Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trader Joe's Spotlight: Organic Vegetarian Chili

 I've had my eyes peeled for Desk Food: items I can keep in my desk drawer at work and pull out any time for a Clean meal when I forget my lunch, etc. Right now - the pickins have been slim. The drawer has canned tuna, canned pineapple tidbits ( in water! ), and Pure & Simple hot grain instant cereals. *Sigh* I'm ready for something else. I'm ready...for Fall. Hot soup on a cold day. Warm meals.

Trader Joe's organic vegetarian chili fits all my parameters. It is Clean / On this side of the border Clean, it is filling, it will live happily in my desk drawer until called into service, and it will be warm.

If you didn't read the label to know there is tofu in it, you'd swear those little bits are meat. It has a satisfying psuedo meaty taste, but this isn't hot chili so if you like it hot - have your sriracha in hand when sitting down to eat.

I tasted it cold, right out of the can. I liked the taste. Then I heated it up. Perhaps, I heated it too much. I found there to be a slightly "This is not the beef chili you are looking for - move along " aura to it once it was really hot.

Will I buy another can to keep in my desk drawer? I think so.

Do I think having a portion of homemade chili in the freezer at work for emergency eats might be better than the organic vegetarian chili from TJ's? I think so.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Do Your 4 Lbs Say About You?

The average American eats approximately 4 pounds of food a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less - but around 4 pounds is average. 

If someone examined your daily intake - what would they see? What would they surmise about you? Does the person who eats this food in a 24 hour period take care of his/her body, or is this person eating carelessly and without regard to their well being and health? 

Check out these famous pictures of weekly food intake from countries around the world, compared to the one for the United States:

 China - lots of vegetables, grains, and a little meat. There is a little alcohol in there, too - but that isn't the focus for this pic. A mainly vegetable centric diet, with meat and grain added.

Eqypt:  Again, lots of fruit and vegetables with some whole grain bread and a little bit of packaged food in there as well. On the whole, pretty healthy.

The United States: An embarrassment of poor nutrition. Fast food, processed meats, snack foods, beer, sodas, and sugary juices. The only healthy items on that table are the grapes, tomatoes, and the milk.

What do the 3 pictures above imply about how these people eat and live? Do they take care of themselves? Who is healthy? Who is not?

Every day, we make decisions on our nutrition. Eat this, not that. But back to your 4 lbs of food.

  • 4 pounds of raw veggies will provide 400 calories
  • 4 pounds of raw fruits will provide 1000 calories
  • 4 pounds of cooked whole grains/legumes provides 1600 calories
  • 4 pounds of nuts/seeds provides about 10,000 calories
  • 4 pounds of Lucky Charms, Pop Tarts, Cheese provides about 10,000 calories

If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.

What’s our poundage portion?

Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs
1.5 pounds fruits and veggies
0.5 pound grains
0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.5 pounds
= about 3,700 calories per day

What if we switched this around?

2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies
1.0 pounds of grains and legumes
0.3 pounds nuts/seeds
0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs
0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.2 pounds
= about 2,075 calories per day (this isn’t really that much, especially if you’re physically active.)

If we prioritize and eat nutritious, real, controlled energy foods – there isn’t much room left for the energy dense, fake foods. You only have about 4 pounds to work with each day.

Thanks to Ryan at Precision Nutrition for some of the info above 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Is Eggbeaters Clean?

Q:  Is Eggbeaters Clean? I've always cooked a cup of Eggbeaters in the microwave for a quick breakfast at work. Now that I'm trying to eat better, I was wondering if Eggbeaters is Clean?

A:  Technically, Eggbeaters is not Clean. A Clean food would be a freshly cracked organic egg, whisked and then microwaved. You'd consume the egg as you find it in Nature - so that would be the 1st choice. Eggbeaters is a processed product, so it would be considered "Unclean."


If you examine the ingredient list for Eggbeaters ( Original Eggbeaters, not any flavored version ) , you'll find the following:

Ingredients: Egg Whites. Less than 1% Natural Flavor, Color ( includes beta carotene ), spices, salt, onion powder, vegetable gums, and maltodextrin.

99% of Eggbeaters is just egg whites. Only 1% is other stuff, and the majority of that 1% is spices and salt.

Sodium content of a 1/4 cup serving of Original Eggbeaters? 115 mg.
Sodium content of a single, organic egg? About 75 ( naturally occurring ) mg.

So is Eggbeaters Clean? In my opinion, it goes into the "Border Food" bucket - a food you can safely eat occasionally, but on a daily basis you are better off going for the traditional Mother Nature approved egg delivery system: an organic egg in the shell.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pea, Broccoli, and Feta Pasta Salad

I'm not a big fan of British chef Janie Oliver, but when I saw this recipe in a magazine while waiting for my son's haircut - I was instantly intrigued. It is meant as a "going back to school / pack you child something Clean in their lunchbox." I'd like it for a lunchtime salad or as a nice cool side dish.

