100 Days of Real Food Challenge: Biting into Week 2

We are starting Week 2 of the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge with a group of more than 100 friends across the U.S who are trying out more healthy eats. Over the next 13 weeks, I hope to share our journey and post a bunch of new recipes that include real food.

My personal goal is to try to experiment with less wheat and utilize more natural sweeteners. I want to make more snacks and serve up more whole fruits and veggies for my kids rather than relying on store-bought bars (even organic ones!) and fruit snacks (Sorry, Annie.)

This week I made a few discoveries. When we are trying to eat more real foods, I need to think ahead, plan out my meals (and even snacks) and prep/cook ahead of time. My biggest lesson this week is that I need to go back to my "batch cooking" like making sauces that can be frozen and big batches of granola for breakfasts. I also need to prep cook when I am not tired and not in a rush. Otherwise, it's easy to get crabby and frustrated.

I've also been working on portioning our meat so it can be used for two meals. For example, this past weekend we grilled grass-fed burgers and I reserved some meat for taco salad today.

I love to share ideas with friends. Our friends, the Benedicts, had stuffed sweet potatoes on their meal plan and I stole the idea on Friday night when I realized I didn't have enough time for my planned pizza meal and dough rising and all that.

In the spirit of sharing ideas, this week's meal plans are linked here.

This week inspired some new recipes at our house as well. After a juicing session last Sunday, I used the carrot pulp for these Carrot-Oat-Raisin Muffins. I also encouraged my sometimes-picky 3-year-old to eat red peppers this week by mixing up a batch of homemade ranch dressing to dip the peppers in.

My biggest challenge was to think outside the box on desserts. I am a chocoholic so I tend toward chocolate when I need a sweet fix. I discovered that the first ingredient on my semi-sweet chocolate chips was sugar. I don't think chocolate is bad; in fact, studies show dark chocolate is full of antioxidants but I decided to take a break from chocolate desserts this week to push myself to more creativity with real foods.

My hubby is a personal trainer/coach and one of his clients gifted us with some figs from their farm. I've never tried cooking with figs before. I surveyed our refrigerator and found some mascarpone cheese. (That's a mild Italian cream cheese.) I mixed in a teaspoon of honey and some whipping cream and made a mascarpone cream. We cut the figs in half, added a dollop of cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Voila - yummy real food dessert!

Did you eat any real foods this week? Make any great discoveries on the journey to eat more healthy? Please leave us a comment!

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