Eating Clean and Living Green


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!

Advertisements


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.

Breakfasts
*(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.

Dinners
*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

Desserts
*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.

Tips
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.



An award for me? Whoa. Thanks!
March 20, 2012, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Awards

So, what’s that pretty green button on the left side of my blog? I’m still in shock that it’s there, to be honest, but I’m thrilled at the same time!

Thanks go out to Sherry from Pickahling who recently nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, and as she put it, “there’s more to [this award] than just a pretty button for your sidebar. There are responsibilities – rules.” Here are those rules:

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy. Check!
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it. Check!
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Now that rules 1 and 2 have been fulfilled, I’ll move on to listing those blogs that I’ve been following or recently discovered. I’m only going to list those blogs that I read the moment there’s a new post because I learn something from them and can build on that knowledge to grow, myself!

Kath Eats Real Food—Kath is a registered dietician who maintains a photo blog of all of her real food meals (as in, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks in between). Her husband runs a Great Harvest in Charlottesville, which allows her to bring in even more delicious foodie options. I love this site!

100 Days of Real Food—Lisa is a mom of two (girls, 4 and 7 years) who, with the support of her husband and kids, challenged her family to live 100 days on only real food—not one ounce of processed food, at all. Upon finishing those 100 days, they started a new challenge of 100 days of real food on a budget. This is a great resource for real food shopping, budgeting, and cooking tips.

The Healthy Everythingtarian—Holly provides an array of delicious foodie options from vegan and fruititarian to pescitarian and vegetarian, and everything in between. Hence, everythingtarian.

Oh She Glows—Angela has a plethora of vegan recipes and is a much savvier food photographer than yours truly. I just need a better camera. And better lighting. And better angles. And more time. And…well…maybe my pictures will be sub par a bit longer!

Money Saving Mom—Crystal’s blog is well-known, and I am one of the many, many devoted readers. Phenomenal resource for all things regarding saving money with some cooking tips thrown in too!

Sense to Save—I met Kacie in Pittsburgh shortly after David and I got married, and not too long after we met, she started this frugal living blog to some rave reviews. She has wonderful financial planning tips and more from a SAHM’s point of view.

Learning to Limit—Rebecca’s blog is a great place to go for frugal tips from a SAHM and wonderful giveaways. She’s got a sister blog too, Tourist Mom, that details her family’s travels on a budget.

Watching Miracles Everyday—My friend, Jessi, started this blog to chronicle the diagnosis-slapping progress her beautiful daughter, Sadie, has made since being diagnosed with AMC when Jessi was 20 weeks pregnant. Sadie turned 2 in December, and Jessi continually gives all the honor and praise to Sadie’s almighty creator, God, when bragging on her progress. Inspirational!

Versatile Blogger Award site—because, well, I thought you might like to know more about it and see the other nominations!

And now, seven things about myself:

  1. I am a Christ-follower who daily strives to grow closer to Him as best I can.
  2. Besides just the health concerns and environmental concerns, the spiritual concerns of the filthy way I was eating before convicted me to change. Verses like, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. The way I was eating before and treating my body did nothing of the sort.
  3. This is actually one of two blogs I try to maintain. The other is It’s Positive. That’s where I chronicle our family’s life and times, and lots and lots of pictures and videos. I only update once a month, and like most folks, I take a lot of photos/videos in a month’s time!
  4. I just got in to graduate school to study Communication Science and Disorders. I’ll start in the fall! I had a lisp when growing up that was totally eradicated through speech therapy, and Abigail (now 2.5) was a late talker that, through the suggestions of speech pathologist friends of mine, jumped right on to the talking train. I’ve got to be a part of this incredible field!
  5. As I’ve talked about on this blog, rewind my life a year or more, and you’ll find someone who didn’t much care for a green lifestyle and thought that vegetarianism or veganism or “real food” eating were all just fads for freaks who didn’t just trust the system. My how things change!
  6. I’ve run 1 full marathon (26.2 mi), 7 half marathons (13.1 mi), and countless 10Ks and 5Ks. All were run when I was eating blindly, and all were done to maintain that horrible eating style. I look forward to my first real-food-fueled race, likely this fall.
  7. What got me in to running? With no athletic history whatsoever, I walked-on with 200 others to Clemson University’s NCAA women’s rowing team. Over the span of about a month, all but 30 or so of us quit, willingly. The rest made up the team. Yea! Part of conditioning was running, and I liked it, so I stuck with it!


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.”