Eating Clean and Living Green


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!

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Just “BAG IT”
June 9, 2012, 7:24 pm
Filed under: green living

I’m going to start and end this post with a question.

Can you remember how you got introduced to the “green” lifestyle (eating, cleaning, living, energy, whatever)?

For our family, documentaries have played a large part of our questioning societal norms when it comes to clean eating and living.  Whether Food Inc., FRESH, Waiting for Superman, and so on, we want to pursue the best without doing what we’ve always done.  As we continually reassess what’s best for our daughters and how we as parents appropriately weigh the pros and cons of our decisions, to provide a lifestyle for them that’s better than we may have had.  Note that I do realize I’m not saying anything new for the majority of parents out there.  In fact, I know that there are many more people out there far more eloquent than I on any number of topics which is why we view documentaries.  To see a new perspective, gain new insight and decide for ourselves what we deem most important as a family.  To educate ourselves in order to teach a younger generation.

Now that the intro’s been set, let’s get to the real post!

The most recent documentary shared with us by close friends is “Bag It – Is your life too plastic?” 50,000 foot intro is that it’s a documentary about the use and side effects of plastics in our everyday lives.  Don’t fret – I don’t believe in spoilers.  You’ll have to watch it for yourself.

We’ve been attempting to live a greener life by using reusable bags, making our own cleaning products, changing the way we eat, and others.  But after watching the film, we’ve modified our green living plan a bit and better defined our NO plastic commitment. So here it is,

  1. ALWAYS use reusable bags for groceries – This includes refusing the plastic produce bags
  2. Buy BULK items in our own containers.  If we don’t take our own container, don’t buy it!
  3. Use glass or metal water bottles and cups, never disposables
  4. Use our own containers when eating out (i.e. ice cream, coffee, date night leftovers, etc.)

As more long term goals to shoot for…

  1. Compost ALL food scraps instead of putting in trash bags
  2. Replace all plastic storage containers and bags with glass or metal
  3. Buy milk in glass containers
  4. Buy local meat and produce at the source in our own bags

So we’re committing to just “BAG IT”.  Now it’s your turn, so go watch the film and decide for yourself.

“Is your life too plastic?”



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…



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!

Breakfasts
*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?

Dinners
*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.

Desserts
*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.”



Fired up…again!
March 11, 2012, 2:55 pm
Filed under: background and research, clean eating, green living, weekly meal log

Sometimes I get asked how we keep up with this way of eating day in and day out. I first have to be honest and say that we have absolutely slipped and made poor choices (and paid severely for them the next day or two after), but what gets us back on track and encourages us to stay there is all of the research we’ve done and continue to do. I just don’t know how anyone could read the information that’s out there and not get fed up or angry enough to make a change. You can’t unlearn this stuff. More on that in a minute.

Breakfasts
*Rolled oats made with organic almond milk and topped with banana, peanut butter, and chia seeds
*Omelets made with organic bacon, cheese, and bell peppers
*Whole-wheat pancakes from our homemade baking mix with 100% maple syrup

Lousy picture, but a delicious omelet made with organic thick-sliced bacon, cheddar cheese, and bell peppers

Daddy's becoming quite skilled at pancake design!

Lunches and Snacks
*Diced raw veggies (carrots, bell peppers, and edamame)
*Neufchatel cheese spread on homemade, real whole-wheat bread p.539*
*Homemade, plain yogurt with raisins
*Homemade granola bars with dried cranberries mixed in
*Clementines, bananas, rice cakes with jam, and organic, unseasoned popcorn from bulk kernels were our snacks

Dinners
*Pasta with smoky roasted sweet potatoes and bacon p.255*. David and I went nuts over this dish. Such a delicious smoky flavor!
*Chipotle quinoa with corn and black beans p.310*. The combination of flavors and textures in this was really neat. It’d be good served in a tortilla too. I made ours a little too spicy by adding in too much adobo sauce, but I’ll know for next time.
*Asian veggie stir fry with brown rice
*Trough dinner—one night, I forgot to thaw rice and didn’t have time to dice the veggies for the Cassoulet, so the girls got a trough of plain cheerios, dried fruit, and bananas. Obviously not the most balanced dinner, but everything was whole foods!

