One Ingredient Challenge

One ingredient challenge is a month long challenge where you only eat foods containing one single ingredient.

This means any food items with exactly one ingredient on the package is fine, any with an ingredients list longer that one is disallowed. The challenge aims to make me more conscious of the food I eat. This has already thrown up a surprise that one of my Fajita mixes main ingredient is Maltodextrin a thickener, it’s not even spice!

I am allowed to process food myself. For example I can’t buy bread from the shop but can make it at home. As long as all the ingredients that go into the item are single foods that I can hold in my hand.

Since I don’t fancy not cleaning my teeth I’m going to have an exception for toothpaste and mouthwash (and medicine). Not that I eat them! Just including here for completeness.

This blog post is going to chart my progress with what I’m eating. I’m no chef and am going to stay simple and easy. I’m not going to include drinks which are going to consist of water, tea and coffee.

Skip to the conclusion.

Food Diary

1st Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • 2 * Boiled Egg (egg, salt).
  • Salad (pepper, tomato, carrot, cabbage, broccoli, onion, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sesame seeds).
  • Coriander Chicken Curry (rice, vegetable oil, chicken, onion, potato, pepper, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, cinnamon powder, fresh coriander, salt, green chilli, tomato, water, cornflour).

Thoughts: I didn’t consider breakfast much until today, porridge on it’s own is a bit bland therefore will need to spice it up after a few days. Also discovered that soy sauce always contains multiple ingredients, so am unable to use it in a stir fry. The curry was really nice, I wouldn’t have known that it was from my spice draw, if I hadn’t made it.

2nd Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • Leftover Coriander Chicken Curry (leftover curry, rice).
  • Salad, Cheese and Eggs (leftover salad, cheese, eggs, salt).

Thoughts: An easy day as eating the leftovers from the previous day.

3rd Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • Fajita Spice (cumin, chilli powder, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, fresh coriander).
  • Chicken Fajitas (vegetable oil, chicken, onion, pepper, fajita spice, wraps(wholemeal flour, salt, vegetable oil), salsa(tomato, salt, pepper, basil), leftover salad, cheese).
  • Fajita chicken rice bowl (fajita leftovers, rice, cheese).

Thoughts: I made my own Fajita seasoning today, as mentioned in the introduction my usual contains mainly Maltodextrin. It was hotter than usual and gave a good flavour profile, I will be using this again. I discovered a couple of things that I can’t use today. Firstly, instant yeast, which isn’t too surprising. Secondly most flours as they are fortified, with the only exception wholemeal flour, due to the law in the UK. And finally, I discovered that my salt has an anti-caking agent (Sodium Ferrocyanide) so will find an alternative.

4th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, banana).
  • Vegetable Omelette (egg, butter, cheese, carrot, onion, cabbage, chili, broccoli).

Thoughts: Continued to use up ingredients in the fridge. I have noticed that my weight is dropping, so will be interested to see if that continues.

5th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, banana).
  • Vegetable Omelette (egg, butter, cheese, carrot, cabbage, broccoli, tomato, pepper, salt).
  • Steak and Chips (steak, salt, red pepper, broccoli, potatoes, oregano, paprika, chilli flakes, olive oil, vegetable oil).
  • Scones (wholemeal flour, cornflour, baking soda, brown sugar, butter, milk, sugar, banana, clotted cream).

Thoughts: The recipe I used for the scones called for 4 tsp of baking powder, turns out what I have is baking soda so the first batch had a really bad aftertaste of baking soda. Really nice rise though! Today I was really hungry all throughout the day, I felt like I had to eat more to stay satisfied.

6th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, yogurt).
  • Peach
  • Coffee (coffee, water, milk).
  • Chilli con carne with rice and wedges (steak mince, tomatoes, chilli, chilli powder, cumin, onion, pepper, garlic, rice, potato, oregano, chilli flakes, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, vegetable oil).
  • Yogurt with a spoon of jam (yogurt, strawberries, raspberries, sugar, cornflour).

