Sweet, Salty & Sexy

Purging Processed Foods

A group on processed donutsElevate the quality of your food, and you will naturally eat less because high-quality, nutrient-dense food delivers the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we need to feel satisfied. Eating poor-quality, nutrient-deficient food is like trying to fill a bottomless black hole—it just can’t be done. Your body and brain working together sense the deficiencies, and before you know it a survival strategy kicks in, leaving you hungry for more.

—The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management

We asked Patti’s Twitter followers what nutritional questions they wanted answered. Alison asked, “I’d like to start eating fewer processed foods, but I’m not sure where to start. Suggestions?” 

Perform a Pantry Exorcism

Start with purging the emptiest of the empty calories:

  • Sugar—sugary snacks, cookies, pastries, donuts and sweetened cereals
  • Corn oils and polyunsaturated fats
  • High-fructose corn syrup products. Look in unexpected places—salad dressings, ketchup, sports drinks and sauces
  • Flavor-enhanced foods like blueberry-flavored waffle mix
  • Processed high-fat foods like cookies and crackers made with hydrogenated oils, gravy and salad dressing mixes


Shop to Restock

Real whole foods are the best nutritional options—and by that I mean foods closest to the source. Apples instead of apple sauce, nuts in place of sugary cereal bars, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil in place of polyunsaturated oils like corn and soybean oil, whole grains like brown rice instead of white rice, and fresh fruit rather than fruit flavoring—think real food!


Keeping It Real

  • Upgrade from jarred mayo and bottled oil to mashed avocado as a sandwich spread
  • Enrich recipes that call for sour cream with Greek yogurt instead
  • Top salads with nuts rather than croutons
  • Elevate the breads and cupcakes you bake with mashed bananas in place of sugar and oil
  • Make pasta sauce at home: use fresh tomatoes and olive oil with Italian seasonings like basil, oregano and garlic
  • Bite into a big juicy apple and remember the simple pleasure of unadulterated whole foods
  • Switch to whole grains like oatmeal, rather than sugary cereals
  • Choose artisanal cheese over processed varieties
  • Make salad dressing at home (I’ll show you how next!)


Toss the Salad Minus the Bottled Dressing

Why go to all the trouble to bring home fresh greens, maybe some nice tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and other veggies, and then add a highly processed dressing when making it from scratch is so simple and tastes so much better? Here’s my favorite vinaigrette…


Champagne Vinaigrette

Makes 1 cup.

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine mustard and vinegar. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. You can store the vinaigrette in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a month.

The only rule for making great vinaigrette is to always add the olive oil last, preferably while whisking slowly and consistently. That’s it!


To make homemade champagne vinegar, store leftover champagne in an open wide-mouthed jar at room temperature. Within a few weeks, the wine will have turned to vinegar.

Extra Credit

Practice shopping only the outside perimeter of the supermarket. For one week eliminate all foods packaged in a box or bag and opt for only whole foods. At the same time, upgrade the foods you eat on a regular basis. For example, if you routinely eat iceberg lettuce, upgrade to romaine. If you eat romaine, upgrade to arugula.