I was blessed as a child to have a mother who cared about what I ate. Most of the time I thought we were eating that particular food because we were flat broke. While some of the time that was probably true, the rest of the time it’s because it was “healthier.”

For instance, I always thought we didn’t have butter in a tub, the kind that doesn’t tear up every square inch of your toast, because it was “too expensive.” Nope. Turns out it’s because stick butter was better for you. At least it was “back then.”

kraft-macaroni-and-cheese I still vividly remember the first time I saw Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the supermarket aisle as a young adult, living on my own. “Now’s my chance,” I thought, “to feast on the super pricey Mac & Cheese instead of that other cheese & noodle dish mom used to call Mac & Cheese.”

MUCH to my surprise, I couldn’t believe the real-deal stuff, the dish that my friend Michelle’s mom served up whenever I came over to visit and made me feel extra special because they obviously had WAY more money than we did if she was willing to serve someone like me Kraft Macaroni & Cheese…but I digress. I couldn’t believe it was less than $1.00 a box! What?!? Next conversation to mother was most definitely about the Mac & Cheese reality crisis I was experiencing.

“I don’t know why…probably because it wasn’t healthy!” was mom’s response.

Needless to say, at 19 years of age, “healthy eating” wasn’t my top priority. Hence, the Kraft Mac & Cheese landed in the shopping cart many a time.

Fast forward 20 years.

Now I have 2 young ‘uns of my own. While I never even came close to trashing my health by ingesting a ridiculous amount of soda, fast-food, or processed foods in general, I have definitely curbed my diet since getting married nearly 6 years ago.

There was something about marriage that made me go “hmmm” when it came to grocery shopping. I finally felt like I had a reason to experiment with cooking. Hubbs and I were both working full-time, making a very decent wage and had very few expenses. *sigh*

Ahem – anyways, there was really nothing to stop me from trying my hand at nearly any dish I wanted to try. Well, there was and still is one thing. Cheese.

But that’s for another post.

So, cook away I did. And thankfully, by the time the kiddies rolled into our lives, my cooking skills had bloomed. As the years go by with my boys, I’m finding the desire to simplify and get “back to basics” even more essential – for them and for Hubbs and I. We’re NOT getting any younger and we definitely need as much energy as we can muster to keep up with these boys of ours.

Near the end of my pregnancy with L, it became important for me to eat healthier than I ever had before because I had gestational diabetes. I was given a list of items I could eat. And believe you me, I nearly wept when I saw how ridiculously SHORT that list was!!

For the last 10 or so weeks of my pregnancy I ate nothing but whole wheat toast with a fried egg on top for breakfast. Nothing else. I was a cereal lover to the core of my being. How could anything be called breakfast if it didn’t include a bowl and a large spoon??

Know what happens when you eat toast and egg for every single breakfast for 10 weeks? All of a sudden cereal doesn’t cut it anymore.

And honestly, I’m not as sad about it as I used to be.

That’s part of what I eat today, nearly 16 months after giving birth to L. A few things have changed, though.

2004_CaliforniaStyleBread_l I don’t just eat any brand of whole wheat bread. I’ve made the switch to bread made by Alvarado Street Bakery. Costco sells 2 types of their breads in a twin-pack for a bit cheaper than you can pick up at the grocery store, you know, if you’re wanting to try it out for yourself!

So I switch between their California Style Complete Protein bread and their Sprouted Whole Wheat bread.

And instead of just any ‘ol stuff that comes in a tub that says “butter”, I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread.

For awhile I felt like I was just chasing old age when I started to shy away from processed foods and the items I would just grab out of habit on the grocery shelf. Now I feel like I’m running from a “just alright” eating lifestyle to a, well, “healthy-er” lifestyle.

“Breakfast, Part II” will reveal the other half of my morning ritual.

Can you stand the anticipation?