Monday, November 5, 2012

Today was one of those hectic days.

As the dinner hour approached, I was secretly hoping hubby would suggest just grabbing something while we were out.

I was also wishing I had some boxed-easy-to-prepare-convenience food at home because I really was not in the mood to cook.  I really just wanted to sit on the couch.  I wanted to tell my family to just fend for themselves.

BUT, I made a commitment to myself and my family.  So I opened my fridge and stared....waiting.....waiting.....nothing jumped out at me.  Then I opened my freezer, again waiting for inspiration.....then I saw the box of salmon we bought from the Schwan's man last week!  Hooray!  Their wild-caught salmon filets are so good.  And very quick to prepare.

What to have with it????  Hmmmm, open pantry, stare at shelves.......quinoa is quick and easy to make!

As for veggies, well, we have plenty of those, thanks to our crop share.  I'd been wanting to cook the bok choy - this seemed like a great night for that.

I brought some chicken broth to a boil, added the quinoa and set the timer for 15 minutes.  Then I put the salmon in a skillet with some butter, lemon juice and freshly grated ginger.  Once the salmon was almost done, I threw the bok choy in the skillet to soften.

Timer went off, I stirred some almonds and cranberries into the quinoa for a pilaf and.......

dinner was served.

By keeping a few staple items on hand at all times, I was able to pull together a healthy, delicious meal in under 20 minutes.  

I always try to have a box of quinoa, fresh vegetables, fresh or frozen salmon/chicken/turkey, chicken broth (either homemade or store-bought), fresh ginger and lemons on hand.  For you, it could be any number of ingredients.  What is one favorite meal you know your family loves that is quick and easy to prepare?  If you always try to keep those ingredients available, it can help you avoid caving in to the temptation of processed food.  The world we live in is go, go, go.  Advertisers tell us we don't have time to cook and we should grab this box or that bag and our lives will be simpler.  Maybe.  In a way.  But if you've made your health a priority, you don't have to compromise on nights when you're rushed, too tired or have no idea what you're in the mood for. 

If I'd had a boxed meal kit or frozen pizza, would I have made one of those tonight?  Probably.  I've chosen not to keep those things in the house.  It causes me to challenge myself and stay focused on my commitment to help my husband and children learn to love whole foods.  Yes, I will still buy frozen pizza from time to time.  Tonight, I'm glad I made the choice to stay on our journey...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1st!  Already?! 

Well, October Unprocessed may be over, but here in our house, we're just getting started.

Hubby has lost over 10 lbs. - and he was only eating "unprocessed" at dinner!  The kids have tried so many new things.  I enjoy cooking again!

We are so not stopping now!!

How about Nourishing November?  Or, No Nasties November?  (I read that on another blog, but can't remember which one at the moment - sorry!)

Whatever we call it, we are still on our journey to natural nourishment.  That's it - Natural Nourishment November! 

But before I get going with November plans, I have to share what I made for dinner last night - Chocolate Brownie Waffles!  First, let me start with the story behind why I made that for dinner.  Yesterday morning, bright and early, my darling daughter went to the orthodontist.  She was scheduled to get her bottom braces, which she did.  However, on the way to drop her off at school, two of the newly applied brackets came off.  Sooooo, we turned around and headed back to the orthodontist.  They had to remove the wire, reapply the brackets and put the wire in again.  This caused my baby girl some serious discomfort.  I had packed her favorite spinach tortellini for lunch and she didn't eat any of them.  :( 

Well, one of her favorite dinners is breakfast dinner.  She loves waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon.  So I checked out some recipes on The Gracious Pantry and found this recipe for super yummy sounding waffles!

(I had to borrow her picture - since I did not take one.  And she takes amazing food photos.  Seriously.  You have to check out her website!)  The waffles are amazing!  I made a double batch and have some in the freezer for next week!  They are totally incredible with some all-fruit raspberry spread on them.  Woohoo! 

I thought these waffles would cheer up my sweet girl - and they'd be easy to eat if she cut them in small pieces.  I did get a weak smile out of her, but she still didn't eat much yesterday.  Poor thing.  I remember the days of indescribable mouth soreness from braces.  Not. Fun. 

She is feeling better today and she had two waffles for breakfast this morning.  <<smile>>

I made some salmon and brown rice for dinner so she wouldn't have to chew much.  I know.  I know.  I'm probably being too nice.  I just feel so bad for her.  She didn't even go trick-or-treating last night.  She stayed on the couch with a hot water bottle on her cheeks. 

As we were saying good night, I was telling her how the pain won't last and that I remember what it feels like - and she says to me "yeah, but you never had to get braces put on twice in, like, the same hour".  True that.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

So, it's been a week since I posted.  And since we are in the calm before the "Frankenstorm", I thought I should take this opportunity to post an update. 

