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We invite you to read along and hopefully join in as our family seeks out the real food in a processed food world. Our hope is since our family (that does not live on a farm, has two young children, and a husband that travels frequently) went 100 days without eating a single ounce of processed food or refined ingredients that you will consider taking our 10 Days of Real Food pledge. To make the boundaries clear we set some ground rules. If we did it for 100 days, then I am absolutely convinced that anyone can do it for only 10 days! And in case you need some more convincing, check out our list of 10 reasons to cut out processed food. If you would like to make some changes without going “cold turkey” also check out our 100 Days of Real Food Mini-Pledges, a 14-week guide for slowly cutting out processed food.

Our original 100 Days of Real Food pledge ended September 4, 2010 and boy was it a wild journey. You can start reading the blog from the beginning on “Day 1” if you’d like. During that pledge, one piece of feedback we heard often was…isn’t real food expensive? And the honest answer? Yes. So we decided to set out on yet another real food journey by taking a 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget pledge. This one began on October 4, 2010 and allowed us to spend only $125/week on food for the four of us. That is less money than a family would have on full food stamp benefits! You can read more about the rules for this second pledge by starting on “Budget Day 1.” Thanks for stopping by!

A little more about our family and why we are doing this…

At the beginning of 2010 our eating habits were just like those of any other average family. We thought we were making fairly healthy food choices, although we certainly weren’t following any special rules. Then came along the Oprah show “Food 101 with Michael Pollan”. After the show, Jason and I (Lisa) both decided to read Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food” which ended up being life changing for us. As it turned out, a lot of what we thought were “healthy” food choices were actually just highly processed and what the food industry was labeling as “healthy.”

Jason’s background is fairly different from mine. As a young child he lived with his parents and aunts and uncles on a hippie commune in Oregon. They grew and raised all of their own food. Jason and his parents have since become more industrialized when it comes to eating, but that doesn’t change their basic understanding of where our food comes from. On the other hand, as a child I had both Doritos and Kraft macaroni & cheese as staples in my diet, and I barely stepped foot on a farm. This shaped my views as an adult. As most other wives and moms can relate, I do most of the meal planning and food shopping, therefore I was (and still am) the biggest influence on our family’s food choices. And after reading “In Defense of Food” I decided it was time to make some big changes to those food choices.

So it wasn’t easy at first, but we slowly revamped everything from what we bought, to where we shopped, to how we cooked. It’s been such an eye opening experience for us that we didn’t want to keep all this exciting information to ourselves. So soon after we started making changes I launched a blog called The Food Illusion (which has now been moved over to this site) and began to build an audience. After a few months of blogging I decided it was time to do something big, something bold, and something that would get as many other people as we can to not only read about eating real foods, but to also make a commitment to this important change. Which is when the original 100 Days of Real Food pledge was born. You see, every time we food shop or eat a meal we are voting for either processed food-like substances or real food. If all of us make the right choices together then we can make a big impact, which will help change our country’s food system for the better.

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Family photos taken by Photography by Chanda: http://photographybychanda.com/pope/
Disclaimer: Lisa Leake is not a trained dietician, nutritionist, chef, or medical professional. The information on this blog is based on facts, research, and personal experiences. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease. Never dismiss any advice your health physician gives. The author shall in no event be held liable for any loss or other damages including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or any other damages.


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264 comments to About

  • Wow, amazing weblog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you make running a blog glance easy. The full glance of your web site is magnificent, as smartly as the content!

  • Karen

    I was inspired to go to talk to my hubby about eating real food on a tight budget. He thought that it would be difficult to do because of our schedules and because I work full time. So yesterday I talked up going to a farmers market and how I was going to let the kids pick their own fruits and veggies for the week. We had fun, the kids picked their fruits and veggies and I even bought a whole fresh chicken (1st time in years). I made dinner with some items I already had in stock and some fresh items that I bought. I took pictures of our meal and the kids exclaimed that it was the best meal that I ever cooked for them and it was fabulous. I was thrilled because my daughter helped make everything and truly enjoyed the process.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Ashley

    I am so glad I found your blog! I live in NC too, so it is nice to hear about things in my backyard that are available locally. I have one question though. Have you ever made your own yogurt? My mother bought me a yogurt maker for my birthday last week (I have yet to try it myself), but my mother makes her own and it is delicious! It comes out very creamy and tart like greek yogurt and it takes no time. With all of the smoothies you make it might be a great addition to your kitchen appliances.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I have not yet, but would love to one day!

