Monday, October 31, 2011

Clean Eating in a Nutshell: Core Principles

Clean Eating Principle #1: Eat a wide-variety of whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods in a form that’s as close as possible to how the foods appear in nature
If there is one rule of Clean Eating, this is the one that rules them all. In fact, if you understand this principle, all of the others pretty much fall into place.

 If you can’t go pick, reap or acquire the food in the field, farm or orchard and then eat it, you’re on the wrong track. 
Another way of stating the same thing would be "If it didn't grow on a vine, bush, or tree or be an animal you could catch and eat - don't eat it."

Clean Eating Principle #2: Avoid processed sugars, especially sugary beverages like soda.
Sugars are everywhere, and they power our workouts, daily activities and our brains. All carbohydrates eventually get broke down into simple sugars, but how quickly they are broke down and when, determines whether they are utilized effectively, or get packed on as excess body fat.

A better alternative is to utilize sugars that appear naturally in nature — things like fruit or whole food sources of fruit sugars like honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup. These sweeteners also have their own unique flavors that can enhance the foods that you add them to.

Processed, simple sugars like table sugar and dextrose are very sweet and our taste buds become accustomed to this intensity. It’s like a drug, and the more sugar we consume, the more “resistant” to it’s sweetness we become.  So we crave more.

Clean Eating Principle #3: Avoid saturated fat and trans fats, and instead substitute healthy, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
Despite the “Low Fat” craze of the Eighties and early-Nineties, fat is not your enemy. But “bad” saturated and trans fats are.
Good fats — the kind that come from things like nuts, fish and oils that are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — can be liberally consumed without having a detrimental effect on your overall health. In fact, studies have shown that people who consume even large amounts of healthy fats have better cholesterol profiles, less body fat and less risk of certain kinds of cancers.

Good sources of healthy fats, as part of an eating clean diet, include oily coldwater fish like salmon, nuts (especially almonds, walnuts and pecans), nut butters, flax seed, avocados, nut oils, and olive oil.
Clean Eating Principle #4: Always combine complex carbohydrates with lean protein and some healthy fats at every meal
While many diets suggest reducing entire food groups (like carbohydrates or fats) from meals, Clean Eating encourages you to always combine carbohydrates, lean protein and fats in each meal.
This approach ensures that you are getting maximum nutrition and balance in your meals, which will translate into sustained energy, less hunger, and eventually, increased fat loss. Combining a variety of foods may also take advantage of synergistic characteristics between foods and the phytochemicals in them, amplifying the impact of antioxidants in the body.

Clean Eating Principle #5: Spread your food out over 5-6 smaller meals, consumed every 2-3 hours

This is the Clean Eating principle that many people scratch their heads over, especially since we’ve had the “three-square meals” idea pounded in our heads since childhood.
  1. By keeping your meals smaller, you make sure you are only eating an amount of food that your body can utilize for energy and recovery over the next 2-3 hours. This discourages overeating, or calorie intake in excess of what your body needs, which will keep you lean or help you shed body fat.
  2. Better, more sustained energy. Eating smaller meals, more frequently, helps keep your blood sugar levels stable which prevents energy crashes. Blood sugar spikes also encourage excess calories to be stored more readily as body fat, so when you keep blood sugar stable, it can help you lose fat or at least maintain leanness.
 Clean Eating Principle #6: Eat for maximum nutrient density. In other words, avoid “empty” calories found in fast food, soda, snacks, cakes and cookies, and substitute in nutrient-dense snacks

What does this mean to you? No junk food. Empty calories. High fat, low nutrition. As I like to say - you may as well forget about eating that fast food apple pie and apply it directly to your right hip - because that is exactly where it's going to go...
Clean Eating Principle #7: Pay attention to proper portions and practice portion control
Clean Eating isn’t a blank check to eat all your want as long as they are “clean foods.”
Most Americans, thanks to Super-Sized menus and all-you-can-eat-buffets, have very whacked out concepts of what a serving is.  A serving of brown rice, for instance, is a 1/2 cup of cooked rice — not a mound of it (which could actually be 2-3 servings.)

Clean Eating Principle #8: Drink lots of water
Water keeps you hydrated, helps aid in digestion, can improve concentration and energy and can help you feel fuller and more satisfied over the course of the day. And when you drink water instead of empty calories like soda, you can dramatically decrease your overall calorie intake for the day. How much water per day? Take your current body weight, and divide that number by 2. Take 20% off that number, and then convert that number to ounces. That is how much water you should strive to drink per day.

Example: If you are 200 lbs, divide by 2 is 100. 20% of 100 is 80. The 200 lb person should drink approximately 80 ounces of water per day.

Clean Eating is actually pretty straightforward. 8 simple guidelines which when adhered to will really change your life and your health. 

Thank you, Answer Fitness

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Confronting Your Demons - Clean Eating & Control

When I saw the picture above, I immediately saw myself facing down the challenges I've had over the past year. I finally had enough, finally stopped running away from the snake- and turned to face it. 

Everyone has a demon to conquer. We are fallible, fragile humans - not governed by the logical brain but are at the whims of our psyches. As much as we'd like to think we are in charge...sadly, we are not. While our actions can be trained to lean in a different direction, our base instincts will always be there. Comfort. Sex. Sleeping. Eating.

We may know a slender build and good health are gained by physical and emotional restraint, but we still seem to find ourselves idly munching that cookie or soothing raw nerves with mindless eating. 

