Friday, December 19, 2014

Mug Cheesecake! What?!

You know all those great mug recipes?  Muffin in a mug, cake in a mug, even meatloaf in a mug!  I love those things.  So easy to make one or two servings.  Well, how about cheesecake in a mug?!  I know!  How awesome  is that?  I couldn't believe it when I saw the recipe at!  I mean, who does that?!  This girl, that's who!   (Lots of exclamation points over this one, but so worth it!!!!)

Anyway, I just happened to have the ingredients on hand to make it, because it really isn't complicated.  I like recipes that don't require weird stuff.  Like xantham gum.  Oh my gosh, you need like two granules of that stuff when you use it, but it comes in an 8 ounce bag that costs a LOT!  Anyway, I digress..  Because there is no xanthan gum in this recipe.  Just normal stuff.  Oh, and I lied.  I didn't exactly have all the ingredients as the recipe was written so I improvised.  Plus, I don't use regular confectioners sugar  And the original recipe also called for fat free or low fat things... and I don't do that.  (My body likes the fat I eat.  It really helps me stay on track better when I consume enough fat.)  I also omitted the vanilla wafer (white flour!!! No!)  So the recipe I am posting is adapted from this recipe and you can use that one if you prefer, but mine turned out totally awesome.  Just so you know!

I made my own confectioners sugar because... well, because I can!  And so can you.  I made a whole cup even though I didn't need that much.  I figured there will be another opportunity to use it, and now I have some already made sitting in a jar in my cupboard!

Confectioners Sugar (makes 1 cup)

1 cup coconut sugar (or other preferred sugar/sugar substitute)
1 tsp corn starch

Whiz together in a small grinder until powdery soft.  It won't take long.  I used a clean coffee grinder.  (The quantity is too small to use most food processors.)
Using coconut sugar makes it darker, but it has the right texture and sweetness so it works.

Cheesecake in a Mug (makes two servings)

1/4 cup confectioners sugar (see above)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
6 TBSP cream cheese
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.  Divide among two coffee mugs.  Microwaving one mug at a time, microwave on high 1 minute.  Let it sit for about 30 seconds.  Then microwave again for 1 minute.  Remove from microwave, and then do the second mug.  When they are both done, allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Refrigerate for at least two hours.  Enjoy!

I am so serious when I tell you this is awesome cheesecake!  I haven't experimented with mixing in fruit or anything yet.  What is your favorite cheesecake flavor?

I couldn't get a great picture because it didn't pop out of the mug very pretty.  Plus it was so yummy I had eaten half of it before I realized I better take one so I can share it with you!  Sorry about that!  ;-)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Not Magic. Not Rocket Science. (plus a link to a giveaway and a giveback!)

Baby, it's cold outside!  I am not a big fan of the cold weather but since we moved slightly south of my home in the great white North of Ohio, I can deal with it.  Most of the time. One thing that makes it easier, though, is something in the slow cooker when I walk through the door in the evening.  And right now I have a brisket in ye olde slow cooker!  This is such an easy recipe that it doesn't require a recipe at all!  It's just brisket and a big jar of pepperoncini.  Put the meat in the slow cooker, and pour the pepperoncini, juice and all, over the brisket.  Cook it low and slow.  Definitely looking forward to that tonight.

I saw a sponsored post on Facebook recently for one of those weight loss programs that requires you to purchase their food. I noticed there were a lot of comments.  Curious, I clicked on the comments to see what people had to say.  Some people were trashing it and some people were talking about how awesome it was, even if the food didn't really taste that great. (Hmm...okay.)  But one in particular jumped out at me.  A woman posted that she loved [WeightLossProgram] "and I miss it so much.  I went off of it, gained all my weight plus 10 back..."  She also stated that she can't afford it is the reason she is not still doing it.  I really just want to tell her....  Wouldn't you rather have a weight loss lifestyle that doesn't require you to buy groceries for your family and their program for you?  A "program" (if you will) that you don't go off of because you can't afford it and then gain back all your weight.

I know that clean eating is not magic. Nope, no magic tricks here.  It takes some time and effort.  I know people have different degrees of success.  But I also know that when I keep my meals and snacks clean, I feel great and the weight stays off.  Not rocket science.  It's coming up on three years now that I have been doing this, and I am still down to a much healthier weight.  My weight fluctuates a few pounds... everyone's does.  But I haven't gained back all I lost, plus ten pounds. It's not a program for us.  It's just the way we eat.

I'm not here to bash any other way of eating or any program.  I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist or anything.  I just know what works for me, and that's what this blog has always been about.  Sharing my journey, hopeful that it might help someone else.  And I truly hope it has.

Okay!  So, here's what you really came here for.... What are we going to eat this week?!

Oh, but before we get to that, I Breathe I'm Hungry is having a great giveaway!  You should go check it out.  It's a pretty epic bundle of essential tools!  Oh, haha!  That's why she calls it essential bundle giveaway.

So that's the giveaway (but wait, there's more.... keep reading).  And now a way for you to give back, and it costs you nothing but a mouse click.  If you're on Facebook, you just go to this link and vote once per day for Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry to win a $20,000 grant from Wal Mart.  Voting ends December 12.  Please go out and vote for my friends!  Thanks so so much!  You can learn more about the awesome work CCFP does in the community here.  A special secret giveaway for my loyal readers... if you vote for Chesapeake Cares, share it on your Facebook page, and then comment below, I will send one lucky winner three bars of Trader Joe's dark chocolate with almonds.  This contest ends December 12, 2014.  Winner will be chosen December 15, 2014.

I have also started pinning my weekly recipes on a Pinterest board dedicated solely to that.  It changes every week, but is another handy way to keep everything together.

First up is Tortilla Soup.  We have a potluck just about once a month and this time the theme is soup and salad.  This is an incredibly tasty soup that it so easy and it's versatile!  You can add ingredients as you like.  We sometimes add chicken, sometimes add quinoa, usually add black beans.

Basil chicken with sundried tomato - Oh my gosh, I love this!  I mean, it has prosciutto on it, so that right there makes it awesome. I am definitely looking forward to this later in the week.

Mexican Chori Pollo - I was pretty excited when I found this recipe because this is my go to dish at my local Mexican restaurant.  And now I can make it at home!

Spaghetti squash burrito bowls - I am going to use delicata squash in this, I think (I actually forgot to buy squash so it depends what's available when I go back).  This is another one that you can dress up or down to suit your taste.

Pumpkin cheddar soup - The last pumpkin soup turned out so well that I am definitely willing to try another!

Cabernet beef stew - The picture for this just looks so good I can't hardly stand it!

Did you know I have started to make my own yogurt?  I used to buy the expensive plain Greek yogurt.  More than $7 for a container.  Now, I buy a gallon of milk for about $3.50 and make almost twice the amount of yogurt.  Let me be clear, I am lazy, and I don't take risks.  But making yogurt is not hard.  It takes a long time but most of that time the milk is just resting and turning into yogurt.  While I do nothing.  And knock on wood... I haven't made a bad batch yet!  We like to scoop out a serving and mix in some berries, or granola, drizzle a little honey over it.  A great way to start the day!  Go get you some!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Would You Do With $20K?!

I am a big supporter of my local food pantry, Chesapeake Cares.  They are actually the largest food pantry in Southern Maryland.  In the last year they have seen an increase of 79% with over 6,500 individuals depending on their support annually.  Children are their highest percentage served at 40%.  And seniors are a growing segment at 14%.  The fastest growing demographic is the 40-59 year old, married population seeking services for the first time.  Hunger is a real need in our country.  Chesapeake Cares is doing something about it locally.  Already this year, the volunteers have distributed over 700,000 pounds of food.  Can you even imagine?

