The Week of Eating Real Food in Review

February 4, 2013

I finished up my week of eating only real food this past Sunday, and it went pretty well. It turns out it’s definitely possible to do, but takes a little extra preparation up front, and a lot more label reading and thought. I was secretly hoping that I would get a good start on dropping the 5 extra holiday pounds that seem to find me every year, but that actually didn’t budge – nor did I really feel any different by the end of the week. That led me to conclude that either 1) it takes more than a week of ‘clean eating’ to really see any effects and/or 2) I don’t really eat all that badly to begin with.

There are a couple of things that make me think the latter is true (and the first is probably true, too): First, my evening meals were really no different than the things I normally make – I usually cook dinner with whole ingredients. Second, during the work week I take food and eat during the day, and that food usually includes organic cereal made with whole wheat, dried fruit, nuts, and organic fat-free Greek yogurt — none of which are particularly horrible. The big changes I made to my day-to-day eating were 1) no low calorie/ low fat/ high fiber/ high protein/ ( highly processed and added to)  ‘Alternative Bagels‘, 2) no Luna fiber bars (or any other kind of bars), 3) no Guiltless Gourmet baked tortilla chips with Kraft Fat-Free Cheddar Cheese to make nachos, and 4) no over-snacking on dark chocolate or other sweet dessert items.

Despite the lack of any huge revelation at the end of the week, I am completely glad I did this, and I do plan to make some adjustments to my diet going forward:

  • Unless every ingredient is whole or organic, or all the spices are listed individually, I’m going to try to avoid foods that list more than 5-10 ingredients. There were several things that I normally buy that I think should have been perfectly allowable, but just had more healthy ingredients than 5. But some of the items I checked out at the store (lower-fat cream cheese, for instance) literally had around 20 ingredients, only 8 or so of which I could identify in any way. That’s just kind of gross when you think about it.
  • I’m going to investigate preservatives a bit more, and allow those that seem relatively safe, but try to avoid foods that seem needlessly preserved or use mysterious preservatives or those for which the verdict is still out. Given the fact that a full time job makes it difficult to cook everything from scratch, and some time-saving is necessary, I’m not going to bar a food item if it includes say, citric acid.
  • I’m going to think a bit more about whether the foods I’m eating are really nutritional, or if they’re just empty calories. I won’t cut myself off from nutritionally useless things like half of a dessert when eating out, or the above-mentioned baked tortilla chips completely, but I was eating them more than once a day, which I’d like to stop.
  • Now that I discovered it’s possible to make bread with literally ALL whole wheat flour that’s still light and tasty, just by adding a mashed potato, I’ll probably bake with more whole wheat.

And now, some pictures of my dinners last week:

Leek, Pepper, Rice and Heirloom Beans deglazed with Espresso Balsamic Vinegar

Leek, Pepper, Rice and Heirloom Beans deglazed with Espresso Balsamic Vinegar

I’ll post a recipe for the above dish later on.

Curried Chicken and Potatoes

Curried Shredded Chicken and Potatoes

The recipe for Curried Shredded Chicken and Potatoes is on my recipe page — BUT I used real coconut milk for it instead of the ‘lite’ chemical concoction I used for the original recipe.

Quinoa, Heirloom Bean and Kale Salad with Espresso Balsamic Vinaigrette

Quinoa, Heirloom Bean and Kale Salad with Espresso Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette

This salad was really simple. Make a bed of  kale, red cabbage and carrot, then add 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup cooked heirloom beans, and dress with Espresso Sesame Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette (I used honey instead of maple for this week).

Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Tomato Sauce and Shaved Pecorino Romano (supplemented with a smaller version of the Quinoa and Bean Salad for protein)

When I don’t have summer-fresh tomatoes I just use a couple of cans of organic diced tomatoes for my home-made tomato sauce. Here’s the recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Heirloom Tomato Sauce.

Berbere Chicken with Oven-Baked Potatoes

Berbere Chicken with Oven-Baked Potatoes (the chicken looks charred, but it wasn’t – I think it was just that the dark spice rub got darker!)

This was boneless chicken thighs coated with berbere (a spice combination I make from Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe) and then grilled. The potatoes were just tossed in olive oil then salted and peppered and roasted in the oven. We also had an arugula salad on the side.


2 Responses to “The Week of Eating Real Food in Review”

  1. colosher Says:

    Sounds like a good week … may I come over to eat with you???

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