Friday, December 16, 2011

Clean Eating Italian Wedding Soup

Makes 14 servings, 1 cup each (I think…)
I first made this soup when my superbly awesome and wonderful sister, Anthea, was visiting me over the summer. (Hi, Anthea!) We eat a LOT of soups in our house because it’s such a great vessel for throwing a ton of veggies into which my kids will happily eat because they are soft and too hard to pick out. Also, soups freeze exceptionally well which is always a plus in my book. If you search for Italian Wedding Soup you will find literally thousands of different recipes… so naturally I couldn’t follow any of them and had to make my own :)

I poured over the bazillion variations to get a general idea of what the main idea of the soup should be and then made some substitutions and adjustments. It made a HUGE pot… and I'm not totally sure how many servings it was because we ate it so fast I didn’t get a chance to count. All of the kids scarfed it down with little to no coercion, even my super picky nephew. And then we made it again and again and again.

How I “healthified” it:
Many of the recipes used ground beef or fattier types of ground pork for the meatballs. I stuck to ground turkey and added some chopped sundried tomatoes and some other seasonings to tasty them up.

Many of the recipe were basically just broth, eggs, and cheese with little to no veggies. I added carrots and celery to my broth because these tend to do really well in soups and lend a nice texture. Plus I bumped up the greens from a measly ½ or 1 cup to 5 cups and used kale for it’s power packed nutrition profile. It shrivels and gets all soft in the soup anyway so you don’t even really notice it’s in there. I like to get as much greens into my family as possible :)

Many of the recipes used orzo or some other type of pasta. None of my stores carry whole grain orzo and Anthea insisted that big pasta was just not right so we used quinoa instead. Quinoa is great in soups because it softens but doesn’t lose it’s texture and it’s a complete protein all in itself. Plus it gets those curly ribbons when it’s cooked so it’s just fun.

I substituted some of the broth for water because, when we made it with all broth, it was too salty. Plus, I knew for a fact that we were going to sprinkle a little extra parmesan cheese on top before serving which would make it even more salty.

Finally, a LOT of the recipes had an egg or two and a bunch of parmesan cheese stirred into the soup. I felt like the soup was tasty enough and a nice texture without this addition and I like to sprinkle my little bit of parmesan on top at serving so I skipped it. I’m sure this means that this is not an “official” Italian Wedding Soup but I’m cool with that.

The results: Only 143 Calories but it packs a whopping 12g of protein, 2g of dietary fiber, 118% of your daily value of Vitamin A and 51% of your daily value of Vitamin C. In one little bowl of soup… that my kids will happily eat… and tastes delicious while being filling. Yay :)

Soup –
  • 7 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 5 cups of kale (or other greens)
  • 1 Tbsp dried fennel (Anthea did NOT like this addition and she felt it was a weird taste [not that it stopped her from inhaling two full bowls mind you] so the next time we made it we didn’t put it in. I thought the second batch was missing something and that the fennel really added a nice flavor so, when she’s not here, I always add it. I say, if you have fennel on hand, sniff it and if you think it would be a taste that you’d like, throw it in there. It kind of has a licorice flavor but it worked for me.)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 big sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I use unfrosted miniwheats ground in the blender)
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
ONE: Add a little drizzle of olive oil to a big pot and toss in the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, fennel (if you’re using it) and quinoa. Cook over medium high for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions just start to soften and the quinoa is slightly toasted.

TWO: Add the broth, water, and pepper and bring to a gentle boil. While the soup mixture is heating up, begin cutting the kale into small pieces and adding it into the liquid. I hold a bunch of kale in one hand and use my kitchen scissors to snip the leaves into the pot. Discard any stems or tough pieces.

THREE: Once the soup is boiling, reduce to a simmer. In a medium bowl combine all of the meatball ingredients and mix well. (I use my hands which is totally gross-feeling but does the best mixing job)

FOUR: Using your hands, roll the meatball mixture into mini meatballs and drop them into the pot. (If the mixture seems too dry and the meatballs won’t stick together, add a splash of egg whites.) After about every 10 or so meatballs, use a spoon to push them down into the soup. You might need to add a little extra water or broth if there’s not enough liquid to submerge them all.

FIVE: Once the last meatball is in the pot, increase the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through, the veggies are tender, and the quinoa has little curls. Serve garnished with a bit of extra parmesan cheese if desired.

Freeze leftovers using the medium/large portions method to feed your freezer stash. Defrost in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Nutrition info:
Per 1-cup serving143 Calories (40 Calories from Fat), 4g Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 26mg Cholesterol, 160mg Sodium, 14g Carbohydrates, 2g Dietary Fiber, 1.5g Sugar, 12g Protein, 118% DV Vitamin A, 51% DV Vitamin C, 10% DV Calcium, 10% DV Iron.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clean Eating Unstuffed Peppers Casserole

Do you want to eat something AMAZINGLY delicious for dinner tonight? Look no further!

Those of you who know me know that I almost never follow a recipe exactly. I can't help but tweak or modify as I go. But my very good friend, Mandy, has made this casserole for me a few times and when I make it for myself, I follow the recipe word for word :) It seems so simple but it is to die for. 

The thing I like best is that I can throw it together so quickly using my freezer stash. Two of the main ingredients are cooked brown rice and chopped bell peppers. I always have cooked brown rice at the ready in my freezer and when bell peppers are on sale I buy a bunch, chop them all up, and throw them in a freezer bag to use  in recipes just like this one.

This recipe is Clean as long as you read the label really carefully on the pasta sauce and choose one without anything undesirable added. The only modification I might make would be to decrease the amount of cheese from 2 cups to one. My family loves cheese and we aren't trying to eat a reduced fat or calorie diet so I use the full amount. However, if you are trying to lose weight or lower your cholesterol or something, there will still be plenty of flavor with less cheese. 

For the full recipe, check out the post on my friend, Mandy's, blog HERE! Thanks, Mandy!!!!!!!:)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Clean Eating Whole Wheat Banana Pecan Waffles

Makes 12-15 waffles
We LOVE waffles in our house. And I especially love them when all I need to do is pull them out of the freezer and pop them into the toaster. I'll make a big batch every few weeks and we'll eat them fresh for breakfast and then freeze the leftovers. Then every couple of days I can give my boys a nice hot breakfast without actually having to cook :) These are especially great for when we are rushing to get somewhere in the morning because they can be eaten mess-free in the car. Always a plus in my book!

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur's White Whole Wheat)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ/ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed

ONE: Preheat the waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, wheat germ/ground flax seeds, and pecans.

TWO: In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, almond extract, oil, and mashed bananas until well blended.

THREE: Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

FOUR: For each waffle, lightly mist the waffle iron with cooking spray and pour 1/4 cup of batter onto each grid, spreading it out to mostly cover the grids. Close the iron and cook about 4 minutes or until lightly browned. (You may need to do more or less batter depending on your brand of waffle iron. You want to use just enough that the grids are covered with a thin layer. If you do too much, it will spill over and stick to the sides and pull the waffle apart into a big mess when you open it. Not that I speak from experience or anything....)