Control comes from recognizing those people, situations, and emotions that cause your base instincts to kick in. Recognizing them, and making changes in order to avoid the inevitable response your body will have. 
For me, it is mindless, emotional, stressed eating at "that time of the month." - I'm a Sinner in the Hand of an Angry God at that moment, and any amount of sin that comes my way is fodder for the trough. 

Knowing this, I can identify problematic times, and avoid situations I know will press those inner buttons I know I have.

What will you do to take control of your life and your destiny?
Why are you indulging your base instincts when you know they are causing your slow but inevitable decline?
How can you change your thinking and reactions for a better outcome in the future?

Stop. Think. Make this your time to turn and face the snake.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trader Joe's Spotlight: Vegetable Masala Burgers

This past week during my usual Trader Joe's run, I picked up a few pantry essentials - and some items my boys love ( the frozen gorgonzola gnocci is a particular side dish favorite of theirs ) but I was also browsing for something new for me to try. Something I might enjoy eating  , something I might enjoy reviewing. 

When  I picked up the Vegetable Masala burgers, I frowned a bit, but picked up the package anyway. "Authentic Indian spices" - I've never been a huge fan of curry. It's okay - but not a favorite. Meatless burgers are also at best a Border Food ( one that is consumed very sporadically because it is a little too processed, a little too high in sodium, a little too Unclean for daily consumption ). So right off the bat - an Indian flavored meatless burger wasn't exactly triggering a warm fuzzy response from me. 

Ingredients: Potatoes, canola oil, carrots , green beans, water, bread crumbs ( wheat flour, sugar , yeast, salt ), bell peppers, onions, corn, salt, green peppers, sugar, ginger, cellulose gum, spices, citric acid, tumeric, and mustard seeds.

A bit long - but all fairly Clean. The addition of salt and sugar almost made me put it down, but I didn't. 
The nutritional information was fairly strong. 

Per patty:
Calories: 120
Fat: 8 g ( probably from the canola oil )
Sodium: 360 mg ( Not terrible for a premade burger like this, but definitely Borderline.
Carbs: 12g 
Sugar: 1 g ( Huh, they added sugar, but even with the sugar from the potato in there, it is still only 1g? Not bad. )

 So with a slight "These aren't exactly what I want but I will settle for them" air, I put them in my basket and headed for the checkout. 

Wow - I'm glad I did. These burgers are delicious! The Indian spicing is flavorful, not cloying and over the top. The consistency of the burger is moist and interesting. It isn't dull and lifeless. The cooking directions given are to heat them in a lightly oiled skillet until hot, or put them on a "barbeque", oiled, and grill on both sides until hot. I chose to heat them in the microwave, because I was at work and that is all I had available to me - and I think they came out just fine. 

When you pull the burgers from the package, you can clearly see the chunks of vegetables in them, and I liked that aspect a lot. The vegetables weren't ground into a paste to hold everything together. I feel this is a plus; I could recognize my food. 

I will definitely buy these again, but I do recognize these aren't something I would or should eat on a weekly basis. These will be an "every once in a while" addition to my menu. A very tasty addition - every once in a while...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Pork Cooking Recommendations - Did You Know?

Pork is a Clean food product, when purchased properly. Look for pork that has not been brined or injected with a saline solution to make it heavier ( and cost more ! ) and to make it a "juicier, more flavorful" product.

I didn't realize that the USDA changed the recommended endpoint temperature for pork On May 24, 2011, the USDA announced that pork can be safely cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit ( 63 degrees Celsius ), down from the previously-recommended 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That 15 degree difference will typically yield a finished product that is pinker and moister than most home cooks are used to.

The reasoning for this has been attributed to the overall improvement in the manner hogs are raised in the US, and the overall health of the hogs in general. The incidences of certain previously questionable organisms
( trichinosis, mainly ) have been lowered significantly - and the USDA recognizes that cooking a piece of meat to within shoe leather status is simply no longer necessary.

What can you do?

Go get yourself a digital meat thermometer, and the next time you cook a piece of pork, remove it from the oven after it reaches approximately 140+ degrees. Let it rest for 5+ minutes before serving. Check the resting temperature again to be sure your pork has achieved 145 degrees. Then, cut into it and observe the color. After a few uses of the meat thermometer, you'll probably no longer need it - as you will have gauged the time and temperature needed for your facilities at home how to achieve 145 degrees. You'll be really impressed with how moist and flavorful that 15 degree difference makes!

But as the sticker above reinforces: ground pork is treated differently - and a pork patty MUST still be cooked to an internal temperature of no less than 160 degrees.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bad Food: Dean's Guacamole Dip

 Guacamole dip is ( generally ) a Clean Food. When made with organic sour cream, mashed avocado, and some's good stuff. Besides eating straight from the bowl perhaps with pita chips - it's also good smeared on bread as a side flavor for a sandwich.

 When does avocado dip go bad? As soon as it is mass produced. Have you seen this brand in the stores?

1. Warning sign #1? Yep, you guessed it. The label says "Guacamole flavored Dip. The "flavored" wording isn't bold, so your eye doesn't pic up on it. They can't legally call it guacamole dip - because...

2. Ingredients:

Yep, you got it again - Avocado is not the main ingredient - not even close. It is part of the "less than 2%" part.  

3. On the label they proudly proclaim "0g Trans Fat per Serving" - but each serving ( 2 tbs ) contains 90 calories - 80 of which are from fat!

Once again - when you see a product in the store - investigate. Read the label, read the ingredients. Think about how the product is being presented. Question the veracity of the flashy advertising graphics they use to hype the potential health benefits. Look past what they are trying to tell you, and see what they are NOT telling you. That is the key to wisely choosing Clean prepared products.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Portion Distortion - Part II

For occasional over eaters like myself, I find these visual portion distortion reminders both a helpful reminder and a real eye opener. The first "whole" picture is the serving size you'll receive at the stated restaurant or store. The second picture to the right is the USDA recommended serving size for that same food.

