Monday, December 30, 2013

Repurpose - Reuse- Recycle

Whatever you want to call it, I am a firm believer in "waste not want not!"  My mom was especially good at repurposing everything!  She was a recycler long before it was cool... or even called that.  She just knew that you didn't throw anything away.  So following Christmas, and all the associated leftovers, tonight we have, not leftover night, but repurpose night.  Took some of that beautiful ham and a big handful of leftover peas and threw them in a dish of homemade scalloped potatoes.

And here you go.  And you're welcome!

Scalloped Potatoes
2 T butter
2 T whole wheat flour or other thickener
1-1/2 cups milk (I use almond milk)
medium onion, chopped
3 large potatoes, thinly sliced (I prefer not to peel them but you can)
1 C leftover ham, chopped, optional
3/4 cup peas, optional
1 C cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a square baking dish.  In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onions in melted butter until soft.  Add flour and stir.  Add milk all at once.  Continue stirring over medium heat until it thickens.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour a third of the sauce in the bottom of prepared baking dish.  Layer in potatoes, ham, and peas.  Pour more sauce over that.  Layer in potatoes, ham, and peas.  Pour remaining sauce over top.  Add cheese on top, if using.

Cover and bake about 45 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Back to the Routine -- Menu Time!

Before I forget!  You can now follow me on Twitter @CleanEatingLife.  So check it out!  I am old and very new to Twitter so please bear with me as I figure this stuff out!  I can also be found on Facebook
Clean Eating -- It's a Lifestyle

The holidays are winding down so we are getting back into our routine.  Trying to get back into the routine, at any rate.  Today we went to a wedding and reception, then church, grocery shopping, and dinner.  We spent very little time at home.  I did manage to somehow put together a menu and grocery list.  #1 rule:  Have a plan so you don't overspend at the grocery store.  I will be going to Trader Joe's on Monday to pick up a few more things (coconut oil!).  Also, I am trying to repurpose some leftovers.  That will save me a lot this week too.  Today at the grocery store I only spent $35 (cha-ching!) because I based my menu on what I already had in the house.

This week's line up includes:

Black Bean Burritos - I finally made these last week.  They were really great!  The most time consuming part was roasting the sweet potatoes.  If you are a planner, or prepper, you could have this part already done and throw these together in no time.  They were worth the wait, though!

Shepherd's Pie - This will be made with the last of the leftover roast beef.  MR mixes the meat up with some vegetables (some of those are leftovers from this week too!), and tops it off with some whipped potatoes.  Comfort food at its best!

Nachos - These are made from leftover chili from this past week. Just make them how you like them!

Ham and bean soup - I have to do something with all this ham so I will make a fraction of this soup.  The two of us won't eat that much soup, so maybe 1/3 recipe?

Alfredo sauce - MR saw a recipes for Alfredo sauce he wanted to try over some brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta.  He is a really great cook, so I am all for letting him give it a whirl.  I don't think his exact recipe will be the one I have linked to.  Once he has made his, I will post it.  But in case you want to make it this week, here is one to try!

2014 is the year of the Clean Eating reboot for me.  That means focusing on eating clean and not on weight or size.  If the past is any measure, that means weight and size will take care of themselves.  I read something on a Facebook post today that essentially said, Why do we keep focusing on the failures and not the successes?  That is exactly why I am focusing on the Clean Eating lifestyle this year.  I was getting stuck on "Why can't I lose 10 more pounds?" and forgot that I had already lost more than 20!  So, I am taking the win with the 20+ pound weight loss and going back to focusing on the clean foods.  The other things will take care of themselves.

What are you doing for 2014?  Whatever it is, keep it clean!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2014 - Time for a Clean Eating Reboot!

I don't know if it's because I have been eating clean for so long that I don't even think about it anymore, but I find lately that I am looking at trying other eating plans rather than just sticking with clean eating.  Green smoothies, juicing, Paleo, gluten-free, whatever it may be, every once in a while I will read about something and start to toy with it.  Certainly nothing wrong with any of those eating plans, I guess, but why mess with success?  I figured out almost two years ago now that eating clean is what works for me.  So for 2014 I am  not making any big resolutions, but I am going to go back to the roots of my clean eating plan.

Clean Eating Cheesecake!  Who would have thought?!

Some of the reasons I like clean eating:
1) I sleep better.  No. I sleep!  I used to think that it was normal to sleep a few hours a night, usually in two or three chunks.  No longer!  It is now very unusual for me to be awake in the night.  And, usually, if I am, it's just long enough to look at the clock to see I don't have to get up yet!  That alone is reason enough to stick to clean eating for me!

2)  I weigh less.  I lost about 30 pounds just by changing how I eat.  I also started walking, but let's not kid ourselves, I am not a workout queen!

3)  I just feel better.  That also is reason enough to stick with it, isn't it?

I get lots of questions from readers and friends about eating clean.  Is it expensive? Is it hard?  Will my family like it?  So, as part of the 2014 Clean Eating Reboot, let me cover some of those questions for you.  But first let me say, you can do this!  I work 40+ hours a week and I commute 75 minutes each way.  Sometimes my adult kids are here, and sometimes it's just two of us.  I occasionally (very occasionally)  buy them things I won't eat, but for the most part, I buy whole foods and we prepare everything.

First:  Is it expensive?  It can seem like it, especially at first.  But the key to keeping it under control is to have a plan.  A meal plan!  I make a menu on Saturday morning.  I make an effort to use things we already have on hand, especially if it's something that needs used up.  If you follow my blog, you will notice a trend of beef roast one night, and vegetable beef soup another.  This is all part of my plan!  Repurpose!  Don't waste!  I also puree and freeze and produce that is not getting used up fast enough.  We are also fortunate to have access to grass fed beef from a local farmer.  We go in with another couple on a half cow in the summer.  While that is a big expense up front, it works out to less than $6 per pound.  That's a normal price for good quality hamburger.  But it's a FABULOUS price for Porterhouse steak!

Second:  Is it hard?  Again, it may seem like it at first.  You have to really think about what's for every meal and snacks.  No foraging through the cupboards and eating a handful of gummy worms and six potato chips for breakfast any more!  But you get used to the planning and, for me at least, it's fun to research some new recipes and try them out.  Or find an old recipe favorite and see if you can clean it up!  Typically, for breakfast MR makes a slow cooker of steel cut oats on Sunday and that is breakfast all week.  Amazing stuff!  I also make granola and that mixed with 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt makes a fabulous snack.  Lunch is usually leftovers from a previous supper.  Supper is the standard lean protein and vegetables.  We use the slow cooker when we can, but also have found some quick recipes that we can make after a long day at work.  Some people do a lot of prep work on the weekends.  If you have younger children especially that may be helpful.

Third:  Will my family like it?  All I can tell you is how it worked out in my family.  MR had seen me go down the diet road many times and neither he nor the kids were interested in eating what I ate.  I don't blame them, I wasn't much interested either.  But when I started clean eating, it really was just going back to cooking from scratch.  Something I had done quite a bit when our kids were young.  Then tweaking it by using whole wheat flour and honey instead of white flour and sugar.  MR jumped right in and does great at it.  And he look mah-velous!  #1 Son pretends to be a less willing participant, but he typically eats whatever I make without complaining.  Baby Girl often calls me for help on making something clean, so I know she likes it!  I would say that if you tell your family we are going to "CHANGE OUR DIET" they will complain.  But if you just start cooking from scratch, which is really what this is, then they probably will enjoy it. I think it's worth a shot!

