Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Unprocessed: Setting goals

As I said the other day, to truly go unprocessed, you need to cut out more than we bargained for. Most meats and dairy foods have some sort of stabilizer or preservative or something added. You can't use any sugar (brown or white) in baking. Technically no vital wheat gluten in bread-making. No corn starch to help thicken ice cream or stews. No wines to flavor cooking.

After discussion, hubby and I agreed that this wasn't really what we had in mind when we decided to attempt this challenge. And, even if it was, there is no way I can devote that much time to this project in the middle of the school year. Our primary goals are to reset: to eat more healthfully, be more conscious of what we put in our bodies, read ingredient labels, cut out our demon-foods, fix our snack habits, and try to cut out as many chemicals as possible. Here is the list of goals we came up with, in order of importance:

  1. Completely eliminate our demon foods: candy for me, pop and chips for hubby.

  2. Cut down or eliminate snacking and desserts (especially the unhealthy ones).

  3. Bake all of our bread products (buns, loaves, crackers, pizza crusts, etc.).

  4. Switch back to lean meats; attempt to buy some from the farmer's market. (Although, I know we'll probably still use mostly grocery store meats, even with their added ingredients.)

  5. Focus more on fruits and veggies; more salads.

  6. Make all cookies, crackers, etc, from scratch with real ingredients.

  7. Use more whole grains (sub brown rice for white; whole wheat flour for white flour).

  8. Grate cheeses ourselves to avoid stablizers added to shredded cheeses.

  9. Cut back on eating out (not that we do that much anyway); be more conscious and careful when we eat out.

  10. Cut back on our reliance on meat; one vegetarian dinner per week?

Some other thoughts, ideas, and plans:

  1. We'd initially talked about doing only two weeks, but after reflecting, we realized that it needs to be longer to actually have a chance of changing our patterns. So we're going to do a month.

  2. We wanted to wait until after the Easter candy was out of the house, and I know you're not supposed to start changing things on a Monday, so we agreed to start on April 7.

  3. I am willing to cut back, but not totally eliminate sugars.

  4. I am going to attempt to make all of our sauces: ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, mayo, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't have time. If we have to purchase, I will read the labels carefully and select the most unprocessed I can find.

  5. I will attempt to make all pasta from scratch, but if necessary, will buy the most unprocessed I can.

  6. I did not realize the extent of added ingredients to our canned beans and tomatoes; I will try to start using more dried beans and frozen veggies.

  7. I would love to go back to making my own yogurt, but I'm not sure I'll have the time. If I don't, my usual plain yogurt already fits the kitchen test.

  8. For the most part, our cheeses, butters, milk, cream, peanut butter, maple syrup, and honey already pass the kitchen test.

  9. We will continue to use/cook with vital wheat gluten, wine, table salt, olive oil, safflower oil, corn starch, and some seasonings (sriacha, soy sauce, etc.).

So...let's see what happens!


  1. I love this idea. I'd like to try it for us, too, but starting will have to wait a bit. I'm in the middle of another 30-day project (I've started doing yoga) and know that I can't manage too many changes at once. That being said, let me know when you plan to make some of the stuff, because I'd love to do some Twitter cooking & baking with you! I'm even off the next few Saturdays, which will help. I just need to plan what to do when, because without a plan, I won't get much done. =)

  2. You know...just making changes is a huge commitment and being good to yourself by doing it in stages is a good idea. I think I could live with some of these changes, so I might investigate this all a bit more than I thought at first. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Wow. This list is perfect--and realistic. They're all wonderful changes. It's disheartening to hear how many additives there are in foods you'd never suspect of being anything other than pure. I'm very excited for you and this project!

  4. I am really looking forward to following your journey. Won't be easy, I know. I don't buy too many processed foods. Make bread, pastas, no mixes, no blue boxes, can maters all summer. But I do buy mayo, catsup, BBQ sauce etc.

    Hope it all goes well for y'all.