Friday, April 29, 2011

Even MORE Bad Food

These Bad Foods lists are out there for a reason...people eat these foods without thought, and if they only realized how poorly they were eating, they would be horrified! I find these visual lists helpful to remind me that not only are processed foods bad nutrition, I don't ever want to eat like that again. The more I make myself ( and you! ) aware of what's in those shiny boxes in the freezer - so easy and fast to prepare - the less likely I am to revert to those old processed food loving days.

Worst Kids' Meal

Smucker's Uncrustables
Serving size: 1 package
Calories: 210
Total fat: 9 g (14%)
Saturated fat: 2 g (10%)
Sodium: 220 mg (9%)
Sugars: 10 g

"The calories aren't a problem here, but it's the ingredients that get me...Partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup appear a total of five times on the incredibly long list, not to mention all the other non-pronounceable words. Plus, Uncrustables are small, so larger kids will most likely need two servings to feel full. That's a lot of processed junk."

Worst Vegetarian Meal

Bertolli Oven Bake Meals Tri-Color Four Cheese Ravioli
Serving size: Half the package
Calories: 630
Total fat: 33 g (51%)
Saturated fat: 20 g (100%)
Sodium: 1190 mg (50%)
Sugars: 5 g

Don't let the simple packaging fool you: These meals are extremely heavy and pack more calories, fat and sodium than a Quarter Pounder with cheese. You're getting 50 percent of your [recommended daily allowance] for sodium, and the saturated fat hits your mark for the entire day! When shopping for sides, look for those under 350 calories. As for fat, a dish should have less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat for every 100 calories.

Worst Breakfast

 Jimmy Dean Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit
Serving size: 1 biscuit
Calories 440
Total Fat: 31 g (48%)
Saturated fat: 11 g (55%)
Trans fat: 3 g
Sodium: 850 mg (35%)
Sugars: 5 g

The saturated fat here is equivalent to five to eight strips of bacon.Order this, and you'll have consumed half of your daily requirement and a big portion of your sodium allotment -- and you haven't even made it to lunch. This meal also contains three grams of artery-clogging trans fats and only one gram of fiber. Daily fiber requirements range between 25 and 35 grams. To give you a sense of scale, a bowl of breakfast cereal alone can provide about 10 grams.

Worst "Sensible" Side

Birds Eye Steamfresh Lightly Sauced Penne and Vegetables with Alfredo Sauce
Serving size: 1 and 1/3 cup
Calories: 260
Total fat: 8 g (12%)
Saturated fat: 4.5 g (22%)
Sodium: 420 mg (18%)
Sugars: 3 g

These numbers don't look so terrible until you realize that, according to the Web site, Birds Eye is marketing this as a 'side dish. Allotting 260 calories and 8 grams of fat -- 4.5 of which is saturated -- to something you'll be eating at the same time as a main course is pretty excessive. Especially when the dish uses misleading words like steam fresh and lightly sauced." Cut calories and fat by looking for sides you can add your own seasoning to.

Worst Classic Dessert

Sara Lee Classic New York Style Cheesecake
Serving size: 1 piece
Calories: 480
Total fat: 30 g (45%)
Saturated fat: 16 g (82%)
Trans fat: 2.5 g
Sodium: 490 mg (20%)
Sugars: 31 g

We all know that cheesecake isn't the healthiest, but this one has nearly twice as much fat as you typically see. Here's the reveal: According to a company press release, it's a whole inch taller than the Sara Lee cheesecakes you usually get. Because the change is all height -- which tends to be tougher to spot than width -- it's easy to think you're getting that extra fat and calorie fix from a much saner, smaller portion. This item also contains both trans fat and high-fructose corn syrup, which can give insulin levels an unwelcome bump.

 Thank you, AOL Health

Savings on Stonyfield / Oikos Dairy Products

Stonyfield has just posted a lot of really great coupons for Clean Eaters - just remember to check the product before purchase. Not everything that is organic is also Clean. But savings on the Greek yogurt and milk? Nice.

Save 50¢ off any 4oz 4-pack of Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt
Save 50¢ off any 16oz Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt
Save 50¢ off any two Oikos 5.3oz Organic Greek Yogurt
Save 50¢ off any three 6oz O'soy Yogurts
Save 50¢ off any O'Soy Multipack
Save 50¢ off any Organic YoBaby Meals 4-pack
Save .50c off one 4-pack of Stonyfield YoToddler Organic Yogurt
Save 50¢ off one multipack of YoBaby Organic Drinkable Yogurt
Save 50¢ off one multipack of YoBaby Organic Whole Milk Yogurt
Save 50¢ off any one 8-pack of YoKids Squeezers Organic Yogurt
Save 50¢ off any one 6-pack of YoKids Organic Yogurt
Save 50¢ off any Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Smoothie Multipack
Save 50¢ off any Stonyfield Organic Fat Free Probiotic Multipack
Save 50¢ off any Stonyfield Organic Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt
Save 50¢ off any 1 (one) B-Well or B-Healthy Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Multipack
Save 50¢ off any half gallon Stonyfield Organic Milk
Save 50¢ off any two 10oz Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Smoothies
Save 50¢ off any three 6oz Stonyfield Organic Yogurts
Save 50¢ off any 32oz Stonyfield Organic Yogurt