Thoughts: The coffee was bought from a shop, which gave me mixed feelings under the rules of the challenge. After discussion I decided, since it’s simple and one ingredient foods being directly prepared for me, it’s okay within the rules. This was my first dish using dry red kidney beans, upon checking online how to cook them i found raw beans contain a lectin Phytohaemagglutinin which causes mild/serious symptoms if raw beans are eaten. Therefore, I made sure I cooked the beans well. Also searched for some coco powder but could only find it with acidity regulators such as Potassium Hydroxide and Potassium Carbonate.

7th Jul
  • Leftover chilli con carne (leftover chilli con carne).
  • Fruit (easy peeler, banana, mango).
  • Fish and salad (sea bass, rice, red kidney beans, broccoli, coriander, red cabbage, salt, pepper, carrot, red pepper, carrot, almonds, olive oil, onion, red wine vinegar, vegetable oil, tomato).
  • Scones (wholemeal flour, cornflour, baking soda, brown sugar, butter, milk, clotted cream, homemade jam).

Thoughts: It was a hot day today, would have been nice to go to the pub for a pint after finishing our walk. The spices that I bought that contain a single spice have more taste then the regular supermarket spices I buy. I think i’m going to buy those instead in future.

8th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • Pancakes (flour, egg, milk, vegetable oil, butter, homemade jam, maple syrup, lemon, banana, sugar).
  • Falafel Wraps (flour, vegetable oil, dried chickpeas, fresh coriander, ground coriander, salt, black pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, yogurt, cucumber, lemon, red cabbage, lettuce, avocado, tomato, cheese, leftover salad).

Thoughts: Looking around the shops I noticed that kefir contains ‘Milk, Live Cultures of Kefir Bacteria’. Whereas yogurt and cheese, according to the packs I buy, only contain the respective single ingredient. Even though both contain cultures of their own. Therefore, some products must be able to not list ingredients. Since my arbitrary line in the sand was the ingredient list, they are okay in this challenge, but it makes me wonder what isn’t listed.

9th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • Leftovers (eggs, leftover salad, leftover falafel, potato, oil, chilli flakes, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, pepper).

Thoughts: Wasn’t feeling too hungry today after the large meal yesterday. For my evening meal ate various leftovers from the fridge.

10th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, yogurt).
  • Fried Egg (egg).
  • Easy Peeler (‘a cross-breed of satsumas and clementines’).
  • Vegetable Omelette (egg, butter, carrot, broccoli, chilli, onion, carrot, red cabbage, cheese, salt, pepper).
  • Yogurt and Jam (yogurt, homemade jam).
  • Chicken and Vegetables (potato, chicken, carrot, broccoli, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, chilli flakes, basil, salt, pepper).
  • No Bake Oat Cookies (oats, coconut oil, maple syrup, salt, almonds).

Thoughts: Well, looks like my body was balancing out yesterday. I have never searched for what ‘easy peelers’ are turns out they are a cross-breed of satsumas and clementines, that are easy to peel. Another way that humans shape the world. I’ve heard there used to be 100’s of types of apple that for various reasons are not as easy to farm or as tasty so you don’t see them anymore in the supermarket.

11th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • No Bake Oat Cookies (leftover no bake oat cookies).
  • Bubble and squeak (potato, red cabbage, onion, broccoli, carrot, garlic, leftover chicken, salt, pepper).
  • Banana (banana).
  • Chicken Fajitas (vegetable oil, chicken, onion, pepper, fajita spice, wraps(wholemeal flour, salt, vegetable oil), cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, salad(carrot, broccoli, cucumber, red cabbage, vinegar, oil)).
  • Scones (wholemeal flour, cornflour, baking soda, brown sugar, butter, milk, clotted cream, homemade jam).

Thoughts: I forgot to take a picture of the porridge. Been stacking on those leftover oat cookies, probably ate a few too many. It seems my meals have been using the same carrot, broccoli, red cabbage and onion combination. That’s whats in the fridge.

