Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Product Review: Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks

This week, I found a new brand of "healthier" chips in the natural and organic aisle in my grocery store, so I decided to buy some - Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks. I bought 2 bags: Sweet Potato tortilla chips and Black Bean tortilla chips.

Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks

The ingredient list was straightforward: various grains and vegetables  ( corn, sweet potato, black bean, quinoa, chia ), sunflower or safflower oil, and sea salt.

The taste? Pretty darn tasty. I was pleased a serving size was 11 chips ( more than enough to satisfy my urge to crunch ) and the nutrition on the sweet potato variety was decent: 130 calories, 100 mg sodium. The black bean was slightly higher. Both varieties give a small percentage of things like Vitamin A, calcium, and iron..


Keep in mind: normal, run of the mill Tostito chips also have very similar ingredients and nutrition.

Believe it or not, things like unflavored, regular tortilla chips and potato chips are relatively Clean. Yes, they are fried in oil, as are these Simply Sprouted snacks. They are what I call "Border Foods" - foods that are just on this side of the Clean continuum of foods, but are not something I eat every day.

( Side note: To be clear, Simply Sprouted products are both baked AND fried. They use a 2 step process. First they bake the chip to reduce the moisture content, then they fry it in sunflower oil. )

If you are looking for a chip, you can definitely make your own sweet potato chips but if you are looking for convenience, Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks aren't a terrible deviation from the Clean Eating diet. Would I eat them every day? No - but these are really yummy and would be a nice crunch to go with a veggie wrap at lunch time or a late in the evening / oh my gosh I need something salty snack.

( Side note -I did like this notation on their FAQ page:

 Do you source any ingredients from Asia?
Unlike many of our competitors, we do not source any ingredients from Asia due to concerns of unreliable labeling practices with natural and organic items coming from this part of the world. In 2010, it was estimated by the Organic Consumers Association that only about 30% of Chinese products labeled organic, are actually organic. )

Even my Chip Connoisseur husband deemed them really good...which is why after my first taste, I went back to check the ingredients and discovered the Black Bean tortilla chip bag in the trash. ( But on a side note, at least he put the empty bag in the trash can. That's a step up from his normal "leave trash where it lies" modus operandi )

Are they good? Yes! Are they healthier than normal chips? Um, well...that's debatable. Will I buy them again? Yes, probably. Will I hide them from my husband? Yes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Clean Eating Cheesecake...YES!

You know I'm no huge fan of  "Clean Eating desserts". For me, they are like a gateway drug. I get one taste of that sweetness, one little taste - and suddenly I'm full blown off the Clean Eating wagon and rolling around in a pig stye filled with craptacular diversions like cookies, cupcakes, Pop*Tarts, chips, and my special ring of Hell: chocolate.

I do recognize, however, that just because my self control is nil, it doesn't mean yours is. When I stumbled upon this yummy and Clean cheesecake, I knew I had to share it with you all. With no crust, no granulated sugar, and no flour ( some recipes call for flour ) - this recipe gets it's sweetness from honey and it will make for a delicious Clean Eating treat. I'm told it doesn't taste like honey - just creamy cheesecake goodness.

If you make this cheesecake, I'd be interested to hear your feedback. Please leave me a comment. This recipe will go in my stable of things to possibly make to take to a pot luck dinner or to a family gathering where I know I can eat something on the dessert table.

Clean Eating Cheesecake


  • 1 kg ( 2.2 lbs, or 34 ounces ) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease bottom of 9-inch springform pan and line the sides with parchment paper. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in a double layer of tin foil, going as high up the sides as possible.
2. Beat honey and lemon rind with cream cheese.
3.  Stir in eggs and yolk, individually.
4. Stir in sour cream.
5. Pour batter into springform pan.
6. Place springform pan into large pan and pour in hot water so it comes 1” up the side of the springform pan.
7. Bake for approximately 1 hour until surface appears less shiny and edges look set. Try not to open the oven while it’s baking so that the cake doesn’t fall prematurely. Also, be gentle with it when taking it out of the oven. It’ll still likely to fall quite a bit, and that’s okay.
8. Cool cheesecake, cover, and place in fridge for approximately 6 hours.
Sauce: For the berry “sauce”, heat berries on the stove until they’ve broken down and melted into a sauce. You can add some honey to make it more syrup-like,  but I find it tastes fine all on its own as well. I usually use frozen berries, which don’t tend to need any additional liquid, but if you’re using fresh berries, some water or juice may be helpful to reach the desired consistency.