In addition to groceries, Chesapeake Cares acts as a centralized referral helping families connect with additional support through SNAP, reduced or free school lunches, WIC, and utility assistance.  They also offer life-skill classes on budgeting, earned income credit, healthy eating, and shopping on a budget.  Families are also offered free tax assistance, including learning to prepare their own returns and avoiding predatory financial practices.

All that to tell you that my favorite food pantry, Chesapeake Cares, is a finalist for a $20,000 grant from Wal-Mart!  Isn't that just the coolest thing?!  And you can help ensure they... and their clients... win.  All you have to do is click on this link.  Scroll down to the "search" bar and type in MD.  Hit enter.  Then vote for Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry.

That's all there is to it!  So simple for you but it will mean so much to the families that rely on Chesapeake Cares.  Please take a moment.  You can vote once per day through December 12!

Thanks a bunch!!

And to say thanks I want to share this recipe with you.  I hope you enjoy it!!!!  I sure did!

Egg Crepes with Chia Berry Jam - These were so delicious.  I just love the chia berry jam.  You can use it to fill these super easy crepes or to fill in thumbprint cookies.  Or even on a whole wheat English muffin if you like!  Go get you some!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Holiday Treats, Cheats, and Good Eats!

 As you know, my focus is on clean eating -- all year long.  It's a lot harder this time of year, that's for sure, but I do try really hard to stay as clean as possible.  I allow myself more leeway this time of year but not too much!  But Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without lots of special treats, would it?  I am guessing, based on my limited knowledge that the same may be true of Hanukkah.  These two holidays run right up into each other this year.  But alas I don't know much about kosher Hanukkah recipes. So, if you keep kosher, I hope you can use some of these too!

MR and I have a little holiday thing we started a few years ago.  We weigh ourselves the day before Thanksgiving and then again on January 2.  (You can weigh yourself in between to track progress.)  The goal is to not have gained any weight over the holiday period.  That's quite a goal, isn't it?  Last year I went over by about 4 pounds.  I wasn't happy about it, but I recognized that it could have been a lot worse.  This year, I have some new tricks up my sleeve.  

As you may know, if you read my post about low carb tracking with MyFitnessPal, I have recently started paying more attention to not just eating clean, whole foods, but also specific counts.  For me, it isn't just the carb count, or the calorie count (I really still don't pay a lot of attention to the calories even though it's part of the app), it is a mix of carbs, fats, and proteins.  I am having more success lately by making sure I am getting enough good fat.  So all that just to say, I am hopeful that this year will be different.  I will use the MyFitnessPal app to keep an eye on what's going on.  But I'm sure I will indulge occasionally too.  The app helps me factor that in so it isn't a complete debacle.

The other tricks I have up my sleeve are some really amazing recipes that I will take to events to share whenever possible.  We have a potluck at work every year.  Plus this year we have a big retirement party.  My office provides the protein (ham and turkey) for the pot luck and everyone brings sides and desserts.  I will be very involved in providing snacks for the retirement.  My boss (who also eats clean) and I will stack the deck in our favor and make sure we bring some amazing clean eats so we can feel like we are indulging, even when we really aren't!

The Grandparents will come to our house this year for Christmas.  This blog is as much for that purpose as anything.  I want to be well prepared for this gathering!  The Grandparents are wise to my clean eating tricks, but have learned to at least try what I offer... usually.  And I think they have often been pleasantly surprised!  If you have been at this very long you have likely learned that most favorites can be replicated in a clean eating way.  I haven't been stumped yet, although my friend Jaime keeps trying!!!

So, what's on the menu this year?  Let's take a look!  And, oh by the way, these and many other great holiday ideas are over on my Pinterest page for low carb clean eating holiday recipes.

One more quick thing... I mention it at various places below but want to point out that you can substitute your preferred sweetener in most cases.  I would stick with granulated sweetener if that's the type called for (or liquid if that is the case, etc.) but other than that, you should be able to sub easily.  I do it all the time using coconut sugar, honey, or blackstrap molasses.

Cranberry Salsa - I bought cranberries every time I went to the store in November.  Some I just wash and then freeze fresh.  Others I dry.  I don't add any sweetener because I love the tart flavor.  But I put a ton of cranberries in the freezer and this is one of the reasons why!  You can serve this with crackers as is, or you can pour it over a soft cheese like goat cheese.  It makes a fabulous snack before or after the big dinner!

Gingerbread Cookies - What would Christmas be without gingerbread men?  This particular recipe calls for Swerve sweetener.  I use coconut sugar, though.  It works the same!  It will give you a slightly higher carb count, if you are tracking that. 

Candied Yams with Marshmallows - I don't actually  make this recipe.   In our house, we eat fried yellow Jersey sweet potatoes for Main Event dinners.  But I wanted to throw it in because I know a lot of folks have this tradition.  And it isn't it nice you can have a clean version?  I have made clean marshmallow though and it isn't as hard as you might think.  The Kitchen-Aid did most of the work!   (They are one of the very few foods I will eat fried, but they are AWE-Some!)  

Gingerbread Scones - I love scones!  And what a great treat on Christmas morning with your favorite coffee!

Cranberry Scones -  Did I mention I love scones?  Oh yea!  And this one is amazing.  I mean, you know, it's CRANBERRIES!

Chocolate Glazed Pecans - Here's a great snack to toss back!  Nuts are always a holiday favorite in our house, and this gives the Grandpa one of his favorites but in a healthier version!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dirt Cake - This isn't very Christmas traditional but MR specifically mentioned dirt cake recently, and then lo and behold I ran across this recipe.  I will take it to a potluck to help us avoid all the other decadent desserts that I anticipate will be there.  It has gotten to the point that one group I regularly pot luck with always has great interest in what we will bring.  They have learned from us that clean eating does not have to be about giving up favorites!

Slow Cooker Gingerbread Cake - HA!  Talk about a win-win!  Slow cooker AND cake?!  Love this idea!  And the smell of gingerbread just says CHRISTMAS to me!  (I linked this through the original blogger's site so you will have to scroll down and click one more time but it will be worth it.  I have never made anything from that wasn't wonderful!)

Cookie Cut Outs - Another Christmas-wouldn't-be-Christmas-without kind of recipe!  Although cut outs can be tedious, this is the time of year that I don't mind doing it.  They are so lovely to look at and these are even lovelier to eat!!!

Sticky Buns!
Sticky Buns - Something extra special for the morning!  These are so delightful!!!  You know you want them!

And last but nowhere near least, cranberry fat flush drink drink to help clean it away!!  I have tons of fresh cranberries in the freezer and I am going to make homemade cranberry juice (this recipe calls for agave or white sugar; I prefer coconut sugar or Stevia but I think you could even sweeten with a little apple juice).

Okay, wait a minute! Wait a minute!  This is all about treats and sweets.  Why, yes it is!  Because, frankly, I think the easiest part about clean eating is meat and vegetables.  It's when I want a snack or a treat that I get in trouble.  But having all these great treat recipes really helps me.  So cook up your turkey, your ham, whatever you prefer.  Make a side of green beans, sweet potatoes, and even those candied yams (above!).  And then allow yourself a wonderful treat.  Just whatever you do, Keep it Clean!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

You had me at... SWEEPSTAKES!

Hey, a quick post to tell you about a sweepstakes going on over at  You think you are just getting an awesome pumpkin roll recipe (and isn't that enough?!) but then you find out you can also enter a sweepstakes to win a $100 gift card from Nellie's Eggs!

So hurry and get over to check out this low carb pumpkin roll recipe and get a sweepstakes entry too!  You know you want to!  I get a free entry just by posting about this, but I want to tell you that I love so many of the recipes on her site that I would do it anyway!  I personally prefer to sub in coconut sugar where the recipes call for sweetener, which makes a lot of them a little higher in carbs.   But either way, she has some of the best recipes you will find to fit into your clean eating plan!

Go check her out!  You won't be sorry!!!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Comfort Foods... Soups and Desserts!

