Monday, August 31, 2009

On the road again: Day 2

Breakfast: Half of a green monster (1/2 cup milk, 1/2 banana, fresh spinach, 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter, 3 ice cubes) in the bullet blender.

Exercise: 30 minute run with my son in the jogger, then some core work.

Snack 1: Ezekiel PBJ made with natural peanut butter and nothing-but-apples apple butter.

Lunch: Two eggs scrambled with leftover black beans + salsa from yesterday's nachos, 1/2 serving quick oats with 1 Tbsp apple butter stirred in.

Snack 2: Sliced cheddar, 1/2 Pink Lady apple, raw almonds.

Dinner: Half of a blue corn enchilada stack at a Tex-Mex place called Chuy's (filled with roasted chicken and topped with tomatillo sauce and some cheese), Mexican rice and beans, chips + spicy salsa + guacamole. And water. Because, you know, that makes it healthy. LOL!

Snack 3: Not really a snack--a small mug of decaf with one Mini Moo creamer from the hotel. I need better tasting coffee, and soon.

I feel great about my eating and exercise today, aside from the pure indulgence that was dinner. It's unbelievable to think we used to eat like that at least once a week, if not more, AND I could finish the whole plate plus a dessert. No wonder my pants were several sizes larger! Now I am enjoying a cold bottle of water before bed. I feel extremely large, but I know that one meal did not derail my efforts of this week, let alone the past few months.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On the road again: Day 1

Breakfast 1: banana with natural peanut butter that I'd packed in my suitcase. When you have a favorite, bring it with you! I even brought my own sea salt and black pepper grinders this week. Found them at Trader Joe's for $1.99 each last time I was there, so it was a minimal cost that will make cooking in the hotel more enjoyable for me. I don't have time to open paper packet after paper packet of a few flavorless pepper flakes when I'm trying to make dinner, and I'd rather not use iodized table salt. ANYway, that was a very short story made long: I had a banana with pb for breakfast.

Exercise 1: 20 minute run around the area outside the hotel. Found a semi-paved trail.

Breakfast 2: fresh fruit (honeydew and cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes), scrambled eggs with salsa, half-caff coffee with 2% milk, half a protein shake (again, I brought my own powder since I am partial to it) made with 1% milk. Grabbed another banana for tomorrow. The eggs had a lot of fat in them, I think, as they popped and crackled when I heated them up in our microwave. Next time I'll make my own.

Lunch: this was not the best, but it had to happen. We were exploring to find where The H has to work and our son was getting very impatient. Fast food places were everywhere--not my first choice. Today, however, fast food won. I got a grilled chicken salad at Whataburger and didn't use more than 1/3 of the honey dijon dressing (I still can't eat a salad dry). I did have a few sips of The H's Coke (then felt dizzy, weird!) and a few pieces of broken fry. I was surprised to see that Whataburger's ketchup does not contain HFCS.

Snack 1: green grapes, 14 raw almonds, and a vanilla Greek yogurt. We went shopping this afternoon and now have more than enough options for healthy in-room meals! We're fortunate enough to have an oven here, so maybe some gluten-free brownies for The H will make an appearance this week.

Dinner: Ground turkey nachos--turkey browned with an onion and homemade taco seasoning, topped with chopped tomato, cheese, and black beans with hot salsa--on the simplest tortilla chips I could find: corn, salt, lime. Tomorrow I can mix the leftover beans and tomatoes with an egg for a meal.

Snack 2: two small 72% dark chocolate squares, decaf with milk, and a glass of water.

Exercise 2: did not happen. It became "Snack 3" instead. :( Honey Nut chex with 1% milk! Not clean. But ohhhh so tasty...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Here we go again...

We're traveling for the next two weeks. This time I'm more prepared than ever, I think. My suitcase is stuffed to the gills with a bullet blender, protein powder, oatmeal, dark chocolate, raw almonds, dried apricots (airplane snacks!), our favorite rice pasta, and various other food items we're used to eating at home. Oh yeah, and clothes. I even crammed a resistance band and toning DVD in there, not that they took up any real space.