      • J.Grimm

        So, so EASY!
        Choose how much you’d like to make…2 cups, 3, 4, etc.
        Let’s say its 4.
        Add 4 cups organic milk(the higher the fat content, the richer/sweeter the yogurt) to a stock pot over med-high heat. (just to scold the milk- a gentle boil).
        Remove from heat.
        Once you can hold a finger in it for 10 seconds, drop in 3-4 tablespoons of your favorite(plain) yogurt. Stir gently, a few circles around the pot.
        Place lid on top.
        Do not disturb, shake, move, or check on it.
        Leave it sitting on the stove or counter for 8-10 hours.
        Transfer pot to fridge to completely cool(4-6) hours.
        Enjoy!

    • Marla

      You don’t need a yogurt maker. You can do it in a crockpot. Here’s a link to a site I’ve used. It’s way cheaper than buying organic yogurt at the store. And, you are reducing waste because there is no packaging other than the milk container and the initial yogurt “starter.”

      http://eatingetc.blogspot.com/2009/03/homemade-yogurt-in-crockpot.html

  • Tori

    It is so refreshing to see someone going organic! You should definitely educate yourselves on the dangers of GMO’s! Organic foods don’t only keep us healthier than any processed foods could, but they help the environment of our whole planet! you Go Mom!

  • Lily

    Thank you Leake Family for the encouragement! I have a two questions for you and hope to get input from others. First, I’m a step-mother of a 13 year old girl and a 15 year old boy. My husband has 50/50 custody so we have them one full week at a time, every other week. It’s difficult to even consider this callenge when I have no control over what they are eating (pop-tarts, hot dogs, doritos, mt. dew, 1 box of mac n’ cheese for per kid for lunch, etc) 50% of the time. When I get upset about this struggle I remind myself of the HUGE strides I’ve made in their diets in the 3 years I’ve been in thir lives (they now eat steamed vegetables and salads, but it took/takes major EFFORT – putting one green bean on their plate to start). They even ask for seconds on brocolli! But it’s like they hit a ceiling – I’m extatic that I know they get nutrition from me (even if it’s minimal) but now I fear that because they are older and coupled with the fact that their mother doesn’t support this initiative, it’s a losing battle. They’d even called me the food nazi (in a joking manner, but I’m sure also serious way). Should I just feel victory in my small successes? Second question, do you think it’s an “all or nothing effort” to take this callenge or “give it your best shot and feel good about what you manage to do”? I ask because my husband and I both work full time and we struggle to find time to do the home cooking we can do let alone 100% of everything we eat. (Again, celebrating the smaller successes).

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Hi there! First of all…good for you for trying to have a positive impact on your step-kids lives. And with children of all ages it can often times feel like “one step forward two steps back” (even with my own children)! But the most important thing is that you don’t give up and stick to what you believe in. Even if the kids don’t “get it” right now at some point they will know you have been right all along so stick to your guns! Also, any changes you can make in the right direction are better than none. So you don’t have to do this all or nothing because I know it is not realistic for everyone. Why don’t you sit down with your husband and the kids and make up your own family food rules that everyone agrees to try to follow (while at your house)? It could be as simple as no fast food and more fruits and veggies. Make sure the kids understand the reasoning behind the changes…if you haven’t already you should watch Food, Inc. together first. Good luck!

    • GMK

      Lily, I”m in the exact situation you are only my skids are 14, 11 and 6 and we eat pretty healthy at our house while at the other house it’s donuts and lunchables. I’m by no means perfect, actually we’re just starting our journey but I will say that they will eat broccoli and green beans, raw spinach….so definitely feel the small victory and keep up the good work!

      Lisa thanks for the idea on writing food rules and watching Food Inc, I’m adding it to our netflix queue now!

  • Lily

    (Sorry aboiut the typos…spoiled with my spellcheck & not the best speller)! Anyway, very cool idea to blog about this and thanks for sharing your ideas (and lives) with everyone!

  • Dana

    THANK YOU for this amazing blog! I am addicted and starting to make changes in our household. Thanks for sharing! Just wanted to add, Robek’s on Providence Rd in Charlotte (Promenade on Providence) makes amazing smoothies that are just fruit and sometimes yogurt. You can customize them any way you like! They also have wheatgrass shots, which is another great way to get some antioxidants, fiber and a days worth of veggies in just 1oz.! I highly recommend it! Thanks again!

  • Lindsay

    You are a freaking genius! THANK YOU so much for doing this blog. After reading In Defense of Food and watching Food Inc. we are changing our eating habits. It is a difficult step when you are used to processed food. We are willing, but sometimes it is hard to understand everything and make the right choices. You make it easy and have tons of great recipes! I can’t wait to start making them!