Freeze leftovers using the tray freeze method to feed your freezer stash. We reheat ours in the toaster oven but you could also use a toaster, microwave, or regular oven.


Per waffle - 120 Calories (45 Calories from Fat), 5g Fat, 0.5g Saturated Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 99mg Sodium, 16g Total Carbohydrates, 1.5g Dietary Fiber, 4g Sugars, 3.4g Protein, 1% DV Vitamin A, 3% DV Vitamin C, 8% DV Calcium, 5% DV Iron

Monday, July 25, 2011

Clean Eating Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Flourless Cookies)

Makes 48 small cookies or 36 mid-sized ones
I have no idea why I haven't posted this sooner because we literally make a batch every week (actually right now Danielle makes us a batch every week, but you know what I mean). This is a Clean Eating recipe all the way back from the March/April 2010 issue. I saw it when it was first published and was hesitant to make them because it used a whole cup of Almond Butter. Let's be honest, that stuff is expensive! I basically ration it out in our house. 

My very good friend, Martha (Hi Martha!) thought the same thing until her mom, Danette (Hi Danette!!) made them. Apparently after trying them, Martha's dad said that there would never be a need to make any other cookie they were that good. Since we started making them I literally have not made any other kind of cookie unless I was making it for a specific reason (like using up leftover veggies). We've made them using just almond butter and using half almond butter and half peanut butter and they are scrumptious both ways. We ALWAYS make a double batch so I'm not even going to bother posting the single recipe. 


  • 2 cups unsalted almond butter, stirred well (or any other combination of nut butters equalling 2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups Sucanat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
ONE: Preheat oven to 350. Stir everything together adding the chocolate chips in last.

TWO: Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack.

Once they're completely cool, we store ours in a cookie tin. You could definitely freeze them using the tray freeze method... it might help you eat them a little slower, lol!


Per small cookie made with only Almond Butter - 110 Calories, 8g Fat, 1.5g Saturated Fat, 10g Carbs, 1g Fiber, 3g Sugars, 2g Protein, 55mg Sodium, 10mg Cholesterol

Monday, July 18, 2011

Clean Eating Black Bean Burgers

Makes 10 Burgers
This recipe came about because we had "nothing" in the house and a pack of hungry kids. By nothing I mean I didn't have my standard go-to protein sources of chicken breast and ground turkey. Since we're not vegetarian, we generally have some type of meat with dinner. But when I don't have any in the house it makes me realize how single-minded my cooking is in some ways. Combining whole grains and beans creates a complete protein and we have about a million cans of black beans in our house from a totally awesome sale a few months back so we decided to give black bean burgers a try. They were a HUGE success. The toddlers devoured them including my super picky nephew and Matt, Anthea, and I all got to eat ours with two hands without having to force feed anybody. That's a big success in my book :)


  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • Half a medium onion, finely chopped (I grated mine since I was already grating the carrots)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup kale
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used ground unfrosted mini wheats)
  • 1 tsp salt
ONE: Spray a skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin, chili, garlic, and onion powder and continue to cook until the veggies are soft. Remove from heat and set aside in a large bowl.

TWO: Place drained beans, kale, and cilantro in a food processor and pulse several times until beans are mostly mashed but a few chunks still remain.

THREE: Add the beans, mustard, bread crumbs, and salt to the bowl of veggies and stir to combine. Scoop out scant 1/3 cup portions and form into patties.

FOUR: Heat the skillet you cooked the veggies in over medium heat and spray generously with cooking spray. Place the patties in the skillet a few at a time and cook 4 minutes a side until lightly browned and heated through.

TO FREEZE: Before cooking, form the patties and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes to flash freeze the outsides and then place them all together in a freezer bag. Defrost overnight and cook according to the directions above.

After cooking, follow the same directions as above and reheat in the microwave.


Per Serving (1 burger) - 124 Calories (7 Calories from Fat), 1g Total Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 463mg Sodium, 22g Carbohydrates, 6g Dietary Fiber, 4g Sugar, 6g Protein, 75% DV Vitamin A, 13% DV Vitamin C, 5% DV Calcium, 36% DV Iron


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Clean Eating Sale... Act Now!!!!!!

Hurry!!! This offer ends at 10 EST tonight (6/26/11)!! Go HERE and order a year's subscription to Clean Eating Magazine for only $5.99 (Regularly $35+).

Click Buy, change the quantity to 2 if you want 2 years instead of one, and then click Proceed to Checkout. Enter in your mailing info and click Continue. The total will say $24.99. In the second box down where it says Discount Code type in EATING and it will reduce the total to $5.99 for one year or $11.98 for 2 :)


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Clean Eating Red Beans and Rice with Sausage (Crockpot)

Makes about 8 servings, 1 cup each
This smells like a little bit of heaven while it’s cooking :) I’m a real wimp when it comes to spicy food but this has just enough kick that the kids and I can eat it without complaint while having that slightly spicy New Orleans feel. My nephew, Chase, can sometimes be a picky eater and is VERY resistant to trying new foods, but even he ate this. In fact he fed it to himself without any coercion and said, “I never tried this and I like it.” A very big compliment coming from him.

You may have been shocked to see that there are no veggies in this dish. A rarity coming from me because you know I'm all about the one dish meals that include veggies so I don't have to cook any sides :) I almost always stir in some finely chopped cooked broccoli or brussel sprouts before serving. You could also add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of finely chopped raw sweet potato or carrots in at the beginning of cooking or stir cooked pieces in before serving like with the broccoli. Or I've sometimes thrown 2 cups of very finely chopped raw kale in during the last 1/2 hour of cooking but DON'T STIR it in until you're ready to serve (see Tip below).

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb lean turkey or chicken sausage, sliced into medallions
  • Small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped (I've made it without this in a pinch but I think it adds a little something in the moisture and texture department)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Optional: ½ tsp Tabasco (I didn’t add this but if you like spicy things have at it!)
ONE: Toss everything into the crockpot and cook on high 4-5 hours or on low 6-8 hours.

TIP: Stir it all together when you first put it in but DON’T stir again until you’re serving. The rice in this dish is meant to be a little more mushy and sticky than plain brown rice but stirring while it’s cooking will make the outside layer break down and let the gummy part out. Picture Cajun rice pudding.

Dump everything into a gallon-sized freezer bag and freeze. Toss the whole frozen chunk into a crockpot/slowcooker and cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours. Make sure you freeze it in such a way that the frozen lump will fit in your crockpot. I set my bag inside a big circular tupper so that it freezes into a narrower cylinder.

Freeze leftovers in 1-cup portions using the medium/large portions method to feed your freezer stash.


