Thursday, February 28, 2013

Male Versus Female Green or Red Peppers

And from the "I had no idea!" file...

     FYI: Male over female? Flip the peppers over to check their gender. The ones with four bumps are female. The ones with three bumps are male. The female peppers are full of seeds. You can save yourself some money by getting the males.

Thank you for the picture and info,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Food Aversions and Clean Eating


     Have you ever wondered how you can absolutely adore a food but the person next to you despises it?   I sometimes think about things like this - especially when confronted with my potato hating son. How the offspring of an Irish woman and a Welsh man could hate potato ( and garlic! ) as much as mine does...I'll never understand.

      I ran across this interesting round up of the most commonly disliked foods - and why you might dislike them.

Soapy Cilantro
This herb, popular in Mexican and Asian dishes, is surprisingly divisive (there’s even a website dedicated to cilantro-haters. “The aldehydes give cilantro its fragrance and give off that soapy smell and flavor, but some people find it pleasing.” 

Bitter Brussels Sprouts
Although some people love these pint-size veggies, others can’t stand the odor of Brussels sprouts, which are a member of the cabbage family. Cooking Brussels sprouts releases a sulfur compound. The longer they’re cooked, the more it smells.
Texture-challenging Tomatoes
About 19 percent of American adults don’t eat raw tomatoes. That’s amazing given that they’re included in practically every salad and sandwich. For most, it's less of a taste issue than a matter of texture. Most dislike the firm flesh with the oozing insides.  It’s also rare for people to like both raw and cooked tomatoes with their wildly different textures.

Funky Fennel
Fennel’s strong licorice scent can be off-putting to some and refreshing to others.

Icky Eggplant
People who don’t like eggplant often can’t reconcile the tough-on-the-outside, mushy-on-the-inside texture.
It’s hard to cook properly. And eggplant can be chewy and is like a sponge, sucking in all the flavor.

Earthy Mushrooms
Mushrooms are grown in the ground so it’s no wonder that they have an earthy taste and are associated with dirt. People who get easily grossed out don’t like mushrooms, They have a hard time knowing what they are—that they’re a fungus.

Strange-Looking Raisins
There’s no delicate way to put this: Raisins resemble feces. .That may explain why many people can’t stand even the sight of them while they adore grapes (raisins are simply dried grapes).

Pungent Ginger
Potent, spicy ginger is a popular ingredient in Asian dishes.

A mixture of the natural compounds in ginger causes its characteristic and, in some cases, despised pungent odor and flavor (particularly with pickled ginger, which tastes like perfume or soap to some).

Off-putting Pulp
Although pulpy juice is associated with just-squeezed freshness, people who are fans of pulp often say things like they don’t want to “chew their juice.”

Thank you for the list,!

( btw - I'll cop to a strong dislike for ginger and fennel. Everything else I'm good with. )

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

And From The "Even A Blind Squirrel Can Find A Nut Every Once In A While" File...

"The number one reason Americans are heavy:
The brain very smartly, wants nutrition.

But the average American is eating empty calories.

So you finish that 2,000 calories and your brain says "Keep going until you get nutrients."
- Dr. Oz

Monday, February 25, 2013

Clean Turkey Chili with Beans

For a quick but Clean chili your whole family will eat:

Clean Turkey "Chili " with Beans
1 pound ground turkey
1 (15.25oz) can low/no sodium organic black beans. drained and rinsed
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 - 3 cloves chopped garlic 
1 can (14.5oz) diced no salt added organic tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce - no salt added
1 Tablespoon +chili powder
1 small bag frozen whole kernel sweet corn
In a large skillet, cook turkey with onion for 5 - 10 minutes, or until turkey is browned*
Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.

*Maura's note: I would HIGHLY recommend you brown the ground turkey until it is carmelized. It will add a depth of flavor that turkey that is just browned until it is no longer pink lacks. I'd also recommend you jazz the ground turkey up with Clean seasonings that appeal to you. Without it, the chili is rather bland.

Thanks for the quick recipe, S&W Beans!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Struggle to Eat MOAR

Recently ( within the last month or so ) I've struggled to keep on my Clean Eating path. At times, it's been hard. There have been times when I've felt like a complete hypocrite - writing a blog encouraging Clean Eating when I myself have been Clean Eating "not so much." But the siren song of processed, easy foods can be difficult to resist. Excuses aside ( busy mom, full time work, website Moderator, multiple websites of my own... ) I must confess that my consumption has been "Clean-ish" more than Clean recently. 

I've definitely done better.

I've been asking myself "What am I doing differently now than I was doing then? Why was I able to successfully stay Clean for over a year with very little effort, yet I'm struggling now?" Stress? Anxiety? Apathy?  I've struggled again to pinpoint my problem. But time and again, I'm sitting alone, late at night ( my husband goes to bed much earlier than I do these days ) - and the kitchen beckons.

