Eating Clean and Living Green

Summer’s Best – EASY Roasted Corn on the Cob
July 28, 2012, 12:20 pm
Filed under: clean eating, recipes, Uncategorized

We recently discovered the miraculous wonder of EASY oven roasted corn on the cob. Never did I imagine it being so simple. Here’s the secret recipe!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

2. Place entire cob in the oven (husk, silk and all!) – There’s no need to do anything to it. See below

Oven roasted Corn on the Cob

3. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven and shuck as normal. The silk will practically fall off on it’s own AND you have a super rustic, old-fashioned holster! Season and enjoy!




In defense of “Clean” Eating…
July 2, 2012, 10:20 pm
Filed under: background and research, clean eating, green living

This is my attempt to better equip all of us in attempting to explain why we pursue and follow the clean eating lifestyle, especially when sharing with those about whom we care most.  I’m sure we’ve all been faced with the situation of trying to explain our choices to one or more friends, family, colleagues, etc. who know nothing or very little about “truly” clean eating.  So, here’s my version of how to reach out.

Let’s make it simple and start with a definition:

a·pol·o·get·ics – noun

  1. a defensive method of argument
  2. the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity

Although our family believes in the power of Christ and that we are called to care wholly for ourselves, others and the world God gave us – I need more room to cover that one! – I’m going to focus on definition number one for the sake of defending the clean eating lifestyle.

1. Share your story – I find it most effective to start any clean eating discussion by explaining your side of the story.  Obviously, with clean eating, this typically happens over food. (Thank Captain Obvious for that one!) Get started with your own personal motives.  What influenced you personally to shift from “conventional” food to clean eating lifestyle?  What changes have you experienced (weight loss, clearer skin, reduced medications)? How difficult was the transition?  Let’s be honest, none of us are perfect.  Our family still has it’s setbacks. Who doesn’t love those gooey, delicious box brownies with heaping ice cream!  but let’s get back on point.

For our family, it started as we investigated natural, un-medicated birth stories and the profound impact the drugs could potentially have on our first child.  Over time, it morphed as we sought to be intentional parents to examine what we put in front of our children.  Yes, it was overwhelming at times. No, we didn’t fully know the direction we were headed.  Keep in mind, we see it as a constant process to be ever mindful of how we “actively” live our lives.  The first step was coming to a decision to make up our own minds and reassess the foundation of what we believed REAL food to be and dig deeper beyond the creative marketing facade of food conglomerates.  Taking what our eyes and minds are “fed” daily through marketing gimmicks at face value in order to find the underlying truth to how and what food should be.  That’s why we refer to it as a “lifestyle”, not a diet or the latest fad.  We have decided as a family to make this a permanent change!

2. Present facts and evidence – Now, the common response you’ll probably get after telling your side is the “well, that’s all good for you but not really for me” bit.  Here’s where the 1-2 punch comes in.  Drive it home by referring them to articles, facts, evidence that shows them how “conventional” food affects their body and behavior.  For starters, here’s a handy one on coke (or soda, if you prefer the term) or on Smoking.  By introducing actual evidence and hard numbers, it becomes more difficult for your audience to directly dismiss.  Who doesn’t want lower cholesterol?  What do you mean I can lose 10 pounds without working out?

Yes, numbers can be fudged.  Yes, clinical study results can be subjective based on who or what cause is supporting the study.  That’s why it’s important to analyze the resource before offering it as evidence.  Do so with care!

3. It’s a pyramid – No, I’m not promoting the government’s extinct food pyramid here.  I’m referring to the Egyptian pyramids!  We all know that they weren’t built in a day.  It took significant time and small individual building blocks to create a masterpiece.  As with any major life change, the initial shift can seem like a major tidal wave to swallow for the newbie.  Present your audience with introductory small steps they can take (SEE BELOW!).  Reinforce the point that it’s about incremental forward movement to reach a life-altering fantastic goal!  We all learn to crawl before we can walk.  (Okay, okay, enough cliches!)