Per 1-cup Serving - 354 Calories (65 Calories from Fat), 7g Total Fat, 1.5g Saturated Fat, 35mg Cholesterol, 943mg Sodium, 51g Total Carbohydrates, 7g Fiber, 1.5g Sugar, 22g Protein, 1% DV Vitamin A, 6% DV Vitamin C, 7% DV Calcium, 20% DV Iron


Monday, May 30, 2011

Clean Eating Saucy Chicken

Makes 4 servings, 3/4 cup each
This is a warm, creamy bit of deliciousness that absolutely screams comfort food... but won't send you screaming from the bathroom scale :) I got the original idea for this recipe from a Publix Family Style Magazine article. It's simple and satisfying and we love it served over Cornbread Waffles with Grilled Asparagus.

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup skim milk
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
ONE: Poach chicken breasts by placing them in a small, heavy-bottomed pot that is just large enough so that they fit snugly together in a single layer. Cover with water (or chicken broth). Heat on high until it's just started boiling and then reduce heat to low. Partly cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover completely, and let the chicken sit in the hot water for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Shred and set aside.

TWO: In a large saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and then add broth and milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

THREE: Stir in Parmesan and spices; cook another minute. Add shredded chicken and heat through.

Freeze leftovers in 3/4 cup portions using the medium/large portion method to feed your freezer stash.


Per 3/4 cup serving - 299 Calories (119 Calories from Fat), 13g Fat, 3.5g Saturated Fat, 105mg Cholesterol, 315mg Sodium, 6g Total Carbohydrates, 2g Sugar, 37g Protein, 3% DV Vitamin A, 1% DV Vitamin C, 12% DV Calcium, 11% DV Iron

Clean Eating Whole Grain Cornbread Waffles

Makes 8 servings, 1 waffle each
Cornbread is one of my absolute favorite foods so I love, love, LOVE these waffles. This recipe is actually adapted from a recipe from the Publix Family Style Magazine. I have actually never made these for breakfast. Don't get me wrong, we all happily eat the leftovers for breakfast, but I always cook them with the intention of eating them for dinner. I had never thought of a "dinner waffle" until the Family Style article but it is an awesome idea, especially if you're feeding toddlers. My boys are so excited to be eating waffles for dinner that they would eat almost anything on top of them. Tonight I topped them with the taco filling from the Best Ever Veggie Tacos but usually I top them with Saucy Chicken. Or you could just be normal and make them for breakfast :)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat)
  • 1/2 cup whole grain cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp honey/sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 egg whites
ONE: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, honey/sucanat, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl combine the milk, olive oil, and egg. Whisk the liquid mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

TWO: Preheat a waffle iron and spray lightly with cooking spray. Pour a generous 1/4 cup of batter onto each waffle grid and cook 3-4 minutes until lightly browned (or according to your waffle makers instructions).

Freeze leftover waffles using the flash freeze method to feed your freezer stash.


Per waffle - 175 Calories (65 Calories from Fat), 7g Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 1mg Cholesterol, 216mg Sodium, 24g Total Carbohydrates, 1g Dietary Fiber, 6g Sugar, 4g Protein, 2% DV Vitamin A, 0% DV Vitamin C, 6% DV Calcium, 6% DV Iron


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blog Update

Hi, remember me. I'm Briony. I used to post great things all the time like a weekly menu and couponing tips. So what happened? Have I forgotten all of you and moved on to other pursuits? NEVER!! We've just had a VERY busy time in our house the past few weeks. I started my swim season teaching Survival Swim Lessons to children and I have been totally flooded with students. Then we had family from England visit plus some very special friends from Jacksonville (Hi Martha!!). From the very beginning, I promised Matt that I would only do this blog in my spare time (HAH!!! Well what counts for spare time for a mom of 2 toddlers) and that I wouldn't let it stress me out or take me away from the family.

Just to prove I haven't been totally slacking off, here's a video of Theron at 23 months

Plus, I'll let you in on a little secret.... I haven't cooked a regular meal in over three weeks. Our freezers were so packed and we had so many other things going on that we decided to have a freezer month. Meaning we ate dinner out of the freezer for an entire month with the exception of one week when we had visitors... but I even fed them some meals out of the freezer :) Can you imagine being able to just decide not to cook for a month and still be able to eat a healthy, home-cooked meal every night? It's pretty awesome. So awesome that we're doing it next month too because the freezers are STILL packed.

Thankfully, the lovely and talented Barb has stepped up with some wonderful guest posts (stay tuned for Barb's story coming soon!) and there are more to come. But it got to the point where even my own sister (Hi Anthea!!) was messaging me on Facebook asking why I wasn't updating the blog. So I thought maybe the rest of you were thinking the same thing.

Here's my plan for the rest of the summer. I'm not foreseeing my swim schedule lightening up at all (Yay for babies learning how to not drown!) so I will be taking a break from the weekly menu. However, I am going to aim to post at least 2 (but hopefully 3) new recipes a week (likely with help from Barb and some of my other wonderful gal pals) plus a workout each Friday (likely with help from the fabulous Joan) and the occasional super great deal or tip. When I do start cooking again, I will post my meal plan based on the sales but it will probably not include the grocery list with coupon match-ups until my swim season is over because you would be AMAZED at how long it takes to do that part.

Not quite the level of service that I was offering previously but hopefully this blog can still be a resource to you for healthy, delicious meals. Also, maybe the thought of 2 months without cooking will help you jump start your freezer stocking efforts :) As always, if you have a great recipe that you'd like to share, please e-mail it to me (with a pic if possible!) at Thanks for sticking with my blog even though I've had a bit of a hiatus. Happy Cooking!



Monday, May 16, 2011

Asian Style Rice Wraps

These wraps are so fun to make and so versatile. There are probably a thousand combinations of different flavors you can include! I bought my rice paper at my local international market, but if you can't find it or you don't want to bother with such an interesting ingredient, you could use traditional flour wraps for the same type of effect. I like these wraps for their simple, fresh flavor. Included with a dipping sauce, they are like summertime comfort food. In the example below I used salmon and veggies with a doctored up sweet chili sauce, but you could easily add in left-over rice, or baby shrimp, or left-over chicken, or radishes, or spinach or make a peanut sauce or a hoisin sauce. Uhhh, you get the idea!

Oh, I wish I would have checked to see how blurry this picture was before I started chowing down!


Wraps -
  • 5 to 6 rice wrappers
  • 2 small carrots, cut into small sticks
  • 1/2 small cucumber, cut into small sticks
  • a few slices of white onion
  • handful of lettuce greens
  • 1 large piece of broiled salmon (I cooked mine in the oven specifically for this meal, but you could use a left-over fillet or even a canned fillet!)
Sauce - 
  • 2 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp water
ONE: Organize your ingredients onto your work space so it will be easier to grab them when you're ready to start rolling the wraps. Pour a bit of warm water onto a dinner plate to use for softening the rice paper.

TWO: When the wrap is soft (it should feel like a wet noodle!) take it out of the water and place on a dry plate or cutting board. Immediately put another dry wrap into the water so it can soften while you work on the assembly. Layer the softened wrap with a little of each of your prepared ingredients. Drizzle with a little of the sauce.