Pea, Broccoli, Zucchini and Feta Pasta Salad  

  • 1box Plus, Penne - whole grain
  • 3 cups organic broccoli ( small florets work best )
  • 1 c zucchini, chopped
  • 8 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Prepared Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2/3 cup Organic Peas (frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Mint
  • 1/2 cup Parsley
  • 8 oz or more Organic Feta Cheese


1. Cook penne in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Add the broccoli florets and chopped zuchinni  for the last three minutes of cooking. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, mustard, honey and olive oil in a small jar with a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake well with lid on.
3. Toss the pasta and broccoli with half of the dressing in a large bowl. Stir in the peas and red pepper flakes and leave to cool.
4. Once pasta is cool, add the chopped herbs and feta. Toss with the remaining dressing, add salt and pepper to taste, and divide up among lunch boxes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene & Me

Just a quick note: I'm in the path of Hurricane Irene, and it will be on my doorstep in the next 12+ hours. I'm not really concerned - I live a few hours inland, and have a well stocked house. My family and I could live happily off the grid for well over 2 weeks before we might need supplies. However - the electric company in my area is *ahem* less than optimal, and slow to react to emergencies. I might lose power for a few hours. It might be a few days.

If you come back in the coming days and see my daily tidbits haven't been updated, and I haven't posted anything power is off, but I'll be back as soon as I can.

First an earthquake, now a hurricane. Next week: plague of locusts.

Of course, somebody made a takeoff of "Come On, Eileen" - Worst James Rowland impression EVER.

Edited to add: Well, it is Sunday - and the hurricane was a non-event for those of us in the DC area. Windy and rainy for sure - but otherwise...we never lost power. 
Back to your regularly scheduled Clean programming...

Which is Worse? Fast Food Breakfasts Go Head To Head

The same people who brought us the "Which Food Has More Sugar?" Quiz  have a new food comparison quiz up:
Which Is Worse? Battle of the Fast Food Breakfasts

I'm not saying EITHER choice is Clean - but recognizing what is a better food choice is vital when eating Cleanly. Being a Clean is deciding in real world situations ( where you don't have Clean foods with you ) "What is the right choice? Which is the lesser of 2 evils?"

Can you make the right decision?

Burger King Bacon Egg Biscuit, or their French Toast Sticks?

McDonald's Breakfast Burrito or Sausage McGriddle?



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paleo Friendly Cauliflower "Rice"

When I Stumbled upon this recipe for rice made from cauliflower,  I just stared at the monitor with a little disbelief. What an AMAZING idea. It looks just like white rice! Paleo friendly "rice", too!

Cauliflower Rice

This is the basic preparation for transforming cauliflower florets into a rice alternative – season as you would any rice dish.

1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon butter of coconut oil
1 shallot or onion finely chopped (optional)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Coarsely chop and wash cauliflower florets.
2. Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice grains.
3. Heat the butter or oil in a wide skillet and and saute onions if using. Add the cauliflower “rice” and saute until softened – do not overcook.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Some optional variations;
Curried cauliflower rice – add 1 tablespoon turmeric or curry powder.
Herbed Rice – Add 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsely, cilantro, mint or other herbs.
Chinese “Fried Rice” – add 2 eggs to the middle of the pan with the cauliflower and stir until the eggs start to cook. Begin incorporating it with the rest of the cauliflower until cooked. Season with naturally fermented soy sauce and green onions.
Rice salad – mix in chopped cucumbers and tomatoes and season with an oil and vinegar dressing.

Thank you, Real Food Digest! - Color me impressed!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rethink Dinner - Have an Omelette!

A facet of Clean Eating is recognizing that your body is a machine - a machine that requires premium, high grade fuel in order to function properly.

Processed foods filled with man made chemicals, preservatives, and fat/calories/sodium? Low quality food.

Unprocessed, unadulterated foods with vitamins, minerals - as close to how they naturally occur? High quality food.

Your body doesn't care if it is 8 am or 6 pm. It wants healthy food, period. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are man made parameters as to what is acceptable to eat at certain times of the day - but you body wants what it wants: healthy food, no matter the time.

Eliminate the concept of "dinner" from your vocabulary. Have an omelette for your late meal. Stuff it with veggies, lean meats, fish, a sprinkle of organic cheese.

You can have omelettes on the table in just a few minutes, making you and your family a nutritious, filling, and Clean meal with little effort. Serve with a side vegetable and perhaps a salad, and you've got a lovely meal. 

If you have been "omelette deficient" in the past because perhaps you've never made one at home, check out this video to walk you through the steps to a perfect omelette. It is actually very easy once you get the hang of it! I searched multiple youtube videos, and I think Jamie Oliver explains it well.

Try out a few other recipes, too! - Chili bean Cheese Omelette Shrimp Avocado Omelette - Mushroom Spinach Omelette : Vegetable Omelette

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What is Agave Nectar?

     Agave nectar is often promoted as a Clean alternative to sugar products and is mentioned in Clean recipes as well - but what is it? What does it taste like? Where can I buy it? And most importantly - what is it best used in?

