Healthy Eating

Health personnel all laud the benefits of eating healthy. The emphasis on all-natural has caught on. The larger manufacturers are all using it as part of their advertising. No wonder people are so confused when they go to the grocery store.

I often meet other people reading the labels just as I do. Some of the labels are scary. There are so many additives that I cannot even pronounce, much less know about, that I am genuinely confused when it comes to buying things.

I guess the rule of thumb should be do not purchase kits of foods or boxed prepared items. Although many of the producers are claiming that they are all natural, be sure to read the box. Check what is in the product before you purchase it.

When I buy milk I read to be sure that I am getting real milk with nothing added. Oh, yes, even milk products these days are not always what they seem. Then, there are the myriad varieties of cheeses. What products are truly dairy products and what products simply have some dairy in them? I am sorry, but if I am going to indulge in cheese I want the real thing. I want the cheese to taste like I expect it to.

Then, there is the cereal aisle. It now takes a full aisle in the grocery store to display all of the offerings. The other day while shopping I noticed a young man who was overwhelmed by the choices. We talked a bit about the generic brands, then, I helped him find what he was looking for. Finding the cereal you want can be a daunting task.

When I was growing up the choices were simple. Each major manufacturer had its popular varieties. You knew what they were and where to find them. There was no need for generic products because the real things were affordable for families.

On a trip to Michigan we stopped at both the Post plant and Kellogg’s. We were allowed to observe the cereal-making process, then, we were treated to a sample at the end of the tour. As I recall it was very interesting. I remember having my first taste of Postum, a cereal-based hot drink. It was all right, but I was not particularly impressed.

Cereal offerings at my grandma’s consisted of corn flakes, Rice Krispies, oatmeal and cream of wheat. There were none of the pre-sweetened varieties. Grandma always preferred hot cereal while my grandpa and my mother ate the cold stuff. Mostly I opted for toast and cocoa avoiding any type of cereal.

As I get older I have tried to watch my calories and eat a filling breakfast because I know that it is an important meal. I try to vary my ritual by switching back and forth between toast, yogurt and oatmeal. I was never a big fan of oatmeal, but I know that it is good for you and lowers cholesterol. At least that is what they tell us.

A couple weeks ago I looked through some of my cookbooks and came upon a couple recipes for granola. While it does have sweetener, it has all ingredients that are healthful. I ended up combining two of the recipes to come up with a version of my own that was very tasty. Basically I changed the recipes because I did not have all of the ingredients. I substituted stuff from one recipe to make the other version work.

Even my grandchildren ended up liking what I came up with. I made just half a recipe, but even that was a lot. I jotted down in my cookbook what I did so that I can replicate it. I also combined the oven temperatures and times that the recipes gave so there were quite a few adjustments. At this point my granola recipe is truly my own. I am sure there are many variations out there, but I think I will stick with this one because we all like it.

Ann’s Granola

4 c. quick oats

1 c. wheat germ

1/2 c. flaked coconut

1 c. slivered almonds

1/2 c. pecans cut up

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. melted butter

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter, honey, and maple syrup in small pan on stove. Combine with dry ingredients. Spread in shallow baking pan or roaster. Bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees, then cut oven to 250 degrees. Continue baking for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool, then store in a plastic bag or other air-tight container. Serve with milk no need for sugar!

I noticed when I eat this with milk it keeps me filled up for a longer period of time. You can vary the dry ingredients to suit your palate, but keep the proportion the same. Of course, you can always double this recipe if you like. This is the halved version.

I also came upon a recipe for homemade grape nuts. I will probably try that sometime soon because grape nuts has always been one of my favorite cereals. I have several Amish cookbooks that I purchased on some of my travels. They are among my favorite go-to books when I something good to eat. The other books that I like to use are ones that have recipes that people submitted. People who cook a lot have great ideas.

I am not sure if my granola recipe classifies as healthy, but I do know there is nothing artificial and no ingredients that you cannot read.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.