when I’m standing all fuzzy-brained with bedhead in front of my coffeemaker or scribbling a shopping list while playing tug-of-war with the dog and simultaneously referreeing sibling squabbles it’s not something I think to do.

(So, I just now Googled steel cut oatmeal. Supposedly this type of oat retains more of the healthy stuff, and apparently it can take as long as an hour to cook. I swear, the food pundits hate me.)

And that’s before I’ve even started on what my kids eat. I know I should be buying all fresh produce and milking my own cow and washing, chopping, slicing and preparing wonderful natural treats. And, all this, plus the cow, should be locally grown so I’m not ruining the environment by supporting factory farms and having my food trucked across the country with fossil fuels. (Speaking of buying local… I’m all for this but if I only buy local food, won’t I get scurvy because Michigan’s growing season is about three months long?)

Even my beloved sushi, which I think is healthy (lean protein!, fatty acids! Omega-something!) has cropped up as controversial, something to do with depleting the fish supply in certain parts of the world, not to mention the way fish are great at storing up ocean pollution in their little bodies.

I take solace in the fact that red wine and dark chocolate in moderation are good for me. At least, that’s what I understand, and if anyone’s heard otherwise, be a love and don’t tell me?

Deb Kristina

14 Replies to “In which Deb Kristina doesn’t know what cuts her oatmeal”

  1. I feel totally virtuous because I (for the most part) stopped eating Cheetos… I think it’s all relative. You do what you can without going crazy. When I was a kid, my parents used to bribe me into drinking juice (the kind we now know is useless, because it’s just sugar) by mixing it with Sprite!

    So I don’t feel much pressure because the only thing I could do to make that worse for my own kids would be to add a shot of vodka to it.

  2. I like Michael Pollan’s advice. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This is sensible and easy. It’s the same advice as “shop the perimeter” of the grocery store, where most of the whole foods are kept: the fruits and vegetables, the meats, the grains. Also, he’s not saying don’t eat meat, he’s just saying don’t base your entire diet around it. I think it all boils down to common sense. Grandmothers have been telling us to eat our vegetables for so many years for a reason! So relax and enjoy your food!

  3. Oh, Kris. I feel your pain. It’s so hard to figure out what to feed your kids. I think Tiffany is right to relax and trust Pollan. I also like the advice that if something has more than three to five ingredients you should avoid it. But all that healthy stuff is expensive!

  4. Katie, now I have a craving for Cheetos. Isn’t it strange how the rules change from generation to generation? Heaven knows what our kids will be eating and drinking. My parents and in-laws are good-natured about it, but it must be strange for them to be hearing all the stuff they did with us is now considered so awful. (Juice and white bread, horrors!)

    Eve, sounds like you know where I’m coming from! It’s so much to think about for someone prone to feeling guilty…

    Larramie, did it take an hour to get to your table? Did it taste much different than Quaker Oats?

    Tiffany, that advice is reassuringly simple. I need to get better at cooking, that would help.

    Meredith, yikes on the 3-5 ingredients. See, there’s so much in my cupboard that fails that test… You’re right, it IS expensive, and that’s something the food gurus always gloss over on these shows, which irritates me to no end!

    I don’t want to leave the impression that I feed my family nothing but packaged junk! Both my kids like fresh carrots and green pepper slices, for example. But feeding myself and my family takes up much more mental energy than I’d like to spare….

  5. By the way, I’m eating “Fire Roasted Tomato and Olive Oil” Triscuits, which have WAY more than five ingredients but the first one listed is whole wheat, so I’ll call that a “win” for snacktime. Baby steps.

  6. Kris: Just remember that whatever you find yourself eating today is probably 10 times healthier than all the drek we consumed in 4 years at MSU….chilli cheese fries at Wonders…drunken 2AM hotdogs at 7-11…burgers at Crunchy’s followed by Sharkbowls. Its a miracle any of us survived.

  7. mmm cheeto

    I make steel cut oats. It doesn’t take me an hour- but maybe I’m doing it wrong. I like them because they taste a bit nuttier. I mix a bit of dried fruit in there, sometimes a spoon of peanut butter. mmmm oatmeal.

  8. I’m with Michael Pollan (“Eat food, mostly plants”)and also Eve’s Mom! I have heard, too, that if you’re a plan-ahead kind of person you can stir together your steel cut oats and milk or water in a pot in the fridge overnight, and then they take much less time to cook in the AM. But I don’t have that kind of foresight, and so make regular oatmeal in the microwave…

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