Like maple syrup, agave nectar is the concentrated sap of a plant : the agave plant ( which looks a little like an aloe plant ) When the agave has grown to 7-10 years old, the leaves of the plant are cut off, revealing the core of the plant (called the "pina"). When harvested, the pina resembles a giant pineapple and can weigh in at 50 to 150 pounds.

To make the agave nectar, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. Lighter and darker varieties of agave nectar are made from the same plants. Because of the low temperatures used in processing many varieties (under 118°F) raw foods enthusiasts generally regard agave nectar as a raw food.

The taste of agave nectar is comparable, though not identical, to honey. Many people who do not like the taste of honey find agave a more palatable choice. It also has none of the bitter aftertaste associated with artificial sweeteners.

Most brands offer two types: a light and a dark. The lighter syrups undergo less heating and a more thorough filtration to produce a more mildly flavored product that is neutral enough to be used in many culinary applications. The darker syrups are filtered less, and the solids left in the syrup make for a stronger nectar with a flavor sometimes compared to maple syrup.

Some people feel that agave nectar is a harmful sugar - just as processed as high fructose corn syrup. I feel that agave nectar, like honey and stevia - have a place on the Clean table. Nobody is telling you to drink nectar directly from the bottle. But a teaspoon in your tea is lovely, and as a substitute for sugar in baked goods? Agave nectar works great. 

Agave nectar is now more widely available than it used to be. You can find it in the organic section of most grocery stores, and sometimes in the baking section right along side sugars and honeys. 

What do you think of agave nectar?

Monday, August 22, 2011

3 Secrets To Making Clean Eating A Lifestyle, Not a Short Term Change

One of the ways people who are most successful with Clean Eating stay on path is to have the mindset that they aren't on a diet - they have changed their nutritional intake and this change is now a function of their lifestyle. If you view Clean Eating as a temporary change, you will have a hard time succeeding. Thinking "Well, I won't eat that Pop*Tart now, but I'll be eating that in 6 weeks" will make it difficult to avoid temptations and challenges to your new life without processed foods. Embrace it fully. You'll have the most success.

Here are 3 sound tips to making Clean Eating a lifestyle change:

1. Diversify your diet and include all foods. A balanced meal is one consisting of carbohydrates, protein and fats (yes, fat!). Carbohydrates provide quick energy, protein builds muscle, and fat sustains energy for up to four hours. You can’t lead an active lifestyle without fuel. Eating meals and snacks that contain carbohydrates, protein and fat is the best way to feel satisfied and have sustained energy.

Start by including foods from all of the food groups in your diet, such as low-fat milk and dairy products, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats like seafood, beans, eggs and nuts to create balanced meals. Aim to have at least three food groups represented in each snack or meal, and the variety will ensure you get the energy, vitamins and minerals you need.

2. Customize and individualize your diet. Incorporate your personal values into your food choices, and set realistic goals that you know you can accomplish. Don't force yourself to eat certain foods that you know you dislike, just because they are healthy. Don't like tomatoes? Don't eat them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating. You are unique and therefore your diet approach should be as well. Is it important for you to buy local food? Are cost and convenience your priorities? Do your cultural traditions take precedence? Consider all of these factors as you take small steps toward your healthy eating goals.

3. Enjoy what you eat. How do you balance weight management with “enjoying” food? Taste, flavor, satiety and pleasure are all important parts of eating, and these factors should be a part of your healthy eating plan. With some savvy meal planning and preparation, you can balance your diet across all five food groups and still include some of those “indulgences” without feeling guilty.Being prepared is a key. You will enjoy Clean Eating much more if you have foods at hand that are acceptable, rather than scrambling at the last minute for something to eat!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


The kanji above read "Persistance" - but other interpretations of this can be Endurance, Inner strength, Strength of Heart, and sometimes - Courage.

See the top image - the little swoop with the two dots in it? It mimics the heart. It is meant to draw the human heart into the word's meaning - to imply that inner strength, persistance...comes from an inner resource...your heart.

This word is so important to me, I carry it on my flesh. A reminder that through my strength of heart, I can accomplish anything. I can persist. I can endure.

It has come to my attention that for some, the change to Clean Eating is hard. Removing processed foods, and steering clear of temptations is a daily struggle.

I say to you - Persist. Endure. Make every day a challenge to keep processed foods away.

The only journey is the journey within. - Rainer Maria Rilke
Continuous effort is the key to unlocking our potential. - Winston Churchill
Fall seven times, stand up eight. - Japanese Proverb
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. - Albert Einstein
Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another. - Walter Elliott
Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock. - Author Unknown
If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. - Buddhist Saying
Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down. - Charles F. Kettering
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. - William James
Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer. - Author Unknown
Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. - Earl Nightingale
Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. - Louis Pasteur
If you are going through hell, keep going. - Winston Churchill
Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. - William Feather
Paralyze resistance with persistence. - Woody Hayes
All right Mister, let me tell you what winning means… you’re willing to go longer, work harder, give more than anyone else. - Vincent Lombardi
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. - Thomas Edison
Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. - Newt Gingrich
How long should you try? Until. - Jim Rohn
Our greatest glory lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Author Unknown
You can’t let go and still win. - Author Unknown
It is perseverance which distinguishes the strong from the weak. - Author Unknown

Friday, August 19, 2011

MASSIVE Ground Turkey Recall - Got Some of These Brands in Your Freezer?