I just don't know where the time has been going!  I haven't written a post in a while, and I have even been slacking on posting recipes to my Facebook page.  I see a lot of really good recipes, but I just haven't been able to find time to try them out.  I'm pretty sure it's because it's dark by the time I get home so I feel like it's almost bedtime.  I definitely don't get as much done in the evening this time of year.

I have been giving a lot of thought to the upcoming holidays though!  I don't do a lot for Thanksgiving, as the MIL handles that.  And MR makes the pie... so it's clean!  They don't have to know that, and you don't have to tell them.  I am making big plans for Christmas, though.  I have been making mental lists of different things I'd like to make.  I have no idea what the big entree will be, but boy do I have plans for sides, desserts, and snacks!  So those will be coming up soon.  Just not today.  I am testing a recipe today that I hope will be a big winner so I can share it.

For now, you get to peek at what's on the menu at our house.  Since we have Thanksgiving weekend, I don't have to make a big list so here is what I have

Broccoli and Cheddar soup.  If you eat bread, serve it with a big hunk of crusty bread to soak up all that goodness!

Peanut Butter Dirt Cake  - MR said to me one day that he'd like some dirt cake.  And the very next day I ran across this recipe, without even looking for one!  I can't wait to try it.

Pumpkin Chipotle Soup - This is my new go-to super-easy soup.  It is full of flavor -- and not pumpkin-y tasting -- and always a big hit.  I make a batch and eat leftovers for lunch all week.  Very willingly, I might add!

Almond Butter Pumpkin Bars
Frittata - This recipe is really versatile.  You can follow it as written or do what I do -- throw in what you have.  For me, it's more likely that I will have sundried tomatoes, and Parmesan or asiago cheese, so that's what I use.  Use what's available and what you like.  It'll be awesome.

Oh you know what??  What the heck.  I will share that recipe with you that I am trying out today.  I am not serving it until tomorrow, but gosh... it's almond butter and pumpkin... how can that be bad?  I added chopped pecans and dried cranberries (no sugar added) for a little extra. You can pretty much add what you want, within reason, I guess!
Almond Butter Pumpkin Bars - Here!... go make you some!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie and some low carb info

You may have noticed a shift in some of the recipes I am posting.  I told you a little while back that I was using MyFitnessPal app to track things.  As I noted then, the beauty of clean eating for me has been that I don't have to count things.  I just eat whole foods in their most natural state.  But that just didn't seem to be enough anymore.  I had gotten off track somehow so I decided to start watching my carb intake.  I did that the whole month of September and definitely started seeing a difference.

I limited the carbs quite a bit in that month.  Since then I have adjusted it upward a little but still keeping it what most would consider "low carb,"  One thing I have learned along the way is that it is not usually just one thing.  Not just calories.  Not just carbs.  It is a ratio of all the good stuff.  With MyFitnessPal I can track calories, carbs, fats, and proteins, and more.  I personally just pay attention to the carbs, fats, and proteins.  And of course I still make sure I eat foods as close to their natural state as possible.

Based on what I have read, it's important to get the right kind of fat, and enough of it. You probably already know you need protein.  But did you know you can get too much of that?  This where the app comes in so handy!  You figure out your own ratios and then it helps you stay within those.  **If you want more information about ratios and stuff, just leave a comment and I can help you one on one.  It really depends on what you want.**

I can't weigh myself because my scale died!  But I am fitting into some things that were getting too tight.  And that is the best feeling, isn't it?  I am not saying you should do low carb.  I am just saying it seems to be working for me.  And I'm not having any trouble finding good things to eat.

This is what I ate one day this week....

Breakfast - French Toast Puff (I don't use syrup with me because it saves me a couple carbs)

Snack - 1/2 Low Carb Bagel

Lunch - Pumpkin Chipotle Soup, Hebrew National Hot Dog , 2 peanut butter fat bombs

Snack - cup of beef broth

Dinner - Coconut Chicken Finger on romaine lettuce with Romano Caesar dressing, Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

That skillet cookie is the amazingest!!!  And everyone that has tried the Pumpkin Chipotle Soup wants the recipe!

You you know you want a piece of that skillet cookie!  Go get you some!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies... in a Skillet!

I really didn't intend to write another post today.  My plan was to just write the one that I posted earlier and then do a lot of prep cooking for the week.  Well, I did both, but some of these recipes turned out so well that I just had to share!  So this will be quick, but with lots of tasties for you to try!

First, I made yogurt.  This time though, I used a slow cooker!  I am so lazy that I hate to stand there and stir while it heats up.  It takes a long time.  It takes even longer in the slow cooker, but at least I can ignore it for a couple of hours.  It is still in the sitting around at 100 degrees stage, but here I am... writing!!

Next, I tried my hand at bagels.  Not your traditional New York style ones, but a clean and low carb version.  I had trouble getting them out of the pan, but the taste was good.  The texture was more like a cake donut, but that's okay too... as long as you know to expect it.

I also made a big batch of coconut chicken fingers.  I can take these for lunch, throw them into a salad, whatever.  And they are good warm or cold!  They really only take about 30 minutes to make start to finish.

I had made cauliflower rice the other day and there was a fair amount left.  I didn't want it to go to waste so I used it to make hot pockets!  I used asiago cheese in the crust because I had some to use up and mozzarella and pepperoni on the insides.

I also made a big pot of chili for #1 Son and MR.  But the piece-de-resistance was.... drum roll please....   Skillet chocolate chip cookies!
 I don't have a big iron skillet anymore so I used personal size pizza pans and made two!  The directions say you don't have to use an iron skillet but I like baking in these.  I subbed coconut sugar for the sweetener so it has a little more carbs, but these are really amazing!  I hope you'll try them!

A Lifetime of Healthy Habits

I was on Facebook this morning (as usual!) and saw an ad for a weight loss system.  It doesn't matter which one but it does matter that it's one of the ones that you have to buy their "food."  I put that word in quotes because what they offer doesn't meet my criteria for real food.  Not being a snob, just saying.... if you really want to lose weight and keep it off, it's not about a diet.  It's not about a system.  It's about a lifestyle change.  Unless you want to buy prepackaged stuff through the mail for the rest of your life, I just don't see how it can be sustainable.  It's interesting to me that the ones I have read about still require you to buy fresh fruits and vegetables to add to their meals.  Wouldn't it just be easier to make food?  And help you feel less deprived?

Admittedly, I have not used any of the mail order food programs.  But I do personally know others that have.  Some had some degree of success while they were purchasing the product.  Every one of them has gained it all back since stopping.  To me, that is not a success.  Changing how you eat forever, and sustaining good healthy habits is though.

Almost three years ago I switched to clean eating.  (Added bonus, MR and I lost 80 pounds of combined weight in less than a year!)  I get my food at the grocery store or at the farm market.  I do go to Trader Joe's sometimes, and to Whole Foods occasionally, but it isn't necessary if you don't have those options.  Even not having access to a farm market isn't necessary.  You can do this with just a regular old Kroger, Publix, Giant, or even the Piggly-Wiggly!  My local grocery carries some of the more unusual items that I purchase, such as almond flour, coconut flour, unsweetened coconut.  If yours doesn't, there are ways around that.  (To be honest, I prefer to buy all those things at Trader Joe's because they are cheaper there, but I will get them at Giant in a pinch.)

And, yes, those items can add to your grocery bill.  But you don't buy them every week, or at least I don't.  And you stop buying other things.  MR and I eat clean together.  Which means I don't have to buy special his food and her food.  I just buy food!  And he is not someone that would do a "diet" or eat fake food.  He loves good food, especially desserts.  And we have found a way to make us both happy by eating only real, whole foods!  If you want to ditch the sugar, cut the wheat, or any of the other diets you have read about online, start by making your own food.  If you must buy prepared or prepackaged foods, read the labels!  If you can't pronounce it, you likely shouldn't eat it!