My menu last week didn't go totally as planned.  I made the chicken stock. Then I used that stock to make these clean chicken and dumplings.
I liked them, sort of.  I think I left something out.  I'd have to say this was a recipe fail.  It happens.  To be honest, it's always been a fight to get the kids to eat dumplings, and I didn't expect them to be jumping for joy at the idea of whole wheat ones.  But hey, the broth was kickin! 

Thursday night I made a big meal and took half of it to a family at our church who just adopted a baby girl from China.  (she is soooo adorable!)  I made a pork roast in the crock pot, some soba noodles with tat soi, and some sweet potato fries.  For dessert, I took them some apples and this pumpkin fruit dip.    The soba noodle dish was a recipe from my CSA newsletter - so I'll just copy and paste it here:

Tatsoi & Noodles
Serves 4

6 c Tatsoi, chopped
1 c carrots, julienned
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 c onions, chopped
1 pk soba noodles


5 tbls nut butter
1 tbls. white wine vinegar
3 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls olive oil


Prepare noodles per package directions.

Saute onions and garlic.  Add carrots and tatsoi, cook until tender, and combine with noodles.

Combine nut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, oil, and pour over noodles and vegetables.

Serve at room temperature.

It was DE.LI.CIOUS!! 

Friday night we had our tacos.  I love the homemade tortillas!!!!!

And we had enough left over to pack our lunches for the swim meet my dear daughter was in on Saturday! 

We never did have the spaghetti I had planned - and for some reason I cannot remember what we even had for dinner the other two nights.  Last week was a blur with swim practices and an intrasquad meet.  I do remember some brown rice and chicken in there somewhere. 

Last night we had to eat some food from the freezer - with the threat of a hurricane headed our way and the potential for power outages - I didn't want the food to go to waste.  So we had popcorn shrimp, haddock, tater tots and broccoli. 

Tonight we had a pizza (on whole wheat crust) and more broccoli.  I just can't let all that yummy broccoli go to waste! 

We are all stocked up on water, whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter and fruit spread.  Praying that our power stays on!  The journey continues....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday night!!  October 21st!!!!  My little girl turns 11 tomorrow!!!!!!!

We had a great weekend visiting with family (my parents and my brother and new sister-in-law drove over from WV), going to AppleFest, and celebrating her sweetness! 

<----  Here she is at AppleFest with my daddy.

I'm pleased to say we stuck with our unprocessed, "clean eating" pretty well.  We did eat lunch at AppleFest on Saturday and we made the healthiest choices possible (except for Little Man who was drawn to the Pizza Hut booth of all places).  I made a great dinner of free-range chicken that I had placed in the crockpot that morning.  Added some sides of sweet potatoes, broccoli and parmesan risotto.  And a salad.  It was yummy and my family really enjoyed it. 

Then we had birthday cake - which was completely organic and gluten-free.  (Tip: Do not lead with that bit of information if the people you are serving it to are not used to that.  They may look at you like you're crazy.  Then they may take that first bite with a look of fear on their faces.....until they taste it's AWESOMENESS!!)  My dear daughter wanted her cake to be half chocolate and half confetti.  No way was I using a box mix.  I made this amazing flourless dark chocolate cake

For the confetti cake, I googled "gluten free white cake recipe" and when I found this quote << "I have to brag on this cake. Got it from a link on this site. This is sooooooo good. It's really a white cake, but it is great.">> I knew I had to check it out.  So I made this recipe and added some sprinkles (I know, totally artificial, but if that's all that was artificial in it - I'm OK with that) I found in my cabinet.  Since I altered the flour combinations a little (making sure it still added up to 2 1/4 cups) the cake doesn't look white - but it tastes totally amazing!  I used the flour combination found in the comments section of brown rice flour, white rice flour, and sorghum flour (I didn't have any tapioca flour, so I thought.  Found some today.... oh well.)

I love that my parents really liked it since all they're used to are cakes made with refined/ processed ingredients.  I love that my kids and husband love it!  I love that the chocolate cake tasted all fudge-like.  I love being able to create something delicious with ingredients I can identify.  Lots of love here.

Keeping the love going -
I loved having the meal plan to follow last week.  I will definitely use one again. 

But this week, I'm going to create my own.  I'm actually excited about it.  I have the chicken bones left over to make a nice stock.  I'm going to make some soup and probably some chicken and dumplings.  We will also have spaghetti one night.  And of course - taco night on Friday.  I love having that constant in our family.  (more love - I'm full of happiness today) Just like creating traditions together, it helps us grow closer as a family. 

Do you have any weekly family meals your kids look forward to?  What are some of your unique family traditions?  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today, according to my Meal Plan, was fajitas for dinner.  They were supposed to be vegetarian.  But, we had some seasoned ground turkey left over from our taco pizza - so we totally had to have soft tacos!  I did cook some onion, mushrooms and peppers with some homemade fajita seasoning to make them more fajita like.  

