Real Food Pledge: Day 3

Patrick goes to preschool 2 mornings a week, and I pack his lunch. He also has a morning snack, provided by a different parent each day. I assumed that his snack would not be Real Food, but I did not want to impose extra work on his wonderful teachers without checking with them in advance. I think they would be willing to give Patrick a special snack if I sent one (they already do this for another boy with a food allergy), but I wonder how Patrick would handle eating fruit while all of his buddies ate Goldfish? I don’t want to cause extra drama in the toddler class if it’s only for two snacks a week.

I saw the snack when I dropped him off, and it was Nutri-grain bars.  You can see from that link that the bars contain a hefty dose of high fructose corn syrup (first ingredient in the “fruit” filling) along with a long list of multi-syllable chemistry names. I’m sure Patrick enjoyed it… but it was our first intentional compromise on the 10-day food pledge.

His packed lunch was a sandwich of Applegate organics sliced turkey, yellow mustard, and “natural” cheddar cheese on honey whole-wheat Great Harvest bread. Applegate passes my “NO factory-farmed meat” requirements in that the animals are humanely raised, without antibiotics, processed without fillers. As for the cheese… it’s yellow, and although I read the package at the store, I did not realize that annatto was food coloring. The package said the cheese was “natural”. Although annatto is from a plant, I don’t see the need to have my cheese colored in the future. (Thanks for the tip, Dawn!) His side items were sliced organic grapes and steamed carrots.

Patrick's real-food preschool lunch

He really likes all of these foods. In fact, even though we had just eaten oatmeal and bananas, he got an early start on “lunch” while I was taking these photos:

Tasting his packed lunch

I planned to have green salads for most days at lunch. After bringing Patrick to preschool, I had to go to the dentist to have a cavity filled. (Maybe from all the hidden processed sugar I used to eat. Or maybe because I’m not consistent about flossing. Or both!) After the filling, one side of my mouth and face were numb and I didn’t want to eat salad. I decided to make soup with something I had in the fridge.

Last-minute "gumbo"

Real food cooking means that I always have the cajun trinity (celery, onion, and bell pepper) on hand. I also had okra from the farmers market and homemade chicken stock in the freezer. So I decided to try to make a vegetarian “gumbo”. White flour is not included as real food, so I decided to try making roux with whole wheat flour. (The food rules also don’t allow deep fried foods. Let’s all agree that roux is not technically deep fried?!)

Whole-wheat flour roux for gumbo

My whole-wheat roux smelled AMAZING. I added more flour than the usual 1-to-1 ratio because I found that the whole wheat flour did not soak up as much oil. The toughest part was guessing when my roux was roasted enough without using the color as a guide. It started out much darker than a white flour roux starts. I judged the roux based on the aroma instead, and tossed in my cajun trinity. This also smelled amazing:

Cajun trinity in whole-wheat roux

Once I added the okra and homemade chicken stock, I let it simmer for 45 minutes:

Okra "gumbo"

I underestimated how much seasoning the gumbo needed. I’m still adjusting to homemade chicken stock, plus I wasn’t sure if Tony Chachere’s qualified as real food so I tried to use basic seasonings. It wasn’t perfect, but once I served it with left-over brown rice it was a great, easy-to-eat, real-food lunch after a trip to the dentist.

Okra gumbo with whole-wheat roux and brown rice

Snack-time after Patrick’s nap was a new adventure. I decided to try the popcorn trick from 100 Days of Real Food. Start with popcorn kernels and a paper bag.

Plain microwave popcorn

Get assistance from an eager assistant to add 1/4 cup of kernels to the bag:

My popcorn helper

Roll the top of the bag, microwave until the pops are 3 seconds apart, and you have delicious plain popcorn (which is wonderfully whole-grain). I cooked the popcorn too long, and about one-third of the kernels were dark gray or worse. As you can see from the photo, that did not deter my small snacker:

Real food microwave popcorn

Or his popcorn-loving dog:

Séamus wants plain popcorn too

I would usually drink a Coke Zero with popcorn, but I quit drinking sugar and artificially-sweetened soda several weeks ago. Instead I made a soda with seltzer water (free with last week’s Earth Fare coupon) and a splash of fresh NC apple cider. Perfectly refreshing!

Replacement for Coke Zero

Dinner was supposed to be chicken from the farmers market, but it wasn’t thawed after a day or two in the fridge. So I had to come up with something else at the last minute. How about bean and cheese burritos?

Bean and cheese burritos

The tortillas were purchased before the pledge started, and they aren’t completely compliant with the rules. They claim to be 100% whole wheat but list some refined wheat in the ingredients… a reasonable trade-off for a last minute dinner. I didn’t realize until after dinner that the ingredients also includes sugar. Wow, it’s in everything!

The canned refried beans suprisingly qualify as real food, but I would love to make Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans instead in the future. I grated some white cheddar cheese which (unlike Patrick’s sandwich cheese) has no added color. I heated some frozen organic corn and left-over brown rice.

Almost-real-food rice, bean, corn, and cheese burritos

A quick, easy meal of *mostly* real food was enjoyed by the entire family:

Patrick loved his burritos

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One Response to Real Food Pledge: Day 3

  1. TXGardenMom says:

    You are amazing and an inspiration! Great job with the switch, and you have some excellent ideas that I want to start copying. I’m impressed/shocked by how many different types of items have sugar in them. Teeth beware! I thought I had eliminated most sugars from our diets, but the random pantry items that have sugar as a main ingredient is startling. Thanks for opening my eyes!

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