Because I’m a Joyful Girl. Who likes granola.

I do it for the joy it brings,
Because I’m a joyful girl.
Because the world owes me nothing,
We owe each other the world.
–Ani Difranco


“But…you don’t look like…I mean…” This is usually followed by an awkward search for the most appropriate/least offensive adjective.  So far, I’ve heard granola, vegan, weird, crunchy.  What do any of these words really mean, and how did they become identity labels?  And what does granola look like?  (Healthy, at least).  After almost six years spent in women’s studies, I know a thing or two about identity labels.  And I am also very familiar with the way that I’m perceived.  It’s funny that every decision we make plays into an identity, or at least a perception of our identity.  But what do my clothes have to do with my food?  It is clear to me that, whether they realize it or not, people associate organic, plant-based, sustainable food with a clear political statement.  And they associate that statement with the aesthetic look commonly assigned to (and I use this term with extreme affection) hippies.  And for some reason, hippies are associated with…anger?  So I’m perceived as an angry hippie in disguise.  Interesting  juxtaposition, but I’ll take that.

I am often asked why I “suddenly have a problem with” grocery stores, packaged foods, mass-produced meat, and convenience foods (hell, I’ll even help it out and name the IMF and World Bank, if we’re talking about things I “have a problem with”).  I always have to carefully rephrase the question: this isn’t about picking a fight or demonstrating anger.  This isn’t about all of the things I won’t eat or can’t have.  And it’s not about telling the world what they shouldn’t eat or shouldn’t have.  It is and yet is not a political statement.  It’s about learning to love the things that I can have and should enjoy. Cabbage.  Eggplant.  Zucchini.  Apples.  Until recently, I have been so caught up in the manipulation of my body that I was willing to force-feed it chemicals with no nutritional value just to skirt a few calories.  It was  pretty hard to appreciate the sweetness of a carrot when I was dumping Splenda into my food by the cupful.

I love the lyrics by Ani Difranco that I posted above.  I owe myself the joy of health, the joy of an anxiety-free life, and the joy of affecting change in the way I see necessary.  I owe the world my contribution to sustainable agriculture and my ability to articulate my journey in a way that not everyone can.  So…not angry.  Joyful.

Whoaaaa–did I just get “all granola” on you?!  Oh well, it’s my blog and I’ll write
what I want.  🙂  (Speaking of granola, I put quinoa in my latest batch—added protein, extra crunch.  Awesome!).

So it’s been almost a month.  I keep searching my brain for something negative to report, but the truth is that I am really happy.  In fact, this may be the happiest month my family has seen in quite some time.  My anxiety is still down, tension in the house is down, and we are still functioning as a team.  In some ways, our house does revolve around food—but every household revolves around something, doesn’t it?  Kids’ soccer games, long hours at work…etc.  In my home we all have to take part in the one thing that we all do, and we do it together.  We have always eaten together at breakfast and dinner, but now that we are all shopping and cooking together, food has become a family activity.

From the very beginning, we decided to give up artificial sweeteners.  I quit Splenda.  Cold turkey.  Anyone who knows me well ought to be shocked by this news.  I have been fine without it, but I have had to rethink sugar.  In moderation, perhaps it’s not the evil monster that I have been trained to believe it is. So I have been baking and
sweetening most things with honey, but have begun to sneak some sugar in from time to time.  We started with brown cane sugar (turbinado), because we had been led to believe that it must be better for us.  But, just like all things “organic,” it’s worth it to take a look into the assumptions and slippages surrounding the trendy/healthy food  propaganda.  Yes, organic is good.  But how many definitions of “organic” are there? (Don’t get me started–that’s another blog post!)  And turbinado is less processed than white sugar, but are there any significant health benefits?  I took some time to look into the sugar, and as of now I can’t find any solid evidence that there is a significant nutritional difference.  Sugar is sugar.  Raw sugar contains traces of minerals that get processed out of white sugar, but the amounts are extremely small and insignificant.  I am open to any information to the contrary, but so far I can’t really find anything credible.

So tonight I’ll leave you with two recipes.  I’m a little behind on my blog, and in this past few days I have made so many wonderful meals, it’s hard to choose.  These are two of my recent favorites.  Message me for instructions if you have any questions.

Pizza Dough:
(seriously, the BEST pizza dough I have ever had.  Anywhere.  Hands down.)
Tip: Knead the ever-living hell out of it. And when you’re sure it’s dead, knead it some more.  Seems to help.  🙂

1.5 cups of water
3.5 cups of flour (I like whole wheat)
1tsp salt
3tbsp honey
one packet of yeast

Pumpkin Pancakes:

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1tbsp sugar
1 cup of milk
2 eggs, separated
2 tsp oil
½ cup pumpkin





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