So this is my second time making homemade flour tortillas.  It is getting easier (the first time I had a little trouble getting the dough to come together - this time, no trouble at all!)  But you'd think I could roll out a circle.  What is this??   Seriously.

Pathetic, I know.

 By the 12th one I was getting a little better - check this one out -almost looks professional! 

These are so much fun to make with the kids.  We had a great system tonight where they each took turns flipping the tortillas while I rolled them out.  Did you read that?  They took turns!!  No fighting!  I think I'm liking this cooking together as a family thing! 
If you haven't tried these tortillas yet, you've got to give them a shot.  They're awesome!  So much better than the store bought ones.  And the best part is, I know what's in them.  No freaky ingredients.  Just flour, salt, oil and water.  Simply beautiful.

I asked them at dinner what they thought of our "unprocessed journey" so far.  The young lady replied that "eating healthy isn't so bad" while the little man said "these tacos are awesome".  I say, I'm glad we're on this journey together.  No sweetie, eating healthy isn't so bad!

Monday, October 15, 2012

So this week I decided to use a meal plan.  I am using Meal Plan 1 from 100 Days of Real Food.  Using a meal plan is an easy way to budget and make meal time less stressful.  There are tons of great sites to use that offer whole foods menus.  Sites like Plan to Eat, The Fresh 20, or The Scramble are just a few.  Check them out and see if one might work for you.

Tonight was wild caught fish sauteed with butter and lemon.  I chose some wild-caught cod fillets.  They were so delicious in the butter and lemon sauce.  It reminded me of eating lobster.  We also had green beans, acorn squash and a box of Annie's mac and cheese (as a thank you to the kids for being so agreeable during this challenge).  They both tried some acorn squash - neither were very impressed with their first taste.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

I'm going to rearrange some of the days in this week's menu since I will have company on Friday.  That's the beauty of the meal plan.  I used the grocery list, have all the ingredients I need for breakfast, lunch and dinner this week, and can use them in whatever order I want.  Love it.  Why didn't I do this in the first place??

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Amazing day today! 

Made warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa for breakfast.  Church.  Lunch of brown rice, chicken, broccoli and carrots.  Afternoon supporting a great ministry.  Grocery store.  Yard work.  Watching kids play happily outside.  Kid approved dinner choice of homemade taco pizza.  Then a Redbox movie with my honey. 

That was my day in a nutshell.  Now to elaborate....

The quinoa was so simple - warm, nutritious breakfast in 20 minutes (and I have some left for tomorrow)!  I brought to a boil 1 cup organic quinoa with 1 cup water and 1 cup coconut milk.  Then I reduced the heat, covered and simmered for 15 minutes.  Then I turned off the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes.  Then I removed the lid and added 1-2 cups blueberries (I eyeballed it), as much cinnamon as I wanted and a little stevia.  I added some chopped walnuts too - you could also use pecans.  Yummy!!

For lunch, I used our leftover brown rice from earlier in the week.  I always, always make a double serving of brown rice.  If I'm going to be cooking some for close to an hour, I might as well make enough to last all week.  The broccoli and carrots were from our crop share.  (Did I mention having a crop share is amazing!!)

After lunch we went to Norlo Park for the Sweet Walk to Remember and Balloon Release benefiting Sweet Grace Ministries.  This ministry was started by my dear friend Katy as a way to help other mothers/families, like her own, who have endured the pain of infant loss.  Her story can be found here.  I encourage you to check it out and offer your support.  It was heart-wrenching yet beautiful to watch hundreds of balloons float into the sky toward heaven in honor of those sweet lives.  So thankful and honored to be a part of it.

We left the park and headed to the grocery store - mainly to pick up a movie we had reserved on Redbox.  While there, I realized I didn't have all the ingredients I needed for dinner.  Well, the kids decided they wanted pizza.  So I checked my handy Whole Foods app and found a recipe for chicken taco pizza.  They very enthusiastically said that was a great idea, except they wanted taco meat instead of chicken.  So I grabbed some ground turkey while they found the pizza crust and salsa. 

Back at home we finished cleaning out our garden.  The kids were supposed to be helping us weed, but somehow ended up on the swingset instead.  I was just happy to see them playing together.  We (the hubs and I) had debated whether or not to sell our playset over the summer.  Today, I was glad we decided to hold onto it for another year. 

Off to bed now.  Another busy week ahead!  My dear daughter's 11th birthday party is next weekend!  And I have to come up with a clean cake recipe and unprocessed party food!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012


We all feel it.  So, what do we do about it?

And why in the world am I posting about fear on a food blog? 

Because, fear can keep us from trying new things, from stepping out of our comfort zones, from walking away from our old standards.  It can keep us stuck where we are when we would be so much better off moving forward.

