Monday, April 2, 2012

Knoxville's Ten Days of Real Food Challenge

When local blogger Erica Keil, founder off Child Organics, emailed me to ask if I would participate in a ten day challenge to eat REAL foods, I figured, "Why not?!" I love a challenge, 10 days is reasonable, and who doesn't prefer REAL foods over processed? My initial feeling was that it shouldn't be too hard because we've made a number of changes already, and every few months I take another step in the right direction with a few pet projects.

Examples include:
  • buying half a grass-fed cow from a local farmer (lasts us a year)
  • picking and freezing enough strawberries and blueberries in Maryville and Norris to last us the year
  • buying eggs from the farmer down the street for only $2 a dozen (the kids love that some of them are green--perfect for Dr. Seuss week)
  • planting a garden of tomatoes, herbs, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, and onions as well as bushes yielding a few blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • making our own wet dog food and liver treats from the less desirable parts of the cow we buy
  • avoiding the "dirty dozen" and buying organic apples and potatoes at either Earthfare or farmers markets
  • consuming only local honey I pick up at the farmer's market to help with allergies and to use more often as a sweetener. I love the taste of Raw Mountain Honey.
My latest project is perhaps my most ambitious and is one that made my mom burst out laughing until she realized I was serious: making my own bread with wheat I mill myself. Finding it hard to believe that I made my own dog food but not my own bread, a kind neighbor walked me through the process. I decided to start with using our bread machine that has sat dormant for 15 years. Within 10 minutes, I can have all the ingredients in the machine and 3 hours later, I have the most scrumptious bread I've ever tasted. And the smell in my house...oh, it gives me joy.

The bigger step was buying my own wheat and mill to grind fresh flour. Though it's a significant investment up-front, I think it will pay for itself over the long-run, especially in contributing to our better health. I bought the Blendtec grain mill from Amazon and the wheat from a local co-op through Breadbeckers. The co-op takes orders four times a year and will be distributed in Farragut. It was significantly cheaper to order through the co-op than online because of lower shipping costs and the 5% discount. I'm awaiting my shipment any day now.

My husband has taken on the challenge of making pizza dough and fresh pasta (ravioli style) from scratch. It's a work in progress but we're on the right path. Once he gets it down, we'll freeze pasta and cook as needed.

So it would seem that this "earth mama" should have no trouble with a challenge like this, but I'll be honest--we won't follow it 100%. Here are THE RULES from Lisa Leake, author of "100 Days of Real Food."

What you CAN eat:

  1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  2. Lots of fruits and vegetables(we recommend that you shop for these at your local farmers’ market)
  3. Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese
  4. 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains (find a local bakery for approved sandwich bread and check theUnderstanding Grains post for more info)
  5. Seafood (wild caught is the optimal choice over farm-raised)
  6. Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (preferably in moderation)
  7. Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetenedcoffee & tea, and, to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
  8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation
  10. Also check out the Recipes & Resources page for a more detailed list of meal options including links to recipes

What you CANNOT eat:

  1. No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
  2. No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial stuff like Splenda
  3. Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
  4. No deep fried foods
  5. No “fast foods”

There will be some challenges for my family.
  • eating only locally grown meats (with the exception of our beef, nothing is local)
  • finding pre-packaged foods that have fewer than six ingredients. Even pasta has 6 or 7 ingredients and this excludes all cereals to my knowledge. Other than fruit, almost all our kid snacks fail this criteria.
  • flavoring my coffee with something other than sugar and 1% milk. I've tried almond milk and honey but don't like it as much.
  • It's also Easter (my kids have 4 egg hunts) and most of those eggs are filled with processed sugar. Hey, I'm guilty too. I love those little chocolate eggs, and I admit to eating a few sweets every day. I'm not looking forward to giving those up, but I will for the challenge.
  • no fried foods. I don't mind giving this up, but my kids do like chicken nuggets, fried shrimp, cheese sticks, and fish sticks. They don't get them often, but I do usually have them on hand.

So for the next 10 days, I'll be sharing where we've succeeded and where we've fallen short. I'm making some changes but not too many. I'd rather it be a realistic wake-up call for our family than an isolated short term experiment. It would be easier if the farmer's markets were open, but so is life. I also encourage you to follow the posts from other local bloggers taking the challenge too: Gabrielle from Couponing in Critical Times, Melissa from Frugalissa Finds, and Katie from Coupon Katie.

Are you with me?!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry if this posts twice, I'm not sure where my first attempt went.
    Anyway, I'm so happy you're doing joining the challenge with us! I'm already learning so much and it's only day two!
    I'm very impressed that you make your own wet dog food! wow! Please keep us updated with your bread baking.
    Shredded wheat is a one ingredient cereal with no sugar, and whole wheat pasta is one ingredient.