Monday, May 30, 2011

Clean Eating Sloppy Joes

CE Reader kx59 asked for it - Clean Eating Sloppy Joe recipes!

I've got 2 good ones for you.

 Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces ground sirloin - organic beef 
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages presliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup prechopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup no-salt-added organic tomato paste , with some extra in reserve to make it saucier if need be
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add beef; cook for 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.
  • 2. While beef cooks, place mushrooms in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic to pan; cook for 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through salt) to pan; cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and liquid evaporates. Stir in pepper and hot sauce. Spoon about 1 cup beef mixture on bottom half of each bun; top with top halves of buns.

And those buns shown above are NOT clean! 

    The second one comes from our friend Tiffany over at the The Gracious Pantry who seemingly read my mind when she posted this recipe just a few days ago! If you like your sloppy joes with a ketchup-y taste ( and some do! ) you'll like Tiffany's recipe. Please click on the link to jump to Tiffany's recipe for Clean Eating Sloppy Joes

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Quiver of Honor




    Army Specialist Justin Immerso reaches for a flag to place in front of a head stone at Arlington National Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day – Arlington VA ( photo by Jacquelyn Martin, AP News Service )

    1) Memorial Day was founded to honor military personnel who died in ...
    A. The Revolutionary War
    B. The Civil War
    C. The Spanish-American War
    D. World War I
    E. World War II

    2) Which community was proclaimed in 1966 by the U.S. government as the birthplace of Memorial Day?
    A. Springfield, Pennsylvania
    B. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
    C. Arlington, Virginia
    D. Waterloo, New York
    E. Bunker Hill, Massachusetts

    3) Additionally, which of these towns claims to be the birthplace of Memorial Day:
    A. Columbus, Miss.
    B. Macon, Ga.
    C. Richmond, Va.
    D. Boalsburg, Pa.
    E. All of the above

    4) On what date was Memorial Day first widely observed?
    A. May 30th, 1856
    B. May 5th, 1866
    C. May 30th, 1868
    D. May 29th, 1901
    E. May 15th, 1919

    5) Memorial Day originated with another name. What was it?
    A. Honor Day
    B. Old Soldiers’ Day
    C. Decoration Day
    D. Remembrance Day
    E. Bravery Day

    6) Since the end of World War I, Memorial Day is also called which of the following?
    A. Poppy Day
    B. War Heroes’ Day
    C. Armed Forces Day
    D. Military Day
    E. Old Soldiers’ Day

    7) Memorial Day is different in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, and Tennessee. How?
    A. These states celebrate Memorial Day on Jefferson Davis’ birthday.
    B. Instead of a somber, solemn observance, these states celebrate the memory of the fallen with gala festivals.
    C. Memorial Day in these states excludes the Union dead in the Civil War.
    D. These states choose to honor Confederate dead in the Civil War on a separate day.
    E. In these states, the Confederate flag is flown alongside the American flag.

    8) Why is General John Alexander Logan important to the celebration of Memorial Day?
    A. He is the first officially documented casualty in a war
    B. He called for more official government recognition of the holiday
    C. He was the first to place a wreath at the Grave of the Unknowns
    D. He is responsible for accumulating and maintaining statistics of the U.S. war dead
    E. He ordered that the holiday be observed by decorating the graves of the war dead
    9) In which war did the most U.S. service people die?
    A. The Revolutionary War
    B. The Civil War
    C. World War I
    D. World War II
    E. The Vietnam War

    10) Which war had the highest percentage of U.S. casualties based on the number of troops served?
    A. The Revolutionary War
    B. The Civil War
    C. World War I
    D. World War II
    E. The Vietnam War

    11) According to the Department of Defense, how many U.S. service men and women have died in battle in all wars in which the United States was involved?
    A. About 186,000
    B. About 500,000
    C. About 1 million
    D. About 1.9 million
    E. They don’t even estimate

    12) True or False: During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

    13) True of False: On Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff throughout the day to honor the nation’s war dead.

    14) The poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, a World War I colonel and surgeon with Canada’s First Brigade Artillery, expressed McCrae’s grief over the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields, located in a region of western Belgium and northern France. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the poem was first published in:
    A) Life magazine.
    B) The London Times newspaper.
    C) Newsweek magazine.
    D) A collection of short stories and poems edited by naturalist William Bartram.
    E) The British magazine Punch.
    15) True or False: The 24-note melancholy bugle call known as “Taps” is thought to be a revision of a French bugle signal, called “tattoo,” that notified soldiers to cease an evening’s drinking and return to their garrisons.

    1) B. Memorial Day was founded to honor military personnel who died in the Civil War.
    2) D. Waterloo, New York was proclaimed in 1966 by the U.S. government as the birthplace of Memorial Day?
    3) E. All these towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.
    4) C. While there is some debate, most historians agree that May 30, 1868 was the first time Memorial Day was widely observed.
    5) C. Memorial Day originated with the name Decoration Day.
    6) A. Since the end of World War I, Memorial Day has also been called Poppy Day.
    7) D. In many Southern states, the Confederate dead of the Civil War are honored on a separate day.
    8) E. General John Alexander Logan ordered that the holiday be observed by decorating the graves of the war dead.
    9) D. World War II was the most lethal for U.S. service people.
    10) B. The Civil War had the highest percentage of U.S. casualties based on the number of troops served.
    11) B. About 500,000 U.S. service men and women have died in battle in all wars in which the United States was involved, according to the Department of Defense.
    12) True.
    13) False. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.
    14) E. The poem “In Flanders Fields” was first published in Punch magazine.
    15) True.

    Have You Tried: Cherimoya?

         The cherimoya is an odd, angular looking vaguely melon/pear shaped fruit that is native to the rain forests of South America. It is occasionally referred to as a "custard apple" because the flavor is vaguely reminiscent of vanilla pudding in a soft apple/pear texture. Once you try this delicate, dekicious, custard like fruit that has such an odd rind, you'll agree that the luscious flavors reminiscent of papaya, banana, mango, passionfruit, lemon, and pineapple - and its ice-cream consistency - make this a Clean Eater's delight.
    How to ripen

    When buying cherimoya, choose firm, unripe fruit that are heavy for their size, then place them somewhere out of the sun and allow to ripen at room temperature. Check your cherimoya every couple of days for softness. The fruit should feel as soft as an almost-ripe avocado, with a little give but not squishy. The skin may turn brownish as the cherimoya ripens, which doesn’t affect the flesh. Don’t cut into it when you first notice ripeness, give it a day or two more, but don’t wait too long or the sugars in the flesh will begin to ferment. Once ripe, cherimoya can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, wrapped in a paper towel. 

    Eating cherimoya

    To eat, cut your cherimoya in half lengthways and either: scoop out succulent spoonfuls; eat like a watermelon, scraping the rind to get every bit of sweet flesh; peel and cut into cubes and add to fruit salads; puree and use as a mousse or pie filling. Don't eat the seeds! They are inedible.

    Cherimoya, Kiwi, and Strawberry Salad

    1 chermioya, chopped
    1 large kiwi, sliced
    Handful of strawberries, quartered
    Lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon (approximately) agave nectar

    Add the cherimoya to a bowl and spritz with a small amount of lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well but gently to combine.

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    In Praise of CVS Gold Emblem Roasted and Salted Almonds

    If you find yourself looking for a CE smackerel in the evenings, I suggest the next time you visit CVS for a prescription or the like, take a stroll down their nut / snack aisle. A 1 lb bag of their "house brand"  ( Gold Emblem , see pic above ) is normally $5.99 ( a good price for high quality almonds ) - and you can often get them on sale and with a CVS coupon for as low as $3.99 or $2.99. They are lightly salted and not covered n anything unnatural. I think they are the best almonds I've ever had. Seriously - they are that good. I wouldn't advocate eating them every day if you are CE for weight loss - but they really hit the snack spot when you need it and will keep you on the CE path.

    ( This post originally ran back in November of 2010 - but as I just stopped at CVS and got myself another bag of these yummers - I thought I'd bump this for my newer readers who might not be aware of them. )

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    White Bean and Steak Salad

    Here is a nice quick little video on a white bean and steak salad I think you'll enjoy. I think it would be a good thing to make with leftover steak from the grill, too!

    Thursday, May 26, 2011


    Manwich? On a Clean Eating blog? 

    No - I'm not advocating eating Manwich! I'm highlighting it because I think truth in advertising is important, and recognizing nutritional information - and more importantly, bogus and misleading nutritional information, is vital for the Clean Eater.

        The ads tout that Manwich has a "full serving of vegetables" in every Manwich. The label has a large banner across it that says "Full serving of vegetables" - but what does that really mean? According to the Department of Agriculture, they no longer even use the term "servings" and haven't for a long time, but instead now advise eating 2-3 cups of vegetables a day. So how many cups of vegetables are actually in Manwich? A footnote on the back of the can in very small print reads "A 1/4 cup serving of Manwich provides 1/2 cup of vegetables." Turns out, The Department of Agriculture considers a 1/4 cup of tomato puree to be equivalent to 1/2 cup of vegetables. Huh? Now, I'm no math expert, but I do not believe 1/4 = 1/2. I don't get this part of it.

         Mainly, know that Manwich is manipulating the serving terminology ( and deliberately using "outdated" terminology ) to give an impression of a healthy food, when in reality, Manwich is merely heavily sweetened tomato sauce with a lot of salt - and people reaching for this thinking they are providing their kids with something moderately healthy have been deliberately misled.

     In the mood for a CE sloppy joe? Make your own with organic tomato paste & sauce, spices, maybe some salsa, finely chopped vegetables, and ground beef. 

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    What Americans Are Eating

    Here's a link to the original poster: I had a hard time resizing it to appear larger here - but it is well worth the link.

    The average American is 36.6 years old and eats 1,996.3 lbs. of food per year. The average man is 5’9” and weighs 190 lbs. The average woman is 5’4” and weighs 164 lbs.
    Each year, Americans eat 85.5 lbs. of fats and oils. They eat 110 lbs. of red meat, including 62.4 lbs. of beef and 46.5 lbs. of pork. Americans eat 73.6 lbs. of poultry, including 60.4 lbs. of chicken. They eat 16.1 lbs. of fish and shellfish and 32.7 lbs. of eggs.
    Americans eat 31.4 lbs. of cheese each year and 600.5 lbs. of non-cheese dairy products. They drink 181 lbs. of beverage milks. Americans eat 192.3 lbs. of flour and cereal products, including 134.1 lbs. of wheat flour. They eat 141.6 lbs. of caloric sweeteners, including 42 lbs. of corn syrup. Americans consume 56 lbs. of corn each year and eat 415.4 lbs. of vegetables. Every year, Americans eat 24 lbs. of coffee, cocoa and nuts. Americans eat 273.2 lbs. of fruit each year.
    These foods include 29 lbs. of French fries, 23 lbs. of pizza and 24 lbs. of ice cream. Americans drink 53 gallons of soda each year, averaging about one gallon each week. Americans eat 24 lbs. of artificial sweeteners each year. They eat 2.736 lbs. of sodium, which is 47 percent more than recommended. Americans consume 0.2 lbs. of caffeine each year, about 90,700 mg. In total, Americans eat an average of 2,700 calories each day.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    What is Clean Eating All About?

         I get asked about Clean Eating a lot. When people find out I don't eat processed foods, they are dubious, to put it mildly. Some claim it just can't be done, or scoff because I eat things like yogurt : "Well that is processed!"

    This is what I tell people who inquire just what Clean Eating is all about.

    I don't eat processed foods. I avoid foods that have a bar code; foods that are produced in a factory; foods that have more than just a few base ingredients. It is not only junk food ( candy, chips, soda ) I don't eat - I don't eat foods that are "messed around with" in any way. I strive to eat as organic a menu as possible, with foods that are preservative and pesticide free.

    I believe that for my best health, consuming foods that are as close to how they naturally occur in Nature is best for my body.

    I drink a lot of water. I eat 5-6 small  meals a day. I avoid processed, factory produced food.

    It is as simple as that.

    Clean Eating is the simplest nutritional change you can make that will have the most powerful impact on your overall health. Removing processed foods from your diet make your body's engine work more efficiently - and the end result is weight loss and better overall health.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Processed Food Q&A

    Q. I am trying to reduce the amount of processed foods in my diet, and I recently learned that soy milk is a processed food, which leads me to wonder whether cow's milk and other dairy products are also considered "processed"?   Would I be better off taking a supplement to get my vitamin D and calcium? 

    A.  It's true that soybeans are cooked and pressed to make plain soy milk.  Commercially available cow's milk is skimmed, homogenized, and pasteurized. So, both are "processed." However, either one would be considerably less processed than a vitamin supplement, don't you think? Either you are getting your vitamins from the food source, or you are getting your vitamins from a man-made supplement.

    If avoiding processed foods means that you need to take a vitamin supplement to supply missing nutrients, I think we may have missed the point of the exercise!

    How do you define processing?
    Think of processing as a spectrum.  On one end of the spectrum, you might have a raw ear of corn. On the other end might be corn chips. In its journey from one end of the spectrum to the other, the raw corn is cut off the cob, cooked, dried, ground, combined with sugar, salt, and fat, shaped into chips, and fried. 

    We'd all immediately recognize corn chips as "processed" food. But where exactly do we draw the line between unprocessed and processed?  As soon as we cut the ear off the cob? When we boil it? When we grind it into flour? When we add sugar, salt, and preservatives? When we fry it?
    People are going to draw that line in different places.  Some might consider cooked corn OK but ground corn meal too processed.  I'd probably draw the line a step later, when the sugar, salt and preservatives are added.  But it's obviously somewhat arbitrary.

    A step in the right direction
    Depending on how you want to define "unprocessed," a 100% unprocessed diet may not be practical. But every step you can take toward the "unprocessed" end of the spectrum is a step in the right direction.
    Michael Pollan proposes several humorous, common-sense guidelines in his recent books In Defense of Food and Food Rules, such as:

        1. Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize.
        2. Don't eat cereal that changes the color of your milk.

    Here are some other "food rules" that can help you shift your diet away from processed foods:

        3. Eat more food that comes without packaging.
        4. Look for foods with fewer than 5 ingredients in the ingredient list.
        5. Avoid things made with ingredients that you don't recognize as food.
        6. Eat more whole intact grains and less flour.
        7. Eat most of your fruit whole and unprocessed.
        8. Eat at least some of your vegetables raw every day.

    Thank you,

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Newstand Alert: Clean Eating Magazine June 2011

    Yay! The new issue of Clean Eating magazine is on newstands now.

    In this month's issue:

     - An excellent summary of season fruits and vegetables to look for now ( apricots, plums, new potatoes... )
     - Spotlight on shellfish : how to buy, what to look for, how to prepare
     - A nice mild/hot pepper profile with a very interesting grilled & stuffed Cubanelle pepper recipe!
     - How to buy, cut, and serve papaya

    I do take exception with something in this month's issue. In the "Clean Franks and Fries" article, they recommend buying and using such products as Morningstar sausages, and Applegate pork bratwurst. Those products do not qualify in my book as even remotely Clean. Of course, decide for yourself - but I was bothered by this article.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Trader Joe's Spotlight: Mahi Mahi Burgers

    After my recent discovery of Trident's salmon burger which is nearly perfect for Clean Eaters, I've kept my eyes peeled for other similar products. I've seen many frozen turkey burgers ( some of which are not clean; check those ingredient labels to ensure you aren't getting a lot of sodium and unwanted preservatives ). However, the Trader Joe's spotlight this week is on their Mahi-Mahi burgers.

         These little patties are simply delicious. At 110 calories a piece, the 320 mg of sodium each 3 oz patty has is high, but tolerable. Each patty has 15 mg of protein - very strong source of protein. They say they are unflavored, but each had a delicate flavor I find myself having trouble describing. Not fishy in any way, shape, or form. I had mine grilled on my favorite appliance - my George Foreman grill - and they were ready quickly. Serve with lettuce, tomato, and've got yourself a very Clean meal.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

        When I come across an interesting website I think will help my readers, I am more than happy to pass it along. This one tweaked my interest simply because it is a subject with which I have long struggled - portion control and recognizing good choices when I see them. is another site that visually shows readers what correct portion sizes look like, and what nutritional servings consist of. The more you get used to seeing smaller portions, the more easily you will incorporate this into your everyday life.

    Now, this website is heavily Paleo-centric - so be aware that some of the information you see is coming from a Paleo and not necessarily a CE point of view...but I found it interesting to check out some of the "Here is what 100 calories of this food looks like" pictures.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    La Creme Real Dairy Creamer Coupon Available

         One of my consistently most viewed posts ( and one that seems to bring people in from Google ) is my review and discussion about La Creme Real Dairy Creamer which people who are interested in ditching that sugary trans fat "other" liquid coffee creamer should be buying.

    If you don't realize what "non dairy creamer" actually is, please read up on it in my "real vs Fake" post here.

    The other day while in Safeway, I discovered a tearpad on the dairy case for .75 off 1 bottle of La Creme Real Dairy Creamer.

    Unfortunately, this coupon is coded so it will not double - but any coupon savings is fine by me. This stuff is such a lifesaver for me, that I will buy it full price if I have to. It is one of the last remaining "Hey, that is processed!" foods I consume - but it is head and shoulders better than non dairy creamer, and I just personally don't like plain milk in my morning coffee.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    10 Foods High In Iron

     If you are eating cleanly, you should be getting a lot of vitamins and minerals, right? Not so - especially if you are prone ( like me ) to gravitate towards certain clean option over and over like yogurt, chicken, apples, etc. You might not be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. Iron is an important mineral - especially for women who have a tendency to be iron deficient. Eat a varied diet, and make sure to incorporate a mixture of nutrient dense foods in your daily menu. 
     1. Red meat
    Red meat is likely the most well known source of iron in the diet. However, eating too much red meat can be bad for cholesterol levels, so it’s important to eat other foods high in iron too.
    2. Potatoes
    Both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes are good sources of iron. Be sure to eat the skin of a regular potato if you really want to get the benefit of the iron.
    3. Spinach
    Spinach is another food high in iron. It is also one of the most all around nutritious vegetables you can eat, and it’s very low in calories.
    4. Iron fortified cereals
    Many breakfast cereals, like All Bran and oatmeal are fortified with iron. They have so much iron fortification that they are actually some of the highest foods in iron.
    5. Swiss Chard
    Swiss chard is a delicious fall green, and it is a food high in iron along with other vitamins and minerals.
    6. Pumpkin
    A seasonal favorite, pumpkin is another food high in iron. There are many ways to prepare pumpkin, too. Pumpkin seeds are also a good food high in iron.
    7. Tofu
    Tofu is a great substitute for meat, and it is very high in iron.
    8. Lentils
    Lentils are another good source of protein, and a good meat substitute. But, they are also a food high in iron.
    9. Soybeans
    Soy is a great source of iron, and it comes in many forms today, from edamame to soy milk.
    10. Dried figs
    Figs rank among the fruits highest in iron. They are high in sugar, too, so watch the calories.
    Just as important as choosing foods high in iron for your diet is choosing the foods to eat with them. Some foods minimize iron’s absorption while others maximize it.

    Eating Foods With Vitamin C Helps Iron Absorption
    Eating foods with vitamin C along with iron rich foods helps your body absorb the iron better, while eating or drinking foods with caffeine along with iron rich foods actually blocks the absorption of the iron.
    In addition, it’s important to note that our bodies absorb the iron from meat sources is absorbed more readily by the body than iron from plant sources. So, when you eat foods like spinach and Swiss chard you may need a bit more of them to get the same amount of iron.
    With red meat, on the other hand, you can eat less and still get the benefit because your body absorbs it much better.
    Check with your doctor to determine how much iron you need in a day. Women need more than men, and pregnant women need more than women who are not pregnant.

    Clean Eating Salad Dressings - with Tofu!

    One of the most difficult aspects for me in Clean Eating has been doing away with the sauces and condiments I'm so used to grabbing and pouring. Salad dressing has been particularly troublesome, with bottled dressings being so high in salt , sugar, and preservatives.

     I was very pleased to find this wonderful cache of Clean salad dressings that have tofu as their base over at This Mama Cooks .

    Sun Dried Tomato Dressing

    • 1/4 pound soft tofu
    • 1 tablespoon high quality olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 tablespoon sundried tomatoes
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • pinch of black pepper
    1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or mini-food processor.
    2. Blend until ingredients are combined and the dressing is creamy. If there are chunks of tomatoes in the dressing, that’s OK.

    Spicy Ginger Sesame Salad Dressing

    I love the ginger salad dressing that’s served at Japanese restaurants. This one comes close, though it’s creamier and spicier.
    Makes 3/4 cup of dressing

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or mini-food processor.
    2. Blend until ingredients are combined and the dressing is creamy.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Why "Organic" Doesn't Mean "Clean"

         Switching to foods that are organically grown and handled is a cornerstone for Clean Eating. Why? Removing pesticides, unnecessary additives and preservatives, and eating foods "manufactured" in a sustainable way is important. You want your food handled as minimally as possible.  

          In order to qualify as organic farmers, the producers must  use renewable resources and endeavor to conserve soil and water to enhance the environmental quality for future generations.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones during their lives.  Organic food is produced without using harmful, conventional pesticides; fertilizers containing synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.  Before a product can be labeled organic, a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to ensure that the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.  Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to the local supermarket or restaurant must also be certified by the government.

    Here is the USDA's definition of organic labels: 

    • 100% Organic- means that every ingredient in the product was raised and harvested in an organic environment as approved and certified by the USDA.
    • Organic- means that 70 to 95 percent of all the ingredients have been raised in a USDA approved manner
    • Any product containing ingredients with less than a 70 percent organic content can separately list each ingredient that falls into the USDA organic category, but the product may not display a label claiming the product as organic.

     So organic is important to a Clean Eater - we strive to eat food "as unmessed around with" as I like to put it as possible. But are all organic foods Clean? The answer is a resounding no. Just because a breakfast cereal is labeled as organic does not make it a Clean food. There can be lots of organically produced sugars in it, organically produced starches and fillers. Look at the product label, if it has more ingredients than you feel comfortable consuming you know the product is not Clean. Salt is Clean. It contains only one ingredient. Used in careful moderation, salt is important to your diet. However, turning an organic spaghetti sauce jar over and discovering it has double the amount of sodium as in a "regular" spaghetti sauce is a real eye opener.

         Again, the advice on this is the same. When choosing organic processed products in the store, turn the package over and investigate the ingredients. Added sugars? Salts? Strange fillers? Ingredient list a mile long? That product is not for you. Make sure your organic choices dovetail with your Clean Eating goals. Clean Eating is different for everyone - and what I find tolerable, you may not. Do not assume that a product labeled "Organic" or bearing an organic banner is automatically a Clean food item.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Nutrient Dense Foods - ANDI


     When incorporating Clean Eating into your lifestyle, obviously there are Clean foods that pack more of a nutritive punch than others. The chart above shows the "ANDI" or  the Aggregate Nutient Density Index of common foods. It ranks the foods according to its percentages of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant capacity. 

    Some high end dietician talk:
    To determine the scores above all known vitamins and minerals were considered and added in. Nutrient Data from Nutritionist Pro software for each food item was obtained for the amount of that food that would provide a 1000 calorie serving. We included the following nutrients in the evaluation: Calcium, Carotenoids: Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Lutein & Zeaxanthin, Lycopene, Fiber, Folate, Glucosinolates, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Selenium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, plus ORAC score X 2 (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity is a method of measuring the antioxidant or radical scavenging capacity of foods).
    Nutrient quantities, which are normally in many different measurements (mg, mcg, IU) were converted to a percentage of their RDI so that a common value could be considered for each nutrient. Since there is currently no RDI for Carotenoids, Glucosinolates, or ORAC score, goals were established based on available research and current understanding of the benefits of these factors. (limited references below). The % RDI or Goal for each nutrient which the USDA publishes a value for was added together to give a total. All nutrients were weighted equally with a factor of one except for the foods ORAC score. The ORAC score was given a factor 2 (as if it were two nutrients) due to the importance of antioxidant nutrients so that measurement of unnamed anti-oxidant phytochemicals were represented in the scoring. The sum of the food’s total nutrient value was then multiplied by a fraction to make the highest number equal 1000 so that all foods could be considered on a numerical scale of 1 to 1000.

         Clearly, the foods in the green and yellow columns are Clean and would be excellent mix and match items for any Clean diet. Clean food items in the peach colored column have less of a nutritive impact. Chicken, grapes, and organic milk are clean items in the peach column. Should you avoid them? No - just be aware that ounce for ounce, there are other Clean foods that you would want to be including in your diet - so if you are eating more than 4-8 servings of chicken a week, you may want to adjust your consumption to have a more balanced and nutritionally fulfilling weekly diet ( or, recognizing that chicken breast is lower on the ANDI scale, pair it with choices from the other columns like tomatoes and white beans to ensure you are boosting your nutrition otherwise. )

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Have You Tried...Falafel?

         Falafel is a dough made from ground chickpea ( garbanzo beans ) that is usually fried in a light oil and served in a pita pocket with tomatoes, lettuce, and often a hot sauce or tahini ( ground sesame ) on the side. It is a very common staple of the Mediterranean diet and is common in Egypt, Israel, and surrounding countries. Though usually fried, it can be baked to make it with a healthier cooking option. I've had falafel in restaurants, and it was delicious - so I thought perhaps making some at home might be a Clean menu alternative.  Homemade falafel is a little time consuming and often, ( I have heard ) the results aren't ideal. I opted to look for a Clean mix with which to experiment. I found an acceptable option with Fantastic World Foods brand Falafel mix.

         The directions couldn't be simpler - add 1 1/4 cups water to the mix, let stand for 15+ minutes, form into balls or patties, and fry / bake. I did. I decided to cook my falafel 4 different ways : traditional frying in 1/2" off veg oil, broiled after a quick brush in olive oil, baked after a quick spray of olive oil, and baked with no oil whatsoever.  
         Perhaps I did something wrong, because the only edible option was pan fried in oil - the least healthy option. Broiling and baking did not make the falafel brown and crispy, and the results were like dried up sand. Truly - inedible. The outside of the pan-fried batch was crispy and actually tasty - but the inside was grainy and unappealing. My husband, ever quick with the quip, dubbed it "Fal-awful."

         Seriously...anyone? Have you tried falafel mix at home? Is there a secret I didn't know? Or are falafel mixes just a gross alternative and best left to your local Mediterranean restaurant?

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Listen to Some Old Greek Dude

    “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  – Aristotle


          If you repeatedly put junk (unhealthy, unclean foods) in your body, then it will become a habit and the result will be poor health, obesity and a host of other things.  But if you put healthy, life-giving foods in your body then you will reap amazing benefits and you will feel it in your mind, body, spirit and soul.  Make it a practice to put the good stuff in your body (most of the time), then it will become a habit.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011



    This morning was difficult. I overslept; my insomnia was cranked up to 11 last night. My son was cranky and uncooperative. I couldn’t log in to my blog. The dog ran into our neighbor’s yard and decided not to listen.

         Trying to be Zen about so many Other things…but getting emotionally overwhelmed.

         I pushed away from my computer this morning, and went about my morning routines to get my son and me out the door on time. While brushing my teeth, I glanced down at the scale. I weighed myself Monday ( my usual day ); I generally only do it once a week. I stepped on the scale.

    After many rather lackluster weeks, I had done it.  I have broken past a plateau.

    I have lost 52 lbs total since having started Clean Eating in August of last year.

    I fist pumped the air, and said “Yes!” aloud. I looked at the scale, and I just…smiled.

    I got what I needed, when I needed it most.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Greek Yogurt Taste Test, Part IV

         The number of Greek yogurt choices in the market are simply growing on a daily basis. At this rate, I'll have a few new brands to review every couple of weeks!

     This time up: Stonyfield Organic Greek lowfat yogurt.

         I've been aware for some time now that Stonyfield had a Greek yogurt in its product line besides Oikos    ( Stonyfield owns Oikos, by the way... ) but I hadn't found it in my local DC area grocery stores until this week. There is no 0% fat option - only "low fat" - which in the case of the honey vanilla flavor I tried, means it has 3.5 grams of fat for the 6 ounce cup. Not horrible, but not non-fat, either.

         At 190 calories per cup, it is on the high end of the calorie scale - but if calories aren't a concern for you   ( lucky!! ) then not to worry. One thing I did like, however - is the potassium count for this yogurt: 530 mg, or approximately 15% of your daily recommended intake. ( For comparison, Oikos brand lists its potassium count for a serving as 220 mg, and Yoplait doesn't even mention potassium levels at all on their cup! ) However, there is always a downside - and in this case, it is the sugar content ...28 g. That alone for me is a deal breaker.

         Upon opening the cup ans inserting my spoon, I was significantly surprised because this brand is thick. Really thick. It is so thick, in fact, that upon withdrawing my spoon, the yogurt stretched thin between the cup and my spoon, broke, and left a significant peak of yogurt where my spoon had been. Wow! The taste is very creamy, with a slightly oily mouth-feel that I didn't find objectionable, but is not present in the other brands I've tried previously. It is sweet, too. Really sweet - and not particularly tangy...perhaps a 2 out of 5 on that "tang scale" of mine.

         Stonyfield Greek yogurt is good - but as far as Clean Eating goes, the sugar content makes this a brand I doubt I'll buy again. I prefer a less sweet yogurt, and I personally find 28 grams of sugar to be too much for something I will eat and recommend to others. Yes, it is thick and creamy - and the potassium level is excellent...but unless they reformulate this to lower the sugar content, it will be a no-go for me.

          The second brand I tried this time around was Voskos 0% fat organic Greek yogurt honey flavor. I was instantly pleased with this brand upon opening. With a light stir, the yogurt was thick and creamy - exactly as I think Greek yogurt should be. It also had the tangy freshness I've come to expect from Greek yogurt versus "regular" yogurt - and I'd rate it a solid 3.5 out of 5 on the tangy scale. It wasn't too sweet, but it was really satisfyingly creamy. At 130 calories per cup and 17 g of sugar, I find Voskos to be similarly in line with the nutrition of most of the brands. The sugar level is moderate for a Greek yogurt. Since I eat no sugar in the rest of my diet, I feel that the morning sugar grams are tolerable, and can be "burnt off" fairly quickly and easily. Would I eat this before bed? No - but I would first thing in the morning when I have 12+ hours of activity before me. And with just 3 ingredients: organic skim milk, organic honey, and live yogurt cultures, I find myself drawn to this brand - a definite brand that will make a return performance for this Clean Eater.


    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    New Mambo Sprouts Coupons

    Mambo Sprouts Coupons

    Current Mambo Sprouts coupons include:

    $1 off Organic Valley Milk
    $1 / 2 Lifeway Kefir
    $1 / 1 McCann Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal

    I'm also hearing that there is a new Mambo Sprouts coupon booklet available at select stores nationwide, like Whole Foods Market, Spouts, Trader Joe's, or small "Mom and Pop" organic markets.

    Remember, not all of these products are Clean. ALWAYS check that label for added sugars, starches, additives, preservatives, or an ingredient list a mile long!

    $1/2 Shelf Stable Almond Breeze (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/3 Clif Energy Bars (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Clif Zbars or Zfruit Rope 6-Packs (exp 7/31/11)
      $5/1 Garden Of Life Raw Probiotics (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/2 Happy Baby Products (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Kashi Cereal (exp 7/31/11)
     $1/2 Lifeway Kefirs 32oz (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Lightlife Product (exp 7/31/11)
      $.50/1 Luna Protein Bar (exp 7/31/11)
      $.75/1 Lundberg Rice Chips (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Naked Juice Smoothie (exp 7/31/11)
      $.50/1 Organic Valley Half-n-Half Creamer (exp 7/31/11)
      $.50/1 Organic Valley Half-n-Half Soy Creamer (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Organic Valley Omega-3 gallon Milk (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 RW Knudsen Just juice (exp 7/31/11)
      $.75/1 Santa Cruz Organic Product (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 YoBaby Yogurt (exp 7/31/11)
      $.75/1 stash Tea (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Crunchmaster Bag or Box (exp 7/31/11)
      .50/1 ThinkThin Bar (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Beveri Golden Flaxseed (exp 7/31/11)
      $1/1 Uncle Matt's Organic Juice (exp 7/31/11)
      $3/1 Wellness Dry Dog or Cat Food (exp 7/31/11)

    Special TY to

    How to "Clean Up" Your Favorite Recipes


         Cleaning up your favorite recipes isn't as hard as you might think. It's simply a matter of substituting appropriate ingredients, and being flexible with those ingredients. Today, we will be "Cleaning up" this average recipe for lasagna. I got the following recipe from

    Lasagna - Original Ingredients

    • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
    • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
    • 1/2 cup minced onion
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
    • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons white sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 12 lasagna noodles
    • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
    • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    Below is the Clean version of the recipe above. We've changed as many of the ingredients to organic,  and made sure our canned and processed ingredients are low/no salt, and no sugar added.

    Lasagna - Cleaned Up Ingredients - changes are in bold. 

    • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage ( delete entirely; sausage is unclean. You can potentially add a texturized vegetable sausage substitute product, but I think those are unclean as well )
    • 1+ pound lean organic / grass fed ground beef
    • 1/2 cup minced onion
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes ( organic, no salt added )
    • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste ( organic, no salt or sugar added )
    • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce ( organic, no salt or sugar added )
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons white sugar ( delete entirely; or add 4-6 packets of stevia  )
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon salt ( keep this in - you need a little salt in here to accent the flavor )
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 12 lasagna noodles ( organic whole grain )
    • 16 ounces ricotta cheese ( organic )
    • 1 egg ( organic )
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt ( again, keep this in. A small amount of salt in the ricotta is important )
    • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced ( organic )
    • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( organic / low salt )
    If you are deleting the Italian sausage, I would recommend adding to the Italian seasonings. You will lose some flavor by not having the sausage flavoring in there. You could also potentially use one of the Clean organic pasta sauces out there in lieu of the canned tomatoes / tomato paste part of the recipe, but you will definitely get a different flavor profile by using a processed product. 
    I would encourage you to attempt to make your favorite "normal" recipe but instead clean it up so that the end product is healthier. It is easier than you think.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Trader Joe's Spotlight : Lara Bars

     In the first of a series of posts that will encourage me to get my behind to my local Trader Joe's on a more regular basis, I am going to purchase a Clean item at TJ's and give it a review.

    I've been a "nay-sayer" concerning protein and meal replacement bars for quite some time now. While the packaging and advertising try to promote a wholesome, nutritious, and often Clean outward appearance, most protein bars are anything but. Pick up any protein bar at the store, and find the ingredient list. It will be a little difficult, because in almost all cases, the manufacturer hides the ingredient list underneath the packaging flap! They don't want you to see the sugars and additives they have added! Most are extremely unhealthy - and really, only meant as a quick calorie addition for athletes ( which is what they were invented for - serious weightlifters, bicyclists, runners ...people who expend a lot of calories. Not people like you and I. )

    Protein bars aren't Clean. But, along comes the Lara Bar.

    I had heard about these from a friend of a friend, but hadn't seen them in the stores to investigate until I hit my local Trader Joe's to prepare for this new blog series. I stopped my cart, and picked up a few of the bars. They are small, only 3 1/2" long by 2" wide. I flipped the Cherry Pie flavored bar over, and was floored. The ingredient list was on the side - NOT hidden under the wrapper fold. Completely and utterly dumbfounded. Ingredients? Just 3 - Dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries. This is unheard of in protein bars. I picked up the Peanut Butter Cookie flavored bar. Ingredients? Just 3. Dates, peanuts, salt. It was the nutritional info that was hidden under the flap on the Lara Bar - and there was a little shock. Calories in these small bars?? 180 to 220. That is a lot!! However, for the simplicity of the ingredients, I was hooked.

    I purchase 3 different varieties - Cherry Pie, Peanut Butter Cookie, and Apple Pie. All 3 I found tasty, though the overwhelming texture of the bar is from the dates in the mixture - but not the taste. The Apple Pie tasted of Apples, the Cherry of cherries. I happen to like dates, but some might not care for the texture. They are soft and chewy, and I think might be a good Clean "On the Go" supplement for the Clean Eater. Something to tuck into a desk to eat when your sweet tooth attacks. Something to eat with a piece of fruit for one of your mini meals. These would also be perfect to eat prior to going out for the evening, to help prevent cravings of inappropriate foods.

    I will be on the lookout for Lara bar coupons from now on. I've seen a Buy 1, get 1 coupon previously. By the way, I think these would be excellent for your Clean Eating stockpile or for Clean Eating TEOTWAWKI.
     With a long shelf life ( the ones I bought said "Best by late 2012 ), these would be great for keeping in an emergency preparedness stockpile.

    These are apparently available at other retailers nationwide...I just found them at my TJ's first.

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    IMI : Incentive, Motivation, In Control

    "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. 
    That's why we recommend it daily."  -Zig Ziglar

         If you've made the decision that Clean Eating is the nutritional change you need to make your body and mind healthy - congratulations! You are starting down a path towards better health. You realize that removing processed foods from your diet is the key to "resetting your body's machine to factory specifications"...but staying motivated? That can be harder. We are human. We often take the easiest path. We often revert to deeply ingrained habits. 

         Use the following 3 keys to keep yourself motivated, and On Path. 

    1. Incentive:  Sometimes your own personal motivation isn't enough. Sometimes what we need is someone who will kickstart us, we need a hero, a role model - someone we can look up to. Find that person. They are your catapult. Keep their picture near you; write yourself notes with quotes from that person to remind you why you admire that person. Take that inspiration because that is your power, your driving force. Your role model would stick to it. Why aren't you? 

    2. Motivation : Visualize where you want to be. What is your ultimate goal with Clean Eating? Weight loss? Better physical health? What are small goals you can reach to step forwards to your ultimate goal? Lose 5 pounds in the next month? Reward yourself with something special once you attain that small goal. Write it down, and don't hesitate to reward yourself for staying on track. Write down a timeline of rewards - what will you give yourself for 10 lbs lost? 15? 25? Post this in a very central place - above your computer, or on the fridge.

    3. In Control :Forward movement is up to you. You are the Master of your body - what happens to it, and how you treat it are entirely up to you. Knowing you are successfully changing your diet - your nutrition, and ultimately your health ( and as a nice side effect, your appearance ) is incredibly impowering. Focusing in on   "I am in control." Keep mental cues at the forefront. For me, it was the phrase "This will not get me where I want to be..." when I was contemplating an unclean food - and I still have to say this to myself occasionally. 
    ( Easter candy was on sale 75% off  this week at CVS. I looked at it. A lot. After coupons, they would have basically been giving me the candy - but I said no - that candy will not get me where I want to be, and my family doesn't need it, either. )

    Incentive, motivation, control. 3 keys to keep in mind as you take your first steps down a Cleaner path. Give yourself incentive and motivation. Know you are in control.

    Here is my motivation. I've been looking for a goal for a little while - something to work towards. Last week while driving home, I noticed a sign by the side of the road, announcing my church's annual 5k walk/run for charity. I stopped on the side of the road, and stared at the sign intently...and realized, this is my goal.

    This time next year, I will enter and run in that charity 5k event. I've never run before...but I know I can do it. I have incentive, I have motivation - and I am in control.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Another Clean Eating Condiment: Amore Pesto Paste

         Clean Eaters are always on the lookout for purchased products that can enhance their meals. I've discovered a line of herb condiments in a tube that are not only Clean, but are well worth your purchase and experimentation.

          Amore brand pastes are a really nice addition to the CE pantry. Careful to use them in moderation...they can have quite a high sodium content - however, when used correctly they will add a lot of flavor to CE staples like salmon and chicken.

         Amore pastes are available in the following varieties: pesto, garlic, herb, tomato, anchovy, sun dried tomato, and hot pepper. You might start looking for them in the section of your grocery store that has gourmet items, or where you would normally find items like spaghetti sauces, or even perhaps in the spice and herb aisle.

         I bought and used the pesto flavor and added a small smear to a plain grilled chicken breast. It has an intense basil and pine nut flavor, and really added a lot of flavor to my chicken with a very very small amount of paste. The ingredient list for the pesto paste is refreshingly short: basil, sunflower oil, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, garlic, and citric acid. A serving of the pesto paste is considered 2 tablespoons...and that in my opinion is a lot. The sodium content for the 2 tablespoons? 590 mg...yikes! However, I would estimate I had a teaspoon or less on my chicken breast and that was indeed more than enough - and that is a sodium content I can live with for a product used sparingly and that adds so much flavor in such a little dab.

     By the way - like all of my product reviews...I am not compensated nor receive free product in exchange for them. Unlike some bloggers, I don't look for free samples. When I find a product I like, I post about it. When I find a product I dislike, I post that, too.


    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Clean Eating Magazine Fusion Enchiladas

         I love Mexican food - and since starting Clean Eating, I've discovered that many of my Mexican favorites aren't necessarily off the menu anymore. They just need to be rethought and reconstructed.

    I found this recipe at Clean Eating Magazine's website , and was immediately inspired to try it. The "refried bean" puree was easier to make than I anticipated, and the results were delicious.


    • 1/2 small onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
    • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame beans
    • 1 tsp cumin, ground
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
    • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp cumin, ground
    • 8 oz sirloin beef, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen and thawed, canned or fresh)
    • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
    • 2 cups baby spinach
    • 1 1/2 cups all-natural low-sodium tomato sauce, divided
    • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    • 8 small whole-wheat flour tortillas (about 6 to 8 inches in diameter)
    • ½ cup low-fat organic mozzarella cheese, shredded


    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
    2. Prepare “refried” edamame: Bring 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add onion, garlic and edamame, bring back to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain onion-bean mixture, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Pour bean mixture and reserved cooking liquid into a food processor and add cumin, chili power and lime juice. Purée until almost smooth and season with salt and black pepper. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.         
    3. Prepare beef filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 tsp oil, garlic and cumin. Add beef and mix well to season. 
    4. In a nonstick sauté pan, heat remaining 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté for about 1 minute, until lightly browned. Add corn, red pepper and spinach, and mix well to combine. Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through. Season with salt and black pepper and remove from heat. 
    5. Spread 1/2 cup remaining tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside. 
    6. Spread tortillas out in a single layer on a flat work surface. Scoop 2 to 3 tbsp edamame filling and spread in the center of each tortilla. Top with 2 to 3 tbsp beef mixture and roll tightly. Place enchiladas seam-side down on top of tomato sauce in baking dish. Cover with remaining tomato sauce, top with cheese and place dish in oven. Bake enchiladas until hot throughout and cheese is melted, about 8 minutes.
    7.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.