Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis smiling in front of a dense cornfield

Eating Challenge
Can you go a week without eating corn? We did!

Corny Corn Maze
Master the maze to get an earful of corn fun and facts.

So You Want to Be a Farmer?
See how corn farming has changed and try your hand at the cornulator.

Alternatives to Ears
Find ways around high-fructose corn syrup and fatty burgers.

Eating Challenge: Jen

By and large I think I'm a pretty conscious food consumer. Sure, I love fries, pizza and tons of other stuff that's bad for you, but most of the time I eat pretty healthy and buy mostly organic everything and free-range meat and dairy products. I feel lucky to live in Northern California where it's easy to find tons of food choices.

So, I thought a week of not eating anything with corn in it would be annoying but not anything worse than that. By the third day, I was getting angry at how few choices there were of things I could eat, and by the last day the anger had combined with light-headedness and general spaciness due to lack of a variety in diet. Not the best.

The night before the whole thing started I planned out the week's menu and went shopping, which provided some eerie foreshadowing of the week to come. Things I thought would be ok were not! Whole wheat tortillas had honey or corn starch, soy cheese had milk protein, there were no obvious dessert options.

I specifically chose the time period I did due to minimal social scheduled activities and being close to my own kitchen. I cannot imagine trying to eat this way in the "real" world of restaurants, family gatherings and traveling.

On to the menu...

Week Begins

Day 1: Wednesday

The trouble started with soy milk in the coffee instead of cream. In my opinion, soy milk is pretty much soy water with white food coloring and there's nothing milky about it.

Breakfast was pretty good and this was my favorite meal of the week that I repeated many times. Irish oatmeal with soy milk, fresh blueberries, brown sugar (cane only) and cinammon.

Lunch was ok. Green salad with kidney beans, garbanzo beans, beets, cucumber and olive oil and vinegar dressing. I might have already cheated because the bean cans said something like "processed on equipment that also processes milk, eggs and nuts." Super.

More lunch: fettucini with marinara sauce. Might have cheated on the pasta, but it seemed ok according to the label.

Dinner was good, I used a recipe that I make pretty often, it's tasty, healthy and easy. Wild-caught Dover sole sauteed in cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, olive oil, parsley, garlic and chili flakes. Side of steamed green beans. Of course white wine.

I made a vegan banana cake which served me well the entire week for breakfasts and desserts, starting that night. I think the banana acted well as a substitute for butter and eggs, it was actually a good consistency and not hard as a rock.

Day 2: Thursday

Coffee and soy milk. Fine.

Repeated oatmeal for breakfast and salad and pasta for lunch. Fine and underwhelming.

I got home from work and hit a bag of potato chips hard. They were completely corn-free, Wendy (another corn challenger) had mentioned them and I went with that tip. The problem was I ate most of the bag and then wasn't hungry for dinner and didn't feel that great. Did have some potato leek soup that I'd made a batch of the night before. And some banana cake.

Day 3: Friday

More coffee and soy milk, oatmeal for breakfast. I wasn't sick of the oatmeal routine yet which surpised me.

Lunch was my first restaurant outing. I think I did ok, went to a Thai place and got shrimp and asparagus in garlic sauce with rice. There was probably something wrong in the sauce (corn starch?) and the shrimp were probably farmed, but I think that's pretty good for eating out.

For dinner: potato chips as a snack, then potato leek soup with a side of steamed brocolli.

Day 4: Saturday

Saturday morning I started to feel a little off and didn't have as much energy as usual. I wonder if it was from eating all those chips and no protein? Who's to say!

Coffee, soy milk, oatmeal. Then, since it was spring cleaning weekend at my house and I was running around all day, I went into snack mode until dinner: pistachios, carrots and hummus, banana cake, repeat.

By dinner I was starving and my boyfriend and I got Japanese take-out which I think was ok but probably wasn't in some secretive corn additive way. I had edamame, green salad with miso dressing, a share of some sushi rolls and vegetarian udon soup. And sake. And white wine.

Day 5: Sunday

Things started taking a turn for the worse on Sunday. I was determined to see the week through but was getting cranky at my lack of options but also not really motivated to find better solutions because I wanted to deal with the whole thing as little as possible. Bah.

Coffee, soy milk, then the snack rotation of banana cake, pistachios, carrots and hummus, leftover udon soup.

Dinner was not good. I had a bowl of black beans, spanish rice, salsa and avocado. I thought it would be more satisfying than it was but it left me craving a burrito with buckets of sour cream and cheese.


Day 6: Monday

I ate better on Monday but I think the damage had been done and I was feeling pretty weird in the head and impatient to boot. One more day after this and then I'd be FREE.

Banana cake. An apple with peanut butter, pistachios.

I ran around all day and by dinner was wondering why I was starving and realized it was because I'd only eaten the above. So I have a good dinner of green salad with kidney beans, garbanzo beans, beets, cucumber, carrots olive oil and vinegar. Then, wild-caught Mahi Mahi with olive oil, S & P and parsley, with a side of steamed green beans.

One more day. Couldn't wait to have cheese.

Day 7: Tuesday

This day started bad and ended bad. One of those days where you wake up and wonder how many hours til you can go back to bed, and count down all day. Couldn't focus on work. Cranky.

Coffee, soy milk, oatmeal.

Brocolli and hummus snack. Amy's organic lentil soup for lunch.

Leftover Mahi Mahi from night before with side of steamed green beans. Watched my boyfriend and his sister eat their "normal" dinner with what must have been a rabid, half-crazed look.

Day 8: Wednesday

Oh, YES. Cream in the coffee, pizza for lunch, huge burrito for dinner. Beer. Ice cream. Gaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.

See how Shannon fared in the eating challenge >>

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