THREE: Wrap the rice paper over the meat and veggies by first folding in the sides (perpendicular to your filling) and then fold the top down. Make sure you're wrapping tightly as you go, and keep in mind the rice paper is super sticky, so you can't really unfold. Finish rolling the wrap by bringing the partially covered filling down onto the bottom portion of the paper.

FOUR: Serve whole wraps (I don't recommend cutting them because they fall apart!) with any remaining sauce. If you don't want to bother making the wraps yourself, let your family make their own. It's fun!

Posted by Barb! :)


Friday, May 13, 2011

Fitness Friday: Workout 1

I've mentioned the fabulous Joan Dandeneau several times before (like when I posted this totally delicious Hummus recipe). She is a crazy busy mom of three who teaches the most amazing workout class ever, Stroller Strength. If you live anywhere near Jacksonville, FL or Winston-Salem, NC you should totally check the class out. She looks great, feels great, and has tons of energy because of eating clean and working out. Plus she's setting an excellent example for her 3 little girls and motivating countless women to make healthy changes in their lives too.

Here is a great little workout she wrote for me that you can do right in your own home. The only equipment you'll need are some dumbbells (I used big cans of crushed tomatoes in bags at my Mom's b/c I didn't have dumbbells!) or resistance tubing

Workout 1
  • 2 x 15 step ups each leg (use a stable chair or bench)
  • 2 x 20 full range sit ups with a jab cross to either side
  • 2 x 15 push-ups (try to perform these on your toes and palms, but if you have to, drop to your knees)
  • 2 x 20 pop squats (start with feet together, jump out and squat down, jump together and repeat)
  • 2 x 10 each leg mountain climbers (in plank position, alternate pulling knees into chest, as you progress, speed up the legs)
  • 2 x 15 bicep curl overhead shoulder press (standing, hold tubing, do a bicep curl, rotate palms and press overhead, repeat) This may be too tight, if so, stand on tubing with only one leg and alternate arms if needed (if you don't have tubing, use dumbbells)
  • 2 x 25 body weight squats fast, stand on tubing and separate feet to create some resistance, hold handles at shoulders and squat (or hold dumbbells on your shoulders)
  • 2 x 20 each side seated oblique twists holding something heavy like a medicine ball, dumbbell, bag of flour, (or baby!)
  • 2 x 15 dips off chair or bench
Optional: Sprint in place for 1 minute in between sets for a little extra cardio

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Basic hand-kneaded Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves, 16 slices each
Briony has been trying to get me to buy a second-hand bread maker for years, and I just haven't. Seriously, I like making bread by hand! I like feeling the dough and kneading it to perfection, and I guess it makes me feel connected with my grandmothers to do something I know they also did for their families. My favorite basic recipe is derived from the book that my Kitchen Aid Mixer came with. I altered the method a little (since I like to proof my dough) and add in a little Vital Wheat Gluten, which helps whole wheat loaves be more light and airy.

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided (with sugar it is not "clean", you can use honey or sucanat instead)
  • 2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 4 1/2 tsp (or 2 packages) active dry yeast
  • 5 to 6 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
ONE: "Proofing" yeast means to activate before adding it to the flour. So, add the 1 Tbsp of sugar to hot water and stir to dissolve. Whisk in the yeast and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.

The yeast mixture before and after. Note how much it has puffed up.

TWO: Measure 4 cups of flour into the bowl of your stand mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid). Add the powdered milk and salt. Use the dough hook and turn your machine on to mix the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the yeast mixture while the dough hook is spinning and make certain you get all the bubbles that cling to the side. Add the oil.

THREE: Allow the mixer to bring the dough together until all the flour has been incorporated. You may have to scrape the bowl a time or two and you may have to increase the speed a bit if the motor sounds like it's struggling. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour half a cup at a time. The dough should start to form a ball and the sides of the bowl should be relatively clean.

FOUR: Finish the kneading by hand. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes. If the dough is sticking to your work surface, add another tablespoon or so of flour. Be careful to not add too much flour as this can dry out your dough. Remember that it is okay if the dough is sticky, you just don't want it to stick!

On the left is the dough just as I tipped it out of the bowl, and the right is
after I kneaded it for 8 minutes. Note how there isn't any flour
on my work surface after I kneaded.

FIVE: Let the dough rest while you wash your bowl, dry it well and grease it. Place the dough in the prepared bowl and cover it with a clean towel. Let it rise in a warm spot (the top of your running clothes dryer is a great location!). Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
The dough before and after the 60 minute rise.

SIX: During the last few minutes that the dough is rising and prepare your loaf pans by greasing them well. (Don't tell Briony but I started using shortening a while ago and I haven't had a loaf stick since. For me, it works better than olive oil spray, butter, parchment paper or any other thing I've tried. Briony would use coconut oil.)

SEVEN: Turn the dough out of the bowl and flatten it a bit to push out some of the air bubbles. Knead it for about 30 seconds and then shape it into a loaf. Drop the dough into your prepared loaf pan and let it sit for a few minutes. This short rest will allow the dough to relax so you can manipulate better. Push the dough down so it is flat and the edges touch the edges of the pan. Let the dough rise again for 45 minutes (or up to an hour if you need). During the last few minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

On the left is the shaped dough, and on the right you can see
I flattened it and pushed it towards the edges of the pan.

After the second rise

EIGHT: Bake the loaves for 30 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and have it come out without any dough bits on it. Let the loaves rest in the pan for a few minutes and then remove them from the pans and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

Posted by Barb! :)


Per slice - 126 Calories (23 Calories from Fat), 2.5g Fat, 1mg Cholesterol, 172 mg Sodium, 21.5g Total Carbohydrates, 1g Dietary Fiber, 5g Sugars, 4g Protein, 0% DV Vitamin A, 0% DV Vitamin C, 6% DV Calcium, 6% DV Iron


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Clean Eating Asian Style Peanut Butter Slaw

Makes 8 Servings
When I was living by myself I used to live on this slaw. I think I must have made it a dozen times over a six month period; so often I memorized the ingredient list! The dressing keeps well in the fridge for a few days and you can simply pour it over the cabbage as you wish (Storing the slaw "dressed" is not recommended. The cabbage loses its wonderful crunch.) When I took these pictures I was out of green onions and cilantro, so they couldn't be included. And, I promise you, it tastes better than it looks. :-)

  • 1 small head Napa cabbage (the crinkly green kind)
  • 1/3 cup green onions, sliced
  • 6 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 4 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 6 Tbsp evaporated cane juice with 1/8 tsp molasses OR 6 Tbsp sucanat
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • fresh cilantro for garnish
ONE: Slice the head of cabbage in half and carefully cut out the core. Thinly slice the cabbage into strips.

TWO: Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl. Whisk (slowly at first) until combined and creamy.

THREE: Divide out the portion of cabbage you want to eat with today's meal and add some of the green onions. Pour on a bit of the dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with the cilantro.