Months after illnesses were first reported, and days after the Department of Agriculture first issued an alert about salmonella contamination in ground turkey, Cargill has initiated one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history.

Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey produced since February, though by now much of it would have been consumed. It's unclear how much meat is still on the market. Cargill is a $108 billion global food, farming, financial and industrial company, and through its subsidiaries it is one of the largest producers of beef and turkey products in the U.S.

The USDA has identified 79 people from 26 states made ill by exposure to Salmonella Heidelberg, a multi-antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria traced to a Cargill plant. One person has died, and officials believe the actual number of people made ill is much larger than the reported cases. Illnesses began to appear in March, but the USDA only warned consumers about the outbreak on July 29.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a growing concern, in great part because the meat industry routinely doses livestock with antibiotics in order to prevent disease on crowded, unhealthy feed lots. It's one of the chief concerns expressed, repeatedly, by food and environmental advocates who criticize the "industrial" food system. Whether or not this particular strain of salmonella originated because of feedlot conditions is unknown.

The New York Times reported:
Federal data shows that 10 to 15 percent of ground turkey typically is contaminated with salmonella. Federal data from tests in 2009 also showed that more than three-quarters of salmonella samples found on ground turkey was resistant to at least one type of antibiotic.
Those who thoroughly cooked the meat, and properly washed up after preparing food, are unlikely to have become ill, since cooking ground turkey to at least 165-degrees and washing hands and utensils with soapy water for 20 seconds is typically enough to kill the bacteria and prevent infection.

The ground turkey recall includes the following products with the establishment number "P-963" inside the USDA mark of inspection, with use or freeze-by dates of Feb. 2, 2011 through Aug. 23, 2011:
  • 10 lb. chubs of Honeysuckle White Fresh Natural Lean Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings
  • 10 lb. chubs of Unbranded Ground Turkey w/ Natural Flavoring 2 Pack
  • 80 oz. (5 lbs.) chubs of Riverside Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring
  • 10 lb. chubs of Natural Lean Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Fresh Lean HEB Ground Turkey 93/7
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Fresh HEB Ground Turkey 85/15
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Fresh Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring
  • 4-1 Pound Packages of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring Value Pack
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Fresh Ground Turkey
  • 48 oz. (3 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Fresh Ground Turkey
  • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
  • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey Colored with Paprika
  • 19.2 oz. (1 lb. 3.2 oz.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh 85/15
  • 48.0 oz. (3 lb.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh 85/15
  • 20 oz. (1.25 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
  • 48.0 oz. (3 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey Family Pack
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
  • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White Seasoned Italian Style Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings
  • 20 oz. (1 lb. 4 oz.) trays of Safeway Fresh Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings
  • 19.2 oz. (1.20 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey
  • 48 oz. (3.0 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey Family Pack
  • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Fit & Active Lean Ground Turkey 93/07
  • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lbs.) trays of Giant Eagle Ground Turkey Fresh & Premium Lean
  • 19.2 oz. (1 lb 3.2 oz.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh Lean 93/7
  • 20 oz. (1.25 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey
  • 16.0 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey Patties with "Use by" or "Freeze by" dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Kroger Ground Seasoned Turkey Patties Fresh 85/15, with "Use by" or "Freeze by" dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11
  • 16.0 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Shady Brook Farms Ground Turkey Burgers with Natural Flavoring with the following "Use by" or "Freeze by" dates: 07/09/11, 07/10/11, 07/11/11, 07/15/11, 07/16/11, 07/21/11, 07/22/11, 07/24/11, 08/01/11, or 08/04/11
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring
  • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Spartan Ground Turkey
  • 48 oz. (3 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
  • 40 lb. Bulk Packed Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring for Food Service Use Only

This is more an FYI than anything else. If you cook your ground turkey thoroughly and make sure to use good kitchen habits ( like not contaminating things with raw turkey, washing hands, washing cutting boards in the dishwasher... ) you are fine. 
But if you have any of the brands above in your fridge or not eat.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ian's Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs

I never thought a lot about bread crumbs until I started Clean Eating. It's bread. Little pieces of bread. I didn't even contemplate what kind of bread it could be -'s bread bits. 

Now, I know better. Now, I look, investigate, question. 

I've been looking for a Clean substitute for breadcrumbs for a while now. I add them to meatloaf and meatballs, and as a coating for baked foods like chicken tenders, etc. 

I used to use Progresso bread crumbs. Ingredients? 40. 

Gross! I can't believe they'd stick that plain old breadcrumbs. I see 4 sugar ingredients and partially hydrogenated oil. Ugh.

When I found Ian's bread crumb products, I was very very pleased. Ingredients? Just 4 in the whole wheat plain bread crumbs.

