Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mindful Eating

     One of the dietary changes that comes along with Clean Eating is being much more mindful concerning not just of what you are eating, but also how you are eating. Where you are eating. What sparks you to be eating. When every bite counts - when every bite enhances your body, you begin to take pleasure in the act of nourishing your body. As your taste buds reset to the factory standard, you begin to appreciate the inherent sweetness in an apple, the umami in hummus and crackers - the simple yet nutritious protein of the edamame.

Make eating purposeful, not mindless. Whenever you put food in your mouth, peel it, unwrap it, plate it, and sit. Engage all of the senses in the pleasure of nourishing your body.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Processed Meats Raise Risk of Heart Disease by 42%...

This post first appeared on my blog about 6 months ago...and if you are new to Clean Eating or just starting to research it...this will make you stop and think the next time you want to put bacon up on an altar for worship.

In a new study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating a daily serving of processed meat, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, the researchers did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among individuals eating unprocessed red meat, such as from beef, pork, or lamb.

 The processed meats contain four times the sodium and 50% more nitrates than their ( naturally occurring ) unprocessed counterparts. "This suggests that added salt and preservatives - rather than naturally occurring fats - may account for the risks."

Harvard School of Public Health : Heart Disease and Processed Meats

Back away from that bologna sandwich and nobody gets hurt! :-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sea Pak Salmon Burgers - A Retraction

Recently, I wrote a product review for Sea Pak Salmon Burgers  where I discussed that they are a pretty decent alternate for beef or turkey burgers. When seasoning is added, they are tasty.

However - it has recently come to my attention that Sea Pak Salmon Burgers are sourced from salmon raised and packaged in China. I immediately went to my freezer and examined the box I have. Yep - lower left hand corner.

Product of China.

Seafood imported from overseas is not as tightly regulated as that raised or fished here in the United States.

I don't eat foods grown / manufactured and packaged in 2 specific countries: India and China.

Both countries have abysmal safety and cleanliness standards. Both countries hardly regulate what is put in the food supply, and less than honest farmers try to get away with whatever they can. Both countries have poor track records for keeping exported food healthy and safe. To be blunt, you just don't know what is in their food.

I cannot, in good conscience, continue to recommend Sea Pak Salmon Burgers to my readers. As a Clean Eater, I strive to avoid chemical additives, hormones, and anything that shouldn't be in my food. As a human being, eating food that potentially is of substandard quality and provenance is even less appealing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Some Salmon Savvy...

At my house, Saturdays are typically known as "Seafood Saturday" - we will cook a variety of seafood to share, family style. Last night was no exception. My husband cooked Dungeoness crab, shrimp, a small bowl of mussels, and some salmon. I bought the seafood earlier in the day from our fishmonger - who mentioned something in passing I had known but never contemplated fully: "You want to buy the wild caught salmon rather than the farm raised salmon."

 This led me to start contemplating wild versus farm raised salmon, and I was mentally urged to go and seek out information. I found this article over at , and it bears a repost.

Salmon: The Safe Healthy Salmon Shopping Guide

Salmon has emerged as one of the “super-foods” encouraged by health professionals as a highly nutrient-rich food. But while there are many benefits associated with it, there are also many important facts to know about the salmon that shows up on your dinner plate.

Health Benefits of Salmon
From a nutrition perspective, salmon is chock full of protein, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, while containing very little saturated fat (2 grams per cooked 3 oz. serving).  A 3 oz. cooked portion clocks in at 155 calories, 21 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  The nutrients in salmon (especially the omega-3 fatty acids) have been proven to positively impact heart health, arthritis, headaches, vision, depression and even protect skin from sun damage.  Not to mention that the healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids promotes satiety and help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Babies and children also benefit from omega-3 fatty acids since it is critical to brain, nerve and eye development.  As long as there are no fish allergies, salmon is a great food to introduce to your baby as early as six months old.

Choose Wild Salmon vs Farmed Salmon
Currently, farmed salmon makes up 90 percent of salmon sold in America.  Farmed salmon are raised in crowded waters and are therefore more susceptible to infection from parasites, which can then contaminate nearby open waters. Their food consists of fish meal and plant-based foods, which results in a less desirable fat profile of more omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, while wild salmon has a higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6.  Wild salmon, on the other hand, live and grow in open waters and feed off other living sea creatures in their natural habitat.  Another difference to note is that farmed salmon have been found to be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (a pesticide known as PCBs), antibiotics and other drugs.  Aside from the effects this has on the environment, these toxins can also be harmful to salmon consumers who eat the salmon.  These toxins are stored in the fat and since farmed fish are fatter than wild fish, there is more likelihood that farmed fish contain more toxins.  Note that when looking for fish at the grocery store or a restaurant, if it is not labeled as wild salmon, you should assume it is a farmed variety.

Imported Salmon Is Not Regulated
It is also important to know the origin of your salmon since some countries have lax enforcement of health and environmental norms.  Fish from Asia in general and China in particular should be avoided as the FDA only inspects 1 percent of these imports for contaminants (antibiotics, pesticides and carcinogens).  Also, the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation mandates that consumers know where their food comes from so examine your labels to ensure your salmon is coming from a place you feel comfortable with.

To minimize safety concerns, enjoy salmon in the healthiest way possible:
  • Look for Alaskan wild salmon for the safest, most environmentally friendly form of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Trim the skin and the visible fat from your fish since PCBs are stored in the fat portion
  • Grill or broil farmed salmon to reduce a significant portion of fat
  • Try canned salmon as an affordable and sustainable way to enjoy salmon (almost all varieties are wild salmon)
  • Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Pocket guide to determine safe varieties of salmon

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CE Couponing : Mambo Sprouts and Coupons.Com

This week, there are several good printable coupons for Clean Eaters at both Mambo Sprouts and Eating clean and organic can be a challenge if you are on a tight budget, so take advantage of savings where you can. Also, don't forget that saving on your other grocery items ( paper and cleaning products, non food items, etc ) frees up money to be spent using coupons in order to eat Clean actually works!

