Monday, March 17, 2014

Real food - a Lenten quest



Happy Monday all! Although not technically part of my Lenten resolutions, I've been thinking a lot lately about self discipline with regard to food. Listening to Fr. Roderick talk about his Lenten pledge to simplify his life in terms of physical and emotional clutter, as well as his eating habits, inspired me. I also recently read a book that I highly recommend, Real Food by Nina Planck. While I don't see us moving to raw milk (maybe ever) or grass fed beef (at least not exclusively) the ideas in the book really motivated me. I don't think the extent to which my family (and Americans generally) relies on processed food ever fully registered with me until I read this book. When I thought "processed foods," I thought about Kraft mac & cheese with the orange powder. I didn't realize that nearly everything we consume is from a box or package of some sort, rather than being a food in its natural form. This was very eye opening for me.

I mentioned sometime recently that I was trying to lose about 6 pounds of final baby/weaning weight (don't laugh, I know my daughter is nearly 3 years old :)), as well as improve my cholesterol. I'm at a healthy weight for my height, it's true, but genetics and, increasingly, age are working against me. I want to make some healthy changes, improve my blood work numbers, and feel fitter and stronger.

And so I've been doing lots of reading and research. In the meantime, I've been working on those pesky 6 pounds, and in a month's time, I've lost 1.8 pounds.

*picture me making the "big whoop" finger circling motion*

I mean, that's still good. I've been making some healthier choices, snacking less, and exercising more. And by exercising I mean fun stuff. I'm not a gym person. I walk, dance, and lift hand weights while listening to podcasts. Nothing hardcore over here. And increased exercise is excellent for your cholesterol numbers.

But I'm ready to take things to the next level. I drew the line in the sand with my kids a few months ago, too. No longer are we making dinner for Mike and I, and "something else" for the two of them that usually involves zapping something in the microwave that came frozen from the store. We all eat the same home cooked meal. There has been lots of complaining, and sometimes no dessert for little ones who do not eat more than a forkful of something "so gross!", but they try things now. And they do not expect separate, inevitably highly processed, meals.

So here is what I am going to do: I signed up for the 10 Day Pledge over at 100 Days of Real Food. I start this Wednesday, March 14th. I'm taking time today and tomorrow to do some recipe planning, shopping, and research. I'm not going to eat processed foods for a full 10 days, and my family will come along for the ride as far as dinners are concerned.

What are we talking about when we say "processed foods?" Generally, you want to avoid:

Refined grains, like white flour and white rice.
Refined sweetners, like corn syrup, cane juice, Splenda (and company), and even sugar (though I'll be honest: I'm not completely cutting out sugar. That doesn't seem realistic to me).
Things out of a box, can or package that have more than 5 ingredients listed on the label.
Deep fried foods.
Fast food.

Here are the rules. I'm going to do my very best. I don't do the majority of the grocery shopping for our house, so I have some challenges there, but I'm making my own shopping trip tomorrow and will otherwise work with what we have.

Here is my shopping list (things we don't already have in our cupboard or freezer):

For Breakfasts:

Rolled oats, pumpkin, yogurt, bananas, and chia seeds to make Pumpkin Overnight Oats. Frozen berries to have on hand.

For Lunches:

Greek yogurt. String cheese. Maybe some crackers (made with 5 ingredients or less) if I can find some. Otherwise, going to be relying on leftovers from dinner, and salads (we always have lettuce, tomatoes and cheese in the house, and I make my own oil-based dressing).

For Dinners:

I'm going to buy the ingredients to make these 3 recipes for certain, and hope that we get more than one meal out of each:

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
The Best Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot!
Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice

I also love dishes with eggs, like frittata, which we always have the ingredients for, to pitch hit. 

For Beverages:

Sparkling water. Fresh lemon and lime. Half & half and honey (for tea). Also going to be exploring some herbal teas with my birthday gift card from Teavana. :0 Going to be brewing my own iced tea with this recipe.

One of the things that I'm really happy about is eliminating artificial sweeteners from my diet. I use those a LOT to flavor my tea and coffee, and they're in the Crystal Light type beverages that we tend to whip up. Not good.

I am SUPER excited about all of this, and will naturally document my experience right here on this blog. :) Who wants to join me?! Leave me a comment!

3 comments:

  1. You know me, I'll try anything! It's hard because my husband *gasp* won't let me food shop. He swears I'll come home with dried lavender and raw organic honey, leaving them to forage for frozen White Castle. I stopped artificial sugar a while back and I've been cutting back on the real sugar I put in coffee and tea. I am all ABOUT that pumpkin recipe. I also found a little egg spinach and cheese recipe that you pre-make in a muffin tin to zap each morning. Can we zap with this? Yay, Tiffany, I'm your ride or die. I'm with you!

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    1. Ohhhhh, I need to get the egg spinach recipe from you!!

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  2. I heart real food. Its the other people in my house. My husband will not give up cereal because of fiber (even though there are natural sources). And super picky HB. Knee loves food. The other day he took out carrots from the fridge and started eating them before I could wash them. No ranch needed. Maybe when HBs older.

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