There are so many amazing recipes out there that your family likely will not know you are feeding them clean foods unless you choose to tell them.  Just tell them you've decided to cook more!  My friends like to challenge me to clean up a favorite recipe.  I don't think they have stumped me yet.  Feel free to give it a try by posting a request in the comments!  In the meantime, go make you some Parmesan Chicken.  You know you want to!

Parmesan Chicken

2 lbs chicken tender
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 T Italian seasoning blend
1 t chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix together Parmesan, Italian seasoning, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Dip chicken in butter and then roll in Parmesan mix.  Lay on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quitting Sugar!

I read an article recently, and perhaps you did too, about a family that gave up sugar for a year.  Just today a friend posted  it on Facebook and queried whether she could do that and, if so, how.  So this post is dedicated to her quest to be sugar free.

First, we have to define what that means.  Does she want to just cut out all sugar, even naturally occurring?  Naturally occurring sugars can be found in a lots of foods!  Fruit, milk, yogurt, and basically anything with carbohydrates -- potatoes, pasta, many vegetables...  the list is lengthy.  So I am going to guess that no one is going to go fully sugar free, at least not from a naturally occurring perspective.  But no added sugar?  That I can wrap my head around.  So the dilemma then becomes what does she use as a sweetener substitute in baking or other cooking?  There are choices like honey, blackstrap molasses, coconut sugar, etc.  Or she can just eat naturally occurring sugars.

First, substituting.  I use honey or coconut sugar for almost all my sweetening.  Another great substitute is Medjool dates.  They add lots of sweetness and are very versatile.  If I want a brown sugar taste, I use blackstrap molasses or coconut sugar.  Remember though, just because it's clean doesn't mean you should overindulge.  Treats are treats, and everything in moderation!

Next, read the labels!  And research all the ways they disguise sugar in the ingredients:  glucose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, the list is pretty long!  And that particular linked list includes honey.  But I am focused here on not using white or brown processed sugar.  And let me tell you, the less you use sugar, the less likely you will crave it.  Take it from an old sugar addict!  Once you bust the addiction, you really won't want it.  And if you do eat something really sweet you won't enjoy it.  Since I started eating clean, I never enjoy processed anything, especially store bought sweets.  They taste so fake to me!

It might be hard to go all in on this especially if you're used to sugar in your coffee or tea.  So start small.  Cut out the desserts.  Then cut back on the sweetener in your coffee.  And keep cutting back until you aren't using any at all.  I think it's great to ease into these things and makes it less likely you will fall off the wagon.

Okay!  But what are you going to eat?!?!?  That's always the question, isn't it?  Even in my house where I make menus and do a prep work on the weekends!

If you find that you "just to have" a sweet, be sure to keep things like good quality dark chocolate around.  A little bit of that goes a long way and satisfies the craving quickly.  Or keep an easy to make treat in the refrigerator or freezer.  Here's one of my favorites to get you started:  Apple Pie Balls!  These are so good!  And so quick to make... which makes them a favorite with me.   And here's another one I recently found that is a great grab and go for breakfast.  Peanut Butter Granola Bars.  I made these over the weekend and cut them small.  That way I could have one for a snack or two or three for breakfast!

And here is one of the first clean eating recipes I ever ate.  This one includes whole wheat and some clean eaters don't eat wheat.  But if you do, these are the best ever!!!  And remind me of something my mom used to make.  Cinnamon Raisin Braids.  Go make you some!  You know you want to!

Edit!  One thing I always forget to mention is drinks.  Sodas, juices, etc.  The reason I forget to mention it is because I only drink water, black coffee, and tea with nothing added.  It never occurs to me that you  might be drinking scads of Diet Coke.  My personal advice, just quit.  If you really don't like to drink plain water, slice up a lemon and throw it in a pitcher or drink bottle and pour water over it.  It will add some nice flavor but nothing else.  Soon, you will be able to even skip that step.  That's how I got myself to drink more water.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spices Gone Wild!

I have taken up a new hobby....  researching foods for Ulcerative Colitis.  Blah.  #1 Son had quite a week recently with a hospital admission that resulted in this diagnosis.  On the up side, though, he has a diagnosis.  I hate he has to deal with this now and for the rest of his life, but it really is something of a relief to *know* what he is dealing with!  So I am reading all kinds of stuff about what to eat, what not to eat.  It's exhausting.  Kind of how I felt when I made the switch to clean eating.  There is just so much information out there, you don't know who to believe.  So, here is what I believe.  We will start slow and see what works for him.  I think that's true with any way of eating.  What works for you is what you should do.  This week's menu at our house will reflect some new things we are trying in an effort to help him with his UC.  But, as always, they will be clean!! No reason to throw all that effort out the window.

I have been reading a lot about the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric recently.  Apparently, if you combine it with black pepper it greatly increases the absorption rate too.  While I don't think black pepper in a turmeric mango smoothie would be good, we can probably sneak it into some rice seasoned with turmeric.  It is about to get all crazy up in here with the spices!!!

He is an on-the-go kind of person so it helps to have things he can just take with him and eat/drink on the way to work.  I think smoothies might be the way to go to start out.  I found this Turmeric and Ginger Smoothie recipe that uses peaches, which I just happen to have in the freezer left over from a farm stand purchase this summer.  Lucky him!

I don't have much experience cooking with turmeric.  I understand it's in a lot of Indian foods, so if anyone has some great recipes to try, please let me know in the comments.   What are you eating this week?  Whatever it is Keep it Clean!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Take Your Lunch to Work Day!

One of the hardest parts of maintaining a clean eating lifestyle can be "what to eat when you're not at home."  Even packing a lunch for work can be a challenge.  To make life a little easier, I present Spicy Pumpkin Meatloaf in a Mug.  Pumpkin and beef may not go together in your mind, but I was totally blown away by how good this is.  The pumpkin makes it moist and the spices add so much flavor, you won't even believe it.  And the smell in the break room will have all your co-workers envious!  I know that some people are opposed to microwaving food, so this one isn't for you. But for those who do use the microwave oven, this is a big winner!

I don't know what is the best part... that it's easy to make (so easy) or that it tastes so good (so yummy)!  I even make this when I am at home.  No point waiting until I go into the office!

Spicy Pumpkin Meatloaf in a Mug (no eggs, no dairy)

1/4 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp garam masala*
1/2 tsp (or to taste) sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix with clean hands until well mixed.  Place the mixture in an 8 oz or large microwave-safe mug.  Microwave at 70% for about 6 minutes.  I check it after about 4 minutes and then every couple minutes until it looks done.  Don't overcook, to prevent drying.

Let cool and enjoy!

So okay, but what the heck is garam masala?  Or at least that's what I thought when I first read this recipe!  For those of you not in the know (like me!), it is a blend of ground spices common in North Indian cuisine.  I suppose you can buy it already mixed at a store that sell Indian food, but I opted to make my own.  It's spices you may already have in your cupboard!

*Garam Masala 

1 T ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix together all ingredients.  Use what you need and store the rest in an airtight container.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Yogurt Everything - Everything Yogurt!

Oh, now I've gone and done it!  I just had to make yogurt.  Now I have to try all kinds of flavors mixed in with that yogurt!  Last night I had a little snack of yogurt with mixed berries and just a drizzle of real maple syrup.  Amazing!  This morning I am having pumpkin pie yogurt.  Another great option!  And seasonally appropriate!

I don't like things real sweet, so if this isn't sweet enough for you, you can add a little bit of maple syrup to it and I feel quite sure it would be ab-fab!

First, make yogurt!  You really need to do this a day in advance because it's a long process. It isn't time consuming on your part.  It just takes a long time for the milk to become yogurt.  I made yogurt yesterday, starting in the morning, and we had yogurt in the evening.  And now again for breakfast!