And I don't eat only fruits and vegetables.  I make some great breads, cookies, and other taste treats, even candies.  But, as with any type of eating, all things in moderation.  Follow me on the Clean Eating (Reboot) Journey in 2014, and see where it takes you!

I'd love it if you would comment below to tell me what you hope Clean Eating will do for you!

Here's an excerpt from that sums clean eating up well.

  1. Eat  Lots Of Plants – Eat food that is straight from nature. (Some people say “as close to the way nature made it as possible”. But I think that leaves too much wiggle room – in my humble opinion) Eat mostly foods that are off a tree, bush, plant or vine, and you’ve pretty much got it covered. The idea is to stay away from anything that humans (food corporations) have altered in any way.
  2. Include Meats - Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher. Don’t buy pre-packaged meat products because you never know what’s in them. When possible, buy whole meats and grind them yourself. You’d be surprised what’s in ground turkey meat! You can also select a few turkey breasts and ask that the butcher grind them for you. Many butchers are more than willing to accommodate.
  3. Enjoy Grains - Eat grains that are still complete and haven’t been broken down into “glue”. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat and other whole grains.
  4. Read Labels I don’t know how many breads I’ve picked up at the store that say they are whole grain. But when I take a look at the ingredient list, white flour is the second ingredient after whole wheat flour!
  5. Eat Fewer Ingredients. Try not to purchase foods that have more than 3-6 ingredients in the ingredient list. And be sure you recognize each and every ingredient. If you find a “mystery ingredient” such as “spices”, contact the company! Ask them what they consider to be spices. If it’s anything other than honest-to-goodness herbs and spices, avoid it! And remember, if you can’t pronounce it, it probably shouldn’t go into your body.
  6. Eat 5-6 small meals per day. This may seem like a lot at first. But remember, you are eating smaller portions. If you really have a hard time with this, prepare your regular three meals and a snack for the day, and divide lunch and dinner in half. You’ve instantly got 6 small meals!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eating Clean with a Family

Many of us have been there.  We want to change how we eat, usually a new fad diet.  One of the reasons we fail is that, in addition to making our meals, we have to make a meal for our partner and maybe the family too.  (Of course, the fact that they are fad diets is another matter!)  I recently had a friend ask about how to go about starting clean eating while still making food for the family.

My personal experience with this was that my husband readily ate what I made.  The thing about clean eating is that it's about eating real., whole, natural foods.  So it's not a lot of weird recipes.  As a matter of fact, I think we both started to enjoy cooking and eating more because of the great blends of flavors we were beginning to experience.  My kids are adults, but still seem to live at home from time to time.  #1 Son is 25.  Even though he always asks, "Is this clean?" he still will eat about 90% of what I make.  My daughter doesn't mind if it's clean.  But even if they didn't ask, I'm not sure they would know the difference.

Probably the most notable difference is the switch to whole wheat flour.  There is a difference in taste and consistency, but personally, I can't stand the taste of white flour now.  This may be the toughest hurdle for your family though.  Trader Joe's sells a white whole wheat, so if you can get that, I would recommend it.  Of course the other big difference is that they will know you are now cooking more from scratch.

I am not suggesting you try to trick them, but eating clean is of benefit to everyone.  And, I agree, it's tough to try to cook twice ... once for them and once for you.  Plus it's extremely hard to stay on track when you're doing that, as you probably know.  But just starting cooking differently.  See what they say.  You may be surprised.

A Clean Eating Family!
The person that particularly asked the question about changing to clean eating with a family lives with her parents and her father is ill.  It's hard to get them to change their ways, I'm sure.  I know MR's parents are somewhat resistant, but when we cook they always eat it!  So while they may eat other things, when I am cooking they willingly eat what we eat.  The best suggestion I have here is that you ask to do the grocery shopping and they try to stick with only buying real food and move away from the prepackaged stuff.

Also MR loves his sweets.  His motto has always been, "Life is short, eat dessert first!"  And he still enjoys a treat now and then.  The difference is that he makes an effort to keep it clean.  We have both learned to enjoy food more.  For the real flavor of real food.

I hope this is helpful.  I hope you can be successful with clean eating!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Making a List and Checking it Twice!

(This post has been edited)

Making my grocery shopping list for the week, that is!  Big plans for Christmas dinner, of course.  Also MR's birthday is Monday so have to have something extra special!  And Baby Girl is on her way home... somehow got sidetracked in Baltimore...  But when she gets home we can run around and do fun Christmas preparations together!

In addition to eating regular meals this week, of course we will have some treats.  I think we will flavor roast some almonds or something for one snack item.  And I want to make Paleo Toffee Caramels!  <---Pretty awesome stuff right there!

First, real quick... here's what for supper this week...

Tortilla soup - I know I have made this a lot lately but we were pretty busy this weekend, between church and getting ready for the kids and the grandparents to come into town!  Plus there are always leftovers for a super quick lunch later this week.  By the way, my friends at have some really great recipes besides this one.  You should check them out!

Ham loaf, mashed potatoes, and corn (not our usual clean eating meal!)- This is MR's birthday supper.  The ham loaf is from Gene Wenger's Meats in Elizabethtown, PA.  I should mention that this ham loaf isn't clean, but it's a family favorite.  You may recall that many people believe in an 80/20 clean eating plan where they eat clean about 80% of the time.  We tend to do it more than that, so the occasional ham loaf is certainly within the realm of acceptable.  We will also have a shoo fly pie.  This is awesome stuff, and another non-clean item.  Chalk Monday up to a cheat!

Christmas Eve!  With the grandparents in town, we have to focus more on food throughout the day.  Usually MR and I just eat leftovers for lunch.  But ftoday we will make pizza for lunch using Trader Joe's fresh whole wheat crust.

For dinner, a slow cooked beef roast with carrots and onions.

Merry Christmas!  We bought a nice honey baked spiral ham.  We will serve this with homemade applesauce and sweet potatoes.  Not sure yet just what else... but we will round it out, no worries!

For breakfast I will see about making some cinnamon raisin braids!!
Cinnamon raisin braids (from the Naked Kitchen)

Cheesesteak wraps!  We use very thinly sliced steak meat, grilled with onions and peppers.  Then melt some provolone over that and wrap it up in a whole wheat flour tortilla.  If you like you can add a little marinara sauce on top!

The fridge will probably be full of leftovers by now, so this is "mustgo" night.  Everything MUST GO!

The other thing that's been on my mind a lot lately has to do with affording to eat healthy.  I have been reading about people getting their SNAP (food stamps) cut, and I have been giving a lot of thought to how healthy one can eat on a really tight budget.  One of the most important things has to be to make a plan.  If I have a plan, then I can think about how I can re-use leftovers for another meal.  That Tuesday night beef roast will probably be repurposed into either barbecue beef sandwiches or soup or both.  When I buy fresh produce, I try to buy only what I will need so it doesn't spoil before it gets used.  But sometimes it does start to go bad, so I usually try to get to it before it's too late and puree it and freeze it in ice cube trays to make smoothies later.  Also, I generally make any snacks or treats that we have, with the exception of fresh fruit or nuts of course.  You can save a lot of money just by not buying processed, pre-made snacks.