Mambo Sprouts Printable Coupons

Some good coupons...

.50 / 1 Celestial Seasonings tea
$1.50 / 1 Rice Select products ( Excellent rice and grain products; good coupon! )
.55 / 1 Frontera Foods product ( any )
$1 / 2 Helios kefir
$1 / 1 McCann's Irish Oatmeal ( steel cut ) Printable Coupons

$1 / 1 Olivia's Organic salads
.50 / 1 Diamond Sea Salt
$1 / 1 McCann's Irish Oatmeal ( if you print the Mambo Sprouts coupon, you can print this one as well! )
$1 / 1 Folger's Coffee
many cleaning products as well

** tip: see the zip code box in the upper lefthand corner of the page? If you put in different zip codes, you could get different coupons. For example, Zip code 77577 has a .55 / 1 Burleson's honey coupon that isn't available when I use my own home zip code. Zip code 41124 has a Buy 2, get 1 Athenos Greek yogurt coupon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Eating 4-6 Times Per Day is Ideal

   Welcome, new readers to Clean Eating Eve! Over then next week or so, I'm going to be bumping some older posts that will help you as you begin to eat a cleaner, more healthy diet. This post, from November of last year, discusses the CE direction on eating more than the 3 square meals a day. Eating snacks ( healthy ones! ) is important when eating cleanly!

Following a Clean Eating path, you are naturally cutting your caloric intake just by the guidelines you are following. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats - all are lower calorie than man made, processed foods. If you are CE for weight loss, it's a great thing. You are automatically doing the "Eat better" and "Eat less" of the old "Eat better / Eat less / Move more" weight loss adage. If you are already slim or CE for purely nutritional reasons, eating more of what is better for you becomes important as keeping weight becomes a necessity.
     Regardless of your path, eating 4-6 smaller meals per day has been found to be a fundamental point for all clean eaters. It keeps your metabolism elevated and you burn fat more effectively. It keep cravings at bay by having a continually more satisfied feeling, it adds vital nutrition to your diet ( let's face it, bibb lettuce is all kinds of fun in a salad, but a bit lacking in the nutrition department ) and it keeps you mentally in a "I''m eating more than enough" state.

     I recommend inserting a substantial snack between your breakfast and lunch like a solid protein like a meat along with a fruit or dairy. I sometimes will eat 2 boiled eggs and an apple for this mid-morning meal. In between lunch and dinner, have a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit, celery with organic peanut butter - something with a bit of a satisfying crunch.

Clean Eating vs "The Paleo Diet"

     Yesterday in conversation, someone asked me the difference between Clean Eating and "The Paleo Diet"   ( wherein you mimic the eating habits of our earliest ancestors who yes, did not eat Pop*Tarts )  I think its an important distinction, and one worth investigating.

Clean Eating: The removal of all processed foods from your diet. If it grew on a bush or tree, or walked/swam the Earth - you can eat it. Clean Eaters do not drink alcohol, and use things like salt and food preservatives very sparingly if at all. Water consumption and 5-6 meals a day are promoted. Many Clean Eaters adhere to a "if it has a barcode, I'm suspicious of it" feeling on food..

Clean Eating Food Pyramid ( Thanks again, Tiffany! )

Paleo Diet: Eating those foods that were only accessible to our most primitive ancestors - meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and berries. No alcohol, salt, oils, beans, or grains. Foods that were only developed in the last 1,000 years ( dairy products, for example ) are not consumed.

Paleo Food Pyramid:

Major differences: Clean Eaters will eat organic, whole wheat pastas and grains, organic dairy products    and oils ( in moderation )

                             Paleo eaters will not. eat the above.

Paleo : They do not eat foods we eat now that would not have been around 100,000 years ago - like milk form a dairy cow. They do not eat grains, as grains were cultivated by humans only in the past 12,000 years, approximately.

I find Paleo interesting because behind it seems some facts that are hard to argue: Modern man has bent agriculture to suit his will, and the result is non-nutritious food are bodies can't digest very well ( processed foods ). Clean Eaters maintain that foods that are as minimally processed are preferable, and food is a good thing as long as it is nourishes the body with as little chemicals and preservatives as possible.

Neither "camp" is right in this instance. I personally find the Paleo Diet too limiting,  I'd really prefer to have dairy and grains in my diet as well - in limited quantities, of course. The main difference, I believe, are the inclusion of "clean" dairy and grain elements in CE, and the exclusion in Paleo.

There are many crossover recipes from Paleo which are well suited to the Clean Eater - and I encourage you to look out for Paleo recipes which would be great for the Clean Eater - and vice versa!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Clean Eating Fish Challenge: Sea Bass

 Another mild, firm, white fish - sea bass is an excellent choice for Clean Eaters. Sea Bass is ( generally ) affordable, and is readily available all year round and nation wide. It readily accepts most ingredients you pair it with, and is easily cooked by even novice chefs. This dish has the sweet tang of the mango playing well with black beans ( I love black beans... ) to make a sweet/savory salsa. 

 Roasted Sea Bass With Mango and Black Bean Salsa

1 pound sea bass (or other white fish)
1 teaspoon oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Lightly oil you broiler pan to prevent the fish from sticking.
2. Season the sea bass with the salt and pepper.
3. Bake the sea bass in a preheated 450F oven until cooked (no longer opaque), about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick the sea bass is.

