Our October Unprocessed recap & my favorite links

More often than not, I am in a hurry when shopping for our food, and on a recent outing to the market, I was rushed enough to grab three avocados and toss them in a bag without hardly glancing to note their condition.

Before I could turn away, I felt a hand clamp down on my arm; an elderly lady with soft grey curls and piercing eyes had stopped me in my tracks. Leaning in closely, and not dropping my gaze, she vehement admonished me: “Il faut choisir avec amooooour.” (you’ve gotta choose with love) and sternly launched into a description of how an avocado should look and feel when ripe.

I was so startled by her hand on my arm, that I could only murmur “Oui.” and move on with my basket. But by the time I had rounded a few corners, I was chuckling to myself over the encounter, tickled pink over her surprising ardor. So what if the supermarket lady happened to be a bit of an avocado evangelist and invaded my personal space? I always love witnessing someone passionate for whole foods.

In fact, that kind of passion is similar to what the October Unprocessed online community demonstrated this past month. We brought whole foods into the spotlight, cheered each other on via Twitter parties, mulled over serious food for thought, and daily nourished our families with real food. It was most fun and inspirational.

Today I’ll share a little of what we gleaned from the challenge, as well as a handful of my absolute favorite recipes and articles from Unprocessed participants.

Photo by Shaina

Unprocessed Recap

I’m proud to say our family made it through with minimal adaptions to the challenge. The first two weeks were extremely hard core, as we eliminated most dairy from our diets in addition to any foods that didn’t pass the kitchen test. Then we coasted for a week, and then the kids started asking how many more days until November! Heh.

We staved off sugar cravings with chocolate beet cake and maple pumpkin pies. We roasted pumpkins and gobbled our way through batches of pumpkin spice granola almost as fast as I could make it. I’m pretty sure Mateo has the recipe memorized.

We made everything from scratch from our own crushed tomatoes to yogurt. We cooked batches of dried beans and brown rice and kept them on hand for ‘fast food’. We forgot what condiments were and enjoyed our sandwiches spread simply with butter. We drank a lot of water.

We even took the challenge to the extreme and harvested our own chickens for stock and soup.

On the flip side, we slacked a little here and there. Of course we did! We could.not.find. wine without sulfates, and, ahem, may have partook of a glass or three of red wine, particularly around Thanksgiving.

We traveled last weekend, and while I packed an unprocessed lunch and roast trip snacks, we ate the food served at our conference — salted caramel cupcakes and all. I think I stress-ate a grocery store chocolate bar once or twice.

But all in all, we did really well.

Tips & Takeaways

It really helped to have the OU community to bounce menu ideas off of and be continually inspired by. There’s also a certain level of accountability to be had, when we’re all Instagramming and tweeting our snacks, lunches and more.

Tips?  I found that having a small selection of foods already cooked up in the refrigerator for when you need a fast meal or a quick bite was essential. Take the salad at the top of the post, for example. I came in from running errands one night, starving as usual, and had that ginormous salad on the table in a few minutes, thanks to cold chicken, roasted beets, and pre-washed lettuce in the refrigerator.

We had some excellent conversations with the boys through out the month about whole foods versus processed. Grocery shopping took on a whole new level as we navigated the aisles, determined to stick to our guns, read labels and avoid anything unrecognizable. Kids are smart; after just a few visits, they knew exactly what we could eat within the challenge (and what would have to wait until November to eat).

My favorite posts from the October Unprocessed line-up.

Andrew lined up some killer content this year, publishing three posts a day on three channels: recipes, how-to, and food for thought. From fluffy pumpkin scones to homemade sauerkraut, here are a few of my favorites from the month:

How was your October?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I think that for me I realized that I have to keep it simple when cooking unprocessed foods. So a lot of beans and rice are on hand – like you – for fast food 🙂 I think that overall I feel healthier not eating all the processed junk. I am looking forward to our winter CSA starting next month so we can have all the fresh winter veg available for roasting and soups, and that should take us through to the spring 🙂

  2. Great recap – thanks for all of the great links.

  3. Great round-up of other recipes for the unprocessed challenge. I really like your tip about having some precooked food ready for busy nights so you can just through something healthy and yummy together. I try to always have some salads ready in my fridge just for this occasion.

  4. That salad at the top looks delish. 🙂 We definitely did better when we were eating more Paleo style at the beginning of the month. The end has been more of a crash and burn scenario, but I’m still holding tight to my daily doses of black bean meals and less bread.

    • “…crash and burn…” Oh my! Well, I’m sure many people can relate. The twitter feed went strangely quiet toward the end. 🙂 It’s all good! Baby steps, right?

  5. Your avocado story reminded me of an opposite experience I had years ago. I was choosing peaches and held one to my face to sniff at it. Just close to my face mind you – not *on* my face.

    The elderly couple near me filling a bag with peaches glared at me, made some disgusted noise, tossed their bag of peaches back on the cart and stalked away making rude comments and occasionally turning back to glare at me further.

    I think of that every time I buy peaches now, but if they don’t smell like peaches, they don’t taste like them, either.

  6. John and Zoe Wimbush says

    I love the avocado story–overripe avocados are so disappointing -true that we should not rush when making our choices.
    Your enthusiasm is commendable-including [teaching] the children is an extra bonus. As is reaching your goal.

  7. We try our best to eat unprocessed foods as often as possible, and most especially for the kids (I always cheat on the sweets front). We always have one day per week that is a cheat day. It helps keep us balanced and not go overboard. Loved the backyard chicken article. We just recently acquired our own yogurt maker – yum! So awesome to have homemade yogurt in the morning. Just have to remember to make it the night before.

  8. Sometimes its good to make a unprocessed kind of food…Thanks for sharing the recipe to us..

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