Beef is especially expensive, so I would say that trying to buy chicken when it's on sale might be a cheaper way to get protein.  Also if you buy a whole chicken and roast it, that is one meal and you can, again, usually get one or two meals out of the leftovers.  If you really can't afford beef or chicken, think about other protein foods -- black beans, lentils, etc.  You can buy these canned and ready to use, but if you have time, it really pays to buy them dry and prepare them as you need. More time consuming, but saves a lot of money.

Really, the bottom line is that if you want to eat healthy on a budget, you have to make a plan and work your meals around each other to save ingredients and money.

If you have any questions about any of these recipes, leave me a comment.  I am happy to help.  Until then, keep it clean!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Clean Out the Fridge! The Grandparents are Coming!

The grandparents are coming for the holidays and they always bring a ton of food because, apparently you cannot buy food in Maryland!  It's actually pretty amusing how much food they bring.  It took me a long time to realize I don't need to stock the fridge and cupboards for company when they are coming.  They will take care of it for me!  In the meantime, we still have to eat.  So recipes this week are planned mostly around what's in the cupboards.  Save money, makes use of what I have, and frees up space for the grandparents' food!

We had a beautiful beef roast the other day and since it was just the two of us, there are plenty of leftovers that will be repurposed twice this week!  I also have some super easy soup recipes that require things I typically have on hand.  Lots of soup this week, but that's probably a really good thing as we get ready to make room for MR's birthday shoo fly pie (Oh, decidedly NOT clean, but it is an indulgence we both have once a year)!

So what's for supper????

Beef Vegetable Soup

Beef vegetable soup - Yep, leftover beef, broth, crushed tomatoes, whatever vegetables you like, add some seasonings.  So easy.  So versatile.

Barbecue beef sandwiches - More leftover beef, mixed with MR's barbecue sauce recipe -- mostly tomato paste, blackstrap molasses, mustard, and honey.

Chicken Tortilla Soup - I have some leftover cooked chicken, so I will make this soup and add some chopped up chicken to it!  The best part is I can then have leftovers for lunch the next day!

Chicken Coconut Soup - I told you there would be a lot of soup this week.  This is really good stuff.

Veggie and black bean burritos - I still haven't tried this recipe... maybe this week!  I have some whole wheat tortillas I need to use up!

Chili - It's a go to when you can't think of anything else... and that's where I am right now.  Out of ideas!

This isn't supper but I have to keep telling you... MAKE THESE!  So good!
Flourless cranberry scones - Did you make these yet!?  I cannot tell you how truly quick and easy they are!  And so very tasty!  I will have to make some more in preparation for Christmas morning!

So what are you eating this week?  Just keep it clean!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back to Basics

I don't know if it's because it's that time of year when we all seem to just watch our waistlines expand at the wonderful treats laid out before us or what but I have been asked about clean eating more lately.  That's okay, because I am happy to share!

This post is really just about the basics.  What is clean eating?  I think there are probably a few definitions of it, but for me (and for MR), it's about eating things as close to their natural state as possible.  No white sugar and no white flour are two key essentials.  Beyond that, we try to make everything from scratch.  Over the last couple of years we have found a replacement recipe for just about every processed food we ever put in our bodies.  And they taste better and, most importantly, we feel better!

This is pizza.  It's clean!  Can you imagine?!

The hardest part, as Cher used to say (remember the Vic Tanney commercials?  Remember Vic Tanney?  Okay, then you are also officially old), the hardest part is getting started.  For some people it's baby steps.  Not me! I am an all in kind of person!  Both feet, hold your breath, here we go!  But if you are a baby stepper, that's perfectly fine.  Make small adjustments each week.  Soon you will notice a difference in how you feel and, quite possibly, in how your clothes fit.  (And that's a good thing!)  (Did I tell you I dropped two full sizes doing this?)

Here are the basics:
First, every time you eat, every meal, every snack, be sure to pair a complex carbohydrate with a lean protein.
Next, eat three  meals and two or three snacks every day so that you are eating about every 3 hours.  Personally, I don't usually do the third snack.  But you might want to start out that way.  If you really follow this you will feel like you are eating all the time.  But if you are eating the right things, it will be okay!
Third, what are the right things?  Again, think of it as food as close to its natural state as possible.  Eggs, fresh fruit, plain Greek yogurt, lean meats, vegetables.  Most importantly, read labels!  If you don't know what it is, or can't pronounce it, you likely shouldn't be eating it.  If it has more than a few ingredients, you probably shouldn't be eating it.

Okay, but what do I eat?!  If you are stumped for what to eat, check out my other blog posts.  I try to post my weekly menu for two reasons.  First, because if I don't post it I lose track of the recipes and then I have the ingredients but can't remember what to make!  Second, so that you can get ideas on what to make.  I work full time and have a 75 minute commute (each way, each weekday), so most of my entrees are not complicated.  Occasionally one of us works from home so we throw in a slow cooker meal in the middle of the week.  Sometimes on the weekends we have a meal that takes a little longer to prepare.  But for the most part, you will find simple, but tasty meals.  From time to time, okay a lot of times, you will also find yummy treats to make.  One of the reasons I couldn't stick with any "diet" in the past is because I would start feeling deprived.  On this lifestyle change, and I emphasize that it is a lifestyle and not a diet, you shouldn't have that problem.

A quick sample menu:
Breakfast:  Smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to have breakfast in a hurry and still get lots of good nutrition.  Seriously think about what goes in it, though.  Your base should be either skim milk or almond milk (my personal favorite) or plain Greek yogurt.  Than add fruits and/or vegetables to your taste.  I don't post a lot of smoothie recipes in my blog because there are tons of websites out there.  I don't use protein powder usually because I don't really understand the ingredients, so that means they probably aren't clean.  Get your protein from Greek yogurt!

Snack:  1 TBSP (clean) peanut butter and an apple
Read the labels.  Some peanut butters marked "natural" have added sugar.

Lunch:  Leftovers from last night
LOL  Obviously this would be a little harder to do the first day, but that's typically what I have for lunch... whatever we had for supper the night before.  If you don't have any leftovers or don't want to eat that, throw together a yummy salad the night before.  Remember to include a protein.  I like this recipe.  It's really fast and easy to make.

Snack:  Cheese stick and a clementine
Get a good quality cheese stick made only from milk.  Trader Joe's has some great ones!

Dinner:  Rosemary Pot Roast and a vegetable
This is one of my favorite recipes for two reasons.  1) You make it in the slow cooker and 2) It tastes incredible with just a few ingredients.  The really good news?  You should have some leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Snack:  Small handful of almonds mixed with a few raisins

Do you have a sweet tooth?  Or like cream and sugar in your coffee or tea?  There's an app for that... okay, not an app, but there's a substitute!  First replace the sugary prepared creamers with half and half or milk.  There are also some recipes online for making flavored creamers that are not full of sugar and junk.  Just search "clean eating coffee creamer" and you will be amazed at the many choices.  Next replace the sugar with either honey or coconut sugar.  Coconut sugar is available at more stores now.  If you can't find it, try Whole Foods.  For other sweets, coconut sugar, black strap molasses, honey, and Medjool dates are my go to replacement sweeteners.  The main thing is to stay away from processed stuff.  White sugar is not permitted at all on clean eating.  Brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses so don't be fooled.

