Real Food Challenge – Week #3

For 14 weeks, the family and I are undertaking a Real Food Challenge (put forth by the awesome 100 Days of Real Food blog). I’m hoping to check in about any struggles and successes along the way each week. Our ultimate goal is to cut down on our dependence on processed foods and start using some cleaner fuels to energize our bodies. And stuff.

So, here’s how it works. I’ll get an email every Thursday for the next 14 weeks (the actual eating challenge will start on Sunday or Monday for 7 days, so there are a couple of days of grocery prep built in). Each email outlines the “rules” for that particular week. It’s up to each participant as to whether or not they’d like to try each week independently or build on top of the prior week. In other words, continuing doing the prior weeks while attempting the new weeks, if that makes sense. There’s also a very active Facebook group (I’ve actually joined an offshoot that’s super supportive and far more focused) that’s there to share, answer and support.

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Review of Week #2: The second week of the challenge was a pretty simple week. The only beverages allowed were as follows: water, milk (suggested organic & whole, which we do anyway), coffee, tea, and wine in moderation (one a day). ONE glass of juice was allowed, mostly so that if anyone hates water they could spritz a bit of juice in for some flavor.

I’m not a soda drinker anymore — I’ll have a couple per year. No, seriously. So, the only part of this that took me anywhere outside my comfort zone was that the only sweeteners allowed in one’s coffee or tea was honey (ew, bee barf; love bees, hate the taste) or maple syrup (the 100% awesome quality organic stuff is great, but leaves a “deeply flavored” aftertaste). I don’t drink a ton of coffee, but since it was allowed and I needed “caffeine motivation”, I tried the maple syrup with a splash of milk. Hmm. Okay, but honestly tasted like…maybe…almost…TOO sweet?

Okay, okay, hold the phones. Those who have known me for any amount of time know that I’m a sugar consumer. I used to use 4-5 teaspoons of sugar in each small cup of coffee. *ahem* And was passionately mocked by family and friends for it. Over time, I’ve cut it down to about 1 1/2 (which is big for me). But, the fact that just yesterday, I took a mug with coffee and a splash of milk to work and thought it was fine…well, let’s just say I’m expecting a chunk of the earth to explode. I’m pretty pleasantly surprised.

I’m hoping to maintain this, although if I’m in need of a sweet caffeine fix, I’ll probably try one of the recipes for a NATURAL creamer replacement (something with cinnamon or what have you mixed in so that I don’t notice the maple syrupy goodness). Oh, and while I used to have the super rare caramel macchiato (like, also twice a year) at a random Starbucks, I’m not even sure I’d enjoy that anymore. I’d probably get a latte. MAYBE a crappy flavor shot, just for a “treat”, but even then…not sure it’s a treat anymore. So, I’d call Week #2 a success.

Side note: Hadley still drank juice. I’m bending rules ‘cuz he’s…y’know…2 1/2. He had far more milk and water than usual and no more than his watered-down cup of organic juice each day, so I’m happy.

Week #3 Challenge: $#@% just got real. This week will actually be quite the challenge, unlike this past week. We’re “allowed” to eat only 3-4 (which means, um, 4) meals containing only locally-raised meat; the rest of the meals are essentially vegetarian. PLUS, whatever recipes we choose should involve meat in a supporting role rather than the star. Hmm. That’s. Um. Crap.

I’m not one of those “Must. Eat. Protein.” people. Our bodies actually don’t need the “one vast serving per meal” amount of protein that folks seem ingrained to tout. (Mom.) But, I do want to make sure that we all get enough. I could easily do pancakes for every meal, but it’s not healthy for any of us. At least I’m trying to maintain a semblance of the 6-per-day fruits and veggies, so we’re definitely still getting our fill of nutrients. It just throws quite the monkey wrench into things. And stuff.

I definitely have a love-hate relationship with this week’s challenge. I fully understand the reason behind it. I haven’t had the greatest success at trying a flexitarian meal plan. I’ve made “meatless” meals and was proud of them, but they weren’t that healthy. Like, pasta So, this is definitely a week that I hope to learn from. I’m excited to see whether this is one of those “this is soooo hard!!!” sort of weeks or more of a “this is easier than I thought, I can do this!” week. Fingers crossed!

Here’s my flexible meal plan “schedule” for the week:

Caveat #1: The asterisks imply that there may or may not be some local meat involved, depending on what we can pick up at a local market. Like, if we can find locally-raised pork or bacon, it’ll go into the potato soup. If we find chicken breasts, I’ll cook them up for the stir-fry and salads. Also, this is a general guide that helps TREMENDOUSLY when I’m having that, “What to have for dinner?” blank moment. But, if I decide that we haven’t had pasta in awhile (which we haven’t), I might switch that out for the omelet night, for example, with some salads on the side. We’re nothing if not flexible.

Caveat #2: Oh, and while we’re allowed 3-4 meals including meat, if there are leftovers from a particular dinner, you’d better know we’re using them for lunch. That’s how we’re playing that game. Leftovers are my saving grace, dudes.

So, that’s the latest! Looking ahead, the following few weeks look pretty easy again (and even fun!), so I’m lucky for the most part! Now, if I could get Hadley to eat more of these meals, I’d really be getting some place.

Have a great weekend (and happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!) and good luck to any fellow challenge friends!

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