04 Apr, 2008
Blue mom, Blue Menu – the kickoff post
For me, one of the most challenging aspects of parenting is menu planning. Good lord, I hate feeling like a short-order cook. I can be rather Jekyll and Hyde about it too. It depends entirely on the day. There are tiimes when I have to bite my tongue – hard – because all I want to do is shriek, THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN CARROT STICKS, and drop the bowl of carrot sticks on the table or slump down into my chair, cradle my head in my hands and quietly dream of a nice hearty chowder, a spicy stir-fry, or even -dare I say it – a soup that isn’t tomato.
On other days I am more than happy to serve those same carrot sticks, and I’m satisfied with the fact that they will only put cheddar, leaf lettuce, and red pepper in their fajitas. After all, a red pepper totally rocks it in the healthy vegetables department, right?
(As I was first typing this Emma came up to me and asked me what we’re having for dinner.
”Lasagna,” I said.
”Oh, I don’t want lasagna,” she replied, rather dejectedly.
What I would have liked to have said: IT’S PASTA! AND SAUCE! AND YOU EAT BOTH OF THESE THINGS! WHAT’S WRONG WITH HAVING THEM IN LAYERS FOR A CHANGE?? or THERE ARE CHILDREN IN INDIA WHO WOULD LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN A NICE HOT PLATE OF LASAGNA!
My actual answer: ”Well then, I guess you’ll just be having the salad.”
As it turned out she just didn’t like the ”crusty part” on the top of the lasagne so I picked it off for her. The disbelief nearly knocked me over. The layer of baked cheese is the best part!)
When children are involved, food takes on an entire new dimension, doesn’t it? The inside of your fridge looks totally different, and you eat when you want to eat, and at your own pace. Mark and I used to eat dinner at 8 p.m. We ate what we wanted. It was actually leisurely! There was no one around to convince to ”just try one bite.” We’d have spanakopita. Or chili. Or a stir-fry. Oh, I miss a good stir fry.
The worst, for me, is when I cook up something major (”Hey kids, here’s some stew that I’ve been fussing over for about 6 hours!”) hoping everyone will like it only to find out that I’m the only one who’s going to be eating it, and that I’m going to be eating it forever because the recipe made twelve servings. It is absolutely crazymaking, isn’t it? I love food, and I enjoy cooking. I have been stuck in a rut, but, but, but, (and here’s the good side of all of this ranting) we’re going to be getting a little bit of help.
A couple of months ago I was contacted by a PR company that is working for Loblaws: would I be interested in working with a dietician and trying out some Blue Menu products for a month? The answer had to be yes, but confess, I hesitated because I didn’t want to be stuck eating processed foods for a month. But then I thought about it. I was fooling myself if I believed that we didn’t eat any processed foods.
Here’s a short list to give you an idea of where were stand re: processed foods. (As I read back I am realize this breakdown is going to make me sound totally crazy.)
Processed foods we eat: frozen pasta dishes (e.g. the lasagna and cannelloni), some brands of tinned soup, cereals, some brands of crackers, taco shells, processed meats (e.g. hot dogs, and deli meats), pasta sauces, frozen French fries, factory-made bread. We have also been known to eat chips, cheese in a jar*, and microwave popcorn* (*only at my in-laws!) ;)
We don’t eat, or tend to avoid: most factory-made cookies, pastries, anything with ”helper” in the title, flavoured rice/side dishes, shake n’bakes, premade frozen pizzas and anything in the pizza family, individually-wrapped children’s snack foods. And if I see a mention of trans-fats on the label it stays in the store.
The PR person asked me about my goals. For many, I suppose, a major goal would be weight loss (given that many of the Blue Menu items are calorie-reduced), but we don’t have those concerns here. No one is our family is overweight.
I didn’t see the ”goal” question coming. In fact, after I hung up the phone I thought my lack of goals might result in Loblaws giving me the heave ho. But now that I have had a chance to really think about it I can safely say these are my ”healthy eating” goals -not just for the next month – but, like, forever.
1) High sodium, trans fat, high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugars, white flour … I’d like to send them all packing.
2) I’d like to give ”Meat” offical status as a side dish. I’d like to reduce the amount of red meat we’re eating and increase the amount of fish, and, of course, the number of vegetable servings in our lives that AREN’T cole slaw, red peppers or carrot sticks. (Ha! Wish me luck!)
3) I’d like to increase the amount of organic food we’re eating.
I’d like to try some new foods, and discover some new ways of preparing foods old favourites that we all enjoy. And if I can find one new item to feed my family I would consider this a very successful experiment indeed.
I hope that you’ll join me on my journey. I’ll be posting about it from time to time here at the Fishbowl.
And here is the fine print, because I want to be completely transparent about the process. Yes, my food is covered by Loblaws, as are my meetings with the dietician, but I’m not being paid for anything I post here. This is my place … Loblaws is sitting in my living room and it’s my party. The way I see it, I am the one who decides whether it’s going to be crumpets or coffee cake. I reserve the right to say whatever I want about any of the products we try, good or bad. I’m not afraid to tell it like it is. (You know that, right?)
This is a golden opportunity for me (and you!) to tell everyone (including the folks at Loblaws and their PR firm) what we think of their products. And if you’ve been following me here for awhile you know it’s about more than food for me. It’s about the labelling and packaging, whether or not their cashiers know how to pack the bins, whether they have a tendency to want to pack your groceries in plastic bags and THEN put them into bins. (Here’s a hint, yes, they’ve done it before.)
I am supposed to have my first meeting with the dietician sometime next week. I am strangely excited. Knowledge is power my friends, and that’s why I’m here.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? I’m all ears.