From The Fooducate Blog

One of the most important pieces of information in a nutrition label is the serving size. Many people look at the calorie count, and are happy to see low numbers. But what they don’t notice is that they are consuming twice or more than the stated serving size. Which means twice the calories, twice the fat and sodium, etc.. (but on the bright side – also twice the minerals & vitamins.

There are some funny examples of products with ridiculously small serving sizes, for example “11 chips” for potato chips, or “2 cookies” for Oreos. These don’t make sense, because nobody eats so little. So why are these serving sizes used?

The answer is that a long time ago, the FDA/USDA surveyed consumers and set a “reference amount customarily  consumed” (RACC). The RACC was the amount of food normally consumed per eating occasion by persons four years of age or older.

But what has happened in the past few decades is that our actual RACCs have shot up skyward while the stated RACCs remained static. We can thank supersized meals in fast food establishments as one of the contributors to this phenomena. Without noticing, our expected potion sizes have ballooned. And so have we.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Larabar Report: Banana Bread and Pecan Pie

What is your name? Maura
What is your Quest? I seek untried, untasted Larabar varieties.
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? What do you mean, African or European swallow?

I’m on a Quest which has taken me to stores large and small. Searching high and low.

I want to try as many of the Larabar flavors as I can. There are some I’ll never be able to try; I’m allergic to cashews and they are added to many of the Larabars. But…I want to get my hands on as many as I can.

This week I was fortunate enough to try two new ( to me ) flavors of Larabar: Pecan Pie and Banana Bread. Both were tasty, but I think these might be a very much YMMV flavor.

Pecan pie did indeed taste like a slice of not particularly sweet pecan pie. I enjoyed the crunchy bits of pecan, and I know I'll be buying it again as a "change of pace" flavor. However, my bar had an oily sheen on it. I think it was oil from the nuts -not entirely sure. The oil had no flavor, and didn't detract from the taste. Perhaps I got one that had been sitting on the shelf for a while.

Banana Bread is odd. It tasted like banana, to be certain. I gave a small piece to my husband, who promptly said "Tastes like what I imagine banana peels taste like." I rolled my eyes and left the room with the remainder of my Larabar - but I have to admit - it was vaguely reminiscent of banana peel. I liked it, but I found that "banana peel " characterization a bit hard to shake once I heard it.

All in all - two new flavors I'm really happy to have tried, and will purchase again. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Smart Balance Peanut Butter

As an avid couponer, my eyes were immediately drawn a few weekends ago to my coupon insert that offered a .75 off 1 jar of Smart Balance Peanut Butter. As Triple coupon  events are fairly common in my area, I know that my little .75 off coupon is actually $2.25 off a jar of peanut butter at those times...and I immediately set about to gather as many of these coupons as I could get my hands on. However, before I stocked up - I wanted my son ( the main peanut butter consumer in our house ) to try it. So I went out with a single coupon, and bought a jar of Smart Balance peanut butter.

The ingredient list caught my eye: peanuts: evaporated cane juice, natural oil blend ( palm fruit and flaxseed oils ) , salt, molasses

Huh. Not too bad! Nothing hydrogenated, and the sugars are natural, not processed like granulated sugar.

Calories? 190. Sugar? 3 g, Fat? 16g. All identical to the other peanut butters on the market - including multiple organic versions.  Also, because of the addition of flaxseed, this peanut butter provides 320mg if Omega-3 oil per serving - a very good thing!

When I opened the jar, there was a fine oil sheen on the top - very common for natural, less processed peanut butters. It was fairly easily stirred. I tried a swipe - and it was good. I made a peanut butter sandwich for my son and handed it to him without comment. He ate it and enjoyed the taste.

I'm hoping that a Triples event comes along that coincides with this peanut butter being on sale! It will be a good peanut butter to stockpile - a healthier version of the other, more "kid friendly" ( read: sugary craptacular fat laden yuck ) peanut butters I'd personally prefer to move away from.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SweeTango Apples

 Grocers Gone Wild...the Malus Domestica version.

 Last week, I went back to the same grocery store where I found those delicious Sonya apples.
Not seeing any, I asked the young man who was restocking some vegetables about the apples. He informed me he had heard their fresh fruit and vegetable buyer was trying out different and new varieties of apples, and that Sonya shipment was part of that experiment. They didn't have any more left - but they did have a new apple : the SweeTango. Having never tried it, I immediately picked up a bag.

I served it to my family alongside our dinner that night - and we all liked it very much. Extremely crunchy, with a crisp taste that wasn't overly as sweet as I expected from the name.

My husband observed "This is what I remember Red Delicious apples as being like when I was a kid." - and he was correct. Though not a variant on Red Delicious, it reminded me of what I thought of when I ate a Red Delicious.It was crisp, with an interesting sweet/sour mixture of flavors.

From the SweeTango website:

SweeTango® is a variety of apple that began gracing store shelves in fall 2009. A cross between the popular Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties, SweeTango delivers its own unique flavor, crunch and tasting experience. The name SweeTango reflects the harmonious flavor combination you experience upon first bite.

Flavor – Juicy and sweet with hints of fall spices, SweeTango®’s flavor, balanced by vibrant acidity, dances to a long and satisfying finish on the palate. It also features the satisfying “crunch” of a Honeycrisp.

