Saturday, July 30, 2011

On The Passing of 11th Hour - A Tribute to Susan

Susan Renee Tomb, aka 11th Hour, succumbed to cancer on July 20, 2011. 

Susan, born August 31, 1959 in North Hollywood, CA, was a fiercely loyal Browncoat who expressed her love, passion, and commitment through her art, photography, paintings and writings. She is survived by her few close friends, many fans, and beloved cat, Rocko. 
Memorial services are being arranged and will be posted when finalized.


Susan ( 11th Hour ) Tomb was a gifted artist who expressed her devotion to Firefly in her artwork. She designed the "official" alternative dvd cover for Serenity, numerous "guerilla marketing" posters, and other Browncoat goodness. 

I had the pleasure of communicating with 11th Hour via email a few dozen times, but I never met her. She was a sweet, friendly woman whose devotion to all things Browncoat was an inspiration to those Firefly fans both brand new and those of us who watched it First Run. I first met Susan on the OB, then reconnected her over at She was simply amazing. 

Susan, I  haven't talked to you in years, but your passing has me in tears. 

Your light will be missed.

Three Pea Salad

I love peas - green, crisp and delicious. Snow peas, snap peas, English peas. I love them all. This beautiful, flavorful salad is perfect to bring to a family dinner, a picnic, or just to enjoy all your peas at once.


8 oz snow peas, trimmed
8 oz snap peas, trimmed
10 oz fresh English peas
1 1/2 c radishes ( sliced thinly - about 9 medium radishes )
4-6 oz goat cheese, crumbled


1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Make salad - Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch all peas for about 3 minutes. Note: If using frozen peas, thaw all completely and let cool instead of step one.
Place peas and radishes in a serving bowl.

2. Dressing: Whisk all dressing ingredients together and pour over the peas. Sprinkle with goat cheese

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cowboy Steak With Coffee Rub

I love steak. I love coffee. Heck, I even love cowboys. What's not to like about a steak with a coffee rub?

This nice little rub by Ellie Krieger ( Food Network's resident "Clean Eating" cook / nutritionist ) is getting tucked away as a future go-to for rubs! Coffee rub is a classic preparation for steak and the addition here of a medium chili powder will give the meat a subtle, sweet spiciness.


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder, or other chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine ground espresso coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 Healthy Clean Cooking / Eating Mistakes

I found this list of common healthy cooking mistakes over at the Food Network's blog.. I think they are well worth the repeat here - I know I am guilty of more than one!

1. “Refrain from peeling your fruits and veggies as the skin is packed with nutrients.  Buy organic and give them a good wash before using they enjoy the texture and nutrition those peels provides … (and) … Don’t boil your veggies as it leaches the nutrients.  Try a quick pan steam with a little bit of water for tasty, tender yet crisp veggies.  Feel the need to boil — save the water for cooking grains or soups.”
-Katie Cavuto Boyle

2. “Many of my clients admit they’ll use way too much sauce (teriyaki, sweet and sour, BBQ, etc.) when marinating food or making a stir fry. Typically the serving size is only 2 tablespoons, but they’ll pour on closer to 1/4 cup, which is filling an otherwise healthy dish with loads of unnecessary calories, sugar and sodium. I recommend using less sauce and adding more flavor with fresh herbs, spices, or lemon zest.”
Janel Ovrut

3. “Some people like to slice up fruits and veggies so they’re ready to snack on. This is a great idea for a healthy snack, but there are some things to keep in mind. Slice fruits and veggies in large chunks—the smaller the size, the easier the vitamins are destroyed. Also, prepare enough food for only a day or so—the longer it sits around, the less vitamins are present.”
-Toby Amidor

4. “Butter, for example, has an unhealthy halo due to the saturated fat content; we know that saturated fats are bad for our heart health. Olive oil, on the other hand has a healthy halo due to its unsaturated fat content, and we know that unsaturated fats are good for heart health.  The heart health message seems to have gotten through; however, many people think that if they are on a weigh loss diet, substituting olive oil for butter will aid in their weight loss goals. It is important to understand that a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil (and any other fat, including lard, canola oil, corn oil, beef tallow, etc…) all have the same number of calories. The unsaturated fats are over all ‘healthier’ fats, but when evaluating fats, one must realize that they are still a major contributor to calories in the diet.”
-Chef Kyle Shadix, MS, RD, certified chef de cuisine & culinary nutrition communications consultant

5. “Choosing to go all organic is a great thing (if you can do it) but many people don’t understand that just because junk food (chips, cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy and more) is organic it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best choice. I find that many people believe that buying organic makes them immune to health problems.”
- Stefanie Bryn Sacks, M.S., Culinary Nutritionist, food counselor, nutrition educator and chef instructor

6. “Buying turkey burgers in place of 93% lean beef without reading the fat content. If the turkey burgers contain the skin, then they are often higher in fat than a beef patty–in this case you’d be better off getting the extra iron at a lower calorie load by going with the beef burger.”
- Melissa Halas-Liang, MA RD CDE, founder of

7. “I tell folks: A little bit of full-flavored, full fat cheese is better than any mountain you can create of fat-free cheese!  There is so little flavor in fat-free cheese that people end up grating up a mountain of the stuff just to generate the flavor they think they are getting!   Use the real stuff; a little goes so far, and you know exactly what the ingredients are!
- Amanda Archibald, R.D., founder/owner, Field to Plate

8. “Substituting 100 percent (full fat) with the fat-free version and trying to replace every bit of fat (or sugar) with a non-fat or sugar-free alternative.  I say enjoy the real thing, just don’t overdo the real thing!”
-Christopher R. Mohr, PhD, RD, exercise physiologist and registered dietitian of

9. “People try to use sugar substitutes in baked goods, especially cookies.  Sugar provides many roles in the baking process, and using a sugar substitute in place of the real stuff just changes the taste, texture, and the way your baked goods will look.  I suggest using real sugar in recipes and reduce the amount that the recipe calls for by 1/4. Generally, the baked good will come out just fine and you have successfully reduced some of the added sugar.”
- Julie Upton, MS, R.D., freelance writer and co-founder of

10. “I find that many of my clients go bland when cooking healthy.  They grill a chicken breast without seasoning, they forget to spice a stew or they make a low-fat sandwich without a bit of excitement.  I’m fine with their choices if they like the taste, but I worry if they consider their healthy meal a punishment.  Here’s my fix:  fresh thyme and rosemary goes a long way, get saucy with basil leaves, kick it up with chili pepper, give it an Indian twist with cumin and turmeric or shred some ginger.  For a sandwich, go for it with a spicy mustard, horseradish or cranberry relish.  Healthy meals do not have to be bland!”
- Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, CSSD, blogger for and co-author of Energy to Burn

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Have You Tried...Queso Fresco?

Queso Fresco is a semi soft cheese of Spanish / Hispanic origin - similar in texture to combination of fresh mozzarella and a goat cheese. It is smooth with a definite whole milk flavor, moist, and moderately salty. It is easily cut with a knife and like fresh mozzarella, has a lot of "give" to it - it is springy and easily dented.

In my quest to think out of the box for new breakfast, lunch, and mini-meals, I've come upon cheese and crackers as a satisfying, filling choice. Paired with Wasa Multigrain bread crisps, the Queso Fresco is front and center. Not a lot is needed - and the moist, creamy cheese is perfect against a hearty, crispy cracker. Just add a piece of fruit to your cheese and cracker - and you've got a filling, balanced meal.

Make sure to look at your cheese's ingredients and pick a brand that doesn't have preservatives or unusual ingredients. The only thing in your cheese should be milk, salt, and enzymes. Of course, an organic source is best. Queso Fresco is available in most stores as both a small wheel of cheese, or as crumbles.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bobble Water Bottles with Filters

So, you are making the switch to Clean Eating. You are reducing the amount of processed foods you are eating. You are reading labels, making smart food substitutions, and are eating 5-6 mini meals a day to make sure you are keeping full and that blood sugar level. But have you added the water component?

Drinking 60-80 ounces of water per day is crucial - crucial - to Clean Eating success. It keeps you hydrated, flushes toxins from your body, and satiates your body so you are not eating unnecessarily ( many people mistake thirst for hunger, and overeat ). How Much Water Do I Really Need?

The water bottle above would be a perfect choice to keep next to you at your desk during the day and to keep by your side. That little tube sticking down into the water is actually a replaceable filter, making any tap water you fill it with taste pure and fresh. Best of all, you can get this in several different sizes: 13 ounces, 18.5 ounces, and 34 ounces.

Check this out at  You can also find it at such various stores as Office Depot, Kohl's, Target, Bloomingdale's, The Vitamin Shoppe, and GNC. I found it at Harris Teeter, a large Southern grocery store chain. They retail for about $10, and are BPA free.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ceviche - The Original Clean Cooking Method

The word ceviche "se-VEE-chay" or more accurately "seb-BEE-chay"" describes both the cooking technique and the end result for seafood cooked by the acidity of lemon and lime juices, and not by traditional heating methods. It is typically shrimp or other seafood ( scallops, chunks of fish, etc ) marinated in lemon/lime juice until the flesh is firm - typically 3 hours or longer. This marinating cause the proteins in the seafood to become denatured ( the cells are solidified ) - or as we more commonly know it - cooked. The acid does not kill bacteria and parasites as well as heat does, so it’s important to start with the freshest, cleanest fish possible.

It is typically served in small portions, as the seafood will retain a slightly raw taste to it, though it is cooked. It is also mixed with sliced onions, tomatoes, and leaf seasonings like cilantro.

CE reader Jolie has a lovely, simple ( chunky! ) recipe  over on her blog 

Here is a lovely collection of seviche recipes from various countries though there are few pics...

And here is the one I made :


  • 2 lbs of firm, fresh red snapper fillets (or other firm-fleshed fish), cut into 1/2 inch pieces, completely deboned ( I used shrimp, as my husband dislikes fish )
  • 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh seeded tomatoes
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Dash of ground oregano
  • Dash of Tabasco or a light pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado
  • Tortillas or tortilla chips


In a non-reactive casserole dish, either Pyrex or ceramic, place the fish, onion, tomatoes, chili, salt, Tabasco, and oregano. Cover with lime and lemon juice. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for an hour, then stir, making sure more of the fish gets exposed to the acidic lime and lemon juices. Let sit for several hours, giving time for the flavors to blend.

During the marinating process the fish will change from pinkish grey and translucent, to whiter in color and opaque. Serve with chopped cilantro and slices of avocado with heated tortillas for ceviche tacos or with tortilla chips.

Friday, July 22, 2011

WhoNu Cookies - The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

     Deceptive nutritional advertising really raises my hackles now-a-days, and the advertising for a new "nutritional" cookie has me frothing at the mouth ( giggle ).

     WhoNu cookies are marketed as "healthy" cookies - and indeed , a 3 cookie "serving" has A LOT more vitamins and minerals than a regular Oreo or Chips Ahoy.

They sound pretty nifty, huh? Fiber, 20 essential vitamins, and iron? Huh. 

I should be feeding my children these healthy, nutritional cookies! "


What they fail to tell you: WhoNu cookies have trans fats, the same as in any other Oreo or Chips Ahoy. They have almost 4 teaspoons of sugar per 3 cookie serving. That is a fair amount. Those 3 cookies have 160 calories together. Still the same as the regular Oreos or Chips Ahoy. They have the same highly processed white flour, sugar, and fat - just with artificially introduced vitamins and minerals. Don't kid yourself thinking these are a smart trade if you are an Oreo hound.

 Of course, as a Clean Eater, this isn't a product you'd think of buying. It is highly processed, and not healthy at all. I'm posting about it to point out that advertising doesn't tell you the whole story, and taking a product for its face value can be a nutritional disaster. Unfortunately, this is why Americans ( in my opinion ) are getting fatter and fatter. We have advertising that tells us the product is healthy, and in our minds, we've been taught to think this is "better." And you know there will be people out there who think, "Yeah, I can have 9 of these cookies - they are healthy" - when in reality, those 9 cookies are for all intensive purposes, the same as Oreos or Chips Ahoy.

Investigate. Observe. Think.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

TraderJoe's Spotlight: Chile Lime Chicken Burgers

Last week while in Trader Joe's, I specifically looked for a product that had been mentioned to me by a co-worker - their Chile Lime Chicken burgers. These are in the frozen section - 4 patties to a box.

 As I examined the nutrition label to determine if they are clean ( and they are - even if the chicken is not labeled as organic, this is minimally processed and all recognizable ingredients  - ingredients are ground chicken, onions, bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, "natural flavor", salt, lime juice concentrate, and red pepper flakes. ) , a woman came up to me and remarked "Those are SO yummy!" So, I bought the box. 

For my first serving, I put 2 burgers onto my trusty George Foreman grill and cooked them. They looked so amazing - they grilled to a nice crispy texture, with lovely scorch marks and they looked really appetizing. I had mine on a Nature's Choice whole grain bun. And...

Not good! The texture was gross - like a thin layer of dense foam. They had a remarkable rubbery consistency I didn't care for at all. The taste was ok - it was the consistency I found off putting. 

As Andrew Zimmern says, always try foods twice - so last night, I grilled the other two patties in the exact same manner, but this time chopped them up and put them in my salad for dinner. I used and olive oil and vinegar dressing. I have to say, in a salad...the consistency took a back seat and the added flavor and protein were welcome. 

I can't say I will buy these again. As a burger, the consistency leaves a lot to be desired. There are a lot of other foods I'd rather eat in their place - specifically, turkey or salmon burgers. Why these are so well liked is a little beyond me...

Do you like these? Did I cook them incorrectly??

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Product Review: Justin's Almond Butter with Maple

Through the kindness of CE reader Brigid, I was the recipient of a nice little gift - a jar of Justin's Almond Butter with maple.

     The jar of Archer Farms ( Target brand ) almond butter  is almost empty, so that cute guy in the brown uniform showed up at my office right in the nick of time! ( My UPS guy and his shorts are always a welcome sight at my office, but bearing a delicious gift??? Yes, it was a good day... )
     I expected this almond butter to be much sweeter than it actually turned out to be. I was more than surprised that the maple flavor is subtle and enhances the rich flavor of the almond butter perfectly. This is a delicious variation on almond butter that I had to admit I liked better than my Archer Farms almond butter! Creamy but not too dense, light maple flavor that is not cloying or over powering - simply delicious. I also found it easy to mix ( all almond butters separate, so you have to mix them upon opening...) and creamily spreadable. All in all, a wonderful treat on apples, or my Wasa "Light and Crisp" bread I keep in my desk at work.

     And I forgot to mention - North is a big fan of this almond butter, too!

     If you are browsing your local health food store, or the organic / health food area of your grocery store, see if they carry's Justin's almond butter. This stuff is well worth the space in your CE pantry!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prepare for the Tomato Influx!


Just like the inevitable tide of zucchini that starts this time of year...tomato crops are coming in strong and you might find yourself being offered a few tomatoes by a friendly co-worker or relative. Tomatoes are definitely a CE treat sliced on top of burgers, on salads, and mixed into a veggie stir-fry. But what else can you do with a tomato?

1. Check out George Washington Carver's 115 Ways to Serve a Tomato list. This list of simple tomato preparations has stood the test of time - and was created WAAAY before the advent of processed foods. Most if not all of these recipes are simple, straightforward - and Clean. ( Note: the list starts 1/2 way down the page, after the "How to Grow" section.

2. Make your own ketchup:
  • 1/2 bushel of ripe tomatoes, paced
  • 1 quart vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/2 pint of salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Cook the tomatoes until very soft; press through a fine sieve to remove the seed, return to the kettle, and cook as thick as you desire the ketchup. Now add all the other ingredients; cook 10 or 15 minutes longer; pour into sterilized bottles and cork tightly. No further sealing is necessary; it will keep for years.

3. My husband's favorite: stuff them with rice: Giada's Stuffed tomatoes.

I'm SURE my husband's interest in this recipe has NOTHING to do with his infatuation with Giada...

4. Make your own salsa - chop tomatoes, peppers ( hot or mild ), onions, cilantro, lime - there are thousands of recipes online for salsa, thousands of permutations that will freeze well!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Breaking Out Of The Breakfast Rut

    Lately I've realized I've fallen into a breakfast rut - same thing to eat in the morning: Greek yogurt ( vanilla or honey flavored ) with fresh fruit added. If this is Wednesday, I must be having a banana. Yawn.

   Breakfast means "To break the fast" you have been under by not eating since your evening meal the night before. It doesn't mean "waffles / bacon / eggs / muffins / yogurt." My older sister Mothra™ doesn't eat "breakfast foods" as her first meal of the day. She typically eats a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and a sharp horseradish mustard. She once said to me something along the lines of "My body doesn't know what time it is. It only cares that I'm eating something healthy." ( My sister is not a Clean Eater - but she does usually eat in a very healthy manner. ) This set me back a bit, and made me think. She is absolutely right - just because it is 8 am does not mean I am limited to eating eggs, or yogurt.

     Starting today, my breakfast routine is going to change. I'm going to go out of my way to bring foods to work ( I eat once I get to work ) to eat that have more variety. Sure, I'll still have a Greek yogurt a few times a week - but I'm going to work in leftover steak from the night before in a CE burrito. I'm going to bring turkey and chicken to eat with a salad, or with my favorite black beans. I'm going to bring a 1/2 c of Clean granola to eat on the side, with my yogurt and fruit. I'm going to climb out of this rut with all of the CE tools I've taught myself in the last year   ( I just realized - August 24, I will have been eating Clean for 1 year! )

     I'm also going to make myself a batch of these crustless egg quiches for the freezer. Take a few cooked quiches out and bring them with me to work for a quick "something different" on the go.


  • 8 ounces turkey breakfast sausage, removed from casing and crumbled into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces broccoli florets cut in small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup shredded organic cheese  ( Use your favorite kind )
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup 1% milk


  1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Coat a nonstick muffin tin generously with cooking spray (see Tip).
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Add oil to the pan. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the sausage. Let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in scallions, cheese and pepper.
  3. Whisk eggs, egg whites and milk in a medium bowl. Divide the egg mixture evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon to a tablespoon of the sausage mixture into each cup.
  4. Bake until the tops are just beginning to brown, 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a rack on top of the pan, flip it over and turn the quiches out onto the rack. Turn upright and let cool completely.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Individually wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, remove plastic, wrap in a paper towel and microwave on High for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • A good-quality nonstick muffin tin works best for this recipe. If you don't have one, line a regular muffin tin with foil baking cups.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Like Bananas? Like Ice Cream? Try Yonanas

I'm not normally one to be taken in by tv infomercials, but when I saw this one, my CE tuned brain immediately saw the possibilities...

You take ripe bananas and put them in the freezer and allow them to freeze solid. Then, you feed the frozen banana ( and any other frozen fruit you add ) into the Yonanas machine, and it comes out a frozen, ice cream like texture. No dairy, no sugar, no added junk. Just frozen fruit. I am intrigued! You can also add other things like peanut butter, nuts, etc to flavor the mixture.

The machine retails for $50. Now, I know you'd have to use it many times to see a return on investment - but a machine like this could really add a new dimension to your Clean Eating. If you like frozen yogurt or ice cream, I think this will be a definite plus to the variety in your diet!

I'm told you can also find this in stores like Bed,Bath, and Beyond ( Use that 20% off coupon you get in the mail! )
It is also available through - but the price is $70 with $12 shipping! : Yonanas

There is an informercial like video over at

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pluots and Apriums

      "Do not fear me. Ours is a peaceful race and we must live in harmony."  - The Message, Firefly, 2003

    There is a difference between genetically modified foods, and foods that are a cross between two existing variations of food. Genetically modified organisms ( GMOs ) are foods that have had the genetic coding tampered with in some way as to alter the food's natural predispositions - making it potentially more disease resistant, slower to ripen ( and thus easier to get to market ), or even more resistant to herbicides or pesticides - the farmer can use harsher chemicals on his crops without damaging the product. Cross bred foods are foods produced when 2 separate but genetically similar plants are combined to produce a third, completely new food with characteristics of the parent foods.

      Some people argue that cross bred foods are potentially equally as dangerous as GMOs. I don't agree with this at all. There are so many naturally occurring instances of success cross breeding - there are 2,500 variations of apples in Nature, for example. Foods that are manipulated in a laboratory to change the base genetic code are foods that will fall under the GMO umbrella - and thus, are potentially questionable at this point. I am not an expert in this, nor do I play one on tv. I honestly don't know if GMOs are ( in the long run ) something we should be eating. I do think it is important to stick with foods as they occur in Nature.

     Pluots ( ploo-aught ) are a cross between an apricot and a plum - and taste like a plum with strong apricot notes in it. The aprium is also a cross between an apricot and a plum - but it tastes like an apricot with strong plum notes. A subtle but definite difference in the two. These are excellent in fruit salads and work well in baked goods. The pluot and the Aprium are sweeter, jucier, and plumper than either an apricot or a plum generally are.

     Bottom line, understand and know the difference between cross bred foods and foods that are GMOs. You'll be very pleased to get to know the pluot and the aprium.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Clean Eating and Mindfulness

     In my daily life, I try to be mindful - aware of purpose, having both situational and emotional awareness, and connecting my physical body with my emotional state. The key phrase there is the "I try" - it doesn't always come to pass that I am as engaged as I want to be, it doesn't always happen that I am fully connected - but I try. Clean Eating has helped me with mindfulness - I am so much more aware of what I put into my body and how it reacts than I have ever been. Have you ever taken more food for your plate than you were able to eat in one sitting? That is not being mindful to your body's actual needs. You were eating with your mind, not with your body.

     Mindfulness concerning your nutrition is key to understanding Clean Eating.  Sure, there are plenty of choices, every day at every meal - but ask yourself these questions:
  • How hungry am I?
  • What food looks or sounds inspiring to me?
  • What does my body most need right now?
  • What, if anything, am I craving? ( More specifically, what nutrients is my body telling me it is missing? )
  • What Clean food items can I chose that will satisfy what I've determined above AND keep me on my Clean Eating path?
 Before eating something - gauge your hunger. Are you hungry, or really thirsty? What Clean food item is something you haven't had for a while? Are the foods I'm planning to eat balanced ( as in, I have a lean protein for fullness, and fruits / vegetables for their vitamins and nutrients ) ?

Slow down and tune into your body and its needs. What does your body's machine need right now?

If you'd like to read a post I wrote for North's blog about mindfulness, check it out here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clean Eating in a Can : Tuna Fish

     Canned tuna fish is a staple pantry item for the Clean Eater. Besides the standard tuna fish salad on a bed of greens or on the occasional tuna melt for lunch, canned tuna is versatile, relatively inexpensive, and Clean.

As tuna is an opportunistic fish that eats other fish species, they typically can have a higher mercury content than other fish that don't eat other fish. Research has shown that "chunk light" tuna made with immature skipjack tuna has a lower mercury content than albacore. 

StarKist notes in its FAQ that “FDA testing has shown that canned light meat tuna has an average of 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and that Albacore (white meat) tuna has an average of 0.35 ppm.” The reason is that albacore are larger, older fish than the types used for white tuna, so they’ve had more time to accumulate methylmercury.

 The amount of mercury ( PPM , or "Parts Per Million" ) is still relatively low - but if you are concerned, stick with "chunk light." I will still eat albacore; I prefer it significantly over chunk light.

There are a number of main meals and side dishes one can put together with a can of tuna!

Tuna Risotto 

14 oz low-sodium vegetable broth
1-1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup brown risotto rice or other medium-grain brown rice
2 tsp Italian seasoning (or 1/2 tsp each dried basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme)
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
11 oz tuna, pouched or canned, in water

Prepare risotto: Pour broth and 2-1/4 cups water into a 1-1/2 or 2 qt saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. (NOTE: You’ll be holding the liquid at a simmer throughout preparing the risotto) In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil for 1 minute over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in rice, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often to coat rice with oil.

 Carefully dip a glass or metal measuring cup into simmering stock and measure out 1/2 cup liquid. Gently pour 1/2 cup liquid into rice, being careful to avoid the rising steam. Let rice simmer for 3 minutes, stirring at least once every minute to help grains release their starches.

Dip measuring cup into stock again and add 1 cup liquid to rice, stir and let simmer for 5 minutes or until rice has absorbed liquid, again stirring every minute. Repeat procedure with another 1 cup liquid. Then add only 1/2 cup liquid at a time, simmer each batch for 5 minutes and continuing to stir rice occasionally. When adding the final 1/2 cup liquid, add Italian seasoning to rice as well.
Remove risotto from heat and gently stir in cheese and tuna.

Tuna Salad Nicoise

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Milk - It Does A Body Good?

     For some, milk is a questionable item. Think about this:

 Humans are the only creatures on the planet that regularly drink the milk of another species, and also the only species that drinks milk past childhood/infancy. 

Let that sink in for a second...

     If you chose to consume milk, that is perfectly ok - it is a personal choice, and one that I've decided is right for me, too. I don't drink a lot of milk, but put it in my coffee, and regularly eat dairy products like yogurt and cheese.

    There are, however, alternatives to cow's milk. You may have noticed them in the stores, but never tried one. Here's a quick overview of what is available.

Soy milk
Pro: Made by soaking soybeans and grinding them with water, soy milk is rich in protein and calcium and has no saturated fat. It also scores low in calories and comes in many flavors. It's another good alternative for lactose intolerant people.

Con: Soy products can inhibit protein and mineral absorption, offsetting its health benefits. "We still need more research to figure out where it's going to have its place," she said.
Studies investigating soy’s role in breast cancer have yielded mixed results. Some findings suggest a substance in soy acts as a hormone in breast cells, fueling increased cancer risk.

Goat's milk
Pro: A staple in much of the world, goat's milk is more easily digested by some because its protein molecules are sized differently than cow's milk. It packs as much calcium as whole cow's milk and contains more tryptophan, an essential amino acid.

Con: Goat's milk contains lactose, eliminating it as a choice for some. And its distinct taste — a combination of sweet and salty — can be offensive-  as can its strong odor.

Almond milk
Pro: Made from ground almonds mixed with water and sweetener, almond milk has become quite popular in the last several years. It shares several properties of dairy milk: Both have a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and a comparable fat content. Almond milk also has a rich, nutty taste and comes in several flavors, making it an attractive alternative for those allergic to dairy or soy.

Con: Protein is sparse in almond milk, with only 1 gram per cup, compared with 7 and 8 grams for soy and cow's milk, respectively. It's not suitable for those with nut allergies and lacks the B vitamins in cow's milk. Some almond milk has substantial amounts of sugar added, making it worth a peek at each brand's ingredient list.

Rice milk
Pro: Made from ground rice, this type of milk is very low in fat and calories. It also comes in plain or vanilla flavors and is lactose- and soy-free.

Con: Nutritionally, rice milk falls short compared with other varieties. It lacks Vitamins A and C, and contains very little protein. It should rarely be chosen thinking it's going to provide some superior nutritional health benefit.

Coconut milk
Pro: Made from ground coconut meat and juices, this milk is rich, creamy and tasty and is a mainstay of Indian and Thai cooking. Its fats are more easily digested than those in dairy milks, and coconut milk is low in cholesterol.

Con: Watch your waistline — coconut milk has a whopping 467 calories per cup. It's also low in calcium and protein and high in saturated fat. It's definitely an indulgence.

Thanks, msnbc

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

6 Things to Check Before That Item Gets In Your Shopping Cart

       What is the price per ounce or unit for the item?  At most stores, this information is displayed on the shelf edge sign. Bigger packaging doesn't always mean better value.

       When does it expire? If you don’t check the expiration date on dairy products, sooner or later you’ll wish you had. At least dairy products have a way of telling us when they’re old. Other foods may just be slightly off, or in the case of vitamins and other supplements, just plain useless. 

       What’s in it? If they were honest, many fruit drinks would have pictures of sugar cubes or corn syrup bottles on the sides instead of all those healthy looking fruits. "Wheat" bread isn’t necessarily 100 percent whole wheat. You might be surprised what you’re really getting for your money when you start reading the labels. A cornerstone of Clean Eating is examining and deciphering ingredient labels to understand your food better.

       What will it contribute to your nutrition? Some protein bars aren’t much different nutritionally from candy bars. Two loaves of bread sitting side by side on the shelf can have vastly different fiber, calorie and other nutritional counts. Check it out - again, reading labels. It's ok to consume a high fat food that contributes to your machine. It's not ok to consume something that provides little to no nutritional advantage.

       Where does it come from? All imports to the United States must meet FDA standards. Nevertheless, the FDA cannot inspect every item that comes into the country, so use your own judgment. Also, there may be countries with traditionally poor track records for wholesome manufacturing will want to avoid foods from those countries.


Monday, July 11, 2011

What is a Serving Size of Fruit or Vegetables?

     The USDA recently revamped their recommendations for foods Americans should be eating daily, and changed the term "servings" to "cups" - Now, we are told for a healthy diet, we should visit,  enter our age, sex, and activity level, and we'll be told how many cups of fruits and how many cups of vegetables we should be eating per day.

But what IS a cup of vegetables? A cup of fruit? Mother Nature doesn't typically present our Clean Eating in nicely proportioned servings...

asparagusAsparagus: About 4 spears
black beansBeans, Cooked (black, garbanzo, etc.): 1 cup
red bell pepperBell Pepper: 1 cup chopped or 1 large pepper (about 3 inches in diameter)
broccoliBroccoli: A generous fistful (tennis ball size) of florets or about 16 small florets
carrotsCarrots: 1 cup chopped or 2 medium whole carrots (6 to 7 inches long)
cauliflowerCauliflower: A little less than a 1/4 head of florets
celeryCelery: 1 cup diced or 2 stalks (11 to 12 inches long)
cornCorn: 1 cup of kernels or 1 large ear (8 to 9 inches long)
cucumberCucumber: 1 cup sliced/chopped or about 1/2 of a medium cucumber (8 to 9 inches long)
green beansGreen Beans: 1 cup cooked ( It's about 19 to 20 beans)
spinachGreens, Cooked (kale, chard, etc.): 1 cup
lettuceGreens, Raw (lettuce, spinach, etc.): 2 cups (about two large leaves of chopped romaine)
squashSummer Squash: 1 cup cooked/sliced/diced squash or 1 whole zucchini (7 to 8 inches long) or about 1/2 of a large yellow crookneck
sweet potatoSweet Potato: 1 cup mashed or 1 large baked potato (about 2 1/4 inches in diameter)


appleApple: 1 small apple (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, a little smaller than a baseball)
bananaBanana: 1 large banana (8 to 9 inches long)
cantaloupeCantaloupe: 1 cup diced or about 1/8 of a large melon
dried fruitDried Fruit: 1/2 cup
grapefruitGrapefruit: 1 medium grapefruit (about 4 inches across)
grapesGrapes: About 32 average grapes
orangeOrange: 1 large orange (a little bigger than a baseball)
peachPeach: 1 large peach (about the size of a tennis ball)
pearPear: 1 medium pear
pineapplePineapple: 1 cup chopped (a little less than 1/4 of a pineapple)
plumPlum: 2 large plums
strawberriesStrawberries: 8 large berries
tomatoTomato: 1 cup chopped or 1 large tomato (about 3 inches in diameter, about the size of a baseball)