Sliced Red Yellow PeppersMy pal Andrew at Eating Rules is running his third annual October Unprocessed. Is it possible to get through an entire month without eating processed foods? I’m going to try. You in?

It’s a deceptively simple concept. Can we—in our busy 21st-century lives—have all of our meals from whole foods with minimal processing? I know it will take a bit more time and preparation. And for me, I’ll be away from home for at least 7 days of the month, so that will make it even tougher. But I’ve slid a bit farther back down the processed path lately, so this is good timing.

Andrew’s reason for starting this challenge was 1) to see if it was possible, and 2) to see how it might make him feel. 1) yes and 2) yes.

Andrew defines unprocessed foods as those that pass The Kitchen Test. Andrew has the ability to break complex concepts down into simple, applicable notions. (Like his classic Breakfast Flowchart.) So his definition of an unprocessed food is: one that a person with reasonable skill and readily available ingredients could make in their own kitchen. (Note that you don’t have to be that person, only that the food has to pass that test to be considered “unprocessed” for this challenge.) Let’s take a look at four examples from my kitchen:

Processed or unprocessed?
October Unprocessed 1: gluten-free mac and cheese ingredientsProcessed. I don’t have powdered buttermilk, whey, or sodium phosphate in my pantry. And this isn’t vegan either, so there are two good reasons for me to stop buying it.

Processed or unprocessed?
October Unprocessed: cheese slicesProcessed. The packaging is another giveaway. Yes, I broke down and bought wrapped cheese slices, which are vegetarian but not vegan. Definitely a good thing to give up again.

Processed or unprocessed?
October Unprocessed: refried beansUnprocessed. I could definitely make this at home. But sometimes we need to save time!

Processed or unprocessed?
October Unprocessed brown rice pastaUnprocessed. I could make this… in fact it’s been on my list ever since I found a manual pasta machine at the Goodwill store (unopened box, no idea how well it will work).

A friend just told me she’d like to give up meat and go vegetarian/vegan, but she has no idea what to eat. So I will try to take pictures of all my meals this month, and post them each day on my Facebook page so you can see how I did.

If you’re along for the ride, please sign the challenge here. And post on Facebook or share by email… let’s see what kind of impact Andrew can have this year.