Processed-Free March ~ Real Food Challenge

by laury on February 28, 2013 · 40 comments

Welcome to processed-free March!

More and more I come across people who think they are being healthy eating a meal labeled “all natural” but loaded with unhealthy oils, preservatives, and hidden sugars. More and more I hear about how our food supply has been corrupted. More and more comes out about how other countries BAN ingredients listed in foods that Americans eat every day. We need to take control of our food. And it starts in our kitchens!

Food shouldn’t be so complicated, but unfortunately with all of the conflicting information out there, people are quite confused. I think we need to just start and square one and get back to eating the way people ate before Eggo waffles made their way to everyone’s freezers


This challenge is more to encourage and empower consumers to buy less packaged food and consume more REAL food. Making people more aware of what they are buying. There are so many hidden dangers in our food these days disguised as looking harmless. The words “natural flavoring” come to mind for one, and the many ways that sugar and GMO’s sneak in there for another (of many!) reasons. It’s not only to get away from packaged foods but also GMO’s and synthetic growth hormones—which we will talk about!

There’s too much of this going on these days, and we have to stop eating it….


It’s even coming out now that there may be aspartame in cows milk! Carrageenan in dairy-free milks that cause cancer and aspartame in cows milk that cause cancer. Kill off all the Americans. Or just rob us with our healthcare costs. Jeez.


What is a processed food?

Anything that comes in a box, package, bag that was made in a factory, that has more than 3 ingredients, that isn’t close to the natural state that it was grown. Essentially anything that was never alive, or that they altered so much after it’s original state that our early ancestors would have no idea what it was.

If you read a lot of “healthy living blogs” what is “healthy” can be very confusing. There are healthy living bloggers who post nothing but processed foods. But those foods are marketed as health foods so people think that they are eating the right things. Tricky tricky! Be your own detective. Don’t rely on others to tell you what’s healthy. Did you know that a Chobani black cherry yogurt has almost an entire days worth of sugar? They also have “natural flavors” and other additives. Just saying.

I’m going to make it simple for you:


(photo source)

I don’t blog much about what I eat because, really, I eat a lot of the same things. I was vegetarian on and off for years and for the bulk of the life of my blog I was focusing on plant-based living. My eating has changed a lot since the birth of my daughter (I now eat good sources of meat, butter, cheese in moderation and it’s made healthy living easier for me!) but I remain with a few constants as far as our household goes. Of course we go out to eat and have treats on occasion but I stick with things that are worth it! As far as meals—I keep it simple! I make everything I eat, I plan ahead, and the “fast food” I grab has less than 3 ingredients usually! Or it’s simply a piece of grass-fed cheese and a veggie or piece of fruit. I promise I will do a day of eats soon for those that have been asking!

Constants in our home:

*No food dyes, artificial flavorings, MSG, GMO’s, refined sugar and flour. I read labels if it’s something that I didn’t make myself. I challenge myself to try and make as much of Ella’s food as possible! If you don’t know what to look for or get confused by ingredient labels then this challenge is something that will be great for you!

This isn’t about grains being bad, or meat being bad, or legumes, or whatever diet philosophy you believe. It’s about everyone and anyone agreeing on the same thing—that REAL FOOD is what we should be eating.


Tips and Guidelines:

1. Keep it simple. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Don’t overthink it. Buy less food that comes in boxes and more that are as close to their natural state as possible. If going completely processed-free is not feasible then try and reduce your amount by at least 60%. You will start feeling better andyour taste buds will become more sensitive to the overly processed packaged foods you were eating prior. It will start tasting as fake as it is!

2. Cook more. I know this is a challenge for some but it doesn’t have to be so hard. Yes, pulling in the drive thru is fast and cheap, but is it in the long run? No it is not. Pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later—it’s the truth! We can show you ways to make this easier by prepping ahead, utilizing your freezer, and other ways to make “fast food” healthy! This is where the other bloggers and readers will come in when we link up. Ask what types of meals you want to see and you shall receive!

3. It’s more important to purchase meats, dairy and eggs organic (and local!) than it is for produce. In a perfect world you would avoid BOTH the heavily sprayed crops and factory farmed meats, but if you can’t afford it, prioritize. You can always look to the dirty dozen (avoid corn unless you know for SURE it’s not GM) as a guideline for veggies, or just wash them really well in a vinegar/water wash.