I've asked some locals for restaurant recommendations and will do my best to peruse the menus online ahead of time. My Google map already has a few grocery stores saved, so we can hit one of them as soon as we get in and stock our fridge/pantry the rest of the way.

It's hot where we're going (maybe we'll bring this cool weather with us...), but I've packed two running outfits anyway and will do what I can to maintain my four-times-weekly runs while we're there. Our half-marathon is coming up sooner than I'd like to think (October 18th!) and I don't want to lose what we have so far. Even if I don't get a good long one in each week, the same frequency is what I'm shooting for.

Stay tuned for more fascinating "clean eating on the road" adventures...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cooking ahead

"What's for lunch?" is often a more difficult question for me to answer than the usual, "What's for dinner?" Dinner (or supper, if that's what you call it) means cooking for my family. Dinner is why I comb through cookbooks and magazines in my spare time looking for delicious and healthy meals that fit with our clean-eating lifestyle. Dinner is eating with other people, so it's fun (for me, anyway) to plan for and look forward to.

But lunch? Lunch is lonely. It's something to get through on the way to my son's naptime, or eaten in a hurry at my computer while I try to get some work done once he's down. Lunch is usually leftovers, if The H hasn't taken them to work. Lunch is boring. A hurdle to jump over on the way to a delicious dinner.

Enter cooking ahead. Determined not to have boring lunches all week, I decided to make things from my clean cooking resources that The H wouldn't appreciate as much, or can't eat because of his allergy. Cooking ahead saves time in the long run, which is always nice, and something I've heard readers asking about lately. It doesn't take a lot of time, promise.

Tonight's dinner was one of our old standbys, a CrockPot casserole-type thing we call "chicken-salsa-rice." It's really a hands-off dinner, since the only real prep is pouring a jar of salsa over frozen chicken and turning the crock on low. Closer to serving time, cooked rice and shredded cheese are added, and sour cream if you want. When I made the rice this afternoon during snack time, I figured I might as well make a big batch to keep in the fridge for lunches or another dinner later this week.

After dinner, once the baby was fed, bathed, and in bed (by 7:30) I got to work in the kitchen. I'd had a package of Trader Joe's extra-firm tofu staring me in the face every time I opened the refrigerator and figured I should use it--the tofu burritos from Tosca's family & kids book were a perfect fit. The H has also been asking for hard-boiled eggs, so those needed to get made. And then there were the chicken breast tenders I wanted to use for dinner tomorrow (chicken taco salad). Sounds like a lot! But you know what? I was done, with the dishwasher running and my pans hand-washed, sitting in front of my computer before 8:45.

First, The H (never turn down free help!) put the eggs in a pot and started them cooking. He also laid out all the chicken tenders on a baking sheet and drained the tofu for me. And then it was my turn. Onion, garlic, jalapeno, bell pepper and tofu got chopped. Canned tomatoes were drained; juice was saved and labeled. Oil heated, veggies added, tofu stirred in. Mixture seasoned and simmered. Eggs done and cooled. Burrito filling container labeled and filled (I love my label maker), burrito pan washed. Egg pan rinsed and dried. Chicken checked, not done, timer set for another 10. Then I went to shower (ran a quick 3 miles before dinner) and came back to put the chicken away. Chicken pan rinsed, dishwasher started, the end! Whew.

Now I have a fresh (as in not left-over) option for lunch. I can add brown rice to the tofu filling in my whole-grain wrap, or use some plain tenders + rice + whatever seasoning for a different flavor, in a wrap or not. I can make a clean egg salad to eat on Ezekiel bread. My son can have an egg with his morning fruit-and-waffle. If The H doesn't take dinner leftovers, those are still available, too.

Tomorrow I will make a batch of oatmeal-egg-white wheat-free pancakes (would have made them tonight but didn't feel like washing the blender) to freeze for another breakfast or lunch choice. And you know what else? I haven't gone grocery shopping since last Sunday. All of this was made with ingredients I had hanging around! If you ask The H, or even my son's sitter, they'd have likely told you there was nothing to eat. Surprise!

I love cooking ahead. It might even help me love lunch.

