When my youngest daughter was quite little, she’d tiptoe into my room in the morning and tap me on the arm while I was sleeping. “Mommy,” she’d whisper, “I’m really, really hungry.”
Such was her almost-daily ritual until I started leaving ingredients on the kitchen counter that she could easily prepare into a simple breakfast. (This was around the time my eldest daughter first fancied herself a baker and “banana cake” was born: whole-wheat bread broken into bite-sized pieces, topped with mashed banana, and served to her really hungry little sister.)
Since those sweet years, I’ve developed a theory of hunger: I believe we eat not just for calories but also for nutrition. Accordingly, I theorize that even if we take in an excessive amount of calories, we can still be hungry if those calories have largely been “empty”—in other words, if they under-delivered for our nutritional needs.
On the contrary, I consider the poetic side of the term “whole foods”: These foods are whole down to their very heart, and they make us feel whole (and less hungry).
One of the trickier whole foods out there is “whole wheat bread,” which is not really made with the entire grain of the wheat berry. The germ has been removed. And that’s the part with some of the best nutrition. (Thus, when I am able to make time, I always grind my own flour to bake bread, so we can have a true 100% whole wheat loaf.)
Now, it has been famously difficult for me to get my youngest daughter to eat whole foods. She doesn’t like brown rice. Nor oats. She still peels her apples and pears and cucumbers. So I’ve had to be very creative with our meals, which led me to all kinds of secret layer tricks like:
• adding 1 cup of oatmeal or bran to muffins in place of 1 cup of flour
• using vegetable stock instead of water in rice and anything else that calls for liquids, from muffins to soups. I also like to add carrot juice as part of the mix when I remember.
• fresh-grinding some flax seed, and adding it to muffins (thus, I also reduce the amount of omega 6 oils that the recipe calls for—at the most, I put in 1/8 to 1/4 cup of oil in any given muffin recipe)
• mashing banana or grinding apple or other peels and adding them to breads and muffins
Happily, during this 30 Day Writing Challenge, we did discover that all of us like whole barley and whole millet. These were big surprises! No secret layers required.
What “whole foods” did you eat in the last week? What “half (or less) foods” did you eat? Do you remember how much you ended up eating, and how you felt after eating them? Write a poem to a whole or a half food, or from a whole or a half food. If you write to or from a whole food, try writing a prose poem. If you write to or from a half food, put only one word per line.
I didn’t mind how you put me into the pot with a touch of sucanat put me with vanilla and oh a touch of salt and a knife’s worth of coconut oil raw and virgin still it was the chocolate I loved most cozied up with the carob that and the coconut flakes you sprinkled on top of me and the tiniest of colorful sugar sprinkles you never use but in April, on Easter, you layered me with a scattering from your hand so barely sweet so barely, deliciously, sweet