Okay, this post just hits the most basic idea of clean eating.  If you have questions or are looking for a particular kind of recipe, post a comment and I will see what I can do to help.  It may seem intimidating, but I found that it was not that difficult.  Is it expensive?  Well, maybe at first because you need to buy all new flour and sweetener.  But maybe that's where the baby steps come in.  The next time you need flour, buy whole wheat.  The next time you need sugar, buy honey and/or coconut sugar.  When you start buying fresh produce, buy only as much as you need for a few days so it doesn't go bad.  Although when I find that I have fruits or vegetables going bad, I just puree it and pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it for smoothies or soups!

I am a firm believer in, when it comes to food, all things in moderation.  Many people believe that if you eat clean you should do it about 80% of the time and then have cheat meals the other 20%.  I don't cheat much because I find that I can't really control it.  That's it!  That's who I am!  If I have a few peanut M&Ms, I will want more.  So I find it's better if I just don't eat them, or do so only very rarely.  But there are some things that I indulge in occasionally...  A glass (or two) of a really good wine or soup and salad from Panera are probably my most frequent cheats and even that is not so often.  Yes, Panera soup and salad is a cheat.  Read their ingredients sometime.  I was really disappointed, but at least I recognized that it's a cheat.  Anyway, the point is, you can occasionally have  a cheat meal.  Just don't make THAT your lifestyle!

Whatever you do, keep it clean!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Wait for it... it's menu time!

Saturday morning!  Laundry is started, scones are baked (go back one post if you missed that!), and I am making my weekly menu.  It looks like we are in for some chilly weather, so lots of comfort foods this week!

Once I get all my other stuff done around here this morning, I am going to start making Christmas treats.  I will make unclean cupcakes for MR and me to take to work.

These are not clean!  But they sure are cute and fun to make!

And I will also make some dark chocolate treats and some other clean treats.  Of course, I will make a batch of granola this morning!  I love a handful thrown in with some plan Greek yogurt.  MR adds a little honey when he does that, but I like it just fine with granola and yogurt.  Fortunately, I have most of the ingredients for my menu this week so that means a cheap trip to the grocery store.  Good thing since I dropped a bundle at the Amish market and Trader Joe's last week!

Tortilla Soup - This is such a versatile recipe.  I don't always have every ingredient on hand, so I just wing it.  Sometimes I throw in some cooked, chopped chicken, and sometimes I throw in some prepared black beans.  Sometimes both!

Pizza - MR loves his pizza!  We indulge in this occasionally with a fresh whole wheat crust from Trader Joe's.  We also like to use their Quattro Formaggio cheese (I know, that's redundant).  He makes his own pizza sauce with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, and some Italian seasoning and garlic.  Good stuff!

Potato Corn Soup - We don't even know what this is.  We are going to make it up!  We love potato soup.  We love corn soup.  We are going to combine the two and make our own recipe!  MR is good at that.

Rosemary pot roast - This goes in the slow cooker.  I love love love it!  And it only takes a few ingredients!

Beef and vegetable soup - Another recipe we kind of make up as we go along.  Leftover pot roast, some frozen mixed vegetables, some broth... what else, what else?

Baked chicken and acorn squash - This is just what it sounds like.  Rub some olive oil on your chicken, sprinkle on some seasoning (we usually use Italian) and bake it.  You can bake this at the same time as your acorn squash.  I think acorn squash is the ultimate comfort food!  My mom used to make it for me!

Mustgo - Either eat what's left in the fridge (everything must go), or go to Plaza Mexico for a taco if there is nothing left to eat since we do repurpose for lunches most of the time!

Check out earlier posts this week for lots of yummy treats to make if you're in the mood!  No matter what, though, keep it clean!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Treats Treats Treats!

I love staying in the house on cold Winter days and making Christmas treats!  And this is the perfect weekend for it.  Weatherman says Sunday, especially, will be a wicked one.  So what to make?

I am going to list a whole bunch of different recipes.  I probably won't get them all made this weekend, but I can do more next weekend.  Isn't that what Christmas is all about?  Yum!  Can't wait!

Clean Eating Sticky Buns!

Flourless cranberry scones - I added these after I posted this blog because they are just so darn good!  And super quick and easy!  I have to put them away when they finish cooling or I will eat them all!  AMAZING!!!  You can make these in about 5-10 minutes, plus 10 minutes bake time.

Sticky buns - These are made with the dough from Cinnamon Raisin Braids over at The Naked Kitchen (  I linked to the original recipe, but if you want to make sticky buns, just make the dough as indicated.  Then instead of rolling into ropes and braiding, divide the dough in half and roll each piece out into a rectangle.  Mix a little bit of honey with some chopped pecans (or other nut of your choice). It should be mostly nuts.  Roll it up jelly roll style, and cut into individual rolls.  I like to use dental floss to do this because it doesn't squish the dough.  Then place in a buttered cake pan, side touching.  Bake at 350 about 20 minutes.  When done, brush with honey cinnamon mixture (see recipe link).  Allow to cool as long as you can stand it.  Makes two batches of sticky buns.

Dark Chocolate Coconut balls - These are like eating a Mounds bar.  Yummy coconut drenched in dark chocolate!  Oh yeah!  Better than a Mounds!

Paleo pumpkin muffins - I love to make a batch of these and keep them in the fridge to heat up for breakfast.  Throw a handful of fresh or dried cranberries in for a great tart POP in your mouth.  I use unsweetened cranberries, so it's pretty tart.  But I love it like that!

Molasses oatmeal cookies - My husband created these one day when we didn't have enough coconut sugar.  I like to make them extra big for grab and go breakfast cookies!

Gourmet S'mores - I know, s'mores are for Summer, but I just love these.  If you are going to a party or holiday gathering, a plate of these is always a big hit!

Peppermint patties - I could eat a whole bag of peppermint patties in one sitting... one reason I had to switch to clean eating!  But just one or two of these totally satisfies me!  So delightful!

Dark Chocolate Orange and Pomegranate Truffles - I haven't made these yet but I really hope to this year!  They look beautiful and sound even better.  If you make them let me know how they turn out or, better yet, invite me over for a taste test!

Dark Chocolate Covered Toffee - You won't even know there's no refined sugar in this.  Amazing stuff! And so easy!  You really need a candy thermometer, though.

Apple Pie Balls - Easiest recipe ever!  No baking and can be made in just a few minutes.  Everybody loves these... even #1 son who doesn't eat clean!

Have fun!  Share a recipe with me if you like!  And remember to keep it clean!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sometimes it's not just about the clean eating!

Yay for the holidays that fall from November to January!  I love this time of year with all the excitement, festivities, family, and friends!  If you're like me, you also have that one little thing always hanging over your head though...  will I gain any weight this season?  Will I at least maintain the weight I have lost?