Truth be told, we (as Americans) live such hectic and frenzied lives that it’s no wonder we expect immediate results.    I once heard it said that the only thing Americans fear is inconvenience.  Ponder that for a minute!  It rings true in more than just our fast, faster, give it to me NOW food!  But it’s very important to remember that TRUE change takes time and effort.   In committing actual effort to make the eating lifestyle change, the results WILL come.

Here’s a few quick tips and guides to get started on this new awesome adventure to living a better life..

4. Top 3 rebuttals

  • MONEY -“Buying organic costs significantly more!” “I’ll blow my grocery budget!”  While it is true that buying organic is more expensive (Here’s why it costs more!), not everything needs to be organic!  It’s about making smarter choices to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while cutting back on the amount of meat, dairy and unhealthy fats that constitute a significant amount of the average household grocery budget!  Instead of buying two bags of Baked Lay’s potato chips, you can buy a 10# bag of potatoes and a watermelon for the same price.
  • Nothing wrong with me now – This is often the response of someone disillusioned by the creative marketing mentioned above. Typically, the hard numbers and facts you present should help diffuse this one.
  • Don’t know how to start – see the tips in #3 above!

Congratulations, you made it through my long winded, wordy prose.  I hope I didn’t cause too many casualties along the way!  In all sincerity, life-altering changes are real, even today.  The best encouragement you can offer is to accept an authentic, non-accusatory attitude.  Isn’t that the best part of life, knowing you’re not alone and someone is there who deeply cares for your well-being!

the JOURNEY continues…
June 6, 2012, 5:35 am
Filed under: clean eating, green living

Thanks to all who have continued viewing our family’s blog since the last post in April.  Quite a bit has changed for us and we just want to give you a quick update.

First and foremost, that I have now officially started grad school full-time as of last Thursday.  Now being one week in, we see that it’s going to consume much more of my time than previously thought. While the first few weeks have been an adjustment as I transitioned into a regular study schedule, they have gone very well.

Secondly, through consistent prayer and the support of close friends and family, David (my husband) will halt all career opportunities to accept the challenge of stay at home fatherhood to our two beautiful girls.  To say that God has come through miraculously is an understatement! It has been as much a time of transition for David since my last post as it has been for me.  His support and encouragement has been amazing.  In his own words, it’s God working through him, not his own effort.

Finally, David will be taking over the consistent updates to this blog.  He even wrote this first post!

– – – – – –

Now that you all know the true author, I (David) can only hope to maintain the same level of outstanding viewership which Sally Ann garnered.  I know I have a large void to fill and will commit my best to updating all of you on our new “WHOLE” life as it continues to be redefined and redirected from conventional cultural eating and lifestyle beliefs to one more attuned with mutual respect of the environment and the world in which we live.  Just a note – we’re not growing dreadlocks! That is to say, we believe that TRUE knowledge and experiences have the ability to produce life-changing results when your life is appropriately affected (more on that in the coming posts).  For now, stay tuned as the Eating Clean and Living Green journey continues…

Unending scallions
April 4, 2012, 7:44 pm
Filed under: clean eating

I don’t even remember where I ran across this fact, but no sooner had I read it than I had to test it out: scallions can be regrown in a glass of water three or four times.

That’s right. Buy some a bunch of organic green onions/scallions, dice the green stalk all the way down to the root (careful to leave at least 2-3″ of root), then stick the roots in a glass of water. I kept mine by a window the first time around, but not the second time—location didn’t seem to make a difference. Check this out:

Day 1

Day 5

What a great way to stretch our dollar out a wee bit more!

Lucky 13
April 1, 2012, 2:05 pm
Filed under: clean eating, weekly meal log

We are now 13 weeks into our whole-foods eating journey—or three complete months. I can affirm now that we will absolutely not go back to the way we were eating in the past. We do still have some hang-ups that will have to be addressed at some point (the occasional box of brownie mix and questionable-ingredients-ice cream on the side), but all in all, we’ve made a near total move away from processed foods. It feels so, so good!