12th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, banana).
  • Cob (butter, sourdough starter, wholemeal flour, salt).
  • Cottage Pie (potatoes, beef mince, onion, peas, kidney beans, leftover chicken stock, cheese, carrot, broccoli, red cabbage, vinegar, salt, pepper).
  • Scones (leftover scones, homemade jam, clotted cream).
  • Sourdough Bread (sourdough starter, wholemeal flour, salt).
  • Cheese Sandwich (sourdough bread, butter, cheese).

Thoughts: I have been creating a sourdough starter mix, as I can’t find single ingredient yeast. It’s a few days from being ready for baking bread but decided to give baking a go with the discard. Creating the dense bread that you see above.

13th Jul
  • Jam Toast (sourdough bread, homemade jam, butter).
  • Omelette (eggs, red kidney beans, onion, broccoli, cheese, sunflower oil).
  • Sourdough Pancake (sourdough starter, cornflour, milk, honey, sugar, butter, clotted cream, sunflower oil).

Thoughts: I do wonder looking back through my foods if my foods are a bit ‘beige’. Lots of stuff the same colour.

14th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • Pork Stir-fry (pork, cayenne peeper, chilli powder, oregano, honey, chilli, carrot, ginger, garlic, broccoli, bean sprouts, red cabbage, mushrooms, cornflour, salt, pepper, sunflower oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds).
  • Banana (banana).

Thoughts: Tried to be a bit less beige today with a stir fry. Bought a lots of vegetables from the shop today for both the salad and stir fry. I think i’ll be having a stir fry again tomorrow night. My friend had some fish and chips from the chippy and it smelt particularly nice but stayed strong.

15th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, banana).
  • Wild Blackberries (blackberries).
  • Pork Stir-fry (pork, onion, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, mushroom, beansprout, lettuce, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, oregano, garlic powder, smoked paprika, sesame oil, sunflour oil, salt, pepper).
  • Bread (sourdough starter, flour, baking powder, butter, honey).

Thoughts: Found some wild blackberries. Will go collecting them soon as they are starting to ripe. Enjoying my stir-frys. I am planning to make my first proper sourdough bread over the next few days. As have been using the sourdough starter discard. I wanted some soy sauce on my stir fry tonight.

16th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, banana).
  • Fried egg sandwich (eggs, bread, butter, salt, pepper, sunflower oil).
  • Vegetable Stir-fry (carrot, broccoli, cabbage, mushroom, spinach, beansprout, egg, peas, chilli, onion, garlic, ginger, monosodium glutamate, salt, pepper, sesame oil, sunflower oil).

Thoughts: I was thinking about the fact I’m eating very little food additives and that reminded me that i’ve been curious to try Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) for a while. Since I’m not eating processed foods potentially containing it, I thought that it’s a good time to try it. I went to town and bought, according to the pack, the funniest ingredient I’ve eaten all month: ‘Flavour Enhancer (Monosodium Glutamate (E621)) 100% (refined from Tapioca Flour & Cane)’. Which I believe is technically a single ingredient. I did enjoy the stir-fry a lot.

17th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, banana).
  • Salad (onion, red wine vinegar, carrot, pepper, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, salt, pepper, chilli, sunflower seeds).
  • Peanut Butter Chicken (chicken, onion, chilli, spinach, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, salt, pepper, rice, salad, sunflower oil).

Thoughts: I found some 100% peanut butter in the supermarket. I brought it home and eating a teaspoon out of the jar was absolutely wonderful, so I decided to cook it into my evening meal. I do wonder if I have been eating enough protein recently. I continue to lose weight.

18th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk, banana).
  • Leftover Peanut Chicken (leftover peanut butter chicken, rice).
  • Pancakes (sourdough discard, milk, egg, honey, sugar, lemon, sunflower oil, butter).

Thoughts: I was in a foul mood around lunchtime, ate the chicken dish and it lifted. In the evening went with my friends to a pizza joint, hard to resist the tasty pizzas they were having, but managed to pull through.