The holidays are often a sugar-filled whirlwind.  MR and I try to offset that as much as possible by making clean treats.  There are lots of great baking and candy recipes.  I will post some of my favorites in the days to come.  But this time of year, more than ever, I know I have to also ramp up my exercise.  Last year we did the weight gain challenge.  You weigh yourself on the day before Thanksgiving and then again on New Year's Day.  The goal is to weigh less on January 1st.  MR actually did it last year.  I did not.  But I only gained two pounds, so I put a small "w" in the win column.  (Previous years would have told a different story!)  This year we are doing it again.  And I know I will have to be extra vigilant this year, especially after that awesome (Paleo) pie I made for Thanksgiving.  Desserts are desserts, folks, and should be eaten in moderation, even when made without refined sugars!  (Tell that to my taste buds!)

My idea of exercise on a regular day is walking.  It has been so ridiculously cold lately that I haven't even been able to do that as much as I'd like.  So I have added the Plank Challenge to help build my core, and have also committed to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day.  Not an average over a week but every single day.  Today, because it's the first day and I am all excited about it (call me next week to discuss), I did the Plank Challenge and a Kickboxing video (I can view it free through my Roku... I am all about free), and I am about to walk 3 miles (round trip) in the freezing cold to buy some coconut sugar.  I don't need the coconut sugar today, but I do need the walk so it's a good excuse and gives me a reason to keep moving.  Truth be told, the walk may turn into a bike ride... we'll see.  Nonetheless, exercise!

This is my idea of how to spend the next 30 days, and it doesn't have to be yours.  But none of us want to gain any weight this season, so find something you do enjoy, and move it move it!

And keep it clean!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls - pardon my sticky fingers!

I am so excited to share this with you that I still have sticky fingers from eating it!  If you have followed me for any length of time, you may remember that cinnamon raisin braid recipe is one of the recipes that convinced me I could do this clean eating thing.  I continue to go back to this recipe, because it's pretty easy and always good!

Yesterday I thought I was dumping some leftover cinnamon and chopped pecans into an empty container.  It turns out there was a little bit of honey in the bottom.  Not to be wasteful, I just stirred them all together.  I tasted a little on a spoon!  Holy smokes!  I had to do something with this stuff!  So I got to thinking that maybe I could use them to make the center of some cinnamon rolls.

This morning I whipped up a batch of cinnamon raisin braid recipe dough.  Instead of rolling it into individual braids as noted in the direction, I took half the dough and rolled it out into a rectangle.  (The other half you can make as usual, or do two batches of cinnamon rolls.)  I then coated the dough with mixture of honey, chopped pecans, and cinnamon, leaving about 1/4" of dough uncoated.  Roll it up like a jelly roll and cut into individual rolls.  I use dental floss to cut it because it doesn't squish the dough.  Place into a round cake pan, sides touching.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or so.  When done, invert over a large plate and allow them to detach from the pan.  And Voila!  Clean eating cinnamon rolls!

Guess what we're having Christmas morning?!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Girl's Gotta Eat!

Thanksgiving week!  Already?!  Lucky for me I am not expected to prepare anything.  The MIL likes to make the bulk of the meal, although I do help the day of.  And MR makes the pies... clean, of course!  He found whole wheat frozen pie crusts at Whole Foods, and makes a pumpkin one and an apple one.  No sugar added, but every bit as good!  But the week leading up, we still have to eat!  So here is this week's short week recipe round-up!

Mexican style sirloin steaks and avocado salad - I made these last summer and they were amazing!  So definitely time to drag it out again.  I just hope we have at least one day of good grilling weather this week!

Chili - Easy peasy!  1# grass fed ground beef, one can of tomato sauce, chopped onion, chopped green pepper, chili powder to taste!   (EDIT:  Oh, yeah, add some beans!  We like black beans and pinto beans!)

This picture has nothing to do with the post, I just really like it!  And I took it myself!

Maura's BBQ - This is from last week's menu.  I never got it made until today, so it counts for this week now!  If you want the recipe, see the previous blog post.  Thanks, as always, to our friend Maura who turned us on to this a very long time ago!

BBQ sandwiches - Leftovers from that fabulous Maura's BBQ spooned over whole wheat hamburger buns from Trader Joe's.

Chicken coconut soup - I have some leftover cooked chicken breast from last week, and just happen to have some coconut milk in the cupboard, and the rest of the ingredients too!  This makes my grocery bill light and sounds delicious!

Keep it clean!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

More Granola!

I just pulled this out of the oven!  Didn't even wait for it to cool!  Poured some almond milk on it and threw in a few dark chocolate chips!  Snack time!  Simple as can be!

Coconut Pecan Granola
based on a granola recipe from

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Blend all ingredients together.  Spread out on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Bake at 325 for 15 minutes.  Stir around on sheet.  Bake another 15 minutes.  Stir around on sheet.  Bake another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool and stir in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recipes for a Friend

Baby Girl and I went to a bridal shower today for a really darling friend of hers... and mine!  We were supposed to bring a favorite recipe.  Uh... I forgot!  I feel so bad about that I am dedicating this week's menu to her.  She needs some easy yummy recipes, and these are some of the easiest and yummiest I know!

So let's get to the recipes!

Beef bacon butternut squash - I haven't actually ever made this yet, but it I love squash and I love bacon so how can it be wrong?!  This sounds so incredibly tummy-warming I can't wait to try it!

Black bean avocado quesadilla - I have made these before.  I don't always have exactly the ingredients, but quesadillas are the kinds of thing you can adjust based on what's on hand.

 Potato soup - I just love potato soup!  We used to eat this with crusty bread, but now just toss in some whole wheat hard pretzel pieces!

Maura's BBQ - This is so easy!
2 - 3 pounds of stewing beef, cut up
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped onion
1/4 cup chili powder
1 TBSP dry mustard
1 TBSP worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

Mix all ingredients except stewing beef together.  Then stir in beef and coat.  Put in slow cooker and cook 6 hours on high or 10 hours on low.  Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

(Edited to add blackstrap molasses.)

Baked chicken and acorn squash -
I will season the chicken breasts with some olive oil and Italian seasonings and bake at 350 about 30 minutes.
To make acorn squash, cut in half and remove all seeds.  Place face down on a baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes at 350.

Beef Vegetable Soup
Beef vegetable soup -
Last week I made a rosemary pot roast.  Because the pot roast has onions in it, and some great flavors, I don't really need to add any additional seasoning.

2 cups leftover roast beef, shredded
2 cups mixed vegetables
2 cups vegetable broth
26 oz can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

We will also have some yummies around the house like:

Granola - This is a really great basic recipe.  You can make it as is, as I often do, or you can dress it up with some other favorites.

Keep it clean!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Autumn Harvest!

While I surely will miss all the awesome produce we get throughout the summer, I am enjoying that apples, squash, pumpkins, and cranberries are back!  MR made some more applesauce this week.  There is just nothing like the taste of fresh, still warm applesauce on a cool October day!  There is no real recipe for it.  Just core apples and cut them up into chunks and cook them with some water and cinnamon.  When they are soft, grind them in a food mill.  We don't add sugar and we use whatever apples we happen to have.  As you make it, you will find combinations of apples that taste best to you.

