This month I thought I’d try a little experiment. I’m participating in Eating Rules’ October Unprocessed. It’s a pledge that for the month of October I’m going to try and only eat food that is unprocessed. (That’s what that cool-looking badge over there on the left is all about.) You’re probably wondering what that means. Well, it means that for this month I’m not going to eat anything with ingredients I don’t recognize or can’t pronounce, like niacin or disodium guanylate — pretty much anything I can’t recreate in my own kitchen. I have to admit, I was a little nervous, but as Andrew explains, all it takes is a little planning and it’s really not too hard to keep the oath. The added benefit, my meals are not only healthier, they actually taste better.
Now there are some caveats. This is not some grueling diet where I’m going to feel horrible guilt if I don’t succeed. It also doesn’t mean I need to cut out everything I’ve ever eaten before. It’s all about what’s right for you. A perfect example is sugar. Yes, the white sugar that all us bakers use is processed. I mean, something tells me when you crush the sugar cane, perfect little white crystals don’t come out. So obviously I’m going to keep using sugar. But since I really want to give this pledge my all, I went out and bought some raw sugar instead, and while slightly more expensive, it tastes just the same and works just as well. And I’m sorry but I just can’t give up my Canada Dry ginger ale. But you know what? It just so happens that ginger ale isn’t the only thing I’m ingesting that’s processed. It just so happens a lot of what I eat and drink is processed. But I was very happy to discover just how easy it is to find an unprocessed substitute.
I was shopping the other day and I went to buy some pasta for a linguine recipe. I usually buy the fresh pasta you find in the refrigerated section, but when I looked at the ingredients I was shocked to see there were several things I couldn’t even pronounce. Then I went to the dried pasta aisle and found a pasta that has everything you expect to find if you make your own – flour, yeast and egg yolks. Who knew that the dried stuff is actually healthier than the “fresh” stuff. I made a similar discovery in the canned vegetable aisle. I had no idea a simple can of tomatoes or kidney beans had things like calcium chloride in it. I guess it’s to keep the color and make it last those few extra months on the shelf. But if you buy organic (or even better fresh) you’re not going to get any of those weird ingredients and it tastes so much better. It’s also a hell of a lot healthier.
So for my first post for the month of October I’m making this yummy Apple Oven Cake. Believe it or not, it’s made with 100 percent unprocessed stuff. I know, no one’s more shocked than me. And since I didn’t get to do an apple recipe for Rosh Hashana, I’m doing one now for Yom Kippur which starts tomorrow night. This sweet quick cake would make a lovely dessert for your Break the Fast. And since it’s only a few ingredients and takes seriously about 20 minutes to make, you won’t, or rather you shouldn’t, be tempted to taste it while you’re fasting.
So for this month, try buying unprocessed. Go to the farmer’s market and pick up some apples or squash since they’re coming into season. Try baking your own loaf of bread. Or just eat more salads. Whatever you decide to do, whether it’s for a week or the whole month, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is and how much better everything tastes.
Apple Oven Cake (from Sunset Magazine)
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large apple, peeled, cored and sliced
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup pastry flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, swirling to combine. Add the sliced apple and cook until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Transfer apple mixture to a 10-inch pie plate.
- While the apples cook, in a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, flour, and milk. Pour egg mixture into pie plate over apples and bake until puffed and brown, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.