Origin – SweeTango is the brand name for apples produced by Minneiska trees, a cultivar developed at the University of Minnesota. Breeders spent more than a decade developing this distinct variety of apple. SweeTango is grown and marketed by Next Big Thing, A Growers’ Cooperative – a unique partnership of some of the most respected family-owned orchards in North America.

Appearance – SweeTango is a blush apple with deep red coloration over a yellow breaking background.

Availability – SweeTango is an early-season apple, harvested in late August and early September. The apples appeared in limited quantities in select markets in 2009 and 2010. Stores and markets across the nation will carry the apples in 2011.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Funny

 I've always found this Bluntcard hilarious. Most of the other Bluntcards are so outrageously NSFW, un-PC, and just downright hysterically offensive with the naughty words that I can't bring myself to post the ones that make me laugh until I cry.

You've been warned...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic

Since posting this quick video highlighting a shortcut for cleaning a lot of garlic at once: I've been thinking about chicken and garlic. A lot of garlic

Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic ( Because 40 Cloves is Just Too Much! )

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lbs chicken leg quarters
20 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 c low sodium organic chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 c freshly chopped basil leaves
Whole grain baguette bread

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Heat butter and oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned. Remove chicken to a plate.
  3. Add garlic to pan and cook until it begins to brown, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Arrange chicken on top of garlic. Place tomatoes on top. Sprinkle salt. Add broth.
  4. Cover and place in oven. Cook 30 minutes, or until chicken is done. Sprinkle with fresh basil and pepper. Serve with baguette slices smeared with the roasted garlic from the pan. .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The State of American Nutrition

Got your attention? Tsk, Tsk! Need some motivation to eat Clean? Think on these factoids...

1. Americans eat more than 500 million Twinkies per year. Chicago is the Twinkie capital of the world, gobbling down 27 million Twinkies annually. There is no fiber in a Twinkie.

2. Americans drink an average of 800 8 ounce servings of soft drinks each year. There is almost 1/4 cup of sugar in a can of cola.

3. 34% of Americans are obese, with 33% more being "overweight" and only 33% being of normal reasonable weight. Only 5% of persons age 12 to 19 were obese in 1976. Today, it is 18%.

4. In the 1800's, the average American consumed only 10 lbs of sugar per year. In 2011, the average is 158 lbs.

5. The US is the fattest country in the world. Mexico is second, the U.K is third.

6. Obesity can shorten your life span by an average of 10 years. In 2000, obesity accounted for 400,000 American deaths annually, up from 300,000 in 1990.

7. Obesity will soon surpass tobacco as the leading cause of death in America.

8. American health care expenditures totaled $2.4 trillion in 2007, equal to 17% of the gross domestic product ( GDP ), rising at twice the rate of inflation.

9. The number of children who took pills for type 2 diabetes more than doubled from 2002 to 2005. Type 2 diabetes is closely linked with obesity.

10. Texas is the least healthy state, with Tennessee and South Carolina not far behind. Vermont is the healthiest state, with Hawaii and New Hampshire following.

Info from

Are You Dehydrated? You Might Be Surprised...

My sister called yesterday afternoon. She had just come from a doctor's appointment where to her surprise, her doctor informed her she is slightly dehydrated. She couldn't understand how that could be - she told him she drinks water every day. His response? Drink some more.

I asked her "How many ounces would you say you drink a day?" and she sort of hemmed and hawed until finally she said "I drink like  5 or more big glasses a day." Of course, I quickly referred to a calculator and let her know how many ounces of water per day she should be drinking ( Take your body weight and divide by 2. Calculate what 80% of that number would be. Mentally convert that number to ounces. That is how many ounces approximately you should drink - every day. )

Needless to say - she was a bit shocked. She knew immediately she wasn't drinking nearly enough water per day.

There are several easy self tests for dehydration:

1. The "back of the hand" test - Pinch the skin on the back of your hand gently. The skin should return to its normal flat state consistently and quickly. If it doesn' are dehydrated.

2. The "Shin" test - Firmly depress the skin on the top of the leg below your kneecap. Press it until you are uncomfortable. Once you release your skin, observe the dent in your skin. If the dent stays noticeable for more than a few seconds, the skin cells are sticking to each other due to lack of fluids. 

3. Your Urine - Being a kidney patient, this is my old standby. Urine is a quick visual check of my kidney's status. A hydrated human produces urine that ranges from almost clear to having a light yellow cast - with little odor. The more dehydrated you are, the more concentrated your urine. If your urine is a deep yellow, or has a strong odor - you are dehydrated.

Any of the above self tests will work and will keep you on path for drinking enough water each day. Remember, your body is a machine and the machine is programmed to throw off warning signs of imbalance. Dehydration is one of the most easily solved of your body's imbalances - and water is to your body as oil is to a car. It is a vital fluid to keep your machine working properly.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Clean Eating in a Can : Canned Pumpkin

The coupons for canned pumpkin will be coming out within the next few weeks - and for me, nothing prompts the urge to add to my pantry stockpile as a coupon that drops in conjunction with sales - and canned pumpkin sales are right around the corner.

Why should you care?

Canned pumpkin is a Clean Eater's delight. It is a versatile vegetable - easily added to recipes to make things more flavorable. It adds fiber and vitamins to your cooking. At only 40 calories per 1/2 cup, canned pumpkin adds a tremendous amount of fiber, vitamin A, and antioxidants for such a small amount of food.

Libby's Canned Pumpkin Website

1. Pasta Sauce + Pumpkin = Benefit: Less Sodium
Pumpkin added to your favorite convenience tomato sauce reduces the sodium, although the only difference you may notice is a little extra body added to your pasta sauce.

