Sunday, December 30, 2012

Organic "Junk Food"

Just cause it's organic does not make it clean. Just cause it's organic, does not mean I want to put it in my body. Case in point:

Eat This, Not That   Check this out!! So Kraft Organic is not so great.

I bought a box or Nature's Promise Organic and Annie's Mac n Cheese to do some comparisons, before I read the above article. 

Just reminder to everyone that we cannot trust the gotta read the ingredient lists!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas Song

"On the twelfth day of Christmas, the treats lovingly baked by me...

Rachel's fudgy wreath
snowman & reindeer
s'more cookies
savory Chex Mix
peanut butter kisses
yummy yule log
time to reflect & remember
chhhhooooocccooolate cake!!

homemade marshamallows
meringue cookies
popcorn cake
banana bread size mini!! 

LOL Merry Christmas everyone!!!  Kathy

Monday, December 24, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 12th

"On the twelveth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

Rachel's Fabulous 5-minute Fudge Wreath!" all I can say about this. YUM.

Rachel Ray's Fabulous 5-Minute Fudge Wreath 

I won't bother with the how to on this one, as Rachel Ray has a video showing exactly what and how to do it, if you click on the link.  Only changes I made: low-fat condensed milk, craisins instead of raisins, and pecans instead of walnuts.  Pretty much because that is what I had in the house. 

I am not a fan of candied cherries, so I used some of those mini M&Ms I had purchased for another recipe.  Whalla! My fudge wreath!

Happy eating!! Kathy

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 11th

"On the eleventh day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

snowmen and reindeer!"

What is Christmas without some sugar cookies? Last year my kids decided that they were not interested in rolling out dough, cutting out shapes with cookie cutters, then decorating afterwards.  My husband and I ended up doing all the work.  So this year I found some fun cookies to make that still kept it seasonal but did not require all the work.

My sugar cookie recipe of course is not clean, but as we established earlier I'm trying my best to make clean and tradition work together, and a little every now and then does not hurt.  My way, :).

I have a Cookie Book from Betty Crocker dated 1975 that I get most of my recipes from. The peanut butter cookie recipe that did not clean up well came from this cook book too.  I am going to make this recipe as written, cause I want to make sure these come out well.

Mary's Sugar Cookies
Source: Betty Crocker's Cookie Book 

1 1/2 c sifted confectioners sugar
1 c softened butter
1 egg (I used 2 egg whites)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond flavoring
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tarter

Mix sugar & butter, blend in flavorings.  Mix dry ingredients together then blend into sugar/butter mixture.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  By hand, roll balls of dough and flatten to make circles  For the reindeer, I squished in the sides to make a face shape.  Bake at 375.  The recipe says 7-8  minutes, but time will depend on the size & thickness of your cookies.  Once the cookies are baked & cooled, decorate. 

I made a drippy icing with confectioners sugar, bit of vanilla, a some milk to thin.  I usually use 1 c sifted confectioners sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk.  Adjust milk to the consistency you want.  For chocolate, add 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder. 

For the reindeer I used red peanut M&Ms for the nose, broken pretzels for the antlers, & candy eyes that I found.  I have seen on the internet people used chocolate chips or brown M&Ms for eyes as well.  Here they are drying on the tray, sorry they don't look pretty!

For the snowmen, I took a large marshmallow (I am saving the ones I made for hot cocoa) and some icing. I did not buy this icing for these cookies, all are leftovers from my pre-clean days.  I hate wasting money, so I don't want to throw away anything I paid for!

Happy Eating!  Kathy

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 10th

"On the tenth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

s'more cookes!"

Yes, making "some more" cookies!  But these are SMORE cookies!

Whipped up a batch of home made marshmallows.
      (Marshmallow post)
      (this time I used Alton Brown's marshamallow recipe)
Bought a box of graham crackers (or you can make your own, see this recipe here:  Serious Eats Gluten-Free Graham Crackers)
Bought a bag of chocolate chips (you choose your favorite)

Inspiration for this recipe came from Christi at Tip Junkie. I cleaned it up a bit and took it off the stick.  You can find her original recipe here: S'mores Pops

So here we go!!

I pre-prepped the graham crackers before making the marshmallows. Got everything ready cause I knew the marshmallow would be sticky.  I wanted to have the pans ready for both the s'mores and to make more marshmallows (cause we already ate up the first batch.)  While the  marshmallows were mixing, I melted the chocolate, and put a dollop of it on one side of the graham cracker. Spread the marshmallow on the other half, put the sandwich together...and yum!!

