Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Walnut Trail Mix

I have been looking for some decent snacks lately to replace all of the junk that we have eliminated from our diets because sometimes fruits and veggies just aren't what I am wanting for a snack. I have been crazy a salty/sweet snack so I thought I would try to make my own Trail Mix type snack. I wasn't in the mood to head to the grocery store so I just went through my (newly "de-junked") pantry to make my mix. I am loving what I came up with. I am learning to get creative with foods and go beyond the recipes which is fun.

Anyway here is what I came up with for my Walnut Trail Mix

1 cup Walnuts
1 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Chocolate chips (I used these) They may not be the best but better than some of the options, I think.
1 cup Popcorn (air popped, no butter or salt)

Mix it up really well and serve or set aside for later.

Obviously you can use whatever you like best in your own mix but I think it is important to find clean snacks when replacing the junk snacks that you and your family have gotten used to eating. Eliminating is very important but if you don't replace the junk I would be willing to bet you get bored and end up eating the junk again...eventually. I could be wrong about that but I know for my family eating fruit and veggies for every snack is going to get a bit boring and make it easier to fall back into old habits. So find some snacks that can replace your junky snacks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mini Pledge: Week 1

Over at 100 Days of Real Food  they have 14 weeks of Mini Challenges to help kick start your clean eating lifestyle. As you know we are already working on our eating clean lifestyle but I thought these mini challenges would work hand and hand with our lifestyle change to get us on the right track. The goal would be to stick with each of these challenges past the challenge week, looking over all of the challenges I am hopeful they all will stick.

So anyway this week's challenge is to eat 2 fruits and or veggies with every main meal, meaning breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I am excited for this challenge because I really love fruit and think this will be a good one for the entire family. We don't eat enough produce as it is so this will be a great opportunity to get it all in. Starting today I challenge you and your family to join me in this week's mini challenge! Try to eat 2 fruits and or veggies with every meal, obviously if you can eat organic that would be best. Let me know how it goes! I know you and your family can do it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pear Sauce

Next week's meal plan includes a recipe for homemade Apple Sauce, which I made the other day. As I was rearranging things in my kitchen this evening I noticed we have a lot of Pears from out Bountiful Baskets produce basket that needed to be used. This abundance of Pears got me thinking...if I can make Apple Sauce why can't I make Pear Sauce? So I am giving it a shot tonight since it is such an easy thing to do!

5-6 Pears
Dash of Cinnamon
1/4 cup Apple Juice
1 teaspoon Honey

Cut pears up into pieces. Leave skins on unless you have the time to peel them...who has that much time right? Mix pears, cinnamon, juice, and honey in a pot. Cover and Simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Then blend in a blender or if you are so lucky with an immersion blender. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Here are the pictures of my Pear Sauce!

This week's snack ideas

Since we are trying to eat clean I am planning what snacks I will have available for the week as well. This will help prevent us from eating well during meal times but not so much when we choose to snack. I am hoping that having a plan will allow me to keep us on track. No excuses with a plan right!?!

Air Popped Popcorn
Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Menu 11/28 through 12/4

First of all I must say I cannot believe I am working on a menu for the month of December! Where has this year gone? As you can see by looking at the menu I am working on cleaning our diet up and this is the first week of entirely clean meals. I realize we are still eating at Buffalo Wild Wings and we may or may not eat at Chipotle as well. Now BDubs clearly is just a bad place to eat if you are trying to eat clean. We still enjoy our football though and will continue our Sunday morning tradition for the rest of the football season but we will try to make wiser choices and I am a firm believer in "everything in moderation". As far as Chipotle goes they are, in my opinion, one of the best choice if there is such a thing in the fast food world so since S is in love with that place and I don't feel it is too bad for us we will continue to eat there on occasion.
Breakfast-Oatmeal with honey, cinnamon, and raisins
Lunch- Butternut Squash Soup with toast
Dinner- Grilled Cheese on Whole Wheat, Applesauce , and Air Popped Popcorn
Tuesday: Happy Birthday to me! 
Breakfast-Whole Wheat French Toast  with fruit
Lunch- Spaghetti with homemade sauce  with veggies and whole wheat garlic bread
Dinner-Whole Wheat Tortilla with Refried Beans & Cheese, and fruit
Breakfast-Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, and Toast
Lunch- Tortilla Soup 
Dinner- Leftovers from Tuesday's lunch
Breakfast-Oatmeal with honey cinnamon, and raisins
Lunch- Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese with veggies 
Dinner- Grilled Cheese on Whole Wheat, Applesauce, and Air Popped Popcorn
Breakfast-Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, and Toast
Lunch-Tortilla Soup 
Dinner-Tacos with Whole Wheat Tortillas and Refried Beans 
Breakfast-Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
Lunch- Leftovers or Chipotle
Dinner-Steak with brown rice and veggies
Breakfast & Lunch-Buffalo Wild Wings
Dinner-Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