19th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge oats, milk).
  • Egg Salad (egg, spinach, salt, pepper, leftover salad).
  • Baked Potatoes (potatoes, butter, cheese, pepper).

Thoughts: Visiting another household, it’s easy to see how many products that people buy usually containing many different ingredients (mine are moved out of the way). The best meal I could rustle up was a baked potato.

20th Jul
  • Banana (banana).
  • Leftover Salad (leftover salad).
  • Broccoli and Stilton Soup (broccoli, blue cheese, garlic, carrot, onion, garlic, potato, salt, pepper).
  • Steak and Chips (steak, onion, potato, broccoli, carrot, butter, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, pepper).
  • Milk and sugar (milk and caster sugar).

Thoughts: Still visiting another household and their vegetable oil contained “Soya Bean Oil (Produced from genetically modified Soya), Anti-Foaming Agent: E900”. I had assumed that vegetable oil was just another word for rapeseed oil but seems that’s not the case. It did claim that it had “extended life” so that might by a property of oil from soya bean. The E900 is Polydimethylsiloxane and reduces surface tension therefore reducing foam.

21th Jul
  • Broccoli and Stilton Soup (leftover soup).
  • Banana (banana).
  • Sourdough Pizza (sourdough starter, wholemeal flour, olive oil, baking powder, salt, cheese, chicken, chilli, basil, tomato, salt, pepper).
  • Peanut Butter Smoothie (milk, peanut butter, oats, honey).

Thoughts: Pizza tasted nicer than I thought it would from the starter and discard used in it. Pizza was implanted in my brain from a few days ago.

22th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge, milk).
  • Broccoli and Stilton Soup (leftover soup).
  • Chicken Pizza (sourdough starter, wholemeal flour, olive oil, salt, cheese, chicken, chilli flakes, basil, tomato, onion, garlic, salt, pepper).

Thoughts: My sourdough starter is now really growing well. I’m proofing some bread that will be baked tomorrow.

23th Jul
  • Sourdough Bread (wholemeal flour, salt, water, sourdough starter).
  • Cheese Sandwich (sourdough bread, butter, cheese).
  • Blackberries (blackberries).
  • Bread and Salmon Oil (sourdough bread, butter, oil from cooked fish).
  • Salmon and Vegetables (salmon, potato, carrot, broccoli, salt, pepper, butter, milk, salt, pepper).
  • Blackberry Crumble and Cream (wholemeal flour, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, apples, wild blackberries, cream).
  • Homemade Jam (wild blackberries, sugar, lemon, cornflour).

Thoughts: Baked the sourdough bread today, turned out really well for a first attempt! I went picking blackberries for the crumble and jam, therefore ate many during the picking process.

24th Jul
  • Porridge with Blackberry Crumble (porridge, milk, leftover crumble).
  • Bubble and Squeak (potato, butter, milk, onion, carrot, broccoli, red cabbage, salt, pepper, sunflower oil).
  • Coffee (coffee, water, milk).
  • Bread and butter (sourdough bread, butter).
  • Chicken and Vegetables (chicken, potato, carrot, broccoli, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, chilli flakes, basil, monosodium glutamate, salt, pepper, sunflower oil).
  • Blackberry Crumble and Cream (leftover crumble, cream).

Thoughts: Starting to think about the end of this challenge and what my takeaways will be. Eating lots of bread as it’s back on the menu.

25th Jul
  • Pancakes (sourdough starter, wholemeal flour, milk, egg, sunflower oil, butter, homemade jam, lemon).
  • Cheese Sandwich (sourdough bread, butter, cheese).
  • Banana (banana).
  • Burgers (beef, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, smoked paprika, oregano, basil, chilli powder, sunflower oil, onion, chilli flakes, salt, pepper).
  • Apple/Banana and Custard (apple, banana, egg, cream, milk, sugar, cornflour, cinnamon).

Thoughts: I have been putting weight back on since the re-introduction of bread.