Treat yourself!

It's been a busy morning here, trying to get ready for an appointment while keeping track of my very active son, who loudly refused his morning nap and just wanted to play in the toilet while I did my hair and makeup. After leaving him with the sitter and getting out the door on time, I told myself I'd stop for coffee if I got a good report at the doc's office. And that's exactly what I did. The appointment couldn't have gone any better, so I stopped at a local bakery for a cup of caffeine... and a chocolate-almond biscotti. Normally I'd walk into such a place, see all the sticky frosted sugar-bombs in the display case and just order my java, leaving there with a sense of accomplishment and, yes, just a touch of holier-than-thou-ness at resisting the tooth-rotting temptation.

But you know what? I wanted that biscotti, and I'll be darned if I was going the high and mighty route today. And it was worth every crumbly, sweet, nutty bite. That little bit of indulgence after a hectic start to the day helped put me in such a better mood! I felt productive, accomplished, and successful--and all I did was run some boring old errands. No doubt the sunshine contributed to my mood as well. Tonight I'm scheduled for a 3-mile run, and knowing that, plus having run 10 miles this weekend, I feel perfectly justified in my sweet splurge this morning.

Don't forget to treat yourself now and then. A little biscotti might turn your day around.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I grew a pair.

We're visiting my parents again--seems like we're here more than home, lately--and this time I decided I wasn't going to leave feeling guilty and unhealthy. So I decided to man up and bring my own clean foods. I packed a container of whey protein powder, since I don't care for the flavor of the soy they use, some homemade granola, 72% dark chocolate, raw almonds, rice pasta, and an arsenal of fruits and veggies.

Dinner last night was marinated pork that Mom had already thawed thinking it was chicken, and I made the Italian Pasta Salad from Tosca Reno's Eat-Clean Diet for Family & Kids. I did indulge in two small brownies (!) after dinner, but don't feel too badly about that because they were gluten-free, I used some mashed banana in place of 3/4 of the oil, and they were monstrously delicious.

Breakfast today was a green monster smoothie (milk, spinach, chocolate protein powder, and a frozen banana from Mom's freezer) and my AM snack is Bob's Red Mill 7-grain cereal with blueberries, honey, milk, and a cup of coffee. I am going to toss in a handful of raw almonds to round it out.

We're planning a trip to Trader Joe's later, which is usually detrimental to my bank account, but I have a small list for a change so hopefully it won't be too bad.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blueberry no-gurt

My morning snack today was going to be blueberries and low-fat cottage cheese, but I forgot to let the berries thaw long enough before scooping the cottage cheese on top. My stomach was growling--it had been 3 hours already--and I needed to eat it quick. On a whim, I dumped it all into my bullet blender, added a squirt of agave nectar and splash of milk (it wouldn't blend without it, I tried) and let it whiz around for a few seconds. When it was a brilliant purpley blue, I used a spatula to scoop it into my bowl. The end result was a smooth, too-sweet (should've skipped the nectar) creamy treat very similar to yogurt. My 1-year-old, who has a ridiculous love of blueberries, probably ate half of it, so I made a piece of sesame Ezekiel toast with natural peanut butter make up the rest of my snack calories. The "no-gurt" would probably be good as a frozen treat; maybe I'll play with it one day and see how it turns out.

My one regret

The only regret I have since starting to eat clean is that I never took "before" pictures. If I had any idea how drastically my shape would have changed just from what I started putting in my mouth, I'd have had the camera out on the very first day. Are you new to clean eating? Take some pics! I've taken measurements here and there, but nothing compares to seeing your old body vs. your new body side-by-side.

My pants size has decreased and I'm gaining definition in my abs. I think my jawline and chin are less fluffy than they were a few months ago. My profile seems narrower. But when you look at yourself in the mirror day after day, these changes can be difficult to notice. Having a "before" picture to remind myself how far I've come in such a short time would be nice. I'm at an all-time healthy low weight and have never felt better, but some days I still feel like my old flubby chubby self.

