Cooking Without Processed Food

By Jim F

dees-mighty-cookbookDee’s Mighty Cookbook promotes an approach to eating that is free of processed foods.

Author Dee McCaffrey heads up the Center for Processed Free Living – a non-profit group that recommends minimizing or eliminating processed foods from our diets.

I read through a copy of the Cookbook and even tried out a few recipes.The small self-published small cookbook begins with the story of Dee McCaffrey’s weight loss. It is a touching story that covers over 20 years (includes over a decade of maintaining her weight).

McCaffrey goes on to discuss a selection of ingredients such as Stevia, Flax seed oil, and oat bran. The book then launches into a collection of around 100 or so recipes.

McCaffrey’s focus is holistic nutrition – not calories or macronutrients. .Each recipe in the book uses only whole foods and covers a range of items such as breakfasts, desserts, snacks, meat-based meals, vegetarian dishes, and snacks.

The Real Test

Instead of a small blurb about this book – we decided to actually try out a recipe or two. We chose to make “Dee’s Mighty Muffins”. It’s ironic because just a few days ago I spat out something that I had brought from a coffee shop.

It resembled a muffin – but it was actually a gelatinous gob of dough that they had the audacity to call a blueberry muffin. Yes — we all have our vices…

Dee’s muffins are made without vegetable oils or butter, sugar, or flour. As a sweetener raw unfiltered honey is used, along with Stevia.

As we were making these my wife commented “what are you going to write if these taste awful?”. I replied that I would be as diplomatic as possible.

Fortunately for us all – these muffins were lovely – beautiful flavor and texture.

In fact this unassuming little cookbook has been one of the few review books that has not been immediately consigned to the bookcase.

If you have an interest in flour-less and sugarless living then go check it out.


  1. sheila vanetta

    how or where can i buy this cook book?

  2. guest

    I find a lot of what you say to be naive and uneducated. Being thin does not make you healthy. You can be thin and still eat the foods that lead to cancer and heart disease. And what about the kids…they have problems earlier and earlier and it’s because of the food they eat. Removing a whole class of food has given some cultures the benefit of eliminating heart disease and cancer. Do your research.

  3. gthomas

    I think that if you tried it instead of judging and assuming you might be surprised and less aggressive…. with I’m presuming your PHD or MD in nutrition, etc you can tell me the sources that you are using to make your claim. Just one last note…. you can be “thin” or not fat and still be unhealthy. Best wishes to you through your life

  4. Cassie

    I have been trying to take processed foods out. Got any other recipes to share? I’m hoping to find some healthy homemade breads, or muffins. Really anything great. I love tossing chickpeas in honey, cilantro, cinnamon and a dash of sea salt. Toast them in the oven, and you have a great snack! Better than popcorn!

  5. AS

    When I think of “processed” I think of all the extra filler ingredients that are added to food– such as preservatives, artificial sweeteners, added salt, FD&C, etc. Granted almost of all of our food nowadays is processed but it’s the added stuff that makes it overprocessed. For example, I know oat is processed, but I prefer to buy and eat whole grain rolled oats instead of the instant oats, because the instant oats have added salt and sugar in them, and the nutritional grain husk has been eliminated. That’s what they mean by processing. You don’t need to eat a chicken dinner with globs of crumb coating on your chicken or fancy dressing stuff on your veggies– just bake the chicken with a little bit of olive oil and black pepper– actually broiling is great! And cook your veggies by steaming or saute with a small amount of olive oil (when I say small, I mean like one teaspoon that you measure out) and voila! you have a meal made without processed foods. It’s that simple and it still tastes great.

  6. Russel

    Processed carbs do cause diabetes – carbs do not, and you do not have to be obese to be diabetic. A poor muscle to fat ratio can cause diabetes in a skinny person.

  7. slothbob

    On, there is a callaboration of chemical engridients in one paragraph. Pardon the spelling, I endulge in processed foods, etc.

  8. Anita


    You can visit her website or to get more info from Dee McCaffrey. I’ve personally been looking into her information (you can also view her DVD online if you do some searching on her site) as well as other information about eating more healthy foods. I have about 80-100lbs to lose and will be altering the foods I eat to find what works for me. I’m also trying to do whatever exercise I can to start (walking, lifting handweights). Just keeping searching, reading, and learning everything you can to get yourself to a better place!! Don’t give up on yourself!!

    I wish you the best on your quest to get healthy too! 🙂

  9. Louise

    How do I get started? I am so overweight it is discouraging. I am due for back surgery and cannot walk or exercise due to excrusiating pain. Where do I start?

  10. Wanda

    I think we all need to start taking responsibility for our eating habits and try to make healthy choices.

    One thing I have never done is substituted margarine for butter, I cannot see why anyone would want to eat something that has to have a colorant added to make it look edible.

    There is so much fresh food available that tastes great without having to eat the overprocessed fast food that people tend to eat nowadays.
    Eveything in moderation.


  11. lili

    “Refined carbs don’t cause diabetes; obesity does. And refined sugar doesn’t make you any fatter than the same number of calories of any other carb or protein or fat.” This is not true for me or my mother. We both lost a lot of weight after cutting refined carbs from our diets, although we were eating the same amt of calories. I actually started eating more calories than I did when I was eating refined carbs and I exercised less, yet I lost a lot of weight.

  12. Laura

    Jan – you make your own peanut butter? That’s just cool!

