Unprocessed 101

One of the first questions people ask when switching to a healthier diet is “What is unprocessed?”

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole food ingredients.

-eatingrules

The foundation of unprocessed eating is a healthy pantry. Clean out the junk and invest in a few items that will aid in the construction of nutritious meals.

ten simple rules to AN UNPROCESSED DIET
  1. No artificial ingredients. It’s time to remove all of the items like chips, dips, dressings, etc. that do not contribute to a whole foods diets.
  2. Get rid of everything that contains high fructose corn syrup and any trans fats.
  3. Avoid any “instant” mixes, boxed meals and processed chips.
  4. Examine your energy bar. Read the label. If it has any ingredients you do not recognize, switch brands.
  5. Get rid of any pre-made sauces with added sugars or other additives. For example, replace jarred sauces with organic, low-sodium tomato paste. It still gives you the convenience of a quick sauce but provides a single ingredient pantry item as the starter.
  6. Steer clear of canned fruits or vegetables. Frozen varieties offer more nutrition if fresh produce is not an option.
  7. Eliminate microwave foods. Part of going unprocessed means incorporating as many whole food, single ingredient items as possible into your pantry and they rarely need to be microwaved.
  8. Replace sugars with honey or maple syrup which fall under the whole food category, unlike processed sugars.
  9. Purchase unsweetened versions of condiments like ketchup or applesauce.
  10. Use only whole grain foods like brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

And some suggestions to help you stay the course!

Increase on hand amounts of bulgar and quinoa. These are high-nutrition grains that are easy to combine with fresh vegetables to create a quick, balanced meal.

Make your own granola from organic rolled oats, honey, slivered almonds with add-ins like shredded coconut, cranberries and dark chocolate.

Have the spices in your pantry been on the shelf for over a year? Time to replace! Invest in quality spices from local farmers markets. Using dried herbs in place of salt can lower your blood pressure without sacrificing flavor.

Switch to wholesome snacks in small quantities, like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits and fresh fruit. Keeping a small snack with you during the day will provide an alternative to chips and high sugar snacks when cravings arise.

Getting Started

There are a few things you can do to start health habits that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.  When in doubt, keep it simple.

Clean out fridge

Get rid of anything that distracts you from maintaining a healthy kitchen.  Now is the time to throw out any lingering soda, old chocolate sauce, ancient jellies & jams, moldy condiments, etc.

Wipe down the shelves and sanitize drawers.  Make sure any meats are separated (and on the bottom shelf) from produce so there is no cross contamination.  If you can’t see everything inside your fridge, there’s a high chance you could be wasting ingredients.

Clean out pantry

Stocking your pantry is one of the most important factors to successful kitchen organizing.

  • No artificial ingredients.  It’s best to remove all of the processed foods like chips, dips, dressings, etc. that do not contribute to a whole foods diets. If the label has more than five whole natural ingredients, consider an alternative.
  • Get rid of EVERYTHING that contains high fructose corn syrup and any trans fats.
  • Remove any pre-made sauces with added sugars or other additives.  For example, replace jarred sauces with organic, low-sodium tomato paste.  It still gives you the convenience of a quick sauce but provides a single ingredient pantry item as the starter.
  • No more canned fruits or vegetables. Frozen varieties offer more nutrition if fresh produce is not an option.
  • Replace sugars with honey or maple syrup which fall under the whole food category, unlike other processed sugars.
  • Stock up on whole grain foods like brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

Check out our Pantry 20 List

Post menus

Printing out the menu and displaying it your kitchen is a simple way to stay on track. It also gives others in your family a sense of stability and creates a good feeling about what’s for dinner.

Check your tools

When I was in college, I cooked everything with a bad knife and a old wooden spoon. It got the job done but I always felt a struggle when trying to make dinner.  Kitchen tools help make your time in the kitchen easy.  You don’t need fancy equipment but it helps to take an inventory of what you do have because sometimes utensils and pans we haven’t used in forever are ignored when we could be using them for everyday tasks.

Our list of favorite kitchen tools.

Five minute planning

If there was one habit that I could tell you leads to kitchen success, it’s planning ahead. Just five minutes of thought the night before about how dinner will be prepared the next day can save you from a life of food prep stress.  When dinner is over,  you can run through tomorrow’s plan to make sure all ingredients are present and all prep is planned.

Give it two weeks all in

Starting something new can be a challenge when life continues to happen all around us.  If you cook The Fresh 20 style for two weeks, our promise is you will save money, reduce stress and increase health.

Pantry Dressings

Once you have the basic vinaigrette down, there are so many variations you can make based on what you have on hand.  Here are a few multiple purpose dressings. They are all quite easy to make.

Basic Vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
100kcal, 0g Protein, 0g Carb, 150mg Sodium, 0g Fiber, 0mg Cholesterol, 11g Fat, 1.5g Saturated, 0g Sugar, 0% Calcium, 0% Iron

Italian Dressing
1 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
110kcal, 0g Protein, 1g Carb, 0mg Sodium, 0g Fiber, 0mg Cholesterol, 11g Fat, 1.5g Saturated, 1g Sugar, 0% Calcium, 0% Iron

Buttermilk Ranch
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 chives, finely chopped
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk to until well blended. Chill until ready to use. Store in fridge for up to a week.

Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
15kcal, 2g Protein, 1g Carb, 95mg Sodium, 0g Fiber, 0mg Cholesterol, 0g Fat, 0g Saturated, 1g Sugar, 2% Calcium, 0% Iron

Onion Dressing
1/2 tablespoon finely minced or grated onion
1/2 tablespoon Dijon-type mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup excellent olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
90kcal, 0g Protein, 0g Carb, 85mg Sodium, 0g Fiber, 0mg Cholesterol, 9g Fat, 1g Saturated, 0g Sugar, 0% Calcium, 0% Iron

Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks (room temperature)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk yolks, Dijon and lemon until well blended, frothy and light in color.
By hand – 3 minutes, by mixer – 1 minute
Very slowly drizzle in oil a little at a time, whisking until mayo stiffens.
Add up to 1/2 teaspoon salt. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
100kcal, 1g Protein, 0g Carb, 115mg Sodium, 0g Fiber, 40mg Cholesterol, 10g Fat, 1.5g Saturated, 0g Sugar, 0% Calcium, 0% Iron

Honey Mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons mustard
2 Tablespoons honey

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
90kcal, 1g Protein, 3g Carb, 55mg Sodium, 0g Fiber, 15mg Cholesterol, 9g Fat, 1g Saturated, 3g Sugar, 0% Calcium, 0% Iron

Paleo Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon raw honey
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
120kcal, 0g Protein, 3g Carb, 180mg Sodium, 0g Fiber, 0mg Cholesterol, 11g Fat, 1.5g Saturated, 3g Sugar, 0% Calcium, 0% Iron

The Kitchen 20

Useful, multipurpose utensils that make cooking enjoyable. Earlier in life, my kitchen consisted of a dull knife, one wooden spoon and a metal bowl. I still cooked with adventure, but everything was twice as hard and successful results were not guaranteed! These are everyday tools and I promise they will make your life easier.

TONGS

If you want to up-level your kitchen “cred,” buy a pair of tongs. They can flip, toss, turn, and scrape.

Shop Now

FLAT WOODEN SPATULA

The ultimate multitasker, this utensil is a tried-and-true friend in the kitchen.

Shop Now

SILICONE SPOON SPATULA

This tool is as useful for sauteing vegetables as it is for stirring morning oatmeal. A must have!

Buy It

MEASURING CUPS

It’s nice to have two sets of measuring cups, one for dry ingredients and one for liquids.

Buy Now

MEASURING SPOONS

Metal measuring spoons are stronger than plastic and last longer. I use these everyday.

Shop 

MESH STRAINER

A medium strainer works well for many tasks. Make sure it can strain pulp.

Shop Our Store

VEGETABLE PEELER

Look for a peeler with a good grip and a blade opening at least 3 inches wide.

Grab one

KITCHEN SHEARS

Once you start using kitchen shears, you will find thousands of tasks for them.

Shop Our Store

FLEXIBLE CUTTING BOARDS

Cut and scrape the ingredients directly into the pot.

Get a Set

WHISK

A strong stainless-steel whisk with a solid round handle will make for easy work.

Shop Our Store

DUTCH OVEN

Start with a 5-quart pot, which is small enough to make dinner, but big enough to squeeze in a whole chicken.

Our Favorite

MIXING BOWLS

Look for bowls that have a rubber bottom edge to reduce the slip factor. Deep enough for splatter control and wider enough to allow for whisking.

Buy Now

8" CHEFS KNIFE

There is no single tool for cooking that you will rely on more than a sharp chef’s knife.

Our Pick

4" PARING KNIFE

The pointed tip of a paring knife gets into tight spaces a larger chef’s knife cannot touch. It’s perfect for slicing smaller fruits and vegetables.

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6" SERRATED KNIFE

A serrated knife blade cuts through tomatoes like a charm and does double duty on bread and tough-skinned vegetables like squash.

Buy Now

GRATER

A stainless-steel grater does more than grate cheese. It can grate onions, carrots, and chocolate too.

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10-12" SKILLET

The all purpose pan. Skillets have slanted edges and are always measured in inches across the top. Invest in quality.

Must Have

8-12 QUART SAUCEPAN

There are a lot of things you can prepare with a sturdy stockpot: soups, pastas, and corn on the cob just to name a few.

On Sale!

2 QUART SAUCEPAN

Use this versatile pan to reheat rice, warm broth and even melt butter for popcorn. I recommend an ovenproof, nonstick stanless-steel pot with a long handle and a tight fitting lid.

A  Best Buy

FOOD PROCESSOR

A food processor can make quick work of tough, hard foods like nuts and seeds and can quickly grind onions and garlic.

Our Pick

The Pantry 20

Stocking your pantry is one of the most important factors to successful kitchen organizing. I have a tried and true list of ingredients that come
to my rescue over and over again. With the pantry basics I can create almost any dish my family requests. I promise these items will make
your kitchen happier! You’ll need them to be well stocked for The Fresh 20 menu plans!

Click HERE to download your checklist

QUALITY MATTERS!

Whenever possible aim for the best ingredients you can afford, especially when it comes to olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It really makes a difference in the overall taste of your food.