I was over at the daily love reading an article about fear and relating it to other parts of my life. I feel it's important to share here as well.  Here's what the post's author, Mastin Kipp, has to say:

"Not acting because we are afraid is what keeps us afraid and typically not acting; because we are afraid is what MANIFESTS the outcomes we are afraid of.

It's totally ironic how that works, isn't it?

So, what we must do is SLOWLY start to prove our fear wrong. And RIGHT before any major breakthrough is when fear is at its greatest. This is a pattern I see ALL the time in my life, especially recently because I've had to step out into a lot of unknowns lately. And what's cool is that on the other end, I always come through the other side OK. So my NEW practice is to apply the feeling of being OK BEFORE I step into what I'm afraid of, and hold that mindset as I'm going through the fear.

It's a powerful practice!

So, what areas of your life are you afraid to embrace? What action are you not taking out of fear? Can you see that you are holding your own expansion back by NOT taking action?" 

Are you afraid to embrace your desire to feed your family a consistently healthy diet?  Afraid it would be too difficult, take too long, be too expensive?  Afraid you might not like how it tastes?  (that one held me up for a time) I encourage you to take action today, take one small baby step in the right direction.   Try a new vegetable or fruit.  Get rid of that white flour and change it to whole wheat or brown rice flour.  Stop cooking with canola oil and use coconut or grapeseed. 

And maybe you wouldn't even categorize it as fear.  Maybe you think it's just too exhausting to think about eating healthy.  Or it's just an inconvenience.  It's all about priorities.  There are like a gazillion little things we can do today to improve our health.  It's a process, sometimes a long one, but it's worth it.  Your health and that of your loved ones is worth it!  Here's a pic of my lunch today:

Two years ago, there's no way my salad would have contained broccoli and tomatoes.  No. way. ever.  But I've slowly been adding them into my diet and now I love them.  This salad was totally delicious.  (btw, everything on this plate is from me weekly share at Fulton Farm's CSA)

So I say - Go For It!!  Make today the beginning of your healthy food journey!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

After a full week on this challenge, here are

5 Things I Have Learned

1.  My kids will actually eat what I put in front of them.  Especially if they know it is expected of them to eat what I make - and if they see their father and I enjoying the food.  This may seem like a total "duh" moment to some of you, but I have spent years catering to the likes and dislikes of my children.  (c'mon, I know I'm not alone in this)  Before kids, I LOVED to try new recipes.  Once the kiddos started voicing their opinions, whining, throwing tantrums, etc. I gave in and made what they liked.  Even went so far as to make special, separate meals for them.  <<slapping my forehead>>  Why?!!  This has been a revelation for me.  My joy in cooking and trying new things is back.  And I'm so pleased that my kiddos are trying new things (even if I'm still hearing a few complaints).

2.  Messing with recipes is fun.  Looking at old cookbooks and finding ways of making them healthy and clean is fun!!  I LOVE the whole process!  

3.  I really like having this challenge to keep me accountable!  Knowing that we have this goal of eating clean for a month keeps me going even when it's not so easy.  It's been an adventure for my whole family.  I like the feeling we have that we're all in this together.  (someone sing me some High School Musical!)

4.  Planning ahead is soooooooooo important!  Knowing what I'm going to make each day keeps me from wanting to turn to convenience foods.  Planning a weekly menu helps me budget our grocery expenses.  Again, another "duh" moment.  I already knew this but never really took the time to put it into practice.

5.  I want to keep doing this.  I want to help other families plan out their meals and make healthy eating a priority.  I have a passion for this.  I believe the health of this country starts at home, in the family kitchen.  Not only does home cooking nourish your body, but eating together as a family nourishes your soul.  That's what I'm all about - helping other realize that true "health" isn't just how much you exercise and what you eat - it's about relationships, with others, with yourself, with God.   I'm so happy to be on this journey!


Monday, October 8, 2012

"Mom, I don't feel very good"

These are the words I heard from my little man as he came through the front door after school.  Poor little guy looked really pale and droopy.  After some hugs and cuddles, he went upstairs to lay down. I'm sure this weather isn't helping.  It was so cold today, I literally saw a bumble bee drop dead.  He was visiting my purple asters, as he had been doing so frequently over the past few weeks.  Then as he flew past the window, I saw him drop from the sky.  His fuzzy little body is lying motionless on my sidewalk.  Darn cold front!

Wasn't I just complaining earlier today about being super busy on Monday evenings?!  Well, I'd rather be running all over town playing Mom Taxi than have a sick little boy.  Lord, forgive me for complaining.  I count it all as blessing, the hectic schedules, everything.

Since I had some extra time before dear daughters activities, I went ahead with my planned menu and made Cheesy Lasagna Rolls from my awesome Whole Foods app.  This recipe is super easy since it has so few ingredients.  The most time consuming part is preparing the noodles to roll up.  There was a little bit of complaining about the spinach from my son, but he tried it and liked it.  Hooray!