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
maple syrup, to taste (optional)
Chopped pecans (optional)

Mix yogurt and pumpkin together in a bowl.  Stir in spices.  Stir in maple syrup, if using.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Yogurt Making... it really is easy!

I made yogurt today, for the first time ever!  And I would call this escapade a success!  I was pretty reticent because I didn't want to screw it up and waste 1/2 gallon of milk.... but as it turns out, I had a 1/2 gallon that was coming up on its expiration with no sign it would be used. And the only ingredients you need are 1/2 gallon of milk and 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures. I used Fage plain Greek yogurt.

Off I went to try this out.  The worst part (for me) was having to stir the milk as it heated.  I have never had the patience for that, but I persevered.  Stirred and stirred, gently, while I waited for the thermometer to reach 200F.  Finally got there... well pretty close.... then I just followed the rest of the directions in the recipe.

Here is the link to the full recipe.  How to Make Yogurt at Home

I was really nervous about putting the pan in the oven (turned off), and whether it would be warm enough.  So I decided to turn the oven light on while I was heating the milk.  I could actually tell that it was a little warmer in the oven after the light had been on a bit.  My pot isn't super heavy, so I set it in an insulated bag used for another baking dish.  The directions say you can wrap it in towels if you like.  I'm sure either way works.

My niece does this overnight but I knew I would have plenty of time today, so I made it in the morning and let it sit in the oven for about 6 hours.  When I took it out, it was still warm!  I strained it for a couple of hours through a thin tea towel set in a colander (because I couldn't find cheesecloth at the store today).  It was really nice and thick when I scooped it into the container.  When we eat yogurt, we typically used plain and add fruit and/or honey to each serving.  But I have been told by a pretty reliable source that you can mix in honey, maple syrup, fruit, etc. and freeze individual servings if you like.

Since it was still warm, the taste was a little different, but it was definitely good!  I was pretty surprised and happy with how it turned out.  So, if you have been dragging your feet on trying this.... don't wait any longer!  It takes a lot of time, but most of that is just letting it sit in the oven or letting it strain.

So what are you eating today?  Be sure to Keep it Clean!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

New Favorite Thing!

Remember when you were little and everything you got seemed to be your "new favorite thing"?  Well, that's how I feel sometimes about all these great recipes I try.  Okay, some are not so great, but most of them are, so let's have some selective memory, m'kay?  My new favorite thing (this week!) is egg crepes with chia berry jam filling.  I took two really good recipes, tweaked one of them just a bit, and then combined them for one heavenly breakfast.  And you truly can make these in advance, grab a few in the morning, and eat them on the go if you have to.

Each recipe of crepes makes two servings.  The chia berry jam recipe will fill a double recipe of crepes.

Breakfast Crepes with Chia Berry Jam

Crepe Recipe - makes about 8 crepes
4 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 TBSP coconut flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract

Chia Berry Jam Recipe - makes about 1/2 cup jam
1-1/2 cups frozen berries, thawed (I recommend small berries)
2 TBSP real maple syrup
2 tsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp vanilla

First make the jam, so it can cool while you are making the crepes.  Heat berries and maple syrup over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Once the berries start to get a little mushy and the liquid begins to release, add chia seeds.  Stir for a few minutes, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Allow to cool completely.  Store leftovers in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.

Then make the crepes.
Mix ingredients together.  Allow it to rest while you heat a small non-stick saute pan.  Stir the batter again before using.  Pour a thin layer of batter into the heated saute pan and swirl to coat the pan.  Allow to cook for a few minutes.  When the edges start to curl, gently flip the crepe and cook the other side for about 15 seconds or so.  Allow to cool completely.

Spread about a teaspoon of chia berry jam onto crepe, but not to the edge.  Roll up like a burrito (fold in the sides.  Store leftovers in refrigerator.

The original crepe recipe can be found at  I chose not to add sweetener since I was filling them with something sweet-ish.  That's my big tweak. :-)  I'm sure they would be fine made either way.

The original chia berry jam recipe can be found as part of this thumbprint cookie recipe.  By the way, these cookies are the bomb too!!!

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cheez and... Jam???

A few weeks ago I confessed to you that I have started tracking my nutrition and exercise using the MyFitnessPal app.  In case you didn't read it (what?!), I somehow got off track this summer and started picking up some weight.  As most of us know, once it comes off the last thing we want is to let it start creeping back.  I felt like I hadn't really changed anything, but it was obvious that *something* was going on!  So I signed up for this app, figured out what sort of balance I should have in my life regarding carbs, fats, protein, calories, etc., plugged that information into the app, and away we went!  As I said previously, I don't like to have to keep track of my food.  It makes it too much of a focus.  But this app really takes the effort out of it!  And it has helped me get back on track.  And I am now pretty sure my problem was eating too many treats.  Clean treats, but treats nonetheless.  And all things in moderation, as they say!!!  Since I started tracking, I am down about about 6 pounds -- and I also had lost about 2 or 3 pounds just prior to actually starting to track just by thinking more about what I ate.  The app didn't do it for me, of course, but it did help me think more about the combination of foods and how much I was eating.  Success!!

One thing that hasn't changed is how much I enjoy trying new recipes!  I am always on a quest for something new and yummy.  Last night I was home alone (poor me....) and I decided to try out a recipe for Cheez Crackers.  Well, as often happens, I didn't have all the ingredients!  I didn't even know what "nutritional yeast" was!  So I Googled it, of course.  And then I Googled, "substitute for nutritional yeast."  I found out I can just use Parmesan cheese!  As it happens I had a chunk of that in the refrigerator, so I shredded some up with my handy dandy new cheese grater thingy (how did I live without that?!) and made Cheez Crackers!  Apparently they are really good because when MR got home he couldn't stop eating them.  We finally had to put them in a container and put them out of sight.  I just love having a nice little salty snack that isn't full of "stuff" that I can't pronounce!

My modification to the cracker recipe was to use Parmesan cheese, but you can certainly follow the original recipe and I'm sure it will be fine.  All I know is, I like 'em!

Something else I ran across recently was a great recipe for grain free thumbprint cookies.  And they were really good cookies too!  But the thing that most interested me was making jam out of chia seeds!  It was so easy, and so good!  So tonight I whipped up a batch of just the jam.  You can use it to fill in the center of thumbprint cookies, on toast, whatever you like!  I am planning to use it in the center of clean toaster pastries!  If they turn out, that recipe will be coming to you soon.  But for now, do yourself a favor, and go make you some chia berry jam!  It's spectacular!!!

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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Look at the Classics

I sure was on a roll this past week for good recipe choices!  Until Thursday night.  It wasn't the recipes fault.  I tried to sub a couple ingredients.  What a colossal failure.  Looked nasty and tasted almost as bad.  Oh well, that's how the ball bounces, as we used to say!  I did however make an awesome blueberry omelet this morning.  Yes!  Blueberries in an omelet.  Very good.  This was an omelet made the way I learned in Home Ec class.  (In case you aren't familiar with that, it is a class that all girls took in high school so we could learn the basics of cooking and sewing.  At that time boys took Shop class so they could learn to be handy around the house.  While I think it was sexist to put you in either class based on gender, I must admit to having learned some handy skills to have.  Not just as a wife and mom, but as a "human bean" (as my brother says) living day to day.)

So anyway!!!  The way I learned to make an omelet, but not the way I do it most days in the interest of time, is to beat the whites separate until they are firm and hold soft peaks.  Then you fold them into the yolks.  If you have never done it this way, you will be amazed at how incredibly fluffy your omelet turns out.  It is worth the time if you have just a few minutes extra.  In the case of the blueberry omelet I made this morning, I just let the Kitchen-Aid run and fluff those whites up while I mixed together the other ingredients with the yolks, and got the pan ready.  I think it was well worth the little extra time.  And then it is finished in the oven which gives it a beautiful brown top without deflating the whites.