A few days ago, I came across the "One does not simply..." meme picture above, and I realized this is an issue I've struggled with, again and again. This is not the first time this has happened - but I absolutely need to remember this cardinal rule of Clean Eating: Eat at least 6 times a day.

I haven't been eating enough, and I haven't been eating early enough.

It's difficult for me to eat a decent amount before lunch time - it's always been difficult. My natural tendency is to eat lightly in the morning, heavier in the evening. This has GOT to change.
I ate a banana at 9 am this morning, and just forced myself to eat a bowl of hot multigrain cereal ( I like BetterOats brand ). I'll eat lunch soon ( salmon, a cheese stick, an orange, and some edamame ) , and will also force myself back into the routine of eating a mid afternoon mini-meal.

This is why I've been unable to resist snack foods, filching slices of pizza, eating more carbs than I know I should - I'm not eating enough during the day to support my blood sugar and metabolism through the evening. I get home from work and my blood sugar is low. I'm making up for low food intake during the day by eating heavily at night. Then the cycle repeats itself because I'm not hungry the next morning.

"You know you ate too much the night before if you don’t wake up hungry in the morning."

Clean Eating bumps in the road happen. The best you can do is stop the cycle by examining the whys and hows, and come up with a plan to counteract what you are doing incorrectly. Review the core tenants of Clean Eating: Avoiding processed foods, proper hydration, eating 6 times a day, eating low sodium/organic/minimally processed. See where you are succeeding, and where you could be doing better. When I stuck closely to the essence of CE, I was happier and healthier than I've ever been. I want and need to get back there, especially since I know there are Girl Scout cookies in the kitchen...

Thin Mints: "They will not get me where I want to be. They will not get me where I want to be."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Clean Eating Peanut Butter Cookies

For when you absolutely, positively MUST have a cookie. *wink*

Super easy-healthy peanut butter cookies

3 ingredients:
- 1/2 cup organic, no sugar added peanut butter
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
- 1 apple

Put everything together in a food processor. Make little cookie balls with the cookie dough and cook for 15 to 20 min at 220 degrees Celsius (430 F) or until cookies are slightly brown.  ( At this high them carefully! )

Thank you, Megan's Healthy Tumblr page!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bananas for Bananas!

I love bananas. Perfect portion of healthy fruit in a convenient "to go" package. Vitamins, minerals, and enough fiber to keep my stomach happy for extended periods. They are a great accompaniment for your mini-meals, and wonderful "anytme" snack. Consider reaching for a banana the next time a sugar craving hits.

I've written other times about bananas - check out these previous posts from me, too:

Bananas: You Think They'd Be Straightforward - The Facts on Ripe versus Unripe Bananas

The Yonanas "Ice Cream" Machine

Homemade Banana Chips

Clean Eating Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Clean Eating Coupons

I'm going to try something new, and will post a few select coupons which will help you save as you try to eat better. If you've never printed an online coupon ( an IP; an Internet Printable ) before, you will be prompted to install a small coupon printing program before they will print. It is easily installed, and doesn't have any malware or etc on it. It just helps generate the unique coding the coupon needs in order to print.

Cascadian Farms - a great coupon for their frozen vegetables. If you use them on their cereals, make sure you check that ingredient list!

$0.75 off one Cascadian Farm product

Sunsweet Prunes - Don't wrinkle your face. They are sweet and tasty. If it's been years since you tried prunes, I'd challenge you to print this coupon and try them again now as an adult. I love them.

$1.00 off One Pouch of Sunsweet Prunes 9 oz

Olive oil and Vinegar - staples.

Save $1.00

off any Olivari
Save $1.00

on any Star® Olive Oil (16 oz. or larger)
Save $1.00 on any variety of Pompeian Oils 16 FL. OZ. or larger
Save 50¢ off any Star® Vinegar (8.5 oz or larger).
Save 50¢ on any one (1) size or variety of Pompeian® Vinegar 16 FL. OZ. or larger

Protein Powder and drinks:

$4.00 off when you buy any ONE Optimal Solutions® Complete Protein & Vitamin Shake

$1.00 off any OREGON CHAI product

$0.55 off Any So Delicious Dairy Free Product

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rice Flour Conversion Chart

Looking to reduce wheat flour in your baking? I found this helpful little chart with wheat flour to rice flour ration spelled out - as well as the additional starch you'll need to add to make up for rice flour's lack of elasticity ( gluten ).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why The "Everything In Moderation" Rule Doesn't Work

 I discovered this article after a friend pinned it over at Pinterest - and I was instantly drawn to the paragraph I've bolded. It makes SO much sense why it is so hard to get yourself back on track after you've "fallen off the Clean Eating wagon."

