Blogging · Confessions · Healthy living · What we've learned

Confessions of a (sometimes) Granola Mamma

You know how when you buy a really great pair of shoes or a cute sweater at a bargain and someone compliments you feel obligated to say, “Thanks. I got these on sale.” Or “Thanks. Target!” Is that a woman thing or is it just me? Anyway, it’s that same mentality that has prompted this post.

You see, yesterday I posted a recipe on our Facebook page for my Super Healthy Power Smoothie. And as soon as I did, I had to resist the urge to add “But we ate white bread for lunch yesterday!” to the comments box.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to make our readers feel like I so often do when I’m scanning FB and Pinterest.  I intentionally follow people who offer healthy recipes and tips for greener living because, well, because I want healthy recipes and tips for greener living.  But I’m not gonna lie.  These people are wearing me out. I want to eat whole, natural foods, but if see one more meme about the dangers of GMOs, or the nutritional inferiority of grain-fed livestock, I’m going to pummel some poor free-range chicken farmer with a bag of Lays potato chips!  Just for spite!  Yet, I do continue to follow these seemingly flawless health nuts because, as much as they drive me crazy,  I really want to be one too.  I try to stay away from processed foods.  I buy organic when I can.  I look for ways to add “super foods” to our diet.  For Pete’s sake, I’m even wearing natural deodorant and making my own household cleaners!

But the truth is, I’m not always that great at being a “granola mom.”  For starters, I don’t actually make my own granola (like that cool lady on Pinterest).  I buy it.  Sometimes not even organic. And sometimes covered in chocolate and looking suspiciously like something one might find in the checkout line next to the Snickers.

Sadly, I can’t even really say I’m making steady progress toward a more natural lifestyle.  In fact, when it comes to healthy living, it’s more like two steps forward, three steps back. Looking back over the years, I can see that my attempts at granola living can really be divided up into phases.



My older children think it is great fun to entertain their more conventional-eating, friends with stories of how I used to humiliate them by taking our own organic hot dogs and snacks to birthday parties.  Honestly, I think I only did that once, but they act like they’ll need therapy to get past the mortification.  Truthfully, looking back on it, I am a little embarrassed.  It was insensitive at best (self-righteous at worst).  The last thing a woman who has 12 frosting-crazed six year olds running around needs is another mother showing up at the party with special meal requests and wooden swords.  (I was also going through an anti-plastic,  toy phase then too.)

THE SNEAKY PHASE    At some point, I guess I just got tired of trying to convince my children that Newman O’s were as good as Oreos

Unknown-3 and that eating broccoli was like eating tiny trees. Instead I got sneaky. I put natural peanut butter in the Jiff jar and organic cereal in the Honey Nut Cheerios box.  I baked spinach into brownies and grated carrots into their spaghetti sauce.  And I might even have led them to believe that certain foods (like hot dogs and white bread) were actually poisonous.  But none of it worked.  When it comes to discovering healthy substitutes, my kids are like drug-sniffing dogs.



This phase actually coincided with the the sneaky phase and the embarrassing phase.  You see, at the height of my healthy eating craze I was not only willing to embarrass and deceive my children, but I was willing to way overspend on groceries.  I would drive 60 miles to the nearest natural foods supermarket, not only for organic produce, but also for other absolute essentials like organic graham crackers, chips, cereals, cookies, and refried beans.  I bought bread and freshly milled flour from a bakery and spent $8 gallon for organic milk at Wal Mart.  Now, I do think some foods are worth paying more for, but I was out of control.  Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to figure out that feeding four growing children required a bit more practical grocery budgeting.


