Monday, April 30, 2012

Clean Eating To Lose Weight

After a physically and emotionally challenging brain is a bit on the fried side - so this week, please excuse that the blog might be a bit light in the new or remotely interesting content area. I hope you understand. 

I found this little jpg on Pinterest a few days ago, and it struck me - how simple and straight forward the bullet points...but also, how close to Clean Eating this actually is. Just about every one of these 15 points is a constant in Clean Eating. No wonder you'll lose excess weight by adopting Clean Eating.

Friday, April 27, 2012

5 Clean Foods You Should Be Eating Daily For Higher Energy Levels

     Eating Clean naturally gives your body a boost of energy - you are powering the machinery of your body with "high test" good quality fuel. Of course it will run at peak efficiency and performance. But do you ever find yourself tired mid-afternoon?  Everything is about balance - eating the right foods at the right times to lift your physical and mental processes above and beyond where you are now.

 Try incorporating these 5 Clean foods into your diet on a regular, if not daily basis.

1. Citrus

 Citrus is loaded with Vitamin C which your body needs to make a compound called carnitine. Carnitine shuttles fats in to the muscles where it can be used for energy - and when you use fats for fuel instead of glucose ( sugar! ), you can exercise for longer periods of time without feeling overly fatigued. A win-win all around!  Try adding lemon or lime juice to salad dressings you make, add them to your water or tea, or top salads and cereal with mandarin or clementine sections.

2. Oatmeal ( Steel cut or Regular )

 Whole grains are loaded with stress reducing B vitamins and soluble fibers ( the kind your body can digest! ) to offer more sustained energy than the refined grains in cold cereal or white bread toast. Oatmeal breaks down into the type of energy you actually can use in your body, If you don't need the carbs in oatmeal right away, your body will store up to 400 calories of the excess in your liver as glycogen, a molecule that acts like an energy reserve. Huh - a fun fact! Try eating oatmeal a few times a week with apples, cinnamon, and almond slivers.

3. Eggs

 Eggs have gotten a bad rap for a long time due to their high cholesterol content. However, they consistently outrank milk, beef, whey, and soy in terms of their protein quality. Make sure to eat the yolk, too - it is high in choline, a nutrient show to be critical in memory and thought processing. ( Perhaps I need to swim in a sea of egg yolks... ) Every weekend, boil a dozen eggs so they are ready to be popped into lunch bags, or incorporated into mid-afternoon mini-meals.

4. Tea

Sipping a caffeinated tea throughout the day can help you think more clearly, and according to the newest research, tea drinkers have the lowest risks of age-related dementia. When paired with caffeine, the L-theanine in tea increases alertness, reaction time, and memory far more than coffee.If you find yourself flagging while at work or having trouble focusing, reach for a tea bag.

5. Yogurt

The combination of protein and calcium in yogurt not only helps with focus, but it keeps you strong by maintaining muscle mass and many studies conclude yogurt assists in weight loss. Along with the well known yogurt/dairy attributes of protein, calcium, and Vitamin D - it is also a great source of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and probiotics. Probiotics help boost your immunce system, so you are better able to fight off illness. Keep plain or vanilla Greek yogurt in the fridge at all times. Stir in a dab of honey, chopped fruit, even a few teaspoons of Dutch process cocoa. Eat with strawberries for an additional zap of Vitamin C ( as outlined in the Citrus section above! )

Special Thanks to LiveRight Magazine for some of the more scientific bits in this post!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quote of the Day : Be a Verb

“We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing — an actor, a writer — I am a person who does things — I write, I act — and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”

— Stephen Fry

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 Oxygen Magazine for $4.99 / Year!

 Tanga has a terrific opportunity today if you are Eating Clean and want to add exercise and weightlifting to your health regime, or you are already doing both and need some extra encouragement!  Today, Oxyen Magazine is only $4.99 for a year's subscription after coupon code OXYGEN. This is a huge savings over the normal yearly newstand price for Oxygen of $60 a year! I've ordered Clean Eating Magazine from Tanga this way, and was extremely pleased with how quickly I got my first issue. I definitely recommend Tanga.

