Challenge Accepted: October Unprocessed
As summer bids us farewell, it’s time to look forward to the seasons ahead. While it might seem premature to think about the looming holiday festivities while we’re still sunkissed, this is an opportune time to implement some healthy dietary and lifestyle changes before we get bombarded with Super Bowl parties and holiday feasts from Halloween through New Year’s.
The October Unprocessed Challenge, a pledge to avoid all processed grub for the entire month of October, never fails to launch me into the holiday season with a new set of recipes and a refreshed conviction to stay healthy throughout the colder months of tempting festivities.
Here’s how it works. A food is deemed “unprocessed” if it passes the Kitchen Test by being “any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.” This does not necessarily mean that one must make every meal from scratch his or herself in order to participate, but it does encourage one to avoid ultra-processed industrial foods all month.
This will be my third year participating in the October Unprocessed Challenge. Here are the top five reasons I recommend you join me:
1) Avoiding all uber processed food for a month means you’ll also be steering clear of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, trans fats and other not-so-healthy preservatives and additives that are commonly added to processed food.
2) The October Unprocessed Challenge will encourage you to think about each meal in terms of how it was made, what it contains, and where each ingredient comes from. When you reevaluate your meals by this standard, you begin to prioritize unprocessed, whole foods over processed food products.
3) You’ll approach foods with a new mindset. When I see a dish that looks absolutely fantastic, my first thought is no longer, “Where can I get that?” It’s, “How can I make that?” I’ve become much more adventurous and creative in the kitchen since participating in this challenge. Learning how to do some of the processing ourselves is vital to steering clear of highly processed foodstuff.
4) Eating something you’ve created from scratch is incredibly rewarding (especially when it’s great, but even when it’s awful). First attempts aren’t always edible. So, what? Cooking is a process of taste and error. Each failed dish teaches you something valuable that makes your next attempt even better. This challenge encourages you to get in the kitchen and provides excellent recipes and guidance along the way.
5) As I mentioned earlier, the seasons of celebratory feasts are just around the corner. If we start making healthy changes now, it will be a lot easier to enjoy the holidays’ temptations in moderation. Don’t wait for your New Year’s resolution. Start now, and finish 2014 with a strong foundation that welcomes deliciously unprocessed eats all year long.