4. Meats, eggs, dairy—keep them local, grass-fed (re:meat/dairy chickens should eat grass and bugs, none of that “all vegetarian diet trick!)) and keep them organic. As far as yogurts go, stick with plain yogurt and make sure it is from cows not treated with rBGH/rBST growth hormones. Stick with raw block cheeses, not the pre-packaged shredded cheeses.

5. Bake your own treats. If you want dessert—make it! You can swap out that white refined GMO sugar for things like sucanut or coconut palm sugar, or even 100% maple syrup!

6. Grains, beans, legumes—I challenge you to make your own breads at home. If you can’t, maybe limit your bread intake or just get it fresh from an actual bakery that doesn’t use GMO ingredients!  I am going to try and make a loaf next week because I like keeping some sprouted or coconut flour bread in my freezer for Ella. I’ll definitely be sharing! If  you like rice, grab some wild rice from the bulk bins. As far as beans and legumes go stick with dried and soak them. If you MUST buy canned stick with BPA-free like Eden Food.

7. Make your own dairy-free milk! I  haven’t come across a nut/seed milk at the store that doesn’t have a ton of junk. Listen, I am guilty of buying it myself. Cows milk isn’t any better so I felt at a loss. Making y our own is not only easy, it’s CHEAP! 1 cup of nuts or seeds soaked for 6 hours and 4 cups of water. Add sea salt, dates, vanilla to flavor it and you’re done!

8. Stay away from the deli meat counter. Unless you find somewhere that they actually carve fresh meat, that has no nitrates, nitrites, is GMO-free, organic and additive free. If you know of any please enlighten me! Good luck.

9. Utilize your freezer! You can buy bagged organic frozen veggies if it’s easier, but I challenge you to buy fresh and freeze things yourself if you can not go to the store often. You can even make your own freezer-meals. If  you are pinched for time in general you need to make the time to prepare. It may seem like a sacrifice but you just have to do it. There are nights where I am up until midnight prepping feed because I didn’t get home from work until 8pm and after getting E a bath, to bed, etc that’s when I have to do it! It’s a priority, the way I see it is there’s no other option!Zx

10. Keep REAL food in your cabinet! I do eat things like wild canned tuna, salmon and sardines. I do not use store-bought mayonnaise, but have made home made coconut oil mayo or I just use mashed avocado or plain Greek yogurt which is actually great! I always have canned coconut milk to use for baking, and I am fully stocked with a bunch of different healthy flours, nuts and seeds!

11. Beverages—stick with water, black coffee, herbal teas and raw coconut water. No soda, no bottles teas, no juice,and so on. You can make home made iced tea and sweeten it yourself with natural sweetener. Do it!


Avoid GMO's When Shopping with This Guide

Get the “fooducate” app! It’s FREE! This isn’t a challenge about food philosophies, but if it was I have to say I disagree with the “grade” it gives some of the real foods I put in, but as far as catching GMO’s this app has helped enlighten me in times where I was even surprised at a certain so-called “health food”. I do believe now that grass-fed butter is a health food in moderation. Whole eggs, full-fat dairy. I believe you get the most nutrition from eating those rather than egg whites and fat-free yogurt.

What can you eat?

Again, it’s simple! Eat real food! Stock up on veggies, organic meats, eggs. Fill your cabinets with nuts, seeds, and healthy beans, grains if you eat them. Practice preparing food the traditional way by soaking them. Challenge yourself, you can do it! Think about what things you like to buy out of convenience and how you can make those things healthier! Keep your kitchen stocked with things you can make on a whim—I always have sweet potatoes, avocadoes, bananas, apples and all types of seeds around. Raw cacao nibs and cacao powder make for great tools to make some quick desserts. There is just so much I can tell you and so much you can do! Try not to stress about it and just make the commitment, do it, see what happens, see how you feel!

Coming up:

homemade breads

freezer meals

help and tips from blogger and instagram friends (I hope!)

What we eat

How to eat out

and more!

Be sure to follow on facebook for tips and more! It’s much easier for me to post there and instagram then sit at my desktop. Check out 100 Days of Real Food to see her tips and meal ideas!

I hope that this helps! Let me know how I can help you further or how YOU want to help encourage or inspire others to eat more real food!

For now when you eat REAL FOOD tag my on instagram @lauryannraik and use the hashtags #processedfreemarch #realfoodchallenge –I will share them! I could use some meal ideas myself! Perhaps I will even do my very first link up to WIAW processed-free style this month….

What tips would you add?? What types of recipes and meal ideas would you like to see?

Sorry these posts are so long—I have so much to say once I finally am able to get on here! I’m sure right now I missed a bunch of points too Winking smile

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