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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trying Not To Freak Out!

We turned the calendar to December this week, and I am suddenly feeling frantic!  No reason to, since my gift shopping is done, but there are always so many other things to do and places to go, that I feel myself getting freaked out!  I think I'll make some raspberry coconut dark chocolate muffins.... oh yeah!  
This is just to help calm me... in case the muffin doesn't do the trick!!

While I'm snacking on a muffin... oh they are soooo good.... I'll show you my menu for this week, including recipes of course!  Hopefully, having a plan and some great recipes will calm the part of me that is running around like the proverbial headless chicken!

So one issue -- which did not help the anxiety! --  is that the tortilla soup recipe I am sharing is not my-kitchen-tested version because the one I usually use has a broken link and I can't get to it! Since it's been a while since I made it, I can't remember the exact recipe.  But I will wing it with the one I have posted below and I am pretty sure it will be fine!

Something else new for me to try this week is freshly made whole wheat tortillas.  You know, it looks so simple! Which means there is a good chance I will mess it up!  But I will give it a shot and let you know how it works out for me.  Not really sure how trying new recipes is supposed to calm me.. but this muffin sure isn't hurting things!!

So without further ado, herewith my recipes for this week.....  (And yes, I really do say things like that!)

Easy Beef Stir Fry - You know they had me at "easy" with this one!  I have some stir fry beef just taking up space in the freezer, and I can make the quinoa ahead, which will save time later, so... you know... why not?!

Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken Verde - This is the recipe I need tortillas for.  I think this sounds good.  A little sweet... a little hot.. Yeah!!  

And here is the tortilla recipe!!

Whole Wheat Pasta with....
Easy Marinara Sauce

Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add 1 small chopped onion.  Saute until onion is tender.  Add 1 or 2 cloves garlic (crushed).  Saute another minute or two.  Add a cup of chopped peppers (green, yellow, red, whatever you choose... sometimes I used frozen mixed peppers).  Saute until tender.
Stir in 1/2 cup red wine.  (This is optional but in my opinion it really makes the sauce amazing!)
Pour in two 26 oz cans crushed tomatoes.  
Add 1-2 TBSP Italian seasoning (to taste).
Heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  
I simmer at least 30 minutes, but sometimes longer.

And here is that new tortilla soup recipe to try.  I've adapted it from another one I found online, since I can't find my usual. 😱  If anyone has any ideas or suggestions for this recipe, please let me know in the comments!  I'll let you know if it turns out a winner!

Tortilla soup 

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced.
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn (frozen or fresh)
  • 4 ounce can of mild green chili peppers, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Handful crushed tortilla chips, optional
  • Optional toppings such as cheese, sour cream, avocado

Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add chopped onion and saute until tender, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and saute another minute.  Pour in crushed tomatoes, broth, black beans, corn, chili peppers.  Stir in oregano, chili power, and cilantro.  Simmer about 30 minutes on low.  Serve with tortillas and optional toppings.

Red Hasselback Potatoes with Shallot Herb Butter - Okay, this recipe is a total bonus!  I'm not making these this week, but wouldn't they be amazing next to a grilled steak next summer?!?!?

Okeedoke... that's all for this week.  What are you eating?  Whatever it is... Keep it Clean!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing!

Are you old enough to remember the Alka-SeltzerTM commercial....  I can't believe I ate the whole thing. You ate it, Ralph!  If you don't remember, check out the video here.  It was one of those funny commercials that became really annoying because everyone.... EVERYONE... was going around saying, I can't believe I ate the whole thing.  Now, 40-some years later, it can be funny again.  But not really funny if you're the one who actually ate the whole thing!

It's post-Thanksgiving in the US and it seems like a lot of my friends are having that kind of reaction to the weekend.  On the bright side, I also see them sharing some new healthy recipes and ways to eat better, so I have to think they are at least trying to stay on track as we head into some food-laden holidays.

The best way to do that, I think, is to accept that you will likely eat some things that aren't on your List of Acceptable Foods.  (I always feel like things that like that should be capitalized.  It makes them sound so serious!)  So, accept it and do your best to work around it.  I try to build parties and holiday gatherings into my schedule as cheat days.  And by cheat days, I mean cheat meal, not literally an entire day of cheating... or you for sure will end up like poor old Ralph.