It’s been two weeks since my last meal recap because we’re sort of gotten into a routine with breakfast and lunch. Our dinners are where we really switch things up and try a couple of new dishes every week (haven’t repeated a dinner other than veggie stir fry since January 1!). Every now and then, we’ll try something different for breakfast, but for the most part, it’s rolled oats with various items mixed inside or placed on top or muffins or whole-wheat pancakes. All delicious, and for our family, it’s enough variety—at least for now.

Out of a need for ease and convenience, lunch is exactly the same every single day. David and I love the predictability, and the girls seem to appreciate it too.

*(Almost) Vegan cranberry muffins
*Rolled oats made with organic almond milk and topped with banana, ground flax seed, peanut butter, and chia seeds
*Same as above, but for a topping, David blended up frozen mixed berries into a puree and mixed that in the oats, then topped with banana.
*Oatmeal-cakes/fritters. David got creative and made these oatmeal cakes which we topped with jam. They were sort of like pancakes with granola mixed in. An interesting twist on our traditional breakfast.
*Pancakes and eggs from IHOP (we woke up and were totally—and I mean totally—out of breakfast food. Oops)
*Sweet potato pancakes from Tupelo Honey Cafe

Oatmeal-cakes/fritters before jam application

Madilyn gets really excited when we bring food to the table.

Lunches and Snacks
*When the girls were spending the weekend at my parents’ house, we ate a lunch out at Roly Poly. Mm!
*Diced raw veggies (carrots, bell peppers, and edamame)
*Roasted red-pepper hummus and/or leftover cashew-spinach pesto on real whole-wheat bread p.539*
*Homemade granola bars with dried cranberries and raisins mixed in
*Kale chips (I tore the kale into small pieces, coated with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and baked for 7-10 min. at 350)
*Smoothies (blended frozen strawberries, a fresh banana, tons of spinach and kale, and water)
*Clementines, bananas, and organic, unseasoned popcorn from bulk kernels were our snacks.

*Again, while the girls were out of town with my parents, we ate out at 131 Main one night before watching The Hunger Games.
*Beet sandwiches p.83* with kale chips and baked potatoes (baked organic spuds with salt and pepper)
*Asian veggie stir-fry (2C of cooked brown rice thawed from my bulk stash in the freezer put in a skillet stir-fried with olive oil, soy sauce, and loads of our lunch veggies + some leftover frozen corn this time around)
*Green gumbo with potatoes and zucchini p.126* This was really tasty, but the lackluster apperance got to me a bit.
*Carrot Apple Ginger soup with apple chips (just baked apple slices w/cinnamon on top) and homemade whole-wheat baguettes—variation of p.539*. Rolled dough into long baguette-style rolls, brushed with olive oil and baked.
*Quinoa Tabbouleh p.164* The radishes in this dish were the peppery stars, and the texture was just amazing. Yum!

Green gumbo with potatoes and zucchini over brown rice

Bowl 'o' gumbo

Carrot, apple, ginger soup with homemade whole wheat baguette

Quinoa tabbouleh

Quinoa tabbouleh

*I’m now a Gold member at Starbucks which, as cool as that is, means I’m spending too much money there! I’m really going to try the hot tea and honey this week. I promise!

Upcoming eating clean, living green goals:
1. Try a new vegetable/fruit/grain every week for a while—so, the dandelion greens were impossible to find outside of picking them in a field. Oh well. This week, we’ll be experimenting a bit with broccoli—roasting it and mixing with pasta.
2. Remove dairy from our diet to see the health effects—After three weeks of dairy-free living for the girls and limited dairy intake for us, we’re decided to stick with totally avoiding cow’s milk but eating other dairy products in moderation if the opportunity presents itself. Our budget certainly doesn’t want us to start buying yogurt (or whole milk to make it) and cheese right now, but if someone else offers it, we won’t say “no.”
3. Once our shampoo and conditioner and other toiletries run out, start making our own. A friend of mine has had great success making her own hair products, lotion, blush, foundation, face wash, etc from really simple ingredients. Excited to try!
4. Use more reusable containers—especially glass ones. Thanks to a tip from one of my blog readers and an emailed coupon, I bought a set from Bed, Bath, and Beyond last week. Yay!

Articles of interest
Filling your child’s Easter basket without all the processed junk
Link between fast food and depression

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

(almost) Vegan Cranberry Muffins
March 22, 2012, 9:43 pm
Filed under: clean eating, recipes

Per your request, here’s the recipe I have modified and used to make triple batches of delicious cranberry muffins that—aside from honey—are vegan. They freeze really well and are intensely filling (read: I eat 1.5 or 2 at the most for breakfast, and that keeps me full nearly until lunch).

When you substitute honey  for sugar as a sweetener, you use a little less of the honey than the amount of sugar you would have used (since honey is so much sweeter), and you decrease the amount of all of liquids in the recipe (since honey is liquidy where sugar isn’t). That’s why I’ve got the less-than signs in the ingredients below. From what I read, you decrease by 25%, but I think you have to eyeball it a little bit. The batter shouldn’t be runny; it should be pretty thick. Use less liquid than you think you need, then add in more if it’s too stiff.

Cranberry Muffins (makes 12)
2 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 C chopped fresh cranberries (or buy them frozen, then thaw, then chop)
<2/3 C almond milk, unflavored
<1/4 C Earth Balance, melted
<1/2 tsp vanilla extract
<2/3 C honey
1 flaxseed egg

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in cranberries. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Combine almond milk, vanilla, Earth Balance, and honey, and mix thoroughly. Add to flour mixture. Add flaxseed egg to flour mixture. Stir just until uniformly moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with oil. Bake for 18 minutes or until muffins brown slightly. Leave on wire rack until completely cool, then package for freezing if desired.

1. Melt the Earth Balance just before mixing it in so that it’ll be super hot. That way, when you pour in the honey and stir, it mixes in easier. Stir until there’s little to no resistance from the honey.
2. Coat your measuring cup in oil or Earth Balance before measuring the honey. It’ll help it slide out easier when pouring.

Making more and more at home
March 19, 2012, 2:22 pm
Filed under: clean eating, green living, weekly meal log

My family’s inadvertently fallen into a routine (a good one, mind you) where every week or two, we take another item (food or household) that we were purchasing pre-made and instead make it at home. Because we’ve been making these changes one at a time over week spans, it’s been pretty seamless, and we can’t imagine it any other way.

Right now, we’re making our own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent (just did it this week—success!), whole-wheat bread loaves p.539*, cashew-spinach pesto (this week!) p.83*, granola bars, baking mix, kale chips (also tried just this week, and they’re our new “veggie chip”), and vegetable stock p.135*.

We also made some whole-wheat cranberry muffins, but made them vegan just to see what they tasted like. I replaced the egg with a flax egg (made from mixing ground flaxseeds and water), the butter with Earth Balance, the sugar with local honey, and the milk with organic almond milk. I used mostly whole-wheat flour, but included a bit of unbleached white bread flour too. Couldn’t tell a difference!

And an aside—when I share with folks what we’re eating, I often hear, “Well, my kid would never eat that.” Please don’t say that until you’ve actually tried to cook it and season it well and serve it to them. The only thing so far that either girl has given me an issue over is the pile of raw veggies at lunch. Abigail pushes back almost every day against eating them. Other than that, she and Madilyn have eaten everything. I read on another blog that kids will eat just about anything. We’re responsible for giving them healthy options. That is so true! And in our house, there’s no option besides what has been prepared. That makes things easier on me and David on the preparation side, and it makes things better for the girls as they’re going to eat what’s in front of them because they’re hungry. And the meals are so great for them!