 If you are looking to get Oxygen Magazine - jump on it now! LOTS of Clean Eating tips, and a lot of really motivating exercise.

Edited to add: I believe in Tanga so much, I've added a box to my righthand sidebar, highlighting one of the daily magazine deals. Definitely worth your time and $$ to check that Tanga box daily!

Another Clean Food Group - The Fermented Group


      When was the last time that you ate something fermented? If you have no idea, you’re not alone! Most fermented foods are eaten in countries other than the United States. The fermented foods most often found in the American diet are yogurt, sauerkraut and sourdough bread. However, it may be time to try something new. Some research has shown that fermented foods can provide specific health benefits.

What are fermented foods?
Fermented foods are foods produced or preserved with the help of good bacteria. The fermentation process is commonly used in cultures throughout the world as a way to preserve food when not in season or not readily available. Fermented foods contain the beneficial bacteria culture, Lactobacillus acidophilus (a probiotic). This can be added to foods like milk and is naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables – the beneficial bacteria is in the soil.

When the bacteria feed on the starch and sugars found in many foods, the main byproduct is lactic acid, which inhibits the growth of other harmful bacteria that can cause foods to rot. Recent studies show that the lactic acid byproduct also helps aid digestion (especially with lactose or milk sugar), support immune function, increase nutritional value of foods (preserving), and provide an anti-inflammatory effect.

Fermented Foods Around the World

Balao-balao- originating in the Philippines, this is a fermented shrimp and rice mixture
Nham – fermented fresh pork, a staple in Thailand
Temph –fermented soybeans (formed into a patty or cake form), originated in Indonesia
Kimchi – spicy fermented cabbage, from Korea, used as a condiment or side dish
Gari – is made by fermenting cassava, a carbohydrate staple in African countries
Kefir – fermented milk, a popular drink in Russia and Europe
Magou – fermented maize (corn) porridge, a staple in South Africa

Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
Fermented foods are becoming more readily available in the US. You already eat a few fermented foods already - yogurt and perhaps sauerkraut. You shouldn't be drinking another fermented food - beer and wine ( I'm looking at you, KX! )

Want to add some others to your diet? :


Kimchi is a fermented spicy cabbage that is a staple food in Korea.  Just check the international foods aisle

· Serve with a lean protein and brown rice – mix in with rice or top meat with this spicy cabbage.
· Add a thin layer to a turkey sandwich for a spicy kick.
· Top a grilled burger or chicken with kimchi in place of cheese or as a topping.


Tempeh is fermented whole soy bean. It’s a great source of plant-based protein that has 0 grams of saturated fat and cholesterol.
· Grate and use in sauces or chili just as you would ground beef or turkey.
· Tempeh is similar to tofu in that it absorbs the flavors of whatever you’re cooking it with so don’t be afraid to use marinades, sauces and seasoning mixes. Tempeh works with kebobs on the grill, tossed in casseroles, scrambles, or even in a stir fry.


Kefir is fermented milk. Less thick than yogurt and slightly creamier than milk, most people prefer to sip their Kefir like a smoothie. I tried kefir last year - and it's really different, and really good.

· Drink as is for a nice, refreshing beverage. Try the many varieties available in your local dairy aisle.
· Use Kefir to make a fruit smoothie or freeze in Popsicle molds or ice cube trays for a frozen treat.
· Pour over muesli or granola for a twist on breakfast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Can You Make With a Can of Black Beans?

Black beans are a staple pantry item for Clean Eaters - they are versatile, filling - and delicious.'ve opened a can of black beans, and rinsed them to lower the sodium content. What next?