The recipe says to put in freezer for a bit, but mine is so stuffed with my holiday meal I just stuck the tray in the fridge while I cleaned up.  The melted chocolate had got a bit hard, so I microwaved it a bit.  Some I sprinkled with mini Christmas M&Ms, for the kids of course. Not for me. :) Once a year artificial coloring can't hurt too much, right??

Yumm!! Happy Eating!  Kathy

Friday, December 21, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 9th

"On the ninth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

a savory Chex Mix!"

Not every treat has to be sweet, does it? A treat can be savory too!  A tradition in my home was to make Chex Mix on the holidays.  Now a days that is not so special, since you can buy it already done for you in a bag.  But...we all know that those bags are not clean.  There are so many varieties of Chex Mix too.  The more stuff you put in it, the less clean it gets.

One of the BEST things about making Chex Mix is that you can make it as clean as you want by choosing what you put in it.  YOU choose whether the pretzels are clean or not. YOU choose the peanuts, and most importantly, YOU choose which cereal goes in.

The recipe card left to me basically puts in a box each of Corn, Rice and Wheat Chex.  It adds a bag of pretzels, a box of plain Cheerios, and a box of Cheeze-Its. For that much dry, it says 2 sticks of melted butter mixed with 2 tablespoons of worchestire sauce, some garlic and onion powders to taste, and some seasoned salt.

I looked up what is in seasoned salt and there is a lot! But it is easy to make, according to this recipe: Seasoned Salt

In an effort to stay true to my mom's recipe, here is mine:

This is pre-baked. Busy evening coming up, and I know I won't have time to get a picture when it comes out of the oven.  250 degrees, about an hour or so, stirring every 15-20 minutes.

Here is a link to the Official Chex Mix site:  Original Chex Mix Recipe

You'll notice it's not the same as mine.  Quite honestly, if you look at the recipe ingredients, this is not original. The bagel chips give it away. There were NO pre-packaged bagel chips in the 1970s when my mom made this recipe. But you see the spices are the same as mine. At the top of the page, you'll see where you can scroll thru other Chex Mix ideas.

Happy Eating!! Kathy

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 8th

"On the eighth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

peanut butter Kiss cookies!"

I used my old stand by recipe, substituted my clean versions of the ingredients, and was disappointed. Here they are anyway, one with a Kiss on top and one without (since I know the Kisses are not clean I wanted some for just me.)  The cookies came out too dry; they cracked too much when putting the Kiss on top.  Even the ones I did not put the Kisses on were dry. I know I did not overbake them, as the middles were still a bit uncooked.  Even the dough was dry & crumbly before baking.  But they taste okay. For next year I will research a better clean peanut butter recipe.  I won't post the one I used here since it was not so awesome.

But I will give you a picture!! 

Happy Eating! Kathy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 7th

"On the seventh day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

a yummy yule log!"

 We have wanted to order one of these for years!  So this year I got a bit..ummmm...brave and tried to make one. Came out pretty cute.  And pretty clean too!!

Using the King Arthur Flour moist chocolate cake recipe from Day 5, and the whipped cream recipe I talked about for Thanksgiving, a buche de noel was born!!

I was going to stop here and just lightly dust with confectioners sugar to look like a light snow had fallen, but a friend of mine talked me into adding a chocolate layer on top. Hard to do cleanly, but I found something on the internet I was able to adapt.

And whalla!!  What do you think? I was going to make it look pretty, make little mushrooms from the marshmallows I made the other day, maybe paint some leaves with the chocolate, but my kids dug into it as soon as the chocolate was hard. I was lucky I got this picture!

The chocolate coating is made from chocolate chips (use whatever brand is clean enough for you) and oil (again, which ever type you feel is clean, as there is so little the taste is not important.) 1 cup chocolate chips, melted in microwave, stir then stir in 1.5 tablespoons oil.  Spread over the top, let cool.  Give you a slight crunchy coating, kind of like a Yodel. :)

Enjoy!! Kathy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 6th

For this sixth day of Christmas I would like to stop and reflect on the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  Instead of a treat today, I will be taking the extra time to hug my children.  This horrible, horrible thing should not have to happen to any parent.

As the memorial services continue, and these little angels are laid to rest, my thoughts and prayers are with their families today.



Monday, December 17, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 5th

"On the fifth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

chooooooclate cake!"

 Make sure you  sing that line properly!! Feel like I am stretching this song a bit, but it's all in fun, right?