The only picture I have to share today is from this morning.  See, I ran out of almond milk a couple days ago.  I've been hearing how easy it is to make your own, so I decided to try it.  Last night, before bed, I put 2 cups of raw almonds in a bowl then covered them with water.  This morning I drained and rinsed them, put them in my blender along with some pure vanilla and 4 cups of water.  Super quick and easy!  Then I poured it through a sieve and voila! Two pints of almond milk for the fridge plus what I used in my smoothie this morning.  The best part is I have this almond meal/ mush left over to use in other recipes!  I think I'll use some in my oatmeal tomorrow morning.

Speaking of morning, it will be here too soon.  Goodnight!
Oh my gosh, I just read a truly inspiring article from a mom of 7 who says "Planning and cooking great tasting meals for your family is not a chore, but rather a blessing that you can give your family every single day of the year."  To read the article in its entirety, please go to  She also has her own AMAZING story, so I definitely recommend you check it out!

My planning for the week is giving me a headache to be quite honest.  I'm trying not to look at it as a chore, but planning around all our evening activities is making it feel like one.  Mondays are going to have to become crock pot days for me.  My little man has karate at 5, my sweet young lady has piano at 5:30 (which btw is across town from karate), then she has swim team from 6:30 to 7:30.  Not sure where to stick dinner in there.  She won't be home until 8.  Maybe if I get off this computer and go prepare dinner now, my boys can eat whenever they get home and I will wait to eat with my darling daughter.  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

For dinner tonight, I decided to "clean up" my hubby's all-time favorite recipe.  It's a recipe I found early in our marriage in one of my Taste of Home magazines.  It's called Baked Almond Chicken and it goes like this:

1/2 cup flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour)
1/3 cup margarine, melted (I used real butter)
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used organic, and I only made 4)
1 cup whipping cream   THIS IS NOT A LOW CALORIE RECIPE!
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs (I made my own from organic 14-grain bread)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Hot cooked pasta (I used Eden organics whole wheat and rice blend fettucine noodles)

Cover the chicken with flour, dip in the butter/spices mixture, place in a greased, shallow 3 qt baking dish.  Pour cream around chicken.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle bread crumbs and almonds over chicken, bake an additional 5-8 minutes.  Serve over pasta.

The kids now love this recipe too.  Tonight they even ate broccoli again - dipped in the sauce.  

This altered recipe is just an example of baby steps anyone can take to clean up their diets.  Although, this isn't the best example because of the heavy cream, I still felt better knowing there was no white flour or processed bread crumbs in it.  (have you ever read the ingredients of some bread crumbs on the market - it's crazy.  You'd think it would simply be bread crumbs....but, sadly, it's not.  What is with that??) 

I have this weeks dinner and breakfast menus planned out.  I'm still working on lunch - hoping some of the lunches can be leftovers from previous dinners!  Time to go pack some lunchboxes.  Good night!

It's Sunday!!  A day of rest, a day of planning for the week ahead....

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at The Land of Little Horses in Gettysburg.  It was a beautiful afternoon and we really had a great time.  Then we came home and got out the kite.  It was so much fun running up and down our street to get the kite to fly!  So thankful for such a beautiful and fun fall day!

For dinner I prepared another recipe from my Whole Foods app.  The gluten-free tuna noodle casserole was quick and easy.  I was surprised at how nice the sauce was, being made from almond milk, potatoes, garlic and salt and pepper.  Of course, I played around with the recipe, as I like to do, and added some celery salt and parmesan cheese.  The bread crumbs, slivered almonds and paprika on top gave it a nice crunch. The kids liked it, my hubby had seconds and I have found another recipe to keep in our rotation!  We also had some green beans, which were canned by my mother, and possibly strung by my children over the summer.   For dessert, we had some fresh strawberries.

Then we all sat down to watch the WV Mountaineers take on the TX Longhorns (which my son kept calling "the bulls").  What a nail-biter!  In the end, our Mountaineers were victorious!  Great way to start off in the Big 12 conference!!

More later on what will be on our weekly menu!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Taco night!  My family's favorite meal of the week.  Tonight the kids helped me make homemade corn tortillas.  They were so simple to mix up, easy to roll into balls, NOT so easy to roll flat without them crumbling or sticking to the wax paper.  We did manage to make some and they were delicious.  WAY more delicious than store bought corn tortillas!  I just did not take a picture because they were not pretty!

So far this week I've been very impressed with the kids willingness to try new things.  Hubby has had a rough week and has asked for help.  So, this weekend we will be doing a lot of prep work for his meals next week.  I just found this article on 100 Days of Real Food - if her husband can do it while traveling for work, so can't mine! 