If you're attending a potluck, that helps because you can make sure you are the one that brings something healthy.  Oh now, don't give me that look!  If you have read any of my previous posts, you know that healthy does not mean gross, boring, or tasteless!  In my experience, the "healthy" dishes I take to gatherings are always met with rave reviews.  And, no these people aren't just being nice.  Trust me... they aren't those kind of people.  (Just kidding, they are lovely people, but they would not ask for the recipes if they didn't really like the food!)  I think the reason that my recipes are such a hit is because they all are made with whole, natural, delicious food.  No added junk.

So... all that to say, it's okay to cheat a little across the holidays, but try to make this season a little easier on yourself by eating well in between, and taking along one of my favorites when you can.  Browse through my previous posts to find cookies, candies, muffins, all kinds of wonderful treats.  One of my new favorite snacks is Chili-Maple Pepitas.   The linked recipe has eight different ways to make them.  I've only made a few but the chili-maple are my favorite!!  I make a big batch, or even a double batch, and store them in a jar.  Then they are handy for whenever a need a little crunchy snack.  (In my area, I get raw pepitas  at Trader Joe's.)

Needing something sweet?  How about a candy bar!  I adapted these from a clean eating (yes, I am not kidding!) Butterfinger.  My kids tell me they taste more like Snickers since I added toffee.  Either way, that has to be a win, right?!  I cut these into smaller pieces and keep them in the fridge or freezer so I don't eat them all right away!  But truly sometimes it's just a nibble we want, isn't it?  And this can definitely fill that requirement!  The bonus is they really don't take that long to make.

Craving cake?  Almond Joy Cake is.... OMG.. it is just the best!  I have had notoriously UN-clean eaters rave about this cake.  No one ever knows it's not loaded with sugar and junk.  Another super easy recipe too.  (If you haven't figured it out by now, I am not just about eating clean, I am about making it easy!)  Take this to your next holiday gathering and you'll see what I mean!  Or just make it and save it all for yourself!  That works too!  You can eat it for breakfast or dessert.

Okay, so you probably need something besides cakes and candies... (if not, browse through my posts, and you'll find tons more great recipes!) so here's what's on tap at my house this week:

Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potatoes - Actually, these aren't on the menu because we had them a couple weeks ago but I wanted to share because I think you'll you'll really like them!

Pasta with Marinara - I love this marinara recipe for its simplicity. But it doesn't lack flavor.  The addition of a little red wine really makes all the difference.  Just toss with with some whole wheat pasta (or use spaghetti squash).  The blog I linked to also includes a link to some crazy good meatballs.  If you're in the mood, make a batch of those too and freeze what you don't need.

Pizza - MR makes the pizza around here.  We get a whole wheat crust from Trader Joe's (in the refrigerator section), and he makes a batch of sauce if we don't have any on hand - just crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and olive oil -- and then we add the topping we like.  You can always make your own crust too.  Frankly, time is often the mitigating factor around here so it's just easier to have the TJ's crusts in the freezer.  Just have to remember to get one out to thaw!

Pepperoncini Brisket - This is a two-ingredient recipe!  Not kidding.  A brisket and a jar of pepperoncini!  Put the brisket in the slow cooker, dump the jar of pepperoncini over it (liquid too) and cook for ten hours on low.  If there are leftovers, shred them and reheat for some really fabulous sandwiches.

Pumpkin Chipotle Soup - This has just the right amount of zing.  Don't add more chipotles than it calls for... I'm not kidding!  Not because it makes it too hot.  It just changes the flavor and kind of ruins it.  When you buy that can of chipotles in adobo sauce you're going to wonder what you'll do with all the extra... don't worry, just store them in a jar in the fridge because you're going to make this again... soon!

Is there something else you're craving?  I'd love to help you clean it up or offer you a better substitute.  Drop me a note in the comments and let's figure it out.  While I can't guarantee you won't eat the whole thing occasionally this season, I can offer you some pretty amazing alternatives!

What are you eating this week?  Whatever it is Keep it Clean!

Remember to subscribe by clicking on the link on the right.  That way you will get my weekly posts.  (No more than once a week with a rare exception when I find something so amazing I can't wait to share it, so let's say maybe 54 times a year rather than weekly... how does that sounds?  but I won't fill up your email because I hate that!)  I don't try to sell you anything from my blog.  I'm just hear to help you on the path to Clean Eating!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gotta Have it.... Almond Joy Smoothie!!! (Plus a Meal Plan!)