Let me just apologize right off  for using such a crude expression.  I never say that F word word, and I don’t allow my children to say it.  But it’s an expression a good friend of mine used to describe our obsession with health food.  She pointed out that even if we bought organic milk and refused them boxed mac and cheese at home, that our children were still getting a fairly steady diet of junk food.  And she was right.  To this day we can’t leave the house without someone offering my kids a cookie, some candy, or a soft drink – the bank, the library, friends’ houses, school.  Junk food is everywhere.  Suddenly, in that off-color phrase, I felt like I was freed from the pressure to feed them natural foods.  After all, I was spending a lot of time and money and ultimately, it probably didn’t really matter anyway.  I reasoned that my real fruit gummy bears were probably being cancelled out by the suckers they were getting after library story time.  (I  know that logic is somewhat flawed, but I think at this point I was just desperate for an excuse to eat some Cheetos).   After that, I still tried to avoid some heavily processed foods, but I cut way back on expensive healthy snacks and cereals.  I figured, why bother?  If they were getting cookies at school and candy at the bank, surely a little regular cereal and a few Pop Tarts wouldn’t kill them.

My youngest literally shoveling cake into his mouth.
My youngest literally shoveling cake into his mouth.


One summer I discovered comp ads.  This was my all-time low.  Are you familiar with the concept?  You find an ad at any grocery store within a sixty mile radius, and certain local grocery stores will honor it.  In other words, if a Price Cutter two towns over has a special on grated cheese, I can buy it at my grocery store for the same price. The first time I saved 1.28 on coffee, I was hooked. Hooked bad.  I was willing to compromise nutrition for the sake of the deal.  It’s just too embarrassing to admit to all the things I “saved” on, but I can tell you that that summer, my kids ate a lot of  39 cent frozen pizzas.  Thirty-nine cents!!! Honestly, I still get a little giddy thinking about it.

THE SMALL CHANGES (otherwise known as the finally sane) PHASE

This is where I am now and where I hope to stay.  I realize in a world of fake food and harsh chemicals, every little bit that I can avoid helps.  I admire (and resent) those people on Facebook and Pinterest who are whole foods purists, but that is simply not realistic for me right now.  So, instead I’ve adopted a set of standards I can live with and hope to add more as time goes on.

1. When it comes to buying organic, I try to stick to the dirty dozen.

2. I’m taking baby steps toward more natural living.  I don’t follow all of these, but I am trying to use natural sunscreen,  glass water bottles (sometimes),and buy or make more of my own cleaners.

3. I’m trying to make one new healthy recipe a week.  Whether it’s a dessert or a main dish, I try to draw from my vast store of healthy recipes on Pinterest and actually make some of them.  I’ve had varying degrees of success.  For example, my chickpea chocolate chip cookies got mixed reviews.  But at least I’m trying.  And I’m going to continue to post healthy recipes with a minimal amount of apologizing.

4. I do what I can.  I buy the best bread I can get my hands on – from a natural bakery when possible.  I buy good oils.  I spend a little extra for preservative free lunch meat. I try not to buy a lot of convenience foods. (But if you looked through my kitchen right now, you’d fine Ritz Crackers, Cheez-its, and frozen waffles.). This means I have to hear a lot of complaining from the kiddos about how we have “nothing to eat”, but I just tell them to spread some peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread or have a chickpea cookie.

5.  I compromise.  The reality is that at this point, no one in my family (including me) is willing to give up all of our favorite junk foods.  We all have our guilty pleasures.  Mine vary.  Currently, I’m rather enthralled with the Sonic peanut butter bacon milkshake.  I’ve only tried it once, but summer is not over.

The point is this ladies, most of us want to do what is best for our families. If we spend anytime at all on the Internet we will “meet” women who make the Proverbs 31 woman look like a big ol’ slacker.  But raising children and providing for our families is not a contest.  It’s not a contest.  It’s not a contest.  I don’t have to be The Organic Momma to be a good momma.  (By the way, talk to me when you are feeding a houseful of hungry teenagers, Lady).  I just have to do what I can.  And right now, the kids are asleep and I’m all alone it the house, so I can have a chickpea cookie and a Coke.  Cheers!

