I think you all know about my love for oatmeal. On days when I couldn’t make it, or didn’t want to make it at home, I would treat myself to oatmeal from my favorite local deli “Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company.” Contrary to its name, it’s neither in Brooklyn (this particular location is in Queens) and I rarely go there for the bagels (although I can’t say I’m not tempted when their flavor of the week is Nutella or Red Velvet cream cheese). Instead, I go for the oatmeal. It’s the most delicious oatmeal in the world. It’s hearty, steel cut, organic oatmeal that’s made with water. I love the texture, the taste, and I love adding berries to it. Drool. I love it a little too much, which is why I had red flags going off in my head.
I know what organic oatmeal made with water tastes like. And this kind from BBaCC tastes nothing like what I make at home. So I began to question.
On my first investigative trip, I asked what kind of oatmeal they use and how they make it.
“Steel-cut organic oats with water. It’s on the sign.”
“What’s the brand?”
“I don’t know. Just regular oatmeal.”
I went back a week later and asked the same questions.
“They’re organic oats made with water.”
“Really? You don’t put anything else in it? I just want to know how you make it so much better than I do at home. It’s just oats and water? Nothing else? No cinnamon? No nutmeg?”
“Yes. It’s just organic steel-cut oatmeal. Made with water…………………and a little bit of…….butter.”
That day, I gave my large cup of oatmeal with blueberries and strawberries to the homeless man on the subway and have never walked into Brooklyn Bagel & Co again.
I don’t think butter is the enemy. I love butter and I don’t think it’ll kill me if I have it within moderation. The reason I was so upset was because I was lied to and sold something that was not true. What if I had been vegan? Or lactose intolerant? I once ordered a blueberry milkshake and my boyfriend and the waitress thought I was crazy because I said it didn’t taste like a blueberry shake. I was right. She came back and told me the kitchen had made it with blackberries because the blueberry extract tasted awful and they’d been doing this all season. (Since then, this restaurant has removed this item from their menu).
I don’t mention this to you to tell you how great my palate is. Because it’s not. But never hesitate to ask questions about your food. Not only did you pay for it with your hard-earned money, but it’s something that’s going IN your body. If both of these restaurants had easily hidden these small additions or switches, what else have they hidden from us?
We Americans trust our food handlers way too much when in fact, we should be most suspicious of them. Remember the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me?” Well actually in this case, when you assume you just make an ass out of yourself 🙂 If you’re at a restaurant, don’t hesitate to ask if the chicken is grilled or fried. No one is judging you for asking as long as you ask politely. And if they do, so what? They don’t have the same goals as you do.
Here’s a challenge for you this week: think of one item you eat/drink all the time that you think is healthy or not-so-bad-for-you. Ask the preparer how they make it. Is it with canned tomatoes? How many shots of pumpkin spice do you actually put into the pumpkin spice latte? Do you grill the chicken with olive oil, butter, lard, what? Is that actually fruit or fruit compote? Is that 100% whole wheat? How many sticks of butter do you use? Prepare yourselves for some shockers. You may not like the answers. Even if the answer isn’t what you expected to hear, at least you know and will make better decisions in the future. Please report back and email me at leangirlsclub (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d love to hear/feature your story!