Mango and Black Bean Salsa

4 small mangos (peeled, stoned and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 jalapeño peppers (chopped)
2 green onions (chopped)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 lime (juice)

1. Mix everything in a large bowl.

Thank you,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Product Review: Safeway brand Greek Yogurt

     Safeway introduced their "house brand" of Greek yogurt recently to little fanfare. It just showed up in the grocery store - and was significantly cheaper than the other "pricier" brands: Oikos, Chobani, etc. I looked at the ingredients: Border food! Added starches, and definitely more ingredients than the other brands. However, the price was right.( This was ignored warning sign #1... ) Fat free, though - not bad...I chose a few of the honey flavor kind, as they had no vanilla ( which is what I prefer )...( Warning sign #2... )
They were on sale - special promo price of .89 each, and if I bought 3, I had a coupon to get 1 free.
I bought 4 ( of a yogurt I had never tried before...warning sign #3 )

Here is what the packaging looks like ( this one is plain ):

I brought said yogurt to work with me yesterday, and at my appointed breakfast time, peeled back the lid. Peeled it back to find a very unappetizing yogurt in front of me. Thin - almost watery. I stirred it, hoping the appearance would improve. It did - but only slightly. I added the morning's fruit - blueberries. I took a spoonful a few blueberries, a few teaspoons full of yogurt. The taste? Sickeningly sweet with an odd chemical taste. Do not want! I checked the expiration date quickly- had I purchased expired yogurt? No, it was fine.
I didn't finish it. I opted to eat the blueberries alone.

Mindful that the Bizarre Foods tv show guy always eats everything twice to confirm to himself he doesn't like something... I took a 2nd container with me to work this morning to try it again. Yes, dear readers: warning sign #4. Still bad.

I cannot in good conscience recommend to you Safeway brand Greek yogurt. It is borderline food, to begin with. I found the taste unappealing and the thin consistency was a real turn off in comparison to the more expensive brands.

I think I'll stick with my slightly more expensive, but ultimately nutritious Chobani, Oikos, or Dannon. Yogurt is not a nutritious, nor is it a bargain if it is thrown away after a few bites...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."

— William Shakespeare (All's Well That Ends Well)

Portion Distortion

I Stumbled across this very good "portion distortion" quiz over at NHLBI's website: Portion Distortion - Then and Now.

 A bagel 20 years ago was 3 inches in diameter and had 140 calories. How many calories do you think are in today's bagel?

a) 350
b) 250
c) 150

A cheeseburger 20 years ago had 333 calories. How many calories do you think are in today's cheeseburger?

a) 590
b) 620
c) 700

Head over to the Portion Distortion Quiz and check it out. I found it an interesting visual reminder that portions are much, much larger today than they have ever been.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Clean Eating and "TEOTWAWKI"

     After a discussion with my friend about stockpiling a recent clearance find on batteries, it was suggested to me that a discussion of Clean Eating and TEOTWAWKI ( The End Of The World As We Know It, or having some sort of disaster preparation plan ) might be of use to my readers. Now, I don't stockpile because I live in fear of some sort of Armageddon scenario ( though I live just outside Washington DC... ) I stockpile because as an active couponer, I weekly get deals on free or nearly free product that I will buy in bulk in order to have a fully stocked pantry. As a side benefit, I am prepared for natural disasters, or anything else the Goblins of the world may dish out.

Some of my readers may know I am also a Moderator over at Here's a link to a recent article I wrote ( Yes, I am Mavourneen ) on couponing for healthier, less processed foods : Couponing for Healthier Choices: More Fresh, Less Processed Foods. I use coupons to lower my total grocery bill, and to make grocery store and drug store specials sometimes free, or even money makers if transacted correctly.

So what could or should the Clean Eater do to prepare for a scenario where, perhaps, they weren't able to leave their house to shop for fresh foods for a few weeks? Or Longer?   What would you do if the electricity was off - for weeks? The recent horrific events in Japan got me thinking ( despite my tongue-in-cheek pic above ) - what would I do? Am I prepared?

There are some things to stockpile and ways to prepare that could be beneficial. Many would argue that Clean Eating might be a low priority in a TEOTWAWKI scenario - the point is to maintain rotating CE stock, and to have a small to medium accumulation of wholesome, nutritional foods your family could eat, and not just uncooked brownie mix and a 10 year old jar of jam from the back of the cupboard.

Stock up on proteins, beans, grains

Canned tuna and other shelf stable canned meat like minimally processed canned chicken or shrimp
Peanut butter
Bags of dried beans
Bags of rice
Whole grain pasta 
( all of the grains should be stores in air tight, plastic *food grade* containers so as not to attract pests )

Stock up on canned goods:

Organic / Clean soups
Canned beans
Canned low sodium vegetables
Canned fruit ( not in syrup )
Jarred pickles
Canned organic / low sodium broths
Shelf stable organic milk containers ( make sure to get one with a long shelf life! )
Shelf stable containers of tomatoes ( Pomi brand, for example )

As with all of the above, rotate your stockpile and use some of it so that if the need ever arises, your stockpile isn't years and years old. ( Kind of defeats the purpose if you don't... )

Bottled water : Most emergency guidelines recommend storing 2 quarts + per person in your household, per day. For my family of 3, a 2 week supply of bottled water ( for drinking only, not taking into account any used for cooking, etc ) would be 8+ cases of 24 bottles per case.

***This list does not include things you might also need, like medicines, pet food, etc. For this sort of information, I suggest you Google terms like "Emergency Preparedness" Here is FEMA's disaster plan site, if you care to visit it: FEMA Disaster Preparedness. ***

Do you have a method to heat things? A grill? If you live in an apartment, perhaps a hibachi? What about stockpiling a few cans of sterno? What about coffee? Have you thought about how you'll get a cup of coffee during TEOTWAWKI?

Good things to learn: 

How to Can Your Own Fruits, Vegetables, and Meats

Make Your Own Yogurt in Your Crockpot

How to Hunt and Fish ( no links here; this is one for you to think about on your own )

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Ground Beef Special

I've written several times about using Sundays as a "Clean Eating Prep Day" so I start the week off on the right foot CE wise. I prep the groceries I've bought, portion things out in containers and bags so I can "grab and go"...but one thing I've not really mentioned is something I prep on Sundays that has become somewhat of a staple for me; a CE dish I can adjust to suit my mood flavoring wise, a dish that uses up small amounts of frozen veggies from the freezer, or can be frozen and reheated at a moment's notice.