Fortunately the majority of recipes I try from other cooks turn out well. As do some of my own creations.  This week I am pretty much sticking with the classics.  At least they are classic in my house.  While I love a great meal, I don't want to spend all weekend or every evening cooking forever.

As I write this, there is granola baking in the oven.  MR likes to mix this with some plain Greek yogurt for a snack during the day.  I bake up a batch just about every week and store it in an airtight container.  No added stuff, just good clean granola!

This afternoon I will put a rosemary pot roast in the slow cooker.  This is probably one of my all time favorite entree recipes.  It is very simple but so incredibly full of flavor that I just can't begin to describe it.  Good stuff!  Try it!

One night I will make those coconut chicken fingers again. These are good as an entree or on a salad.  I have some fresh pineapple so I will grill that and serve it alongside the chicken.

MR loves chili.  Not as much as he loves pizza, but he does love chili.  This is another easy go to.  Just a pound of ground beef, sautee some green peppers and onions, and throw in a can of tomato bits, a can of green chili and tomatoes, a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), and a can of pinto beans (not drained or rinsed).  Can you eat clean from a can?  Sure!  Just make sure the ingredients are simple.  In the case of these ingredients, most are just one ingredient:  tomatoes, black beans, etc.

Did I mention MR loves his pizza? He admits that he would eat it every day.  We makes his with fresh whole wheat crust from Trader Joe's and MR's own pizza sauce (just tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and olive oil!), but you can use one of the many alternative crust recipes available online like this one.

Did you see the recipe I posted for meatballs alla parmigiana?  Boy oh boy were they good!  I wanted to eat them all week.  And I did!  At least until they ran out.  Okay, so this week I am going to experiment and see if I can just use the same recipe for meatloaf.  You think that will work?  I sure hope so!!!

One night we will throw steak on the grill.  This is easy because I just rub it with a little olive oil, sprinkle it with rosemary, and a bit of sea salt.  The weather continues to be great for grilling so I want to take advantage of it while I can.

So what's going on in your kitchen this week?  Whatever it is, Keep it Clean!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Confessions of a Clean Eater

'Tis the season!  Labor Day has only just passed and already we are seeing all the great holiday recipes floating around the internet.  On your Facebook news feed, on Pinterest.  It's hard to look away sometimes, isn't it?  Soon and very soon, I will post some great holiday treat recipes, but for now please let me share with you why you may want to avoid all those sugar filled recipes clouding your view....

I am just going to be straight up about this.  If we don't all stop eating so much processed junk, we are going to wear our parts out way before their time!  I know we can get new knees and hips.  There are lots of meds we can take to combat hypertension, diabetes, and heart issues.  But wouldn't it be great to go into our old age without any of that or at least less of it?  I know that not everyone's issues and ailments, whatever they may be, are food related.  But I do know that we can do a better job of taking care of our bodies so that at least perhaps less medical intervention is required.  I personally know people who have been able to stop taking many or all of their medicines (with their doctor's okay) because they chose a clean eating lifestyle.  I'm sure no doctor, or any medical professional (although I did stay at a Holiday Inn once), but from my own personal experience I know how much better I feel in general when I focus on eating whole foods.

My knees have been a problem for me for a very long time.  And my hips have let me know they are not much happier.  I don't know if I will be able to avoid replacements forever, but I knew a long time ago that I didn't want to go down that road any sooner than absolutely necessary.  So two years ago I finally made shedding some weight a top priority.  All it took was a switch to clean eating.  Foods as close to their original form as possible, and no white flour or sugar.  I started subbing in stone ground whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, honey, blackstrap molasses, and dried fruits.

After a couple of years though I found that I had stalled, and even started picking up a few pounds again.  No.  We are not going down that road again!  You see, even clean treats are still treats, and I kind of lost sight of that I think.  So lately, and here is that big confession you have been waiting for, just since about Labor Day actually, I started paying more attention to my carb intake.  Now I know I always say the beauty of clean eating is that you really don't have to count anything.  And that is generally true.  But I just felt that I had gotten off track a bit so I wanted to start monitoring things more closely for a while.  I finally decided to give in and start using myfitnesspal app.  This really takes the work out of keeping track of things!  So at least it's been easy to break down and accept some help.  And boy howdy have I gotten some help!  This little tool is so cool!

As far as limiting my carb intake, it really has been mostly about limiting treats and increasing my protein.  And I truly have not felt hungry!  There is nothing worse than "dieting" and craving what you cannot have.  It just hasn't been the case.  And, to be clear, I am not going to low carb forever, nor am I going to track forever.  I am way too lazy for all that.  But for now, it is helping me return to my fighting weight and that is making me happy.

As I have traveled the low carb path I have found lots of amazing and oh yes so easy recipes to help me through!  Please allow me to share some favorites!

Meatballs ready to go in the oven!
First up, the ab-fab can't be beat meatballs alla parmigiana.  Holy moley, Batman, there is no denying these are the best meatballs I have ever had. Truly, madly, deeply!  I am lovin' these meatballs.  I had them for supper one night and for lunch the next two days.  I was sad when they were gone!  I put them together with my go-to marinara sauce and this meal was the bomb!!!

And they really didn't take that long to make and bake.  You can fry them in a pan or bake them in the oven.  I kind of combined the two methods so they would brown a bit more.  So amazing.

The quickest and easiest thing I have "discovered" is caprese salad.  I have had it before, but for some reason it has really hooked me lately.  And, in keeping with most things I do, it  is so easy!  Slice some fresh mozzarella, top with slices of fresh tomato, throw on some fresh basil, and drizzle a little olive oil over it.  MR likes a bit of sea salt sprinkled over the top as well.  Lunch in a minute!!!

Okay, and one more before I tempt you with a treat...  This soup was yet again very easy, and I love love love it!  Now don't let the name put you off.  I am not a gourmet cook so some combinations sounds odd to me, but this pumpkin chipotle soup was another winner.  (I have kind of been on a roll this week for finding great recipes!)  I actually made it the day before because it makes my life easier to prepare on the weekend as much as possible and then reheat during the week. I was concerned that the cream would not reheat well but I was oh so mistaken.  We just heated it slowly and stirred occasionally.  Quite good!  Quite good!  Doesn't taste pumpkinny (new word I just made up) but that chipotle gives it a great kick!

And now that treat I promised you!  I have been really really good for about three weeks, feeling even better than before, and shedding some weight, so yes I made a treat last night!  Remember moderation!  But these coconut chocolate bars will not totally ruin any progress you have made, that's for sure.  Minimal ingredients and you can sub whatever granulated sweetener you prefer.  I did use Stevia this time but may try coconut sugar next time.  These are not super sweet at all, but definitely allow you to feel just a little decadent!

Tonight I am using leftover grilled chicken to make pesto chicken salad. I haven't actually tried this recipe yet but I think it sounds so good!  I will forego the bread and put it on Romaine lettuce.  MR will enjoy some sourdough with this.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Frozen Pumpkin Pie Chai-Ccino!

Found on Low Carb Keto Recipe Club Facebook page
Michelle Bailey was the original poster
Frozen Pumpkin Pie Chai-ccino
1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut almond milk
1 pumpkin spice tea bag
chai tea bag of your choice
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 tsp maple extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup frozen canned pumpkin (freeze in an ice cube tray for better blending)
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
3 Tablespoons pecan butter (you can substitute almond butter)
1/2 cup coconut cream skimmed from the can and frozen (freeze in ice cubs trays)
remaining cream from coconut can for whipping
Sweetener to taste. (I used 2T of salted caramel sugar free Torani syrup)
Steep tea bags in almond milk for 10 minutes and then chill. Remove bags. To a blender add coconut cream, mascarpone, spices and extracts, pecan butter, pumpkin and sweetener and then milk/tea mixture and blend well. Served with whipped coconut cream and dust with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
I found this recipe on Facebook and did my best to turn it into a Pin directly from the site, but it just wasn't happening.  I have copied it here, including the picture, made a few edits that do not change the recipe, and tried to give all credit to the original poster and original site.  I always want to give credit where it's due!