Thank you,!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clean Eating "Veggiestrone" Soup

When I saw this "Veggistrone" soup on Yahoo, I knew it would be an instant winner in the Clean Eating repertoire.

I like this recipe because it is easily  put together with frozen and canned vegetables, and can be on the table in under an hour. It's got a lot of ingredients...but if you prep the chopping on the weekend, you could easily put this soup together during the week after work. It's also perfect to battle the cold temperatures we've been having.

Veggistrone Soup
Makes: 10 servings, 2 cups each

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions (2 medium)
2 cups chopped celery (4 medium stalks)
1 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chopped cabbage
3 cups chopped cauliflower (about 1/2 medium)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 medium)
2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces, or frozen, thawed
8 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
2 cups water
1 15-ounce can organic low sodium tomato sauce
1 14-ounce can organic low sodium diced tomatoes , drained.
1 15-ounce can organic kidney or pinto beans, rinsed
1 bay leaf
4 cups chopped organic fresh spinach or one 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
10 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven (8-quart or larger) over medium heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 13 to 15 minutes. Add cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and green beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 10 minutes more.

2. Add broth, water, tomato sauce, tomatoes, beans and bay leaf; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in spinach and simmer for 10 minutes more.

3. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in basil. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon cheese.

 Thank you, Shine Yahoo!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What You Need, When You Need It

I needed some bolstering yesterday, and got it from 2 unexpected sources.
Sometimes motivation comes from unexpected places. Keep your eyes peeled for it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Almond Flour 101 - and a Website Recommend

In the past 2 weeks, I've done a little bit of something I'm not particularly well known for: baking. I've made some homemade breads, some breakfast rolls, and a small batch of cookies - all made with almond flour. Clean and delicious, but I used some recipes specifically written with almond flour. I wondered if I could substitute almond flour in any old recipe that I come across that calls for wheat flour. I wondered what the difference is between wheat flour and almond flour - specifically when it comes to the science of baking.

Not knowing the answer myself ( I'm a recipe follower, not a recipe adventurer... ) , I turned to the trusty Internet. I found a lot of nebulous hand waving, some uncertain postings about trial and error, and in general - not a lot of solid information. Except for one particular blog, Urban The woman who writes this blog ( Jenni ) writes about a variety of health subjects - mainly gluten free / Paleo nutrition and yoga - her two main passions. I'm very impressed with her blog - well written, straight forward recipes and information and her gluten free / Paleo recipe collection is excellent. Grain free bagels, muffins, and all kinds of other goodies. ( Please note, not all of her recipes are Clean, but the vast majority of them are right up our alley! )

The post that drew me to her site - her post specifically - is good. Really good - and gave me the information I needed.

          Can I Sub Almond Flour Cup For Cup?

This is a biggie: In a few select applications it can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio, but because its weight, fat content and absorption rates are so different from that of wheat and other grain based flours, it does not reliably cross over. For instance, a wheat flour recipe might call for more liquid than what can be reasonably absorbed by almond flour. So if you simply substitute 1 for 1, your finished product will likely be soggy, grainy feeling and “sunken” in. You can, however, adjust the ingredient ratios to account for that and come out with almond flour baked goods that are nearly indistinguishable from the grain based recipes that you know and love. 

A note on breads: Almond flour is most often best suited to quick breads, cookies and crusts . This is due to it's lack of starch and gluten. If your diet allows for starches and even yeast, you might enjoy experimenting a bit by adding yeast, arrowroot, tapioca and other “non-grain” based starches to your almond flour baked goods
The moral of this paragraph is….unless you’re something of an adventurer and don’t mind some “baking fails”, you might find it best to stick with recipes that are intended for almond flour from a source that you trust (I have listed some great "sources" at the end of this post).