1. Warm black bean and orange salad

Warm Black Bean and Orange salad recipe

2. Black bean hummus with marinated peaches

Black Bean hummus with marinated peaches recipe

3. Black bean breakfast burritos

Black bean breakfast burritos ( just substitute a Clean whole grain wrap for the flour tortilla listed in the recipe! )

4. Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas  ( again, sub a whole grain wrap in place of the flour tortilla. )

5. Black Bean Taco Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

( don't like lime? The vinaigrette for this recipe is easily adapted to other flavors, like lemon, or a spicy chipotle pepper )

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gross Foods - Do You Know What's In That??

  Those fine folks over at Men's Health Magazine ( Eat This, Not That )  have put together this  list of 5 gross food additives. Additives you aren't aware of, and backing up my discussions about avoiding seafood that isn't locally ( USA ) sourced.

 Gross Food #5: Grain Products 

 Why it's gross: Many packaged breads and baked goods contain L-cysteine-a non-essential amino acid made from dissolved human hair (often from China) or duck feathers (mmmm). Food manufacturers use the ingredient as a commercial dough conditioner, meant to improve the texture of breads and baked goods.

Why it's bad: Eating something derived from the human body violates the religious and ethical beliefs of Muslims and vegans. Plus, eew! If you want to avoid ingesting hair and feathers-and really, who doesn't?-try eating unprocessed whole grains like oats and brown rice, and make your own baked goods whenever possible

Gross Food #4: Shrimp



Why it's gross: Depending on where your shrimp comes from, it could be tainted with chemicals used to clean filthy shrimp-farm pens. Just as disgusting, farmed shrimp from overseas is often full of antibiotics, mouse and rat hair, and pieces of insects (yummy!).

Why it's bad: Only about 2 percent of all imported seafood is inspected, meaning this nasty stuff is making its way onto your plate. Contaminated shrimp tends to come from critters imported from overseas shrimp farms, so if you're looking for safer-and more appetizing-options, choose domestic shrimp.

Gross Food #3: Salad Dressing


Why it's gross: Big food corporations often add the chemical titanium dioxide-commonly found in paints and sunscreens-to processed foods like salad dressing, coffee creamers, and canned icing to make them appear whiter.

Why it's bad: Titanium dioxide is a component of the metallic element titanium, a mined substance that's sometimes contaminated with toxic lead. Plus, most white dressings (like cream-based ranch) aren't great for you anyway. Both your health and your waistline will fare better if you go with an olive oil- or vinegar-based salad topper instead. Or, better yet, make your dressing at home.


Gross Food #2: Jelly Beans



Why it's gross: Many artificial food dyes-found in hundreds of everyday foods-are made from petroleum-derived materials. Food producers use these chemical dyes in cereals and candy to make them more "fun" for kids, in pickles to make them appear fresher, and in place of real ingredients in a variety of other packaged foods. Betty Crocker Carrot Cake Mix, for example, is actually a carrot-free product, with "carrot flavored pieces" cooked up from corn syrup and artificial colors Yellow 6 and Red 40.

Why it's bad: Orange and purple food dyes have been shown to impair brain function, and other dyes have been linked to ADHD and behavioral problems in kids, as well as brain-cell toxicity. And not only are these additives potentially hazardous, but they're also a rip-off! It's cheaper for food companies to use fake dyes in place of real ingredients, so you end up with food frauds like Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast, a "juice" product without a trace of cherry or berry juice

Gross Food #1: Canned Mushrooms 



Why it's gross: The FDA legally allows 19 maggots—tiny, rice-shaped fly larvae that feast on rotting foods—and 74 mites in every 3.5-ounce can of mushrooms. Bon appetit!

Why it's bad: While maggots do have their place in the medical world—they can help heal ulcers and other wounds—most of us would agree that they don't have a place in our mouths. Opt for fresh mushrooms instead, and if you need another reason to ditch canned goods, consider this: Most are lined with bisphenol A (or BPA), a plastic chemical that causes unnatural hormonal changes linked to heart attacks, obesity, and certain cancers.

