Choose You Blog

Going Granola – Literally

January 26th, 2012 by - comments (3)
By: Shannon Overton, Manager, Organizational Communications


Until recently I was a self-proclaimed, processed-food, refined-sugar, refined-flour, diet-soda junkie!  I always thought I ate relatively healthy – rarely getting fast food and always opting for low fat snacks – but my pantry was full of processed cereals, crackers, and nutrition bars, and my fridge was full of diet soda. I always had to have my daily sugar “fix”, whether a piece of candy or a cookie.  I began reading about the health benefits of eating unprocessed foods at a point in my life when I often felt tired, and I seemed to catch every virus that crossed my path. I made the decision to choose myself by eliminating processed foods from my diet. When I say processed foods, I mean pretty much anything that comes out of a box, package, or can – including my beloved diet soda.

What did I feed myself and my family? As challenging as it sounds, I started making all of our meals from scratch. My motto became, “If I want it, I have to make it.” I was already cooking dinner most nights of the week and having leftovers the next day for lunch, but breakfast and snacks were the biggest challenges.

With the help of a few online food bloggers, including Deliciously Organic and 100 Days of Real Food, I learned how to cook using unprocessed organic ingredients.

  • Instead of tortillas out of a package, I started making my own tortillas with whole wheat flour – they’re not as pretty and round as the store-bought kind, but they sure taste good!
  • I stopped buying quick-cooking rice. I never thought about it before, but rice does not come out of the field ready to cook in 5 minutes; it is processed so that consumers can cook it in 5 minutes.
  • Fruits and vegetables also became a “convenient” snack because I no longer had the option of pulling crackers out of a box.

Believe me when I say this process was not easy for me or my family. My husband almost cracked a tooth on my first batch of homemade granola cereal, I had some serious diet soda withdrawals, and my four-year old threatened to go live with a family who had pretzels.

Fortunately, we made it past those initial hurdles, and the health benefits are paying off in a big way! I have not been sick, I have so much more energy and I no longer crave the sugary snacks I used to love. In fact, when I recently decided to give myself a break and indulge in some candy it backfired, and I felt dreadful for hours afterwards. I never thought I would ever be able to say that candy made me feel sick!

By choosing to put myself first and eat healthfully, I ultimately chose to put my family’s health first — and that’s the biggest pay-off of all!


3 Responses to “Going Granola – Literally”

  1. Jami says:

    Very well written Shannon. Lots of good information, I actually just heard about the 100 day challenge. I think I need to go check our pantry!

  2. Jane says:

    This is a great read. I hope to start some of the same with my family, sans the tooth-breaking granola part. ;) Actually, do you have a link to a nut-free granola? Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) are okay, but our little Ally has a nut allergy so have to avoid the almonds/cashews that are often in granolas.
    Another ? – what about breads & pasta? Are you making all of those too, or do you buy organic & call it a day?
    Thanks for the inspiration, and congrats on choosing you in such a productive way! :)

  3. Shannon says:

    Hi Jane,

    Thanks for your questions. Regarding the nut-free granola, you can really use any granola recipe and just leave out the nuts. It will end up just as tasty without the nuts, but you can consider including pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for added nutrition.

    Regarding your question about making my own bread and pasta. I now make my own bread. I went through a lot of recipes, and a lot of mishaps, before finally finding a recipe for whole-wheat bread ( that turned out well for me. If you don’t have time or would prefer to not make your own bread, a local bakery is always a good option. Just be sure to check out the ingredients of the bread. My rule of thumb is if it contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items, I don’t buy it. I also make sure the first ingredient is 100% whole wheat. Any ingredient with the word “refined” in front of it basically means it’s been processed, which in turn means it’s been stripped of some of its natural nutrients.

    I would love to make my own pasta, but I haven’t yet invested in a pasta maker, so I buy organic whole-wheat pasta from the store, but I don’t do this very often. One thing I would caution you on – just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it hasn’t’ been processed. Believe it or not, even some organic foods are processed. Pay attention to the ingredients on the package. I do buy pasta more often in the spring, summer, and fall, because during those times our city has a big farmer’s market every Saturday. There’s a lady there who has freshly made organic pasta. I buy from her when I can. It’s really hard to buy the boxed stuff once you’ve had fresh pasta!

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