So, yeah, you know, we've pledged to give up processed food for a week, but that's like, so easy, because we don't eat any processed food anyway.
I had an interesting conversation with the kids yesterday. Tefal Fresh Week runs from 13-19th May, and I have pledged my support. You can read more about that here, where you can also find out how to sign up yourself.
This also coincides with the first week of a 3 week stint of single parenting as the Husband is conveniently buggering off to the Middle East on Monday. Not only that, it is Pink's much awaited 7th (yes, 7. How did that happen?) birthday on Friday, and the Husband will still be away for half term. Not that I'm making a note or anything.
There has been a reasonable amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth about this (not least from the Husband who isn't necessarily looking forward to the prospect of 3 weeks sitting in a desert) so I thought the challenge of Fresh Week would be a good distraction, for me and the kids at least.
"Next week, we're going to stop eating processed food. What do you reckon?"
"What does that mean? What's processed food?"
"Well, it's when food has been turned into something else." (hastily looking for an example) "Yes, like those" (points at sugared cereal purchased in moment of weakness, and the subject of much self-loathing & inner recrimination since). "And ketchup. Ketchup is processed."
"Is cheese processed?"
"What about chutney?" (Blue always has chutney in his sandwiches)
"Well, yes it is processed, but I made it from the fresh ingredients, so it's less processed than shop bought chutney. That would be OK."
"But will I be able to have cheese?"
You get the point, Even though I like to think that we don't eat processed food, the reality is that it's really hard to avoid all 'processed' food unless you only eat meat and vegetables.
Looking around for some definitions, what it seems to come down to is that food processing is any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it's available for us to eat. Frozen peas. Dried pulses. Boiled eggs. They have all been processed.
To exclude everything that has been processed seems to me to be taking things too far and not actually within the spirit of Fresh Week. We're not being asked to limit our diet simply to fresh vegetables, and meat, and to eat them raw (cooking, after all, is a 'process'.) It's about cooking from scratch, rather than opening a packet and shoving it in the microwave. It's about chopping your own carrots and grating your own cheese (did you know that those who package pre-grated cheese actually add potato starch in to it - I have no idea why. I mean, really - why would you do that?? And is it really quicker to buy it like that?). About starting with raw ingredients and getting your dinner on the table that way.
That said, having had the conversation with the kids, I realised that we do use more processed food than I would perhaps like to admit, albeit that I have mentally sanctioned them as 'OK'.
So here's where we're going with this in the RJ household. Cheese, milk and natural yoghurt are definitely in. So is dried pasta during the week (for my own sanity), although we are going to try making our own at the weekend (the hours are going to fly by...). Home made chutney and jam are in. Maltesers - selected by Pink as the desired decoration for her cake - will have to be in. But only for birthday cake. Within those parameters, as far as possible, I am not going to use anything with 'additives' (artificial or otherwise) - although I may well add seasonings and flavourings as necessary from my spice cupboard.
Wine. Is. In.
In agreement with the children, breakfast will be porridge, toast made with homemade bread, or eggs. Eggs and bread can be combined into eggy bread (Pink's favourite) or as boiled eggs and toast soldiers.
|Eggy bread. And Ketchup.|
|Home made bread|
|Jam, jam and more jam|
On Friday, the 'big birthday' day, there will be breakfast pancakes (providing I can get myself organised - watch this space).
Lunches - well, packed lunches will be as they usually are. Sandwiches (homemade bread - allow me to polish my halo). Blue will be able to have his beloved cheese and chutney combo - after all, I made my own chutney. Tomatoes, cucumber chunks, carrot sticks (peeled and sliced by my own fair hand - no purchased pre-sliced sticks here, thank you very much). Cheese will be sliced from a block of organic cheddar. Hardboiled eggs & cold cooked pasta will feature.
|I have no idea why this photo is upside down either|
There will be cake, although the cake for the week has yet to be determined. I'm thinking a lemon drizzle using swede puree which also features in the Harry Eastwood Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache book I got the orange & rosemary cake from.
One day a week, they have a school dinner.
For me, well, it will be the usual - soup, salad, made fresh depending on what's in the veg box.
Dinner/ tea/evening meal - This will depend a little on the contents of the veg box that I get delivered on a Tuesday evening from a local small holding. That aside, I'm planning realistic meals that reflect what we usually eat, hoping to show that it is easy as a working parent (which I am, although I do have the advantage of working from home) to cook fresh every day.
There will be a vegetable pasta bake.
There will be real fish fingers and homemade chips. I may yet make my own ketchup, but don't hold your breath.There will most definitely be an egg based dinner (on that day, there will be no eggs for breakfast) given that with the improvement in the weather, the chickens are laying like mad, and there's only so much cake I can make. Pink has requested chicken fajitas at some point, and to make an occasion of it, we'll make this meal together at the weekend, using our own spice mix and including making the tortilla/flatbreads. And in an attempt to think of another cooking based activity for the weekend and avoid us sinking into the doldrums, the kids and I are going to make our own pasta.
Puddings - well, I'm guessing rhubarb will feature. Natural yoghurt with jam or honey. That sort of thing.
|Blackberry & apple with natural yoghurt, anyone?|
I'd love to hear how you get on - and if you take the pledge you will be in with a chance of winning your own Fresh Express Max and a Riverford Organic Box. We've just heard that there are 2 more packages available to win before 19th May. Can't be bad.
And if you want more inspiration, keep reading, and check out my fellow Tefal Innovation Panel Bloggers as they take the pledge: Madame Gourmand, Boo Roo and Tigger Too, Mother Geek, Jacintaz3, Emmy's Mummy, Red Rose Mummy, Romanian Mum, Seasider in the City, Crazy with Twins, Attachment Mummy and The Mad House .