Simply stir 1 cup pumpkin into 3 cups (about 26 oz.) of your favorite jarred or homemade pasta sauce.

2. Mashed Potatoes + Pumpkin = Benefit: Cut the Fat
With pumpkin added to mashed potatoes, they become rich and golden in color, while helping to reduce the fat and calories in a serving of your favorite spuds.

Stir 1/2 cup of pumpkin into each cup of instant or homemade mashed potatoes.

3. Chili + Pumpkin = Benefit: Reduce the Sodium
You may not notice the pumpkin in your chili, but you'll be glad to know that this pumpkin addition will help to reduce the sodium in your bowl.

Stir 1/2 cup pumpkin into 1 1/2 cups of your favorite homemade chili.

 4. Brown Rice + Pumpkin = Benefit: Wholegrain Goodness
With pumpkin added to hearty brown rice, the result is deliciously creamy, risotto-like rice.

Follow the package directions for regular or parboiled rice. For each cup of uncooked rice add 1/2 cup pumpkin to the cooking water or broth.

and finally - a note

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Please Vote For A USMC Gunnie & His Fiancee to Win an OBX Honeymoon!

I don't normally post non Clean Eating items, but in this case, I'll make an exception.

A friend of a friend who works for the USO here in the DC area has made the Top 10 in OBX Brides : Salute to Love, a giveaway to a military member and his/her fiancee to win a wedding and honeymoon in my favorite place in the world - the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The Gunny ( Richard ) and his fiancee Shalyn ( a USO employee ) are currently in 3rd place in the voting - but they will need a lot of help getting past the first place couple, who is currently waaay ahead.

The Gunny has served 3 combat tours and was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in Afghanistan.Shalyn works full time for the USO, delivering information and donations to the military and warmly greeting all who come by the mobile USO Info van at local events.

You do NOT need to register to vote - just click the vote tab at the bottom.

Please click here: OBX Brides: Salute To Love

Thank you so much for your help!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Clean Eating Honey: Variety is the Sweet Part of Life

Most people really don't stop to contemplate honey. It is syrupy, tannish brown , and sweet - end of story. However, if you move your hand away from picking up the funny plastic jar shaped like a bear on the grocery shelf , you may find multiple different varieties of honey available to you. If you go to a store like Whole Foods or a natural food store - you may be quite surprised at the extensive  
( and confusing ) selection of honey.

There are over 30 different varieties of honey generally available in the US. However, most are quite rare. If you happen to come upon someone at a farmer's market selling honey - make sure to get yourself a bottle. Fresh honey that isn't heavily filtered and heated is a treat not to be missed.

I've listed the most common varieties, and a little recap on each.

Alfalfa honey, produced extensively throughout Canada and the United States from the purple or blue blossoms, is light in color with a subtle spicy profile and mildly scented floral aroma. Its delicate nature doesn’t overpower other flavors, making it a favorite choice for chefs for their baked foods and a fine table honey for tea lovers. Not as sweet as most honey types, it is a preferred choice for combining with other ingredients or enjoying straight from the jar.

Buckwheat honey is produced in Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as in eastern Canada. It is dark, full-bodied, and rich in iron -- a key reason which it's popular with honey lovers. Buckwheat honey has been found to contain more antioxidant compounds than some lighter honeys. It is perhaps the strongest and darkest of honey varieties. Most experts recommend using a strong-tasting type of honey, such as buckwheat for mead production, since the honey is diluted.However, if you like molasses - you'll love buckwheat honey.

Originating from Canada and New Zealand, Clover honey is one of the most widely available and popular honey varieties. White clover in particular is grown as a widespread blooming pasture crop and is a major nectar source in many parts of the world. This classic honey has such a pleasingly mild sweet that I find very easy to accept and perfect for use in light sauces, dressings and baking. Depending on the location and source, clover honey varies in color from water white to light amber to amber.

Orange blossom honey, often a combination of citrus sources, is usually light in color and mild in flavor with a fresh fruity scent, and a fragrant citrus taste. Orange blossom honey originated from Spain/ Mexico but is produced in many countries including Florida, Southern California and Texas.

Sage honey, primarily produced in California, is light in color, heavy bodied and has a mild but delightful flavor. It is extremely slow to granulate, making it a favorite honey variety among honey packers for blending with other honeys to slow down granulation.

Clear yellow in color, with a characteristic greenish glow, Tupelo honey is a premium honey produced in northwest Florida. It is heavy bodied and is usually light golden amber with a greenish cast and has a mild, distinctive taste. Because of the high fructose content, Tupelo honey is one of the sweetest honey varieties and it hardly granulates.

Also known as "multifloral" or "mixed floral" honey, Wildflower honey is often used to describe honey varieties from miscellaneous and undefined flower sources. Its color can vary from very light to dark and flavor range from light and fruity to tangy and rich, depending on the mix from the different seasonal wildflowers.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Larabars

Every few weeks when I buy my Larabars, I think to myself..."How hard would it be to make Larabars on my own? I wonder if they would taste the same?"

Last week while Stumbling around the Internet, I found this recipe for chocolate coconut Larabar bites!
These are quick, easy and surprisingly delicious!  These are perfect as a quick CE accompaniment with lunch or mid afternoon mini meals - a nice pick-me-up- for the desk drawer as well! 

* 1/2 cup almonds, unsalted*
* 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts*
* 1 1/3 cups pitted dates
* 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup organic low sugar chocolate chips (optional)
* 1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut (optional)

Process the almonds,walnuts, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and coconut, if using, in a food processor or high speed blender (if using a blender you'll probably need to use the tamper).  If you'd like these extra chocolately, you can also process with the chocolate chips, or chop the chocolate into small pieces and manually mix it in.