Posted by Barb! :)


Per Serving with about 2 1/2 Tbsp dressing - 119 Calories (68 Calories from Fat), 7.5g Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 306mg Sodium, 8g Total Carbohydrates, 2g Dietary Fiber, 5g Sugars, 5g Protein, 95% DV Vitamin A, 80% DV Vitamin C, 11% DV Calcium, 7% DV Iron


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Clean Eating Breakfast Cookies

Makes 12 cookies
Yes! You can have a cookie (maybe even two) for breakfast! This recipe is amazing. The cookies bake up so light and chewy and are surprisingly sweet considering there only made with a little honey. Next time I bake them, I want to try replacing the banana with pumpkin or using dates in place of the raisins.

  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
ONE: Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, stir the mashed banana together with the peanut butter, honey and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine oats, flour, milk powder, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir the oat mixture into the banana mixture until combined. Stir in dried cranberries or raisins.

TWO: Using a scant 1/4 cup measure (an ice-cream scoop works well for this!), drop mounds of dough 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. With a thin metal or small plastic spatula (or just use the back of the ice cream scooper) dipped in water, flatten and spread each mound of dough into a 2 3/4 round, about 1/2 an inch thick.

THREE: Bake, one sheet at a time, for 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight bag for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Posted by Barb!! :)


Per cookie - 184 Calories (53 Calories from Fat), 6g Fat, 1mg Cholesterol, 52 mg Sodium, 28g Total Carbohydrates, 2g Dietary Fiber, 16g Sugars, 6g Protein, 0% DV Vitamin A, 4% DV Vitamin C, 6% DV Calcium, 5% DV Iron

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Natural Sweeteners Explained (and How to Substitute for Sugar with Them)

The term “Natural Sweetener” gets thrown around a lot, but there’s no clear cut definition of what this really means. When I first started to eat healthier, I thought that as long as I wasn’t using white sugar, I was okay. So I started substituting brown sugar for everything. Somehow I got the idea that because it was brown it was less processed and therefore natural. But as I got more into healthy eating, and specifically Clean Eating, I found out this wasn’t the case. So I asked my wonderful and brilliant friend, Barb, (who is almost singlehandedly responsible for the way I eat now) to do a little research into the whole Natural Sweetener debate and give us a little clarity

Here's a list of sweeteners that are generally considered natural and are Clean Eating approved:

To Substitute for Sugar
Honey: A sweet, sticky, yellowish-brown fluid made by bees from nectar collected from flowers; minimally processed, especially if you get raw honey.Honey has a stronger and slightly sweeter flavor than sugar so use ¾ cup honey for each 1 cup sugar. Reduce the rest of the liquid by 2 Tbsp per cup of honey used and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
Agave nectar: Sap extracted form the core of the agave plant; minimally processed. It’s mild flavor and thin consistency make it a great choice for cold liquids, like iced tea. In baking and recipes, use 2/3 cup agave nectar for each 1 cup of sugar, reduce the other liquids in the recipe slightly, and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
Pure Maple Syrup: Concentrated sap from maple trees; minimally processed. Maple syrup has a stronger and slightly sweeter flavor than sugar so use ¾ cup maple syrup for each 1 cup sugar. Reduce the rest of the liquid by 2 Tbsp per cup of maple syrup used and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
Rapadura/Sucanat (Sugar Cane Natural): Unrefined dried sugar cane juice. Cane sugar that retains its molasses content. Has a slight molasses flavor and a dark color. Works very well in baked goods and hot drinks, like coffee, but not in cold drinks, like lemonade. Replaces sugar and brown sugar 1:1.
Brown Rice Syrup: A sweetener derived by culturing cooked rice with enzymes (usually from dried barley sprouts) to break down the starches, then straining off the liquid and reducing it through heating.Not as sweet as sugar so use 1 1/3 cups brown rice syrup for each 1 cup of sugar. In baking, for each cup used, reduce the other liquids in the recipe by ¼ cup and add ¼ tsp baking soda. For soft baked goods, do not use all brown rice syrup as it tends to make the finished product harder and crispier. On the other hand, it’s a great option in things like crispy cookies and granola.
Molasses: Thick, dark brown, uncrystallized juice obtained from raw sugar during the refining process. Basically what is removed from the sugar cane juice when white sugar is madeMolasses has a strong, distinctive flavor so only replace a small amount of the sugar in a recipe with it
Blackstrap Molasses: Same as molasses except it is more concentrated and therefore contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of minerals per serving. Blackstrap molasses has a VERY strong flavor so only replace a small amount of the sugar in a recipe with it
Stevia: A sweet compound obtained from the leaves of a South American shrub (Stevia rebaudiana) of the daisy family. Stevia comes in several forms from powder to liquid. Use this chart

Not Clean Eating Approved But Less Refined than White Sugar:
Turbinado Sugar: The most popular brand is Sugar in the Raw. Basically rapadura/sucanat granules that are washed in a centrifuge to remove impurities and surface molasses. The result is lighter in color and contains less molasses.Replaces sugar 1:1.
Evaporated Cane Juice: More refined version of turbinado sugar. Replaces sugar 1:1.

Here’s what Barb's research uncovered:

When I first set out to do research for this article, I was hoping to provide complete facts about how sweeteners are produced, how they benefit us nutritionally, and when they are most commonly used. However, I found the deeper I dug to discover answers, the more questions arose about the processing of the sweeteners.

I researched independent sources like Wikipedia, company websites like the one for Sugar in the Raw, and even read information on the Corn Refiner’s website (who are pro High Fructose Corn syrup). Many of the personal sites I read hosted a variety of opinions and shocking realizations about how our food is treated, but some of these sites do not list references, and it is hard to know if there is any truth behind their passionate claims. In the paragraphs to follow, I will attempt to help you understand more about the plethora of products on the store shelves and to provide unbiased information about the way the raw ingredients are grown and processed. Originally, I did not want to include information about Organic and non-Organic differences, but after doing the research, I felt this was an important piece of the puzzle in understanding how crops are treated and processed.

The word “natural” to describe sugars could be argued several different ways. Some might say that a particular sweetener is made from corn, and corn grows in nature, so therefore it’s natural. Likewise, one might argue that since sugar cane grows in the ground, its derivatives are also natural ways to sweeten foods. However, the worlds of health enthusiasts and Clean Eaters have different opinions on what is considered “natural”.

Types of Sugars and Glycemic Index

Before we discuss the sweeteners themselves, let’s do a brief biology review of the classification of sugars. There are two types of sugar: monosaccharides and disaccharides. The most abundant monos are Glucose and Fructose. Glucose is the building block of carbohydrates and is made by the photosynthesis process in plants. All forms of sugar are converted to glucose in our bodies. Fructose is naturally found in fruits and in honey. Many fructose based sweeteners undergo minimal processing and are therefore prized by health food enthusiasts. The most common disaccharide is Sucrose, which is comprised of Fructose and Glucose molecules linked together.

For added interest and a deeper understanding of the dietary implication of the sweeteners in this article, I am providing the glycemic index number in parenthesis following the first mention of the sweetener’s name, followed by the calorie content of one tablespoon.* The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food is converted into glucose in your body’s bloodstream. The higher the GI, the faster the food is converted to energy, and the quicker your blood glucose levels rise. A rapid increase of glucose levels will, in time, present a rapid drop of “sugar” levels and can cause fatigue, lethargy and the desire to eat more.