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Classic Vegetable Scapece

Scapece ( ska-pech-ay ) is an Italian term meaning "pickling". This zucchini and carrot saute is marinated in a red wine vinegar for 8 hours or more and is absolutely delicious. Mind the salt; Giada is generous with her "pinch of salt." However, I recommend finding the fresh mint - it will definitely make the dish light and fresh tasting with the strong pickling vinegar.

Now, if I could just get Giada to my house to distract my husband for a few hours...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Visual Aids for the Clean Eater

1st Choice (Natural State): Garlic
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Jarred minced garlic
Limit (Highly Processed): Bottled garlic marinade
Shopping Tip: Minced fresh garlic is cheaper and more flavorful than jarred.

1st Choice (Natural State): Fresh chicken breasts
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Deli sliced chicken
Limit (Highly Processed): Chicken nuggets
Shopping Tip: Chicken nuggets contain very little real chicken.

Yogurt 1st Choice (Natural State): Plain yogurt ) Greek yogurt is best for high protein content )
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Flavored yogurt ( fruit additives can be high in sugar )
Limit (Highly Processed): Flavored yogurt drink
Shopping Tip: Buy plain yogurt and flavor it at home with honey or fresh fruit.

Bread1st Choice (Natural State): Whole grain bread
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Wheat bread
Limit (Highly Processed): Fortified white bread
Shopping Tip: If a whole grain isn't the first ingredient, you're missing out on nutrients

Rice1st Choice (Natural State): Brown rice
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): White rice
Limit (Highly Processed): Flavored instant rice
Shopping Tip: Brown rice, unlike white, hasn't had its fiber-rich layers of bran and germ removed.

Soy 1st Choice (Natural State): Fresh edamame (whole soybeans)
2nd Choice (Somewhat Processed): Tofu
Limit (Highly Processed): Frozen veggie burgers (containing soy ingredients)
Shopping Tip: Frozen veggie burgers are vegetarian-friendly but are highly processed.

Thanks again,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Clean Eating Frozen Treats For Your Fur Person

While surfing around on some of my favorite couponing blogs, I came across this gem over at OH Cherry Picker.

My dog Rockstar loves Frosty Paws ( a frozen "ice cream like" treat for dogs ), but they are goofy expensive for what you get - here's a homemade, clean alternative. He's going to be loving life as the weather gets warmer.

 CE "Frosty Paws" for Dogs

32 fluid ounces vanilla yogurt
1 banana, ripe, mashed or 1 (5 ounce) jar baby food
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey

3 hours prep time

1. Blend all ingredients together and freeze in 3-ounce paper cups.
2. Microwave just a few seconds before serving to release from cup

Special thank you to Jen over at OH Cherry Picker

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to Cut a Mango

Mangoes are a lovely addition to CE meals - a sweet, luscious fruit that is versatile. Use it in fruit salads, in smoothies, as the base for a bright fruit salsa, or even accompanying meats. They are a good source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin B6, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Right now is the peak availability season for mangoes in the US, so you should find them plentiful and affordable.

Getting the edible flesh away from the skin is easy if you know what you are doing.

  1. The mango has a flat-ish oblong pit in the center of it. Your objective is to cut along the sides of the pit, separating the flesh from the pit. Holding the mango with one hand, stand it on its end, stem side down. Standing up the mango up like this you should be able to imagine the alignment of the flat, oval pit inside of it. With a sharp knife in your other hand, cut from the top of the mango, down one side of the pit. Then repeat with the other side. You should end up with three pieces - two halves, and a middle section that includes the pit.

2 Take a mango half and use a knife to make lengthwise and crosswise cuts in it, but try not to cut through the peel.

3 At this point you may be able to peel the segments right off of the peel with your fingers. Or, you can use a small paring knife to cut away the pieces from the peel.
4 Take the mango piece with the pit, lay it flat on the cutting board. Use a paring knife to cut out the pit and remove the peel.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Blessings

Easter is a time for family, traditions and the celebration of a fresh start for all of us.

From my family to yours,  Have a peaceful and blessed Easter. I'll see you all Monday!

Have You Tried...Polenta?

Polenta is a dish made from boiled cornmeal. It has many forms around the world but essentially is slow cooked cornmeal. The most common preparation here in the US is an "instant" mix - as traditional polenta takes hours of low, slow cooking to accomplish - or coming pre-packaged, already cooked in tubes.