Get out your bathing suit and camera and snap a few head-on, full-body "before" pics this week. Updating your photos every few weeks, whether or not you see a drop on the scale, will give you a visible grasp on your clean-eating progress. Nobody has to see them unless you want them to. Friends and family will be able to see your changes for themselves, trust me!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My clean conundrum

Since I'm so new to eating clean, I'm not quite sure how to handle this. Maybe you can help. I do my best to eat clean at home and at restaurants, and I've got that pretty well under control. When we're staying with family, I struggle a bit given the resources available, but still manage to come out feeling mostly good about my choices. My problem is what to do with food that other people bring me.

Tonight my mother-in-law brought over blueberry muffins that she made yesterday. I appreciate the thought. I'd probably also appreciate the flavor. But after splurging a bit this week at my girls' run tonight (two chocolate desserts... :z) and eating away from home Monday and Tuesday, I'm not certain that they'd be the best choice for me right now. If I'd made them myself and had leftovers, this wouldn't be such an issue--I'd toss them. But something is keeping me from doing that to these muffins. Perhaps I will just freeze them individually and enjoy one as a treat sometime later. Maybe I'll share them with my mom for breakfast tomorrow.

But this can't be the last time someone is going to gift us with food. How do I grow a backbone and start telling people up front that we eat clean? How to handle the implications that the food is "dirty" since, if I eat clean, it doesn't fit the parameters? I'm such a newbie that I'd still feel like a big dork (or, as my mom stated semi-jokingly last week, a food snob) explaining my lifestyle and why it works. There are some people who just wouldn't get it. It would be taken personally. And then I'd be [even more] guilted into eating things that really don't make me feel (or look) my best.

Eating clean has made such a difference in my appearance and health that I'd love to start telling people just *what* is making me look "so good" (a friend's words) and "pretty skinny" (my mom's statement) but I hesitate for some reason. I've chosen to wimp out and lamely say "I've been eating differently" but that's not really the whole story. Clean eating is a good thing. So why am I being weird and sneaky about it?

And what do I do with those muffins?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Last week I ordered Tosca Reno's Eat-Clean Diet cookbooks--the original and the family & kids version--and they arrived today! I've been checking them out from the library and renewing them to extend the time I had access to the wonderful clean recipes. I felt like my clean-eating hourglass was running out every two weeks. I tried to cram in every ECD recipe possible before they had to go back. But not anymore! They're mine! I'm so looking forward to trying more of them and finding some new favorites to add to our rotation.

If you're looking for clean recipe ideas, be sure to check these out--literally, as I did, until you're sure you want to make the investment. I love cookbooks, and besides the beautiful pictures for each recipe, these have great tips to help keep you on track. I'm off to peruse them now for inspiration. If you already own these books, I'd love to know what some of your favorite recipes are! As good as a picture looks, you can't be a real-life recommendation. Feel free to comment or use the email link to the right.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting started

Kind of odd to have a "getting started" post a few weeks into this blog, but roll with it. I've recently been asked if eating clean requires more time, effort, or planning than my pre-clean-eating (PCE?) days and though it was time to address those (very valid) concerns.

Prior to eating clean, I perused the weekly grocery ads to see what was on sale. Creating a menu around the circular + what we had in the fridge, freezer, or pantry was how I operated. My plan usually included at least one new recipe, since I love new recipes so very much, and some variations on old favorites--burgers, salad, tacos, soup, and at least one slow-cooker meal. I tried to work two "eating out" nights into the mix so I wasn't in the kitchen all the time, and so we could have nights out with friends. My planning took no more than an hour on Sunday afternoons, plus another hour to shop. Each meal was ready in 30-60 minutes, give or take depending on the method.

So that was then. This is now: guess what? I do the same things, with very minor changes! When the Sunday paper arrives, I spend my usual time (actually, probably less...) with it, including clipping coupons. Not surprisingly, we use fewer coupons these days because we're buying fewer packaged and processed items, and I cannot tell you the last time I saw SmartSource offer 50 cents off a cantaloupe. I really spend the most time on the first two pages of the grocery circular, because that is where my store advertises the produce and meats. I skip the deli and bakery pages completely. We don't eat out as much because I have so many recipes to try; my weekly menu plan often fills up with more meals than I have days to cook them.

