by: Lisa Leake
North Carolina Family Took “100 Days of Real Food” Challenge and Saw Instant Results With More Energy, Weight Loss and Reduced Symptoms of Asthma - Fast Food Junkies Take Note! At the beginning of 2010 our eating habits were just like those of any other average family. We thought we were making fairly healthy food choices, although we certainly didn’t mind the occasional fast food meal or bag of chips. Then came a series of events, including a book by Michael Pollan and the documentary Food Inc., which forever changed the way we looked at food. As it turned out, a lot of what we thought were “healthy” food choices were actually highly processed and not good choices at all. So not only were we motivated to completely revamp our diets, but we also wanted to inspire others to do the same. So we decided to take a “100 Days of Real Food” pledge and blog about our experiences along the way.
Transitioning To Real Food
When we initially made the transition to “real food” I lost sleep over what my family would eat if boxed cereal, white sandwich bread, fruit snacks, and flavored yogurt were suddenly out of the picture. But after a lot of research (as well as trial and error!) we eventually found our “new normal” when it came to planning meals, shopping for food, and cooking. And while we initially cut out processed food because we thought it was the right thing to do we couldn’t help but notice all the positive changes that were happening to our health. Our youngest daughter experienced significant improvements in both her constipation and asthma, I felt more energy and saw my HDL cholesterol (a.k.a. the “good” cholesterol) go up by 50%, and my husband lost 10 pounds without even trying. So here we are still going strong long after our 100-day pledge. We started our blog because we wanted to draw attention to how much people rely on processed food, but we also wanted to help make the transition easier for others by sharing our research, recipes, tips and experiences. If you’re interested in cleaning up your family’s diet be sure to check out these resources on the blog: • The real food rules we followed during our 100-day pledge and mostly still follow now even though our pledge is over. • Five free weeklong “real food” family meal plans that include breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner and a corresponding shopping list.
• Our “100 Days of Real Food” mini-pledge series, which guides readers through cutting out processed food one week at a time. • Tips for eating real food on a budget.
• Pictures of what we pack our daughter’s for their school lunches everyday.
• Tips for dealing with picky eaters.
• Our “Recipes and Resources” page with over a hundred “real food” meal ideas and recipe links. I’d also like to leave you with one of my kids’ favorite recipes, which also happens to be a great way to introduce little ones to zucchini for the first time. And if you are lucky enough to have a plethora of zucchini growing in your garden this summer then here’s one more dish to add to your repertoire! Recipe: Zucchini Coins Ingredients
• 2 medium sized zucchinis
• 3 eggs
• 1 ½ cups whole-wheat breadcrumbs
• ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper, to taste Directions
1. Thinly slice zucchini into 1/8” round pieces.
2. Beat eggs in a shallow bowl.
3. Using a small food processor (or a mortar and pestle) process the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and a couple dashes of salt & pepper together until fine. Put the breadcrumb mixture in a shallow bowl.
4. Pour a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of a medium to large sauté pan and turn the heat to medium. Let it heat up while you start preparing the zucchini.
5. Make an assembly line in the following order: raw zucchini slices, beaten egg, breadcrumb mixture, and empty plate. 6. With one hand (which will be your “wet” hand) coat a few of the zucchini slices with the egg and shake off the excess. Drop those pieces on top of the breadcrumb mixture and using your other “dry” hand coat them with breadcrumbs. Shake off the excess breadcrumbs and transfer the coated zucchini slices to the clean plate.
7. As soon as you have enough zucchini slices breaded to make a single layer across the bottom of the pan, slide them in the oil to start cooking.
8. Meanwhile, start coating the next batch of zucchini, but check the stove after 2 or 3 minutes to see if the bottom of the zucchini is turning golden brown. Once they are brown flip them over and add more olive oil if necessary to keep the bottom of the breaded zucchini “wet.” Once both sides are golden brown transfer them to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm.
9. Repeat process until all the zucchini are cooked. Arrange them on a serving platter, garnish with Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!
About the author:Lisa Leake is a wife, mother, foodie, and blogger who chronicles her family’s journey on100daysofrealfood.com as they seek out the real food in our processed food world. Leake's award-winning blog is receiving national attention from big names like The New York Times, Jamie Oliver, and Yahoo! and has also been turned into a nationally syndicated newspaper column. Lisa and her husband and two daughters reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photography by Chanda.