 They also sell an Italian flavor that has 9 ingredients

I found Ian's at my normal grocery store, but in the "organic and gluten free" area of the store. I find myself in that aisle more and more often...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Greek Yogurt Review, Part V

I'm not a big fan of Activia yogurts. Owned by Dannon, they've made some pretty aggressive marketing claims about their yogurts and lost a $45 million dollar lawsuit against them for false advertising concerning the digestive benefits of Activia and DanActive ( you might have noticed Jamie Lee Curtis no longer talks about regulating your bowels in those commercials - they can't say that anymore! ) But mainly, Activia yogurts are not Clean due to the excessive sugars added to their yogurts.

So, not missing a beat, Activia now has a Greek yogurt in their lineup. In the interests of being fair, I bought a cup of the vanilla flavor and brought it home- knowing full well, it isn't Clean and I wouldn't be recommending it for Clean Eating.

Ingredients: Cultured Grade A nonfat milk, water, sugar, fructose, milk protein concentrate, modified corn starch, contains less than 1% of: maltodextrin, modified food starch, natural vanilla flavor, malic acid, potassium sorbate ( to maintain freshness ) sodium citrate, Vitamin D3, natural flavors

Why do they have to put so much junk in their yogurt?? Why the added sugar? Other companies make yogurt just fine and dandy with 3 or 4 ingredients...

The nutrition label was a bit much, too.
Calories in 6 oz? 190
Sodium : 135 mg
Potassium: 450 mg ( this, however, is very good for a yogurt! )
Total carbs: 34 grams
Sugars: 29 grams ( ugh! That is one of the highest on the market for a 6 oz serving! )

I ate it, knowing I had been good earlier in the day, and would be "good" that night as well. It was creamy, but without that distinctive Greek yogurt tang we've come to expect ( Probably a 1 out of 5 on the tangy scale ). Like Greek yogurt one step down from "with training wheels on it" - it was that far removed from the Greek yogurts we've come to expect on the market today.  I found it overly sweet, and a little odd mouth feel at the end which wasn't gritty - but it detracted from the creaminess of the yogurt.

Activia Greek yogurt is just their attempt to jump on the Greek bandwagon with a product that is more sugary pudding than anything else.

Skip it. Unclean, and you deserve better. And shame on Jamie Lee Curtis for promoting such unhealthy carp.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tofu - Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With!

Tofu has a bad reputation. Tasteless. Bland. Rubbery.

Tofu is made from soybeans, water and a coagulant, or curdling agent. It is high in protein and calcium and well known for its ability to absorb new flavors through spices and marinades. Due to its chameleon-like qualities and nutritional value, tofu, a staple of Asian cuisines for hundreds of years, has recently become popular in Western vegetarian cooking.

There are two main kinds of tofu, silken or soft tofu, and firm or regular tofu.

Silken tofu, also called soft, silk or Japanese-style tofu has a softer consistency than regular tofu and will fall apart if not handled carefully. You may notice that silken tofu (soft tofu), unlike regular tofu, is sometimes packaged in aseptic boxes that do not require refrigeration. Because of this, silken tofu is sometimes sold in a different section of grocery stores than regular tofu, which is packed in water and requires refrigeration.

Both silken and regular tofu can be found in soft, medium, firm and extra firm consistencies. They are made from the same ingredients, but they are processed slightly differently, and are not interchangeable in a recipe.

Salad dressings, sauces and desserts usually use silken tofu for a thick and creamy texture. Silken tofu in an aseptic container has a shelf life of up to a year, unopened. Once opened, submerge any used portion with water in a container, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week.

Regular tofu, also called Chinese-style tofu or bean curd is more common than silken tofu and comes in a plastic container in the refrigerator or produce section of most grocery stores. Firm or extra firm regular tofu is best used in stir fries, tofu bakes or any dish where you will want the tofu to retain its shape. For recipes that call for crumbled or mashed tofu, such as mock ricotta or scrambled tofu, firm tofu will work just fine, though medium or soft tofu will have a smoother consistency.

Tofu is a product best experimented with. Some weekend day when you have some time, get yourself a carton of tofu, a recipe that intrigues you, and an open mind.

Clean Eating is about embracing foods that you might not ever have had a space for in your life before - fruits, vegetables, etc. Tofu is an excellent protein source that takes seasonings well. Experiment. Expand your repertoire. Try tofu.

And don't tell your family what it is until after they taste it. :-)

Also, you can add 5 points to your SciFi cred card if you got the title reference! -

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rare Justin's Nut Butter Coupon!

Wow, get it while it's still smokin' turbo hot...a rare coupon - $1 off 16 oz Justin's Nut Butter. No expiration date, either!

Just sign up with name and email, and you'll get the coupon in PDF form.

Sign Up for a Rare $1 off Justin's Nut Butter!

Newstand Alert: Clean Eating Magazine August / September 2011

The new ( double! ) issue of Clean Eating magazine is available on newstands now, and there are several great articles in this issue.