When I was in the grocery the other day I saw that they finally had fresh cranberries back in stock.  So I bought two bags!  This morning I made Paleo pumpkin muffins and tucked a few fresh cranberries inside each one.  It gives it a lovely tart little *pop* in your mouth!  I also made some pumpkin donuts.  Half of the batch was just as the recipe is written.  Except I forgot to grease the donut pan so they didn't pop out easily!  Still edible though.  The other half I decided (since my donut pan was such a mess) to add cranberries and bake them in a (greased with coconut oil) mini muffin pan and make donut holes!

I dumped the rest of the fresh cranberries on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer.  (Freezing them in a single layer in a cookie sheet helps keep them from clumping together in the bag.)  From there, I bag them up and freeze them for baking later.  I use these for baking, not for adding to trail mix or other non-cooked recipes.  But I like tart foods, so I would say these aren't for everybody!

Sometimes this weekend I am going to make Spanish chicken and chorizo.   I am sharing the recipe here but be forewarned, I haven't actually made it yet.  It looks easy yet amazing, so I am hoping for a great outcome.

For some reason, I am guessing it is the shorter hours of daylight, we just are having trouble getting motivated to do a lot of cooking in the evening.  In order to lighten that burden, I want to try to make this week as simple as possible in the cooking department.  If I can, I will pre-make some over the weekend so we just have to heat and serve.

Here's what else I am *planning* for us to eat for supper this week!

Meatloaf with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms is pretty easy.  I love the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes.  You need to have enough time to cook it, but if the loaf is made ahead of time you can at least save some time that way.

Pizza with whole wheat crust!  We keep Trader Joe's fresh whole wheat pizza crust in the freezer.  There are also tons of alternate crust recipes online if you don't want wheat.  Or you can make your own.  Pizza crust is incredibly easy to make!

Pepperoncini brisket.  Just put a brisket in a slow cooker and dump a jar of pepperoncini (liquid and all) over it. Use a 16 oz. jar for every 2-3 pounds of brisket.  You can serve this shredded on whole wheat buns.

Beef and butternut squash stew sounds very seasonal!  This recipe calls for flour so I will probably sub whole wheat flour.  I think if you want to leave out the flour altogether, you can, but it just won't be as thick unless you add something else to thicken it.  Because this takes 1-1/2 hours to cook, I will make it ahead of time and then we can just reheat it.

It looks like with all these hearty recipes, we will probably also have a leftover night.  The nice thing about that is that if there aren't enough leftovers, we will probably go out for Mexican food!  :-)

One more thing I *intend* to make this week is peppermint patties.  When I crave something sweet, it's nice to have something around that I can eat... occasionally.  I think these are pretty easy to make and you can do it in just a few minutes.

Keep it clean!

Monday, October 7, 2013

In the words of my favorite monster.....

COOKIES!  Cookie Monster stole my heart just for his love of cookies.  And these will definitely creep into your heart.  I was out of town for a couple days and was surprised to find cookies sitting on the counter when I returned. And Clean, at that!

MR took the recipe from our handy dandy Better Homes and Garden cookbook... we have had it since we were married, which is a long time... and cleaned it up!

Aren't they Beautiful!?

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cup old fashioned (rolled) oats

Beat butter with electric mixer for about 30 seconds.  Add molasses, honey, coconut sugar, baking powde,r baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves.  Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in the flour.  If it gets too stiff, you may have to finish it by hand. (I really recommend a good quality stand mixer, like a Kitchen Aid, if you can.  It makes life a lot easier in the kitchen!)  Stir in the oats.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes.  Cook on a wire rack.  Seal in an airtight container when completely cooled.  These may seem dry at first, but once you let them sit in the container for a couple hours or so, they will be more moist.

It was a long drive home yesterday, so I sure was happy to have such a wonderful and unexpected treat waiting for me!

Stay clean!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes!

Whew!  A week away did me a world of good.  I am not sure how I am going to wake up before 5 a.m. come Monday morning, but I'll deal with that when the time comes.  For now, just happy to still technically be on vacation.  Also, happy to have the fresh Fall produce we picked up at the farm stand on the way home yesterday.  Plus we bought a big basket of apples last week.  I definitely see fresh applesauce in our future!

So, just getting back from vacation, I have a lot to do!  Better get right to the recipes....  NOTE - These are just the entrees, as you can see.  I will, of course, complement with vegetables!

Burgers on the grill - okay, had to start out with something simple!  We use Trader Joe's whole wheat hamburger buns, but you can wrap them in big lettuce leaves if you prefer.

Pizza - Trader Joe's gets lots of love at our house.  They have a fresh whole wheat pizza dough that we always keep on hand.  We both work long hours with long commutes, so quick and easy is important, but it still has to be clean!

Italian chicken - just chicken breasts rubbed with oil and then seasoned and just grill it!  Serving this with some of that great squash we picked up.

Black Bean Burritos - I haven't actually tried this recipe but I do like black bean burgers and this sounds pretty close so think it's a win.  And it includes sweet potatoes, which I absolutely love!

Chicken salad - we will use leftover chicken, chop it up, add mayo, mustard, chopped pecans, and raisins to make a fabulous chicken salad.  You can pretty much add what you want to get the taste you love.

Prosciutto-wrapped Beef Cubes - OMG... I just love this stuff.  I have posted it before, and will continue to post it.  Ab-Fab!!!  And not as complicated as it looks.

Tortilla Soup - After a long week at work, this is super easy, and super tasty, just what the doctor ordered.  This is a very versatile recipe that you can adjust to taste with your favorite flavors.  We usually add a can of black beans and/or some leftover chicken.

I also plan to make Paleo Cinnamon RollsOatmeal Raisin Cookies (uh oh!  Had to strike these out.  I just realized the recipe has brown sugar in it... so very sad!  But I will try to find a new recipe to replace this one...) and Paleo Pumpkin Cakes, but we all know about plans, don't we?!  But I will try!

Keep it clean!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

VACATION... but still eating clean!

First, please allow me to recognize all those who died, were injured, or otherwise affected by the rampage at the Washington Navy Yard this week.  I have worked there in the past, not at building 197, but very nearby, and worked on some projects with some folks from there, and also am friends with some employees at NAVSEA.  I do not know anyone personally that was killed or injured, but nevertheless, I have thought about them all every day this week. A lot of my friends and former co-workers were on the Yard throughout the entire day and my heart goes out to each of them.

Mental illness is a huge issue in our world, and I just pray that anyone who is having any kind of issues seeks out help, and if that help is not as forthcoming as it should be, continue to pursue it.  If you have a loved one that you think is struggling, be open with them and encourage them to get the help they need.

This has been a long week.  I'm glad that I am now on vacation.  We usually go away right after Labor Day, because all the usual crowds are gone from the beach but everything is still open.  It got a little delayed this month, due to one thing or another.  But no matter, as long as we finally work a vacation in.  I don't really care about all the normal beach vacation activities.  We mostly ride bike, walk, and kayak.  And we can do that as long as the weather is cooperative.  Whenever and wherever we are on vacation, if it's for more than a few days, we try to get a place that has a full kitchen.  It makes it easier for us to stay on track with our clean eating lifestyle and, mostly, keeps the cost down.  Because, I am cheap like that!  So, for us, in most cases, being on vacation is not difficult when it comes to eating.   But we will also go out to eat some this week.  And I may even indulge in some not-so-clean treats.  Why not?!

This week's menu:

This stuff is epic!  And at the end of the week, if there are leftovers, this will become sandwiches!