A Piece of the Puzzle - Plus Parmesan Chicken!

Part of the reason I write this blog is to share recipes.  The other part is to encourage others to adapt a clean eating lifestyle.  I read and share lots of information with you, with my friends on Facebook, Twitter, anywhere.  Some of what I read discourages me a little because I am concerned that it is discouraging you.  I know that it isn't always easy to go "all in" on a new eating plan.  And some of what I read makes it sound like you have to only eat organic, cage free, grass fed, pastured but not pasteurized, living on a hilltop, singing songs from the Sound of Music chickens, beef, pigs, and almond trees.

That is just NOT TRUE.  Is it ideal to eat organic?  Probably. Is it best to eat grass fed beef?  I think so.  But is it absolutely necessary to a healthier you?  Nope.  The fact is, in some areas it's harder to find those sources.  For some people, it's just not affordable right now.  (Once you get your whole family eating like this though, you don't have to buy "their food" and "my food" so it does start to balance out.)  It would be great if you could start moving in that direction, but don't let it stop you!

Another piece of this puzzle is... do you have to go all in right from the start?  Nope. Nope.  Nope.  That's how I did it, because that's how I tend to do a lot of things.  But if it's easier for you to start with eliminating one thing, like sugar, then start there.  Next switch from white flour to whole wheat.  Then start to think about making one meal from scratch, if you don't already do that.  Then another, and another.  Baby steps!!  If you go out to eat a lot, start thinking about how you can make that meal at home.  Not only will it be healthier, but it will save you a lot of money that you can spend on organic The Hills Are Alive chicken eggs!

Caprese salad, dill pickles, Parmesan chicken
You don't need to know everything there is to know about clean eating either.  As you go, you can read and learn.  But start out just by reading labels.  Does it have less than five ingredients (as a general rule)?  Can you pronounce all the ingredients?  Can you honestly define all those ingredients?  If so, then it's likely something you can eat.  Or just buy one ingredient foods.  Chicken.  Egg. Beef.  Apple.  Green Bean (two words, one ingredient... BONUS!).  Don't get hung up on the new ingredients you will start to see in recipes. Coconut sugar, whey protein, blackstrap molasses.  These are things you can add later as you get more comfortable with clean eating and clean cooking.

Another thing!  Very important.  Don't focus on what you can't eat.  Focus on what you can!  There are lots of "can" foods out there.  One thing I tell people is that if there is a food you must have, I can usually find a clean substitute for it.  Some of my friends make a game of it, I think, to try to trip me up.  But so far, I am still winning!  And so are they because they are trying these new ways to make things.

The picture on this blog is a quick supper I threw together last night because we were out a little late.  Dill pickles.  A little Caprese salad (just a slice of tomato, a slice of fresh mozzarella, and some fresh basil, drizzle a little olive oil over that).  And leftover Parmesan chicken.  You didn't think I'd leave you without a recipe, did you?  Check it out!  Quick and easy!!!

Parmesan Chicken

2 lbs chicken tender
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 T Italian seasoning blend
1 t chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix together Parmesan, Italian seasoning, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Dip chicken in butter and then roll in Parmesan mix.  Lay on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Whatever you are eating today, let's Keep it Clean!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oh I Get by with a Little Help From My Friends

I tend to be a little hard headed.  I think I can figure it out all on my own.  And I hate counting and keeping track of my food.  That's one reason clean eating has been so great for me.  For the last couple of years, all I had to do was make sure what I was eating was clean.  Fresh and as close to its original form as possible.  No white flour, no sugar, no processed foods.  And that really worked for me for a long time.  Pretty quickly after changing to this lifestyle I shed about 30 pounds.  This summer I seemed to get off track somehow, and picked up a few pounds.  And that just annoyed me to no end because I couldn't figure out what was different.

So I finally caved in and got the MyFitnessPal app.  Man, I hate it when I allow my hard-headedness to take over... because if I'd done this sooner... well, who knows?  But I think I'd have gotten myself back on track a lot sooner!  There is a little time spent to get your recipes in it. But since I tend to eat a lot of the same things, once it's done, it's done!  And, frankly, I think the credit it gives you for exercise is pretty overblown.  But I just ignore the exercise credit and focus on the numbers I am interested in.  Of course, I will have to add an occasional recipe, but I am actually kind of enjoying that part.

I started using the app about a week ago, and I am already back to losing.  And even though I don't really pay attention to the exercise credit, I do feel a little guilty if I can't log any or enough exercise.  Yesterday was rain, rain, rain, and the Grandparent is with us, so the best we could do was meander around the mall.  Well, at least we got a little movement in.  Today is nice and sunny so hoping for a lot more opportunities to get outside and move it, move it!

All that just to say -- I really recommend you use some kind of an app to help you stay on track.  With all the other things we have to do every day, it's nice to have a little help, isn't it?  But of course no post would be complete without a recipe, would it?  So here's a healthier version of Pumpkin Spice Latte from (Please ignore the typo!  Ack!)  I know it's hard to resist those treats, so let's at least Keep it Clean!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Caramelized Figs

I picked up a couple of pounds of fresh figs yesterday... without any idea what I was going to do with them!  For a planner like me, that is kind of unusual.  But they just looked so beautiful, I couldn't go home without them.  I ate a couple with a piece of cheese.  What a wonderful snack!

This morning I woke up way too early.  MR said he will be making blueberry pancakes, but as I sat in the kitchen enjoying my morning cuppa, the figs kept calling my name.  So I made breakfast!  The pancakes will have to wait.

Caramelizing figs is quick and easy.  And you can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days too.

Caramelizing Figs

Caramelized Figs and Greek Yogurt

1/2 pound fresh figs, cut in half, stems removed
1 TBSP honey
2 cups Greek yogurt
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Warm honey in a skillet on medium heat.  Place figs face down in the honey and heat for about 5 minutes.  In a bowl, mix a sprinkle of cinnamon into the yogurt.  Transfer figs and liquid from skillet to yogurt dish.  Drizzle with additional honey if desired.  Serves 4.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Recipes for Labor Day Weekend

My friend has started a clean eating challenge among some local ladies.  It is so cool to see people just jump in with both feet!   They are really trying, even though we all know how hard it is to change years and years o bad eating habits.  But I give every one of them credit for trying so hard.  Things like this excite me and make me want to help them with great, easy recipes.  I really think that if we make it easy on you with easy recipes made from readily available ingredients, you will be more successful.

Did you try the coconut chicken fingers from last week's blog?  If you haven't, you really should!  Those babies turned out so delicious, and they were incredibly easy and quick.  Next time we make them... and there will be a next time... we are going to make some pineapple-mango salsa to go with it.  Can you imagine?!

Labor Day weekend is upon us, so I have included a couple of traditional picnic foods, but all cleaned up!  Also, the peaches are so good this year, I am going to try something new with them.  Which brings me to... the recipes!

Cinnamon Crunch Pancakes with Brown Butter Caramelized Peaches - I have not yet made these, but this recipe sounds so fabulous!  It has been on my short list for a while, so hopefully this week!

Slow Cooker Baked Beans - These are amazing!  Throw everything in the slow cooker and you will end up with best baked beans I have ever had... and I come from a long line of baked bean makers.  My mom used to do hers in a crock in the oven for hours.  These really remind me of those!

MR's Sure-to-be-Famous Cole Slaw - As I am sure I have told you before, MR is a really amazing man!  He came up with this recipe because he didn't know where to find the one I usually use.  He just "came up with it!"  And I love it!!!