( Maura's note: Also - a lot of canned mushrooms are actually produced in China. No thanks! )

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Off Topic: My Son Has Received His Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do

Off topic, but a little motivation - if my 11 year old can stick with something long enough to achieve his can I.

Congratulations to my son, who has previously been referred to as "Tidbit" elsewhere online. He's no Tidbit anymore.

Friday, April 20, 2012

.50 off 5lbs or more Bagged or Loose Vidalia Onions on Facebook

Now here's a rare, RARE coupon - .50 off any 5lb pound purchase of Vidalia onions ( my favorite! ). You'll need a Facebook account for this one.

Click on the "coupons" button on their page ( to the right of "Likes"), like them, then like the coupon for access. You can print this coupon 2 times by using the Back button.

Coupon expires 30 days from day of print. It says "Do not double" - but begins with a 5, so it will double if your store doubles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Product Review: Snapea Crisps

     I found these little pea crisps at my local Safeway ( though I've also come to know they are also at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, too... ) and I was eager to try some. They seemed different, and the package implied that it would be good in a salad. Since I was looking for some new salad bits...I bought a bag.

     They never made it to a salad.

     When I first took the Snapeas out of the bag, they looked all the world like a peapod that had been deep fried ( though the package promised they had been baked ). I examined the "beans" more closely:

     They are actually an extruded product!! The company that makes them ( Calbee ) grinds up peas with a little rice, adds a bit of salt, and extrudes the product through a die to create a bean looking product. The result is baked, and voila - the Snapea. I miss crunching small things - and with a very Clean ingredient list  ( Peas, rice, corn oil, salt ), I can munch with moderation and still stay relatively on track! With 22 pieces per serving, I fell like I've snacked. Thoroughly!

     I like the taste of the Snapeas, too - a hard to describe taste - nondescript, but you definitely know you've eaten something. My husband likened it to a very bland, not particularly salty Frito. I have to admit, it does have a vaguely corn chip flavor.

     Ok, I'm the first to raise my hand and say. " These are a food invented in the last 150 years. These are a processed food. There are no extruded baked pea snack bushes." However, snacks happen. Choosing a wise snack, a relatively healthy snack - well, that makes all the difference in the world. 

     Maybe part of the next bag will actually end up in my salad, rather than as snacky fodder...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eating Clean For Better Health?

    Are you interested in Clean Eating not just to lose weight, but because you recognize the health benefits of Eating Clean? Maybe you are aware your diet is poor, but you aren't particularly interested in foregoing certain foods. Perhaps you eat well normally, but find certain peculiarities with your body - constipation, frequent colds, a tendency towards fatigue or depression.

What you might need is to focus on a specific food group that will improve your overall health!

1. Eat More Fiber 

 Women should get about 25 grams a day and men at least 35 to 40, but the average person gets just 15 grams a day. Eating fiber-rich whole foods—not foods that tout "added fiber"—is the best way to increase your fiber intake. Kernel corn, beans, avocados, and edamame are all great sources of fiber.

2. Eat More Potassium

     Because Americans don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables and dairy foods, they often don’t get enough potassium. Adults should eat about 4,700 mg of potassium per day. This amount can lower blood pressure, lessen the effects of too much sodium and salt and decrease the risk of heart disease– especially stroke. Get enough potassium each day. Choose high-potassium fruits, vegetables and dairy products, such as sweet potatoes ( one of the greatest natural sources of potassium! ) bananas, cantaloupe, apricots, broccoli, spinach, winter squash and low-fat or fat-freemilk and yogurt.

3. Eat More Vitamin C

      Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) occurs naturally in foods such as citrus fruit, tomatoes, potatoes, and leafy vegetables. Ascorbic acid is important for bones and connective tissues, muscles, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron, which is needed for red blood cell production.