So, the answer is still a bit vague, but definitely points me in the right direction. Almond flour cannot reliably be used in all recipes where wheat flour is called for - but the reason ( because almond flour lacks the gluten or sticky binders some recipes require ) answers my question. Almond flour can be used for recipes like cookies and quick breads or rolls.
 It's not as well suited for recipes like cakes and other baked goods that require yeast with a rising time ( almond flour won't stretch and hold together with that stickiness wheat flour has ). It also doesn't absorb and hold as much liquid as a wheat flour, so that's an important factor to keep in mind when substituting: liquids might need to be tweaked down.

This post also answers a lot of questions about almond flour I had - including which types of almond flour are best, how to best measure almond flour in recipes, and even some recommendations of brands to buy. So much to learn.

Thank You SO much, Urban Poser!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lao-Tzu: The First Libertarian?

More late night reading reveals more truths. Lao-Tzu wrote these words approximately 2,500 years ago. 

Come on, people - is this concept really that difficult for a "modern" man to understand?
We've seen history repeat itself, over and over, proving the statement above to be true.

I'm angry that Washington is attempting to control my personal behavior by force of law.

I'm unhappy that the people I chose to help govern this land have turned our political system into a shambles and a mockery with partisan fighting.

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche?" 

No, President Obama. I won't eat the cake. Didn't you get the concept of this blog? 

I don't eat cake anymore - and not your cake in particular.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

20 Minute Skillet Salmon

 I found this recipe the other day on's website as I was looking for an alternate way to prepare salmon. I always bake it in my convection oven with a drizzle of flavored olive oil. I tried this method ( on the stovetop ) and it worked really well. I didn't have any hoisin in the house when I prepared this, but I did have Korean BBQ sauce - and as a substitute, it tasted great. Now, before you get all alarmed, I'm well aware that hoisin and Korean BBQ aren't Clean. Like most Asian sauces, they are either heavily salty or heavily sugary. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons versus 4 cups of broccoli and over a pound of salmon - it's just an accent flavor. It's not swimming in unhealthy sauce.

The recipe is good for 2 things - presenting an alternate method to preparing salmon, and introducing non-Clean Eaters ( like your family ) to healthier dinners. My husband and son are now MUCH more comfortable eating healthier on a regular basis because I slowly but surely introduced recipes like this one into my cooking repertoire. 

You can get your family to eat Cleaner,'s just a matter of finding flavorful recipes that they like and are a snap to prepare, too.

20 Minute Skillet Salmon


  • One 15.5-ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 cups medium broccoli florets (about 8 ounces)
  • Four 5-ounce salmon fillets, skin removed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  • Kosher salt


Combine the beans, 3/4 cup water, hoisin sauce, red pepper flakes and garlic in a large skillet. Top with the broccoli, nestle in the salmon and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, cover the skillet and cook until the salmon is flaky and just cooked through and the broccoli is crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with cilantro if using. Add salt to taste and serve.

Thanks, Food Network!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Media Quiet About San Antonio Theater Shooting / Rescue

Clean Eating and 2nd Amendment advocacy...who woulda thunk it? Since my post on gun control was my most viewed post for the past 6 months ( Google image hits on CE items not withstanding... ) I thought I'd share with you something that was sent to me by a friend. I was flabbergasted on this; I heard nothing about this heroic police woman.  I investigated the story and easily found the source story and the sequence of events.

Note: I've edited the original email I received which had several factual errors in it, and reworded it a bit. I also copied some of the news text from Snopes. You can see the original email at the Snopes link below. 

On Sunday December 16, 2012, 2 days after the Connecticut school shooting, a 19-year-old man named Jesus Manuel Garcia went to a restaurant in San Antonio Texas to kill his ex-girlfriend. After brandishing a gun in the restaurant, he chased multiple restaurant employees into a nearby theater. As Garcia was running through the parking lot, he shot the windshield of a San Antonio Police patrol car after an officer in the car shined a spotlight on him. The officer was not injured.