It doesn't have a name. I call it my "ground beef dish" and the ingredients are fluid.

Browned organic ground beef
Mixed vegetables ( usually odds and ends from the freezer; or whatever floats my boat at the time )
Various seasonings and spices.

That is it. 

This week's fry pan contained  1.5 lb ground beef, diced onion, diced green pepper, and a medley of broccoli, corn, and red peppers. I added some extra organic broccoli because I like it, and used onion powder, and a lot of pepper flavored with Worcestershire.

It looks a lot like the innards for Shepherd's pie when you are done. I let it cool, and pack it into a few individual portions for the fridge. I'll bring one to work with me on Monday, and throw it in the freezer once I get there. It's a perfect emergency lunch for me, and reheats in minutes. I will reheat a portion mid week when my boys are chomping at the bit for pizza or fried chicken. It is filling, flavorful, healthy - and Clean. I know exactly what is in it, and I think that is what makes it taste so good...

.55 / 1 Horizon Organic Milk

Go HERE to register with Horizon Milk. You'll access a .55 / 1 coupon for Horizon organic milk. I don't buy a lot of milk a week; organic milk can be quite pricey. If you ask to be included in future promotions, they will also occasionally email you coupons for milk, too.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nutrient Dense Food Combinations

"Why does orange juice taste so good with oatmeal? And what is it about olive oil that enhances the flavor of tomatoes? The answers to these questions, it turns out, are buried deep within our instincts. New evidence suggests that certain foods that taste great together also interact with one another in nutritionally positive ways. In other words, two particular foods consumed in combination can actually deliver more benefits than either one would on its own. Epidemiologist David R. Jacobs refers to this phenomenon as “food synergy.” He believes that it might explain why we are inherently crave certain foods together, as well as how they join forces to protect and nourish our bodies. Here are 10 food combos that maximize absorption of the good elements while keeping the bad ones out of your system."

1. Spinach & Beets
Article - Food Combos - Spinach and Beets Popeye has been selling us on the power of spinach for 80 years, but he should skip the canned variety and, if he really wants to do himself some good, throw in some beets. According to dietitian Joanne Larsen, dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are best eaten in combination with another veggie high in Vitamin C like beets, because “iron absorption in your intestines is improved by Vitamin C.” Tomatoes and bell peppers are also great sources of the immuno-boosting vitamin, for those who don’t like having pink-stained hands. Try serving Roasted Beet Salad over a bed of baby spinach.

2 . Tomatoes & Olive Oil
Article - Food Combos - Tomatoes and Olive Oil Greeks consume more of these two ingredients per capita than anyone else, and they have higher life expectancies than Americans. Tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene, which has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. But lycopene is also fat-soluble, which means combining it with a healthy, monounsaturated fat like olive oil helps boost absorption even more. Technique: Sautéed tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper make a great fresh pasta sauce; but you can also whip up a quick Caprese salad by adding some mozzarella and basil to sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.

3. Beef & Carrots
Article - Food Combos - Beef and Carrots When you’re in the mood for a hearty meal, try this mix that will boost your immune function. The Vitamin A in the carrots is best absorbed when bound to a protein. Plus, the beef delivers an extra dose of zinc, which protects against weakening of the immune system.

4. Green Tea & Lemon
Article - Food Combos - Green Tea and Lemon Green tea is a true liquid miracle worker—it’s packed with antioxidants, revs up metabolism, and keeps you hydrated. When drunk with lemon, its benefits become turbocharged—your body absorbs 13 times as many more antioxidants than when consumed on its own.

5. Garlic & Fish
Article - Food Combos - Garlic and Fish These two flavors were made for each other, and when combined, the cholesterol-reducing fish oils and heart-healthy garlic can act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

6. Red Meats & Rosemary
Article - Food Combos - Red Meat and Rosemary While red meats shouldn’t generally be seen as health foods, we’re all going to order the steak once in a while. But you can mitigate the damage in a way that only adds to the taste. The antioxidants rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, both found in rosemary, can soak up and neutralize the meat’s free radicals, which are one of the key causes of signs of aging.

7. Orange Juice & Oatmeal
Article - Food Combos - Orange Juice and Oatmeal This is the real breakfast of champions. The combination of these morning basics has actually been shown to prevent heart attacks and clean arteries twice as effectively as ingesting either one on its own. The organic compounds known as phenols (found in both) stabilize cholesterol levels when consumed together. Tip: Instant oatmeal is often processed with added sugars, salt, and colorings, so go for old-fashioned rolled oats. 

8. Blueberries & Grapes
Article - Food Combos - Blueberries and Grapes Both of these antioxidant-packed fruits are great for on-the-go snacking or for adding to yogurt. But it’s also been proven that fruits mixed together actually have a greater antioxidant response than one fruit eaten on its own. Trick: Buy blueberries and grapes when they’re in season, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet, then store them in bags for year-round use.

9. Nuts & Seeds & Dried Fruit
Article - Food Combos - Nuts and Seeds and Dried Fruit Trail mix, anyone? Nutritionist Lauren Talbot says that nuts and seeds are high in protein and contain little water (as do dried fruits), and that eating these dense foods together makes for easier digestion. Toss together some Crunchy Trail Mix for a nutritious snack.

Thank you The Daily Beast

Friday, March 18, 2011

Clean Eater to Clean Eating Family

      My husband and son are very supportive of my Clean Eating - but they themselves do not follow a Clean diet...yet. My husband has recently munched cookies and bologna sandwiches at night; my son scrounges for ice cream after dinner. Since starting Clean Eating, my grocery habits have changed dramatically. I buy a significant amount of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat...and very few processed foods. I still buy them their snackie foods, but a subtle shift has taken hold in my house...much to my quiet pleasure.