I've always been a stock-up kind of shopper (chicken breast on sale? buy three bags and freeze them!) and eating clean has not really changed that. If I see that our favorite natural peanut butter is on sale, I'll grab 3 or 4 jars because I don't want to run out before it's on sale again. The same goes for meats, canned beans (one day I will use dried, I promise), canned tomatoes, and some of our gluten-free favorites. Three has become my magic number. When I buy three of anything, I know I have at least one to use that night, one to put in the kitchen cupboard, and one to store in the basement pantry or chest freezer. Doing this assures me that I have a good basis for making just about anything at a moment's notice. It's good to have a stocked pantry.

When you get home from shopping, do a little prep work. Boil one of the two dozen eggs you just bought. Portion out your grapes into single-serving bags or containers. Strain one of the plain yogurts you bought into yogurt cheese. Measure out your raw almonds into 1-oz servings. Wash and dry your greens so a quick salad is that much easier to throw together. If it's dinner time, toss some extra chicken breasts onto the grill so you have them ready for lunches.

Whereas our meal-planning hasn't changed all that much, perhaps the preparation of those meals has. Our clean dinners have been taking me less time to prepare, if you can believe that. Grilled chicken (always, always make some extra!) and grilled veggies cook outside or on the Foreman grill while I slice tomatoes for a salad and dish up some fresh fruit. Sometimes I will make a large batch of a grain at the beginning of the week and simply reheat the appropriate amount for our dinner or my lunches. Brown rice and quinoa work especially well this way. This alone has bought me some time in the kitchen, since nuking a dish of cooked rice for 5 minutes sure beats waiting 45-60 minutes for it to cook through.

When I decided to start eating clean, I did not do a 100% overhaul right away. There are some 12-packs of Pepsi Throwback in my basement pantry. I still have white sugar, white flour, and some processed things like bottled salad dressings in the kitchen, but I cannot tell you the last time I used them. Clean eating has me gravitating towards recipes that either don't call for them or that can be reworked to use cleaner alternatives like honey, agave nectar, and whole-wheat or gluten-free flours. We actually eat fewer desserts than we did PCE, which is good for our teeth, waistlines, and overall time spent in the kitchen. When I do have something sweet after dinner, it's likely a piece of 72% cacao chocolate and/or some flavored decaf espresso with steamed milk. The H has become quite the barista lately! I'm not above indulging in a non-clean treat, of course; I've said that before. But I have to make sure I *really* want it, and if I'm counting calories that day, it fits into my allowance.

I've found that writing down potential meals and snacks for the week--based on things I bought during my weekly shopping trip--is a big help for my everyday eating. I keep this list posted on the refrigerator or next to my computer where I work. Do this before you're starving and standing in front of the open fridge or freezer full of uncombined ingredients or those year-old fudge pops you said you weren't going to touch anymore.

If you have been thinking about eating clean, just try it. (Good commercial, huh?) There are no gimmicky products to buy, no membership fees, no check-ins, no comparisons against other people on the same "diet," and it's probably no more time-consuming than your current lifestyle. You buy food, cook it, and eat it--things you do already. If you want more specific guidelines from a "pro" read the Eat-Clean Diet books by Tosca Reno. Borrow them from the library until you're sure you want them hanging around your house. Page through an issue of Clean Eating Magazine next time you're at the bookstore.

Get to know the clean-eating parameters, and your transition into a CE lifestyle will go much more smoothly. You'll eventually need to decide what to do in terms of eating away from home, and you may need to learn about new foods along the way, but don't let that prevent you from exploring eating clean if it's something you want to do. Take it one day (heck, one meal) at a time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Salads

During the summer we eat a lot of dinner salads. These aren't your typical run-of-the-mill Iceberg lettuce and mealy tomatoes, oh no. These are fill-you-up, stuff-your-face, lick-the-plate salads. They're perfect for hot summer evenings when turning on the oven makes you break a sweat. They're also great for lunches when you just don't feel like making much of an effort. As long as everything is prepared ahead of time, you can grab and go. If you take this to work, I recommend packaging each component separately so your greens don't get wet and wilty before lunchtime.

