Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: Eat-In May! April 29, 2014

Filed under: Eat-In May,Food & Cooking — suburbanpioneers @ 4:07 am
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Leave that restaurant table empty!  You've got a date with some fruits and veggies.

Leave that restaurant table empty! You’ve got a date with some fruits and veggies.

I just wanted to add my voice? pen? computer? to Lauren’s to ask you to join us for Eat-In May!  She shared some pretty crazy statistics about how much Americans eat out.

I’ll add my two-cents in.  When we started thinking about this project, I remembered reading somewhere–maybe in Fast Food Nation–that Americans consume one-third of their calories away from home.  I looked it up, and found research from the USDA that confirms this:


* In 2005-2008 Americans consumed 32% of their calories away from home.   (USDA Economic Research Service) I wonder how that compares to the past 3 years?

* Furthermore, the USDA determined that food away from home was higher in saturated fat and sodium but lower in dietary fiber.  This seems like it should be obvious.  But still, in case you needed the reminder, there it is.

* It seems that 30% of American calories come from desserts, sugary drinks, alcohol, and salty snacks, with the top five food items that contribute calories to our diets being: soft drinks, pastries/desserts, hamburgers, pizza, and potato chips (UC Berkley News).  Notice these are all items we more frequently eat away from home.

* And my favorite quote from Berkley Professor of Health and Nutrition, Gladys Block: “…such healthy foods as vegetables and fruit make up only 10 percent of the caloric intake in the U.S. diet. A large proportion of Americans are undernourished in terms of vitamins and minerals. You can actually be obese and still be undernourished with regard to important nutrients. We shouldn’t be telling people to eat less, we should be telling people to eat differently.” (UC Berkley News)


Hear, hear, Gladys!  I’m all about not eating less…but yes, I’ll admit that I need to “eat differently.”  And to kickstart ourselves to eat differently, we’re launching Eat-In May.  Join us!


Don’t worry.  I’m creating my own two exceptions (because the point is to change habit and lifestyle, not to make things impossible).  Maybe you have one or two exceptions, too, but the point is to nix the casual coffee stop and the “I-don’t-know-what-to-make-so-we’ll just-pick-up-pizza” moments.  My exceptions:

  1. family birthdays/anniversaries–because I like my in-laws and would like to stay on good terms with them.
  2. travel–we rarely go away for the weekend, but there was this killer Groupon deal…well, you know how it goes.  While I’ll reduce our eating out by packing food for some meals, it’s a bit stressful to go away for a weekend without eating out once (and the stress of packing all meals might mitigate the relaxation of a weekend away…which would be a waste of a perfectly good Groupon).


So there.  Exceptions notwithstanding, WHO’S WITH US????


Sarah: Join us for Deprocessed December! December 6, 2012

I don’t know about you all, but I find December one of the harder months to resist…


In fact, I’d better just admit the dark (or milk) chocolate truth.  I love most sweets.  And chocolate is pretty much at the top of the list.  I would eat it for breakfast.  And lunch.  And dinner and dessert, too.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert in various forms (and quite possibly on the same day).

The down side (apart from cavities and possible weight gain)?


The problem is that, in December, the chocolate pie, the chocolate chip cookies, the hot chocolate, and all the other sweets that end up getting passed around the office or at a potluck or with family are often processed.  And that’s pretty much because we all think we don’t have enough time to make actual food with real ingredients.

That’s why we’d like to invite you to join us on a winter adventure: Deprocessed December. Let’s kick the intake of chemicals, preservatives, refined sugars, and hydrogenated oils this month.

That doesn’t mean we won’t eat sweets or snacks or other delicious comfort food at all.  No, indeed!  That’s not possible for me in December (or any other time, really).

Instead, we’ll look at all the things we could easily be making with real food, without additives.

Every few days, we will post a recipe for snacks or food that we often buy prepackaged that just isn’t that difficult to make at home.  Here’s our promise: as few ingredients as possible.  No refined sugar or prepackaged items.  And as fast as possible.  The above stipulations are necessary because we’re both busy people with children who scream if we are in the kitchen too long.

So…this might mean spending just a few extra minutes in the kitchen before the office holiday party or the family gathering. But our bodies, our scales, and our wallets will thank us for resisting the over-processed and instead taking responsibility for the process.  Who’s in?

And to start us off, here’s our first recipe:

Replace this   Protein Bars which not only contains exciting ingredients such as Organic Oat Syrup Solids and Vegetable Glycerin in addition to the ever-mysterious “Natural Flavors,” but also costs $1 per bar

With this:

Homemade Protein Bars

2 c. flour (+ more if needed)
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. peanut butter (all natural…no sugar, no oil)
1 c. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. molasses

Those are all the necessary ingredients…the fun part comes when you add extra goodies:

1/2 c. flax seed (this just makes it healthier, but if you omit, you might need more flour)
1/2 c. slivered almonds or walnuts or any other nut you desire
1 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract (or none at all if you prefer)
1/2 c. raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips, or any other goodies

Combine all dry ingredients (flour, oats, salt, baking soda, flax seed, nuts, and dried fruit/chocolate.  Then stir in wet ingredients (peanut butter, maple syrup, and molasses).  Press mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and bake 20-30 m. until a fork stuck in it comes out clean.

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 10.43.31 PM

A 9×13 baking pan will yield about 12 thick and delicious bars.  I eat them for breakfast.  Or lunch.  Or dinner or snack, as the mood strikes.

And…to give credit where credit is due, I would like to thank Terry Walters’ book Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source for inspiring me to bake without butter and sugar.  Her “Teff Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies” on page 275 were a revelation.  The purchase of the entire book was worth it for that one recipe!


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