     At dinner, my normally fish fussy husband is trying the fish I cook for myself. He's eating more vegetables and salads - fewer starches and far fewer evening chips and other assorted junk food. Slowly but surely, I'm bringing home less and less snacks for them. My husband, who has always loudly complained "Fish have sex in that!" when contemplating a glass of water has surprised me more than once by having a glass of ice water in his hand. He was a confirmed Fresca fan ( and still is ) - but for him to have water? Voluntarily? Unheard of in my house.

     My son has always been a bit healthier eater than his dad - he loves most vegetables, drinks a lot of water, and has generally good instincts about food. Still, he's a 10 year old boy. What boy doesn't love ice cream and candy? Luckily, my son has observed the improved health in his Mom and sees the direct correlation between the removal of processed foods and my personal transformation. He's started to decline dessert more often, and is very supportive of me in regard to CE.

 My point is the old axiom "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

      If you have begun to understand and enjoy the benefits of CE, you can't force your family down the path with you. You'll only be dragging them, kicking and screaming for Coca Cola and Fritos. You'd much rather have them walk on their own than try to drag them.You need them to come to the realization for themselves that Clean Eating is not only a viable option for them, the pursuit of a much improved diet is indeed worthwhile and beneficial.

     Lead by Example. Silently show them that yes - you can survive without Diet Coke and fried food. The more they see you benefiting from CE and not suffering, the more likely they will be to ( unconsciously or not ) amend their nutrition to model your own. It may take time, but your family will be much more harmonious if they come to CE on their own, and do not have it forced upon them.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Clean Eating Pasta Sauce

Yes, yes - the best pasta sauce is one you make at home. I understand this. My schedule, however, refuses to comply. What's a CE girl to do? What is the best Clean Eating pasta sauce?

Since I don't eat pasta right now - the point is a little moot...but I do like a tomato sauce on the turkey meatballs I make, and I enjoy it on things like meatloaf. I've been keeping my eyes peeled, and these brands are the Cleanest of the national brands. My standards were straightforward to make this list: no added sugar, no starches, fillers, weird chemicals and preservatives I can't pronounce, and they have to taste good. Simple, no?

1. Francesco Rinaldi "To Be Healthy" Pasta Sauce

Ingredients in the tomato & basil flavor? Tomato puree, diced tomatoes, carrot puree, soybean oil, salt, extra virgin olive oil, diced onion, DHA algal oil, spices, basil, and dried garlic. Pretty Clean! The taste is fresh and light - I also like the spicy marinara if you like your sauce on the spicier side. Downside: higher sodium content than I'd like. Use sparingly and be prepared to drink water to compensate...

2. Rao's Pasta Sauces

 Rao's brands of pasta sauces are made quite simply and are among the highest rated by most "foodie" lists of the best jarred pasta sauces. Rao’s sauces do not contain added sugar, tomato paste, starches, fillers or artificial preservatives. It is very Clean- perhaps the Cleanest out there. Downside? Cost. Rao's typically retails for over $9 a jar.

3. Trader Giotto’s Organic Tomato Basil Marinara

If you have a Trader Joe's near you, you are in luck. Their "Trader Giotto's" sauce is organic, with no added sugar or additives. It is delicious, with chunky tomatoes and decent sized bits of basil. There are really no downisdes to the TJ brand sauce. Winner winner Italian dinner.

Something else to try? Pomi Diced Tomatoes

A surprising Unclean Choice: Newman's Own pasta sauces - high in sugar and sodium. Avoid!

Clean Eating Fish Challenge: Barramundi

Barramundi is another name for a species of Seabass found mainly around Australia.

Barramundi has a mild buttery flavor and a dense meaty texture (think snapper crossed with halibut). It’s not a ‘fishy fish’ so folks that prefer mild tasting seafood love it. It’s a great alternative to everyday fish like cod, salmon and tilapia. Don’t let the exotic name fool you – barramundi is a snap to cook.  Bake it with some bread crumbs, sauté with a little lemon butter, or marinate it with some olive oil, herbs and fresh squeezed lemon and toss it on the grill.  Barramundi has omega-3 levels that rival to wild Coho Salmon, which is unheard of for a mild white fish! With just 137 calories and only 2.5 grams of 'good fat' per portion, it has half the calories of salmon and is ideal for anyone looking to make healthy food choices.

Lemon & Mustard Barramundi with Corn & Potato Hash

1/3 cup of lemon juice
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 6-oz. barramundi fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, mustard and olive oil. Pour marinade over the barramundi fillets and set aside. Let marinate for 15-30 minutes. Heat grill pan over medium heat and cook the fillets for about 3 minutes on each side (add salt and pepper while cooking) or until cooked through. Serve on top of potato hash.

Corn & Potato Hash
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/3 of a Russet potato - cut into small cubes
1/3 of a red onion, diced
4 asparagus spears, cut into small pieces
kernels from 1 ear of white corn
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add in potato and onions, adding salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 5-8 minutes, or until medium-soft. Add asparagus and corn, and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thank you, Rainy Days and Sundays

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Visual Aid for the Clean Eater

1. Apples

1st Choice (Natural State): Apple
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Applesauce
Limit (Highly Processed): Apple toaster pastry
Shopping Tip: While applesauce is a healthy choice, it has fewer nutrients than a whole apple - and generally added preservatives

2. Oranges

1st Choice (Natural State): Orange
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): 100% orange juice
Limit (Highly Processed): Orange drink
Shopping Tip: Many fruit drinks contain high fructose corn syrup and little real juice.

3. Strawberries

1st Choice (Natural State): Fresh strawberries
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Strawberry preserves ( a lot of sugars! )
Limit (Highly Processed): Strawberry gelatin dessert
Shopping Tip: Gelatin desserts usually contain artificial strawberry flavor, not real fruit.