Tonight's salad was a variation on one of our favorite themes--chicken apple sausage salad. This "recipe" has changed as many times as we've made it. This time, the sausage was chicken mango sausage from Trader Joe's (minimally processed, no artificial ingredients). I sliced three of the five sausages and browned them in a nonstick skillet until they were sweet and golden brown and then let them cool to room temp. The greens I had tonight were Romaine, baby spinach, and arugula (love that stuff), and big hearty handfuls of each went into my salad bowl and were tossed with a large diced Roma, two green onions that needed to be used, 1/4 cup bleu cheese, 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds, and 1 cup diced fresh mango. This mango was so deliciously sweet! (My son wanted nothing else to eat once I put some on his high chair tray. In fact, he threw his barely-nibbled cinnamon graham cracker on the floor in favor of the fruit.)

I piled the browned sausage circles on top of the greens-and-goodies and went to town on my vinaigrette--another aspect of this meal that is never the same thing twice!

I squeezed a 1/2 lemon that I had (leftover from making a batch of hummus this afternoon) and to that added two big glugs of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of white balsamic vinegar, some cracked black pepper, sea salt, a bit of pureed mango, and a squirt of honey once I tasted it and thought it was too tart. It thickened nicely after whisking for a few seconds, and we were ready to eat. Incidentally, this is how I do most of my cooking: dashes, splashes, handfuls, tasting and adjusting... it's part of what I love about cooking! It's also why I'm not that great of a baker. :)

One of my favorite things about salad night is that while the salad fills me up at dinner, I still have enough room for another mini-meal (or dessert...whatever) without going overboard on calories. Tonight's treat was a few small squares of 72% dark chocolate and another helping of that insanely sweet mango. When I told The H that I could finish off the rest of what was in the fridge myself (what started from three very large whole mangos), he informed me that I'd have some competition. Definitely looking forward to that on my cottage cheese for a snack tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh. Yum.

Dinner was awesome. The H may not agree, since he prefers beef over turkey for burgers, but I hope he'd concede that they were at least good as far as turkey goes! I ever-so-slightly modified the "Ultimate Turkey Burger" recipe from the Summer 2008 issue of Clean Eating Magazine. They came out flavorful, not dry, and just a little crispy-browned at the edges. I served them with blackened green and purple beans, which incidentally also turn green when cooked, sliced tomatoes with bleu cheese, and my first (but certainly not last) attempt at homemade sweet potato chips.

The beans have been a staple in our house for years but we love them each time I make them. The H even made some for himself the other night when I was running with my friends! So proud. :) All we do is heat some oil and add some diced onion, about half of the quantity you want to use. Then add half your fresh, trimmed, whole green beans. Stir them around to coat with the oil, and add a shake of sea salt and some cracked pepper. Let them sit in med-high heat until some of them are blackened and starting to wilt. Add the other half of your diced onion and the remaining beans. Cook until dead. No, really. The blacker they are, the better. Those bits of onion char up beautifully and turn so caramelly-sweet!

Speaking of sweet, my potatoes. Oh, those potatoes. I sliced a medium sweet potato as thinly as I could and soaked the slices in salted water while we went for a run. I've heard this makes potatoes stay crispy when they're made into fries, but maybe I did it wrong because it didn't work all that great. Anyway, I cooked them in a single layer, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned salt (not the best CE option) at 425 for 10-12 min on each side. At the end of the cooking time, they were still pretty soft, so I stuck them under the broiler until they looked a little charred and dry. Genius! The crispiest ones, which I saved for last, tasted just like a toasted marshmallow. Yum.

The tomato was.. a tomato. Not the best Roma I've had, but a lovely colorful pop on our plates next to the blackened beans, grilled burgers, and charred chips.