 4. Eat More Vitamin D:

     Unlike other nutrients, Vitamin D isn't really a vitamin at all: It's a hormone, made by your body as you are exposed to sunlight. Whatever it is, it has an important role in maintaining bone strength (its role in fighting other diseases has not been proven). If you eat a varied diet and get some sun (about 20 minutes a day, unfiltered by sunscreen) then you are probably getting all the Vitamin D you need from these sources. Even if you aren't getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight, though, you probably don't need a vitamin supplement, according to the Institute of Medicine. You need some Vitamin D-rich foods (About 600 iu of Vitamin D daily.) Half a fillet of sockeye salmon has more than 1,400 iu of Vitamin D – more than twice as much as most people need in a day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Zucchini Tots

When I found this recipe on foodgawker over the weekend, I knew I'd found yet another recipe to add to be prepared for the zucchini influx.

Yield: 12 mini tots

  • 1 cup organic zucchini, grated
  • 1 organic egg
  • ¼  organic onion, diced
  • ¼ cup organic sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs - ( use Ian's brand )
  • salt and pepper 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
 2.  Grate the zucchini into a clean dish towel.  Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini that you can (it won't be much, but every little bit counts).
 3.  In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
4.  Fill each muffin section to the top, pushing down on the filling with your spoon so it's nice and compacted (otherwise they'll fall apart more when you try to take them out of the tin).

 5.  Bake for 15-18 minutes in preheated oven.  The top will be starting to golden.  To easily remove from the pan (without scratching it to death), run a plastic knife around the edges of each tot and they should come right out.

Monday, April 16, 2012

4 Things To Do With Tube Polenta

     Polenta in a tube is a versatile, Clean grain. Just make sure to buy one with a low sodium count, and organic if possible. Polenta is cornmeal that has been boiled until it forms a cohesive mixture. In the tube, it can be found in flavored versions ( garlic, sun dried tomato, etc ) or plain, as you see below.

     Tubes of polenta area great pantry staple. They are shelf stable, meaning they will keep for a long time in a cool, dark pantry. They are versatile - a tube of polenta can be used in multiple different ways. They are healthy and wholesome: cornmeal is a Clean grain and an easy way to add fiber to your diet.

1. Make polenta "pizza" rounds:

Slice the tube of polenta into rounds ( thick or thin, but thinner works a bit better ) , top with a Clean tomato sauce , a mushroom slice, and a little melted organic mozzarella, and bake until warm and melty. Delicious!

2. Make polenta fries:

Slice a tube of polenta lengthwise-

     Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick oil spray. In a bowl gently ( gently! ) coat your polenta spears with a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever seasoning floats your boat at the time ( you may notice a can of Old Bay in the background of the pic... ) Place polenta in a single layer on the cookie sheet, and bake at 450 degrees until the polenta looks golden brown and crispy - about 30-45 minutes, more or less. 

3. Use it as a substitute for pasta in a layered casserole type dish ( like a veggie lasagna ). 

     Saute a variety of vegetables you like until tender crisp: onions, carrots, squash, peas, bell peppers, Slice the polenta ( you may need 2 tubes, depending on the size pan you are making ) into rounds, and spread in a layer into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with foil. Top with the veggie mixture, then a thin coat of Clean tomato sauce, then a thin layer of organic cheese. Repeat with another layer, and bake in a 350-375 degree oven until hot and bubbly. Let sit for a few minutes so it is more readily sliceable.

4. Grill it! 

      Nothing could be an easier side dish than grilling a few slices of lightly oiled and seasoned polenta. They take on a nice firmness when grilled, and are a perfect "on the side" to really any meat or fish. Easy peasy - I love my little countertop grill!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Veggie Cooking Cheat Sheet

I saw this on Pinterest the other day, and thought I'd share it with you. What is it about little cheat sheets that amuses me so much?
I'm guessing the microwave time column is at high power - and not from frozen. If what you are cooking is frozen, you'll have to add multiple minutes to the time. Also, this list appears to have British origins - they call peppers by their Latin word ( common in England ) - capsicum.

Friday, April 13, 2012

$1 off any 4 Larabars

Love Larabars, Love saving money on them even more.