  Gourmet and "foodie" types tend to dismiss pre-packaged polenta...but the results are quite nearly the same without the hours of work. So why hassle yourself? I checked multiple different brands of pre-packaged polenta, and the main issue I saw for the Clean Eater was sodium content. Several of the brands had a higher than I'd like to consume level of salt. I purchased the sun dried tomato and garlic flavor, and the sodium content made me wrinkle my nose but didn't stop me from buying it. Plain polenta is...plain. Depending on the brand available to you and the Cleanliness of the ingredients...I'd recommend a flavored variety.

Pre-prepared polenta is quite versatile - it can be grilled ( it is actually pretty tasty lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled ), fried ( but you don't fry much anymore, do you? ) , and eaten warm with tomato sauce and cheese melted over it.

While researching this post, I found these suggestions over at . Here are some of the responses...

-- Broil (or even grill) up a bunch of mushrooms, brushed with olive oil and herbs or maybe marinated first briefly, and then serve bowls of hot polenta topped with mushrooms and creamy gorgonzola
-- Make a simple ragu to put over it, or maybe just some high quality sardine packed in oil (simple weeknight supper!)
-- Chill and cut into slices to shallow fry and serve with salad, for example a romaine salad with poached eggs and anchovy dressing
--Slice it about 1/2 inch thick and sautee in olive oil. Top with a good tomato sauce and some great cheese, such as Italian Parm, or Gorgonzola.
--I saute shallots, fresh spinach, & cooked lentils with some chik broth, stir in some fancy vinaigrette at the end, put on top of griled or toasted polenta sauces & then top w/grated parm
--I spoon bean less chili con carne over polenta and make something similar to open face Tex-Mex tamales.
--I slice mine into fries, drizzle with olive oil, then bake at 450 until they're golden and crunchy
.--One of the good things about the polenta in tube is that it is more firm than the homemade and chilled variety. Because of that it is more easily grilled on your gas or charcoal grill. Just slice them into rounds about 3/8" thick, brush with oil and season with salt and pepper and whatever other seasoning you like and grill them. I would serve them with a good sauce of some kind next to a medium rare strip or ribeye steak.

So, go get a tube of organic polenta and see what you can do with it - but look at the ingredients and sodium content before purchasing!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Greek Yogurt Taste Test, Part III

How do I know the Greek yogurt business is booming in America? Every time I go to the grocery stores in my area, I find a different brand to try. This time up, Olympus Greek yogurt and Cabot brand Greek yogurt.

Olympus brand Greek yogurt caught my eye and captured my attention not just because it is organic and hormone free, it is actually manufactured in Greece and imported. Now, this to me isn’t a plus. Being manufactured in Greece isn’t the problem – the fact that I am eating not sourced “locally” is a little more troublesome. I recognize that my Chobani is manufactured Upstate New York – and nowhere near local…thinking about this little $1 cup of yogurt flying in from Greece is…odd.

 By far, Olympus brand has been the thickest and creamiest I’ve tried so far. It was like eating something halfway the consistency of whipped cream cheese and sour cream. Very rich tasting, though it has 0% milk fat. Tangy too – about a 3 out of 5 – but it very well may be because I had plain instead of vanilla. However, I added fresh sliced strawberries to it and found it much more interesting to eat that way.

Would I buy it again? I’m hesitant to answer that. It was good. If it were made a little closer to home, it would be better. If it were vanilla, it would be better. It didn't seem to cost more than the other brands, comparatively - even for being imported from Greece. It was good, but I admit not being overwhelmed by it.

The second brand I tried is Cabot brand 2% vanilla flavored. I ate the 2% plain kind, because that is what my store carries right now. Calories are high – 220 for the little cup. That alone was off putting. I was excited when I opened the cup, because the product I saw was flecked with vanilla bean - a very good sign! However, my interest waned significantly once I realized how much like ranch dressing it looked like! That was off putting sense #2. When I tasted it - I instantly thought one thing: vanilla pudding. It tastes all the world like vanilla pudding. NOT like Greek yogurt, at all. I ate only 1/2 of the portion because I really didn't care for it. I wanted yogurt. Instead, I got Jell-o pudding. Strike 3 - you're out. To make matters worse, I ate it with a banana sliced into it - and if I had some Nilla wafers, I would have had an excellent dessert.

If you are looking for a CE pudding alternative - here's your candidate: Cabot 2% vanilla "Greek yogurt." If you are looking for Greek yogurt, keep looking. This is not the yogurt you are looking for. Move along.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Clean Eating Printable Grocery List PDF

     I  found this nifty Clean Eating printable grocery list online, and thought that my readers might find use of it, It's a handy little list to keep on the fridge or to take with you to the grocery store to remind you of CE Approved items and extras you might want to try. Plus, it's got a smokin' hot picture of Tosca on it which is definitely motivating! Click the link to download, not the "download" button at the bottom of the grocery list.