* Nice wrap up of several Clean Greek yogurts ( I always like product reviews! )

* A great overview of salads that your whole family will like as the main portion for dinner

Clean Eating Recipes from Chef Jo with your favorites from the food truck!

A wonderful article about cooking what is in season:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Understanding the USDA Food Label

While Clean Eating is all about focusing on foods that don't have a barcode, a certain amount of packaged food is unavoidable. Making wise choices that are as clean as possible is one of the fundamentals to living a Clean lifestyle along side foods with barcodes in your pantry.

The first step to making wiser choices is to understand how to read the USDA food nutritional labels that are standardized on all packaged foods in the United States. I've pulled a sample above, and we'll go through these one at a time and relate them to Clean Eating.

1. Serving Size and Servings per container - Important!
Knowing exactly how much a serving size is considered by the manufacturer is crucial! If you glance at a package and see the ingredients are borderline but don't realize a serving is 2 tablespoons but you go ahead and eat a cup ( that's 16 tablespoons ) you are eating 16 times the amount reflected by the nutritional information. So if that 2 tablespoons has 100 calories ( let's pretend ), then if you eat a whole cup - you've just consumed 1600 calories!

2. Calories
Calories aren't as important to the Clean Eater as consuming foods that are naturally found in Nature. However, if your calorie consumption is too high per day, you will be eating healthier but not losing weight. If your goal in adopting CE is weight loss and getting healthy as you do it, you'll need to be more aware of the calories you consume. Remember, there are 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat. Burn 3,500 calories, or consume 3,500 less in a week to lose that pound per week.

3. Nutrients
Total fat, sodium, and cholesterol are important numbers. Like calories, if you are CE for weight loss, you'll want to consider your fat intake, and knowing if your food as saturated or trans fats ( both bad ) is good to know. But also put things into perspective. For example - cheese has fat, as it is a product from milk. Here is where portion control ( bullet point #1 ) is important. How much fat is in your serving - and is your serving vastly out of proportion? Everyone should moderate their salt intake - and Clean Eaters are no exception. Salt makes you retain water, thwarting weight loss efforts.

4. Vitamins and Minerals
This area usually isn't vital to the Clean Eater, as we get a vast majority of our vitamins and minerals from our large fruit, veggie, whole grain, and meat diet. However, if you are deficient in one area ( iron, or like me - Vitamin D ) - these numbers are helpful to boost your daily intake.

5. Footnote
This area is what the Federal Government / USDA advises for a 2,000 calorie a day diet. Use this as a guideline if you wish, but personally I think the "permissible" fat and sodium levels are shockingly high.

6. Percentages
The percentages tell you what percentage of the USDA daily guideline the food you are considering satisfies. In the above example, the macaroni and cheese accounts for 18% of the total daily fat the USDA recommends you eat per day. Again, with the footnote, I don't pay this much mind - especially where it comes to fat and sodium.

We can't always avoid food without a bar code - but if you decipher the nutrition label correctly ( and ensure the ingredients in the container are naturally occurring and wholesome ), you will be on the right path to Clean Eating.

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sweet Potato Spread

I just adore sweet potatoes. They are hearty and filling, and pokes that little side of me looking to satisfy my
( now ) dormant sweet tooth.

Sweet potato spread is a fun, versatile recipe. Use it on crackers or veggies as a dip. Use it as a sandwich filling. Best of all, the recipe is easily tweaked to accommodate your tastes. You could leave out the curry, but add some honey and cinnamon to make it less savory.

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes, about 260 grams
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini or 1 tablespoon natural unsalted almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. In a saucepan, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil.( or microwave until cooked )
  2. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife (about 30 minutes). (During this period, prepare sauce.).
  3. Remove from saucepan. When cool, remove skin. 
  4. While potatoes are cooking, peel carrot and onion, and chop into small pieces.
  5. Place chopped carrot and onion into another saucepan and cover with 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Simmer carrots and onions until soft, about 8 minutes.
  7. Combine in food processor or mash until thin with potato rice / masher/
  8. Pureee sweet potato in a food processor with tahini or almond butter, curry powder, and ground cumin until just combined.
  9. Add carrot-onion mixture and puree until smooth.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Green Rice


  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup rice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In a blender, combine fresh cilantro leaves, fresh parsley leaves, white onion, garlic clove, and water. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and blend until smooth, 15 seconds.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add 1 cup rice and stir to coat. Add herb mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon oil and fluff with a fork. Serve rice with lime wedges if desired.

Thanks, Everyday Food

Maura's note: if you don't have access to fresh cilantro or don't have a blender / food processor - you will get almost similar results if you use Gourmet Garden's Fresh Herbs in a Tube.

