I still struggle with this very issue-not wanting to sacrifice real nutrition just to please my children's and husband's taste buds and yet also not wanting to spend an arm and a leg all the time to buy what is truly nutritional. Then there's also the concern of not wanting to spend so many hours in the kitchen that you barely have time for other stuff! I have been following Dee for more than 2 and a half years now and there just isn't a more sane and on point place to be when trying to go processed-free!
Here are some of the ways I have been navigating my way through trying to live processed-free.
I have found that Trader Joe's sells packages of pressed bananas---and that's all it says on the label, too---simply pressed bananas. So the texture is dried and sort of chewy. I spread peanut butter on the flat sheets of pressed bananas and sort of roll them in a tube shape for a snack and my kids really like it. Recently I discovered that Costco sells a large lime green bag of organic dried apples chips and it has absolutely NO other ingredients. They really taste good,too. Another great snack choice. Also at the beginning of the week, I like to boil a dozen eggs to just have on hand for quick protein when we want it. We can eat them just with sea salt or they can be sliced on our salads with some of the onions I have also already preped. I also make homemade hummus and we eat it with cucumber slices!
For meals, I try to cut up a lot of veggies,especially onions and bell peppers at the beginning of the week, so they can go into stir fries with chicken and quinoa or egg bakes that I make. With the egg bakes, I just wisk up a lot of eggs in a bowl, add chopped veggies of choice and grated cheese. Once it is all mixed and seasoned with salt, pepper and tumeric, it is poured into a glass baking dish and baked like a casserole. I try to make several of these and cut them into squares to freeze and use later. I often add Organic Salsa from Costco to this mixture or Mrs. Renfro's Jalapeno sauce to add variety. Jars of Mrs. Renfro's sauce is usually at Superstion Ranch Market or at Albertson's. By the way, when I make quinoa, I make a giant pot of it and we eat it like "cream of wheat" with butter and milk or we eat it like rice for lunches and dinner and I add onions (sometimes scallions) and asparagus in it. This is REALLY delicious! Another breakfast that we eat is pre-cooked and mashed sweet potatoes with a bit of organic butter and crushed pecans and cinnamon. I boil or bake the sweet potatoes early in the week, again, and once they are cooled, I peel them and put them in a large container with a sealing lid and mash the potatoes. The mornings that I decide to use these, I take them out of the frig, remove whatever portion I need for that day and I pan heat it with butter then top with the nuts and cinnamon and it is delicious! I can always get another breakfast out of the quantity of potatoes I prep-this saves time! Another favorite breakfast for us is homemade pre-made spinach suoffle. It makes me feel very royal in the morning! There are several great recipes to google for this dish, and again, it helps to already have your onions preped -and this is true of the yellow squash and onions that I prep in advance and then sautee in coconut oil and butter in my wok some mornings. It is very tasty.
As for "breakfast cereal", I avoid boxed store bought cereals. The following excerpt from a WAPF article explains why I avoid them and why I even avoid the boxed cereals that are sold in health food stores and the health food isles in some stores.
Here is the excerpt:
Dry breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Cereal makers first create a slurry of the grains and then put them in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a little hole at high temperature and pressure. Depending on the shape of the hole, the grains are made into little o's, flakes, animal shapes, or shreds (as in Shredded Wheat or Triscuits), or they are puffed (as in puffed rice). A blade slices off each little flake or shape, which is then carried past a nozzle and sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.
In his book Fighting the Food Giants, Paul Stitt has tells us that the extrusion process used for these cereals destroys most of the nutrients in the grains. It destroys the fatty acids; it even destroys the chemical vitamins that are added at the end. The amino acids are rendered very toxic by this process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially denatured by extrusion. This is how all the boxed cereals are made, even the ones sold in the health food stores. They are all made in the same way and mostly in the same factories. All dry cereals that come in boxes are extruded cereals.
The only advances made in the extrusion process are those that will cut cost regardless of how these will alter the nutrient content of the product. Cereals are a multi-billion dollar business, one that has created huge fortunes.
