starting our unprocessed real food challenge

Deciding to embark on the October unprocessed real food challenge was easy for us since we are conscious eaters already. Eliminating processed foods seemed like no big deal as we tend to avoid them. The questions started flooding in about what we needed to know before getting started. What is processed food actually defined as? What exactly are we avoiding? Basically, what are the rules to this challenge and how do we follow them?

What are processed foods

Simply put, processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural state. Not all processed foods are bad, they just come with some baggage (added sugar, salt, fat as well as additives, flavorings, and other chemical ingredients). As a general rule, the longer the list of ingredients that an item has, the more processed it is. The most unprocessed foods have no need for an ingredient label i.e. fruits and veggies.

We have done our best to eat through the processed foods we currently had in this casa. All in preparation to clear space for our upcoming homemade goods, of course. This challenge is already pushing me to make things I’ve put off for way too long. The first up is homemade cereal.

Guidelines for our real food challenge

This is a general list of the foods that we are eliminating and what we will be chowing down on. This is what we have decided for our house as we’ve learned about the foods we eat. We encourage you to to do what’s best for you and yours.

Foods not on our plates:

Refined grains.
Fast food.
White flour.
Refined or artificial sweetener.
Nothing packaged with more than five ingredients.
Deep-fried foods.
Food with unnatural ingredients.

Foods our plates will overflow with:

Greens (instead of bottomless chips, it’s bottomless greens).
Eggs. (free range from local farmers)
Minimal dairy.
Seafood (rarely and only from American sustainable sources)
If meat is a part of your diet, you should avoid all the factory-farm stuff. Michael Pollan has a great way of phrasing it in Food Rules when he said, “Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.” Look for antibiotic-free, grass-fed or free range meats from your local farmers market or health food grocery store. 

This week eating real food

Through this journey, we will be coming here to share our menu for the week, big-hit recipes, and an overall recap of how the week went. We will share our struggles, successes, and maybe even a few epiphanies. We hope some of you will join us on this foodie adventure whether it’s a week or two, or the entire month. Let’s swap recipes and encouraging words- we might need it.

A food challenge like this can feel intimidating. I’m a little nervous, and it’s just two of us here. I can only imagine the wheels turning in the mind of a mother. To help us get through times where we just don’t know what to make, I plan on scoping recipes from guest bloggers over at Eating Rules (five years worth!), and of course, we’ll also reference our trusty cookbooks we have on hand like the CSA Cookbook. I find it comforting to know there are plenty of solid recipes out there ready to help me get over a hurdle.


Through this challenge I hope to regain the red hot flame we had for being so careful about what we consume. I also want to gain more confidence in what we can be making from scratch at home. Ultimately, it would be nice to walk away having found a balance in work and putting the time into a pure wholesome meal on a nightly basis.

Are you taking the challenge? Have any goals you’d like to share? Have you taken the challenge before and have helpful tips or advice to send our way?

Psst- The way we grocery shop we usually make a big trip every two weeks with one or two small trips in between. This month we have pushed it to the limits and ended up shooting ourselves in the foot with all the hiccups that our car situations (here and here) have brought our way. Since we weren’t able to kick off October Unprocessed with the rest of you yesterday, we’ll be kicking off our challenge on Sunday.


Psst- check out how we did in week one, two, three, and our big finish in week four.

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