My kids are deprived. Or so they would have you think. My oldest daughter, Torri (18), came home the other day with a story about how the morning after spending the night with a friend, the friend apologized profusely that all they had in the cupboards for breakfast was cold cereal. To hear Torri tell it, her reaction was nothing short of crazed. She loves cereal, you see. Loves it with a vengeance even. And ever since we started making our own granola and stopped buying the sugary store versions a little over three years ago, cold breakfast cereals are something we resign ourselves to only when we’re staying in a hotel and a quick and convenient breakfast is key.
The cereal isn’t the only convenience food banned from our pantry. We don’t stock store-bought bread or cookies either. We’ve also taken a stand against canned foods and anything that lists high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. In fact, we purchase and consume very few processed food items. That philosophy—unfortunately for my kids—carries over to fast food as well. I cannot tell you the last time I visited the drive-thru of one of those establishments, much less stepped foot in one.
I feel as though I need to offer the disclaimer that while we consume very few processed foods, our diets are far from perfect. We still eat our fair share of chocolate chip cookies—no doubt—but only the homemade versions, and no, slice and bake doesn’t count. It’s not that I’m anti-sugar; I’m just anti-ingredients-that-I-can’t-pronounce.
Back to my kids, though.
You know how the stereotypical college kids come home on break, begging for a home-cooked meal? Yeah, I can’t help but wonder if my kids will blast that stereotype right out the window. They literally beg for honey nut cheerios. Oh, and Lucky Charms? Fuhgettaboutit. This in spite of the fact that I rise before the sun each and every morning to fry eggs and toast homemade whole-wheat English muffins. They salivate at the mere mention of McDonalds. Never mind the wholesome chicken noodle soup I offer them at home, simmered slowly throughout the day in flavorful homemade chicken stock. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with their poor misguided taste buds?
I try not to take it too personally, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having an ego ever so slightly bruised by their preference for flavorfully-devoid foods over the handcrafted meals I strive to serve each night. During my fifteen-year-old daughter’s birthday slumber party a couple of weeks ago, I overheard a conversation that boosted my confidence. The seven guests were crowded around our dining room table, savoring every last bite of the cake-batter pancakes they were served for breakfast. “This is what they serve in heaven,” one maybe mildly melodramatic fifteen-year-old guest said. And then—one by one—the other six guests chimed in with accounts of what each had been served during prior sleepovers at our house.
“Her mom made the. best. spinach artichoke grilled cheese sandwiches when I was here.”
And then, “oh, one time when I was here, they had these bean and potato tacos? I haven’t stopped thinking about them since.”
It went on and on as I eavesdropped busied myself around the corner.
We may not have one of those houses were all the teens want to hang out because they know they can get away with things that they can’t at home. But we do have one of those houses where all the teens want to hang out because they know they’ll get food like that served “in heaven”. My kids, apparently, just don’t know how good they have it. And I—of course—am surely the only mother of teens who feels that way.
(Editor's Note: Darcie Maranich can be contacted by email at Darcie Maranich .)