Marinara  and spaghetti squash - You may recall that I made a batch of marinara last week.  It makes quite a bit so that makes my life much easier this week.  I just have to bake the squash, pull out the "spaghetti," and pour some reheated marinara over it!

Pineapple Chicken Kabobs - I haven't yet tried this easier, but I have always loved the combination of fresh pineapple and chicken grilled together!!!

Mexican sirloin steak and avocado salad - I have made this and we both loved loved loved it!

Not Just Another Cookie - Okay, I admit it!  I still like a treat now and then.  Who doesn't?  But what better way to have a treat than with a cleaned up version of an old favorite.  If you don't have cranberries you can always substitute another dried fruit like raisins or cherries.  Just make sure there is no added sugar!

Do you think you can find something good to eat from this list?  I hope so!  Is there a recipe you'd like a clean version of?  Let me know in the comments!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Recipes for the week!

It has been kind of a busy weekend!  I managed to make a menu for the week and get my grocery shopping done, but never got this blog written.  Which doesn't do you any good now, does it?!  So here's this week's recipes.  As I write this, I am cooking all the sweet potatoes for the week to make things faster when it comes to time to make the quinoa burgers and the Shepherd's pie.

We went to a picnic in a vineyard yesterday with a bunch of friends.  Great times!  But I will admit I ate some things I don't normally eat.  Way too much sugar!  But, hey, sometimes it happens.  And so the next day I just reboot!  CTRL-ALT-DEL

And on to the recipes!!!

Sweet potato quinoa burgers - This recipe makes enough for me to freeze leftovers individually so I can take them to work for lunch!

Mediterranean quinoa salad - This also makes a huge amount.  Even having it for a meal one evening allows me plenty to pack in lunches.

Spaghetti squash with olive oil and garlic - I think spaghetti squash is just one of the coolest veggies out there.  Throw it in the oven to cook and end up with these great little strands.  Plus, it's squash!  I love squash!

Caprese salad - This one is so easy you don't really need a recipe.  Just slice some nice fresh tomatoes, and some fresh mozzarella.  Layer it in a dish, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh basil.  Sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt on there and voila!  Awesome summer salad.  I cut way too much basil to make this, so now I have some drying for the next thing!

Pizza - MR loves his pizza.  A whole wheat crust, his homemade sauce, and cheese and toppings of choice!

Shepherd's pie with sweet potato top - here is a recipe for a Paleo shepherd's pie, but we prefer to use sweet potatoes, in which case you don't need to usually add much, if any milk to it.  And I like to season them with a little cinnamon.  Really, you can make one with just leftover vegetables, a little beef broth, a pound of ground beef, and some cooked sweet potatoes.  Season as you like!

Coconut chicken fingers - Anything coconut and I am there.  Civilized Caveman hasn't steered me wrong yet!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Zucchini Primavera

Okay, I have said it before and I will say it again... Waste not, want not!  I know that sometimes clean eating can seem expensive.  But when you plan, plan, plan, it does save money.  Last night I made a sort of a primavera kind of thing that really was just ingredients that I had in the house.  I had already pre-cooked chicken earlier in the week to throw into salads or something.  I used some of that, some beautiful little zucchinis I bought at the farm stand, and the rest was just what was available.  In this case, it was half of a tomato and some frozen sugar peas.  It was totally edible and so quick!

Zucchini Primavera

1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped
3 small zucchini
2 TBSP olive oil, divided
A few very thin slices of onion
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
1 or more fresh or frozen vegetables, for a total of about 1-1/2 cups
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Grate the zucchini.  Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a skillet.  Add onion, garlic (up to 3 depending on how garlicky you like your food) and red pepper flakes.  Saute and stir gently until the garlic begins to brown.  Add another TBSP of olive oil.  Allow the oil to heat up a minute or so, then add the grated zucchini.  Saute, stirring gently occasionally.  Add grape tomatoes and saute.  Add chicken to heat through.  Then add other vegetables and cover to steam.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.  Makes about 3 big servings.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Clean Eating Should be Easy!

You know what's harder than clean eating?  Well, a lot of things, because I think clean eating is pretty easy.  Of course, I've been doing it for more than two years, so now it's just part of who I am.  But when I am trying to eat clean and just don't feel like cooking..... that's hard!  I mean, there are a lot of snacks that are just grab and go, like raw veggies, nuts, etc.  But when it comes time to eat a meal, it does make it a little more difficult!

So this week, I have tried to put together a menu of pretty easy and basic recipes, along with a variety of ideas for snacks that you can choose from.  Because one thing harder than eating clean when you don't feel like cooking, is eating clean when you have to go buy a bunch of weird ingredients.  Since I've been doing this a long time, I tend to have things like coconut flour, almond meal, chia seeds, etc. in the cupboard.  But if you don't, hopefully you can mix and match some ideas from this week's meal plan.  I have kept it fairly loose, because that's really how I do it through the week.  Supper is the only thing that is planned in our house, and everything else is pretty much based on that and whatever else is in the fridge or cupboard.

Recipes follow the chart.

Banana/egg pancakes -  These could not be simpler!  Just beat an egg and mash a banana.  Mix together well.  Lightly grease a pan with a little bit of coconut oil and make pancakes!  Serve with real maple syrup, if you like.

Blueberry pancakes - I just love these!  You may need to add a little more milk if they are too thick.

Chia seed breakfast pudding - You need to make this ahead, but then you have it ready when you are running out the door!

Apple mug muffin - You know those quick microwave cakes that are all over Pinterest and Facebook?  Yep, this is one of those!  But clean.  Even Paleo!  There are also oven directions if your prefer not to use the microwave.

Balsamic pot roast - It probably seems like I make a pot roast every week.  I probably do.  I love how easy it is to throw something in the slow cooker.  And then, of course, there are the leftovers for another night or for lunch!

Grilled chicken - I just rub a little olive oil on chicken breasts, sprinkle with some Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and throw those babies on the grill!  Grill some fresh seasonal veggies and you are all set!

Greek salad with chicken - When I make the grilled chicken, I always make extra so we can have a quick salad one evening.  The Greek salads I had in Greece did not include lettuce, but this one does so we can make it a meal.  Toss together chopped Romaine lettuce, tomatoes cut into wedges (or grape tomatoes), peeled and sliced cucumber, thin sliced red onion, and chopped leftover chicken.  Dress with red wine vinegar and olive oil and toss lightly to coat.  Sprinkle on some feta cheese and a little oregano.  Voila!

Hawaiian barbecue chicken sandwiches - I haven't actually tried this yet, but The Gracious Pantry hasn't steered me wrong before!  Let me know how it goes.

Spaghetti squash with marinara - I make a batch of marinara and freeze the leftovers so I can make this quick and easy anytime.  It's really an easy recipe, and filled with yummy goodness.  I brown some lean ground beef for protein, and then add the pre-made sauce to heat through.  Spaghetti squash can be cooked in the oven and then you just pull the strings of squash out to make the noodles.

I get my whole wheat english muffins at Trader Joe's.  If you can't get those, be sure to read the ingredients of the ones at your grocer.  They need to be made with basic ingredients, as close to natural as possible.  Trader's have stone ground whole wheat flour, water, barley malt, yeast, wheat gluten, expeller pressed corn oil, sea salt, vinegar, and cornmeal.  If you can't find one that are pretty clean, opt for Ezekiel bread or something similar.

A note on whey protein.  Read the label.  There are some with so many ingredients, I'm not sure what they really are.  I found Tera's Whey (bourbon vanilla) at Marshall's.  It is made with dairy whey protein concentrate, organic vanilla, sunflower lecithin, organic stevia leaf extract.  I don't use it a lot, partly because I haven't found it again and I only have the one container, but also because most of my meals contain enough protein I don't feel the need to add it.

I really want to make clean eating easy for you.  Let me know if there is a recipe you'd like cleaned up, and I will see what I can do!  Remember, whatever you do, keep it clean!