4. Peaches

1st Choice (Natural State): Peach
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Canned peaches in 100% juice
Limit (Highly Processed): Canned peaches in heavy syrup
Shopping Tip: Fruit canned in heavy syrup has more sugar and calories than fresh fruit.

5. Turkey

1st Choice (Natural State): Whole turkey
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Deli turkey
Limit (Highly Processed): Store-bought turkey meatballs
Shopping Tip: If you buy turkey and other meats at the deli counter, ask for brands free of fillers and nitrates.

6. Beef

1st Choice (Natural State): Grass-fed beef
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Grain-fed beef
Limit (Highly Processed): Frozen beef patties
Shopping Tip: Grass-fed meat is higher in nutrients and lower in fat than grain-fed beef.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Clean Eating Overview

The news is often filled with the depressing fact that American people are obese and unhealthy. Things have gotten worse year after year. Current national health is compared to the health of people from 50, 100, 200 years ago. Our health has declined.

So what is the reason? What is the culprit? Why are we now, as a whole, dangerously unhealthy? What is it now that is different from then that is affecting us so negatively?
There isn't one answer. It likely is a more sedentary lifestyle. Perhaps less 'farm work' and more 'desk work'. It could be the relative abundance and the availability of lots of food.

More likely, in my opinion, it is the quality of food that you choose to eat. And how far away what you put in your mouth is from what grows out of the ground.

Take a look at what you might purchase, what you can pull out of your pantry. Read the label on a box of frozen something. Or a can of something. Start at the top. The first ingredient in your can of peas is peas. The first ingredient in your frozen fish is fish. Sounds well and good.

Now read the bottom of the label, working up. Recognize any of that? Yeah, neither did I. I can't pronounce it, I have no idea where in nature it comes from. My grandfather didn't grow sodium erythorbate one year and sodium nitrite the next. Mom didn't keep xanthan gum and hydrolysed corn protein in the pantry for when company comes over.

Frankly I don't know what the human body does when fed that stuff. Actually I know quite well what MY body has been doing. It has been tipping the scales.

I do know that my body will process natural food quite well. Food that you can pronounce, like 'fish'. I know this because with Maura's help I learned about Clean Eating and my health and weight have improved considerably. I'll make a post with my specific improvements at some time. But until then I'm eating a healthier Clean Food diet. And I'm happy with the results.

So what is Clean Eating? There is a lot that you can learn here on Maura's site and on the sites that she links to. But the quick overview is this:

Eat a lot of natural vegetables and fruits. Not breaded, deep-fried greasy okra. Not fruit roll-ups. Natural, fresh ingredients. Whole fruits, salads. Veggies that YOU cook simply.

Eat whole grains such as whole wheat. Avoid processed white flour.
Eat proteins. Meats that you get from a butcher, not processed 'extracted' chicken. Not Vienna Sausages. Chicken such as chicken breast, not Popeye's fried chicken.
Eat foods with simple ingredients that have the least amount of processing done to them. You need to eliminate a LOT of convenience foods and frozen questionable items. You will have to cook more from scratch, but there are a wealth of simple healthy meals to cook.

And all of this you eat less of, but more frequently. You can snack on healthy options between lighter meals.

This is the start of a change for me that will keep me alive. A lifestyle change that has already had a very positive effect on my health and well being.

Tosca Reno Interview, Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Tosca Reno radio interview.  More interesting perspective, more thoughts and guidance on Clean Eating. This part is only 3 minutes long.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tosca Reno Interview, Part I

If you are just getting into Clean Eating, Tosca Reno is for many people the "spokeswoman" of the CE movement in the US. She turned her life and health around through Clean Eating - and with husband Robert Kennedy ( publisher of several fitness magazines, including Oxygen and Men's Fitness ) is a tireless champion of Clean Eating. This part of the interview ( taped for a radio show ) is over 7 minutes long - so if you don't have the time now, come back later to watch it. She's interesting, and her talking points both motivational and inspiring.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Clean Eating Coffee Creamer - La Creme Real Dairy Creamer

Since beginning my CE journey, I've made significant changes to my dietary intake. Now, most of the food I consume is clean, having not been processed at all - or minimally processed. One thing I do miss, however - is French Vanilla flavored creamer in my coffee. I miss it. A lot. I've made do with organic milk, cheerfully...but something has been not quite right. I enjoy several cups of coffee in the morning, and it just isn't the same. Non-dairy creamer is a dietary nightmare, and I'm glad to be rid of it. It's essentially sweetened trans fat - gross. However, there's a new product on the market that I would consider a Border / Eh not too bad food.

La Creme real dairy creamer is new on grocery store shelves. Ingredients in the French Vanilla flavor? Milk, cream, sucrose ( sugar ) and less than 1% of the following - water, natural french vanilla flavor, disodium phosphate ( keep the product from separating ) , sodium citrate ( a "sour" agent; must be used to tone down the sweetness of the product, I guess... ), carageenan ( a seaweed extract ) , lactase ( breaks down the lactose inherent in milk ).
( Note: I wonder what "natural french vanilla flavor" could be - I mean, why don't just list vanilla beans as an ingredient? )

From LALA Foods' website:

First Nationally Available All-Dairy, Naturally Flavored

Lactose Free La Crème® from LALA Foods

03.04.2011– DALLAS, Texas (Feb. 16, 2011) –La Crème, the first, 100 percent real dairy, naturally flavored creamer was introduced nationally today by LALA--USA, a leading dairy products manufacturer and distributor, giving non-dairy creamer users a natural way to flavor their coffee.
“We found out that a lot of consumers are ‘blissfully unaware’ that their artificial ‘creamer’ is actually not a dairy product,” explained LALA--USA Chief Marketing Officer, Randy Gier. “Our research shows that 69 percent of the people who use Coffee-mate® think they are using a dairy creamer, when in fact they are using a laboratory creation made mostly from water, sugar and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. There’s nothing dairy about it.”
Flavored non-dairy creamers are one of the few options consumers have when they are trying to duplicate coffee-house flavor at home. “There is no other naturally flavored 100 percent real dairy coffee creamer distributed nationally,” Gier said, “so most coffee lovers are forced to choose between artificial whiteners or expensive coffeehouse brews. La Crème gives them the option of having a rich, naturally flavored, real dairy coffee experience at home or in the office.”
Unlike non-dairy creamers, La Crème is made from real milk and contains no trans fats. “Most artificial liquid non-dairy creamers made with partially hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oils contain trans fat, even the ones labeled “zero trans-fat,” said dietician Martha McHenry RD, LD, CDE, noting that if a food has less than a half gram of trans fat per serving, the Food and Drug Administration allows food companies to round that number down to zero.
“But if the serving size is small and you use a lot of servings, those less-than- half-grams can add up to the point where a coffee lover can exceed the American Heart Association’s two-gram limit before lunch,” she explained.
“Being lactose and hormone-free is also a big plus,” McHenry said. “For lactose intolerant people, non-dairy has been one of the few options until now.”
La Crème, which comes in four all-natural flavors—Original, French Vanilla, Hazelnut and Cinnamon Vanilla—is available nationally.

Overall? Borderline - but a heck of a lot better than non-dairy creamer! I was pleased to read it is hormone free - that is definitely a plus. I'll have it tomorrow morning in my coffee, and will amend this post to discuss the flavor.

Edited to add: It is good. The cream note of this product is definitely strong. It definitely does a good job straddling the line between the taste of unhealthy non-dairy creamer ( and its silky mouth-feel and French Vanilla flavor ) and  more conventional, straight up milk. I will buy this to keep at my office, and will have a cup of coffee with regular milk at home, and then my "office coffee" will be with La Creme to keep my consumption on the low end simply for Clean purposes.

Tomato Basil Shells with Turkey Meatballs

I think I like the look of this clean recipe mainly because of its use of perlina mozzarella. These will add a creaminess to the sauce once they soften from the heat of the sauce...and the dish is visually very pretty.

Original recipe isn't the Cleanest, so I've tidied it up a bit.

Tomato Basil Shells with Turkey Meatballs 

  • 1/2 lb shell-shaped organic whole wheat pasta
  • Homemade tomato sauce or if you allow yourself, 1 14.5-oz can Muir Glen Diced Tomatoes with Basil and Garlic ( note Muir Glen is an organic sauce, but it does have some "extra" ingredients. )
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Perline organic mozzarella (pearl size) - Note: If you can't find perline, use regular organic block mozzarella cut into small pieces. 
  • 12 precooked turkey meatballs, heated and halved - Note: Not the kind in the frozen food section. Those are incredibly unclean. Please make your own!
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • crushed red pepper

1. Cook pasta according to directions on package
2. While the shell pasta is cooking, stir together the tomato sauce, basil,  meatballs, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.
3. Just before serving over pasta, add mozzarella to the sauce so they are still round shaped when served. 


Friday, March 11, 2011

Do You Wash Pre-Bagged Lettuce and Greens?

A 2010 study from Consumer Reports found that nearly 40 percent of pre-washed salads sold in plastic bags or so-called plastic clamshells may be contaminated with bacteria that could be harmful to your health.

They did a small study, just over 200 samples, and they found that 39 percent of those samples contained a family of bacteria known as coliform, which is a general indicator for contamination. Twenty-three percent of them contained a bacteria known as enterococcus, which is usually associated with fecal contamination. Not what you want to hear in your produce. It's not sterilized, it's just pre-washed.

But there weren't other bacteria found in the study that we tend to associate with foodstuffs. It's important to note they did not find E.coli, they did not find salmonella, but they actually found the worst contamination in package containing spinach. We've heard a lot about spinach in the past. Spinach was a big offender and especially those packages that were bought within one to five days of their recommended sold by date.

It is important to remember is that bacteria usually doesn't like cold temperatures. So when you take it home from the store, keep it refrigerated and rinse it, don't soak it in water - let water rinse through it. It's helpful in removing some of the soil contamination.

1. Buy a bag that is within it's Sell By date and refrigerate immediately.
2. Before using, rinse the greens under running water.
3. Keep any unused greens in the fridge.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Clean Eating Fish Challenge

Every Thursday through Lent, I am going to highlight a fish you may not be familiar with, and a Clean Eating recipe that will use that new fish in a Clean manner. I feel that trying new foods and new cooking methods is important. Sometimes, stepping out of your comfort zone ( in many aspects of life, not just food ) leads one down a new path they may not have considered. If you are one to eat no meat on Fridays during Lent, consider this a challenge to keep in line with your beliefs and expand your horizons. If Lent isn't your thing, that's great too - consider this challenge on any night of the upcoming week, and enjoy some different CE fish.

( Thanks to CE reader North for the suggestion! )

Week 1: Swai

Swai is a species of Vietnamese catfish, which due to intense lobbying from the American catfish industry is prohibited to be sold under the word "catfish" because of sales concerns. It is also known as Iridescent Shark, and sometimes sold under the name "Basa" which usually denotes a more expensive fillet. The word Swai is thought to be the Thai word for this fish.

Swai taste very similar to American catfish. It is a firm, tender white fish that can be prepared a number of ways. It can sometimes have a rather pronounced pinkish stripe running along the fillet; don't cut it out; it is simply a skin tone variation and is perfectly edible.Most swai you get in stores these days is farm raised; not wild caught - and easily 50% of the catch is grown in the US.

Here is a dish of Bengali origins that looks as good as it tastes. The tumeric is fragrant and flavorful; the broth it makes accentuates the swai wonderfully.

