October. Unprocessed.

2014-09-29_OctoberUnprocessed

October. It’s almost here.

It’s my favorite month of the year… There are birthdays, falling leaves, and pumpkins. Oh, the pumpkins. The air gets that chill in it that makes me crave a latte. Or spiced cider. I’d even settle for a nice cup of tea.

This year, though, October is going to be more than just leaves, pumpkins, and lattes. I’m going unprocessed.

So what does “unprocessed” really mean?

There’s a lot of talk about processed foods these days… Sometimes, I think it gets lost in shuffle. After all, there’s a lot of talk about all kinds of food these days. Organic, local, non-GMO, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, low fat, paleo, grass-fed… The list goes on.

When it comes to making a healthy change to your diet and lifestyle, I think processed foods are the perfect place to start. I’m talking about that stuff made in a chemistry lab or a factory. In fact, calling it “food” to begin with can be a bit of a stretch sometimes, if you ask me. Michael Pollan refers to it as “edible food-like substances” in his book In Defense of Food  (which I highly recommend… And, yes, that’s an Amazon affiliate link).  You know what I’m talking about… Neon orange cheese that has the consistency of jello and will sit on your countertop without spoiling for 2 years, beverages loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring, baked goods with a list of ingredients that barely fits on the packaging.

There’s a lot of debate about which “diet” is the right one… Is it better to be low-fat or low-carb? Do you eat whole grains or cut out grains entirely? I think we’re missing the point. Wouldn’t it be better to stick to eating food – good food – and skip all the gimmicks?

My personal opinion is that sticking to a variety whole, natural, unprocessed food is the way to go. That’s why I love October Unprocessed.

So, which foods are “unprocessed” foods? Andrew from Eating Rules has defined unprocessed foods to be those that pass “the kitchen test” … In other words, you can make them in your kitchen starting with whole ingredients. You don’t have to make everything in your kitchen, but you could (in theory). Andrew has a great explanation of it, so I’ll let you check out his blog post for more details.

Are you really going to eat unprocessed for the whole month of October?

Yes… With a few exceptions.

October is a busy month around here… We have birthdays to celebrate, get togethers to attend, and lots of fall to enjoy. So, while my intention is to go unprocessed for the whole month, I know that there will be a few times where I need to make an exception.

For me, that means I will still be baking a birthday cake for my little girl. Will it contain all purpose flour and granulated sugar? It might. Or, it might not. But, I’m giving myself permission to splurge a bit.

My birthday comes about a week after hers… While I won’t be making my own birthday cake, we will likely be celebrating. Perhaps I’ll even have a chance to go out to eat with my hubby (which doesn’t happen often). I’ll eat what I want without scrutinizing the ingredients.

And, most importantly, for me, it also means not worrying about what we eat when we are invited to dine with friends and family. I do my very best to cook healthy meals at home. We eat a lot of veggies. When we go to someone’s house for dinner, I don’t question the host or hostess on what we’ll be eating. (Though, I always try to offer to bring something… And, that will be unprocessed.) I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time with friends and family since it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.

I think that healthy lifestyle changes are more likely to stick if they are flexible. Here’s my take on it… Even if you can’t go unprocessed for 31 days (or even 3 days), there’s always room for improvement. Maybe you can go unprocessed 80% of the time… Great. How about 90%? That’s even better. And, if you get an unexpected chance to have the best slice of cheesecake of your life? Go for it.

2014-09-22_UnprocessedPumpkinBiscuits-600px2014-06-25_BeetGreensFrittata-600px2014-03-04_BlueberryAppleCrumble-600px

So, what CAN you eat?

I love it when people ask me this question. Seriously.

There’s a whole world of food out there… Really great food.

Go to a local farmer’s market and find some inspiration. Here in Pennsylvania, October means lots of pumpkins, butternut squash, beets, greens, potatoes, apples, and more.

Check out the bulk bins at your grocery store and try something new. I’ve recently discovered that I like to cook buckwheat groats and millet in my rice cooker to mix up the grains in our diet. I’ve also found organic popcorn kernels, raw pumpkin seeds, and other great snacks in the bulk bins.

Do a quick search for “unprocessed recipes” on Google or Pinterest… You’re sure to find a few new recipes to try. There’s some great stuff out there!

Want some recipes to get started? Here are a few of my favorites…

And, stick with me… I’ll be sharing more recipes this October and beyond.

Want to check out other recipes I’ve bookmarked for October Unprocessed? Check out my October Unprocessed Pinterest board. I’ll be adding to it as I find more great recipes to try!

So, are you in??

2 Responses to October. Unprocessed.

  1. Great post, Jen! So informative. I’ve read about October Unprocessed for several years now but have never done it. I may try doing a modified version this year and then sign up for it and do it in earnest next year (life has been so busy that I’m hardly prepared to dive in this year). I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming recipes! I cook and bake from scratch daily, but there are some processed things that enter my diet a little too frequently (but thankfully, not in large amounts). Nevertheless, I could stand to edit some things out of my pantry, so it will be great getting inspiration from you. Hope you are doing well, friend. One of these days, I will make it up to the Big Harvest Potluck to meet you! :)