The email was sitting in my inbox last week, “October Unprocessed 2012!” Excellent. I’d given the challenge to avoid processed food for a full month a whirl last year and was up for it again. But wait a minute. It’s October already? When did that happen? Admittedly, I’ve been a little preoccupied, having only returned from France a few weeks ago and diving immediately back into work, picking up double shifts whenever I could. Hey, someone has to pay the piper and that someone is me. Though I may have had to transition right back into the here-and-now work mode, my mind has most definitely not accepted that it’s no longer summer.
The Unprocessed Challenge is one that appeals to me – give up not just unprocessed food but unprocessed ingredients for a month. There’s a beginning, an end and a defined set of parameters and that works well for me. I like to know what I’m getting myself into. 31 days of making a real effort to eat real food. Totally do-able, right? Right.
Technically, the challenge is defined as sticking with “any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.” Anything in question, just run it through the filter of “The Kitchen Test.” If the label has an ingredient that you’d never use and couldn’t possibly make yourself, don’t eat it.
Last year, I did OK. I wouldn’t say I nailed it and I did sort of amend the rules to fit my work life. I’m a pastry chef and we use white sugar which I deemed OK by necessity, however, I did manage to work in some less refined options here and there. I tried to make better choices when I could though working an event at Epcot proved to be extremely challenging. I was surprised at the lack of healthy options at Disney, of all places, but I muddled through it. Packing my own snacks certainly helped but I fell out of bounds once or twice. The point is, I tried.
Most importantly, the challenge made me more aware of the decisions I make on a daily basis. I realized that my perception and the reality of what I eat daily varies widely. It was painful to admit that I ate more crap than I thought. So during that month, I hesitated before hitting the vending machine during those afternoon energy lags. Instead, I threw some carrots and almonds in my backpack. I’d think twice before eating the bits and pieces at work. Though we made everything from scratch, was it really the best choice at that moment? Not always. Rather than turning into the drive-thru on the way home from a late night gig, I’d eat an apple once I got home or skip it entirely and just go to bed. What good, really, was that burrito going to do for me anyway? It didn’t always work but it did make me more aware of my actions.
So, within the framework of this challenge, I’m going to try again. They say it only takes doing the same thing for 11 days to create a habit. I don’t know exactly who “they” are but I’m going to trust them anyway. 1/3 of the way through the month, we’ll see.
On other fronts, here’s all the posts I’ve been remiss in reminding you of while I took a long break from this blog thing. There’s really good stuff in there so check them out.
on the blog three years ago: Buttermilk Pancakes, Panzanella, Empanadas, Confessions of a Cookbook Addict, Chilled Melon Soup, Candied Yellow Tomatoes, Galette de Gayon, Pig Dinner, Chocoflan, Sour Cream Coffeecake, Apple Pear Crisp
on the blog two years ago: Ginger Peach Hand Pies, Bacon Waffles, Peach Pandowdy, Peach Sorbetto, Peach Frozen Custard, Blueberry Raspberry Cobbler
on the blog one year ago: Fresh Tomato Tart, Tomato Confit, Cold Melon Soup, Sweet Corn Soup, Plum Kuchen, Unprocessed October 2011