And now, the burgers:

Ultimate Turkey Burgers, Clean Eating Summer 2008, pg. 45
1.5 lbs ground turkey (I used 1 lb)
1 medium red pepper, diced (I used 1.5 cups of Trader Joe's frozen tri-color pepper blend, thawed and drained)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely minced (I used the curly kind)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup organic wheat-free quick oats (this is my addition, not in the original recipe--burgers were a little loose without it)

1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients together well. Place about 1/3 cup of mixture between two sheets of waxed paper.* Press firmly into a patty, about 4in wide and 1/2in thick. Repeat with remaining mixture until you have 6 patties. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes before grilling time.
*If you do not use wax paper; your burgers will stick to the plate and you will have to let them sit at room-temp while you wait for them to defrost enough to pry up.

2. Using a spatula, place patties carefully on grill over medium-high heat. Grill 3 to 4 minutes, and then flip. Grill for another 3 to 4 minutes or until burgers are golden brown and firm in the middle.

Serve burgers on whole-grain rolls* with a selection of fresh vegetables for toppings, such as sliced tomato, lettuce, and onion.
*We skipped the buns, as usual.

And now The H just brought me a mug of decaf chocolate-marshmallow espresso with frothy steamed low-fat milk for dessert. Sweet ending to a sweet meal. I took pictures, but they're terrible! And my kitchen was horribly messy. Alas.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A good clean day

I feel good about what I ate today. I wonder if that's because I planned my eating/exercise last night? I'm not very good about that. Sometimes when it's time for a meal or snack, I don't know what to go for and having a written "menu plan" to refer to is a big help. Today was easy, though! Sorry I don't have any pictures up; I will have to get used to snapping a pic before we dig in.

Breakfast (my son slept in enough for me to enjoy this, start to finish, before he started chirping):
1 serving quick-cooking steel-cut oats
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
2 tsp ground flax meal
1/8 cup sliced almonds
1 Tbsp organic grade B maple syrup

Along with this I had a cup of half-caff coffee (it's all we make anymore) with a splash of low-fat milk. I know cow's milk is technically processed, but I'm ok with having that in my diet.

Snack 1:
1/2 cup Daisy brand 2% cottage cheese (Daisy has the shortest ingredients list of any cottage cheese I've ever seen at our grocery stores!)
1/4 cup peach salsa with 2 Tbsp black beans (rinsed)
8 soy-flax tortilla chips

The black beans got added to the salsa on a whim; I was trying to up my fiber, iron, and protein intakes. Wow, was it good! I seriously wanted to eat it with a spoon. I already love that peach salsa more than any person *should* love a condiment, but the beans just put me over the edge. Delicious.

1 small (half, I guess?) grilled chicken breast
1 Tbsp of my favorite (probably non-clean) barbeque sauce
1/2 of the largest sweet potato I've ever met in my life; I think it started life as a football
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 cup brown rice

This was leftovers from dinner last night; we had to order from Logan's Roadhouse (Road House?) on the way home from visiting my parents. It was nearly 8pm and none of us had eaten dinner yet. I asked for the chicken plain grilled, and requested no toppings on the potato. I'm not the world's biggest sweet tater fan, but I'm trying--really, really trying--to get used to them. Half was all I could handle in any given sitting, so it worked out great. Oh, and then I had 1/4 of a small 72% dark chocolate bar. Could've lived without that, but oh well.

Snack 2:
Less than half of a green monster smoothie (milk, spinach, natural peanut butter, frozen banana, ice). I was still so full from the rest of the day that I didn't need this, but didn't want to bonk on my run tonight. I let my husband drink most of it; mine was probably closer to 1/4 serving.

1 grilled chicken breast, marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Grilled zucchini and summer squash, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with dried tarragon and fresh black pepper
Grape tomato-feta salad with white balsamic vinegar
Quinoa tabbouleh salad (cold)

What a gorgeous summery spread! I adore the colors of fresh food on the table in the summer. We had the green and yellow from the squashes, green onion and red pepper in the quinoa, and the brilliant ruby red of the tomatoes next to the golden chicken breasts, which were amazingly tender and juicy. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

We ran two miles between the green monster and dinner. Not my easiest run (I'm blaming the humidity) but I'm glad to have done it. I'm very happy with my eating today and hoping for another like it tomorrow. The beets I'm roasting now (smelling up my house in the most tantalizing manner) are sure to play a part!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Eating clean away from home