Typically, the more refined the food, the higher the glycemic level. Have you ever eaten a meal consisting of white pasta, white bread topped off with a super sweet dessert, only to feel exhausted and hungry later? Such a super-refined meal would cause your glucose levels to spike and then crash. Had you consumed a different meal of low glycemic index foods, but with the same caloric intake, you would have felt full, satisfied and energized.

Glucose (Corn) Based Sweeteners

Corn syrup (100 60) has been around since the early 1900s. It is made when the starch from corn kernels is mixed with water and combined with an enzyme which converts the starch into glucose, leaving a syrupy substance behind. Corn syrup retains its moisture after heating, which makes for moist, commercially-produced baked goods. In household uses, it is most commonly found in pecan pies, candied apples, and pancake toppings. It may be important to note that the United States is the number one producer of corn in the world, and most of the non-organic crops are grown from genetically modified seeds. If organic foods are important to you, organic (non-GMO) forms of corn syrup are available on the market today.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the name for the most widely used sugar substitute: high fructose corn syrup or HFCS (65-80). For decades, this product has been added to many pre-packaged foods and drinks and it is recently receiving a lot of attention. Without going into gross detail, HFCS is made from corn syrup, which is mostly comprised of glucose. When the glucose is combined with enzymes (more than one), it converts into fructose. The ratio of the simple sugars dramatically shifts, altering the corn syrup into a “high fructose” version. HFCS is cheap, has a long shelf life, and is sweeter than other types of sugar (so companies can use less). As the commercials on television imply, the basic structure of HFCS is similar to that of table sugar, but there are still controversies about how our body reacts to this man made sweetener. While you can buy hundreds of products containing HFCS (from ketchup to soda to yogurt), you can not purchase bottles of it at your grocery store.

Fructose (Plant) Based Sweeteners

Sugar cane, which is considered to be a grass, has been cultivated by man for thousands of years. Through the processing of extracting the sugar for consumption, consumers are provided with a variety of products. Sucanat (65 60) is a contraction for the phrase "sugar cane natural". It is produced when the cane stalks are heated and filtered, and the resulting sugar crystals are hand collected so that they retain their naturally high content of molasses.

Raw sugar and Turbinado sugar (65 60) are made similarly to Sucanat, but they are not treated with the same gentleness. The cane is spun at a very high speed, causing part of the molasses content to be lost. The resulting crystals are dried into the form you see it in when you purchase it at the store. If the processing of sugar continues past the raw sugar stage, common table sugar (65 60) is produced. The raw sugar is washed of all the molasses, heated, and in most instances bleached to produce the pearly white crystals we are familiar with as white sugar.

Brown sugar (65 60) is, in most cases, table sugar with molasses added back to the crystals. In some instance, brown sugar can be made by washing less of the molasses from the raw sugar. In common grocery store boxes of brown sugar, this is not the case. Often the white sugar is also colored with an artificial caramel coloring, so the product has a better appearance. So, not only is the sugar bleached, but then color is added back in.

Molasses (65 58) processed for sale is “leftover” from when the sugar cane is spun to make white sugar. Most of these types of molasses have a higher sugar content than Blackstrap molasses (55 47) which is made when the cane has been spun a third time. Due to the deeper concentration, blackstrap contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of minerals per serving and is therefore considered to be preferable among health food enthusiasts.

Organic varieties of sugar cane products can be purchased and are held to a zero chemical standard. This means that not only are the sugar cane plants not treated with pesticides, but the sugar crystals are also not subjected to harsh chemicals during the refining process.

Agave nectar (30 60) comes from the core of a succulent plant with the same name. Most premium types of Agave come from Blue Agave plants. The sap is extracted and filtered, then heated at a very low temperature (less than 120 degrees). Because Agave nectar is processed minimally and with such low heat, it is considered a “pure sweetener”. It has a subtle, sweet flavor that is very mild and is often used as an alternative to honey. However, it does have a relatively high fructose content, depending on the particular batch of agave plant used. I have noticed that most Agave nectars available on the market are Organic.

Unless you’ve lived under a bee hive for your entire life :-), you know what honey is and where it comes from. However, you may not be familiar with the different ways it is processed. Raw honey (30 64) is the most pure form of honey, as it is unheated (therefore unpasteurized) and is high in antioxidants. Purchasing local raw honey has been praised as a remedy for seasonal allergies, a benefit that is lost once the nectar is heated and packaged for commercial grocery stores. Pasteurized honey is a great option for baking or for other recipes where the nectar will be heated during the cooking process. Producers of organic honey do what they can to insure that their bees do not transport pesticides back to the hives, and they are prohibited from giving their bees antibiotics.

Maple syrup (54 52) is the sap of maple trees, which is collected and boiled down to produce pure syrup. It contains trace amounts of minerals and amino acids (proteins). When you purchase maple syrup at the grocery store, be certain the label says “100% pure” as there are many imitation products out there. For a syrup farm to be considered "Organic", it must refrain from using chemicals on the trees themselves and during the tapping process (formaldehyde, although illegal, is sometimes used on non Organic farms).

Other Types of Sweeteners

Brown rice syrup (25 75) is made much in the same way that corn syrup is manufactured. An enzyme is added to the brown rice and left to change the starch in the rice grains into sugar. However, the resulting syrup has a different make-up from corn syrup in that the sugar is mostly a polysaccharide (a combination of mono and disaccharides), which make for a slower absorption into the bloodstream. The syrup is known for its buttery flavor and is less sweet than corn syrup. Because most brown rice syrups are consumed by health food enthusiasts, most brands available for purchase are Organic.

Stevia (less than 1) can be purchased in two ways; either in powder form or as a liquid extract. It is made from the leaf of a plant, and because it is considered to be more like a herb, Stevia is touted as zero-calorie sweetener (although some trace calories will exist if you eat it in excess!). Its popularity is growing, and it may be pertinent to note that some brands found in grocery stores may have additives in them which act as fillers and may be highly processed. Some people state that inexpensive brands of Stevia have a funny aftertaste, while higher-quality versions do not.

Whatever your choice of sweetener, please keep in mind that all sugars should be enjoyed in moderation; some possibly in less moderation than others. All of the above sweeteners have pros and cons, and it is important to weigh them out when making your decision on which one to use. Take into account how often you consume the food you sweeten. Consuming too much sugar of any kind has known side effects. Table sugar can cause peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels, which in excess can lead to weight gain. Fructose sweeteners are processed in the liver, which can cause a rise in triglyceride levels. Stevia is under review for a possible link to cancer when consumed in excess.

