Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday 13: 13 items I currently buy at the grocery store that I want to make from scratch consistently

F ood has become a hot topic, especially when you start talking about nutrition and how to eat better... lots of judgment, lots of ideas about what's right, what's wrong and lots of conversation about how everyone should be more conscious about their food choices.

So this post comes with no judgment. What you eat is your business. This is just where I'm at: looking for ways to eat fewer processed foods and more real foods, because I simply know that I feel better and more energetic when I do. Which is not to say that I won't ever have my cheesey potatoes at Taco Bell, or my onion rings with tartar sauce at The IceBurg, or my queso and chips at Taco Del Mar, or chomp through a package of Twizzlers or Junior Mints with real movie theater popcorn, or... well, you get my drift. I'm human. I live on this planet and I love to eat.

I've been making a conscious effort to bring less processed stuff into the house, and it leaves a few gaps, I'll say that. And requires more of me in the way of prep and cooking. So these changes will take time. But for the moment, here are the 13 things I want to start making more of myself, passing by those middle aisles in the grocery store...

1. Cereal. Just need to convert the boy to granola... (Full disclosure: I succumbed to General Mills' marketing this week and bought the chocolate Cheerios AND the banana nut Cheerios "just to see what they taste like." Ugh. Not so much. But still, I had to give it a try. Why?)

2. Chips. I think of these as edible food-like substances (to crib a line from Michael Pollan). I'd like to say good bye even to the baked ones, but that will take a minute or two.

3. Crackers. Ditto.

4. Pasta. It's so easy to make from scratch, I can't believe I don't do it more often. I have the coolest attachment for my Kitchen Aid, there's really no excuse.

5. Salad dressing. So easy. And always tastes better homemade, too. I used to make ALL my own salad dressings when catering, but have slipped back to the bottle...

6. Yogurt. Mostly because I know I could and it would make me feel all Pioneer Woman-y. (I don't even know if she makes yogurt, it just sounds like something she would. I just bought her book last night, so I'm eager to check it out--my kind of cookbook: lots of pictures and all 4-color!)

7. Bread. Kind of a given, if I'm going to knock crackers and chips off the list. I'm not such a yeast girl, so I need to work on this one...

8. Spaghetti sauce/pasta sauce. I made a bunch this last summer and we've already gone through quite a bit of it... so next summer, even more!

9. Salsa. This is difficult in the winter when tomatoes taste like cardboard, but it's still a goal...

10. Soup. There's nothing like a canned or boxed soup to up the sodium content immediately. So as rarely as I do open those cans/boxes, I'd like to do it even less.

11. Ice cream/sorbet/gelato. Homemade flavor, yum. And very easy, too.

12. Cakes/cupcakes. I am much too reliant on mixes. Not because I can't make a cake, but because I've become lazy. Yep, I said it.

13. Macaroni and cheese. This is one of Seth's staples... Mac-n-cheese-n-peas. But as I poured that bright orange powder into the pot tonight, I just had to say I've bought the last case of that from Costco. This one will take work, but he's a game guy and I bet I can convert him. I'll keep you posted.

One thing I don't think I'll ever be able to make... and don't really feel the need to, is CHEESE. I will be happy buying cheese until the day I die.

If you're interested in information on this topic, I can't imagine anyone more worthy of reading than Michael Pollan. I've read most of his books, and been alternately frightened and inspired; frightened at what I've been eating without consideration, and inspired to eat more thoughtfully.

Here's an interview from with Mr. Pollan. And his new book, Food Rules, was featured yesterday on Oprah, along with the movie, Food, Inc. I can't say I'm exactly looking forward to seeing that movie, but I know I should watch it, and I will. 

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  1. Truly exemplary!!!! Think I will have to find me a pasta maker...the rest of your list is possible I guess. Am going to look for a recipe for blue cheese dressing since I have such lovely fast internet!!!! The rain is keeping us indoors at the moment...

  2. I saw Oprah yesterday and he was so interesting. It made me think about how I could do a better job. I grew up with practically no processed foods whatsoever. My mom made everything from scratch for every meal. I can't be that good but I know I can do better.

    Thanks for the reminder! :)

  3. Don't beat yourself up. Many times, it's worth the additional $$ for the time savings. Focus on those few items where making it yourself results in something significantly better: bread, salad dressing, soup, and macaroni and cheese.

    Wow! Reading that list just made me hungry. :-)

  4. Doing your own soup is easy. Just toss in a random assortment from the fridge and let it boil a while. I do it all the time.

  5. I have to follow a very low sodium diet and the sodium content of many grocery store items is amazing. My daughter makes many items from scratch including salsa, soy sauce and hot sauce. Her meals are far superior to any premade product or restaurant meals. It's the easiest dietary change I've ever made. Not so sure that she can say the same. LOL

    My TT: More Than Enough

  6. I always wonder if tortilla chips are as bad for you as potatoe chips. I haven't researched it because they probably are, and I am choosing to live in tortilla chip ignorance for as long as possible.

    Cheese is something that I love, but will probably never make for myself (although I admire those who do!)

    I grew up on all processed food. Exclusively. So making the switch to be healthier is very hard for me, but it is something that I am trying to slowly transition to

  7. I love granola. There are so many different kinds. Right now I am hooked on Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti granola from Archer Farms at Target. It is super delicious. And it is mostly granola, but those little bits of hazelnuts are so tasty.
    I have recently discovered the joys of making desserts from scratch. They are so much more satisfying than store-bought.
    Have fun transitioning over. :)

  8. I love mac and cheese - especially homemade!!!!! I've never made homemade ice cream. Great TT list!

  9. I've spent a lot of time over the last 6 or 7 years doing just this and I'm still amazed at how easy it is to back slide. You can freeze or can the salsa, personally I freeze, and it tastes great even months later. ~ Calico Contemplations

  10. I wish I have the time to do things from scratch too...

    Here's my T13. Enjoy your weekend.


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