My most favorite flour, King Arthur, has a very yummy chocolate cake recipe on the back of it's box. You can find it here: Moist Chocolate Cake

I use the King Arthur Cake Flour and organic white sugar for this recipe. I have a mini cupcake pan with tree shaped holes, so we made some trees, a round cake, and saved some to make the base for tomorrow's treat; the yule log!  My kids are not big on frosting, so we eat the cake as is.

Come back to tomorrow to see how that turned out.   Happy Eating!! Kathy

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 4th

"On the fourth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

home made marshmallows!"

OMG this was so much fun!! And for those of you who do not eat sugar, well. just move onto Day 5. Cause this was ALL sugar!! My mixer took a beating, would have been better with a KitchenAid, but my friend who makes them who DOES have one says it puts a strain on hers too when it gets to about 10 mins of mixing.

What you need:

1/3 cup cold water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
large bowl
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
confectioners sugar
colored sugar (optional)

Step 1: pour the 1/3 c cold water into large bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and set aside.

Step 2: in a medium saucepan on stove, combine white sugar, 1/4 c water, corn syrup & salt.  Over medium heat, stir until dissolved.  Stop stirring and heat the mixture until it boils; maintain slow boil until mixture reaches 240 deg on candy thermometer. Looks like this when done:

Step 3: carefully pour hot mixture over gelatin then beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 10-12 minutes. Looks like pic 1 first, then will turn to pic 2 when done.

Be careful this does not happen. Sigh.

Step 3: Blend in the vanilla extract.

Step 4: Prepare your pan. My recipe says to lightly coat with cooking oil. My friend's recipe says to coat with oil then dust with a mixture of confectioners sugar and cornstarch. My recipe wants one side kindof sticky, so you can dip that end in colored sugar once they are done. I won't do artificial colors on  my house, so that option was not okay for me.  I lightly oiled the pan, then when I was done just lightly dusted the other side with confectioners sugar.  Getting the  mixture INTO the pan is difficult, I will NOT lie to you.  My recipe was NO HELP WHATSOEVER in this; my friend's recipe said to lightly oil the spatuala.  Wish I had know that, would have helped. So I suggest you do.  You can see by the pic on the left that it is really sticky.

Step 5: Spread into pan, and let dry.  My recipe says 12 hours...friends, 4 hours. You be the judge.  Next time I will lightly coat the top with confectioners sugar so they have that extra layer of protection from sticking once cut.

Final step: Lightly oiled or wet hands will help you get them out of the pan. Flip them onto cutting board lightly dusted with confectioners sugar.  I cut them in all sorts of  shapes and sizes.  My kids loved them!!  I think they were just excited to see a marshmallow again, it's been a REALLY long time!! Those top two circles? They were cut using the top of our cocoa cups...perfect for the cocoa we had to have once the marshmallows were done.  These stayed sooo creamy in our cocoa; and were still there once we got to the bottom of the cup, unlike the store bought marshmallows.

Lot of work, and clean up, but lot of fun and enjoyment. May make again this winter season.  What's up next tomorrow?  I'll give you a hint...chocolate. :)  Happy Eating!! Kathy

Edit: found this and thought I'd share...alternative ways of making marshmallows using liquid agave or honey. marshmallows

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 3rd

 "On the third day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

was 3 ingredient meringue cookies!"

This recipe was brought to me by my son, courtesy of his French teacher.  They were having a party and the teacher asked for parent volunteers to make some traditional French foods.  My kids are programmed to volunteer me for anything baked.  This recipe came out so yummy he asked me to make them again for Christmas.  Perfect recipe for the season, as they look like little white piles of snow.

You will need:
4 egg whites 
1 cup white sugar 
       (I know, not clean but some recipes you just HAVE to use the white stuff, so I used the organic I keep in the house for just that.)
1/4 tsp cream of tarter


Beat the egg whites until stiff; make sure you keep ALL the yolk out, as it will ruin the consistency and hence ruin the cookie.

Mix together the cream of tarter and the sugar in small bowl; SLOWLY add the sugar mix to the egg whites.  The recipe says 1 tablespoon at a time. Well, to me this seemed like it would take forever so I dumped it in 1/3 at a time. Big mistake, and had to start over. The next batch I followed the instructions and perfect they came!!  

The recipe says to brush the cookie sheet with oil & lightly flour, I used parchment paper and it worked good.  When the cookies were done, I could slide them off the baking stone and let cool on the paper. They come off the paper so easily when cool!  I tried to use a scoop to put the dough on the paper, but it kept getting stuck, so I just used a tablespoon and my clean finger. Easy!!

