It's the end of the real food challenge that was organized by the Nourished Kitchen
. The month has certainly been a challenge for me at times. Certainly I did not take all of the challenges fully, but we did modify our eating and I'm feeling good about it all.
Time to rip through the last few. I was out of town at the end of the month so there will be some catching up for me to do. I didn't want to wait until I had fully caught up and be too late with my re-cap. Instead here's what I did and thought and I will do some catching up in later posts.
Challenge #21 - Vegetables and Salads. Hurrah! Finally something we're already doing. Oh, well as I read on, only mostly doing. We do eat a lot of fresh vegetables and salads around here. We also make our salad dressings from scratch. Three years ago we joined a CSA and split the huge weekly delivery with some friends as it's really too much food for two people to consume in a week. During the off months (no deliveries from mid-November to mid-March) we visit the local farmers market for the bulk of our produce purchases. Where we differ is the addition of fats to our vegetables. Certainly in our salads there is fat in the dressings. However, more often then not I am steaming our veggies and not sauteing them nor finishing them with additional fats. I used to do this, but find that I prefer the clean taste of the lightly seasoned vegetable without the additional fat. I had hoped that eating a plain veggie with a full meal that would contain fat would be enough. However, when I asked the challenge guru I was told that no, it was really not enough. Skeptical Marcella wants a concrete answer - how many grams of fat elsewhere on my plate make it enough so I can eat my veggies plain. I don't think there is an answer. Unfortunately for skeptical me, this healthy eating method is as much lifestyle and belief as it is science. I lean more to the science end and want concrete percentages much like the soaking dilemma.
Challenge #22 - Meet your Meat. This actually is one we also do pretty well at. We buy organic meat and when I can find it I have bought some pastured meat. There is room for improvement certainly, but I'm only willing to go so far budget wise and shopping ease wise and am happy where we are and feel good about the meat we eat. For our dinner this night we ate a very tasty meat loaf made with organic beef. Delicious as it was, I neglected to take a picture so you'll have to use your imagination here.
Challenge #23 - Pasture and Meadow. This applies to pork, poultry and eggs. I've had a love affair with Niman Ranch pork for years and it's the only pork I have bought for a very long time. When I was 5 or 6 we went on a trip to a family reunion for my dad's side of the family. While at the family farm I fell in love with the pigs. We'd stand by the pen and rub dried corn off the cobs for them. One evening my Uncle Oscar lifted me over the fence and we walked up the hill and he taught me how to call the pigs. It delighted me until the pigs started running towards us. We turned and ran and my Uncle tossed me over the fence to safety just in time. Scary and exciting and fun all at once! At any rate, the idea of eating a pig raised in a cement slab warehouse is not for me. We at least eat organic chicken if not pastured chicken. Eggs are harder. We now have a booth at the farmers market where we can get pastured eggs if we are early enough. I do try to buy them but we don't always make it to the market or I underestimate the number of eggs I'll need that week. So, I do by my fair share of cage free eggs at the grocery store.
Challenge #24 - Stocks and Broth. We've been making our own stock and broth for a long time. It does taste wonderful. The last of the Thanksgiving turkey stock is in the freezer. As we buy whole chickens I save the backs and wing tips in the freezer to make stock with. We rarely use beef stock so I do buy that in the organic version. We also use more chicken stock then I can keep up with making so we buy the organic version of that too. It is fun and easy to make stock, and smaller batches can bubble away in your crock pot; an easy way to make it without a lot of watching and stirring.
Challenge #25 - Offal. Here's where my winning streak of feeling good about what we are already doing screeches to a halt. I still have horrifying flash backs of those childhood dinners of liver and onions. My father will never truly understand how awful it was when he went out of town on business. When he was gone that was the signal to my mother that she could cook all the foods he disliked. Children's taste buds were not considered. We were served up liver and onions, rabbit, well-done lamb chops and other horrors. We were also told we were eating things we were not. We were told the stringy and funny smelling rabbit was chicken and that the gamey and chewy and awful smelling lamb was actually pork chops. It wasn't. We weren't fooled. It was awful. OK, I've eaten fois gras in restaurants and it's tasty, but some foods to me are clearly restaurant foods and not for me to cook at home. Then, I was reading the March issue of Eating Well
and saw this recipe for Stuffed Chicken Thighs Braised in Tomato Sauce
. Chicken livers are in the stuffing. I think I might be able to deal with that. I'll let you know if I get brave enough to try it.
Challenge #26 - Seafood. Back to a comfort zone. We do love seafood; my husband more than me. We try to eat it every week and to stick to wild caught and sustainable fish and shellfish. Living near the ocean getting good seafood is much easier for us than those in other areas. We are also fortunate to have a nice market nearby with a great fishmonger and butcher shop. It makes things quite convenient for us. While out of town the food served was largely local and sustainably raised so I was treated to two lovely fish dinners. Eating good food without cooking or dishes - I am so spoiled!
Challenge #27 - Giving Back. This challenge is about spreading the word when it comes to eating Real Food. I still have a long way to go to be considered a purist - to put it mildly. These blog posts are a start but I'll have to think more on what else I could do.
Challenge #28 - Beyond 29 Days. Where will we go moving forward with our eating? Well, I do have a couple challenges I intend to catch up on: the yogurt making and that chicken dish. We are also considering adding a fruit only CSA delivery in addition to our veggie delivery
. I'm feeling in the groove with making more of our bread and intend to keep the processed foods that we took out of the kitchen out for good. We do still eat more desserts then we should but I have cut back on how many I make each week and frankly don't want to cut them out completely. I also enjoy the occasional white flour baguette and my husband likes to have white rice once in a while. While we eat them fairly rarely now, I don't think they'll disappear from our diets completely. While not on the path to the purist Real Food eater, we have been eating more mindfully and for us that's a good place to be. I don't know that I want to go fully to the real food realm, but we do need to refine where on the spectrum we want to be.
It's been a great challenge. Jenny did an awesome job putting this together. The recipes on her site have all been tasty and the information has been very thought provoking. She has a nice final post
that lists the 28 day challenge and is taking sign ups for another round. If you think you might want to give it a go, sign up. It's a fun and certainly challenging challenge.