For the second year now, foodie/blogger Andrew Wilder has issued a challenge of eating NO processed foods for 30 days [or how many days from your start time]. Last year, only 415 people took the pledge, but this year, 2011, over 2,700 have already joined, and the number is still growing daily. This can be considered an exercise in awareness, a way to re-shift your taste buds, or a wonderful culinary adventure. Being creative is half the fun! One can follow on Facebook, Twitter, plus post and/or read comments on the website
Unprocessed food can be anything made in a home kitchen by someone with reasonable skills using available, whole-food ingredients. Wilder calls it the “kitchen test,” –if you pick up an item that has an ingredient you’re not familiar with, it’s probably processed.
Once you’ve decided to take the challenge, here’s a few tip and hacks to make it easier:
1. Read the labels—read the labels—read the labels. This is terrifically important, so you’ll see all the chemicals and additives that permeate our pantries without our know.
2. Get familiar with spices. Canned and processed foods tend to be over-salted, and under-seasoned. But learning to use spices in your unprocessed dishes opens a whole new world of tastes.
3. Stock your pantry with plenty of the “right stuff”—like beans, brown rice, nuts, raw honey, barley, quinoa, lots of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nothing white, and no alcohol.
4. Find recipes you like. Remember, you’re giving your palate a clean sweep, so plan ahead what you’d like to fix, and prepare basic steps ahead of time, so you won’t be so harried.
5. Make friends with your crock pot. Maybe you haven’t used one in a while, and it’s hidden on a high shelf. Bring it down, and get creative about the whole foods that will create some amazing stews and soups!
6. Be creative. The idea is to develop a consciousness about eating real foods, not manufactured. No, it’s not an overnight transformation. But, even after this month is over, why not continue what you started, and notice how the need for convenience foods lessen, as your appreciation for non-processed items increases.
No matter what the level of commitment would be—be it one day, one week, etc., sign the pledge and make a promise to yourself to be mindful about what goes into your mouth.