Garcia then ran inside the movie theater, where he continued his search for the restaurant employees. Movie-goers in the lobby, bathroom, and some theaters reported hearing multiple gunshots. The gunshots caused people inside the theater to panic.

"Everybody was just coming out of the side of the theater, running out the emergency exits. And everyone was screaming and running," a woman who was at the theater said.

Authorities said one person was shot by Garcia.

Garcia was finally stopped by an off-duty Bexar County Sheriff's Department officer who was working security at the theater. Officials said the officer, Sgt. Lisa Castellano, heard the gunfire inside the theater and ran towards the sound of the shooting to find out what was going on. Sgt. Castellano spotted Garcia coming out of a bathroom with his gun drawn and fired at him, shooting him four times.

Now aren’t you wondering why this isn’t a lead story in the national media along with the school shooting?

There was an off duty county deputy at the theater. SHE pulled out her gun and shot the man 4 times before he had a chance to kill anyone. So since this story makes the point that the best thing to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun, the media is treating it like it never happened.
Only the local media covered it.

On December 19, 2012 the city of San Antonio gave Sgt. Lisa Castellano a Medal of Honor for her bravery and quick thinking for stopping a dangerous man.

Sgt. Lisa Cuello Castellano was met with a standing ovation.

Bexar County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz presented the 13-year veteran with the Medal of Valor for taking down a gunman inside a south-side movie theater.

According to police and deputies at the scene, 19-year-old Jesus Garcia ran into the Santikos Mayan Palace after firing several shots inside a nearby restaurant [and] in the parking lot.

Castellano, who was off duty, yelled for people inside the theater to get down on the ground. When Garcia came out of the restroom, Castellano ordered him to drop his weapon. When he refused, she shot him multiple times.

"I'm not going to lie; it was frightening," she said. "But, you know, the training kicks in. And thank you to the sheriff's office for all of the training that we're given."

Why didn't we hear anything about this act of valor? Snopes is on point with their assessment...I'm going to reprint it verbatim. I personally disagree that the armed guard's actions saving people are speculative. She CLEARLY saved many lives with her actions. I especially like that last line..."Reporters don't report buildings that don't burn."

In general, the San Antonio theater shooting received little coverage outside of local news media, primarily because it didn't include any of the factors that typically propel such stories from local to national news: it was not an especially horrific crime (or part of a larger crime), it did not involve any deaths or the wounding of large numbers of people, and it featured no prominent persons: it was a shooting incident in which a single person was injured. The possibility that an armed guard may have prevented additional casualties by shooting the gunman might have made the incident more newsworthy than usual, but that aspect of the story was speculative, and as others have observed , the news media tend to highlight negative events rather than positive ones: "reporters don't report buildings that don't burn."

The NRA has it right, "A good guy with a good weapon can be a solution." Think about the story for a moment, and imagine what would have happened if Sgt Castellano hadn't been at the theater. What if there had been nobody armed ( police, civilian, or otherwise ) on the scene to stop the shooter? Now just imagine this news story if the person who stopped the bad guy had been an armed civilian. A random theater goer, who just so happened to be carrying their concealed weapon. Would the media have covered it then?
Just thought you'd like to know. : San Antonion Shooting; Media Quiet

2 Wounded in San Antonio Restaurant Shooting

And this is as close to national attention as this story received: - Shots fired at San Antonio theater

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Off Topic, But Important: Gun Control = Education

The recent uproar over gun control to "curb violence" has me increasingly frustrated.

Guns are a tool. Any tool in the hands of someone with intent has the potential to hurt.

*Hundreds of stab wounds occur each day in the US. Is there a call to ban knives?

*Obesity kills hundreds of thousands each year; not just from heart attacks or strokes, but also from the proven link that the obese have MUCH higher cancer rates than those who are fit.  Is there a call to ban forks?

