October #Unprocessed - Week 3 Update

Week 3 Update:

This week was less of a struggle and I attribute that largely to having a good menu plan in place for all of our meals and snacks. Having our menu planned out in advance gave me more time to experiment in the kitchen since I wasn't standing at the fridge wondering what I was going to fix for our meal. I used that extra time to try a few things, one of which was substituting plain Greek yogurt for mayo in some of our condiments. I wasn't really a fan of using Greek yogurt in my tuna salad sandwich, but I thought it was a great way to lighten up my buttermilk ranch recipe. I used the lightened up ranch dressing on a salad for lunch and with cut up veggies for snack. Before I knew it we were out of ranch dressing again so I'll have to buy some more spices and make it again for next week.

I also had the opportunity to try a few more recipes using the white whole wheat flour I bought during week 2. I found that in my pizza crust and pita recipes I could use it as a substitute for all-purpose flour without any problems. In fact, my husband didn't even realize I had made a change to the recipe and he's normally the first one to notice when I've messed with his favorite dishes. This goes down as a win in my book and I'll likely be making the switch permanently. 

It's Not Easy Staying Unprocessed

There were a few times this week were I didn't stick to eating unprocessed. My husband decided he didn't like the flavor of yogurt cups I bought him for work. They're getting to the point where we need to eat them or throw them away, but we have a rule in this house in regards to food waste. We don't waste food... period. Even during the challenge I wanted to stick to this rule, it's very important to me, because every time I have to throw food away I know I'm throwing away money. It may have been the healthier option to throw them away, but that would have been $2 I had wasted. That may seem like a small amount, but over time it really adds up. As a compromise I decided to split one of the yogurt cups with my son for a snack, but it was so sweet I couldn't finish more than a bite. This tells me that my tastes have readjusted themselves this month, which was something I had been hoping for. I've worked very hard to limit sugar during the challenge and the hard work has paid off. I decided to dilute the remaining yogurt cups with what was left of the vanilla yogurt I bought last week for my breakfast. While my snack won't be entirely unprocessed, I will be consuming less sugar. As I've said before sometimes less processed is the best you can do and I'm ok with that.

There were a couple of other instances of not eating unprocessed this week, one of which was our yearly trip to the fall festival. We spent the afternoon at one of the local farms picking pumpkins and going on hay rides. One of the highlights of this trip is always stopping in for a treat, picking pumpkins is hard work! Besides, they have the best apple cider doughnuts I've ever had. While I was tempted to pick up a box to take home I limited myself to one (and let me tell you, that was really hard.) It was delicious and I knew I didn't need to feel guilty about this once a year treat, because it was just that, a treat. We ended the day with a trip out for Chinese food and while I didn't make a healthy decision about what I ate, I did decide to eat a smaller portion and bring the rest home to split with my son for lunch the next day.

Fighting Food Cravings

I was really fighting food cravings this week and I contribute that largely to stress and lack of sleep. I'm stressed out over the price-tag for my upcoming dental work and the pain is keeping me from getting a good night sleep. When it comes to food cravings I'm a firm believer ignoring them is not a good idea; that typically leads me to binge eating unhealthy food. I decided to go out and buy a loaf of bread to feed my carb cravings. I could have made a loaf, but sometimes I want the convenience of not having to make it myself. I was able to track down a loaf of bread that was unprocessed and I was surprised to find out it wasn't any more expensive than a regular loaf of bread. I ended up eating PB&J sandwiches for breakfast all week, slathered with my home made pumpkin pie spiced apple butter. 

Budget Impact

I didn't see an impact to our budget this week. My only extra expenditures were for a loaf of bread and a jar of natural peanut butter. This little splurge cost me under $6 and is something I may have bought anyway. Now apples being on sale for $0.68 per pound, that had a huge impact.  I bought nearly 30lbs so I could make caramel apples, apple pie filling, and more applesauce. That, however, wasn't related to October #Unprocessed... it was one of those deals you just can't pass up since we seldom see apples under $0.99 per pound.