Happy Friday everyone!
Dinner last night was just me and the kids.  Hubby was out of town for work again.  So, we made what every kid I know likes, mac and cheese.  Except this time it was the clean version.  I didn't really use a recipe.  I just cooked up 8 oz. of Tinkyada elbow macaroni (whose ingredients are brown rice and water - love it!).  While that was boiling I made the sauce by pouring 2 cups of milk and 2 Tbsp. spelt flour into a pan.  I also added some turmeric and ground mustard for the yellow color.  After that thickened, I stirred in some sharp cheddar cheese and some freshly ground salt and pepper. 

Here's the finished product: 

Add a salad and dinner was done.  Easy peasy mac and cheesy. 

Friday is taco night - anyone have a tortilla press??

Thursday, October 4, 2012

For your reading enjoyment, here's an article from Eating Rules by guest blogger Chef AJ, author of Unprocessed.

Going unprocessed, is, well a process.  I became vegan in 1977 for ethical reasons and was one of those junk food vegans who didn’t eat any fruits and vegetables. I ate from my own four food groups – sugar, flour, oil and caffeine.
Flash forward 26 years later, at the age of 43, when I woke up bleeding profusely.  I had several large adenomatous polyps in my colon that the doctor said, if not removed, would become cancerous.  Well, my colon was such a mess from years of eating processed food that they could not remove them during the sigmoidoscopy and said I would have to have surgery.
As luck would have it, I have a severe phobia of anesthesia, so instead I checked into the Optimum Health Institute on July 6, 2003.  I changed my diet and changed my life.  Within six months of eating a Whole-Food, Plant-Exclusive diet free of all processed food, and all sugar, oil, and salt specifically (all sugar and oil are highly processed), all of the polyps disappeared and I regained my health without drugs or surgery.
When I went back for a colonoscopy and everything was normal, the doctor actually accused me of having had the surgery somewhere else. He didn’t believe that diet could do it. But it can. Since then I have witnessed hundreds of cases of these “miracles” of complete disease reversal or remission associated with eating a nutrient-rich, whole-food, plant-exclusive diet.
Processed food is not food. You may eat it, you may enjoy it, and you may even be addicted to it, but it is not food. Food is not meant to come in a box, a bottle, or a can. Food should come from a plant, not be manufactured in a plant!
I don’t care if it’s called “Kraft Macaroni And Cheese” or “Amy’s Organic Gluten-Free Macaroni And Cheese.” We shouldn’t be eating processed food and we definitely shouldn’t be feeding it to our children. The human body simply was not designed to eat processed food.
If you don’t believe that processed food in general, and sugar, fat, and salt in particular, is addictive, read The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler.  He is the former head of the FDA and he will explain to you how the processed food industry evolved.  (Spoiler alert: They took the best doctors and brain scientists they could find to figure out the perfect ratio of sugar, fat, and salt to addict the average person to their product.)
Here is a quick and easy recipe from my next book “The UNPROCESSED 30 Day Challenge,” which is also a program I run in Los Angeles that teaches people how to adopt an unprocessed diet.  (The program will soon be available online for people who live outside of the Los Angeles area.)  Many people say they simply have no time to prepare breakfast in the morning.  By taking just five minutes the night before, you can have a hearty, healthy, and delicious breakfast ready for you when you wake up!

Here's a link to the recipe she mentions - recipe  Just scroll to the bottom of the article.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tonight's dinner was delicious if I do say so myself.  I ended up making Chicken "Pot Pie" with Crunchy Brown Rice Crust.  I found the recipe on my totally awesome Whole Foods app.  It's actually been saved under my favorite recipes for a while.  I just never tried it because I wasn't sure the family would like it.  You know what, they loved it!  The recipe can also be found here.  I do want to note that I used grapeseed oil in place of the canola oil it called for.  And I added extra celery and a small potato.  And skim milk instead of whole.  It was super yummy. 

I also wanted to share what I made for breakfast this morning.  Some of you may have seen a similar picture on Pinterest or Facebook.  Simple enough, crack an egg on a slice of tomato in a slice of green pepper.  Hint: use a pepper with a larger diameter than mine.  I had a lid over mine in hopes that the egg would set.  Then I decided I would flip them.  That didn't turn out so well. hehehe  But it was still excellent even if it wasn't pretty. 

Tomorrow, I'm going to tackle the butternut squash....
So yesterday was our Day 1 of the unprocessed challenge.  I did not post last night because of Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly.  NCIS is the one show each week that everything stops for. There are other shows I'd like to watch but if I have too much to do, it's no biggie if I miss them.  Tuesday night is not one of those nights.  I sat my butt on the sofa for two hours and watched NCIS and NCIS:LA (my husband tells me I didn't see much of the second show though).  I was really tired and went to bed at 10 after a half hour nap on the couch.  :)

Back to the food - for breakfast I made crepes with brown rice flour, almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla, melted butter and eggs, which the kids love.  For lunch I had some vegetable lentil soup that I had prepared on Friday before I left for NY.  My husband reports that he completely failed at lunch because he went to McD's.  Ugh!  Did he have a salad? No, he had chicken nuggets.  AAHHHHH!  And guess what, he left for work again today without he or I packing a lunch for him.  Did I mention this is going to take a lot of prep work??! 