Pasta Pomodoro
Easiest sauce in the world to make.  15 oz can of diced tomatoes plus 1/4 cup of pesto.  Voila!  Pour it over cooked pasta.  I have some chicken tenders that I cooked on Friday that I will pair with this for protein.

Always a go to because it's easy and has basic ingredients.  Pretty sure you can make this however you want.  Protein (I use grass fed ground beef), chopped onion, tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, and/or kidney beans, spices to taste!

We stopped at Trader Joe's and picked up a fresh whole wheat crust.  Makes an awesome pizza!  I actually had some white flour crust recently and it was so boring compared to the whole wheat!

I am working on perfecting clean macaroons. There are some good recipes out there but the ones I have tried so far don't stick together as I would hope.  So there may be a coconut macaroon recipe in your future!  In the meantime, keep it clean!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


This just seems like it has been the craziest week, and I really don't know why.  But it's weeks like this that cause me to break out the simplest recipes I can find.  I really can't bring myself to get too crazy with cooking some nights. So this week you will see a collection of some of the easiest recipes I know.  But, you know, there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple.

This is so easy, it's ridiculous.  All you need is a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and 1/4 cup of your favorite pesto.  Mix together and heat.  Serve over whatever kind of pasta you prefer.  You may want to add some grilled chicken for nice lean protein.

Honey-mustard dressing served over chicken fingers cooked on the grill.  I will serve this with baked acorn squash.  I absolutely LOVE acorn squash and it is so easy to make!  Just cut the squash in half and clean out the seeds.  Lay each half face down on a baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes at 350.  Squash is done when a fork can easily pierce the skin.  I then turn it over and put a pat of butter in it.  Acorn squash is the green one shaped similar to a giant acorn.

A pound of ground beef (or whatever kind of protein you prefer), browned with half a chopped onion.  Then stir in a 15 oz can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, and a can of drained and rinsed pinto beans.  You can use different beans if you prefer.  Mix in your favorite seasoning.  We often just use chili powder.  Heat through!

We have some other things going on this week that will not require us to cook much, so this is a short menu.  I hope it gives you some ideas for quick and easy, but tasty, foods for your own menu.

For a snack, though, here is a great graham cracker recipe.

Keep it clean!

Monday, September 2, 2013


Every time I turn around I see yet another "super easy" recipe with "only 3 ingredients" or that is "super easy" on Facebook.  They tell you to "tag yourself so you have this recipe."  The problem is that 1 of those 3 ingredients is usually something like a cake mix... which to me equals about 15 ingredients all on its own!  I really just want to post... in all CAPS... STOP IT!  DON'T DO IT!  But I try to be really polite on Facebook and I know that some people can and want to eat that stuff.  So instead I have finally decided that the best way to combat that is to post this blog with some "super easy" recipes!  Some are 3 ingredients and some are more.  But none of them take long and all of them are awesome.  I am only posting those which I have personally tested so can attest to the ease and the flavor.

So HURRY!  TAG YOURSELF or SHARE THIS so you can keep these recipes handy!  :-)

First, though, have you ever made ice cream from frozen bananas?  If not, you are depriving yourself of an awesome treat.  You can essentially dress this recipe up any way you want, with pretty much any flavors you like.  You don't get a strong banana flavor, unless you make banana ice cream.  You can get a Yonana Maker, which is a pretty handy tool to have, or you can even do it in your food processor.  Every time you have some overripe bananas, just peel them, lay them out on a plate or cookie sheet and freeze.  Once they are frozen, throw them into an airtight container and keep them in the freezer until you are ready for them.  So easy to just take out as many bananas as you need.  I can even buy overripe bananas at the grocery store for a discounted price.  As long as the peels aren't slimy, I'm in!  (I am.. um... frugal like that!)

Banana Berry Ice Cream
2 bananas, frozen
1 oz. dark chocolate
3/4 cup frozen mixed berries

Whiz the ingredients together in your food processor or Yonanas maker.  Done.  Keep leftovers (if there are any!) in the freezer.

Mudslide Fudge Cookies (grain free)
Not very many ingredients, and you likely have them in your house.  Where it says raw honey, I actually just use whatever honey I have.  It's up to you whether the ingredients need to be organic.

Chunky Chocolate Cookies
Don't eat these right away.... allow them to set up after they come out of the oven so they aren't as crumbly.

Cinnamon Raisin Braids
These take a little more time, but mostly to give the dough time to raise.  The real ease comes when you make the dough and freeze some of it for use later!  I personally can't wait and have to make them all at once.  These are so good, your family will not know they are eating healthy!

Peach Cobbler!

MR's Famous Peach Cobbler
My husband truly makes the world's greatest peach cobbler.  Just because we changed to a clean eating lifestyle, was no reason to give it up!  I was eating, cleaned up or not!  When peach season rolled around this year, has attempted to clean it up.  And came up with TWO awesome wins!  You can follow the directions at the link, or you can sub 1/2 cup of honey for the coconut sugar.  Either way works just fine.  This stuff is especially good eaten warm with a little almond milk over it... or maybe make some banana berry ice cream (above) and serve it with it.  Also, you can throw in a handful of blueberries with the peaches!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabars
I love larabars for a snack or a treat.  There are multiple ways to make them.  This recipe is a good one, but has lots of other ones too.  Check them out!

So now... do you really want to make a dessert that starts with a cake mix?!  Not when there are so many better options around!!!!  Go ahead, enjoy!!!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Paleo Tendencies

I just finished a creamsicle.  I can't find the recipe I used to make them (but I did post a good one for you back there), which is why I started posting more frequently on my blog.... just to keep track of things!  I have Pinterest, but I haven't organized it well, so I keep getting distracted by all the dessert recipes when I am looking for entrees.

I usually do my meal planning for the week on Saturday morning, but we're doing a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods run in the morning, so I wanted to get the list ready tonight.  No firm plans for the holiday weekend (Happy Labor Day, US of A friends!) so I will have to be flexible.

I am finishing up my first week of a two week Paleo trial.  I have eaten almost 100% Paleo all week.  I made pizzas last night that had mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  I guess that's not strictly Paleo, so that was once.  And then tonight at the farmer's market, I taste tested some gourmet nuts and didn't realize that the cashews had some sugar in their seasoning.  I only ate one, so that barely counts, right?  Speaking of Paleo, my sister commented on the beef teriyaki kabob recipe from the Civilized Caveman that I posted on my blog last week.  She asked if we used a gas grill to make them.  Well... YEAH!  And she said, That's not very Paleo, is it?  She thinks she's funny.  Sometimes I do too.  Mostly silly.  (I love my sisters, by the way!)  ANYWAY!  I will admit that there were times that I wanted to fall off the Paleo wagon.  Mostly when MR had his pizza with Trader Joe's whole wheat crust.  I really wanted that!  But I persevered.  And the trade off to that has been that I am down a few pounds this week and definitely feeling better.  My tummy issues, which are what precipitated the foray into 100% Paleo, as opposed to my usual Clean Eating with Paleo tendencies, seem to have resolved for the most part.  I will try it for another week and see if I am going to stick with it 100% (they say you can do it 85%... I am likely to do better if am all in) or go back to having some grains and legumes in my diet.