Thanksgiving Desserts

We are not doing  a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year as it will only be the three of us and neither S and I are big fans of turkey. But with that said there are some desserts that are a must serve for Thanksgiving. The first being my Mom's Pumpkin Roll, she was the only one in our family to master this recipe and I have tried to follow in her footsteps. It is my favorite dessert ever and I always enjoy the opportunity to make it even if it causes me a bit of stress. (My Mom was a perfectionist in the kitchen and she handed that trait down to me too). The second with be S's favorite Pumpkin Pie. In recent years I have learned to make my own Pie crusts, much thanks to my Grandma and S's Mom for helping me learn!

The recipe I started with this morning was the Pumpkin Pie as it was a recipe that H could "help" with. I used my mother in law's recipe for the pie crust and then used this recipe for the pumpkin filling. I found the pie crust was a bit more than I needed for my pie plate so I let H roll his only little pie crust while I prepared the pie for baking. Everyone always talks about how hard pie crusts are to make and I have to disagree. I find them to be pretty easy, though I will admit my crusts aren't always the prettiest. Since learning to make a pie crust I really do enjoy making them. I also like the fact that I can control what goes into my pie crusts, though not the healthiest ingredients I know there aren't a ton of unpronounceable ingredients and preservatives in my homemade crusts.
Joyce's Pie Crust
2/3 cups lard (Crisco)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
5-6 tablespoons cold water
Mix lard, flour and salt together and add water as needed. Once mixed roll out on a floured service until thin or the desired thickness. Then transfer to a pie pan. 

Next I worked on my Mom's Pumpkin Roll. This is my favorite dessert as I mentioned but it can also be a bit challenging too. The cake itself has a bad habit of sticking to the pan and rolling it can cause it to crack...which makes for a not so pretty dessert. My Mom always made 2 just in case one cracked. 

Lori's Pumpkin Roll
3 Eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Shifted powdered sugar (for the towel during inverting)
1 cup shifted powdered sugar 
6 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a larger mixing bowl beat eggs on high for 5 minutes, gradually beat in sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. 
In a small bowl stir flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, salt, nutmeg. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread batter in a greased and floured jelly roll pan. (IMPORTANT: Use shortening and flour to grease pan). Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 375* for 15 minutes. Immediately invert cake onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll up cake with towel jelly roll style starting form the short side. Cool completely and then unroll the cake. 
For the filling in a small bowl beat 1 cup powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium until smooth. Spread over unrolled cake. Reroll, cover, and chill. To serve cut cake crosswise into slices. 

Both of these desserts are so yummy and great for the holidays. Since we can't be home with our family for the holidays it is nice to be able to bring a small piece of home to us and I am able to do that with our desserts for Thanksgiving. I am not the best at taking photos of food or photos in general so please ignore the photo quality. :) Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving and a Blessed holiday season. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Obvious Starting Point?

I started reading, The Eat Clean Diet for Family and Kids, tonight and one of the things that popped out at me (though a lot popped out at me) was the idea that what we choose to eat can be influenced by our environment. I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest housekeeper and my busy schedule makes it even easier to let our household fall into disarray. I am not saying it is dirty or disgusting but its not as clean as I would like so I have decided that in order to implement this lifestyle change I must get our household in order. I am not saying that everything is going to be in its place at all times....I do have a toddler after all...but I am going to make sure this house is visitor friendly at all times. (No one ever comes to visit, we live 1600 miles from our families, so it is easy to let it fall into that really lived in state). 

Clean eating is about food of course but I think it is about the life we chose to live and this includes the environment we chose to live in as well. I guess for me I am more likely to take the time to cook a wholesome, clean meal if my house is clean and in order. Seriously who wants to cook in a dirty kitchen or eat in a cluttered dinning room? If I am more likely to prepare a meal at home then I am obviously less likely to hit a drive-thru, which I have a bad habit of doing when I don't feel like cooking. 

My goal is to have my house in "clean-eating" shape by the end of the week. I have been working hard this evening and can't wait to get the house deep cleaned for easy maintenance as we begin our clean eating lifestyle change. I know if I take the time clean our lifestyle up in all areas it will make our clean eating lifestyle much easier to follow and stick with. 