Bake the cookies at 300 for 10 minutes, lower heat to 250 and bake for 25 minutes more.   They came out a little browner than you can see in the picture.  They do not spread at all, so you can put them as close together as you want.

So yummy!!!  Come back tomorrow for day 4!  Kathy

Friday, December 14, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 2nd

"On the second day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

2 batches of popcorn cake!"

OMG there is NOTHING clean about this recipe. But it is a tradition in  my husband's family, handed down to me by his aunt, so make them I will.  We eat soooooo good, that this treat is okay once a year. And yes, I do make it only once a year.  

This recipe is one of those that you have to control yourself when eating. I can easily eat the whole batch in one sitting. Easily. Thank goodness I only make it once a year.

You need: 
1 10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows 
1 c vanilla chips
6 T butter
12 c air popped popcorn (what for small kernels)
1 c salted peanuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
red & green gumdrops, sliced into small pieces

Melt the butter in large saucepan. Add vanilla chips, stir till melted. Add in marshmallows, stir till melted. Quickly stir in vanilla and peanuts, then remove from heat.  Mix in popcorn (make sure you have removed all kernels and hard pieces) quickly; like a rice krispie treat the marshmallow mixture can get cool fast. 

Spread into buttered baking dish; 13 x 9 or slightly larger.  Using lightly greased wax paper, lightly press mixture down into pan.  Lightly press the gumdrops around the top of the popcorn cake, randomly or in patterns.  Let cool, then enjoy!!  

Also makes a pretty gift. Line cookie tin with wax paper, press warm mix into any shaped pan to make more festive, then give it away in the tin or wrapped in a fun way.

Enjoy!! Come back tomorrow for day 3...Kathy

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 1st

"On the first day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

was banana bread, size mini!"

It does not look mini here, but it is!! This yummy banana bread recipe comes from Elise at Simply Recipes.  So easy, one bowl, no mixer.  Delicious every time!!  I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour and Turbinado sugar, which gives the banana bread an extra touch of flavor.  Super!!!

Banana Bread Recipe

The pan is a four-loaf mini loaf stoneware pan by Pampered Chef.  The recipe above makes all four mini loaves.  You can find it here: Pampered Chef Mini Loaf Pan

The beauty of these mini loaves? You can eat a whole one and not feel guilty, as a whole mini-loaf is 1/4 of  a normal banana bread. They are also perfect gift sized - wrap up in something pretty!!  The loaves freeze well too, so you can make in advance.  You need to adjust baking time from the recipe, don't forget!

Come back tomorrow to see the 2nd Treat of Christmas!  Kathy

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Making recipes "clean" - quick substitutions

Just wanted to quickly share this post with you all:

The Gracious Pantry put together a list on how to quickly make substitutions in a recipe to make it clean.

Enjoy!!  Kathy

Monday, December 3, 2012


Finding a good bread is really hard!!!

Lisa at 100 Days of Read Food has a wonderful post about buying bread; you can find it here: What-should-be-in-your-sandwich-bread

I am currently buying Stroehmann's simply 100% whole wheat:

Here is a side panel with the ingredients:

whole wheat flour, water, sugar, wheat gluten, yeast, cultured wheat flour, soybean oil, sea salt, grain vinegar, soy flour.

Good...but not great. I can do better!!!  I can do BEST by buying a bread machine and making my own.  Was hoping to get one for Christmas, but looks like our favorite college football teams will BOTH be playing bowl games in Orlando this year, 4 days apart from each other. Trying to figure out how to do that while I am still looking for a part-time job.  But I digress! How can I do BETTER? Let's see. This bread has, according to the packaging,

no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors (that's good)
no high-fructose corn syrup (that's good)
baked with "natural" ingredients (hmmm...questionable phrasing)
cultured wheat flour (acceptable) I did some research on this one and it's okay, made from whole wheat
        flour, distilled vinegar and water.  A quick google search will answer questions easily.
soybean oil (not the best oil choice)
sugar; I would like to know what kind of sugar it is. (not good)

I really wish I had a Whole Foods near by...but alas the closest of is at least a 30 minute drive.  I do have a Wegemans, which is supposed to carry a good "healthy" section about 20 minutes away.  One of these days I am going to make the trek over, when I have time to kill.  It's like visiting a mall for the first time; you need time to browse and figure out where all the good stores are!

