Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Friday, November 18, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sunday, November 6, 2016

    You Can Do It!!!

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

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

    Easy Marinara Sauce

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

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

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