Hi friends! Friday and almost June already! I just finished up a delicious lunch in a bowl al fresco with my pups and am about to hit the road for an awesome wedding weekend ahead!
Quinoa and Chickpea Salad, Coconut Roasted Beets, Grilled Onion, Sweet Potato Fries, Zucchini Rounds and some Guac to top it off. The picture doesn’t do the taste justice, I promise
Depending on how long you have been reading along, you may remember some of my old goal setting/monthly challenge posts that I used do, like my summer goals or my eat at home challenge way back when. In fact, even though I am now mostly vegan, it was a meatless month challenge that proved to be one of the first steps toward a plant based life.
A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law and I were discussing the importance of setting goals. Without setting goals we noted that time just passes by. By setting goals we can assure that we are marching in the direction that we want to. So with June quickly knocking on the door, I’ve decided it was time to set a new goal or challenge rather.
Since spending so much time on the road, I’ve noticed that my dependency on processed food has really increased. I used to be very disciplined to grab an apple and some natural peanut butter over a Clif Bar any day but now, I’ve noticed, my old habits are sneaking back up. While most of these products are still “healthy” (or as healthy as processed foods can be), I never want to feel as though I need crackers (even if they are “healthy crackers” over something like an apple or a handful of grapes, which are both as convenient as a box of crackers but far more nutritious to say the least.
Inspired by the family over at 100 Days of Real Food (it’s really incredible what they’ve done over there), I’ve decided to start a little smaller and try out my own 30 Days of June – Real Food Challenge.
What does this mean?
I will avoid processed food, and by processed food, I’m sticking with the US Department of Commerce’s definition of any product that has been transformed or altered in order to extended the shelf life. Many processed foods are high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and sugar and contain flavor enhancers, artificial dyes, and artificial sweeteners. Even some of the “healthier” products contain ingredients like “Natural Spices” or “Natural Flavorings” which can really mean anything the food company wants such as sugar, salt, MSG (which if you didn’t already know, some studies link it to severe migraines, impaired liver and gallbladder function, digestive issues and more), bugs (yes, you read that correctly – they are natural, remember!?), GMOs and even artificial sweeteners. I will be so excited when the day hopefully comes that all companies will have to label products that contain GMOs. I already am so excited that Whole Foods announced that they will only carry products that label GMOs come 2018. A long way to go, but it’s at least a start!
A few “processed foods” that I will allow throughout the month are frozen veggies, frozen fruits, peanut butter/almond butter, almond milk, 100% whole grains and clean oils and alcohol in moderation (drinks like beer and wine, no sugary bevs here). I will also allow processed foods that I could make in my kitchen: meaning they only contain real ingredients. Things like Lara Bars, very selective salsas, hummus, and tomato sauce, and other similar things. I will try to prepare in advance but I know it won’t always be possible. No beating myself up over here
I think this will be a really great reminder of what real food is. It will also encourage me to look at the ingredient list before a bite ever enters my mouth, something that I’m usually pretty good about (especially being vegan), but sometimes when it comes to my idea of “healthy processed foods” I tend to slack off.
If you are up for the challenge, I’d love for you to join in. If you think you want to join in but are thinking, wait, I’m a meat eater. That’s okay. I’m fine with real, fresh meat, poultry and fish such as, wild caught fish or lean chicken/turkey breast. Just avoid the processed stuff like lunch meat, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, etc. Capiche? Let me know if you have any other questions!
Let me know by posting in the comments section below and at the end of the first week (closes Friday, June 7, 2013), one lucky participant will be drawn at random to win a “real food” gift prize with a few of my favorite plant based life products. I’ll be posting helpful hints and tools throughout the month to keep us all inspired.
Good luck and good health! I hope you’ll join me! Have a wonderful weekend!!