Egg Noodles

I love pasta but hate what is in the store bought stuff. I have been searching the internet for a good egg noodle recipe that isn't full of off the wall ingredients. I found this recipe on Pioneer Woman's website and decided to base my egg noodles off of it.
I started with 2 cups flour, 4 eggs, and 1.5 tablespoons flaxseed meal. I try to add flaxseed to our meals whenever I can and I thought this would be a great opportunity to add some in. 

I measured the flour into a bowl. Then I created a well in the center of the flour for the eggs. I used my hands (its messy) to mix up the flour and eggs until the dough was well mixed and created a ball. 

Then I let the kneaded the dough on a floured surface until it was no longer tacky. It should look like the above picture. 

Once the dough was ready I rolled it out until is was very thin. These noodles get BIG when they are boiled so make sure you roll the dough really thin. 

Once the dough was rolled out I simply cut the dough into pasta like shapes. As you can see I didn't cut them perfectly they are edible. :) I used a pizza cut to cut the dough. 

To cook the noodles bring the water to a boil and add salt. Boil the noodles for 2-3 minutes, they cook super fast! Then drain and serve. 
To save for later toss with a bit of olive oil and store in the fridge. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Clean Eating Challenge

I have mentioned before the importance of cleaning eating to me but I must admit I have struggled, well honestly failed, at providing my family with clean meals. This is a lifestyle change that isn't easy to make. I mean think about how many different ways advertisers throw food advertisements at us. We see ads for the newest industrial food creation on TV, in store, as we are driving around town, and honestly even in our own kitchens. I am determined to succeed and provide clean foods and meals for my family, no matter how many times I fail trying. It is a constant struggle for me that is for sure.

Food has always been a challenge for me though. I have had weight issues most of my adult life and have finally conquered them or at least gotten to a healthy weight, though I am still working on those stubborn last pounds. So the thought of eliminating all the processed junk from my kitchen is a bit overwhelming. Food has always meant a lot to me, memories often come from meals, food is comfort to me, etc. I must find new ways to fill the void that some of my favorite industrial foods have filled but I know I can if I focus on my goal.

I am currently in the research phase and plan to begin slowly implementing my family's clean eating plan. I don't want to go through my cupboards and just throw everything processed out instead I want to find healthy replacements and start changing our lifestyle. I think in the past I have always started full force and gotten overwhelmed and failed. So rather than burning out in the next few weeks I am going to go slow and steady...that wins the race right?!?

As we start changing our lifestyle I will be sure to share our experiences with you so that you too can change your eating lifestyle if you so choose. I will also share what I learn while I research what it means to eat clean and the tips I find about how to successfully eat clean.

There are a few things we are already doing in our household that I believe are good starts to our clean eating lifestyle change. They include:
-all of our beef is Grass fed, hormone, antibiotic free, as is our chicken which is also free ranging.
-the only milk we drink is Organic milk.
-our weekly basket from Bountiful Baskets is organic and for the most part all of the produce we eat is organic.

I don't have a solid plan for implementing our clean eating lifestyle yet but will be creating a flexible plan soon and of course will share it. Clean eating is important to both S and I so I know that if we are determined to eat clean we will. It just takes determination and willpower to ignore all of the industrial food advertisements thrown our way day in and day out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Menu: November 7th through November 13th

First of all how is it November already? This year has flown by I guess partly because S was deployed for a good part of the year and then we took a long trip back home. I can't believe how time flies. I love the holiday season though so I am always excited to see November.
Monday: Baked Spaghetti Squash with Garlic Bread and mixed Veggies
Tuesday: BLTs
Wednesday: Oven Baked Salmon with Mashed Potatoes and mixed veggies
Thursday: Baked Potato Soup
Friday: BLTs/ Tacos
Saturday: Leftovers/Baked Potato Soup
Sunday: BDubs/Leftovers

I am still alive

Sorry I have been MIA for a few weeks. Life got a little busy for a while and unfortunately this blog didn't take priority. I apologize for that and hope to get back to regular posting now. I haven't been getting getting our basket from Bountiful Baskets regularly lately simply because Saturday mornings have been fully. But I am back on track to start getting it so I will share our basket this weekend.
It is starting get chilly here in Las Vegas, FINALLY, so I am looking forward to preparing more comfort foods and the "warm" foods that I love. I also look forward to cooking from our basket as it seems the cooler weather foods I have a harder time finding recipes so I get to broaden my horizons now too. I am working on next week's menu and will share it once I get it done. Again I apologize for falling off the face of the earth for a bit.