** In order from highest to lowest
Glycemic Index
Processing (hard to estimate)
HFCS, Cane Sugar, MolassesBrown Rice SyrupTable Sugar, Brown Sugar
Agave Nectar, HoneyHoneyMolasses, Black Strap Molasses
Blackstrap MolassesCorn Syrup, Cane Sugar, Agave NectarCorn Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup
Maple SyrupMolassesStevia
Brown Rice SyrupMaple SyrupSucanat
SteviaBlackstrap MolassesMaple Syrup, Honey
SteviaAgave Nectar, Raw Honey

*The Glycemic Index and calorie measurements may vary depending on the type of crop and the way a particular manufacture processes the resulting product. In some instances, I have taken multiple numbers for the same sweetener and used an average.

Please note: there are some sweeteners on the market that are not listed in this article. Namely: Equal, Splenda and Sweet n’Low. These are artificial sweeteners and should not be confused with natural sweeteners.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Great Deal on Farm Fresh Organic Produce

Check out THIS great deal on farm fresh organic produce shipped right to your door!! $19 for a Taste of the Farm Sampler Box, Plus Shipping, from ($70 Value). See Kim's post for more details.

Thanks, Mommy Likes to Save!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Clean Eating Sausage Egg Casserole (OAMC)

Makes 12 servings
Wouldn't you love to wake up and find that someone else has cooked you a delicious and healthy breakfast? That's how I feel when I pull this egg casserole out of the freezer. It's the perfect blend of savory sausage, eggs, and cheesy goodness. Plus it has some kale snuck in so you can start your day right with a power packed veggie :) I make this using homemade breakfast sausage based on THIS recipe from one of my favorite sites but you can use 3/4 lbs of whatever breakfast sausage you prefer.

How I "healthified" it:
  • The original recipe called for 10 whole eggs. I used 2 whole eggs and 10 egg whites.
  • The original recipe used 16 oz of cottage cheese and whole pound of shredded cheddar. I reduced both of them by half and added a little bit of Parmesan for some extra cheese flavor.
  • The original recipe used butter and white flour. I substituted olive oil and whole wheat flour and added and extra 1/4 tsp of sea salt.
  • The original recipe used regular breakfast sausage. I made a homemade version of breakfast sausage using lean ground turkey.
  • Finally I added some finely diced kale to boost the nutritional profile. Plus, I like it when my kids eat a green vegetable in the morning because then I don't have to think about it at dinner LOL.
  • The results - A decrease in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and an increase in Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Breakfast Sausage-
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 C diced organic dried apples (or 3/4 cup shredded fresh apples)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 2 Tbsp dried Sage (1 Tbsp if ground)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 16 oz carton of egg whites (or 10 egg whites)
  • 8 oz low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups (½ lb) shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 4oz can diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups very finely chopped kale/spinach
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
ONE: In a large bowl, using your hands, mix sausage ingredients well. Place into a large, deep skillet and cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, and set aside. Add olive oil to skillet; cook and stir the green onions and mushrooms until tender.

Browning the homemade sausage
TWO: In a large bowl, mix eggs, egg whites, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, Parmesan, kale, and chiles. Stir in sausage, green onions, and mushrooms. Cover, and refrigerate overnight (you can cook it right away but refrigerating it overnight lets the flavors blend a bit more).

THREE: Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the olive oil. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Flour mixture before it was blended
Cut into individual servings and freeze using the flash freeze method to feed your freezer stash. To reheat, microwave loosely covered for 2 minutes at 50% power. Cut into pieces and microwave an additional minute at full power.


Per serving "healthified" recipe 301 Calories (152 Calories from Fat), 17g Fat, 5g Saturated Fat, 77mg Cholesterol, 615mg Sodium, 16.5g Total Carbohydrates, 1g Dietary Fiber, 4g Sugars, 22g Protein, 32% DV Vitamin A, 27% DV Vitamin C, 36% DV Calcium, 10% DV Iron

Per serving original recipe 393 Calories (252 Calories from Fat), 27g Fat, 12g Saturated Fat, 223mg Cholesterol, 791mg Sodium, 13g Total Carbohydrates, 1g Dietary Fiber, 1g Sugars, 27g Protein, 17% DV Vitamin A, 9% DV Vitamin C, 61% DV Calcium, 10% DV Iron


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why You Should Eat Breakfast and Healthy Breakfast Ideas

I’m sure you’ve heard before that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But why? And what constitutes a good breakfast? Keep reading to find out :)

Eating a healthy breakfast:
  1. Jump Starts Your Metabolism. Breakfast is just what it sounds like - breaking the fast of not eating during the night. Your body responds to this fast by slowing down. Your metabolic rate decreases so that you burn fewer calories and conserve energy. By eating breakfast, you get your metabolism going and start burning calories again. The earlier you start burning calories, the more you’ll burn in a day, helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Leads to Better Performance Throughout the Day. Several studies have shown that children who eat breakfast perform better on standardized achievement tests and have fewer behavior problems in school. On the other hand, children who don’t eat breakfast can be cranky, disinterested, and unmotivated. The same goes for adults.
  3. Helps Prevent the Mid-Morning Slump. If you skip breakfast, by mid-morning you are likely to feel tired and run-down. This is where some people will reach for a cup of coffee and a candy bar. This might give you a temporary boost but will lead to a crash shortly afterwards, leaving you tired and cranky at lunch time. On the other hand, a healthy breakfast fuels your body to last through to lunch time while staying alert and focused.
  4. Helps You Make Better Food Choices Throughout the Day and Ultimately Lose Weight. People sometimes skip breakfast to cut calories but, as mentioned above, this leaves you starving by mid-morning. Oftentimes this will lead to snacking throughout the day and bingeing at lunch and dinner. This will likely lead to a higher caloric intake than a healthy breakfast and sensible eating throughout the day would have yielded. According to the National Weight Control Registry, eating breakfast is a daily habit for “successful losers” (individuals who have maintained a 30-pound or more weight loss for at least a year).
Healthy Breakfast Choices:

You don’t necessarily need a lot of time in the morning to create a healthy start to your day. Focus on meals that combine complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. You want to aim for foods that will fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied longer. High fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains can accomplish this without adding a lot of extra fat.

5 Super Fast Breakfasts:
  1. 1 cup whole grain low sugar cereal (kashi, multigrain cheerios), 1 cup skim milk, piece of fruit
  2. 1 cup oatmeal with 2 Tbsp honey and sliced banana, 1 cup of milk
  3. 2 slices whole wheat toast with 2 Tbsp peanut butter, piece of fruit
  4. 1 whole grain muffin with 1 cup low fat milk and ½ cup berries
  5. 1 cup low fat plain yogurt with ½ cup all natural granola and 2 cups strawberries

