It’s starting to get dark a little earlier than we’re used to, the air is cooler in the morning, and there are pumpkins cropping up on front porches all around town. This can only mean one thing: It’s October, and we are ready for some good home-cooked fall comfort food.
Timing-wise, we’re in luck that October also happens to be the month of the October Unprocessed Challenge, the brainchild of our blogging friend Andrew over at Eating Rules. The pledge? To go for the month of October without eating any processed foods. This year, more than 2,100 people have signed up to take the pledge – an impressive number – and the challenge has made the news in the L.A. Times food section and elsewhere.
The question is, how hard is this to do, especially during a month when so many candies and processed treats are everywhere? The good news is, Andrew takes a laid-back approach to enforcement. He asks only this: That people “eat mindfully” over these 31 days. So we’re going to jump right in and give it our best, and we’ll report along the way about how it’s going.
In one of the first Eating Rules guest posts on the topic, Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic writes about eating unprocessed foods on a budget. She poses the question, “Why pay for cardboard and plastic when you could use that money to buy food?” That question hit home for us. When you’re shopping it’s so tempting, for example, to choose the six-pack of organic kiddie yogurt (“Hey – it’s organic!”) rather than buy a whole tub of organic yogurt and parcel it out. But when you buy that six-pack, the money is more likely going to pay for the packaging than for the small dollops of yogurt in each container.
This weekend we had one of those real-life moments where we had to make a conscious choice to go unprocessed. We were asked to bring some mini-muffins to a classroom parents’ meeting. Traveling between three soccer games, our first thought was, “Must remember to stop by the store and pick up a pack of muffins.” But then we remembered our pledge and we headed straight to the kitchen instead. We’ve got mini muffin tins – why aren’t we using them? So rather than offering some packaged baked goods with ingredients such as potassium sorbate, calcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, and sorbitan monostearate (huh?) – and packaged in a wasteful plastic package – we made our own.
These Strawberry Streusel Muffins are adapted from a Weelicious recipe, with a slight modification for whole wheat flour to fit the unprocessed theme, and with the addition of a crunchy-sweet streusel topping. Made with the last of our fresh-picked late-summer strawberries, they helped us get our unprocessed month off to a great start.
Happy (Unprocessed) October!