(not quite) 100 Days of Real Food/Unprocessed Food Challenge

(Enter the giveaway here!)

Over seven years ago, when Joseph was a baby who was just beginning solids, we made some major changes to our diets. I knew/know I wanted my kids to eat healthy and love fruits, veggies and whole grains. I also knew, first hand, how a child's diet can affect them in the classroom. That is, the kids who ate the worst tended to have the worst behavior and grades. NOT something I want/ed for my kid!

Much to Adam's chagrin, I switched us to whole wheat pasta and breads. Adam was a huge fan of things like Wonder white bread, Jiff PB and Kraft Mac and cheese. While I like those things (except for the Wonder White Bread!) I knew they were NOT the best thing to feed my baby. Sure, once in a while they wouldn't hurt, but all the time? No.

I began slowly, but making our pasta one part whole wheat to 3 parts white. I looked for "natural" peanut butters. At first, Adam gave a big fat NO to the "no stir" kind. Through trail and error, we found a natural, no stir style we liked; now, six years later, our taste buds have changed and we all like Trader Joe's natural PB. We cut out and way,way back on foods with HFCS. Thanks to migraine headaches, we don't have any "sugar free" items in the house save some diet soda. I discovered I can cook (not super well but I haven't killed anyone yet!) and invested in some nice kitchen appliances when our older ones died.

Our diet certainly isn't perfect. My kids know and love McDonald's. I know and love Chik Fil A. We will never be the type of family who drives to 12 different farmers for their foods. We aren't urban homesteaders and I don't can. I DO have a deep freezer and will make and freeze foods but canning is beyond me.

BUT for January, we are going to try to eat minimally processed foods. The blog, 100 Days of Real Food, has a set of rules but the Walden Herd is going to whip them up for our own purposes:

1. The children don't have to adhere to "real foods" at birthday parties and the like. I refuse to be that mother who totes her own treats to birthday parties and celebrations. One piece of Sam's Club cake won't ruin them. All things in moderation.

2. We can eat fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. Not canned. It's the dead of winter in the midwest and, as far as I know, no CSAs are running. There is an organic food delivery service but it is very expensive and very little of the food is local. I am trying to serve two kinds of veggies for dinner.

3. A budget of 175 a week for a family of six. This includes vitamins, toiletries and household items, like laundry soap, paper towels and diapers. (The little dudes are in disposables at night and G wears disposables to school.) It also includes eating out. I have doubled some recipes already and eating out of our freezer doesn't count against us.
4. Foods bought at the store must contain reasonable ingredients. Pretzels that are flour, salt, water, etc are fine. Salsa that is just seasonings and veggies is fine. No HFCS or artificial anythings. Anything that can't be found in the basic kitchen (a friend calls this the "kitchen test") is a no-no.

5. When we eat out, we need to make the best choices possible- no fried foods, no sugar loaded treats, etc.

6. Very little white flour and natural sugars, as much as possible.

7. I will continue to shop mostly at Trader Joe's, Aldi, Sam's and Wal Mart. The prices at Whole Foods are too high for us and I want to see if this can work WITHOUT shopping of tons of all natural or specialty stores.

While many people claim that low fat or non fat dairy products and animal fat ARE part of a healthy diet (and while I can see their point), I will continue to buy and use low fat dairy and to trim the fat off our meats, especially beef. Eating animal fats requires moderation, something I lack. Because I can see myself over eating all that, I can't yet bring myself to "allow" full fat dairy and meats. It's me, honestly, not you!

What am I giving up? Sonic happy hour, store bought bread, store bought coffee creamer, Starbucks, many bread product at store like (sob!) Panera, sneaking french fries off the kids' plates.... you get the idea.

So, what is on the menu? I just sat down and planned for the coming week and a half, which includes New Year's Day, my husband returning to work and the kids returning to school.

Dinners:
Pancakes (from a mix) and fruit. I will probably double the pancake recipe and freeze some for breakfast. When we use up the mixes I have, I'll make pancakes from scratch but currently most of the mixes we have are fairly natural.

slow cooker chicken tacos with toppings

Korean Slow Cooker ribs with brown rice and some sort of veggie side

out to eat at a local deli that has alot of organic, whole grain options

Baked Cheesburger Penne

Broccoli chickpea Penne

Slow cooker whole chicken with a salad and bread. I will make stock from the leftover chicken bone and bits and hopefully have enough meat for another dinner.

Spaghetti with sauce, either pesto, peanut or tomato

chicken enchiladas

I need to do some baking and use my new Kitchen Aide gadgets I got for Christmas!
Everyday whole wheat bread
rosemary olive oil bread

and possibly

whole wheat hamburger buns/rolls
muffins

Busy week ahead of us... let's see how this goes!