Lisa's bread, from the link above, does not have a bakery near me.  Closest is over an hour away.  I'd love to hear comments about what breads you all eat!!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Clean Eating & Sugar

One of the hardest decisions for me to make in in efforts to eat clean was to decide what "sugar" to use.  Unless you are chewing on the sugar cane plant directly, EVERY sweetener has been "processed" in some way shape or form.  So how can ANY of them truly be "clean?" 

Currently in my house we have the following:

White sugar: too processed for general use. But I do keep a bag on hand for guests to use in their coffee or tea, or for those times that it is important/required (but there are VERY few of those times.) 

Turbinado "sugar in the raw:" what I currently use for baking.  I love the molasses flavor to gives to cookies, pies, everything.

Liquid blue agave: I use this to sweeten my own coffees and teas, as well as adding to my morning steel cut oats when a bit of sweetness is required.

Stevia: cause I read somewhere that it is one of the better choices in eating clean.  I have yet to try it...

Local Raw Honey: Raw is the key word here, and it should be a bit cloudy.  Clear, golden colored honey has been processed a bit too much.  Local is key too, as it has been made by bees from flowers that are in your area; studies have shown that it helps with pollen allergies!

I am curious as to what YOU use to sweeten your foods!  Please comment back!! 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Clean Snacking

One of the first things that happened to me when we switched from processed snacks to clean snacks was I lost 11 pounds. 11!!  Not all at once, but it slowly came off over a period of about 3 months.  I noticed that I was snacking a lot less, and I think the salt & preservatives from the processed foods were making me retain some water.

I think clean eating should be a diet all of it's own!  In order to snack, you have to make the snack. There is no more mindless handfuls or chips, or crackers, or cookies.  If you want it, you need to make it!  If I am in the mood for some potato chips, I have to get out the deep fryer, get out the mandolin, scrub the potatoes, heat up the oil, slice the potatoes, cook the potatoes, then wait for them to cool.  It sounds like a lot of work, but truthfully it is not. But how badly do I want those potato chips? I must really want them to go through the work to have them.

11 pounds!!! But then I plateaued and that was it.  But 11 pounds!!  I find that since we started eating clean, ALL of us snack less.

And that's good, right?  Kathy

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saving $$ by eating clean & Costco

One of the first things I noticed was my lower grocery bill.  I was in total shock at hoe much food I got for so little money, once those prepared foods came out of my shopping cart.  My hubby & I were each eating 3-4 frozen lunches a week; my kids were eating at least 2-3 bags of potato chips a week; then you had crackers, granola bars, ice cream...oh my goodness!!

When you fill your grocery cart with fruits, vegetables, and proteins, and dairy, you really are not spending that much.  I found I could easily afford the higher priced organic produce when I was not spending $4 on each bag of potato chips.  For that same $4 I could buy a 5lb bag of potatoes and a bottle of oil; and make the equivalent of 10 bags of potato chips!!  In my estimation, a regular-sized bag of potato chips is 2 potatoes.

I do a lot of shopping at Costo; they have a large variety of organic foods, if you take the time to look.  They carry a lot of "all natural" (I know I've said to be weary of that phrase but if you read the ingredients you can see what is good and what is not) and many items that contain no preservatives.

My favorite find at the moment:  

salsa!! While salsa is easy to make on my own, this is perfect for having on hand for unexpected company.

So am I saving money with this? Yes, I am. For $7.69 I get TWO of these 38 oz bottles. They go really far.  Organic tomatoes run me $3 a pound at the moment; to buy that many tomatoes, this is worth it.

I know ORGANIC does not necessarily mean CLEAN.  I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this!

Keep eating, Kathy

Edit: just found this - all about clean eating AT Costco!! Shopping at Costco

Friday, November 23, 2012

Clean Eating for Thanksgiving Part 3

The apple pie!

Yesterday was such a whirlwind of cooking, preparing, etc that I did not get to take too many pictures. My in-laws are what we call round here "snowbirds." They spend half a year in New Jersey and half a year in Florida.  So as they prepare to flee the chilly weather, we do Christmas on Thanksgiving. So presents are part of my Thanksgiving as well.  But I did get to take pictures of the apple pie!

My version of my mom's 1950-something apple pie recipe:

pie crust for double crust pie, rolled into thinness you like and bottom crust placed in pie pan

2-3T whole wheat flour
1-2t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
3/4-1c sugar; I like turbinado, esp in apple pies; the molasses flavor really adds to the pie
2T butter, cut into chunks

mixture of tart, medium and sweet local apples, # depends on size or pie & size of apples.
      (for a 9" pie I have at least 7 medium apples)

Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl.  You want this ready as the apples will start to brown pretty quickly. 

