My Summer of Being Granola


I know I’ve been a bad blogger–bad Meggan, bad Meggan. Let’s just say that, after two hernia surgeries less than six months apart, and more mesh than a stripper in fishnets, I **should be** on the mend.

But the surgeries and work and life (read: t-ball and softball) took their toll on my blog. We weren’t getting home until almost 8:00 on any given evening, and then it was a rush to get dinner and showers done by a reasonable hour. And the morning time? Forget it. That was all about me nagging my children about their homework, and trying to make sure they completed their chores and didn’t forget anything on their way out the door.

It was… busy.

But softball season is over (yay!) and school is out, so I’ve decided on embark on yet another project. This one revolves around both food and outdoor activities.

For a background on the food project, I’ll tell you: my family has some weird dietary restrictions.

I have celiac, and I’m allergic to eggs and beef (and a mystery, TBD spice, but we won’t mention that). Husband is diabetic. My young son gets a glorious rash that mysteriously gets better when I don’t feed him wheat products, but the doctor swears up and down he has no allergies (granted, he also didn’t see the hives he got from the latex tape, either. They bled). Now before you scoff at the rash, I’ll tell you this: he has scars from it, it gets that bad. So when I say it gets better without wheat, that’s something, because, honestly, corticosteroids helped, but not as much as the giving up of wheat did. And both of those together actually cleared it up for a few days.

And Monkey, AKA Tiny Daughter (who, at eight, is not so tiny anymore)? Well, she gets stomach migraines (yeah, I sort of thought that was a “Get out of here, crazy Mom” diagnosis, too. Except it’s been mentioned a couple of other times, not in relationship to Monk, so maybe it is a real thing.) Anyway, her stomach aches get better when she’s not eating artificial colors.

So here’s what we have going: diabetes, celiac, no artificial colors (and I’m cutting out the flavors). The doctor told M no diet sodas, because they mess with blood sugar, and, because I’m reactionary, I took out all artificial sweeteners except Splenda, which she said was okay. So M’s favorite sugar-free creamer? I trashed it. He gets fat-free half and half instead, which I actually like better.

So, with all of this, I’m doing a crazy crack down on processed foods. No nitrates, no sulfites, no artificial colors or sweeteners (except Splenda, because, well, I can only go so far). I’m using agave nectar to sweeten most things I have, because, in theory, it doesn’t raise blood sugar like regular sugar does, but even that I’m trying to do in moderation.

And all of this makes me feel… pretty granola.

And dude… it’s hard to be granola.

Do you know how hard it is to find nitrate-free lunch meat? Or bacon? Or sausage without MSG? I mean, if I go to Whole Paycheck, land of uber-granola, I can find it, but a) nitrate free lunch meat has the consistency of a slimy sponge, and b) who can spend that much money on food? It’s already three dollars for a gallon of milk if I buy the cheap stuff on sale ($4+/half gallon for the organic stuff, and there’s just no way). Can I really afford to spend $15/pound on almond flour? And two dollars for a bunch of kale?

No. And growing it myself is sort of out of the question this season.

But, with the wizardry of the internets, I can find bulk almond flour for about $6/pound, which is way more expensive than wheat, but is better and cheaper than the trip to the ER for one of my attacks–which I haven’t had since I gave up wheat, so I guess there’s that. So, I’m embarking on a project where I bake my own bread, make my own lunch meat, and basically, where I serve low-carb (but hopefully still good) food that is good for us, too. It’s a whole foods kick, low carb style (almost, but not quite, paleo). If I don’t know what it is, I don’t eat it.

So, for my first recipe in this endeavor, I recently made mashed cauliflower as a replacement for mashed potatoes. It went over relatively well. M liked it, I liked it. Chewey seemed to think it was okay, and Monk wouldn’t touch it, because heaven forbid I make a single meal where no one complains.

Bonus? It’s so stinking easy, and it was cheap.

So, here’s the recipe:

1. 1 head of cauliflower, cut up

2. 1 cup of chicken stock

That’s basically all you need to start. I added garlic into the pot because I like garlic mashed potatoes, but you don’t have to do that.

Anyway, I put everything in a Dutch oven. Any old pot will work, but I’m in love with my ceramic Dutch oven, so there’s that.

Bring to a boil and let it cook for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. If the chicken stock gets low, add more.

Once the cauliflower is ready, transfer it to a food processor. Blend for about 30 seconds, and then start adding what you like in potatoes. I like cream cheese, so I added some, along with two tablespoons of clarified butter. It was still a little dry, so I added a little more chicken stock from the pot. The chicken stock adds plenty of salty flavor, so I just topped it with some pepper (because my family likes pepper. A lot of pepper), and served it up. I’m sure it would be awesome with bacon and chives, but bacon doesn’t exactly make things low-fat. Or good for you.

But it is delicious.

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “My Summer of Being Granola”

  1. Congrats on embracing the granola style there, M! Can’t say I’m as far along as you, but we share an allergy to “Whole Paycheck” — though their aisles are filled with many wonderful things. HOWEVER, you must have discount type grocers around. Those slightly scary looking discounters (skip taking the kids to these places) with about-to-expire, shipping-damaged and upside-down-labelled groceries. You’ll save a ton of money. My husband bought 50 lbs of Bob’s Red Mill spelt for ten bucks yesterday. Similar deals on BRM couscous. Because the organic foods are often so expensive they don’t sell quite as quickly as the lower end foods… and wind up on these shelves. It’s worth checking out.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Jamie!

      I often go to the discount food places for things like milk and canned goods and cheap shampoo. I once got chicken thighs there for $0.69 a pound. Granted, we had to eat them that night, but it still made dinner less than five bucks for four people. Always good.

      I love Whole Paycheck. Such wonderful things. Such horrible prices. I feel like being sustainable and organic is not sustainable for my pocketbook.

      Maybe if I sell a million copies of my book or win the lottery, then I can shop there. Granted, both things have about the same statistical chances of happening, but here’s hoping. Right?

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