You can find these in the produce section of your grocery store. Also, if you don't care for the taste of cilantro
( I'm looking at a specific person right now... ), this recipe is more than likely bendable to different types of green herbs and could be an interesting experiment...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Product Review: Justin's Honey Peanut Butter

After I tried Justin's maple almond nut butter,  I started looking for this brand in the grocery store. I found it at my local Safeway, and was pleased they had several varieties - including a version of my son's favorite cocoa-hazelnut spread ( AKA Nutella ). I found small squeeze packs of single serve peanut and nut butters, too - including an organic honey peanut butter. 
I'm a little bit "pro peanut butter" - I like it a lot. But other than not being organic, I found no reason to stop using the Skippy in my pantry. Ingredients are exactly the same as in the organic versions, and the salt and fat content is almost identical. 

However, this Justin's peanut butter is delicious. It is less creamy than other commercial peanut butters - it is reminding you that hey - it is made from peanuts, after all. But it has a deep peanut taste, a smooth mouth feel with a nice "stick to the roof of your mouth" texture, and is not overloaded with salt. It has the same calories, sugar, and fat content as Skippy, but without the hydrogenated oils and 1/2 of the salt content of Skippy.

Once again - I'm sold on Justin's. A quality product, a Clean alternative. 
Now, if I could only find coupons for it...

Buh bye, Skippy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What is a Clean Eating Mini Meal?

A core tenant of Clean Eating is eating smaller, more nutritionally intense meals 4-6 times per day. Aside from breakfast, lunch, and dinner - you should be eating a  meal in between breakfast and lunch to tide you over, and another between lunch and dinner.

But what should be in these "mini-meals?"

Look for food combinations that support and balance out what you ate for the previous meal. Remember that post I did about Clean Eating and the Glycemic Index? What did you eat for breakfast - a high GI food, or a low one? Did you eat eggs and fruit for breakfast? Try crackers and a nut butter for your morning mini meal. That will give your blood sugar a bit of a boost to avoid overeating at lunch time. Did you eat a little "bread heavy" at lunch time - perhaps a whole grain sandwich? Grab a piece of fruit and a Greek yogurt in the middle of the afternoon.

Don't worry so much about calories in these mini meals. You are consuming them to keep your blood sugar level, which keeps cravings at bay - and ultimately - keeps you on your Clean Eating path

Some ideas:

*2 hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit
* a handful of almonds and raisins mixed together
*whole grain crackers and peanut butter
*Greek yogurt and fruit
*hummus and pita bread slices
*melted or regular cheese on a slice of whole wheat with some leftover chicken breast underneath
*small bowl of Clean breakfast cereal with milk and fruit
*tuna fish salad mixed into a small amount of whole grain pasta
*sliced apple and organic cheddar cheese

Remember, some of these mini-meals are best prepared ahead - especially if you work in an office environment. Plan ahead so that you are ready to eat a Clean option in the day ahead, rather than grabbing what is convenient ( read : Processed and Unclean! ).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why This Butter IS Better

Part of the whole concept of Clean Eating is questioning the "Well, I've always bought that" or "I've eaten this for years" mentality, and actually looking, researching, and questioning what you put into your body on a regular basis. Is what you are consuming have as few ingredients as possible? As simple as possible? As unprocessed as possible?

Last week, I reached towards the tub of Country Crock margarine I buy for my guys to consume on their toast and such, and I paused.

What is margarine?

From the Wiki:

Modern margarines can be made from any of a wide variety of animal or vegetable fats, mixed with skim milk, salt, and emulsifiers. Like butter, margarine is about 80% fat, 20% water and solids, flavored, colored, and fortified with vitamin A, and sometimes D, to match butter's nutritional contribution to the human diet. The oil is pressed from seeds, purified, hydrogenated, and then fortified and colored, either with a synthetic carotene or annatto. The water phase is usually reconstituted, or skim milk, that is cultured with lactic acid bacteria to produce a stronger flavor. Emulsifiers such as lecithin help disperse the water phase evenly throughout the oil, and salt and preservatives are also commonly added. This oil and water emulsion is then heated, blended, and cooled. The softer tub margarines are made with less hydrogenated, more liquid, oils than block margarines.

Clear as mud, huh?

Essentially, margarine is oil that is processed so that when it become chilled, it solidifies into a solid form. Flavoring, coloring, salt, and preservatives are added before solidification.

Butter is cream and salt, shaken until the fat globules in the milk break down and join up to form a solid mass. You can make butter at home easily by putting a few cups of cream in a jar with a tablespoon of salt, and shaking the jar ( sealed, of course! ) for 5+ minutes until a solid mass appears in the cream. 

Ok, it is pretty clear - margarine isn't Clean.  But we have been warned for years about butter. Should we or shouldn't we? Traditional butter is high in saturated fats, which is not healthy for your heart. But nobody is going to sit down and eat a stick of butter - we're talking small amounts, a few times a week. Maybe on your whole grain noodles, or melted over your green beans.

Try looking for one of the new "hybrid" butter products, like Land O Lakes Spreadable butter with canola oil. The calories, fat, and sodium are almost identical to margarine.

But how many ingredients?

Again- question what you think you know. Don't assume you know the answer. Research. Ask around. Investigate. Compare.

Small tweaks to your diet can yield big results. Replacing a "staple" like margarine that has 15 ingredients       ( mostly chemicals! ) with a heart healthier version with 3 ingredients is a tick in the "win" column. 