Peel, core & slice the apples. I have been reading a lot about NOT peeling the apples; how we are throwing away all that great fiber and other nutrients when we do that.  I want to try it one day and see how it comes out.  For Thanksgiving, I needed to keep my pie the same as always.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to get/afford organic apples, I can see leaving on the skins.  But regular store apples I most likely will not.

Once they are all sliced, toss the apples with the dry ingredients.

Slowly pour them into crust-lined pie pan, stopping to pat them down, adjusting to fill in large gaps.  The apples will settle as they bake; but if there is too much gaping, you will end up with a space between your apples and top crust.

Dot the apples with butter.  I like to stick in the small butter cubes as I am layering the apples.

Prepare top crust. I used three small cookie cutters to cut out leaves; sometimes I just carve an apple out of the center.  Whatever you like!! Make sure to put small air vents around large crust areas; helps crust mold to top of pie.

I use aluminum foil all around the bottom of my pie, bring it up and around the crust edges to make my little crust guard.  Burned edges are such a turn off on a pie!  You can see mid-process in the picture on the side.  Last 10-15 minutes of baking, loosen the the foil to brown up the crust edges.  This method also catches and contains the drips.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, depending on size of pie. Beautiful!!

Cool on wire rack at least two hours.  I remove the foil for cooling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Clean Eating for Thanksgiving part 2

Desserts!  My personal favorite part of the meal.

Due to gallbladder problems, I am in a strict "as low fat as I can go" meal plan at the moment,  but that will not stop me for preparing Thanksgiving desserts!  While I may not get to enjoy a lot of what I am making, I am doing everything I can to make sure I can enjoy part of it.  I will come back and post pics as I am cooking.

Desserts for our Thanksgiving Meal:
apple pie                                    toppings:  chocolate syrup, caramel, whipped cream
apple crisp
pumpkin biscotti
ice cream

I can't eat the pie, so the crisp is really for me. If I am just going to eat out the filling of the pie, I might as well make something else.

My apple pie is an old recipe of my mom's.  She had a Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook from 1953 that I have kept and use whenever I can.  I love old cookbooks, since they were made before most processed foods, they give you great recipes. One thing that drives me nuts is when I get a recipe and it calls for something already prepared. I don't like when tv chefs do that either.  I will do a separate entry on the pie.

I am thrilled to have found some GREAT cooking websites.  One of my favorites is Simply Recipes.  Elise's blog is my first stop for recipes.  In fact, most of what I am using today comes from there.

Elise's Apple Crisp

Elise's Pumpkin Biscotti

Elise's Caramel Sauce

Another frequent stop for me is Tiffany at The Gracious Pantry.  This is a great place for information on "real" clean eating.  For Thanksgiving, I will be serving her:

Tiffany's Chocolate Syrup

The whipped cream comes from  Kathy Maister's Start Cooking Her site is great as it gives instructions AND information about cooking, so you can be a bit more informed about what you are making.

 Whipped Cream

So that leaves me with ice cream.  I have an OLD (we're talking 20 yrs) hand crank which works really good.  I used to use this recipe: Vanilla Ice Cream 4 ingredients!! And I lower the sugar to 1/8 c turbinado. I can't find low fat whipping cream anywhere, sigh.  So I will be skipping the ice cream & caramel cause this year. But the whipped cream I may get a dollop of. :)

Unless you have an ice cream maker, you really won't want to try this.  So if I need to buy ice cream, what do I buy? The only one I have found so far is Breyer's Lactose Free Vanilla. Whether or not you are lactose intolerant, this is a decent alternative for when you cannot make your own, or you need to bring ice cream somewhere and you don't want to fill your body (or the body of others who will be eating it) with additives.

           Lid and side panel

 Here is the lowfat Breyers Vanilla:

           Lid and side panel

Both include a "gum" but the lactose free is "free-er" of other stuff.  So if I need to bring, this is what I buy.  So one has noticed that it is lactose free. :)  Again, clean eating "my way."

Happy eating!!   Kathy

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clean Eating for Thanksgiving part 1

Skipping ahead in my pre-planned introductory posts to think about Thanksgiving.  I am working on my shopping list for the week.  The stores can get crazy this week, I'm sure you know, so I'm getting out early.

I was very successful last year in keeping with my clean eating for the holidays, and fully intend to keep it up again this year.  How about you?