Swai in Turmeric-Chili Gravy with Tomatoes

1 lb. swai (or other catfish) fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. turmeric, divided
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
canola oil (enough to coat the skillet)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp. (or more, to taste) chili powder handful of cilantro
(optional accompaniment) 1 cup brown basmati rice

You'll Also Need:
a bowl or zipper storage bag in which to marinate the fish, a deep nonstick skillet, a plate or tray on which to hold the cooked fish while making the gravy, aluminum foil

1. Sprinkle the fish pieces with 1/2 tsp. of the turmeric and 1 tsp. of the salt. Mix these three items together well, then let the mixture sit in your fridge for about 30 minutes before using.
2. (Optional) While the fish is blending with the spices, cook your rice. (Brown rice usually takes about 30-40 minutes, so mine was done before I started cooking the fish.) Fluff the rice with a fork, then cover until ready to eat.
3. Pour enough canola oil into the skillet as to coat the bottom.
4. Add the fish to the skillet and saute on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just cooked. (If you're not using a non-stick skillet, my mom recommends coating the fish pieces in a little all-purpose flour to keep them from sticking.) Remove the fish from the skillet, place on a plate or tray, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
5. Add the onion and saute on medium heat for about three minutes.
6. Add the tomatoes, the remaining 1/2 tsp. of turmeric, and 1/2 tsp. chili powder (or more, to taste), to the skillet, and saute on low heat for about 3 minutes.
7. Add 1 cup of water and the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt and increase the heat to high. When it starts boiling, lower the flame, then add the fish back into the skillet. Simmer for about 3 minutes.
8. Turn off the flame. Garnish with cilantro.
9. (Optional) Serve over a bed of brown basmati rice.

Thank you,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Have You Tried: Flaxseed?

Flaxseed are a tiny little nutty tasting seed that many Clean Eaters use to enhance the flavor of things like salads, yogurts, and baked goods. They are a great source of dietary fiber, a powerful antioxidant, and have a high level of omega-3 fatty acids. It also has cholesterol lowering properties, and may help to counter inflammatory conditions like lupus or gout. With a strong link between lack of omega-3 in the diet and prostate cancer, men in particular who are Clean Eaters should be well advised to start eating these seeds.

I bought a bag of  Bob's Red Mill Flax Seeds that I found in the baking section at Safeway. These seeds are so tiny, a small bag will last a long time.

Yesterday, I took a small bag with me to work, intent on sprinkling it on my morning yogurt to see how it would taste. I was impressed with the mild nutty taste it imparted, but the little seeds are so small, I found digging them out of my teeth a little irritating! I can definitely see sprinkling them on a mixed green salad           ( much as you would sunflower seeds ), or adding to oatmeal or even organic cottage cheese. Be advised that there can be too much of a good thing. Too much flax seed can cause constipation ( sorry, no delicate way to put that! ) in some people. Also, if you take medications for certain conditions like diabetes or blood thinners, do research and ask your doctor before consuming flaxseeds. There are apparently some potential interactions.

 I liked the addition of flax seeds to my yogurt, and will definitely use them again in other things. Anything a Clean Eater can do to add fiber and nutrition cleanly to their diet is a definitel thumbs up!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another "Best Foods" Round Up

Here is a list of 10 foods you really should be incorporating into your CE regimen. These are packed with vitamins, minerals, and the Clean essentials you need to fuel your body and energize yourself. Try eating these 10 on a rotating basis for variety - try 1 or 2 items a day in conjunction with the "superfoods" you are already eating in your quest to stay on a Clean path.

1. Sweet Potatoes
A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat. They're loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Bake and then mix in some unsweetened applesauce or crushed pineapple for extra moisture and sweetness.

2. Mangoes
Just one cup of mango supplies three-quarters of a day’s vitamin C, onequarter of a day’s vitamin A, a decent dose of blood-pressure-lowering potassium, and 3 grams of fiber. Bonus: mango is one of the fruits least likely to have harmful pesticide residue.

3. Unsweetened Yogurt
Plain yogurt has a pleasant tartness that’s a perfect foil for the natural sweetness of berries, bananas, or for your favorite breakfast cereal. It has more protein, potassium, calcium, zinc, and vitamins B-6 and B-12 than sweetened yogurt. That’s because it doesn’t have to share the container with the sugary preserves or the sugar that’s in many flavored yogurts.

4. Broccoli
It has lots of vitamin C, carotenoids, and folic acid. Steam it just enough so that it's still firm and add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a spritz of lemon juice.

5. Wild Salmon
The omega-3 fats in fatty fish like salmon can help reduce the risk of sudden-death heart attacks. And wild-caught salmon has less PCB contaminants than farmed salmon.

6. Crispbreads
Whole-grain rye crackers, like Wasa, Ry Krisp, and Ryvita — usually called crispbreads — are loaded with fiber and often fat-free.

7. Garbanzo Beans
All beans are good beans. They’re rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. But garbanzos stand out because they’re so versatile. Just drain, rinse, and toss a handful on your green salad; throw them into vegetable stews, curries, and soups; mix them with brown rice, whole wheat couscous, bulgur, or other whole grains.

8. Watermelon
Watermelon is a heavyweight in the nutrient department. A standard serving (about 2 cups) has one-third of a day’s vitamins A and C and a nice shot of potassium for only 85 fat-free, salt-free calories. And when they’re in season, watermelons are often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint than some other fruits.

9. Butternut Squash
Steam a sliced squash or buy peeled, diced butternut squash at the supermarket that’s ready to go into the oven, a stir-fry, or a soup. It’s an easy way to get payloads of vitamins A and C and fiber.

10. Leafy Greens
Don’t miss out on powerhouse greens like kale, collards, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, and Swiss chard. These standout leafy greens are jam-packed with vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, lutein, and fiber. Serve with a splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar.