Eating Clean and Living Green


In and out of town
February 25, 2012, 10:21 pm
Filed under: clean eating, green living, weekly meal log

After a yummy week of eating at home, David and I took off to Atlanta to celebrate our 5-year anniversary and in the process, enjoyed some ridiculously scrumptious farm-to-table cuisine. More on that in a moment!

Triumphs since our last post: making our own yogurt (in the crock pot!) and making our own laundry detergent (right at $18.50 for the ingredients. It should last around a year!).

Breakfasts
*Rolled oats made with almond milk and topped with banana, peanut butter, and flax seeds
*Same as above but topped with banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, and chia seeds
*Whole-wheat pancakes from our homemade baking mix with 100% maple syrup
*Green smoothies with chia seeds (I blend up frozen strawberries, a banana, around 1/4 cup of plain yogurt, several cups of spinach, then thin it with water if needed. Stir in chia seeds for thickening and added omega-3!)
*Whole-wheat cranberry muffins (from our recipe cards…not sure where the initial recipe came from)

Valentine's day pancakes, courtesy of Daddy

My Valentine's day breakfast bowl. Mm!

Delicious oatmeal made with almond milk, mixed with peanut butter, and topped with cinnamon, banana and chia seeds

Lunches and Snacks
*Diced raw veggies (carrots, bell peppers, and edamame)
*Sauteed zucchini and squash on whole-wheat bread with Neufchatel cheese
*Homemade, plain yogurt with raisins
*Homemade granola bars with dried cranberries mixed in
*Clementines, rice cakes with jam, and organic, unseasoned popcorn from bulk kernels were our snacks

Dinners
*Cheese-stuffed Tortillini from Earth Fare with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. (The Tortillini was free at Earth Fare with a $10 purchase, and we were happy for the treat!)
*Celery root gratin with Gruyere cheese (p.229 in Simply Organic) with roasted broccoli on the side
*Creamy cauliflower mac p.222* with roasted asparagus on the side
*Brown rice and vegetable stir fry with organic chicken (The chicken was free at Earth Fare a few weeks ago. We opted to freeze it and save until now)
*Crisp noodle cake with stir fried greens and tofu p.236*

Celery root gratin. Not the most colorful dish, but it was yummy. Abigail dubbed it, "Dinosaur soup."

Dinner prep

My ever-present kitchen assistant

The noodle cake...in progress. Recommendation: use a shallow skillet. You have to slide the cake out at the end, and the depth of my skillet cause the cake to break a bit when removing.

Tofu and boy choy with tons of seasonings

The tofu was a HIT!

Desserts
*Serving of Earth Fare strawberry ice cream

Atlanta Food, in photos
We ate at Atlanta Grill (inside our hotel), Restaurant Eugene, Flip, and The Melting Pot.

At restaurant Eugene, after consuming my pear soda amuse bouche and about to tackle a roll

Poor picture, but David's winter greens tower

David and his plate of swordfish, corn and avocado puree, and other yummies I can't remember

My delicious acorn squash-stuffed pasta with truffles and other tasty garnishes

One of our three blind-tasting desserts. The pastry chef got to do whatever he wanted, and the results were fabulous. This was a green tea cake topped with pear and grapefruit and caramel and green tea pop rocks (yes, pop rocks).

Yowsers! Add in a $40 tip, and that's our most expensive dinner, ever. And our most delicious, might I add.

Breakfast spread at the Atlanta Grill in the Ritz Carlton

David branched out and got the "Barnyard" burger at FLIP, filled with a grass-fed patty, farm lettuce, grilled onions, mayo, green tomato ketchup, pork belly, and a fried egg.

I wasn't feeling adventurous, so I got the "classic" burger with bibb lettuce, pickled onions, marinated red tomato, ketchup, FLIP sauce, and bread and butter pickles

Items ready to dip into chocolate fondue at the Melting Pot

Edible gift from the restaurant staff at the Ritz

Mock mimosas (it was Sunday, so blue laws were in affect!). I think these were just Sprite and orange juice.

Upcoming eating clean, living green goals:
1. Try a new vegetable/fruit every week for a while—next week, we’re trying escarole and leeks
2. Make our own bread—David’s experimenting with this today. Hope it turns out delish!
3. Once our dish detergent runs out, make our own. I’ve seen a few good recipes for it.
4. Use more reusable containers—especially glass ones.

*recipes taken from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook.”

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The post-trip hangover
February 20, 2012, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

No weekly meal log post yet. After an awesome time in Atlanta, we just finished crawling out from under a mountain of laundry, cleaning, and caring for a vomiting 1-year-old. Poor Madilyn.

Will combine this week and next week in one post on Saturday/Sunday.



Anniversary Weekend
February 16, 2012, 2:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This week’s post will likely debut on Sunday night or Monday morning as David and I will be celebrating our 5-year wedding anniversary out of town.

If you’d told me on my wedding day that in five years I would have two children, be learning to cook from scratch, and be nearly rid of processed foods, I would have laughed in your face. Time certainly does change things!

Right after walking into our reception. What a happy day!



Leftovers are great friends
February 12, 2012, 3:06 pm
Filed under: clean eating, weekly meal log

This past week was full of remainders from previous meals, and let me tell you, my family (and especially ME) loves eating the same thing multiple nights. I can’t imagine how difficult it’d be if we were averse to warming up last night’s dish multiple days. Yikes!

So that said, this week was full of repeats thanks in part to the chowder making enough for almost a week of dinners and also in part to a pal blessing us with a 13×9″ of the Brussels sprouts and figs dish we’d had before. On a new note, we made potato chips, and I detailed that below.

And before our weekly meal breakdown, check out a couple of photos of Abigail at Earth Fare. The store has mini shopping carts for “customers in training” to push around, and she’s fallen in love with the freedom of manning her own cart in the store.

Ready to shop!

Shopping finished. Not in the mood for a picture, though.

Sunday/Monday
Breakfast: Whole-wheat pancakes from our homemade baking mix with 100% maple syrup
Dinner: 
Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle p.118*

Tuesday/Wednesday
Breakfast: Whole-wheat cranberry muffins. We made a double batch (24 muffins) and froze half for later.
Dinner:
Baked Rigatoni with Brussels sprouts, figs, and blue cheese p.221* (my friend who made this for us used Penne pasta—just as yummy!)

Thursday/Friday/Saturday
Breakfast: Rolled oats made with almond milk, mixed with peanut butter, and topped with flax seed and banana
Dinner:
Our family’s current favorite—Asian vegetable stir fry. It’s so nice to just thaw a bag of already cooked brown rice (see my How do you do it? post), cook it up in a little olive oil and soy sauce, toss in veggies I’ve already chopped along with whatever frozen veggies I might have on hand (this week, broccoli), and within minutes, I have a delicious and nutritious meal.

Rolled oats, almond milk, peanut butter, flax seed, and banana. Delicious and filling!

Veggie stir fry. Always a hit!

Lunches, snacks, and desserts
Lunches were a hodge podge like we normally do starting off with diced raw veggies (carrots and bell peppers—so bummed that I forgot to pick up edamame this week), followed by sauteed zucchini and squash on whole-wheat bread with Neufchatel cheese, and black beans.

Snack this past week was a clementine in the morning and brown bag popcorn p.38* with no seasonings in the afternoon. We also made homemade potato chips for the super bowl on Sunday, and they turned out great. Some friends of ours gave us 100lbs (yes pounds) of Russet potatoes, so after gifting as many as we could, we had to find ways to use them up before they went bad. Potato chips were on the list!

Sliced potatoes post-wash, drying on the counter

Hot canola oil worked wonders on these spuds.

Finished chips + a pinch of salt. Ah-mazing. They reminded David and me of kettle cooked chips. Mm!

Dessert was Earth Fare strawberry ice cream on the nights we had room left in our stomachs!

Changes we can see and feel so far:
1. I’m becoming much more confident in the kitchen, and new recipes don’t scare me as much as they used to.
2. I’m also becoming more outspoken about our change, and am helping out friends who want to make the switch too.
3. Does anyone else who’s made this switch have cart pride? I try to keep it quiet, but man it feels awesome to have a cart full of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and very few (if any) boxes/packages.

Upcoming eating clean, living green goals:
1. Try a new vegetable/fruit every week for a while—next week, we’re trying fennel, celery root, and cauliflower. Watch out!
2. Once our dish detergent and laundry detergent run out, make our own (I’ve seen a few good recipes for both)—they’re both almost all gone, and I’ve got plans to make laundry detergent with a pal soon. We’re splitting a 10-gallon recipe, and the 5 gallons I get out of it should last 9-12 months (for around $10). Can’t wait to share details!
3. Use more reusable containers—especially glass ones.
4. Make our own yogurt—I have a recipe that I’m excited about and plan to try as soon as we use up the yogurt we’ve got.

Interesting articles I came across this week:
1. Calls for GMO labeling keep cropping up
2. Why Cut Processed Food This article comes from an awesome website full of great resources: 100 Days of Real Food.

*recipes taken from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook.”



A little behind, but we’re still on track!
February 7, 2012, 4:26 pm
Filed under: clean eating, weekly meal log

I had every intention of posting on Saturday or Sunday, but I was a little preoccupied with some special festivities…

Birthday girl

Very Hungry Caterpillar cake

Digging in!

So our littlest girl turned 1 on Saturday, and we had a wonderful time. For party food, we followed right along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar book and had fruit, salami and swiss cheese, and veggie chips. Pretty much whole foods, right? However, I wasn’t confident in my whole-foods cake baking and icing making abilities as I’d never tried anything but a box cake, so I fell back onto that crutch for this party. Abigail (who will be 3 in August) better watch out, though. I know I’ll have some sort of whole-foods dessert for her!

Speaking of Abigail, I wanted to take a moment to comment on something. I keep getting asked, “How do you get her to eat vegetables at lunch?” or “How do you get her to eat the dinners you make?” It’s pretty simple, actually. There’s no other option. Ever. Maybe that’s harsh, but it’s working.

I start her lunch with raw, diced veggies and nothing else. She gets nothing else until those are gone. This can be a battle, but it’s one I’m willing to fight daily. Yes, she’s sat there for 20 minutes looking at them before, but hey, that’s 20 minutes I have to get other stuff done. YES! Once she finishes the veggies, she gets whatever else we’re having for lunch.

As far as dinners go, I portion out her dinner, put it in front of her, explain what everything is, and leave it at that. Yes, there have been nights where dinner (for her) lasts over an hour and she maybe takes 2 bites. I’m sure she’s gone to bed a little hungrier than usual some nights, but that’s ok. I believe in consistency. And honestly, we always eat a substantial, filling breakfast, so she might just eat a bigger one the next day.

So that’s how I “get her” to eat things.

Sunday/Monday/Tuesday
Breakfast: Green smoothies (fresh spinach and arugula, frozen strawberries, fresh banana, plain Greek yogurt, water, chia seeds). A note: Walmart was out of prepackaged organic spinach, so I had to buy the organic arugula/spinach blend, and holy moly, we could definitely taste the greens in this smoothie. Back to solo-spinach next time!
Dinner:
We had more clean-out-the-pantry stir-fry on Sunday night, but Monday/Tuesday we had Pasta with Pureed Red Beans and Shiitakes p.214*

Naptime cooking prep. I lay out everything non-refrigerated I'll need for a recipe and all the pots/pans too so I'm ready to go once the time comes. I also prep (dice, mince, etc) as much as possible while they're sleeping.

Whole wheat rotini with kidney bean puree and Shiitake. I called them "mushroom chicken" since the texture was similar, and that seemed to please Abigail.

Wednesday/Thursday/Friday
Breakfast: Grains and mushrooms, lightly scrambled p.286* (so, I accidentally used all of our mushrooms in our weekend stir-fry, so this ended up being just rolled oats with eggs and scallions. We completely followed Bittman’s recipe minus the mushrooms, and let me tell you, it was delicious.
Dinner:
Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle p.118* (took a while to prep as you have to dice up the sweet potatoes and take corn off of cobs, then boil said cobs…and I doubled the recipe, so that meant double the prep time). Completely worth it though for a fantastic, flavorful chowder!

Eggs, rolled oats, and scallions. Odd combination, but absolutely delicious!

My awesome husband chopped up a ton of sweet potatoes and stripped corn off of 12 cobs to save me some time!

Creamy base for the chowder

Doubled recipe made enough for nearly 6 dinners for all four of us.

Mm! It was really spicy, so I'll tone down the Chipotle next time

Abigail about to dive into chowder

Madilyn didn't want to wait for sweet potato and corn goodness

Saturday
Breakfast: Whole-wheat pancakes from our homemade baking mix with 100% maple syrup
Dinner: More of the Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle p.118*

Lunches, snacks, and desserts
Lunches were a hodge podge like we normally do starting off with diced raw veggies (carrots and edamame and bell peppers), followed by sauteed zucchini and squash, fruit, and homemade whole-wheat goldfish.

Snack this past week was brown bag popcorn p.38* with no seasonings.

Dessert was Earth Fare strawberry ice cream.

Changes we can see and feel so far:
1. So the Super Bowl happened on Sunday, and despite our best intentions (we made homemade potato chips and salsa that I’ll blog about later and intended to avoid eating any other food at the party), we forgot to eat beforehand and ended up starving once we arrived. I had some pizza and chips and delicious baked treats…and paid for it yesterday and today. When will I learn!?
2. This isn’t really a change, but we signed up for a CSA through the Fresh Quarter that will start in late April/early May. So for $20 a week for 20 weeks, we’ll get a big box of organic, local produce. Yum! Can’t wait to sample the local fare.

Upcoming eating clean, living green goals:
1. Try a new vegetable/fruit every week for a while
2. Once our dish detergent and laundry detergent run out, make our own (I’ve seen a few good recipes for both)—they’re both almost all gone, and I’ve got plans to make laundry detergent with a pal soon. We’re splitting a 10-gallon recipe, and the 5 gallons I get out of it should last 9-12 months (for around $10). Can’t wait to share details!
3. Use more reusable containers—especially glass ones.
4. Make our own yogurt—I have a recipe that I’m excited about and plan to try this coming weekend.

Interesting articles I came across this week:
1. Pink slime and other weird food additives (another list of reasons to eat whole, local foods)
2. Real Food Tips: 10 Common Misconceptions

*recipes taken from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook.”



So, what’s in my pantry and fridge?
February 2, 2012, 3:19 pm
Filed under: clean eating

I cannot get over the response I’ve gotten from making this blog live. It’s so exciting that others have been inspired to take similar steps for their own families as a result of reading my family’s journey. Keep it up!

Some friends who’ve come by since our change have asked to see in my fridge and pantry just to get a sense of what all I actually have on hand. I’ve gotten a couple of requests from folks I don’t know, via the blog, for pictures, so here’s the rundown, and might I add, I feel oddly exposed showing the food contents of our house. Not sure why. Hope it helps someone out there, though!

We have a side-by-side fridge as seen in the photos below:

On our top two shelves are gallons of whole milk (can’t wait until we can afford organic!), a bottle of wine from a friend, Greek yogurt, fresh Parmesan cheese, loads of beans, leftovers from a previous night’s dinner, and whole wheat bread. And a random lemon slice in a bag. I think it was intended to be thrown down the disposal for a fresh scent burst!
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The next shelf has some celery stalks, our fresh chopped veggies for the week, the free pound of chicken we got from Earth Fare, whole wheat tortillas and a thawing bag of cooked kidney beans. The drawer below has random veggies (onion, zucchini, yellow squash) and fresh seasonings (garlic, ginger).
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These are our main veggie drawers full of green onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, lots of ears of corn (for a delicious sweet potato and corn chowder we made last night!)
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Fridge door. Confession: I was tempted to remove the French’s mustard for this shot, but for the sake of transparency…These are our jams (fig and marionberry right now) and a couple of sauces (sesame seed oil, soy sauce) and another random lemon. Hm. A theme is emerging…
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More fridge door. Here we have our sherry cooking wine (thanks, Mandy!), Worcestshire sauce, and some greens (NOT the best choice for a smoothie. The arugula was pretty strong. Whew!). Then the girls have a shelf for their sippy cups complete with a carton of half and half—used for the chowder I mentioned earlier.
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Here’s our under-used-at-the-moment freezer. We’ve got a couple bags of frozen broccoli, our Earth Fare ice cream, some bags of frozen cooked beans and lots of bags of cooked brown rice.
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We’ve got a fairly small pantry that is sorted by breakfast/lunch on one shelf and dinner/snack on the bottom. At least, that was my initial organizational attempt.
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Here we have our Cheerios, honey, and peanut butter for granola bars, homemade goldfish, maple syrup, raisins, and teas. On the bottom shelf is our baking mix (in the stainless steel bowl—the instant dry milk is for that mix too), bulk popping corn, bulk cornmeal (for the chowder), bulk rolled oats, whole wheat pasta, and portioned-out popcorn for snacks.
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I didn’t think to include a photo of my baking cabinet with spices and whole wheat flour, etc. Maybe another time! As for now, the girls are about to wake up, and I’ve got to run. Just know that if you only have healthy options at your house, you’ll only eat healthy. It’s true! See you on Sunday with our weekly recap.