I have been put in charge of the salad and the desserts.  The salad is easy, until you get to the dressing. That is when it gets REALLY hard.  Bottled dressings are filled with extra stuff that we really don't need!  A simple oil & vinegar can taste quite yummy when you play with the oils & vinegars, and can be much cheaper than buying a bottle dressing in the long run.

Here is my salad:   (organic is always preferred, but not always easy to find)
     1 package baby spinach
     small to medium can of mandarin oranges (juicer than fresh, plus easier to find)
     sliced baby portabello mushrooms
     chopped pecans or walnuts, your preference
     2-3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

That's it - yummy flavors & textures that work together so well!  I'll take a picture and post it after it's made.

The dressing:
    1/2 c oil (light oils better than olive here; I use grapeseed)
    2T balsamic vinegar (I like  more; we can also use a white balsamic for a slightly different flavor)
    2T sugar
    pinch of salt

Wisk together in liquid measuring cup, pour over salad & mix in (if everyone likes it that way) or serve on side.  Yummy!!!

My dessert entry will be quite long, so I'm going to put that in a separate post.

Happy eating!! Kathy

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Single Ingredient Items

Single ingredient items can be very confusing.  You think when you buy a bag of flour, or a container of cream, you are buying something that is well, wheat or milk.  It's important to always read the labels of everything you buy.

True story:

I was so proud of myself last Thanksgiving.  After reading the label on a can of whipped cream, I set out to make my very own whipped cream and it came out delicious!!  I boasted to my friends and co-workers, how easy it was to whip together cream, sugar & vanilla. Three ingredients! All who tried it loved it!  Later in the week that followed, I was incredibly surprised to read what was in the cream; I thought it was only milk! I was so surprised when I accidentally read the side of the cream assumption? Cream was made from an early part in the milk making process, when there was still a lot of fat in it. What is in the ingredient list, you may be thinking to yourself?

Here ya go: 

I am breaking my rule: I had NO idea what mono and digylcerides, polysorbate 80 or carrageenan are.  So am I eating clean? Not by the real "clean" standards.

Here is the side of the canned whipped cream:

I'm doing a bit better - in this case.  But not in every case. But I can tell you I went and looked up what those were, and decided as often as I make whipped cream, and with how well we do with all of our other meals, that on the holidays a little but won't hurt.  So you now know, and can decide what is best for your family...

According to Wikipedia:
Mono and diglycerides:
Mono- and diglycerides are common food additives used to blend together certain ingredients, such as oil and water, which would not otherwise blend well. It is important to note that the values given in the nutritional labels for total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat do not include those present in mono- and diglycerides.
The commercial source may be either animal (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable, derived primarily from partially hydrogenated soy bean and canola oil.[citation needed] They may also be synthetically produced. They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, peanut butter, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, confections, and candies.

Polysorbate 80:
Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in foods, particularly in ice cream. Here, polysorbate is added to up to 0.5% (v/v) concentration and makes the ice cream smoother and easier to handle, as well as increasing its resistance to melting.[4] Adding this substance prevents milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join together in chains and nets, which hold air in the mixture, and provide a firmer texture that holds its shape as the ice cream melts.

Carrageenans or carrageenins (play /ˌkærəˈɡnənz/ KARR-ə-GHEE-nənz) are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red seaweeds. There are several varieties of carrageen used in cooking and baking. Kappa-carrageenan is used mostly in breading and batter due to its gelling nature. Lambda carrageenan is a non-gelling variety that assists in binding, retaining moisture, and in contributing to viscosity in sweet doughs. Iota carrageenan is used primarily in fruit applications and requires calcium ions to develop a heat-reversible and flexible gel.[1] Gelatinous extracts of the Chondrus crispus (Irish Moss) seaweed have been used as food additives for hundreds of years.[2] Carrageenan is a vegetarian and vegan alternative to gelatin.

Apparently there is seaweed in my cream. :)  I will continue to make my own cream; the three ingredients in mine are better than the ingredients in the canned stuff.  I am curious to see if the frozen stuff has the same ingredients. I will try to remember my camera next time I go to the grocery to snap a pic.

Happy eating!  Kathy

edit: here's a pic from the frozen whipped cream 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"My" Clean eating "Rules"

Yes, that is a LOT of quotes.  I want to emphasize that these are the choices I have made for my family.  True clean eaters go beyond these guidelines.  My family can only do so much!!

Prepared foods I still buy:

Pasta. I do not have a pasta maker, and while I was raised by an Italian, she rarely cooked (I was raised on prepared meals) and when I do try it comes out really thick.  I hope to one day buy a pasta machine and try to make my own. 