  13. Roxanne

    I have that book. or rather, my mom has a copy of that book. The banana bread recipe is something we make ALL THE TIME. I like the recipes i just dont think that she goes into the reasoning why you should avoid certain foods very well. I think it was poorly written, but the recipes are ace. 🙂

  14. Jan

    Exactly, Melsky. I already make my own peanut butter, I’m not gonna start pressing my own olive oil… That is where I cross the line.

  15. Melsky

    I try and avoid processed pre-made type foods like canned soups, frozen meals, and anything with high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils. But I’m very comfortable using butter, oil, flour and those type of raw ingredients to make my own food.

    I also avoid stuff that has a very high sodium content which leaves out most processed prepared foods anyway.

    But I’m not going to go to extremes and start using olives instead of olive oil and stuff like that.

  16. Patricia (Spain)

    At first I was a little astounded at this post and thought ‘is tinned and boxed and microwaved food SOOO dominant in the US that normal/real cooking with fresh foods has become so unknown???’

    Is cooking with fresh ingredients such a novelty that a cookbook without listing a box of this or a tin of that in the recipes such a revolutionary idea?? Wow.

    Addressing the processed food label: yes, there is a huge difference between white flour and ground oats. The former is practically empty of real nutrients and the later rather much retains its mineral and vitamin content and is far, far better for the blood sugar levels.

    Any flour is ‘processed’ since centuries. But, as someone pointed out, it is the industrial type of processing that happens to foods that changes their nutritional value that is the problem. Good ‘stuff’ removed and artificals added…ugghh.

    For me, anything that has a list of ingredients is the type of ‘processed food’ that I avoid. Even so called powdered coconut milk has milk solids and soy flour added. No thank you.

    It’s real butter, real cream and our good olive oil here in Spain that is NOT solvent extracted or not at all. And we are healthy and happy. But the convenience foods are quite prevalent throughout Europe as well as the related health problems.

    Honest food is not a problem, such as real butter from organic sources. Thoughtless eating and gluttony is the problem that has to be honestly faced. Most people feed the tastebuds and fill the stomach as a priority over keeping an eye on what the body needs in a tasty way.

    By the way, try sesame ‘butter’ as a rather neutral baking replacement rather than peanut butter. Or pureed prunes or pureed apples as a non fat replacement – excellent and moist products.

    I wish the author great success with her little book!

  17. Regina W

    Mark said:
    Refined carbs don’t cause diabetes; obesity does. […]

    Then how do you explain the 20% of Type II are normal weight at diagnosis?

  18. RedPanda

    Mark said,”Refined carbs don’t cause diabetes; obesity does.” (Sorry, the quote function doesn’t seem to work on a Mac.)

    Actually you can get Type 2 diabetes without being obese. My mother, who was one of those “lucky” people who never gained weight no matter what she ate, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about 6 years ago. The doctors said her high GI, high fat diet was to blame.

  19. Jan

    I agree with Anushka. I think post-Industrial Revolution processing is the biggest problem here, not stuff like oils and flours/meals that have been made for centuries. It is Little Debbie Cakes, not oatbran.

  20. Anushka

    I like to refer to it as “over-processing”. I mean, if you’re buying ANY food item at a store, it’s been processed to some extent. The key is to keep it as simple as possible. I buy natural peanut butter, for example, wherein the ingredients are “peanuts, salt”. That’s better than some nationally-recognized brands with a paragraph of ingredients, most of which are chemicals. This book sounds very interesting….always looking for some variety!

  21. Mark

    Looking at the woman’s web site, I think her story is that she was really obese (there’s a before picture on her blog at 210), she got pre-diabetes, and now she’s boomeranged in the opposite direction from eating in excess to completely avoiding anything that will spike her insulin level.

    Refined carbs don’t cause diabetes; obesity does. And refined sugar doesn’t make you any fatter than the same number of calories of any other carb or protein or fat.

    Avoid extremes, don’t get fat, lose weight if you’re already fat, and there’s no need to go on crazy diets that ban whole classes of food. Eat everything, but in moderation.

    And Binko, don’t know where you live, but in the U.S. food can’t be sold if it contains “dangerous solvents.” And what’s the problem with “high heat”? Does it create carcinogens? Decrease good nutrients? Is there an epidemic of rickets and scurvy? Even the poor get adequate nutrition: the problem is eating too much food and getting fat.

  22. Jon

    Cindy Moore said:
    If no oil or butter is used, what is used for fat?

    Whole olive, avocados, coconut, raw nuts and seeds, peanuts…

  23. Binko

    I think it is modern industrial processing that we need to avoid.

    For instance, 100 years ago people churned butter by hand or pressed olives between stones for oil. But now most oil is extracted by large scale industrial processes using high heat and dangerous solvents.

    Any “processing” that can be done by hand is OK while any processing that requires a factory or a bunch of industrial machinery is not OK. That’s probably the simplest way to look at it.

  24. Jim

    Semantics. Every oil we have is processed – whether it’s flax, olive, or whatever.

    The way I see it the phrase “processed food” is being used more and more to imply a level “refining”. It really is quite ambiguous.

    If you were truly aiming for no processed foods – you’d eat raw, you’d chew the oat seeds off of the grass, and you’d be using honeycomb rather than honey. You’d chew on the Stevia leaves etc etc…

  25. Mark

    I’m not sure how flour qualifies as “processed,” while oat bran doesn’t. Oat bran might be better for you than flour, but it’s no less processed.

  26. Cindy Moore

    Interesting. This is an area I am very interested in, buying very few processed foods currently.

    If no oil or butter is used, what is used for fat? Also, are dairy items, like butter and cheese considered processed? (I agree they are, but since raw dairy is so hard to come by, most include these foods when trying to avoid processed foods)