I skipped a week! Did you miss me?  I did it for a very good reason though (the WHY comes later.... keep reading!)  I have found myself struggling to stay on track with clean eating.  A cheat here, one little non-clean snack there... and it soon was adding up.  Adding up to pounds.  Which was just irritating me to no end.  A couple years ago when I lost 30 pounds on clean eating, I got rid of all my clothes from the "before" me.  Since I didn't want to have to start buying in that size again, when I realized how badly the pounds were creeping up I decided I just really needed to get serious again!

Besides eating some non-clean foods (processed, mostly.... boo!) I was also trying to introduce new eating plans into my lifestyle.  I don't know why I did that, since clean eating works for me, but I did... and I think some of that may have contributed to the changes.  I played around with low carb, even super low carb (keto-ish), and some other things.  But recently I was thinking about how easy it was (for me) to drop weight while eating frequently and enjoying really good food, the clean eating way.  And so I decided to go back to the very beginning.

I dug out the first two books I read on the subject.  One is more of a recipe book but it gave me some good meal plan ideas too -- "Try-it-Diet: Eating Clean." And the other one, "Just The Rules," was written by Tosca Reno who I guess is something of a legend in the clean eating world.  If you are stuck for how to get started, I really recommend both books. They helped me understand clean eating and get my start, so why not go back there and do my Restart?!  So here I am ... restarting.  Join me if you like.

And now the reason I skipped a week....  I want to start bringing you, at least occasionally, but maybe not weekly, meal plans again.  So I took a week off to log my own meals and snacks.  You may not want to eat what I eat, and that is perfectly fine.  I may note some alternatives to help you out though. The main thing to remember is always pair a protein with a complex carbohydrate.  So a tablespoon of no sugar added peanut butter (or other nut butter) with an apple for a snack, or an egg with a whole wheat English muffin for breakfast. The strict clean eaters often avoid wheat.  I don't eat a lot of it, but I will eat it when there are no added sugars, and always in moderation.

So all that to bring you this!!!!!

If you need any of these recipes, browse my blog.  If you don't find them, leave a comment and I will provide you with the one you want.

Almond Joy Smoothie
1-1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T almond butter
2 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 banana (frozen)
1 or 2 cups ice

Blend together all ingredients, adding ice a little at a time until desired consistency.

*The sausage and peppers isn't clean but a friend made it and gave me some.  I just love sausage and peppers so figured a little won't hurt me!  It's all about moderation.

What are you eating this week?  Whatever it is, Keep it Clean!!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

You Can Do It!!!

I hate to admit that I might be giving you a re-run recipe but I scalded and blistered my finger pretty bad making toffee (yes, clean toffee!) so typing is kind of difficult this week.  But this recipe is so delicious, I know you will forgive me!! (And the toffee is awesome, just be careful because it gets really hot!!)

These meatballs alla parmigiana really are the best meatballs I've ever had.  And they're clean.  And they're low carb, if that matters.  Pair them up with marinara sauce and you've got yourself a great meal!

Easy Marinara Sauce

Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add 1 small chopped onion.  Saute until onion is tender.  Add 1 or 2 cloves garlic (crushed).  Saute another minute or two.  Add a cup of chopped peppers (green, yellow, red, whatever you choose... sometimes I used frozen mixed peppers).  Saute until tender.
Stir in 1/2 cup red wine.  (This is optional but in my opinion it really makes the sauce amazing!)
Pour in two 26 oz cans crushed tomatoes.  
Add 1-2 TBSP Italian seasoning (to taste).
Heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  
I simmer at least 30 minutes, but sometimes longer.

This makes a lot, but I just freeze the extra, which makes it even easier the next time!

What are you eating this week?  Whatever it is, Keep it Clean!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Snack Attack!!

It was a very busy weekend around here so I just didn't get to writing much.  But I can't leave you high and dry!  So today I am skipping the menu for the week and sharing a delicious snack recipe. If you need ideas for supper, browse through my previous posts.  Many of them have entire weekly meal plans, including breakfast and lunch!