We're visiting family this weekend, which means a deviation from my usual eating habits. I did bring some clean snacks with me, but not my usual home arsenal of chicken breast and loads of fresh veggies. In the past when we've gone to my parents' house, we seem to eat The table is always full of snacks like pretzels and M&Ms, and we munch things like crackers and cheese or chips and salsa between main meals--meals that could make the table groan with the extent of their offerings. We usually leave with leftovers, and what feels like an extra 6 pounds each. However, my parents are now training for a half-marathon, which is in our favor. When my mom runs, she is more aware of what she's eating. I knew it wouldn't be an easy-eating weekend, though!

Our first hurdle was a birthday party for my nephew (Happy #1, AQ!), which included appetizers, pizza, chocolate cake, and s'mores. Since I was full of veggie sandwich from lunch, I didn't snack much but did enjoy some watermelon and hummus with corn chips. For dinner, I filled half my plate with cantaloupe, a quarter with tomato-basil salad, and one blotted-off piece of pizza. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was very filling without being all that satisfying. I was hoping for more vegetable toppings, but bacon and pepperoni won out with the rest of the crowd. So, I ate my one piece. Then came the cake. I've said before that I will indulge in b-day goodies for family, so I requested one very small sliver (and was thrilled when my sis said it was from scratch with mostly whole-wheat flour!) and enjoyed each bite.

My moment of weakness arrived when the marshmallows came out, and I'm a little bummed that I gave in. The s'more I made used clean-eating cookies (the ones I made for ice cream sandwiches this week) instead of graham crackers, which was a small victory, but it was a little dry. And then I ate another marshmallow raw and toasted a third! That one was fun, but made my tooth hurt. I used to love a good roasty-toasty brown 'shmallow. Things can change!

What helped me feel like that day wasn't a total loss was my good start (Ezekiel toast with peanut butter and a banana before my run, 6 mile run followed by a protein shake, then a vegetarian sandwich on wheat for lunch) and drinking lots of water all day. The H and I had a cup of decaf with my youngest sister to wind down at the end of a very busy day, and I hope to get tomorrow off on the right foot with a bowl of steel-cut oats and fresh berries, plus some of the raw almonds I have in my purse. I brought my own, but my mom keeps some in the house now. See? Things can change. :)

Better than Christmas?

The three back issues of Clean Eating Magazine ( don't know how to link from my Mac yet!) I ordered last week arrived yesterday. I can't wait to read them! Our 2-hour drive to visit family this afternoon will be the perfect time--you know, while the baby is contained in one spot and I don't have to worry about keeping up with him.

This magazine, if you're not already getting it, is a wonderful resource for eating clean. No, I am not a paid spokesperson. The recipes are simple, the pictures colorful, and the articles written for people like you and me--people who want good food, easy-to-read directions, and wholesome ingredients. Sometimes I feel like other cooking magazines are beyond me in regards to the ingredients or methods their recipes call for, or you know you want to eat clean but have a hard time adjusting regular recipes to use your newfound "clean" ingredients. That's not the case with CE Mag. Of the 6-8 recipes we've tried from my current issue, I only had to buy one thing especially for a recipe, and I'd been meaning to pick some up for ages anyway (edamame--am I like the last person in the world to try that?). Most of the recipes use things I have on hand already. Just this week I made frozen-yogurt ice cream sandwiches on oatmeal-chocolate-chunk cookies. What a treat, especially for my husband! I used a gluten-free flour blend so he could enjoy them, too.

If you're not sure about committing to a full subscription (it comes out quarterly), check out a single issue (I got mine at Barnes & Noble) or order a back issue from The website I listed above is also a good place to spend some time if funds are tight right now. You can get a good feel for the magazine there. I realize that a lot of "normal" recipes can be made clean, depending on what you're starting with, but knowing that you have a full magazine of recipes ready to go without adjustment is a huge help for clean eating novices like me!

Let me know if you have other resources for good, clean recipes.
Happy reading!