Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Total Health Tuesday: The Ten-Day Pledge So Far

I mentioned that our family had 100 Days of Real Food's ten day pledge here. Today is our one week mark, and it is going pretty well. That is to say that my family hasn't turned on me yet. The girls have even mentioned that they could do the full 100 days! Their parents aren't quite as convinced yet, though we know a lot of good has already come of this experiment.

The first benefit of the pledge is what I am going to call "happy pantry." We have an intentionally small pantry. I designed it as such because I wanted to avoid the pitfalls of constantly having a pantry well-stocked with junk or even with healthy items that we would ultimately forget about. This week, I just liked the look of it :). You will note that there are a very few off-limit products in there.

I have one extremely picky eater. She is really doing her best. Going in, we knew there were a few foods she "needs" that were technically off the pledge. We only allowed two, both of which are moving in the right direction. For example, you will see that we have the Natural Jiff for her, along with the organic and fully acceptable and actually natural peanut butter from Trader Joe's. We only purchased natural peanut butters until about two years ago when she was introduced to regular Jiff by someone who shall remain nameless (rhymes with shram-ma). At that point, our picky eater began refusing the natural PB due to its tendency to separate. Since PB makes up a large part of her diet, we caved. For now, we are on the road to peanut butter recovery and we feel okay with this "natural" Jiff. Similarly, we have allowed her to eat some Cheerios while the rest of us have abstained. They are whole grain, yes, but do have many added ingredients including sugar so not actually allowed. She has eaten these in moderation, which in turn has allowed her to give up some far worse vices. We are BEYOND proud of her, though she is the only one not actually fully adhering to the true pledge as written. You may also note there is agave syrup in the picture. I thought was akin to maple syrup and honey. Having realized it is actually a processed food that was invented in recent years, we are abstaining from that this week as well.

What we have been eating is actually very, very tasty.

Breakfasts have alternated between overnight oats with fruit, hot oatmeal, and some combination of veggies with eggs (one morning it was poached eggs on a bed of spinach, another it was a veggie omelet, yet another egg whites topped with leftover Israeli salad). If you are not familiar with overnight oats, you should get acquainted. The night before simply mix equal parts old fashioned oats, plain Greek yogurt and the milk of your choice. I used organic soy milk this week as I found out my usual unsweetened vanilla almond milk is highly processed. In the morning, the oats will be perfectly soaked and ready to eat cold. You can top with fruit, nuts, cinnamon, honey, maple, syrup. This morning I had mine with just cinnamon. My husband has really enjoyed my serving breakfast to him; he usually grabs it at the office. I am happy to have him here a few extra minutes. Win-win!

Giving him breakfast at home was the second real benefit of the pledge, and we will keep this up for sure. I think we will save money and he will eat better in the morning. This is also the meal that we realized we have had to clean up the most for the kids. Gone are the toaster waffles and cliff bars.

For lunch I have had great salads with quick soups--using only simple ingredients like the ones seen above. Since we can't have jarred mayo, we used mashed avocado with tuna one day. Easy peasy. My kids' lunches have basically been fine along, usually featuring a whole fruit (sometimes dried or canned in water), a whole vegetable, a protein (cheese/yogurt/turkey roll-up/tuna), a usually whole wheat carby-thing, and a little treat. This week we have made sure the carby-thing has been either triskets, ak mak crackers, or homemade bread. The homemade bread has pleased even the picky eater, making it the third major benefit of the pledge. The picky eater has always been a strict adherent to a certain name brand very thin whole wheat bread that turned out to have corn-syrup. She now knows she can live without it!

What has been harder for me is, of course, making homemade bread. Packing my husband's lunch is also an added chore that I took on as a concession for the family to make it through the pledge. That task will happily be dropped at the conclusion of the ten days!! I am not sure why but it just seems harder to pack his, especially because he leaves during the breakfast rush. He misses doing business with colleagues over lunch. I am sure with better planning I could pack his at night, but I think we are both ready to let this one go come Friday!

I haven't had to do anything too out of the ordinary for dinner. When we do cook, it is usually pretty healthy and organic. The problem of late was that we were using late night dance classes, doctors appointments, violin lessons, Hebrew, and Holiday parties as excuses to grab dinner on the go. Then we'd really go nuts with the worst stuff you can imagine (what can I say--I am a dichotomy). This pledge has forced us to eat at home every night including the weekend (heretofore unheard of). We have had pan-seared cod over zuchinni "spaghetti" with Israeli Salad, sirlion tips over mashed cauliflower with green salad, chicken tika masala with whole what orzo and green beans, quinoa and black bean stuffed acorn squash with an avocado tomato salad, beef vegetable soup, homemade roasted vegetable pizza and locally smoked turkey with roasted root vegetables and kale. The picky eater can always take something or make her own meal using the lunch formula above--she has been great about trying at least some version of what I have made. Because everyone was really missing sweets I also made maple syrup ice cream and honey whole wheat brownies to enjoy in moderation through the ten days.

The hardest individual meal by far was the pizza. I had to make the crust--I used this, make sauce, shred my own cheese, and roast the vegetables for topping. It was crazy good, and fortunately it lasted for lunch the next day. It is just that the totality of all this cooking is harder than I thought it would be. Like. really. really. hard.

Its too soon to know actual health benefits or anything, but I will keep you posted once it is all over (or just beginning)!

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