Our dinner last night was one we have had before.  I felt I wanted to remind them that eating clean can be delicious, so I prepared a meal we have had several times before.  Again, it's from one of my favorite websites, The Gracious Pantry.  The recipe can be found here.  We also had couscous with parsley and parmesan cheese and some veggies.  The summer squash was in my CSA pick-up - totally pleasant surprise as I thought they were done for the year.   And check out this bounty of beautiful fall vegetables I received!  I'm telling you, if you haven't joined a CSA yet, please check into it for next year.  What a great way to support locally grown, organic farmers!
Obviously the summer squash are not pictured because I already ate them.  :-)  Today I'm going to cook up the butternut squash.  I'm thinking of making homemade ravioli and hoping the kids will like it as much as store-bought ravioli.  I had some of the kale in my smoothie this morning.  The rest is in the fridge or on the counter waiting to be made into something of culinary genius. I might have to call a culinary genius to come over and help me cook this month.....

I'm still struggling with the kids lunchboxes.  I've always packed them a fresh fruit.  They, unfortunately, have never liked raw vegetables.  We're working on that.  My daughter took some almonds and pumpkin seeds, strawberries and spinach ravioli today.  My son took some baked Lays potato chips, strawberries, cheese stick and ravioli.  (yes, my kids eat a lot of pasta and no, this ravioli did not pass the rules for being "unprocessed") 

Off to the Y for some much needed exercise....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Got home at 1AM this morning from an A-MAZ-ING weekend in NYC.  I was at the IIN Fall Conference where I heard so many amazing speakers, including Dr. John Douillard and Dr. Bernie Siegel.  I am still on a post-conference high, full of ideas and enthusiasm for changing my health, my family's health and my community's health.

Today, being Oct. 1st, begins the Unprocessed challenge.  Due to my late night, today was, instead, "clean out the refrigerator and pantry day" to remove any and all processed foods that may tempt us over the next month.  The kids are open-minded and ready to start tomorrow.  Still not sure about the hubby.  It's going to take a lot of preparation and work on both of our parts to keep him eating well while he's on the road.

I wanted to share some of the completely amazing meals I had in NYC.  Our first afternoon there, we went to The Hummus Kitchen where I ordered the Super Healthy Salad.  (yes, that's really what it's called, check the menu)  Of course, I snapped this photo after I'd already eaten half of it, but you can still see how beautiful it was.  It had a great mint flavor infused throughout.  Totally delicious!

Then, that evening we went to Taboon , a Middle Eastern inspired Mediterranean restaurant, where I enjoyed a light dinner before heading to see Phantom.  This beautiful salad was delicious and refreshing.  I also tried my friend's order - the house focaccia bread and the tdadziki dip - yummo! And the restaurant gets a 5-star rating from me because they totally saved me. As we entered the Majestic theater, I realized I had lost my cell phone.  My friend called Taboon and our waitress had found it under our table.  They held it for me until after the show, where we hoofed it over there before they closed.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!! 

I so enjoyed the variety of restaurants in New York.  There were so many organic and/or vegan options.  Of course I also visited Tutti Frutti for a little treat on our last night there.  Hey, it's healthy frozen yogurt!  And I only added a small spoonful of chocolate chips - don't judge me. :-)

Check back tomorrow for my family's Day 1 of the October Unprocessed Challenge!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good morning!  I already have dinner in the crockpot!  Yay me!  Tonight we are having chicken tacos - and I got the idea from one of my favorite websites - The Gracious Pantry.  If you follow the link, you'll see she also has a recipe for homemade taco seasoning.  I always have a jar of this made up in my spice cabinet.  It's super easy to mix up, delicious and soooo much better than the store bought packs full of artificial stuff. 

I also wanted to share with you what I'm having for breakfast.  This is my absolute, most favorite green smoothie ever.  It is called Dreamy Green Creamsicle and the recipe can be found here.  Kate Kim is a fellow IIN graduate who held a green smoothie challenge over the summer.  That was when I first discovered this tall glass of deliciousness.  It is the reason I always have a bag of  peaches in my freezer and almond milk in my fridge.  This morning I used some collard greens and spinach instead of the kale.  If that sounds disgusting to you, you have to try this.  It tastes like an orange creamsicle - it really does!  If you've been on the fence about trying green smoothies, this would be a great one to start off with.  If you're worried about tasting the "green" then spinach is the way to go.  You absolutely cannot taste it at all. 