*Rolled oats made with organic almond milk and topped with banana, peanut butter, and chia seeds
*Same as above, but for a topping, David blended up frozen mixed berries into a puree and mixed that in the oats, then topped with banana.
*Whole-wheat pancakes from our homemade baking mix with 100% maple syrup

Oats with mixed berry puree, chia seeds, and banana

More berry oats

Lunches and Snacks
*Diced raw veggies (carrots, bell peppers, and edamame)
*Roasted red-pepper hummus and/or leftover cashew-spinach pesto on real whole-wheat bread p.539*
*Homemade granola bars with dried cranberries and raisins mixed in
*Kale chips (I tore the kale into small pieces, coated with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and baked for 7-8 min. at 350)
*Smoothies (blended frozen strawberries, a fresh banana, tons of spinach and kale, and water)
*Clementines, bananas, rice cakes with jam, and organic, unseasoned popcorn from bulk kernels were our snacks.

Daddy and Abigail making kale chips

Trial run of kale chips---coating in olive oil

Plate pride! That's a good looking lunch, isn't it?

*Cassoulet with lots of vegetables (and sausage!) p.392* The seasonings in this dish created such a rich flavor, and that combined with our homemade veggie stock p.135* and organic sausage made for a delectable combination that neither girl hesitate to eat. Abigail even asked for “more, please!!” each night we had it. Yes!
*Beet sandwiches p.83* with kale chips and baked potatoes (baked organic spuds with salt and pepper)
*Asian veggie stir-fry (again, just brown rice I’d made before in a skillet stir-fried with olive oil, soy sauce, and loads of our lunch veggies)
*We went out to dinner with some friends at Laughing Seed Cafe. It’s a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in downtown Asheville, and with our new way of eating, we jumped at the invite to try it out. David and I split a vegetable sushi roll (with sriracha sauce…HOT!) and a Havana Cuban sandwich. Here’s the description (DELICIOUS!) “Herb and spice battered organic tempeh, crispy housemade pickles, black bean spread, tomatoes, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and Asheville’s Lusty Monk mustard on homemade Cuban bread.” The tempeh was in place of meat, and we couldn’t tell a difference. So yummy!

Cassoulet, finished. Abigail called this "puppy dog soup" and lapped it up!

Don't judge by looks. The beet sandwiches were incredible, and honestly, just the beet chips were tasty. The girls went nuts.

*I have a Starbucks card that I’ve registered and am working up to being a Gold card member. Yay! So the occasional brewed treat has been my dessert. Also this week, I’ll be trying hot, home-brewed tea with honey as a treat.

Upcoming eating clean, living green goals:
1. Try a new vegetable/fruit/grain every week for a while—next week, we’re trying dandelion greens
2. Remove dairy from our diet to see the health effects—So…David and I didn’t do so great at cutting it out, but the girls have been 100% free for a week. I think we’ll try another week or two before drawing any conclusions.
3. Once our dish detergent runs out, make our own. I’ve seen a few good recipes for it. I made it this week, and it worked really great! Here’s the recipe.
4. Use more reusable containers—especially glass ones. Waiting for coupons on items or a good sale to stock up on glass containers because they’re expensive!

Articles of interest
7 Reasons I hate artificial food dyes—After reading this article, I started using a more critical eye when looking at the ingredients in the few packages we do have in our house. What surprised me the most is that there were these artificial colorings in Abigail’s multivitamin, and caramel coloring (just like in sodas) in Madilyn’s liquid polyvisol multivitamin. Whoa! So, first-off, maybe we don’t need multivitamins anymore since we’re eating such a plant-based, diverse diet. Secondly, why are such bad ingredients in things that should be for our health? Ack! I threw both girls’ vitamins out.

The many names for sugar—this article blew my mind. I had no idea there were so many names for the same ingredient! This motivated me even more to keep making things at home where I can essentially control all of the individual ingredients. Whew.

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