Note: Since posting this, I've learned that you can only download this from Scribd if you have a Facebook or Scribd account. If you want this PDF and don't have either account, please email me at the address on the right column, and I'll be happy to send you a copy of the PDF by email.


Is Kashi Clean?

It seems to be a running comment on the state of nutrition in America. I've been hearing this phrase a lot recently, and it both makes me happy and terrifies me at the same time...

" I eat healthy. I love Kashi's products and eat them every day!"

     The Kashi company started in 1983 when a California couple mixed some various whole grains together in an attempt to make a whole grain cold cereal for themselves. Their "Breakfast pilaf" wasn't an overnight success, but it started to gain a following. From there, a variety of Clean products were introduced. There is an excellent article about the Kashi company and its founding over at / Kashi. Very interesting how the rise of Kashi goes hand in hand with the rise of Whole Foods Market!

     However, what is important to us is the company, now. Did you know Kellogg's now owns Kashi? That's right, they were bought in 2000 by Kellogg's when Kellogg's recognized it needed to position itself in the organic and natural marketplace. On their website, they contend they operate independently from Kellogg's and just use their distribution net. I honestly don't know the veracity of this; it could be perfectly true. However, I do know how most "kept" companies operate ( companies that appear to operate independently but actually have a larger corporate backer )  and a lot of them are actually what can dismissively be referred to as "Marionette" companies - someone else is in control. Just a reminder, Kellogg's is the fine company that gave the world Pop*Tarts, Eggo, Keebler, and *sniff* Cheez-Its. Kellogg's owns Kashi. They will do what it takes to keep the brand positioned as the "healthy" alternative while maximizing profits.

Is Kashi Clean? 

You need to take each product individually. Their "core" products - those that founded the company? Clean.

7 Grain Pilaf: Clean
7 Whole Grains breakfast cereals ( Flakes, nuggets, puffs ) : Clean

Those products that have been added to the Kashi line since they were acquired by Kellogg's 2000?  
Largely unclean : frozen entrees and breakfasts, snack bars, and dessert-y items like cookies.

A notable exception to the "new products being Unclean" statement: the TLC whole grain crackers. They are Clean.

 Bottom line, you need look at the ingredient list for each item you purchase, and decide whether or not that item is Clean. Most of the products you'll find have a few too many ingredients for most Clean Eater's tastes. However, your version of Clean Eating might be different than mine, and that is ok. But know that Kashi adds sugars to many of their products, often from multiple natural sources. Check out this pic of the ingredient panel for one of their snack bars:

Ingredients #2, 3, 4 are sugar. 2nd ingredient in the "cookie" portion of the bar? Sugar. 3rd ingredient in the cereal portion of the bar? Sugar. Ingredients #12 and #13? Um, wait - let me guess...sugar?

Is Kashi Clean? Overall - a resounding no, with some notable exceptions that are an excellent resource for the Clean Eater.

Is Kashi better than a lot of the "regular" processed food out there? Yes.

Are there cleaner options than Kashi? Yes.

Don't believe the hype. Marketing has led us to believe Kashi = healthy. It's all part of Kellogg's big advertising machine, selling America a bowlful of expensive sugar, wrapped in a healthy looking package.As always : Be careful. Read labels. Question what you are seeing, what you are reading, what you are hearing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Whole Grain White Bread?

     I've always questioned what exactly is whole grain white bread - bread that looks like white bread, but is said to have the whole grain goodness of wheat bread. It sounds like a contradiction in terms...but it isn't! Thanks to this month's Cooking Light magazine, I now know the answer.

 Traditional whole wheat bread is made with a red-wheat variety, which is darker in color and has a slightly earthier flavor. "White" whole wheat bread is an albino version of wheat; this version is lighter in color and sweeter in flavor. It includes the bran, germ, and endosperm, so white whole grain bread IS just like it's darker cousin.

 Now, most commercial breads aren't very Clean. Added sugar, starches...but a savvy Clean Eater will investigate the commercially available breads in their area to see if there is a Cleaner choice to put in their pantry if they are not a baker. Clean Eating bread can be found in organic stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. They are minimally processed breads. If you are unlucky enough not to have TJ's or Whole Foods, investigate the bread offerings at your local grocery store and see if one will suit your Clean Eating needs. And if one happens to be a whole grain white bread? Know that you are eating something at least moderately healthy! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saigon Cinnamon

     Last week while waiting for my son's Tae Kwon Do class to end, I spotted an acquaintance in the crowd of Moms who were also waiting:  my friend, Tuyen. I hadn't seen her in quote some time, and it was a surprise to find out her son was enrolled at my son's TKD school. We embraced, and as I drew close, I smelled the most amazing, delicious smell. In the crook of her neck was a heady, rich fragrance of cinnamon and flowers. After we parted, I remarked on her heavenly perfume. She said she had just come back from visiting her family in Vietnam, and had brought back a bottle of a popular Vietnamese perfume that is scented with Saigon Cinnamon. Before catching up, she told me about Saigon Cinnamon ( and cinnamon from Vietnam ) being the best in the world, the richest and most luxurious and I had to try it.