One reason it was so busy is because MR ran in the 41st Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday.  It was his first, their 41st.  He completed with a good time of 4 hours, 11 minutes, 29 seconds.  I am so proud of him for training all summer, even as hot as it was sometimes, and completing this.  Dude is not a kid anymore either, but he does stay in shape.  He started running half marathons four years ago and has completed six of those so far.  I just thinks it's awesome that anyone would dedicate the miles of running it takes to prepare for a marathon.  (And you really do have to prepare.  We saw a few people being taken off the course on stretchers.)  Over the last 14 weeks (which includes one week off for a mission trip out of the country), he ran 445 training miles.  445 miles!  Craziness!  And then 26.2 yesterday.  He's taking a break today.  Imagine that! :-)  Yay for MR and another item off his bucket list!

Anyway, all that to tell you, today you get a snack recipe.  (It really is a wonderfully easy, incredibly tasty snack though!)  For me, snacking is one of the hardest parts of clean eating.  If you have fruit and a cheese stick, you're good.  But sometimes you want something crunchy. Maybe something salty. Maybe something sweet.  How about something salty and sweet?  How about...

Chili Maple Pepitas!
2 cups pepitas (raw, hulled sunflower seeds)
1 T olive oil
2 T pure maple syrup
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
A few grinds of sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine ingredients and mix well to coat pepitas.  Spread in a single layer on prepared cookie sheet.
Bake 20 minutes* or so, stirring halfway through.

*If you have the option, I found that turning convection bake on allowed them to bake in 20 minutes.  It may take a little longer in a regular oven.  The first batch I made without convection bake was closer to 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.

The recipe title links to the page where I found these little delights, and also includes seven other variations.  I have made the pumpkin spice also, but have to admit the chili maple are my favorite so far!  Have a snack, just don't get crazy!!!

What are you eating this week?  Whatever it is, Keep it Clean!

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

No Tricks... Just Treats!!

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Most of my recent posts have been exclusively about great tasting, easy making, clean eating supper ideas.  But everybody wants a treat now and then, don't they?  Earlier this week I made a pretty fabulous treat.... if I do say so myself (and I do)!  It started out to be a clean eating version of Butterfinger!  Yes!  Butterfinger!  And if you follow this recipe at the, you can create one too.  I have made them using that recipe, and they turned out really good.  But... I didn't have any dried white mulberries, and honestly, those suckers are kind of expensive.  So I thought and I thought and thought some more... what could I use in place of the mulberries?  The author of that blog says they are there for crunch.  What else crunches?  How about toffee!?  I won't say this tastes like a Butterfinger, but I will say... it turned out really great!  I cut them into bars and keep them in the freezer for an occasional treat.  MR loves them and so do I!  I hope you do too!

Toffee Nut Candy Bars
(based on this and that)

First, make a batch of toffee:

1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup water
You will need a candy thermometer

Measure vanilla and almond butter and have ready to go.  (You work pretty quickly once the other ingredients are hot enough!)  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put coconut sugar, honey, and water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring frequently until it comes to a boil and the coconut sugar is dissolved.
Insert a candy thermometer and boil, stirring frequently (edited to add), until it reaches 285 degrees (F).
Remove from heat and quickly stir in the almond butter and vanilla.
Pour the mixture onto the parchments paper and spread evenly and thinly.  It thickens quickly, but don't worry if you don't get it all perfect.... you're going to smash it to bits later anyway!
Place the toffee in the fridge to completely harden.  About 30 minutes should do it.
Break the toffee into big chunks and put it in a plastic zip bag.  Smash it to bits!!  Set aside.

Next, make the rest of the candy bar:

3/4 cup peanuts
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
Toffee, smashed to tiny bits (see above)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Line a 9x5 pan with parchment paper, leaving some hang over the sides.
Put the peanuts and salt in a food processor and pulse until a crumbly flour forms.  Don't let it turn to paste. Add toffee and pulse a few more times just to mix well.
Add honey and vanilla.  Pulse a few times until clumps starts to form.  Again, don't let it get too pasty.  You should be able to pinch it and it will stick together.
Dump the dough into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Overlap the parchment paper and press down hard and even.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes.
Melt the chocolate (however you prefer to do this... I microwave about 30 seconds, stir, microwave another 15 seconds and stir, and keep doing that until I get a spreadable consistency).  Spread half the chocolate evenly over the top of the cold bars.  Refrigerate about 15 minutes until the chocolate is hard.  Flip the bars over and spread the rest of the chocolate on that side (you may have to melt the chocolate a little if it starts to thicken while you're waiting for the first side to harden).  Refrigerate again until the chocolate it hard.
Cut into six bars... or you can cut them into smaller pieces, if you like.
Store in the freezer for best results.  Enjoy!!