Roll the mixture into small balls or press into bar shape and enjoy!

*You can use almonds and walnuts together, or just use one of the nuts in a slightly larger quantity, depending on your preference. Larabars use both. 

My thanks to Girl Cooks World for both the recipe and the photography!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Greek Yogurt Review Part VI

I tried YoGreek yogurt the other day. It had a side well of granola with it; I didn't eat the granola as it had too much sugar in it, and instead had my usual fruit with the yogurt. I tried the 0% fat honey flavor.

It was really, really good. A smooth consistency and soft "mouth feel" as they call it. A slight tang, but not so much that I was taken aback by the tanginess - a 3 out of 5 on my tangy scale. 

 Ingredients in the yogurt: Grade A pasteurized milk, honey, live and active cultures. That is it!
Are you listening, Dannon? Why can't you do this?

140 calories, 11 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber.

One thing I was impressed with about YoGreek was the low sugar count ( 10 mg ) in the container. This is pretty low for a Greek yogurt.  While the package doesn't include the word "organic" anywhere on it, it does have the seal that indicates it is made from cows that are not treated with hormones - so that is a very good thing and preferable to "regular" yogurt.

One downside for this product: the portion size is only 4.6 ounces, instead of the normal 6 ounces. You'd think 1.4 ounces wouldn't make a big difference. I think it is more a visual cue because the half moon shaped container makes you think that you aren't eating "an entire yogurt" but are having a smaller serving. 

I will definitely buy this yogurt again. Except for the smaller container ( and the fact I wouldn't consume the granola... ) there was really no drawback to this yogurt. It was good. Good, and healthy for you. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Have You Tried: Baby Yukon Potatoes?

I was very intrigued a few days ago when I found a pretty rare sight at the store - at least for me. Fingerling
( baby Yukon ) potatoes. I can't usually find them in my area. There was a small bin of them, so I filled a bag and planned on roasted fingerlings with dinner. Fingerlings are so small you generally don't have to remove root spots. They look essentially like the plate above.

After washing, I simply tossed them with a few tablespoons of high quality olive oil, and some random seasonings: garlic powder, Italian blend, and some extra oregano and basil.

Spread out on a baking tray:

I roasted them for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Then for about 10 minutes, I put the oven on "broil"        ( 450 degrees on my little convection oven ) and browned them up.Absolutely delicious, and easy to make!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting Your Clean Eating Groove Back

It happens to everyone. You are on track, minding your own Clean Eating business. You have the best of intentions. You have a goal. You have a reason to improve your eating habits.

Or at least, you had a goal. You had a reason. Past tense.

Suddenly, you are staring at the empty bowl of ice cream wondering why you ate it. Why couldn't you stop yourself? Where did your path go?

First of all, don't beat yourself up. Falling of the Clean Eating wagon - even running behind it for a bit - is par for the course. It happens to the strongest willed. It happens to those who are deeply committed to eating healthier to change their life.

It happened to me.

The past month or two has been difficult for me, particularly at night. I've found myself eating inappropriate foods. Snacking out of boredom. Lowered daily water intake. Higher sodium intake. Not journaling my food intake as I've been doing for well over a year. *sigh*

The scale told the tale.  I gained weight. Not a lot in the whole scheme of things - but for someone so previously committed to Clean Eating...seeing the scale go up and up was disheartening. And every day, I was trying to publish a bright and thoughtful post about Clean Eating. Why did this happen? I'm not sure. Stress. perhaps? Missing pizza and chocolate a bit too much? A little melancholy over days long past where I ate carelessly. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted - consequences be damned.

I have a clear and strong goal in my mind. It is a personal goal and I think of it as a measure of my growth as a human. I was there, and now I am here.

My son got a less than glowing interim report concerning his math scores. I talked to him about his goals - and how to reach them. What did he need to do reach his goals? More importantly, what was he willing to change in order to reach his goals? I felt like an ass. Talking the talk but certainly not walking the walk.

In the past week, I've been strictly on path, as I was at the beginning. Writing everything down. Drinking water until I think I'm about to float away. Low sodium, high fiber and nutritious. Eating heavily in the mornings and afternoons, sparse at nights. Feeding my machine in an appropriate manner.

The scale has reflected my renewed effort, and I am feeling like I'm back in control.

1. Focus on why you started Clean Eating in the first place. What is your personal goal? Why are you committed to eating healthy? What is it that started you on this path in the first place? Did you feel like crap from eating poorly? Did you realize you couldn't keep up with your children? Your spouse? Your job?

2. Cast your mind back to the things that allowed you solidly to get on your Clean Eating path. For me, it was journaling my food intake and seeing my mistakes. It was identifying "danger zones" that tempt me to eat inappropriately ( being by myself at night - I'm a bit of a night owl compared to my husband, and being out and about doing errands on weekends by myself .)

3. Do what you need to do to remind yourself of your renewed effort. I've got a few sticky notes in key places. One of them is just a few inches from where I type this. It hangs from my computer monitor and it says "You aren't hungry. You are bored, tired, or thirsty." One is on the mirror in my bathroom, and it says    " You look great. Keep up the good work."

4. Reward yourself for good behavior. We are humans, and we ultimately respond to reward and punishment. Obviously, rewards are preferable. In the past week, I've indulged myself a bit. I've done some personal things just for myself, and have rewarded myself with other things, because of my new focus on Clean Eating. As I say to my son: "Good behavior, good rewards. Bad behavior? No rewards."