I've reprinted the article verbatim; it's by a NYC nutritionist named Dana James.

Why The "Everything In Moderation" Rule Doesn't Work

by Dana James, MS, CNS, CDN.

Two squares of dark chocolate…every night. A glass of wine…every night. A coconut macaroon…every night. All perfectly acceptable, under the weight loss mantra “everything in moderation.”

But will this behavior actually give you a hot rockin’ body?


Genetically, we are not moderate beings. We are feast and famine. We thrive on the polarity of extremes. We are pleasure seekers and moderation doesn’t induce much pleasure.

Moderation is eating less than you want, in the hope that it will assuage a more primal gluttonous urge. For most people, it doesn’t. Nor does it take away those social engagements that require us to be more fluid with our food choices. The end result? Small treats on a daily basis AND indulgent social eating.

Daily treat-eating also changes your brain chemistry. After just seven days, the dopamine receptor cells start to down-regulate. This means that more dopamine is required to elicit the same mild and pleasurable response. When two squares of dark chocolate were enough to soothe you, it goes up to four pieces, six pieces, then half a bar.

Even more insidious is that the daily treat-eating becomes a conditioned response. After dinner, you’ll feel compelled to have a treat, much like one of Pavlovian’s dogs.

You, however, are not a dog. You can consciously turn this response off. You do this, by stopping the everyday treat eating and trashing the “everything in moderation” rule.

Instead, plan two meals per week where you savor and enjoy your chosen pleasure-inducing food.  When you’re tempted outside of these two meals, remind yourself how truly enjoyable these meals are.

And make them enjoyable. Pull out the silverware, use pretty plates, add a napkin, engage with friends or an amour du jour, make it blissful and quote Oscar Wilde, “everything in moderation, including moderation."

Monday, February 11, 2013

How Much Do You Know About the Second Amendment? A Quiz

I found this quiz while doing some research on a completely different subject.

How Much Do You Know About the 2nd Amendment? A Quiz

     I'll tell you I got 11 out of 15 on this quiz, mainly because I live close to Washington DC and several questions concern Supreme Court challenges to DC's restrictive gun laws. There was also 1 question where I debated between 2 questions, and picked the wrong answer. But for a relative newcomer to 2nd Amendment issues - I was pleased with my general knowledge.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Your Choices Will Change The ( Your ) World

Listen to the tea. It's smart. Every decision you make matters.

*Do I eat the salad with a bottled dressing ( convenient ) or do I take a minute to whisk together my own?
*Do I carve out time during the weekend to prep Clean foods ahead of time or do I stare vacantly into the fridge to cobble together something last minute ( and ultimately rely on foods that aren't Clean )?
*Do I sit in front of the tv, flipping channels absently looking for something to watch or do I turn off the tv and get some exercise?
*Do I fill my water bottle vigilantly - almost obsessively - or do I hear the "Pfffft!" noise of a soda pop being opened?

The choices you make in the here and now have direct consequence to the health and well being of your body. The choices you make in the here and now either lead down the path of Clean Eating, or they reinforce poor eating habits.

Look at this smart tea bag, and remember it's wisdom the next time you are hungry or bored.

What are you going to do? Do you want the same old same old or are you ready to change your world?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Greek Yogurt Review XIV - Fage Fruyo

I haven't found many new varieties of Greek yogurt in my local grocery stores lately, so there hasn't been much to write about concerning new stuff. But yesterday I was very excited to find a new variety of Fage yogurt on my Safeway's shelves so I quickly grabbed the little tub of vanilla 0% fat Fage Fruyo and headed to the checkout. ( Side note - in case you were wondering Fage is pronounced "Fa-yeh" ) This stuff is SO new, it isn't even on Fage's USA website yet. All info I've pulled is from their Greek website. )

Press Release from Fage:
FAGE, a Greek dairy company, has launched FRUYO, a yogurt dessert made exclusively from stirred yogurt and juicy fruit pieces.
FRUYO has a texture of stirred yogurt. FRUYO has no coloring and preservatives, with only 1.5% fat. Fruyo, with stirred yogurt and indulging fruit pieces, is available in seven flavors with 1.5% fat, the company said.

The seven flavors are: strawberry, peach, cherry, pineapple, vanilla, musli and pineapple banana cereals

Did you catch that?

 FAGE, a Greek dairy company, has launched FRUYO, a yogurt dessert made exclusively from stirred yogurt and juicy fruit pieces....

 A yogurt dessert. 

Perhaps that should have been clue #1, huh? Not Greek yogurt, but a yogurt dessert. Now, NOWHERE on the cup I bought did it say yogurt dessert. It says "Greek nonfat strained yogurt blended with vanilla."