And the headline says "treats" in the plural, so here's another...

Cinnamon Rolls!

And another....


Okay, so that takes care of that!  But what's for supper this week??  I have some good choices for you!

Chicken Bombs - These are billed as an appetizer, but I could easily make a meal of them.  Try to find a pepper jelly without added  sugar.

Egg Roll Stir Fry - This is so quick to make.  Make your life even easier by buying pre-chopped cabbage and carrots!

Meatballs alla Parmigiana - I have been making these for a long time.  They really are some of the best meatballs I've ever made.  You can use them for sandwiches, with pasta, or just as your entree.  It makes quite a few so we usually freeze half for another time.

Maura's BBQ - This link will take you to a few favorites... scroll down to find this easy slow cooker recipe!

What's on your menu this week?  Whatever it is, Keep it Clean!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Recycle! Repurpose! Eat Clean!

I have been making my own granola for a long time.  I had a go to recipe that I still like a lot but my SIL turned me onto one that crisps up even better.... plus it bakes in about half the time.... AND it makes more than the other recipe!  So I still use the other one occasionally, but new go to is from  I make a batch of this about once a week.  We like to make a snack with plain yogurt, chopped fresh or frozen berries, and a handful of granola.  The nice thing about granola is you can really just throw in whatever you happen to have... within reason!  This is the version I made today:

Healthy Granola from Cookie and Kate

4 cups rolled oats (old fashioned)
1-1/2 cups chopped almonds
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup real maple syrup (or honey, or a combination of both!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips.  Stir to mix.
  • Pour mixture onto baking sheet, spreading into an even layer.
  • Bake at 350 until golden, about 25 minutes, stirring about half way through.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  It will continue to crisp as it cools.
  • Break into pieces and add chocolate chips.
  • Serve in an airtight container.

So that's snacks and maybe even part of a great breakfast!  But my focus for you is supper entrees!  So what's for supper this week????  Well, I'm going to make some good use of some leftovers from last week!  We had a pot roast and some grilled chicken, remember?

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad - Dice leftover grilled chicken.  Rinse and dry one or two heads of Romaine.  Cut Romaine into small pieces.  Toss lettuce with Caesar dressing (yes, I buy it prepared, no, it's not totally clean!).  Sprinkle chopped bacon and shredded Parmesan over top.  Add chicken!

Beef Vegetable Soup - Using last week's pot roast, shred or chop about 2 cups beef and throw that in your slow cooker or large pot.  Also add some of the leftover onions and carrots from your roast.  If you saved the broth, use that.  If not, add about two cups of beef broth.  (You can use leftover broth and added broth.... that's what I had to do.)  Add one 26 oz. can crushed tomatoes.  Add about 1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables.  Heat through.

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches - We get whole wheat hamburger buns from Trader Joe's for these.  They don't have any added sugar!  MR just shreds some of the leftover beef and mixes it with his barbecue sauce:
Barbecue Sauce (you will have extra to freeze!)
One 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 oz. apple cider vinegar
3 oz. water
2 TBSP blackstrap molasses
1 TBSP honey
1TBSP prepared mustard

Pumpkin Chipotle Soup with Chicken - This recipe is a hit every time I make it!  This week, we will add in a little diced chicken for protein.  You can serve this with a salad or even grilled cheese!  It's very important that you use only as much chipotle as the recipe calls for.  Also, you can sub whatever sweetener you prefer.  I use coconut sugar.

My entree list is a little short this week!  That's because we are going out one night and eating something definitely not clean and not easy to get another... no point telling you about that!  But you can browse my blog and find lots more great recipe ideas.  I've been thinking about some sweets and treats and I hope to provide you something very special very soon!  Until then ,check out this really easy Chocolate Mousse recipe!!  (It calls for agave, but I use honey.)

Until then, have a great week and Keep it Clean!

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