Let me just kick this post off by doing a little happy dance that you’re here. Seriously, do you get how very cool is it that you’re jumping into the challenge of a month without processed food?
If, come Halloween, you look back at the month and see not a trace of soy lecithin or sugar, that’s fantastic. But you know what? If you look back at the month and see some boxes with unintelligible ingredients lists on them, that’s OK too.
Because just being here and signing up for this challenge means that you’re moving forward on your NOURISH Evolution. That’s the term I use for the journey we’re on when making a lasting shift from processed foods to real foods.
The concept of an evolution was forged from my own experience, which began about 10 years ago and literally saved my life, along with the journeys of hundreds of others—friends, clients, readers … all Evolutionaries.
Over time I began to notice that, while everyone’s individual story is different, we all tend to move through the same five stages on the way from processed food to real food. And the more I shared about this idea, the more I could see how empowering it is to know what stage you’re in and what terrain lies ahead.
Watch this little video below (please forgive my paltry stick figure drawing skills) and see if you can tell where you are on your journey:
Blissfully Blind Prairie: the first step–or really, a “pre-step.” It’s where everyone begins, eating whatever is in the path of least resistance and having no desire to change.
The Pinnacles of Should-Angst: the stage when you glimpse the consequences of staying in Blissfully Blind Prairie. There is a compulsion to change, but not much will, and not much know-how.
The Hump: the “something” that moves you out of the Pinnacles of Should-Angst and towards real change. Often, though not always, it’s a “ life event.”
Peaks and Valleys of Practice: the process of developing new habits through trial and error when making the shift from processed to real food.
The Land of NOURISH: when your default is cooking — and thoroughly enjoying — real food … within the complications and constraints of real life.
Do you see how, if you’re in the Peaks and Valleys of Practice, getting through this month totally unprocessed would be a fantastic accomplishment that might just usher you into the Land of NOURISH?
And how if you’re in the Pinnacles of Should-Angst, then tackling even a few unprocessed meals will be a victory, and the wisdom you’ll gain throughout the month will act as a foothold to get you up and over The Hump?
Seeing the shift to real food as a journey rather than an overnight change pads everything in patience for the long haul.
There’s no beating yourself up for not being three stages ahead, there’s only compassionate acceptance for where you are now and a pat on the back for the progress you’re making.
Judgment of others—whether for fermenting sauerkraut or shopping at Costco—goes out the window too because you recognize that those peeps are simply at a different stage of their evolution.
My hope for you this month is, of course, that you’ll succeed in going unprocessed. But even more, I hope you’ll recognize that the fact you’re here on October Unprocessed reading this post means you’re already moving forward. Wherever you are on your journey, you, my friend, are a NOURISH Evolutionary.
Sautéed Sweet Potatoes with Shallot, Chile and Lime
- 1 pound sweet potato peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot
- Sea salt to taste
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/4 teaspoon chile powder or to taste
Place the sweet potato in a wide sauté pan with 1/2 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 minutes, uncover, and let liquid burn completely off.
Scoot sweet potato to one side of the pan and add the oil. Let the oil heat up and then spread the sweet potato back out and toss to coat with oil. Add shallot and sea salt, and toss to mix, then let sit so things can caramelize. Cook for 5-7 minutes, tossing just a few times, until sweet potato is tender and both sweet potato and shallots are golden brown in places. Toss sweet potatoes with cilantro and slide onto a plate.
Squeeze lime juice into pan and scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let cook for a minute or so until juice thickens slightly, then pour over sweet potatoes and give them a gentle toss. Sprinkle chile powder on top and season to taste with additional salt.
About the Author
Lia Huber believes you don’t have to be a chef or “foodie” to cook fabulous-tasting food, and you don’t need to be a nutritionist to make healthy choices. A widely-published food writer and media personality, Lia followed her calling in 2009 and founded NOURISH Evolution to inspire and equip people to make a lasting shift from processed food to real food in real life with tools like Cook the Seasons, a revolutionary meal-planning program that puts seasonal vegetables at the center of the plate.
Her first book, Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love with Recipes, traces her own journey to healthy eating. You can find Lia on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I really like this post. Thank you so much, Andrew for the daily encouragement throughout this “challenge” month.
Lisa’s points are right on, and funny. Being in those peaks and valleys of practice myself, I’m finding this month to be a revelation on the foods I and my family don’t have to eat… and it’s feeling great!
Revelations mean you’re on the right track on your Evolution! 🙂
Hi Stacey, it’s straight up chile powder. I like ancho or, for something a little different, a smoked powder like chipotle (or my favorite, chile cobanero from Guatemala :-)).
Fantastic attitude!! Good for you!
Janet, that’s terrific that you know where you are … And it sounds like the perfect way to challenge yourself this month!
Maria, I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
I tried this recipe out today and it came out delicious. Thank you.
Interesting post. I noticed I subscribe to all of the magazines mentioned in your introduction! I would say I’m in-between the Peaks and Valleys and the land of Nourish. We have always cooked at least 6, usually 7 nights a week, mostly from scratch. My “processed” weakness has always been snacks. I am using the Challenge to eat more mindfully, and not just grab anything from the pantry when I’m hungry. I have lost, and kept off, over 40 pounds in the past two years, and I think that stopping to consider whether a food is unprocessed will help me lose even more weight.
Thanks so much for this post as it is so timely! After spending more $$ than usual at the market this morning and so desperately wishing I wasn’t spending so much time reading the label to check for ingredients, I sucked it up and pushed forward. I came home and packed a snack of fresh grapes from the Farmers Market, some nut and dried fruit trail mix I made earlier in the week and a “just fruit” bar for the day ahead. I’ve always eaten “mostly” unprocessed, but did not realize how hard it would be to eliminate the other 25% of my very processed diet. It has been a challenging 5 days, but I’ve made it thus far. I did plan for 4 “cheat meals”, but will use them judiciously. Glad to know I am not alone and that change is not going to happen at the snap of… Read more »
Is the “chile powder” in the recipe chili powder (with cumin, oregano, and powdered chiles) or powdered chiles, such as New Mexico?