Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unprocessed parenting

This has been a challenging winter for us...multiple illnesses, a broken kneecap, eye surgery, and a winter that won't end (Hello, spring? Where are you?!). While I still spend a lot of time in the kitchen, make most of our dinners, and continue to make our breads and treats, we've also been cheating more: going out to eat, ordering in pizza, scrounging (crackers & cheese, frozen pizza, oatmeal), and (I'm embarrassed to admit) that blue box of wrongly-colored mac-n-cheese actually graced our table for the first time ever. Okay, that last one wasn't actually a cheat; hubby was just desperately craving the blue box and frozen chicken nuggets.

It's time to refocus. I've always been interested in the Unprocessed October idea...but October is always a crazy month for us so I've never tried it. I brought up the idea to my hubby, knowing that it would be hard to do it without him being on board. Luckily he, too, feels the need to refocus our eating and exercise habits. We decided to start with a two week unprocessed trial once spring arrives. (I'll be honest, I'm too bummed by this never-ending winter to start now...the weather just makes me want to cuddle up with comfort food and cookies. Plus this gives me time to do some research and planning.)

Tonight as we sat down to dinner, hubby and I started talking about what we'd be able to eat from our dinner if we were doing the unprocessed thing. Our ever-curious kids asked what we were talking about.

I started with the idea that companies take whole foods and add stuff to them (chemicals and things) to make them taste better or to make them last longer. And the more things they put in and the farther the food gets from its original state, the less healthy it is for our bodies. I explained that Mommy and Daddy were planning to try eating unprocessed foods for a while, avoiding foods with all the added stuff. We looked at our table: could we still eat the ciabatta? Yes, Mommy made it. The little guy asked about the flour I used; "but you bought that at the store." That's true; so I took out the bag and we looked at the ingredient list: just wheat. So although we buy it at the store, the wheat isn't really processed, just ground. How about the chicken soup? Could we still eat that? Yep, Mommy made that, too. The fruit? Yep, it's a whole food. The kids asked, "How about our yogurts?" I explained that no, their yogurts weren't unprocessed, but we also weren't going to make them eat unprocessed with us, unless they wanted to. The little guy (he's 6 now) asked why their yogurt wasn't okay. I asked him to read me the list of ingredients: he started with milk, sugar, vanilla...sounds okay so far. Then he got to a bunch of strange, unpronounceable words; yes, those are the ones to be wary of.

We are not planning to force the kids to give up their yogurt or cereal during our unprocessed trial, but I'm glad to start these conversations with them and help them start to think about the foods they put into their bodies.

I'm curious and hopeful about trying the unprocessed thing. I'll keep you updated!


  1. I love this idea. I'd like to do something similar, I just need to figure out how to manage my schedule & plan better so I have the time. A couple years ago, I baked almost all of our bread and tried a lot of other new things, but I've also been taking a lot of shortcuts lately. Do you have a copy of the ATK DIY Cookbook? I got it for Christmas, but haven't made time to try any of the recipes. I thought I remembered you getting a copy, too, but I'm not sure. Maybe we can buddy up to make some of the things, like snacks. I'm not sure I'm up for the charcuterie, though. =)

  2. You can do a lot by just being aware and factoring it all in that way, cheating a little on the side with certain items (I have a once a year affair with that blue box from my childhood as well...I am sure there is a not-so-secret society of members all over the world...lol)? This is a big reason why I like Donna Hay recipes, she is fairly faithful to the non-processed world and I find that I cook from her books more and more because of that. She still uses pasta and puffed pastry but by and large, most of her things are workable in a non-processed food diet. I am eager to read all your discoveries along the way so keep us posted (pun intended).

  3. Golly, Abby. I had no idea so much had happened this year for you. This year will be better. Hang in!

  4. Am taking some time to catch up on some favorite blogs and am just reading this now... You can definitely do this! You're already a fantastic cook. I'm looking forward to reading about your experience.