I was super excited to take the October Unprocessed Challenge. I rarely take on a challenge for a couple of reasons. 1) I don’t really like to subscribe to fads (especially when it comes to food) and 2) I tend to bore easily and I don’t generally stick with one thing for very long. Something about the October Unprocessed Challenge really grabbed me though. This is not about a fad diet, not about going [insert whatever]-free. This was not about being vegetarian, vegan or carnivore. This is about something that we could all use a little more of – education.
Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules started October Unprocessed a few years ago and now more than 6,000 people are participating in the program. The Challenge is to go one month without eating any processed food. The goal is to learn about what it is we put into our bodies every day.
At first I thought this wouldn’t be that difficult for me and M. I cook almost every night and we eat a lot of fresh vegetables and lean meats. But then there were sauces. Ok, no problem. I have plenty of spices. I usually make my own salad dressings anyway. And then, flour. Again, I could handle this. I make my own bread and can use 100% whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour. Chocolate? No worries. I don’t need it… But wait. What about gum and mints? Oh no. Now this is a problem. Both have processed ingredients and I’ve missed them terribly over the past couple of weeks. However, I guess the upside is I’m probably brushing my teeth more!
Now going unprocessed does not mean going without flavor. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Real food has far more taste than all that other junk companies have been pushing down our throats. With a little planning ahead, we’ve had delicious mouth-watering meals and I’ve noticed I’ve felt way more satisfied than if I was eating frozen meals.
One of the favorite dishes has been this Potato Leek Gratin. It’s rich, creamy and packed full of fall flavor. Normally I might have replaced the cream with another ingredient because of the calories but I am so glad I used the REAL cream here. It makes all the difference!
Now I won’t say that I’m taking up going completely unprocessed for good, but I’m definitely incorporating things I’ve learned from this challenge into my life and into my cooking.
If you want to learn more about October Unprocessed, check it out on Andrew Wilder’s blog Eating Rules.
- 4 medium gold potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick (I use a mandolin slicer)
- 4 leeks
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon organic Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons organic heavy cream
- 1 ounce organic sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the potato slices in a large pot of salted water. Heat over high heat just until boiling. Drain and set aside.
Cut the green tops and roots off the leeks. (Reserve the tops for stock.) Split the leeks lengthwise and run under cold water to remove any dirt or sand. Thinly slice the leeks.
Heat ½ teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the leeks, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften. Add in the Dijon mustard and heavy cream and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until leeks are soft and creamy. Remove from heat.
Coat the bottom of a 7×13 casserole dish with the remaining ½ teaspoon olive oil. Place one layer of potato slices on the bottom and top with half of the leek mixture. Repeat and then top with one more layer of potato slices. Top with the shredded cheese and the chopped sage.
Bake in preheated oven until edges begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.
Servings: 8 Serving Size: 1/8 gratin
Calories: 90 Fat: 2.9g Sat. Fat: 1.6g Carbs: 14.3g
Sodium: 79.5mg Fiber: 2.5g Sugar: 2.7g Protein: 3.6g