*Drunk driving killed over 11,000 people in the US in 2010. What is the chief cause of drunk driving ( if you really boil it down to the essential "heart of the matter" )? Operator error. An impaired person used the tool in an inappropriate manner. Is there a call to ban cars?

The answer is not gun control. The answer is better education.  The answer is keeping guns out of the hands of felons and those who aren't of sound mind.

The drunk driving lobby has done an EXCELLENT job educating people in the past 20 years about drunk driving.

What do you do if a guest at your party has too much? You take their keys.

What do you do if you've had too much at a bar? You call a cab, or a friend.

What should you do if there is someone in your home who is mentally unbalanced and you have guns? You keep the guns inaccessible to them. You own a gun safe and you keep your firearms in it.

What should you do if you have guns and children in your home? Keep the gun inaccessible when not in use, and educate your children to treat guns with the respect they deserve. Impress upon them you are handling it because you have received the proper training and you are in control of the tool.

Gun control isn't about the government stepping in to regulate the whos, whats, and wheres of guns. Gun control is about people taking responsibility for their actions, and for the people in their lives. Gun control is about education and understanding that like all tools, guns can and will kill when used improperly or by the uneducated or mentally ill.

Think about it, before jumping on the "Ban guns" bandwagon. It's just a tool.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pack Your Lunch!

1. Control. Do you ever wait in the lunch line only to find when you get to the front that you don’t like what they’re serving? So you reach for pizza again. A healthy packed lunch lets you avoid the lunch line (and any temptations). Bringing your own lunch also lets you control exactly what goes into the food you eat.

2. Variety. It doesn’t hurt to cave in and enjoy the occasional serving of pizza and hot dogs. But if you’re eating these foods all the time, your body probably feels ready for a change. A packed lunch a couple of times a week means you can enjoy some favorites that you might not find at every school — like a piping hot thermos of your mom’s chicken soup; hummus and pita bread; or some crisp, farm-stand apples.

3. Energy. If you have a big game or activity after school, plan a lunch and snacks that combine lean proteins with carbohydrates to give you lasting energy and keep you going through the late afternoon. Some ideas: your own “trail” mix of dried fruit and nuts or sunflower seeds, whole-grain pretzels and low-fat cheese, or a bagful of baby carrots and yogurt dip.

4. Money. Packing your lunch will save you money—no doubt about it. And I’m talking hundreds of dollars in cold hard cash! Think about it. How much do you spend when you go out to eat? $5 per meal? $10? $15? Multiply that times 20 (5 days per week times four weeks per month). Yikes! A packed lunch, such as a turkey sandwich, baked chips, a piece of fruit and some carrot sticks will run you about three bucks. You’ll be saving money you could spend on something else fun. Reward yourself! How about a shopping trip? New electronic? Running shoes? Or some cool lunch-packing supplies?!

5. Health. Whether you grab fast food or sit down at a fancy restaurant, you are probably consuming more fat and calories than you need. Instead, you can pack your lunch and know exactly what you are eating. Pack whole fresh foods that are high in nutrients and health benefits.

So what are you waiting for? Bring your own lunch! 

( TY, The Healthy Cook on Tumblr )

Friday, January 4, 2013

Comfort Zone

 I find life's synchronicities very interesting. I've been listening to country music while on my elliptical lately, and one of my current favorites is Brad Paisley's Southern Comfort Zone . I've been thinking about "comfort zones" lately.

What do I find this morning? The picture above - reminding me to look beyond my comfort zone.

Eating healthy isn't as much about picking up an apple and putting it to your lips. It's a change in mindset. It's a change in thinking that causes you to choose the apple instead of the candy bar, the bottle of water instead of the soda. Not because it is better for you, but because you've changed how you think and the candy bar and soda are no longer a viable option. You no longer view the candy bar and soda as food.

If you've been eating the candy bar and soda for a long time now, they are part and parcel of your comfort zone.

Step out of your comfort zone. Change your body. Change your mind. Change yourself.

 Luke Bryan - if you read my blog...I know you are a married man, but name the time and place and I'd be happy to shake it  for you.