Keeping It Easy

New Potatoes

My kitchen counter launches many unfortunate science projects: moldy bread, fruit fly farms, and of course, sprouted potatoes.  In spite of these accidents of negligence, I do try not to waste food, so last spring I planted these potato “starts.”

I threw wet cardboard on a weedy area of the yard, arranged the potatoes on top, and scattered a bag of soil over it all.  After watering it once, I ignored it completely all summer.  You’re supposed to keep piling the dirt on top as the plant grows, but I didn’t even do that.   So it was surprising and thrilling to dig up a small crop of potatoes after my complete negligence.  They were delicious.

I’m hoping that this Unprocessed October reaps similar success with minimal effort.  The only way I’ll be able to accomplish ultimate ease with a project like this, though, would be through a bit of planning and prep at the beginning.  I may have ignored those potatoes in the ground, but at least I planted them in the ground.   That countertop wouldn’t have produced a crop.

So.  Here is my plan for having an easy Unprocessed October:

  1. Create a realistic menu for the month that keeps my actual life in mind.
  2. Make and freeze a few meals ahead of time.
  3. Keep it simple: an apple and a handful of nuts is nearly as easy as a bag of Chee-tos.
  4. Have a stock of good snacks on board (in fridge, in car, in purse, etc.) to resist all those pervasive preservatives when I’m on the run.

Let’s talk snacks.  These can be a weak link in the chain of healthy.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m busy and hungry in the middle of the day at work, even that stale-paperweight-doughnut left behind in the staff room starts to sing a little siren song at me.

Here’s a list of unprocessed snack options as a reminder for both of us. They all contain protein to tide you over until mealtime, and they have complex carbohydrates for energy.  Also, many of these snacks are crunchy—for satisfying munching.

  • Hummous and carrots
  • Nuts and raisins (great snack for car, purse, or backpack)
  • Edamame, sliced radishes, and a satsuma
  • Peanut butter and celery
  • Bag of cheese cubes and an apple
  • Hard-boiled egg and cucumber slices
  • Half sandwich: peanut butter, cheese, etc. (with organic, preservative-free bread)
  • Leftovers from last night
  • An orange and a handful of nuts
  • Small salad (with some beans or shredded cheese for protein)
  • Mini-can of tuna and a bag of celery stalks
  • Small bowl of leftover beans and brown rice with sea salt

If you are participating in Unprocessed October too, I wish you a month of great flavor.   I also hope it’s as easy and fruitful for you as a neglected potato garden!

About the Author

Anne Livingston is a professionally trained cook, recipe developer, food photographer, food stylist, and teacher based in Seattle. She has a regular column, “Cooking Fresh” in Edible Seattle Magazine, that features her recipes and food photography. You can find Anne at her website, on Pinterest, and on Instagram.

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