Some other ideas -
  • 1 Slice whole wheat toast with 2 Tbsp peanut butter; serve with a protein shake [1c milk, ½ c berries, 1 Tbsp protein powder, 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds]
  • 3 egg whites scrambled with
    • 1 oz shredded cheese & ½ cup broccoli, 2 slices whole wheat toast, ½ cup OJ
    • Diced turkey, ¼ cup onions, 1 oz shredded cheese, whole wheat toast, piece of fruit
    • 1 whole egg, ½ cup chopped mushrooms, 5 snow peas quartered, ¼ chopped red bell pepper, and 1 ½ tsp soy sauce; serve with ½ cup berries and 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3 egg white omelet with 1 slice whole wheat toast & ½ cup OJ
    • 1 oz ricotta, ¼ cup tomatoes, ¼ cup onions
    • Onions, mushrooms, and peppers
  • ¾ cup oatmeal with 1 cup milk &
    • 1 tsp brown sugar & banana
    • 1 small chopped mango
    • 1 cup applesauce, 1 tsp brown sugar and cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter on whole wheat English muffin, 1 cup skim milk, 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • ½ whole wheat bagel with
    • 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 cup milk, 1 cup fresh fruit
    • 2 Tbsp cream cheese, 2 slices tomato, ¼ cup yogurt
    • 2 oz cheese, 4 slices tomato, ½ cup OJ
  • Whole grain muffin with
    • 1 cup strawberries & ¼ cup yogurt
    • 1 Tbsp peanut butter & small apple
  • 3 egg whites over hard on whole wheat English muffin with
    • 1 slice ham & 2 slices cheese
    • 2 meatless breakfast patties & slice cheese
  • 1 cup cottage cheese & 1 slice whole wheat toast with ½ cup blueberries
  • 2 whole wheat waffles with 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup & 2 cup strawberries
  • 2 egg whites scrambled with 1 slice whole wheat toast, ½ cup OJ with
    • 2 meatless breakfast patties
    • 2 slices turkey bacon
  • 4 egg whites scrambled with
    • ½ cup new potatoes, ½ cup salsa, & 1 ½ oz shredded cheese; piece of fruit
    • ¼ cup salsa, ¼ cup guacamole, ¼ cup corn in whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup cereal, 1 cup berries, 1 cup milk
  • 2 whole grain pancakes with 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup and 1 cup raspberries
  • ¾ cup yogurt with ½ cup raspberries & 1/3 cup cereal
  • 2 pieces whole wheat French toast [made with 1 Tbsp milk & egg white], 1 c blueberries, 1 c milk

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clean Eating Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

Makes 8 servings, 1 quesadilla each
When I lived in Jacksonville, my great friend, Ariana, and I used to take the kids on lunch dates to Native Sun Natural Foods Market. They had an awesome selection of the more unusual things I use in my cooking, like bulk quinoa. They also made delicious food so we could do a bit of shopping and then sit and have a light meal that the kids could eat too. You know there aren’t a lot of places where I actually let me kids eat the food, LOL. One of our favorites was their sweet potato quesadillas. This is Ariana’s version which I have to say I actually like better than the original :)

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups peeled sweet potatoes, grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 pinches cayenne (I leave this out because I’m wimpy)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 8 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
ONE: In large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil.
Sauté onions and garlic until the onions are transparent.

TWO: Add the sweet potatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the black beans, recover, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

THREE: When the sweet potatoes are tender, remove the filling from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

FOUR: Spread the sweet potato mixture evenly onto the tortillas; sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese onto each tortilla.
Fold tortilla in half over filling.

FIVE: Either clean out the skillet you just used or get another large non-stick skillet and add a little oil; heat on medium high heat. Place the quesadillas in the heated nonstick skillet and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted and the filling is hot.
Add more oil to skillet as needed and cook in batches. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Freeze leftovers using the flash freeze method to feed your freezer stash.


Per serving - 355 Calories (97 Calories from Fat), 11g Fat, 4g Saturated Fat, 8mg Cholesterol, 468mg Sodium, 50g Total Carbohydrates, 10g Dietary Fiber, 9g Sugars, 13g Protein, 285% DV Vitamin A, 8% DV Vitamin C, 17% DV Calcium, 8% DV Iron


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TLC's Extreme Couponing

If you have ever evenly remotely thought about couponing it's likely you may have heard about the new show on TLC called Extreme Couponing. There's been a lot of discussion about the show in the couponing blogosphere but I personally haven't seen it yet so I can't really have an opinion either way. One thing I do know, though, is that it's a reality TV show so it's designed to be entertaining and sensational. My guess is that it would be interesting and entertaining to watch but it won't necessarily teach you the ins and outs of couponing.

HERE is a great article that brings a bit of reality back to Extreme Couponing. It was written by Rasha from A Full Cup which is an awesome resource for all things coupon related.

For some info about how to get started with some good old everyday couponing that the average family can use to save themselves on their weekly groceries, go HERE.


Last Night's Veggies Cookies

Makes 20-24 cookies
Weird name for a cookie right? But that’s literally what these were. The first time I made Pineapple Pork Tenderloin I didn’t have peppers. Actually to be honest, I seriously needed to go grocery shopping and the only thing I did have was a big buttercup squash. So I made roasted squash with pineapple instead. We all ate it happily enough that night but none of us really felt like eating the leftovers. The frugal side of me couldn’t bear to throw them away so I made them into cookies. Normal people use their leftover dinner veggies to make cookies too, right? Regardless, we all loved them and these have since become a favorite cookie in our household. They are sort of like a pumpkin gingersnap but they're more cakey than crispy.

NOTE: If you are making something in your crockpot, you can chop up about a cup of winter squash/sweet potato and put it on a piece of tinfoil with about a cup of pineapple. Fold the foil into a pouch and stick it on top of whatever you're cooking. Obviously this wouldn't work if you were cooking a soup since the packet would sink. It only takes about 3 hours on low for the veggies to soften but you can leave it in there as long as your dish is cooking and just take it out at the end.

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I use King Arthur's White Whole Wheat flour)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance buttery spread or coconut oil
  • ¾ cup canned pineapple, drained
  • ¾ cup cooked winter squash/sweet potato
  • 1 cup sucanat, divided
  • ¼ cup molasses
ONE: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

TWO: Puree the pineapple and winter squash/sweet potato together adding a small amount of pineapple juice if needed to create a puree the same consistency as canned pumpkin.

THREE: In a large bowl, cream together the buttery spread/coconut oil, pineapple-veggie puree, ½ cup of sucanat, and molasses using an electric or stand mixer. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until dough comes together. Chill dough for at least an hour.

FOUR: Preheat oven to 350 and pour remaining ½ cup of sucanat into a shallow bowl. Scoop out a generous tablespoonful of dough and roll it between your palms into a small ball, slightly smaller than a golf ball. Roll the ball in the sucanat until completely covered and then place on a cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a glass, lightly press the doughball to flatten. Repeat until all the dough is gone. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are set. Cool about 2 minutes on the cookie tray before transferring them to a cooling rack. Don’t leave them on the tray for too long if you want them crispy.

Freeze leftovers using the flash freeze method to feed your freezer stash.


Per serving (1 cookie) - 89 Calories (16 Calories from Fat), 2g Fat, 0g Saturated Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 130mg Sodium, 17g Total Carbohydrates, 1g Dietary Fiber, 3g Sugars, 1g Protein, 17% DV Vitamin A, 3% DV Vitamin C, 3% DV Calcium, 5% DV Iron