Saigon Cinnamon is the common name for a genus of cinnamon trees found mainly in central and Northern Vietnam that produces cinnamon with the highest concentration of cinnamonaldehyde, the natural chemical which gives cinnamon its unique and instantly recognizable taste. It is an essential ingredient in the making of pho, the classic Vietnamese noodle soup.

     According to Tuyen, when buying Saigon cinnamon,  make sure to buy it from a reputable vendor. As it usually is among the highest priced cinnamon you can buy, less than scrupulous vendors can cut the Saigon cinnamon with "regular" cinnamon to make more money. The oil concentration in real Saigon cinnamon is so high, spice buyers often will set fire to a stick before purchase, to ensure they are actually getting the real thing and not "regular" cinnamon which in rolled bark form will not burn easily.

      Most cinnamon you buy here in the States is mostly from Indonesia and called Korintj.  Saigon cinnamon has double the amount of volatile oil of Korintji. The volatile oil cinnamonaldehyde is what delivers the flavor and aroma — higher content means greater intensity.

      As Clean Eaters, we are often given to using spices and herbs to enhance our foods. This weekend I will be headed to my local Penzey's shop to buy myself a bottle of Saigon cinnamon. I can't wait to try it and compare it to my regular, off the shelf Korintji cinnamon I have been using.I use cinnamon liberally in oatmeals and hot morning grain cereals, and on my sweet potatoes.

Link to purchase Saigon cinnamon:

Williams Sonoma : Sagon Cinnamon

My Spice Sage: Small dose to Bulk buying Saigon Cinnamon

Penzey's : Saigon Cinnamon

Mastering the Farmer's Market

     With Spring reaching just about every corner of the country, we will be welcoming back a true friend to the Clean Eater : the local Farmer's Market. Your choice of locally sourced, fresh off the vine produce and handmade artisan items. If you have never visited a farmer's market, or have been reluctant, now is the time to brush up on a few key things to know about shopping at a local farmer's market.

1. Before heading for your local farmers' market, do some research on what's in season in your area — don't expect to find avocados in Maine or oranges in Iowa. Head out with realistic expectations about what you know can grow locally in your neck of the woods. And since all fruits are not created equal, make sure you know what everything you want looks like at its peak. Bigger isn't always better, so find out the ideal color, size and texture of what you'd like to buy beforehand. Some good resources include:

2. To avoid a nasty collection of tiny plastic bags, bring your own backpack or large canvas tote bags with comfortable handles for easy transport, along with small reusable plastic bags to protect more delicate items like herbs, fruits or potted plants. Have a reusable bottle of water and a few paper towels on hand to keep extremely perishable items like fresh herbs and asparagus hydrated. Also, most vendors are cash only, so come prepared with small bills to speed up your shopping.
3. No matter where you live, the early bird gets the goods, so get to the market early before eager chefs and foodies have bought all the best stuff. Also, remember to make a quick loop around the entire market before buying anything. There's nothing worse than making a purchase only to find that it's better and cheaper four stalls down.

3. No one knows the ins and outs of food like the people who grow it, so get answers straight from the experts by asking the really important questions. Find out exactly where your food comes from by asking where the farm is located, how far it is from the market, and if it's organic. Ask if they use any chemical pesticides and if their farm is USDA certified organic (if the answer is no, find out why not—it may not be a deal-breaker, since certification is pricey and may not be worth it for a small farm). Don't be shy about asking for specifics. Most farmers are proud of their products and don't mind detailing exactly how their food is grown and what to do with it—so if you don't know how to cook artichokes or what to do with rutabagas, ask how he or she likes them prepared.

4. Fresh, organic food and plants are easily damaged and bruised, so treat purchases with care while transporting them home. Store herbs in a zip top bag with a damp paper towel to keep them from wilting on the way home (and continue storing them in the fridge this way). Make use of extra plastic shopping bags by using them to protect delicate items, and remember to rearrange your bags after each purchase with heavy ones on the bottom, and more fragile items on top.

5. Some farmers sell different items on different days, so if you're a fan, find out if they have stalls at other markets or in other locations. Or, if you don't get to visit the market as often as you'd like, find out if they participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and buy a share of their harvest. You'll get a presorted box of seasonal goodies delivered to your neighborhood, and your money will go directly toward growing the farm's crop. For more information on finding and joining a CSA near you, visit Local Harvest,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Product Review: Archer Farms ( Target Brand ) Almond Butter

     Ever since CE Eve reader Brigid mentioned almond butter in the comments section of one of my posts, I've been thinking about almond butter. So last week when I found a tub of almond butter while shopping the grocery aisles at my local Target...I picked up the container immediately. It is Archer Farms brand ( Target's generic "house" brand ). I was mildly interested until I flipped the jar over and looked at the ingredient list: 1 ingredient. Roasted almonds. Nothing else added. No added sugar, no added starches. or fillers. Nothing. It went in my cart with a grin on my face.