I love starting the morning with a green smoothie.  It's a quick, easy way to start the day off with up to 4 servings of fruits and vegetables.  And they're yummy.  And they make me feel great.

Now I'm off to make some soup for next week.  I love fall soup weather!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tonight, I again failed to plan ahead for dinner (geez, this is really going to take some work!) - BUT - I totally pulled together a healthy meal in a matter of about 15 minutes.

I had some sprouted brown rice in the fridge that I had made on Sunday ( I usually eat a 1/2 cup brown rice with veggies for lunch each day), some salmon in the freezer and some bell peppers.  Throw in some freshly grated ginger, tamari and some freshly ground salt and pepper and BA-BAM - dinner.  I really, really wanted some broccoli with this, however, when I picked up my CSA yesterday, they were out of broccoli.  :(  And I didn't get to the store today.  :(  So, no broccoli with my stir-fry.  It was greatly missed, but the meal was still satisfying.   I did throw in a small handful of grated zucchini that caught my eye when I was perusing the freezer.  Loving the fact that we had a great crop of zucchini this year!  I thought, hey, I can throw this in with the rice and the kids won't even know it's there.  And it worked.  :)

The best part about this meal was that they ate it - and liked it.  I was totally preparing myself for the "ugh" or "gross" I usually hear when I make something healthy.  I heard no complaints, except for my daughter saying the bell peppers made it too spicy.  LOL  No, honey, the reason it had some zing was because Mommy went a little crazy with the ginger.  Sorry.

I'm kind of freaking out about starting the challenge on Monday because I'm going to be in NYC all weekend and won't have time to be totally prepared.  Well, I'm prepared, but my family is not.  And this is why  -  SUGAR.   They love it.  They consume it every day even when I ask them not to.  I try to keep it out of the house but it's in practically everything!  No processed sugar for a month is going to be a huge obstacle.  But I am not going to back down.  Who knows, my daughter may learn to love honey by the end of the month.    Here's some of what Andrew over at Eating Rules has to say about the white stuff:


Usually, the term “sugar” refers to bleached table sugar, those fine-white granulated crystals that come from sugar cane or sugar beets. The bleaching is done with sulfur dioxide, an ingredient that hopefully isn’t in your pantry.
The terms “sugar,” “granulated sugar,” “cane sugar,” “pure cane sugar,” “beet sugar,” and “table sugar” all refer to the bleached stuff.  So if you just see any of those on the ingredient list, it’s probably that (though the only way to know for sure is to ask the company).
Verdict?  Regular sugar doesn’t pass the kitchen test.

I haven't bought table sugar in over 6 months.  The fam has been eating turbinado, demerera or muscovado (basically raw brown sugars) without complaint.  Here's what Andrew has to say about acceptable sugars during the program:
 I’ve been getting a lot of questions about sugar and sweeteners, and whether or not they pass the Kitchen Test. In the past years of the challenge, the consensus seemed to be that date sugar, evaporated cane juice, raw/unfiltered honey, and maple syrup would all be acceptable sweeteners. An approximation of Turbinado and Muscovado sugars could probably be made at home, too, though the current industrial process to make them is probably a little bit different than what you’d be able to do at home.

Consensus for my house - none of them currently like maple syrup or raw honey.  This is going to be fun.  And don't forget the processed sugar detox that their bodies will go through.  I remember being a little out of sorts for the first few days post-sugar. But, like anything else in life, we will take this one day at a time.  I'm determined to help my family "unlearn" their love of processed foods.  Their health and their future are way too important to me to let them continue eating what they currently eat.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Today, I realize the importance of planning ahead!  The hubs is out of town tonight and I failed to plan ahead for dinner on an evening filled with karate, piano lessons and swim team.  So......I ended up taking the kids to eat some free pizza they earned through their elementary school's summer reading program.  At least tomorrow is CSA pick-up day so I know I'll have some delicious fresh veggies to cook! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This is my first post on my family's journey to becoming naturally nourished.  This past January I began a personal journey to better health after enrolling at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  Now, it's my family's turn to join me.  I've been making small changes in their diet from the beginning - some without their knowledge. :)  Now, with the help of Andrew over at and his October Unprocessed Challenge, and my skills as a health coach, I'm beginning the lifelong journey of helping my husband and two children nourish their bodies with whole, natural foods.

Tonight's dinner was a success - homemade, clean eating chicken nuggets, Tinkyada elbow macaroni with my homemade marinara sauce, broccoli and applesauce.  Both kids ate some broccoli!!  This was a huge step for my daughter who swore to me she would NEVER try it.  Well, she survived and hopefully will learn to love it as I have.  I will be trying new clean recipes all week in preparation for the Unprocessed Challenge.  So check back and see what I made. And head over to Eating Rules and check it out.  Join us on this journey to better health.