Get Real: Breads and Cereals
**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.
I’m so excited to be participating in the Get Real Challenge. A few years ago I started transitioning our family to more of a whole foods lifestyle, and I want to tell you how we ditched the store-bought breads and cereals in favor of more nourishing options.
You see, I grew up with a mother who was health-conscious. She was a crunchy mama before it was cool. She sprouted alfalfa and made yogurt and granola and homemade bread. I learned to love wholesome food at a young age.
But as we got older and my mom went to work, we got away from our super healthy eating habits, and when I went away to college I developed some really BAD eating habits — like living on cafeteria pizza and coke. I KNOW. For years I was addicted to sugar and carbs, and I practiced the binge-and-starve approach to weight management. I was not healthy.
It all came to a head after my 3rd pregnancy. My body pretty much fell apart. After several years of doctor visits and no real diagnosis, I discovered Michael Pollan and Nina Planck and eventually Joel Salatin. And blogs like Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Cheeseslave. I read everything I could get my hands on, and it didn’t take much to convince me that we needed to get the junk out of my house and switch to a more natural, wholesome way of eating. My husband read some of the same information, and he was on board too.
It just made sense to get back to simple, whole foods. Never one to do things halfway, I immediately began purging our kitchen and replacing the processed foods and industrial meats and dairy with fresh, whole foods. I got online and found local sources for produce and meat and dairy. I even started a blog called Eat Local Philly where I could document all the farms and CSAs and farmers’ markets I was discovering in our area. (See, I told you I never do things halfway!)
One of more significant changes we made straight away was to ditch the store-bought bread. Our family eats a lot of bread. I was shocked to see how many ingredients were in a loaf of store-bought bread, and almost every brand contains high fructose corn syrup. I pack sandwiches for lunch every day for my husband and three children, and I wanted to give them something more nourishing.
As I mentioned above, my mom used to make homemade bread, and I knew how delicious it is. I started experimenting with recipes to find the perfect sandwich bread that my family could use for their daily sandwiches. It was a fun experiment. My family was in heaven feasting on fresh loaves of homemade bread almost every day. I finally settled on my Homemade Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. (It’s actually half whole wheat and half white flour, although I vary those proportions at times, depending on what flours I have in the house.)
If you’re looking to make changes in your household and you eat a lot of bread, I highly recommend learning to make your own. It’s an easy change to make because who doesn’t like homemade bread!?? While my family was lamenting the loss of their favorite cereals (more on that in a minute!) and processed food snacks, they were delighted with their new bread. It helped ease the transition.
Making bread is really not scary at all! I like to use my Kitchen Aid mixer, but you can do it by hand, or if you have a bread maker, it’s even easier. If you’ve never made bread, it will take some trial and error, but like I said, it’s a fun process!
If you’re really scared to try it, find a friend who makes bread and have her come over and show you how to make it. You can also watch my Honey Whole Wheat Bread video on YouTube, but it needs updating. That is an old recipe that I don’t use anymore. Still, the basic process is the same.
The other issue with making bread (and cereal, for that matter) is whether or not to soak the grains. If you can grind your own grains and soak them, they will be kinder to your digestive system. I wrote a post about that, actually! I have to fess up and tell you that I skip this step. I’m not much of a planner, and I tend to procrastinate until we are desperate for fresh bread or cereal, so I don’t want to wait overnight for the grains to soak. But I do recommend it, especially if grains bother you. Personally, I eat gluten-free. The bread is for my husband and kids, and they don’t seem to have a problem with it so for now I’m giving myself a free pass on the soaking.
The other big change we made right away was to ditch the store-bought cereals. This was not hard for me (I’ve never liked boxed breakfast cereals; they all taste the same — like chemicals. YUCK.) Read My Beef With Breakfast Cereals to find out why breakfast cereals are not good for you.
Plus the way they are marketed absolutely makes me see red. They are purported to be so healthy when in fact you’re probably better off eating the cardboard box they’re packaged in. They are completely denatured and so highly processed, even the supposed vitamins and minerals they contain are synthetic and worthless. Blech. There are better options!!!
My homemade granola is a family favorite. Another delicious homemade breakfast treat is this baked soaked oatmeal from Kelly the Kitchen Kop. It is truly wonderful. Also try these oatmeal pancakes. While not cereal, they are another delicious way to get healthy grains into your family. And while this month we are focusing on grains, don’t forget about eggs and smoothies for breakfast. Check out my list of healthy breakfast ideas for those who are having a hard time getting off the cereal bandwagon. As a society, we tend to eat way too many grains and carbs. Breakfast is a great time to incorporate more protein and even vegetables into your diet.
I think the biggest challenge in terms of making the switch to healthier grains is finding the time to make them. Most people prefer the taste and texture of homemade bread to store-bought, and homemade granola and pancakes can be delicious. But making your own on a regular basis is a time commitment, I won’t lie to ya.
I fully admit that two-and-a-half years into our real food conversion, I am struggling to keep on keeping on. It can get old, making the same things week after week. But like everything else that’s important to you — you simply have to make it a priority. Schedule it into your week.
I often make our bread and granola on Sunday afternoons because it’s a lazy day in our house and we are usually at home all day (after church). I don’t work on the computer on Sundays, so it’s a good day to do some baking. And with bread, there is a lot of down time, so I can relax and read while it’s rising. (Or, you know, make some granola.) I can definitely say that my kids have adjusted and now get grumpy if I don’t have any homemade bread in the house. They’ve grown to appreciate and even expect healthier grains.
Get Real Blog Partner Bread Recipes:
This is NOT a conclusive list from our blog partners but a sampling of what they do and what works for them. We hope that you find one that you feel will work for you!
- Honey Whole Wheat Bread from Musings of a Housewife
- Bread Beckers Bread/Rolls
- Artisan Bread from Once A Month Mom
- Simple Whole Wheat Bread from Keeper of the Home
- Soak, Yeasted Whole Grain Bread from Keeper of the Home
- A TON to choose from at GNOWFGLINS
- Homemade Whole Wheat Bread from Naturally Knocked Up
- Kefir Bread from Naturally Knocked Up
- A TON to choose from at Kitchen Stewardship
February Week 2 Action Item:
- Yeast Bread – Challenge yourself to make at least 1 loaf of bread. Even if you use store bought all white flour, MAKE THE BREAD! :) I know can be scary but we KNOW you can do it. Those of you that have been making bread, perhaps try a new bread recipe.
- Breakfast – Try at least one healthier breakfast option out this week.
February Get Real:
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