You CAN do it. You just need to remember why you want to walk down this path, and that worthy endeavors are rarely the easiest choice.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Do I Tell How Old The Eggs Are At The Store?

Q: Recently you posted a good refresher on how to cook hard boiled eggs. I was wondering if there is any way to tell the age of the eggs from the packaging? I know from your post I'm not supposed to buy fresh fresh eggs.

A: Good question!

Egg cartons these days only come with 2 bits of information on them - a bunch of codes, and an expiration date. There are two answers to your question, and both will work just fine.

The first and probably easiest answer is to look on the packaging for the expiration date, and choose a carton of eggs that will still be within the date 1-2 weeks from the date of purchase.

An expiration date on the carton is not required but, if one is used, it can be no more than 30 days after the eggs were packed. Remember, older eggs are easier to peel eggs.

The second potential answer involves a little bit of sleuthing, and looking like a smartypants..

Most  cartons show a Julian date on the short side of the carton. The Julian date on the carton is the day the eggs were packed -- starting with 001 as Jan 1 and ending with 365 for December 31. For example, eggs packed on June 15 would be marked 166.

The eggs in the photo above were packed on August 9th - Julian calendar day 221, and have a sell by date of September 6 ( less than 30 days from pack date )

If you like knowing such stuff, here's a link to a PDF that has the Julian dates on it:

Thanks for the question! I know you'll be much happier with your boiled egg final product once you begin using older eggs in the first place!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cleaned Up Chicken Paprikash

When my friend North asked me to post a recipe for his “Soups, Stews, and Chilis” recipe series, I thought about it for a bit, and then gave him this recipe from my family. . The recipe is a favorite of mine; I find the creaminess of the paprika sauce comforting and warming. I knew he’d enjoy making it as much as I enjoyed passing it along.

While not terrible on the relative Clean Eating scale – there are some tweaks that can be made to make this an overall healthier dish. Specifically, ensuring all ingredients are organic, low or no sodium added, and substituting Greek yogurt ( I’d actually use 2% milk fat yogurt instead of 0% that I normally recommend! ) for the sour cream that gives this dish the creamy sauce I swoon over.

Cleaned Up Chicken Paprikash

3lbs organic whole chicken leg and thigh, on the bone
6 tablespoons olive oil 
1 cup onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tablespoons organic no sodium added tomato paste
2+ tablespoons paprika ( sweet or hot - your choice )
1 cup organic low sodium chicken stock ( not broth- there is a difference! )
1 good dollop of Greek 2% milk fat yogurt
Salt and pepper

1, Roughly remove the skin from the chicken legs. You don't want to clean all the fat, or all of the skin from the chicken, Its important to leave a bit behind for flavor.

2. Heat the olive oil together in a heavy, deep frying pan. Add the chicken parts and brown both sides them over a medium heat.

3. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Add chopped onion and garlic to the pan and saute until translucent ( about 6+ minutes on medium heat )

4. Tip the pan so that the oil flows to one side and using a large spoon, remove 2/3 of the oil from the pan and discard. Add the tomato paste and paprika to the onions and garlic in the pan, and mix thoroughly.
5. Add the chicken stock to the pan and incorporate into the tomato paste mixture. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan and simmer covered for about 30+ minutes ( covered ) until meat is cooked. Ladle some sauce onto the chicken so the sauce is on the chicken.

6. Once the chicken is cooked,  remove from the pan and let cool for 10+ minutes. While chicken is cooling, turn the heat to medium-low and allow remaining sauce to reduce on the stove gently. Stir frequently.

7.  While the sauce reduces and the chicken is cool, flake the chicken apart with either your fingers or 2 forks and put into a bowl. Add a good dollop of Greek yogurt to the pan. And if you like Greek yogurt, add a little more. Add the flaked chicken pieces back into the Greek yogurt and tomato sauce and heat the chicken back up.
Serve over rice, or noodles.

Clean Eating Recipe: Potato & Egg Italiano Sandwich

My husband has been quite supportive of my Clean Eating efforts ( like the Progresso soup commercial - "tell my wife to relax and enjoy the view!" )

Being the inventive cook in the family, he was rifling through my copy of The Best of Clean Eating Magazine looking for a recipe that sparked his fancy. Here is the one he made for us - my son ( who shockingly isn't a fan of potatoes... ) loved it, too. However, we ate these on Nature's Own Whole Wheat sandwich buns, not the Italian rolls in the recipe.

Note: if you don't like the taste of basil, this might be one for you to skip. Also, my husband upped the ingredients and made it to serve 3 people. I think he used 3 whole eggs, and 1/2 cup + of potatoes, etc.

Potato & Egg Italiano Sandwiches

(* Note: This is a picture of the Potato & Egg Italiano sandwich, but not the ones my husband made. We ate them so fast, we forgot to take pictures! So I've posted someone else's picture. It appears these are served on croissants. Unclean, but yummy croissants... )

    1 whole egg
    2 egg whites
    1/4 cup potato, peeled and diced
    1 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
    1 tbsp water
    1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced
    1/4 cup onion, diced
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    1 1/2 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
    1 1/2 tsp low-fat Parmesan cheese
    Dash of ground black pepper
      2 small whole-wheat Italian rolls, each cut in half
      8 leaves raw spinach (about 1/2 cup)
      4 slices tomato


    Beat together whole egg and egg whites in a small bowl; set aside.

    Sauté potato in medium pan with water and 1/2 tsp oil over medium heat. After 5 minutes, add red pepper, onion and garlic; cook until soft, then pour in eggs.

    Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix basil, cheese, black pepper and remaining tsp of oil.

    Stir eggs gently, then flip and cook until done.

    Spread 1/2 basil-cheese mixture on top half of each roll. Then put 1/2 of egg mixture, 4 spinach leaves and 2 slices of tomato on other half of each roll; cover with roll top.


    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    How to Peel a Lot of Garlic All At Once

    I love learning kitchen short cuts - little things that shorten my time in the kitchen. I prefer not to use pre chopped garlic; I think the flavor is more pronounced in freshly chopped garlic. Many people don't realize that an untasteable/unsmellable bacteria can grow in large jars of chopped garlic that have been in a fridge for a long time - so if you do buy your garlic pre-chopped, buy small jars, not econojugs it will take you a year to get through.

    If you make 40 Clove Chicken or regularly roast garlic - you need to know this technique!


    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Food Day - October 24th, 2011

    What is Food Day?

    It is a day to emphasize 6 principles of healthy eating which dovetail nicely with Clean Eating:

    • Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
    • Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
    • Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
    • Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
    • Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
    • Support fair conditions for food and farm workers
    From the Food Day web site:


    Real food tastes great. Meals built around vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are delicious and satisfying. But far too many Americans are eating diets composed of salty, overly processed packaged foods clad in cardboard and plastic; high-calorie sugary drinks that pack on pounds and rot teeth, but have no nutritional benefit; and fast-food meals made of white bread, fatty grain-fed factory-farmed meat, French fries, and more soda still. What we eat should be bolstering our health, but it's actually contributing to several hundred thousand premature deaths from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer each year. What's more, the way our food is produced all too often harmful to farm workers, the environment, and farm animals.

    Food Day's goal is nothing less than to transform the American diet—to inspire a broad movement involving people from every corner of our land who want healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. In other words, we want America to eat real. We want to get Americans cooking real food for their families again. We want fewer people at drive-throughs and bigger crowds at farmers markets. We want to celebrate fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains—and to support the local farms and farmers that produce them. We want all Americans—regardless of their age or income or geographic location—to be able to select healthy diets and avoid obesity, heart disease, and other diet-related conditions.

    Transforming the American diet means changing policies as well as changing individual behavior. Agricultural policies should support small and mid-size sustainable and organic farms—and not pour billions of dollars each year onto huge farms that produce monoculture commodity crops. The Americans—and the immigrants to America—who harvest our food deserve protection from harmful pesticides and poor working conditions. And the "factory farms" that hold millions of chickens, pigs, and cows should be replaced by farms that minimize suffering and avoid the pollution of our water, soil, and air.


    Regardless of your political affiliation, eating healthy is something Democrats, Republicans, and yes - even Whigs can get behind. Eating responsibly is important - both for your body and for the continued health of the planet. 

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    The Feng Shui of Clean Eating

    Feng Shui is the Chinese art of arranging furniture and one's physical environment to accentuate the theory that chi ( or life energy ) flows when one's environment is in harmony with the Nature around it.. The Chinese believe if your qi ( chi ) flows freely, all aspects of your life are enhanced - physical, emotional, financial, etc. 

    One of the mechanical engineers who works at my firm is a big guy - 6'3", graying beard - and was easily pushing 275 lbs a few months ago. I've seen him eat some BIG lunches. Recently, I noticed him eating more salads, more fruit, and in general, smaller portions. He has clearly lost some weight. I haven't said anything to him because frankly, it isn't my business - but more importantly - I try not to wave my Clean Eating in non Clean Eater's faces. When people ask my questions about CE, I answer them. However, I never, ever make negative comments about someone's food, or point out anything about someone's changed eating habits until they approach me first. 

    Last week in the lunch room, he said to me - completely out of the blue:  "I've noticed since I cut down on the processed foods, I'm wanting less food in general - and for the first time in my life, I'm craving water." 
    I smiled at him and we talked briefly about Clean Eating. He had noticed what I am doing this past year - and was impressed with the results for me - both physically and mentally. 

    Then he said something that made me mentally sit up and take notice. ( Paraphrased: )

    "I don't know, there's something more to it. I've found a lot of aspects of my life have improved for the better since I started eating cleaner. My office is cleaner - both here and at home. My family life is better, and I have more energy for things I didn't before. My kids are happier. My wife is happier - I am happier. It's like this whole Feng-Shui thing is happening."

    I immediately went back to my desk and on a sticky note, wrote the words "Clean Eating and Feng Shui" on it. 

    He is starting to see the direct correlation. If he takes better care of himself, his surroundings are better, his loved ones are better, and he is happier with his physical and emotional environment. He has more energy      ( both physically and emotionally ) to handle his life. 

    Like the computer programmers like to say: "GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out"

    The old adage that "If you want to change the world around you, start within." holds true.

    I found this really superb article online. It appeared in Clean Eating Magazine in the Spring 2008 issue.

    Read it. 

    "Fat, like clutter, is overwhelming. Excess is always hard to manage.  By its very nature, it makes you feel out of control. The physical clutter around you and the emotional clutter inside you prevent from living the life you want and being the person you want to be."


    "This will not get me where I want to be."
    "This will not get me where I want to be."

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Clean Eating Magazine Only $5.99 a Year!!!

    Head over to  right now to snag a year's subscription to Clean Eating Magazine for $5.99 a year!

    Enter code "eating" as you check out to reduce the price from $24.99 to $5.99.

    If you order "Quantity 2", you will get a 2 year subscription at $5.99 a year - an amazing savings over the newstand price.