Delicious pasta dish with sweet potatoes and bacon

Not wanting to pose, but she chowed down on this dish

Daddy couldn't shovel fast enough

This chipotle quinoa was pretty spicy, but the textures and flavors were an amazing blend of yum!

Lots to chop/dice/mince for the Cassoulet

Cassoulet in progress. Let me tell you, this has topped our girls' list of favorites, believe it or not.

I ate out with my parents and brother at a Mongolian stir fry restaurant. Pretty tasty!

Desserts
*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.

Upcoming eating clean, living green goals:
1. Try a new vegetable/fruit/grain every week for a while—this coming week, we’re trying beet sandwiches and kale chips.
2. Remove dairy from our diet to see the health effects—included in the articles below are several on the gap between dairy’s perceived health benefits and the actual benefits. It’s our feeling right now that cons outweigh the pros. Today was day 1 of dairy-free eating.
3. Once our dish detergent runs out, make our own. I’ve seen a few good recipes for it. Our Great Value box is still holding strong. Maybe another week or two before we make our own.
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 and Videos of interest
For our kids
Pink slime on school lunch trays School lunches have got to be healthier for kids. This is getting ridiculous
Jamie Oliver talking about our food system and kids He’s of the well-known “Food Revolution.”
Robyn O’Brien’s TED Talk She’s a mom of 4 kids who became a food activist after realizing the additives in the food she fed her children caused one of them to have an allergic reaction. She asks, “How can a child be allergic to food?” If food isn’t actually food at all.

More reasons to stop drinking soda NOW!
What happens to your body when you drink a Coke
8 ways soda fizzles your health
Why soda is bad for you

Some of our research on dairy so far. For the time being, we’re cutting out all cheese, yogurt, and animal milk. Almond milk is our substitute.
Is [animal] milk good for our children?
Don’t drink your milk
Harvard declares dairy NOT part of a healthy diet

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



Making bread isn’t that tough afterall!
March 4, 2012, 3:09 pm
Filed under: clean eating, green living, weekly meal log

As much as we loved Atlanta, it was nice to be back in our own kitchen this week.

Since my last post, we’ve started making our own whole-wheat bread p.539* for snacks and sandwiches, and from that, making our own bread crumbs by setting out a few slices on the counter for a day or two, then throwing them in the blender. Perfecto!

Whole-wheat bread topped with oats

Breakfasts
*Rolled oats made with almond milk and topped with banana, peanut butter, cinnamon and chia seeds
*America’s favorite breakfast cereal
*Whole-wheat pancakes from our homemade baking mix with 100% maple syrup

Lunches and Snacks
*Diced raw veggies (carrots, bell peppers, and edamame)
*Sauteed zucchini and squash on homemade, real whole-wheat bread p.539* with Neufchatel cheese
*Homemade, plain yogurt with raisins (this week, when I made the yogurt, I saved the whey to use in making bread!)
*Homemade granola bars with dried cranberries mixed in
*Clementines, rice cakes with jam, and organic, unseasoned popcorn from bulk kernels were our snacks

After finishing her veggies, Abigail's munching on her yogurt, granola, and homemade whole-wheat bread.

Dinners
*Potato and Leek Gratin with Buttery Bread Crumbs p.424*. This was delicious!
*Whole-wheat shells with braised escarole, white beans, and sausage p. 253*. Another hit with the family, and it was nice to have some meat in a dish.
*Asian veggie stir fry with brown rice

Abigail helping me make the potato and leek gratin

Not a great shot, but under those yummy breadcrumbs was a deliciously simple and flavorful mix of leeks and russet potatoes. Mm!

Another really tasty dish that everyone loved. Shells with braised escarole, cantellini beans, and chicken and apple sausage.

Desserts
*I have a Starbucks card that I’ve registered and am working up to being a Gold card member. Yay! So the occasional latte has been my dessert.

Upcoming eating clean, living green goals:
1. Try a new vegetable/fruit/grain every week for a while—this coming week, we’re trying roasted sweet potatoes and quinoa.
2. Make variations on our own bread—David’s already made some delicious large pretzels, but he’s wanting to experiment more with other types of bread making.
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. I bought more containers today, still plastic, to reuse for all of our bulk dry goods at Earth Fare so we aren’t using the plastic zip-loc bags that the store provides.

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



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.”