Upon opening, I was greeted by a strong nutty aroma and a sheen of oil on top. Of course - natural butters need to be stirred. They do not have the emulsion suspension ingredients that commercial peanut butters have. This is normal, so I carefully stirred. I spread a thin schmear on a slice of Wasa crisp bread - delicious. It has a very concentrated nutty taste - almondy but somehow at the same time...not an overwhelming taste. Very delicious. Its thin consistency has proven a boon for a form of snacking: apple slices dipped in almond butter. Yum! It's enough to make one of my mini snacking "in between" meals.

I would definitely recommend that new Clean Eaters look into almond ( or other nut butters ) for a change of pace. Personally ( and I understand this sort of flies in the face of traditional CE thinking ) I personally don't think commercial peanut butter is that bad. Sure, possibly Border Food territory - but once in a while? Not bad. However - for both a change of pace and a Cleaner alternative...almond butter is definitely on the menu.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Safeway $1 off any $5 produce coupon

If you have a Safeway or Safeway affiliate grocery store near you   ( The Vons Companies (primarily in Southern California), Dominick's Finer Foods (Chicago), Carr-Gottstein Foods (Alaska's largest retailer), Genuardi's Family Markets (eastern US), and Randall's Food Markets (Texas) ), go to the customer service counter to find a small lucite display holder with a nutrition booklet called "Simple Nutrition." In it, you will find a $1 off any $5 produce purchase coupon - awesome! This coupon has a long expiration date, so make sure to pick yourself up some extras, too.

6 Sources of Vegetarian Protein

     While lean and organic meats ( beef, chicken, and yes - pork ) are Clean, adding the following items to your roster of proteins is a sound route for some who may be reducing their meat intake or who wish to pursue alternate forms of protein for their nutrition.

1. Edamame

Containing 28 grams of protein, a single cup of cooked soybeans contains the same amount of protein as a three-ounce steak. Whole soybeans have more than three times the protein of tofu and soymilk, so you’re better off finding interesting ways to cook the beans rather than resorting to more processed versions of soy. For instance, edamame, the Japanese snack, is a form of salted, boiled soybeans, but you can also mash up the beans for a mashed edamame and pita sandwich or to use in edamame hummus.

2. Quinoa

Quinoa, the ancient South American grain that’s getting more popular lately, has the most protein of any grain—10 grams per cup. Not only is it a good source of plant protein, but, along with soybeans, quinoa is also one of very few non-meat “complete” proteins, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids. Plus, it has lots of whole grain fiber. Technically a seed rather than a grain, quinoa can be used in place of rice or mixed with dried fruit and nuts for an easy breakfast. Or try it in this recipe for quinoa with spinach and cheese, which can serve as a main dish.

3. Other beans and legumes 

While soybeans are the best in terms of protein content, other beans and legumes, including white beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas, aren’t far behind. Their protein content ranges from 14 to 19 grams per cup. Interestingly, dried beans have higher protein contents than canned, so avoid the hormone-disrupting BPA that usually accompanies canned food by purchasing dried beans will provide you with more protein. Another benefit to beans and legumes is that they’re high in healthy complex carbohydrates, making them a good addition to a moderate carbohydrate diet because they’re beneficial to the colon.

4. Green veggies

Vegetables don’t pack quite the power punch that beans and whole grains do, but you can still get a good amount of plant-based protein from them. Spinach, collards, and other leafy greens contain around 5 grams per cup, cooked, while other green vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and asparagus contain slightly more, about 6 grams per cup, cooked. Medium artichokes have about 4 grams of protein, and they’re starting to come into season now. The easiest way to enjoy artichokes is to steam them whole and dip them in melted organic butter for an easy appetizer or afternoon snack.

5.  Mushrooms

Add a few sautéed mushrooms to your leafy greens to up their protein content even more. A cup’s worth of white mushrooms will add 3 grams of protein to any dish you’re making, and shiitake mushrooms will add slightly less than that. If you don’t eat mushrooms all that often, read our article on cooking mushrooms. And since it’s that time of year again, consider growing your own mushrooms in a backyard garden. It’s easier than you think!

6. Peanuts

All nuts contain protein, but the amounts vary widely depending on which type you pick. Fortunately, peanuts are some of the tastiest and they have the highest protein levels, at 8 grams per ounce (that’s two tablespoons). Grab a handful as an afternoon snack, and you’ll wind up with nearly as much protein as a piece of fish..


Friday, April 15, 2011

$1 off any 1 box Kashi Cereal or Kashi TLC snack

$1 off any 1 box Kashi cereals or Kashi TLC snack

Great coupon, but be advised that many Kashi products are really Border food - added sugars, or an ingedient list that is just too long for most Clean Eaters. Be advised, and prepare to read labels with your coupon in hand.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Real vs. Fake, Part V : Maple Syrup

What is the difference between this:

and this?