But, I was psyched to try and review a new yogurt for you, so I only found that out after the fact; after I tried it. Upon opening the cup, I was surprised that "blended with vanilla" was an accurate phrase. I saw flecks of vanilla bean - promising! I was impressed with the thickness and didn't stop to contemplate that before I shoveled the spoon into my mouth and instantly - INSTANTLY - one word entered my head. Dannon. It was thick and sweet and like a Dannon product, a definitely not like a Greek yogurt.

The consistency, the overwhelming sweetness, everything. I was shocked. It had NONE of the tart Greek zing you'd expect from a Fage product. I'm sure I scrunched up my face as I examined the cup, even as I was swallowing the first spoonful...and if I had done that BEFORE I did my Porky Pig impression...I would have gone no further.

Folks, Fage Fruyo is NOT Clean. At all. No way, no how, No Sir.

Ingredients: Strained yogurt ( Grade A Pasturized Skimmed milk, Live active yogurt cultures, SUGAR, Water, Rice and Corn Starch, Natural vanilla flavor, Ground Vanilla Beans, Lemon Juice Concentrate.

Calories: 170 in 6 oz.
Sugar: 27 grams

So it has 2 sources of sugar - the inherent milk sugar, and added cane sugar.  So, you could essentially open 27 packages of sugar and eat those straight. Same thing.

Really, Fage? You make a wonderfully healthy and nutritious regular Greek yogurt, and then right next to it, you put this junk? Why is this product called a yogurt dessert in Greece - but you've labeled it as Greek yogurt here? Does it not meet the Greek government's product standards for yogurt?

Well - it's an important lesson, and one I've been hit with a few times in the last few weeks. Just because something is by a trusted company doesn't mean their new product can also be trusted. Also, you HAVE to examine your products to see if the ingredient list is Clean for you.

I won't buy it again. It was an all around disappointment - and a "Bait and Switch" I wouldn't have expected from Fage. Their other products are excellent. This is...not yogurt.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ever Vigilant...

Last week I went to the grocery store, and in the Organic / Healthy food type aisle spotted a "Manager's Special" - canned oranges for $1 a can. Now, that's a really good deal. As I got closer, I realized the mandarin oranges were in "light syrup" - meaning, added sugar; not Clean.

But I picked up the can anyway. I contemplated picking up a few for emergency rations. Canned fruit would be a nice addition, and at 50% off? Yeah, in an emergency I would eat it.

Thanks, no. Trying to cut down on poisoning my family with arsenic and pesticides that are illegal in the U.S. - thank you very much.

This was in the organic food aisle. Be vigilant. Read labels. Question what is in your food, and consider where the food is canned / packed / grown. Do they have the same regulatory food standards we do in the U.S.?

Just because a grocery store has it on display in a prominent location does NOT mean it can be trusted.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why Isn't Gun Control Working In Chicago?

If you are of a mind to, I would invite you to read this article here at The Washington Examiner entitled "Why Isn't Gun Control Working In Chicago?"

Illinois has one of the STRICTEST gun contol laws on the books in the United States ( and is one of the only states / areas of the country where Concealed Carry is not permitted by anyone...) yet more deaths by guns occur in Chicago than in anywhere else in the United States. Why is this?

From the article:
Despite the media's intense attention to mass shootings, homicides, violent crime and gun deaths are all decreasing nationally, according to the latest FBI statistics. But not in Chicago. So what is causing the unacceptable wave of gun violence in Chicago?
One question to address: If the real problem is that guns can be purchased in other jurisdictions, then why are America's other major cities seeing such huge declines in their murder rates, despite the fact that nearly all of them are near states with relatively lax gun laws?

If Democrats are truly interested in making Americans safer, and not just in passing feel-good laws that will do nothing to decrease gun violence, then they should welcome a closer look at what is going so horribly wrong in Obama's hometown.

If you've listened to the Senate gun hearings and followed them with any sort of interest - here's an OP/ED piece that will have you  nodding your head and wondering how wise these strict gun control laws actually are in practice - because as you can see, numbers don't lie. Illinois is the most gun-unfriendly state in the Nation, and I wouldn't exactly say "boast" concerning their high murder by gun rate. It's worse than a war zone where EVERYONE is armed.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Refrigerate or Room Temperature ?

I do believe this graphic is referring to the storage of various fruits and vegetables, and not immediate consumption. Personally, I don't think there's anything more delicious than a cold piece of melon or kiwi but maybe that's just me.Also, I store potatoes and onions at the bottom of my fridge, like my Mother did...but perhaps that's just the climate I live in. My pantry isn't a "cool dark place" as they tell you to store onions and potatoes. And I generally keep zucchini on the counter...hey, wait a minute. Have I been doing it wrong all these years? What do you do?