The more I learn about processed foods the less I want to buy and consume them. I thought I was doing good by avoiding those fast food establishments, but then I took a good look at what I was eating at home and it wasn't much better. It wasn't that I didn't know better -I just didn't think about it. I was just so busy and tired and they were so convenient.
Not all processed foods are "bad" for you though some extremists will argue that point. Take frozen fruits and vegetables - they maintain a lot of their nutrients and have no additives. At the other end of the scale we have the pizza-type pocket's, which are more or less a processed food product that is made with processed food products. How much of it is real food? Do we even know what we're eating anymore?
I strongly believe it's processed food that's making us unhealthy and overweight, and with little energy. High in unhealthy fats, salt and sugars, there is really little nutrition - just empty calories. If we are what we eat, we need to make sure we're eating whole natural foods and not processed unnatural ones. Even some so called healthy foods like yogurt can be high in sugar - always check your labels. (IMO yogurt should contain two ingredients: milk and live bacterial cultures). When you do have to use processed foods look for brands with the fewest ingredients and ingredients that you can easily pronounce!
There are so many processed dinner products out there that one doesn't have to do any real cooking any more - just pop everything in the oven or microwave from the freezer. It worries me that the art of actual cooking is becoming lost to future generations and I hope that's not the case.
Every couple weeks I make myself some fresh granola - I like to eat it as a topping on yogurt and fruit, or as a little power snack when I want something sweet and crunchy. Dried fruit may be added after cooling. Remember that granola is calorie-dense so keep portions small!
Preheat oven to 275 and spray large roasting pan or 2 - 13 x 10 metal pans with cooking spray.
In large bowl mix together:
4 cups large flake or old fashioned rolled oats ( I like to use 3 c. oats and 1 c. rolled spelt flakes)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
In small saucepan bring to a simmer:
1/2 cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (may use canola oil)
2 tablespoons water
Pour the syrup/oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir to coat well. Pour into prepared pan(s) and with clean hands squeeze to form some clumps. Bake in center of oven for 30 minutes; stir and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.