I will only post a short menu right now because we have some special plans at the end of the week, but will post the rest of the week later.  In the meantime, I have thrown in some extra items for your cooking and eating pleasure!!!

PALEOMG Mexican Salad 
Hey, this was on the menu last week!  That's right, folks, even the best laid plans.... well, you know.  So we didn't get to this and had a Mustgo night instead.  (Everything must go!)  It really  makes it easy when I have all the stuff and don't get it made.  Just move it to the next week!

Steak and caramelized peach salad
Yeah, yeah... another one that didn't get made this week.  It's because I forgot to thaw meat one day, so we had to scrape something together with whatever was in the fridge or pantry.
UPDATE:  When we made this we discovered that there is no picture and the ingredients and instructions are a little ambiguous.  If you're not very proficient in the kitchen and require very specific directions, this may not be the recipe for you.  MR is quite proficient, so was able to pull it off.  AND, I really enjoyed the blend of flavors.  But, if you are timid in the kitchen, you may want to skip this recipe.

Moroccan meatballs with citrus glazed carrots
Haven't made these in a while, and they weren't on the menu last week!  HA!  These are simple to make and I really love the flavors.

Prosciutto wrapped beef cubes
Oh, man!  These are amazing!  I absolutely could eat these every day!!!

And that's it for me for the week!  Nah, not really.  More later.... and in the meantime... check these out!

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins - I love these!  So quick to make and just keep them in an airtight container in the fridge and grab and go.  When fresh cranberries are available in the Fall, I will throw a handful of them in the batter.  When you bite into them you get a great pop of tartness in your mouth.  Yummy!

Green Smoothies - There are so many ways to make a green smoothie, I won't even post a recipe.  I will say that you can make it the way you like it.  I use a big handful of spinach, about 8 oz. almond milk, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, half a banana, and then a cup of whatever fruit I have handy.  If your fruit isn't frozen, throw a few ice cubes in too so it's nice and chilly!

Have a clean eating week!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Makin' a List, Checking it Twice!

Makin' a list, checking it twice... nope, not time for Santa Claus to come to town... it's time to make my menu and grocery list for the week.  If I don't store it here with links to all the recipes, Thursday will roll around and I won't be able to find that recipe I need, and then, well.. you know... we will have breakfast for supper again.  Not that that's a bad thing, but you can only pull that trick out so many times in a week!

We are officially empty-nesters again, so it makes the grocery bill a little lower, and cooking a little easier, although #1 Son and Baby Girl will eat what I make for the most part.  I did like to get him things that they enjoyed that we won't touch.

August weather seems to be back, so I will take advantage of the warm nights by grilling a little more.  This has two advantages, 1) we don't heat up the kitchen and 2) MR does the cooking!  (The second reason is the best reason!)  I also have promised to make a treat for a birthday at work this week.  Fortunately, I am off on Monday so I will have time to do that without cutting into my evenings.

Lest you be fooled, making my menu every week is pretty time consuming.  We really want to eat healthy, but don't want to be bored.  Plus I hate wasting food, so I have to consider how I can re-purpose things all week.  It saves money if you plan carefully.  Less to purchase and no waste is always my goal.  It was really a lot easier when we just ate crap.  But, then that has its trade-offs too, doesn't it?  So I sit here every Saturday morning, perusing recipes, making my menu and also making my shopping list.  What do we have in the pantry?  What do we have in the freezer?  And on top of it, I try to turn it into a blog that is helpful to you... okay, and to me so all my recipes for the week are in one spot.  So here is the plan!

Paleo Shepherd's Pie - I love shepherd's pie for a lot of reasons.  The biggest one is because I can pretty much use whatever I have handy to make it!  It's a great way to use up leftover veg.  I haven't made it with sweet potato before, but this sounds yummy.  We (read MR) will have to make some homemade barbecue sauce so we can have the one tiny teaspoon of it this calls for, but then we will freeze the rest for another day!

This is how he makes barbecue sauce:  Dump 6 oz can of tomato paste into a bowl.  Fill the can halfway with water and then the rest of the way with apple cider vinegar, mix it up to get all the extra tomato off the sides of the can, then dump into the bowl with the paste.  Mix in 2 TBSP blackstrap molasses, and 1 TBSP mustard.  Voila!  Super easy barbecue sauce!  Freeze leftovers.

Also, I thought I would add PALEOMG Asian Marinated Crockpot Beef Spareribs to the menu but I pinched my finger in the lazy susan cabinet while I was checking to see if we had sesame oil.  We don't.  And now my finger hurts.  We are not having these.  (But you might like them.)

Burgers on the grill.  MR will eat it on a whole wheat bun (Trader Joe's sells one with no added sugar) and I will eat mine Paleo style.  I've been having some tummy issues lately so going to try to eat mostly Paleo for a couple weeks and see if it helps.  I will probably not need a lot of sweet potato for this so may make a few baked sweet potato fries for on the side.  Waste not, want not!

Beef Teriyaki Kabobs or is it kebabs?  These are from  They are Paleo, if you're into that.  I like them because they look super-easy!
While the recipe calls for chunks of pineapple, if you want you can grill some extra pineapple.  I absolutely love grilled pineapple paired with teriyaki.  Just cut some of it in big fat strips and throw it on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  If we don't use up all the pineapple this week, I will puree it and freeze it in ice cube trays to use in smoothies later.

Pizza!  Who doesn't want pizza?  MR would eat it everyday.  I will make
this gluten-free paleo-style recipe for me and use a Trader Joe's whole wheat crust for him.  That way we both have lots of leftovers for lunches!

PALEOMG Mexican Salad is really easy to make and can be adapted to make everyone happy.  I will eat it with some salad greens, MR might have some tortilla chips.  You could probably serve it in a tortilla bowl, or wrapped in hard or soft tortillas for that matter!

Steak and caramelized peach salad - I haven't made this before, but I got the biggest peaches you have ever seen from the farmer's market last night.  You could play softball with these babies!  And the peaches this year have been just amazingly sweet and juicy.  So I figure, meat plus peaches ought to be a winner!

I am making s'mores cupcakes (NOT CLEAN!) for work and I thought it would be nice to bring in (mostly) clean gourmet s'mores  for those of us who don't eat so much junk  The graham crackers in the link are not paleo but here is a recipe that is.  I am going to try them paleo this time.  I really hope they work out! 

In case you want to know how to make s'mores cupcakes, just make Devil's food cupcakes (yes, from a mix!), sprinkle the tops with crushed graham crackers (yes, from a box!) before baking; mix about 1:1 ratio of marshmallow fluff with cream cheese frosting (yes, from a can!), and pipe onto baked and cooled cupcakes.  Top with a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers (yes, still from a box!) and decorate with a square of Hershey's chocolate.
<-----This was the old me

The new me will eat Gourmet S'mores.  These are not nearly as difficult as they sound. You can make the graham crackers the day before if that helps with timing.  The only slightly unclean thing about the gourmet s'mores is the gelatin in the fluff.  But these are meant to be a treat so shouldn't completely throw you off track to just have occasionally.  Recipe for (mostly) clean gourmet s'mores

Dip them twice in chocolate (cooling between dips) and they will look better than this.  
This was my first attempt.  I got better with practice, and not much practice, at that!

Have a clean week!