  • Heather Fischer

    This is the greatest accidental google I’ve ever landed on! In 4 months we will be driving from MN to FL for 10 days in WDW. Along the way I am determined not to “eat out” We have a huge garden but it will be useless in January. I have canned/frozen over 300 units of fruits and veggies, but have no idea how I’m going to cook in a van on the way down. In the 5 minutes I’ve read your blog, I am so imspired and pumped to make a plan for our road trip. I have 3 little ladies who love home grown food and would love helping me plan a menu and make our trip “eat out” free! And it will save us hundreds of dollars! Your ideas are genius! Thank you!

  • [...]  4 eggs?  chocolate chips and coconut?  What’s a locavore to do with all that nonsense? Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food finally provided the answer: a simple Whole-Wheat Pumpkin Bread recipe [...]

  • Amy

    I’m so excited to find your site. I found it throw a comment on Heavenly Homemakers site. I totally agree and have been trying to get rid of the processed foods in my families diet. It’s really hard when you have a 17 year old teenager that turns her nose up and says “what is that?”. I grow a lot of my own fruits and veggies which helps out a lot with the budget and much healthier, all organic gardening. My daughter is a meat eater and that can break the budget. I can’t wait to start digging into your recipes. Thanks again for the wonderful blog.

  • Kelly

    I am so grateful that you are doing this … especially the recipes. My children (ages 5 1/2, 4, 2, and 5 m) have been raised vegetarian and are quite healthy. I was new to being a vegetarian approximately 7 years ago. We do mostly homemade things as I have never been a fan of fake meat. But it is a struggle to come up with food that is easy AND healthy AND yummy. I get bored with the same things – often unhealthy b/c they are quick. The biggest hole I had was quick snacks for the kids (other than fruit — they eat ALOT of fruit). Your ideas are great and the kids love them: crackers, smoothies, maple pecan bars etc. I am trying to do enough ahead so that I can freeze them and just pull some out of the freezer (with that many kiddos, it is alot of cooking and freezing… and dishes ;) So many kids I know (including family members) struggle with a healthy weight (either too thin or too heavy), learning difficulties, behavioral issues, constipation etc. Their doctors perscribe a pill. To a 1 year old!! They never ask about diet or make realistic suggestions!! So many of these issues could be alleviated with changes in diet — one step at a time. It is so important to get these ideas out to all parents. Thanks for doing your part!!

  • [...] of Real Food is a blog started by Lisa and Jason Leake of Charlotte, North Carolina. Last year, the Leake family (Lisa, Jason, and their two daughters) attempted to ditch artificial food for 100 days. Over a year [...]

  • Thank you for sharing your journey. Have you heard of the feingold diet? We have been using this as a way to help my child with aspergers syndrome and ADHD. We have been eating clean for three months and feel fantastic. I love what your doing. Check out what the feingold association is doing for elimination of artificial foods and preservatives.
    Have a fantastic Day!
    Liza

  • Meg

    I’m surprised I haven’t seen anything about backyard chickens!!!

    I’m on my second flock and absolutely love them. They’re awesome for kids, provide lots of fresh eggs (or dinner) and are excellent composters.

    Any current plans to expand?

  • Wow! I can’t believe all you have done! Any advice on how to go about this when my son in allergic to wheat?

  • Sherry (BTLover2)

    I just found your amazing and inspiring site via Pinterest. I’ve been sitting here reading post after post and looking forward to spending a lot more time here. I have one question (I tried searching for an answer but it’s taking me forever so I apologize if it is here and I’m missing it): what is your take on cheese? I see you use it often but isn’t much of it processed? Or maybe I’m just thinking about some of the “pre-shredded” stuff that has cellulose in it. Very curious about how you approach cheese in general. Thank you so much for your time and for this wonderful site!!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Hi there and welcome to the blog! Cheese is certainly somewhat processed (cooking is even a form of processing or changing your food), but we aren’t going for a raw food diet and instead we mainly avoid highly processed foods. So most cheese is okay as long as it is in block form (like you mentioned) and our personal preference is that it is also organic and white (in most cases). Cheese is actually supposed to be white and while the orange is a harmless natural coloring it just bugs me b/c it isn’t necessary :) Also, avoid anything labeled as a “cheese product” like Kraft American or Velveeta. I hope that helps!

  • [...] did manage to capture one photo with a couple of them. Kim from Rustic Garden Bistro and Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food accompanied us on a fabulous after-conference brunch provided by Zengo in Santa Monica Place. Not [...]

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  • Christie

    I stumbled upon your site from Pinterest and I’m so glad I did! It was my goal for the new year to do a lifestyle makeover for my family and change our eating habits, especially for my EXTREMELY picky 5 year old son. Another goal was to get my husband and I in shape; We are working on including exercise into our daily schedule (as tough as that can be). The thing I would like to know from you is if you noticed any significant weight loss JUST by changing your diet to Real Foods? Thanks!

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