Next Week:

We'll be having a Halloween party so I want to come up with several more #unprocessed party foods. I'll be making Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with pita chips and serving a cheese platter, but I want to try and unprocess my Caramelized Onion Dip recipe. All I need to do is make mayo from scratch, but that is something I've never done before. I'll also need to decide what I want to serve for dinner, we should probably be responsible adults and eat something other than the candy the kids bring home.

3rd Birthday Party Plans + Key Procrastination Tips

I've been a very busy girl these past few weeks, which is why I've not been posting as often. So far, in the last two days I've turned 24lbs of apples into three types of applesauce, made a small batch of pumpkin pie spiced apple butter, as well as roasted corn and poblano quesadilla filling, refrigerator oatmeal, and breakfast sandwiches. Pretty soon I'm moving on to brownies, banana bread, and hummus. And we can't forget the home made pizza I made for movie night. That probably sounds like enough food to feed an army, and it is, but what I'm really doing is procrastinating. I know that may be hard to believe after reading the list of everything I have accomplished, but in reality I'm putting off cleaning the house. If I'm honest, on the best of days I'm a terrible housekeeper and on the worst days you'll wonder if I ever clean at all. The truth is, I'd rather be playing with my son than cleaning, so more often than not we make messes rather than clean them up.

Isn't life with a toddler grand?

Despite my self-admitted poor housekeeping skills I do attempt a mini-spring cleaning the week of my son's birthday. The key word there is attempt, right now I'm attempting not to think about it, hence all the extra time I've spend in the kitchen. I'm sure each and every one of my guests know I'm a complete and utter slob, but for this one day a year I like to have the house somewhat in order before the party sends it back into chaos. We have exactly seven days to go until my friends and family make the trip to help celebrate my son's third birthday and I haven't cleaned a single thing. In fact, I've made such a huge mess of the kitchen and dining room that I'll have to clean before I can continue cooking. Perhaps there was a method to my madness after all, now I'll have to get a bit of cleaning done so I can make the birthday cake! 

Every year I start my planning by picking a theme for my son's party. The theme for his 2nd birthday, as you can see from the photo above, was dinosaurs. I made a pretty kick ass Paleontology Cake, but so far this year I'm at a bit of a loss. How in the world do you top a cake as cool as that? I've got a few ideas and hopefully I'll be able to tweak things this week. In the mean time I've come up with our menu for the weekend. The last two years we've done a chili buffet, but I'm ready for a change. We'll have a hoard of hungry toddlers running around and I can't think of anything they would enjoy more than a pasta buffet. I've never met a kid who didn't love pasta, have you? 

So without further ado, here is this year's party menu. I'll be updating it over the next week or two with links to the various recipes as I have time to photograph and post them.

✔ Party Theme

Construction

 Appetizers

Antipasto w/ Olives from Mezzetta
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus w/ Red Peppers from Mezzetta

 Main Course - Pasta Buffet

Originally we had planned on three types of pasta and an assortment of toppings and sauces, but a number of our guests weren't able to come for the party. Instead we had Fettuccini Alfredo topped with imitation crab meat, chopped broccoli, and parmesan cheese. I look forward to trying out the pasta buffet on a larger scale next year when we have more guests. Even on a small scale it was a hit with everyone, especially the kids, and only required a minimal amount of work.

I have a Crock-Pot Triple Dipper we used for keeping the toppings warm and everyone was able to customize their Fettuccini. 

✔ Side Dishes 

Mixed Green Salad with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch
Cheesy Garlic Bread

✔ Drinks 

Iced Tea
Local Craft Beer 

  The Cake 

Construction Cake

Disclosure:

In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that House Party and Mezzetta have provided me with free or discounted products that I've used to create some of the recipes in this menu. As always, all opinions are my own.