Patio dining in southern California doesn't get much better than this - unless you're at…
Yeah, it’s Monday, October 1st, sooo what exactly does that mean?
It means that this is the first day of the October #Unprocessed 2012 challenge!
Are you ready to see if your healthy eating habits are REALLY healthy? Then take a giant leap for your body and sign up for October #Unprocessed over at eating Rules and join 4,000+ other folks who want to say NO to processed food. There’s no pressure, really. Similar to yoga class; first set an intention of what you want to accomplish during the challenge and do what is right for you, be it one day, a week, or the entire month.
I signed up for the challenge and, although I consider myself a healthy eater and don’t consume any boxed and most canned products as a rule, I do buy salsas and some bottled sauces like srircha. An avid label reader, I know that most packaged foods are laden with extra fat, sugar, salt, preservatives, artificial flavorings and food coloring – and I avoid them. But, I also know that there is more to learn – especially in the area of additives such as Xanthan gum and “natural” flavors. If you’ve never done anything this radical when it comes to eating you probably have quite a few questions.
How I started my morning: Iced White Tea with Mango and Coconut (recipe below)
**Question #1 is probably, “How do we define “Processed?” Obviously there’s a wide range of implications in that word.
Andrew’s definition is this:
Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients. It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so.
He calls it “The Kitchen Test.” If you pick up something with a label and find an ingredient you’d never use in your kitchen and couldn’t possibly make yourself from the whole form, it’s processed. (And, if it doesn’t have a label, it’s probably unprocessed). It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so. Andrew recently posted about the Kitchen Test and will continue exploring this topic throughout the month.
The goal of the challenge is to motivate, educate, and inspire you, not to frustrate you, judge, or make anyone feel like they’ve failed. Here are some common areas where people get stuck – and what you can do to avoid or overcome them.
Start from where you are. If you don’t think you can feasibly cut out all processed foods for a month, make your goal to reduce them, or to focus on a few ingredients (cutting out high fructose corn syrup
and refined grains is a great start).
**Question #2 is most likely, “What is a good strategy when dining out?”
Research the restaurant beforehand – chain restaurants are required to post calorie information and most have online menus available, I generally don’t recommend chains at all, but if they offer simple salads or grilled or broiled entrees with recognizable fresh ingredients, they may be OK. Patronize restaurants with farm-to-table menus and who make nearly everything in house – these are the kind of restaurants that I feature here under the Dining Out tab on my home page.
Obviously, the best and easiest way to ensure you’re eating unprocessed food is to cook at home. But, if you don’t already cook at home a lot, that can be a big change and a major speed bump on the road to unprocessed eating. The first step to cooking more at home is to have a well-stocked pantry of staples, frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed snacks.
Download the PDF file to read more about October #Unprocessed, the Deliberate Exception Clause, Common Speed Bumps and What to Do About Them, Eating Out, Reading Labels, et.al. at EatingRules: The Official Guide to October #Unprocessed 2012.
See you on the bright side
You’ve probably already skimmed the recipe for this refreshing morning or afternoon delight, but let me tell you a little about the White Tea: purchased on a recent trip to Hong Kong, White Tea is minimally processed. It is generally only picked and air-dried, hence it is slightly fermented. the highest -quality white tea is picked early in the spring with the tips still covered with silky white down. These delicate teas carry flavors that can be described as savory, mellow, and sweet. Traditionally it is a popular tea in Hong Kong and Southern China. It is the focus of many studies for the level of antioxidants contained and is said to enhance the beauty of those who consume it. So I bought several boxes
White Tea with Mango and Coconut
1/2 cup coconut milk*
1 mango, cubed (about 1-1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon organic unsweetened shredded coconut
In a blender, blend the tea with a cup of ice cubes (if you have crushed ice, you can skip this step). Add the coconut milk and all but a few cubes of the mango to the blender and give it a whirl to combine the ingredients. Roll the remaining cubes of mango in the shredded coconut and thread unto a skewer to add a fresh edible garnish to your drink.
*I used Light Coconut Milk from Trader Joe’s.
Snacks or afternoon sugar fixes are notorious for being the downfall of all good intentions. Now that you have a refreshing unprocessed alternative to that American addiction called a Mocha Frappe from a certain ubiquitous chain, I thought I’d further whet your appetite for unprocessed with this Grilled Pluots with Mozzarella, Basil, Pistachios and house-made Sweet & Tart Pear Vinaigrette that I posted last week (click on the name for the recipe).