26th Jul
  • Jam and Stilton Sandwiches (homemade sourdough bread, butter, homemade jam, stilton cheese).
  • Salmon (salmon, tomato, potato, butter, milk, sunflower oil, carrot, cucumber, pepper, broccoli, carrot, sunflower seeds, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil)
  • Banana and Custard (leftover custard, banana).
  • Egg (egg, leftover salad, cheese, monosodium glutamate, salt, pepper).

Thoughts: Happy with how the challenge has gone up to this point.

27th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge, milk, banana).
  • Apple (wild apple).
  • Chicken and Rice (chicken, rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado, carrot, cabbage, onion, broccoli, sunflower seeds, fresh coriander, pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar, chilli, oregano, basil, cumin, smoked paprika, turmeric, monosodium glutamate, sunflower oil, salt, pepper).
  • Scones (wholemeal flour, sugar, spelt flour, sourdough starter, milk, butter, egg, baking soda, cornflour, homemade jam, clotted cream).

Thoughts: I visited a local heritage mill today and learnt about the process they use to mill their flour. They follow the process used 200 years ago. Due to this process being not as efficient as modern techniques, more nutrients remain in the flour, meaning fortification is not required. Therefore, I bought some white and wholemeal flour for the scones.

28th Jul
  • Cheese and Jam Sandwiches (homemade sourdough bread, butter, cheese, homemade jam).
  • Apple (apple).
  • Chicken and Rice (chicken, rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado, carrot, cabbage, onion, broccoli, sunflower seeds, fresh coriander, pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar, chilli, oregano, basil, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, monosodium glutamate, sunflower oil, salt, pepper).
  • Blackberry and Apple Tart (spelt flour, butter, sugar, cornflour, salt, blackberries, apples, cream).

Thoughts: Went picking wild blackberries today, to stock up on jam and make the tart. Also found some apples and plumbs. Having fresh ingredients is great.

29th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge, milk, banana).
  • Egg Fried Rice (rice, leftover salad, egg, salt, sunflower oil, monosodium glutamate).
  • More Egg Fried Rice (rice, chilli, carrot, peas, egg, salt, onion, sunflower oil, monosodium glutamate).
  • Blackberry and Apple Tart (leftover blackberry and apple tart, cream).

Thoughts: Needed to eat up that leftover rice today. I’m planning to finish this challenge tomorrow, with a pint after a 10 mile kayak.

30th Jul
  • Porridge (porridge, milk).
  • Jam Sandwiches (homemade sourdough bread, butter, homemade jam).
  • Banana (banana).
  • Easy peeler (easy peeler).
  • Pint of Stout (unknown).

Thoughts: There we have it, the first multi ingredient food (whats that saying about stout being a meal), bringing this challenge to a conclusion. Lack of pictures as I didn’t bring my phone on the water. I did eat after the stout but finished recording after that time.


Assuming you live to 80 years old, one month of your life is is ~0.1%. I think this challenge was well worth trying for that 0.1%.

I’m surprised how much stuff you can make yourself, with single ingredients, leading to food containing much less sugar than store bought alternatives. The meals made over the challenge tended to be more healthy, due to a higher use of fresh vegetables. This has an impact on my weight, with me losing a few kilograms over the month.

The food hasn’t been lacking any taste throughout the challenge, with me rarely missing food products. Especially after buying spices that contain more flavour, without all the additional stabilisers/anti-oxidants/flavorings/etc. Dried beans also are easy, as you can choose how firm you want them, but require more preparation.

This challenge had me making more homemade foods than I would have otherwise, things such as jam, pizza and bread. They take more effort to make than the shop bought alternative, but give you a sense of satisfaction when eating them. I also now want to grow more of my own herbs and food. Along with buying the locally hand produced flour.

Overall, this challenge has made me reconsider my food habits in a good way. Going forwards, I’m going to use single ingredient foods where possible, whilst adding some things such as soy sauce back into the mix. Here’s to the remaining 62.4%.