As you might expect from the title of this post...a lot! The upper bottle is a bottle of pure, 100% maple syrup made from the sap of the maple tree. For a strong sugar, it is Clean - and in small servings will add a strong maple flavor to your foods.

Maple syrup is divided into two major grades in the US: Grade A and Grade B.

Grade A is further broken down into three sub-grades: Light Amber (sometimes known as Fancy), Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. Grade B is darker than Grade A Dark Amber.

From left to right:
Vermont Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, Grade B

The bottle on the bottom is faux syrup - so unlike maple syrup that anything that isn't made entirely of maple sap (besides a pinch or two of salt or other seasonings) cannot legally be marketed as "maple syrup". Next time you see the syrup isle of a grocery store, or you look into your pantry, take a look at all the bottles of syrup in there. I can guaruntee you that, unless it is made of pure maple syrup, you will not see the word "maple" anywhere on those bottles. Indeed, the bottom on the bottle doesn't mention the word
"maple" anywhere. But if the bottle says "Pancake syrup", "waffle syrup", or "table syrup" - you can be assured you have a handful of high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring and flavoring. People in Canada and along the most Northern US states sometimes refer to imitation maple syrup as sirop de poteau ("pole syrup"), a joke referring to the syrup as having been made by tapping telephone poles.

What is faux syrup made of? 

Ingredients: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, water, cellulose gum, caramel color, salt, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid (preservatives), artificial and natural flavors, sodium hexametaphosphate ( ?? )

Recently, Log Cabin released a new, "natural" syrup. Looking at the bottle, you might be fooled at the grocery store into thinking this is "real" maple syrup. They even mimic the cute little jug Vermont and Canadian maple syrups are often packed in.

But wait, what is this? Check out the ingredients:

This "all natural syrup" is actually a mixture of Brown Rice syrup, sugar, and only 4% maple syrup - and they add caramel color to make it look more convincing. Look at the carbs!

Of course - if you are going to use maple syrup, buy a bottle of the expensive stuff - the real thing. The flavor will be better, it is actually a healthier choice, and you will be supporting small farmers who grow the maple trees.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Greek Yogurt Taste Taste, Part II

After reviewing a few brands of Greek yogurt last week, I came across 2 more brands I had not previously tried or reviewed so I thought I'd give them the same taste test as before. Same rules applied: I bought the brand in the vanilla or honey flavor, 0% fat, and have rated the brands according to how I perceived their relative tartness and overall quality.

First up: Athenos Greek Yogurt

Like Fage, it has a little "well" next to the actual yogurt that holds the honey. You can dip it or mix it in. I was a little...I don't know...put off...that I was only getting 5.3 ounces of product, yet was paying about 30-40% more than some of the other brands I've tried. But I bought it anyway.  Calories? 160 - a little on the high side. Sodium? 50 mg. - again,. a little more than I'd like to see in such a relatively small serving of yogurt.
Athenos is actually organic ( made with milk from cows not given growth or milk stimulating hormones, or antibiotics ) so I consider that to be a plus.

Upon opening, I discovered the yogurt to be a pleasing thick consistency, with a nice but not unpleasant tanginess – about a 2.5 to 3 on my tang scale out of 5. Similar to the Fage – I discovered that mixing the honey well into the yogurt well is a little unwieldy and sloppy. If not mixed well, you end up hitting pockets of pure honey that can be a little disconcerting.
Overall, I liked the taste, and would buy it again if on sale…but I didn’t appreciate the difficulty in incorporating the honey into the yogurt. I think if I had other brands available to me, I’d consider them before Athenos.

The second brand I tried I found while shopping at Safeway : Open Nature.

I admit, I scanned the label quickly - all seemed ok. So, I put a single cup in my cart and continued along. When I sat down to eat it, I examined it more carefully...Lucerne! Distributed by Lucerne! That is Safeway's house brand name. Oh, no - Safeway had duped me. Again! However, I was determined that I would give this brand a fair shake. Wow, am I glad that I did. Upon opening, the yogurt was clearly superior to its poor Lucerne cousin. It was rich and creamy - very enjoyable. It definitely is low on the tangy scale - like a 1.5 out of 5; similar to Chobani and good for the "beginner" Greek yogurt fan or those who do not like a real tangy yogurt. I will definitely buy this one again. I enjoyed the creamy consistency.

So there you have it - two additional brands of Greek yogurt tested - I'll keep my eyes peeled for new ones!

More Bad Food

David Zinczenko is the Men's Health editor who is the author of several great visual aid books on food and nutrition for people who don't eat Clean - but also don't realize what they are eating is rapidly killing them. He has written multiple Eat This, Not That books.

