When people get to know me a little longer than just the initial first meeting, they almost always ask how I manage to lead a healthy lifestyle - for me and my family. I cannot help but smirk at this. The thing is, I do not really think of me as an overly healthy type of person.
I watch what I eat, sure, but I do indulge in my little sins too. The friends are always surprised that even Tom and Soeren both seem to enjoy this "healthy" lifestyle.
For me the most important thing is getting the right balance. We watch what we eat and where we get our produce and products from, but we do not overdo it in any way. All three of us love sports by nature and we all have our fitness and sports routine that we do during the week. The weekends are reserved for the family and depending on how we are feeling we will laze around the house or go for a two hour walk, play board games at home or go swimming at the pool.
Even in terms of food we make sure we have a balance. So, we eat a lot of raw vegetables as snacks throughout the day. I make sure we all get our portion of fruits and grains during mealtimes, but we also enjoy indulging in scrumptious desserts, pizza, pasta and co. However, here too I use fresh products and watch what goes into these type of dishes.
Soeren has grown up with this attitude and being a foodie's son he has no inhibitions where food is concerned. From the very beginning I have made sure that he has enough contact with "good" food and we have discussed the difference between "good" and "bad" food. Remember, Soeren is 5 years old and scaling it down to "good" and "bad" is just an imagery we use. On the whole he knows there really is no "bad" food - it only then becomes "bad" when he chooses to eat monotonously. We give him options - if he is craving a burger and fries then we give him two options: burgers at home with lean meat lots of fresh salad and baked homemade fries or if he really wants to go to the fast food joint, then the fruit packet instead of fries. The burger joint around the corner almost always looses because as his tastebuds have developed he realizes that the burger at McMum's always tastes better.
This method always works. Forbidding is not something we like to do - we always try to give options for him to choose. Now at the age of 5, I am seeing Soeren make these types of healthier choices on his own.
The fact is we do not find it difficult to eat "good" food. All three of us simply enjoy eating a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and grains a lot more than fatty, processed foods. It does not mean we do not eat such foods, it just means that they are not the main part of our meal plans.
So, when a friend asks me what I do at home to get my men to eat healthy, I just say I cook "normal" food. I then realized that what might be normal to me was by no means normal for her. She too has a son, four years old and is extremely overweight for his age. We only meet when we bring our kids to the playground, so, I do not know her that well. One afternoon, after Soeren politely declined a candy bar in favor of his pears, I dared to talk to her about the eating habits at her home. Her little boy would get a sausage (Wiener) for almost every meal. They ate a lot of processed sausages and ready-made products. In her positive attempts to get her family to eat healthier she was making all the wrong choices. Sweetened yogurts and ready made sauces, fruit drinks and sweet cereals. She would go for canned vegetables instead of fresh or even frozen vegetables.
She turned to me with a pleading look for help. It is difficult to advice someone when you are not a professional, it is also difficult to explain that, starting now is certainly not too late, but she would experience some fall-out from her husband and son, which might make her path a little more difficult. She just had to hang in there.
I told her to substitute the sweetened yogurt with natural, unsweetened and low-fat yogurt. For flavors she could make fresh fruit purées and add them to the yogurt. Instead of ready-made sauces she could make her own, using fresh products and without the preservatives. Giving her son fruit juices made of 100% fruit and diluting it with water, instead of sweetened fruit drinks was a more sensible choice. And, for heaven sakes, no sweetened cereals from a box. Make your own granola.
You know what she said to me? "Oh my god! I did not realize it was so much work to eat healthy!!" My jaw dropped at that remark. True making a fresh fruit purée is a bit more work than simply placing a six pack of artificially flavored, full of sugar and totally-bad-for-teeth yogurt in the shopping cart. The same applies to the granola - all that hard work - it's easier to simply grab the carton of sugared flakes, right?
I made a date with her the next day to come over when the kids were at school/nursery. I wanted to show her something. When she arrived we headed straight for the kitchen and I showed her how to make our favorite granola - in 20 minutes flat!
Granola is a very vital product for us. I do not think we could really get through the day without it. I make granola often and honestly I cannot believe in the two years I have been blogging I have not shared one of my recipes with you. To make up for that I will share my favorite type, the same granola I made for my friend that day. After she tried it, it was her jaw that dropped.
Besides the traditional rolled oats, I mix in organic popped Amaranth seeds and spelt flakes for added texture and nutrition. Extra crunchiness comes from the variety of nuts - I love hazelnuts, almonds and cashews. These are all drizzled with high quality organic maple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. The result, an unbeatable crunchy granola that tastes so good you simply forget you are eating "healthy" food! ;-) For a perfect breakfast we love adding fresh berries and a dollop of natural yogurt. Luxury pure!
Come on over with your casseroles, crockpots or baked dishes. I am looking for innovative and creative one-dish meals. Looking forward to having you all over.
Share your fresh produce with us. Show us your weekly bounty from the Farmer's Market, grocery stores or CSA box.
* Eat Fresh Update
Our Eat Fresh list is growing - slowly. Vincci of Ceci n'est pas un food blog in Quebec joined the Organic Campus and gets lovely apples, carrots, turnips, beets and Jerusalem artichokes. You just have to check out her organic Eat Fresh basket. Vincci also shares a lovely recipe for a carrot and cinnamon bread!
Printable version of recipe here.
For Nutty Granola
150g rolled oats
150g spelt flakes
4-5 tablespoons amaranth seeds - popped
100g whole hazelnuts
50g whole almonds
50g whole cashews
3 teaspoons cinnamon powder
5 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
4 tablespoons oil
For Breakfast Granola with Berries
150g mix of dried cranberries and cherries
Handful fresh berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries all taste extraordinary in this.
Couple of tablespoons natural unsweetened yogurt
For Nutty Granola
Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. Line a baking tray with some baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl add all of the ingredients together and mix well. Spread the granola evenly onto the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes give it a good stir.
The granola should be golden brown and crispy and the nuts crunchy.
Take out of oven and allow to cool completely before adding the dried fruit. Once cooled you can store the granola in airtight containers for several months.
For Breakfast Granola with Berries
Add the cranberries and cherries to the granola and mix with your hands. Spoon a few tablespoons into a serving bowl, top with chopped strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Add a dollop of fresh yogurt and pour in milk as desired.
The nutty granola is our basic granola recipe. Once this is ready we like to vary by throwing in flax, sunflower or pumpkin seeds or use other dried fruit likes figs, dates, apricots. Tom likes adding grated coconut and Soeren a few chocolate chips. Fresh fruit like bananas, pears, apples, mangoes and papayas are also great additions to the Breakfast Granola. The granola also tastes spectacular when added to a basic muffin dough. There are ample uses for this great recipe and once you make it, there will be no going back to the store bought stuff. The lovely cinnamony aroma that lingers in the air each time you open the container will simply make you crave for more.
As for my friend - she was amazed that good granola takes so little time and tastes so good. However I think she will go back to the store-bought stuff. I believe she will get resistance from her family and that she herself is more of a comfortable type person who finds it easier to grab the products from a shelf in a supermarket, instead of making them at home. Shame - but at least she can indulge in a luxurious granola breakfast for a few weeks. I gave her the whole load we made that day as a little present. You never know - she might just change her mind!
You might enjoy these luxury breakfast ideas:
|Garlic Shrimp & Eggs on Toasted Bagels|
|Buttermilk & Ricotta Pancakes|
|Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes|
|Cranberry Ginger Chutney|
More great granola recipes from other blogs:
Suganya at Tasty Palettes is hosting this month's Weekend Breakfast Blogging, which was started by my dear friend Nandita of Saffron Trail. Suganya has chosen a very appropriate theme of Healthy Eats. I hope she enjoys this healthy eat!
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