Part of the reason for this is because I read in Readers Digest a few days ago that people who exercise regularly, eat a diet high in fiber and low in fat, are not overweight, and don't smoke are 75% less likely to endure cancer or heart disease than the national average.
(Or something like that.)
(Of course, my dad had to endure cancer, and he's pretty much the poster child for everything on the list except for the high-fiber low-fat thing. So, I guess there's no guarantee.)
(What do you say to that, Reader's Digest?)
Another part of the reason is because now that I'm not nursing her little highness any more, my days of "eat whatever I want with total impunity because my body burns calories like I'm that stringy-legged eleven-year-old that I used to be" are loooong gone.
(To put it another way, I've gained six pounds in the past month, and my jeans aren't as comfortable as I like them.)
And the last part of the reason is because I've determined that my love for sweets has gotten a little unbalanced lately, to the point of being more unhealthy that I am really willing to be.
I am a firm believer in the "step-down principle", and I'm applying it to this particular quest of mine.
If you're not familiar with the "step-down" principle, you can google "the step down principle", and the first four or five entries will describe this idea, generally as it relates to saving money. Briefly however, this is what it means for me:
- I love chocolate chip cookies (and brownies, as we've already discussed).
- Chocolate chip cookies are not the most healthy thing for me to eat.
- What is the most healthy thing for me to eat? I'm not sure, but let's say brussels sprouts accented with wheat germ for added flavor.
- Realistically, I know myself well enough to know that there is NO WAY that I'm going to replace my love for chocolate chip cookies with a love for wheat germed brussels sprouts.
- So, imagine a staircase. At the top is a nice warm plate of fat- and sugar- laden chocolate chip cookies. At the bottom is a nice warm plate of fiber-laden wheat germed brussels sprouts.
- Imagine Charlotte standing at this staircase, craving a snack.
- In between the bottom and top stairs are a few other steps. One has cookies that are made with applesauce instead of butter or shortening in them. (Did you know that you can do that? You can. It doesn't taste quite as good or have as great of a texture, but they're not bad.) Or, maybe they have wheat flour in them.
- Another step has vegetables that are seasoned with a moderate amount of butter and salt, rather than wheat germ.
- Another step has a nice loaf of warm whole-wheat bread, seasoned with a very thin covering of butter. This is the step that I'm aiming to get at.
- However, I'm not at that step yet. The fact is, I don't love whole-wheat bread, and I do like butter. More than just a very thin covering.
Before you all comment, let me say that I know that white bread is not high in fiber OR vitamins, and that it's not particularly good for me. However, I think we can all agree that a buttered slice of white bread is better for me than a chocolate chip cookie, especially when we factor in the little tidbit that I have enough self-control to eat only one slice of buttered homemade bread, but generally do not have the will-power to stop at only one cookie.
So, I'm stepping down from cookies to white bread.
It's a small step, but it's a step in the right direction, and for now, that's enough for me.
(I've also made it a point to have more fresh vegetables in our home, and to prepare them more frequently. And, I've upped my exercise efforts slightly.)
And there we are. The latest thrilling episode in my life.
As a reward to those of you who have persevered to read this entire post, I am posting my mother's bread recipe. It's a nice basic bread recipe, but because you only have to let the dough raise once, you can go from no bread in the house to a nice warm loaf of goodness and joy in just over an hour (as long as you use fast acting yeast, and either own a kitchen aid or have sufficient arm muscles to be a masterfully fast kneader).
Really, what could be better?
Simple Bread- Barbara Corry
(note from Charlotte--I've been halving this recipe lately, because I don't have the freezer space to store a loaf of bread, and by the time we're done with the first loaf, the second loaf is stale and not as tasty as I want it to be)
2 ½ cups warm water
2 tbs. dry yeast (I use fast-acting/bread machine yeast here)
½ cup dry milk
2 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. salt
1/3 cup oil or shortening
7-7 ½ cups white flour
Measure water into large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water. Add dry milk, sugar, salt, oil and 3 ¼ cups of the flour to make a thick batter. Blend well. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer.*** By hand, add rest of flour to form stiff dough. Toss dough on floured surface until no longer sticky. Knead ONLY 1-2 minutes!
***(I just dump everything into the Kitchen Aid in (almost) the order listed, and mix it all up for about 5 minutes. Oh, and if you wait to add the dry milk until you're adding the flour, it keeps the milk from clumping together. Always a nice benefit.)
Divide dough in half. Using rolling pin, shape dough into a 12x6” rectangle. Roll up tightly; seal edge and ends. Place in well-greased loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap (I use a clean dish towel) and let rise 1 hour (if you use fast acting yeast, you only need to do this for 30 minutes). Remove wrap and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Makes 2 large loaves.
Mmmm, mmmm, deeelicious!