Bread.  I do not have a bread maker, and while I was raised by an Italian, she rarely cooked (I was raised on prepared meals) and when I do try it comes out really dense.  I hope to one day buy a bread machine and try to make my own.  Yes, I know I copied that description...LOL

Yogurt: I cannot live without my Chobani. Totally addicted. Yes, it can be a bit expensive, but I feel that the expense is justified based on how little I spend on other foods.  I usually buy it at my local warehouse store, which makes it much less than the grocery.  I have a super Wal-Mart in a neighboring town that sells it cheaper than a grocery as well, for when I want more flavor choices.

Graham crackers.  Because of my gallbladder problems, I have to eat as low fat a diet as possible.  While I bake my own cookies all the time for my kids, they still include butter and/or eggs which are too high in fat for me.  I have seen recipes for clean graham crackers, but they scare me.  One day I will try.

Pretzels. I tried to make my own, but they came out horrible! Still trying...

Breakfast cereals.  I do buy healthy ones, no artificial colors/flavors in my Cheerios, but there are some mornings my kids need that quick breakfast option before school.

Macaroni & Cheese. I am still perfecting the cheese sauce, but there are days when my son comes home from high school starving. There is no time to grate & melt cheese.  I do buy an organic brand though, none of the Kraft stuff.

That's about it.  Everything else is made by me with whole, natural ingredients. My grocery savings was unbelieveable when I cut out the higher priced foods. We'll talk about that in another post.

My "rule" is this: is it in it's natural form?  
Yes? I can eat it.
No? Why not? How has it been modified? (I am not grinding my own wheat into flour...) How many ingredients are on the label and more importantly WHAT ARE THEY? If I don't know what it is, I WILL NOT EAT IT.  With the exceptions above. :) But even in my exceptions, I read labels closely.  Minimal ingredients are key for me. 

That's about it!! Over the next couple weeks I plan on sharing some of my favorite "clean" products and I'll also share with you WHY I chose them as clean.  I think they WHY is as important as the WHAT.  When you are reading labels, be wary of products labeled "natural." I've been reading more and more about how food companies are abusing the term when their products are not truly natural.

In the meantime...happy eating!!  Kathy

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hello and Welcome!

Hi there! Nice to meet you!! I am Kathy and I started this blog to help others out there, that are like me, and are trying their best to lead a healthy food life in this over-processed world that we live in.

Most likely you found my blog through a search for "clean eating" or "healthy foods" or "how to avoid processed foods" or something along those lines.  That is exactly where I started October 2011.  Late September 2011 I started having digestive issues; heart burn, rib pain, chest pain.  My doctor told me to keep a food journal, note times of day and what foods were bothering me, what happens (or doesn't happen!) when I avoid those trigger foods.  This process got me thinking about what I was putting in my (and my family's) body every day.  That, along with the constant reports of cancer increasing in younger and younger people, got me interested in what can be called "clean eating."

I started an internet search on my symptoms, acid reflux, GERD, and gallbladder disease.  Clean eating kept popping up all over the place.  I continued my search and found a plethora of blogs, recipes and wonderful looking recipes that were "healthy" for me and my family.  I'm sure by now, if you have been at this for a while, you are a bit overwhelmed.  I sure was.  All these "rules" about what is clean and what is not; paleo vs clean vs natural vs organic; oh boy!!! I printed out list after list of ingredients I should have in my home, got shell-shocked at the price tag in the grocery store of these ingredients I had previously never heard of, and tried my best to figure it all out.

The first thing I did was NOT throw out everything processed in my house.  I slowly over time used it all, so as not to make a drastic change to my family.  I have a wonderful hubby of 20 years, and two teenage boys, currently 13 & 15.  "What do you mean no more Oreos???"  I heard OFTEN.  So my first recommendation, if you are trying to change your family's eating habits, is to GO SLOW.  Don't do it to them (and yourself all at once.)  They will NOT be happy with you!

I grew up with HORRIBLE eating habits.  Food was not a priority in my house, for many reasons which I won't share at this time.  My husband grew up the opposite; no sweets in the house, you snack on lettuce.  Total opposites; as time went on, of course I brought him over to the dark side and ruined all his mom's hard work.  So now we are working on a happy, unprocessed medium.

My goal for this blog is to share with you my journey in removing processed foods.  I want to share products I found that I feel fit in with "my" clean eating rules.  I look forward to getting to know other folks out there in cyberspace like me; we do our best and hope for the best.

Hello, and welcome!!  Kathy