Posted by: Hil | November 2, 2008

The Challenge Begins

As I blogged yesterday, the Lemonator and I have decided to hop on board with Kath’s Great Thanksgiving Challenge.  After talking things over and thinking about what would work for our situation, we have adapted the challenge as follows.

1.  We will spend $126 or less on food between November 1 and Thanksgiving Day. 

2.  Food purchased prior to November 1 is fair game and does not count toward the total. 

3.  We are not hosting Thanksgiving this year, so food for Thanksgiving is not included in the $126.  Other than a few loaves of homemade bread, we will be preparing all of our Thanksgiving food at my mom’s house using her kitchen and ingredients.

4.  We will ourselves one “free” meal out each week.  Any other food or beverage that we purchase will count toward our total.

5.  We are going to have several hungry house guests next weekend.  They have been planning to come for months and we do not want them going hungry.  Thus, we have decided that any food that we purchase for them does not count toward our total.  Any food that we purchase for ourselves over the weekend does count.

6.  At the end of the challenge, we will calculate the difference between the amount we typically spend on food and the amount we spend on food during the challenge.  We will donate the difference to charity.

So let’s get started.  Breakfast was a bowl of oats with a spoonful of homemade pumpkin butter and a sprinkle of granola.  I had a small pear and a cup of coffee with cream to go with it.


After breakfast, I headed over to the farmers market, where  I picked up arugula, chard, leeks, a red bell pepper, carrots, Italian parsley and two red onions.  This should be enough vegetables to get us through the week.  Total cost = $9.45, bringing our total so far to $30.28.


Sunday brunch is our typical weekly meal out, so we decided to use our “free” meal today.  We usually go to Indian buffet, but the line was out the door, so we went to a nearby Italian restaurant instead.  I ordered whole wheat spaghetti with butternut squash, chicken, rosemary, and nutmeg cream sauce.  The pasta was very good, but portion they served me was huge!  I didn’t even get through half of it and I was overstuffed by the time I was finished.  


The husband baked some whole wheat bread for us this afternoon.  I like my Ezekiel bread, but I’m not missing it very much with the smell of fresh-baked bread filling the apartment!  Unfortunately, some things went awry with this batch and it did not rise.  It’s very dense and looks kinda scary.  We’re attempting to determine whether it is salvageable or whether we have to bake a new batch. :-/  Given the budget, we are keeping our fingers crossed!

Hours after lunch, I still felt stuffed from lunch.  The cream sauce on the pasta was good, but there was too much of it.  Don’t get me wrong: I love me some cream sauce.  But I like mine to be bright and tangy and not too thick.  With a really thick sauce like the one at lunch, I end up eating more sauce than I really want and filling up long before my brain is ready to be done.  Blech.  A light dinner was in order.  The husband is going to have leftover steak and a side of frozen peas, but my stomach cried out for something lighter.  I whipped up a bowl of miso soup, which fit the bill perfectly.  I didn’t have any sea vegetables on hand, but I did have miso paste, tofu, scallions and lemon.  Since this was the main part of my dinner, I added a generous amount of tofu rather than just a little for garnish.   Very tasty.  To go with it, I polished off an orphaned artichoke that was left in the fridge from last week.


I will leave you with a bit of fun reading.  I know that this article is over a month old, but I just stumbled on it and I had to pass it on to you guys.  Take a look at the opening paragraph:

After decades of obsessing about fat, calories and carbs, many dieters have made the unorthodox decision to simply enjoy food again.  That doesn’t mean they’re giving up on health or even weight loss. Instead, consumers and nutritionists say they are seeing a shift toward “positive eating” — shunning deprivation diets and instead focusing on adding seasonal vegetables, nuts, berries and other healthful foods to their plates.   [Emphasis mine]

Hurray!  I haven’t heard the term “positive eating” before, but I like it and I think I might start using it.  It’s a good label for the type of food philosophy that I endorse.  It’s so nice to have this approach recognized in the mainstream media!  Read the whole article.  It has interesting perspectives from everyone from Alice Waters to Rachael Ray.  Fun factoid that I didn’t know:  according to the USDA, the more time people spend on food-related tasks (e.g. cooking, grocery shopping, dishwashing), the more likely they are to be of normal weight.  Both overweight and underweight people spend significantly less time on food.  It makes sense…presumably people who spend more time on food-related activities are cooking from scratch more and eating fewer convenience foods.  I would also bet that people who spend more time on food spend more time engaging with and enjoying their meals.  Real food and pleasurable eating?  Sounds like a healthy combination to me.



  1. I’m so excited! This is awesome 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Definitely agree with positive eating. Glad to hear you had an awesome weekend, and enjoyed your meal out!

  3. great job! i’ve read that article before and loved it. eating will never be just a simply-fuelling experience for me – it’s one of the greatest pleasures and doing it positively is definitely key.

    that pasta looks really good, but i agree with you – i hate it when the sauce is so rich that you are physically full before you are mentally. plus i always prefer eating more of the carby stuff – the noodles – when it comes to pasta!

  4. You’re off to a great start with the challenge – good luck!!!

  5. Hurray for positive eating! It’s ALL ABOUT enjoying ourselves while we’re healthy.

    Sounds like the challenge is going great for you!

  6. Good work!

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