With so many people eating breakfast cereals, you might expect to find some studies on the effect of extruded cereals on animals or humans. Yet, there are no published studies at all in the scientific literature.
The Rat Experiments
Let me tell you about two studies which were not published. The first was described by Paul Stitt who wrote about an experiment conducted by a cereal company in which four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given only water. A fourth set was given nothing but water and chemical nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived about two months. The animals on water alone lived about a month. But the company's own laboratory study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks---they died before the rats that got no food at all. It wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock.
Results like these suggested that there was something actually very toxic in the puffed wheat itself! Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes, which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.Another unpublished experiment was carried out in the 1960s. Researchers at University of Michigan were given 18 laboratory rats. They were divided into three groups: one group received corn flakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the corn flakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats eating the box became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. But the rats receiving the corn flakes and water died before the rats that were eating the box! (The LASTcorn flake rat died the day the FIRST box rat died.) But before death, the corn flake rats developed schizophrenic behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. The startling conclusion of this study is that there was more nourishment in the box than there was in the corn flakes.
This experiment was actually designed as a joke, but the results were far from funny. The results were never published and similar studies have not been conducted.
Most of America eats this kind of cereal. In fact, the USDA is gloating over the fact that children today get the vast majority of their important nutrients from the nutrients added to these boxed cereals.
Cereals sold in the health food stores are made by the same method. It may come as a shock to you, but these whole grain extruded cereals are probably more dangerous than those sold in the supermarket, because they are higher in protein and it is the proteins in these cereals that are so denatured by this type of processing.
There are no published studies on the effects of these extruded grains on animals or humans, but I did find one study in a literature search that described the microscopic effects of extrusion on the proteins. "Zeins," which comprise the majority of proteins in corn, are located in spherical organelles called protein bodies. During extrusion, these protein bodies are completely disrupted and deformed. The extrusion process breaks down the organelles, disperses the proteins and the proteins become toxic. When they are disrupted in this way, you have absolute chaos in your food, and it can result in a disruption of the nervous system.
So what are you going to have for breakfast? We need to go back to the old fashioned porridges..... These porridges should be soaked overnight in an acid medium to get rid of the anti-nutrients. Soaking will neutralize the tannins, complex proteins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. You soak the grains in warm water with one tablespoon of something acidic like whey, yoghurt, lemon juice or vinegar. The next morning, the porridge cooks in about a minute. Of course, you eat your porridge with butter or cream like our grandparents did. The nutrients in the fats are needed to absorb the nutrients in the grains."
So with that information in mind, I offer one last favorite at my home--the Baked Oatmeal Recipe. I found this recipe on http://www.kellythekitchenkop.com . It can easily be adapted to include your favorite granola-type ingredients--nuts, dates, raisins,etc.
Here it is:
2-1/2 c. oats
1-3/4 c. buttermilk
½ c. coconut oil
½ c. sugar, maple syrup or honey
1 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 c. raisins
2 c. chopped apples or pears
Optional: 2 c. chopped nuts (or sprinkle on each individual serving after baking)
Soak oats and buttermilk covered on kitchen counter overnight. In the morning, beat oil, sugar, and eggs until glossy. Add baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla; beat. Stir in oats, raisins, and chopped apples (or pears). Pour into 9×13 baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
(If it is too dry, you can adjust the recipe before you place the dish in the over, or you may WANT it dry for granola or for making it extra crunchy for "cereal" and milk!)I cut this baked oatmeal into squares and put them into ziplock sandwich bags then I put some in the freezer and some in the frig and it keeps a LONG time in either place! The great thing about these "breafast oatmeal bars" is that they are very versatile--we pan heat them in a pan with butter some mornings or we take them along as is in the car with a napkin OR they can be dried longer in a low heat oven or food dehydrator and made really crunch to be used as granola or just crumble it up and pour milk over it like "regular" boxed cereals.
Well I hope this has helped give you ideas you can use and tweak to your own family's liking AND allow you to spend a bit less time in the kitchen as you try to ensure they are taking in whole food nutrition as much as possible!