Submitted by Sarah W.
One of the reasons I find grocery stores interesting is that had previously done the majority of my shopping in England. (As an adult, that is. I can’t call what I did in college actual shopping). So when I moved back to the US, the American grocery store looked very novel to me. I could see it from an outsider’s perspective.
One thing I spotted right away is that there is so much variety here. The cereal aisle alone is filled with hundreds of different brands and flavors. With all the brightly colored boxes stacked up on high on both sides of the aisle, it feels like some kind of corridor in Candyland. Cheerios in England? 1 kind. Cheerios in the US? 12 kinds; original, honey nut, multi-grain, apple cinnamon, banana nut, chocolate, dulce le leche, multi grain peanut butter, cinnamon burst, frosted, fruity and yoghurt burst. I remember back in the days when there were only plain and honey nut. Now, the choice is overwhelming.
What I find unfortunate is that despite all the options, pretty much the majority of the items in the cereal aisle are not healthy for us. There are the obvious ones like chocolate peanut butter loop and marshmallows? (Erm, who signed that off as a good idea?). But it’s the hidden baddies that are just as scary. These are the ones that have healthy-looking pictures on the boxes, and healthy claims on the front, but when you investigate you find that they actually aren’t healthy at all. I spent quite a long time reading the sides of boxes when I first moved back.
Cereal marketing uses all sorts of tricks- mentioning nature or elements of nature (sunshine), showing pictures of wheat plants or fields, using the color green, or calling out some essential food component (fiber, flax, protein). Some even make claims about being healthy for our hearts or good for weight loss. Try to notice these tricks next time you shop.
I always pull out my common sense cards when in doubt.
Common sense check #1: This food comes in a box and was made in a factory. Result? Not a whole food and probably not that great for you.
Common sense check #2: Sugar is the 2nd or 3rd ingredient? Not good.
Common sense check #3: There is a tall list of 25 other un-recognizable ingredients? Not happening!
I have usually found that foods that make health claims on the packaging should be avoided. I go by the motto that if anything has to convince me that it’s good for me- it usually isn’t. Whereas by contrast, leafy green kale…? A grapefruit? No confusion there. See what I mean?
In the effort to find food that is nourishing, I stay out of the cereal aisle. For breakfast I often have a huge bowl of cut-up fruit. I do mean huge too. I used to make the mistake of eating too little and therefore had this notion that fruit by itself wouldn’t hold me over until lunch. Totally wrong- I simply wasn’t eating enough of it.
Not all morning meals have to be traditional breakfast foods either. Since I make my lunch in the morning, sometimes I make a little extra and have that for breakfast too. It’s great to get off the cereal treadmill and have some fun with it.
Here’s a simple recipe I made the other day.
Tofu Collard Green Wrap
The sweetness in the apricots in this dish balances out the sharpness of the greens.
1 green onion
Handful dried apricots
2 large collard greens leaves
¼ container silken tofu (non GMO)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. pepper
Lightly steam the collard green leaves until they turn a bright green. Immediately remove them from the heat and lay on a flat surface. Once cooled, cut off the bottom stalks.
Add green onion to a hot pan. Finely slice tomato and apricots. After 1 minute, add the apricots and tomato. You should not need to add any liquid as the juice from the tomatoes will keep everything from sticking. Cook for 1 minute and then add the tofu, yeast, turmeric and pepper. Let cook until liquid reduces, approx 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Wrap in green leaves and slice into sushi-sized rolls. Fork and knife required!