He's compiled a great list of some more really bad foods. I find these lists both informative and eye opening, and I like to pass them along to my readers. It is absolutely amazing to me that I was SO clueless what I was eating previously. How on Earth did I make it into my 40's and NOT have a heart attack or get diabetes?

1. Worst Yogurt

Stonyfield Whole Milk Chocolate Underground (1 container)
220 calories
5 g fat (3 g saturated)
36 g sugars
Stonyfield is notorious for being generous with the sugar, but the 9 spoonfuls in its Chocolate Underground is bad even by the most indulgent dessert standards. Not even Ben & Jerry's most decadent scoop has this much sugar.

2. Worst Condiment 

Eggo Original Syrup (1/4 cup)
240 calories
0 g fat
40 g sugars
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but not when it comes topped with this much sugar. Thanks to the combined impact of three liquid sweeteners, one serving of Eggo's pancake syrup has as much sugar as two packages of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, according to Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide. That's no way to start the day

3. Worst Pick Me Up 

Vault Red Blitz (20-oz bottle)
290 calories
78 g sugars   Here's a staggering stat: If you're used to drinking black coffee every morning, and you switch to this bottle of Vault, you'll pack on more than 5 pounds of body fat in the first two months on your normal diet. What's more, it's unlikely that you'll earn any extra buzz. This bottle has 115 milligrams of caffeine. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has as much as 200 milligrams. Stick with coffee or pick a leaner energy drink.

4. Worst Ice Cream

Haagen-Daz Chocolate Peanut Butter (1/2 cup)
360 calories
24 g fat (11 g saturated)
24 g sugars
Premium ice creams are notorious for heavy loads of fat and sugar, but Haagen-Dazs' Chocolate Peanut Butter is just egregious. Eat two scoops and you've just consumed more calories than a McDonald's McDouble with small fries and more saturated fat than you should consume in an entire day. Drop the peanut butter and opt for Dark Chocolate instead. You'll take in fewer than half the calories and a third less sugar

5. Worst Frozen "Healthy" Entree 

Healthy Choice Complete Meals Sweet & Sour Chicken (1 serving)
420 calories
9 g fat (2 g saturated)
480 mg sodium
25 g sugars

Since when has fried chicken been healthy? Certainly not when it's cloaked in syrup. This meal has as more sugar than a Reese's-flavored Klondike bar, which makes it more like dessert than dinner. If you’re too busy to cook your own chicken, at least make it nutritious; the Roasted Chicken below has less than half the sugar and 40 percent fewer calories.

6. Worst Packaged Side 

Pasta Roni Fettuccine Alfredo (1 cup prepared)
450 calories
24 g fat (7 g fat, 3.5 g trans)
1,050 mg sodium
44 g carbohydrates
Once again, Alfredo proves itself to be the biggest belt-busting option on the shelf. And, in this case, it comes with a ruinous load of trans fat and as much sodium as three orders of McDonald's french fries. This side dish has a meal's worth of calories, and if you try to turn it into a meal in itself, expect to top 1,000 calories.

7. Worst Kid's Frozen Meal

Kid Cuisine All American Fried Chicken (1 package)
540 calories
24 g fat (6 g saturated)
750 mg sodium

For kids approaching the pre-teen growth spurt, this might not be such a bad meal. But for smaller children, 540 calories quite the heavy load. Healthy lifestyles begin young, so use this as an opportunity to explain the importance of smart choices, like choosing the Dip & Dunk Ravioli instead. It has 220 fewer calories and half the saturated fat; plus, your little ones will have more fun with dippable pasta.

8. Worst Stir Fry 

Bertolli Chicken Alfredo & Penne (1/2 bag)
630 calories
32 g fat (17 g saturated)
1,200 mg sodium

Dinner should get your blood flowing, but this chicken has as much saturated fat as 17 strips of bacon! Switching to Chicken Marsala will save you 240 calories per serving. Make a swap like that every day and you'll drop 25 pounds this year.

 9. Worst Frozen Pizza 

DiGiorno Traditional Crust Supreme Pizza (1 pizza)
790 calories
36 g fat (14 g saturated)
1,460 mg sodium

This is DiGiorno's lunch-sized pizza, and it has more calories than Taco Bell's Half Pound Cheesy Potato Burrito with Cinnamon Twists on the side. A calorie load like this will probably make you feel drowsy the second half of the day. Better to downsize your meal and preserve your energy—not to mention your waistline.

10. Worst Packaged Food 

Marie Callender's Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie (1 package)
1,020 calories
58 g fat (24 g saturated)
1,660 mg sodium Marie Callender's commits the ultimate sleight of hand here: The nutrition information says this medium-size entrée has two servings, but let's get real—nobody wants to split a potpie. The problem here is twofold: a pie crust that's shot through with lard, and a filling that's swimming in cream. That makes for one fatty dish. Go with the Herb Roasted chicken and cut your your sodium by 44 percent, calories by 55 percent, and your saturated fat by 75 percent!

Thank you,