I bought the Land O Lakes spreadable butter instead of the Country Crock that day last week.  The boys didn't blink at the change. I know they are eating a more wholesome, Clean product. I feel good knowing I've made one more switch in my household to steer us towards a more Clean diet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

.75 off any Salada Tea Product

If you are like me, you drink a lot of tea - cold, hot - I don't care!

What do I like better than tea? Getting tea for next to nothing. Take this coupon to a grocery store that doubles coupons, and you are saving $1.50 per box - that in many cases makes it more than 50% off right there.

Click here to get a coupon for .75 off any Salada tea product

But what is the best part about getting Salada tea? The pithy little sayings on each hang tag:

Organic Fruit and Veg Tip

The Environmental Working Group, an organization that studies pesticide contamination, ranks onions and avocados as the most pesticide-free vegetable and fruit, respectively—even when grown conventionally

In fact, as a general rule, anything you have to peel before you eat (such as bananas or garlic, for example) is relatively low in pesticides. If you want to eat organic, splurge on produce with permeable or edible skin, such as peaches, lettuce, and apples.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Clean Eating Snack - Microwave Popcorn

No need to give up your evening snack of popcorn in front of the tv...a few simple steps and you can easily produce some tasty popcorn in the microwave with some Clean ingredients.

You need: 

1/4 cup of popping corn (generally $0.99 for a pound bag. This is enough to make at least 50 bags of microwave corn)
1 -2  Teaspoons extra virgin olive oil ( you could also try a flavored olive oil - but definitely, olive oil works best! )
To taste -salt ( if you must! ), spices, etc.

1. Open the bag and pour the popping corn in. Carefully add your seasonings and salt. Shake gently. Now add the teaspoon of olive oil.

 2. Fold the bag over once and staple twice. Contrary to popular belief, the staples will not spark in the microwave. Gently shake the contents to mix and press out the air. Set on it's back in the microwave and cook until the pops get about 3 to 5 seconds apart.

3. Sit smugly on the couch munching your Clean snack while spouse / S.O. / "special friend " / pets look at you with sad "Are you going to share???" face and/or puppy dog eyes. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Which Food Has More Sugar?

When I find an interesting website, video, or slide show elsewhere on the Web, I like to pass it on.

If you think you know a lot about what foods have hidden sugar, and which are poor nutritional choices due to high natural or artificially added sugar...go take this quick slide show quiz over at where you chose between 2 foods to find the higher sugar content. Several of these really surprised me! Part of being a Clean Eater is understanding food well enough to make smart choices when not faced with a barcode or ingredient list. This quick quiz will help you boost those skills!

For example:

Dried apricots versus dried cranberries - which is the MUCH healthier ( and definitely Cleaner ) choice?

Ha, see? I didn't know the answer either. Go take that quiz, smartypants.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Newstand Alert : Everyday Food Special Summer Issue

I've always been a fan of Martha Stewart's small "side" magazine, Everyday Food. The recipes are generally Clean, the photography luscious, and the recipes approachable and "hey...I'd make that!" type of recipes. Everyday Food has come out with a special summer edition that is well worth the $4.99 cover price. It is chock full of beautiful food - summer favorites, new ideas, and old stand-bys.

 Specifically in this issue, I was most excited by the following:

1. A simply lovely spread of 6 easy side dishes that are Clean and positively yummy - page 40. ( Look for the Green Rice recipe highlighted here soon! )
2. Great collection of 20 meals in under 20 minutes - most with 6 ingredients or less, almost all are Clean - page .
3. Pretty pretty article on various homemade popsicles ( see that cover picture!! )
4. A round-up of what is in season right now with a few tips and ideas - corn, tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. Page 5
5. A discussion of ceviche on page 47 under the heading "Have you tried"  - Seriously, I wrote my post from last week BEFORE I bought the magazine.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Clean Eating Breakfast Cereals - From Kashi!

Over the weekend I had the good timing to have some time to kill and walked into a Whole Foods Market to have a look around. I don't normally get to visit these stores - and haven't been in one since I started Clean Eating even though I knew there's a lot of good stuff there for the Clean Eater.

 Since I wrote Is Kashi Clean?  ( where I discovered Kashi is owned by Kellogg's and has flooded the market with junk food masquerading as a healthy option ) I've seen time and again confirmation that Kashi foods are not friendly to the Clean Eater...that is, until now.

A number of Kashi cold breakfast cereals ( though not all! ) are Clean and would be a great addition to your breakfast table. 

These include:

Autumn Wheat cereal 
Island Vanilla cereal
Indigo Morning cereal
Simply Maize cereal

Each of these has only 4-5 ingredients, and only one of these is a listing for an added sugar source. All in all, these are about as Clean a cold breakfast cereal as you'll find.

These cereals are also distributed through most major grocery chains - so chances are, if you like cold cereal in the morning ( is that milk you are putting on that cereal organic?? ) you will be able to find one or more of these cereal varieties.