Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Unprocessed October: Challenge accepted!

Well, I’ve decided to bite the bullet: I signed up to participate in the real October Unprocessed challenge, even though it’s such a hectic time of year for us (debate practice on Mondays and Thursdays, debate tournaments most weekends, soccer on Monday, dance on Tuesdays, meetings before and after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I’m still in physical therapy once a week for my never-ending knee injury).

Looking back on our first attempt at an unprocessed month in April, it was fun to see how many things have just become a way of life for us; but there are definitely things we need to work on or go back to.

New ways of life since April:

1. Fresh noodles have become a way of life for us; we haven’t used store-bought spaghetti or fettucini in months.

2. I’ve been cooking batches of dried beans and keeping them in mason jars in the basement freezer, so we also haven’t used canned beans in months. Of course, we don’t use that many beans in the summer months, so this will be more challenging as we move into soup and chili season.

3. Desserts: Hubby and I used to have dessert every night after the kids went to bed. During our unprocessed April, we drifted out of the habit, and we’ve actually never returned. We’ll occasionally have a small dish of ice cream or a cookie, but it is not frequent. And the kids used to have popsicles every night after dinner, but now it’s pretty rare.

4. We have used the farmers market more than ever, and I’ve continued to look for organic fruits and veggies, and grass-fed / cage free / organic meats.

Unprocessed October goals:

1. Return to 100% whole wheat: We’re still using mostly whole wheat (100% in our noodles and most breads), but I’ve gone back to using some white flour (although I usually sub in ½ white whole wheat) in dessert recipes.

2. Demon foods: Recommit to skipping our demon foods: candy and chips for me, pop and chips for hubby, and hubby also wants to change the sides he orders at restaurants, if we do go out (choosing salads rather than fries or tots).

3. Snacks: I need to go back to making snacks, crackers, etc. I haven’t done much of that since we stopped the last challenge.

4. Eating out: We need to cut back on eating out / getting take-out again. We don’t go out often, never more than twice a week and usually not more than once a week, but we have taken to relying on take-out on stressful Tuesdays when I’m with the little girl at dance class until 7:00.

5. Canned foods: Be sure we’re avoiding canned veggies, beans, tomatoes, especially as we move into soup/chili season.

6. Cereal: One thing I realized last time was how bad cereals are; I would love to eliminate cereals from my kids’ diets. They are eating much less these days; it would be great to cut it out altogether.

7. Meat: Now that we’ve begun buying many more organic, grass-fed, cage-free, local, farmers market meats, I’m ready to commit to buying only these for the month. This will probably be our biggest change and challenge.

8. Lunches, my biggest challenge: I’m now making four lunches a day. Eek! I have to keep up with my freezer supplies, especially for emergency lunch situations.

9. Debate tournament dinners: Debate tournaments are notorious for dinners of bad pizza; I'm going to have to plan ahead to bring myself something unprocessed, in the midst of an already busy time.

Deliberate exceptions:

1. Last time, I did try making my own mayo and dressings. I wasn’t super excited by the results, so I’m going to continue to buy the most simple ketchup, mayo, mustard that I can find – making sure that ingredient lists are the same as when I make it myself.

2. I do use chocolate chips for special cookies or treats, but I recently found ones that fit the kitchen test. I would like to try making my own chocolate, just for fun, following this neat tutorial/recipe, via Eating Rules.

3. I'm not ready to completely eliminate white and brown sugars, but I'd like to get back to unprocessed sugars: maple syrup and honey, especially in our desserts.

So...let's see how it goes! Wish us luck! :)

1 comment:

  1. Good luck Abby! I know it can be hard with limited time, to accomplish all you want and make everyone happy w/ your choices of food/meals. I would love to eliminate all cereals here, but hubby refuses to give up his plain shredded wheat, which is fine because its not a terribly bad cereal. I just read Mel's Kitchen Cafe (blog) this morning and she shared that she cooks her steel cut oats in the evening, turns off the heat and leaves it there til morning. I didn't know you could do that. I'm going to try it, since I love steel cut oats. She has other good ideas for breakfast options in place of cereal.