Go to  , and enter the zip code 77477 in the little zip code box. Sort the results that come up by "Food" - On the second page of food, you'll see the $1 off 4 Larabars coupon. You can print it twice.

( While you are at, there's also a coupon for $1 off Star olive oil, .55 off 1 Hinode rice, and $1 off McCann Irish oatmeal coupons! )

More Clean Salad Dressing Recipes!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Clean Food Spotting #3 - The Seafood Restaurant

     And you thought there wouldn't be a test today...tsk, tsk...

    Seafood - what could be Cleaner, right?  In some cases...wrong. Don't give in to your more base instincts here! 

 Check out the menu below - another minefield of  inappropriate choices for the Clean Eater. 
What do you pick? There are some definitely better choices than others - but there's no need to stick strictly to the Steamer and Raw Bar here! Navigate this menu for a good, Clean meal. The more you practice, the better you'll be when confronted with a real menu.

My pics in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Greek Yogurt Substitution Chart

     Have you been wondering how and when you can substitute Greek yogurt for other things?? I know I have...and this nifty little pic shows you ways to sub plain Greek yogurt ( any brand will work; this is from the Chobani folks ). Keep in mind some brands are tarter than others - so the Fage plain would be a good sub for sour cream or mayonnaise, while the Dannon or more sugary brands would be better for creme fraiche or cream cheese.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Food Frauds - Another "Bad Food" Installment

1. Smucker's Simply Fruit 

All varieties of Smucker’s Simply Fruit contain more fruit syrup than actual fruit. And the syrup doesn’t even come from the fruit in the products’ names, but from (cheaper) apple, pineapple, or pear juice concentrate. Next time you are in the jam aisle, look at a jar, any jar. Chances are great, you'll see a variety of fruit juices bolstering the ingredient list of your jam or jelly.

2. Multigrain Tostitos Chips

 A one-ounce (8 chips) serving of Multigrain Tostitos has more sugar (1 gram) than any of its “Four Wholesome Grains.” Grains, by definition - do not contain sugar. Why is sugar added to Tostitos?

3. Kellogg's Special K Fruit & Yogurt Cereal

The company touts that the "cereal combines the crunch of whole grain goodness, the smooth creaminess of yogurt and the sweet taste of berries….” Yet there is more refined rice than whole grain wheat, no berries (just dyed apple pieces), and no yogurt (just yogurt powder that is usually heat treated, killing any beneficial bacteria) in the cereal.

4. Sara Lee Fruits of the Forest Deep Dish Pie 

      Pie is no health food, but Sara Lee’s looks like an exception. With photos of luscious apples, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, the pie seems like a virtual cocktail of vitamin-packed fruits, “simmered in their own juices” to cut down on the added sugar. But Fruits of the Forest has more partially hydrogenated oil and sugar than any fruit except apples. The upshot: Each serving (1/9 of a pie) has 340 calories, 4 -1/2 grams of saturated fat, and 4 grams of trans! That’s half a day’s bad fat.

5. Kellogg's Eggo NutriGrain Waffles

The box boasts that these pancakes are “Made with Whole Wheat and Whole Grain,” but they consist primarily of white flour.

6. Gerber Graduates for Toddlers Juice Treats

The packaging is decorated with pictures of oranges, grapes, cherries, peaches, and pineapples. Yet the leading ingredients are corn syrup and sugar – and the only “fruit” they contain is nutritionally poor white grape juice concentrate. These snacks are more candy than fruit juice!

 7. Enviga

Coca-Cola/Nestle claims that their new drink’s combination of caffeine and an antioxidant extracted from green tea will cause people to burn more calories than the drink provides and help them control their weight. In fact, one in five people drinking Enviga burn fewer, not more, calories and long-term studies on the ingredients show no consistent effect on weight.

8. DanActive "Immunity" Dairy Drink

This Dannon product claims to help “strengthen your body's defenses.” But the only study Dannon did to see if drinking DanActive kept people from getting sick found that it didn’t!