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16 thoughts on “Confessions of a (sometimes) Granola Mamma

  1. I think we are all like this. There is a a line we are all willing to cross and not cross. Our healthy eating/real food journey started when my first child was born, but was set of fast forward when my second child was diagnosed with Celiac disease..followed by my first child being diagnosed as well. No longer could I buy the organic graham crackers, or the organic oreos..which I did! But I had to learn to how to really cook and stay within our budget…this was a year of lots of crying and eating gluten free waffles for dinner because my experiments failed. It’s not so bad now, I know how to make a gluten free picnic lunch in a jiffy all with real foods. Yet when I am writing an article on how GMO’s are going to sterilize our children and see an ad for McDonalds I send the husband off to pick us up some GMO laden burgers to indulge in…only to wonder afterward why I ever wanted such a thing as eating them makes me feel less than great! While we still pay $13 a gallon for raw milk. It’s a slow process, but slowly we are heading toward the goal. Hang in there dear mama.

    1. It is definitely a slow process. I think the people who are most successful are the extremists who start when their kids are little and never let them have junk food. But eventually they go to school or to a birthday party, and they discover the wonders of a blue frosted cupcake. Maybe the key is moderation with the hope of progress toward the whole foods goal! By the way, I might pick your brain about going gluten free at some point. As far as I know, none of us have a wheat allergy, but I am interested in the benefits of a gluten-free diet for the average person.

      1. This is probably why I am so successful. Our older two kids were diagnosed with Celiac at ages 18 months and 3 years old. Our WHOLE house was GF for about a year because I was terrified of cross contamination and I didn’t trust labels either as the term Gluten Free has yet to be defined. And so I made almost every single thing myself. (watching your baby go to the hospital on a weekly basis will do that to ya)
        So you could say I was a little extreme and since we homeschool the whole school thing isn’t a problem for us and since they have to eat GF we bring GF cupcakes (grain-free, honey sweetened frosting made with pastured butter..LOL) and whatever else we need for them. Most of our friends are on the real food band wagon so that is a plus too. I really don’t have a problem with the kids, my main problem is ME. You may find me hiding in the laundry room eating a snickers or twinkie. And me and the husband will sit down after the kids go to bed and down a whole pint of ben and jerry’s. Ahhhh… day we’ll get there. I would love to answer your questions about going GF. We’ve been doing it for 4 years now.

      2. So, obviously you are GF because your kids have to be. But do you think you and your husband feel better being GF too? in other words, are there any benefits of being GF even if you don’t have celiacs or a wheat allergy?

      3. The only ones that are truly GF are the two celiacs. The rest of us do eat gluten every now and then. Mainly bread. All of our meals are gluten free because I will not make two separate meals. But say if we are eating hamburgers or breakfast burritos, the GF kids will have organic corn tortillas or GF buns. Everyone else will have a flour tortilla or wheat buns. At first we all went GF because of the cross contamination and the fact that my son was so ill. I felt somewhat better. No brain fog, my acid reflux disappeared. But I have IBS and being GF was not so good for that. It seemed to get worse as GF diets can really like fiber as GF grains are not as fibrous as wheat. After a six months or so we brought wheat bread back into the house and slowly brought back in other glutened items But they are all separate and must be prepared on a separate counter away from everything else so no cross contamination happens. So no shared toasters, peanut butter, jelly, butter, mayo, etc.

      4. Thanks for the info. I probably should concentrate on natural, minimally processed foods. I’ve just hear a lot of people say that they didn’t know how bad they felt until they got off gluten. It might be worth trying it out for a couple of weeks.

  2. That is hilarious but real! I admire your spunk & at least you are trying. I try once in awhile too.ha! You need to talk to my daughter, Tina. She is really getting into the healthy choices & is milking her cow & making all sorts of cheeses & kefir and all those good things. She makes a kombucha that is very healthy & she says it gives she & her husband that second wind in the afternoon slumps. Anyway, keep up the good work & keep writing your funny blogs

  3. Glad you don’t object to Pop-Tarts since I feed them to your kids everytime they spend the night here! I think you may still be in the “Fart in a Whirlwind” stage! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Bbrittany. As I read this I’m drinking my coffee sweetened with honey from our very own bees! It’s another small victory for healthy living. But I’m sure there will always be those marshmallow fluff/ Cheetos/ Coke temptations!

    1. I guess it’s better than giving up. I shopped super healthy this week – all organic veggies and foods free from preservatives and artificial flavors. Then I went back three days later and bought frozen waffles!

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