Category: Clean Eating

5 Easy Ways to Drink Your Way to Better Health

Can you think of an easier way to get healthier than drinking a glass of something? It’s not exactly taxing. So I came up with a list of 5 things you can do each day to improve your health that aren’t much harder than lifting a glass to your lips. Maybe they aren’t as much fun as wine, but they’re easy. And so good for you….

The first one is super easy and you get a choice.

  1. Drink Your Probiotics. You pick- kefir or kombucha. They have similar health benefits, but each has its own special charm. You can read more about kefir here. I drink both most days. The kefir I buy is thicker, so it’s more like yogurt than a drink. I eat the plain kefir with berries, a few drops of stevia, cinnamon, a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut, and pumpkin seeds (or granola). It is so delicious I feel like licking the bowl when I’m done. My son loves the strawberry kefir (no strep, no flu, no antibiotics for him this winter and I swear this is why!). You can find it in the dairy aisle. Kombucha is a yummy, fizzy drink that you can find in different flavors, too. I love the ginger flavor, but the fruit ones are nice too. It is pricey, but you can drink a little bit each day. In health food stores you can also buy it in a big, refillable glass bottle to save some money. I make my own and if you fall in love with it like we did this is a great option to make it part of your life!
  2. Drink Green Tea. Green tea has so many health benefits and may be a great weight loss tool as well. I aim for 2-3 cups per day, but just one cup will surely boost your health.
  3. Start your day with a warm glass of lemon water. It detoxifies your body and stimulates digestion. Add some apple cider vinegar if you’re up for it, too!
  4. Put some coconut oil in your coffee. You may have heard of this, or you might think it sounds totally weird and gross. That’s what I thought before I started doing it, and now when I can’t have my coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil I feel a little sad. I use my Keurig (refillable pods of course!) to make my coffee in a big mug, add a teaspoon of coconut oil, and blend using a stick blender. You could use a regular blender, too. It comes out so frothy and even looks creamy. I sprinkle cinnamon on top and it feels like a fancy latte 🙂 If you’re stuck on sweetening your coffee try adding some stevia before blending, too.
  5. Drink your water. I saved this one for last because I feel like everyone knows it and oh my gosh is sick of hearing about it. But I wonder how many people still actually do it! How much water do you drink in a day? A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. So if you weigh 200 pounds aim for 100 ounces. I like to drink more than half my weight in ounces- it’s just how I feel the best. I aim for a gallon, though I usually fall a little bit short of that. There are lots of tricks to get to drinking enough- finding the right water bottle, starting your day with a big glass of water, setting water “benchmarks” to meet throughout the day. You can also try flavoring your water if it’s tough for you to drink. I love lemon slices; you can also add other fruit, mint leaves.

The prospect of getting healthier can be daunting. You hear so many things about it- things you should do, things you shouldn’t do. One day you might hear something is wonderful for you, then read the next day that it’s bad for you. I like the idea of taking simple steps to improve your health. And often I think the idea of giving stuff up just sucks. So maybe start with adding stuff in instead. I hope these 5 easy things you can add to your day for better health are simple enough to implement and easy enough to keep for life. Give them some time to really become part of your routine. You can start with one and add the others when you feel like you’ve got the first one down.

Do you know someone who could benefit from one or all of these? Please share!

Energy Bites

This is one of my favorite recipes for a clean eating snack. These little guys are filling and nutritious. They also help satisfy a sweet tooth! They are a great little add-on to a meal if you’re still feeling hungry. I have also taken them with me when I know I’ll be out for a while. I’ll have 2 or 3 energy bites and an apple for a mini-meal on the go. Much better than trying to find a healthy snack at the mall or something!

They are a bit of a pain to make, sticky and messy, but worth it. I usually make a double batch. I have seen the recipe in a few places, but based mine on the one I found at Gimme Some Oven.

Print Recipe
Energy Bites
from Gimme Some Oven
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients; stir until thoroughly mixed
  2. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour
  3. Roll into balls (about 1 inch diameter)
  4. Store in refrigerator for up to a week
Recipe Notes

We are a nut-free house, so I always use sunbutter. I'm sure peanut butter is delicious, and imagine almond butter would be great too. To make them even healthier you could omit the chocolate chips or maybe try raisins? I keep planning on raisins and ending up with chocolate chips 🙂

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Clean Eating Groups

I am loving the January feeling of this January. Sometimes I get a little case of the post-Christmas blues. My parents leave for Florida right after Christmas and it will be months before I see them again. The festiveness of the season is over. The rushing around and busy-ness is behind us (and it’s a relief, but also a little sad). We’ll see family and friends less again….

But not this year. This year I am all-in to this January thing. Goal setting, vision boards, resolutions, oh my!

 

I am energized, still plugging away at goal setting. (Is it this hard for everyone?!) I made a Google calendar and generally mapped out my time so I feel more purposeful and with direction during each day. I joined a vision board group on Facebook. I started a new personal development book. The Beachbody Health Bet started this past Monday and I started a new workout program- Core de Force. I’m finishing up Body Beast, a program I’ve been wanting to do for ages and have absolutely loved. So I am all geared up. Plus, now I am running a clean eating group with my team. It starts Monday!

What is a clean eating group? you might be wondering. In general, our clean eating groups are private groups on Facebook. We provide some information on clean eating, as well as a meal plan for the week, complete with recipes and a grocery list. During the week, participants are asked to post what they’re eating. And we are all committed to eating clean for the course of the group, usually 5 or 7 days. Basically, no white flour, no white sugar, no processed foods, no alcohol. Hey, it’s only 5 days! Hopefully you’ll continue with clean eating when the group is over, but knowing that it’s only 5 days can make it easier to take this step. After the 5 days, you can decide how “strict” you’re going to be. If you really commit to the group, it can help keep you accountable. You are more likely to stick to the guidelines if you’re feeling committed to the group. What will keep you committed? Motivation, support, inspiration. Maybe even a little guilt! I’d feel guilty eating something that wasn’t allowed. I can do that for 5 days. It can be motivating and inspiring to see what everyone else is eating, too.

What can happen in just 5-7 days? You’d be amazed. Depending on your regular diet before the group started, you might detox. By the end of the group you’ll have reduced your cravings, probably lost some weight, learned a few things about clean eating. It can help you with brand new goals, or help you commit to goals from which you’ve strayed. It might even change your life. Clean eating has changed mine! You would be amazed at what a difference it makes. Clearer skin, more energy, better moods, clearer thinking. And the effects can spill over to people in your life, too!

What makes a clean eating group great? The best clean eating groups are the ones with the most participation. When you really post what you eat, you have a better chance of success with your own goals. It’s like keeping a food journal (shown in studies to be effective in losing weight) that other people can see. People who are like-minded and there to support you and cheer you on. There’s a cycle to it; you post and inspire someone and they post and inspire someone. When the group gets on a roll, it’s easier to stick to your goals and succeed.  Some people might feel uncomfortable posting at first. Maybe they’re shy, maybe they feel silly posting what they’re eating, maybe they’re intimidated by other people in the group who post gorgeous, exotic, super-healthy meals on fancy plates. If you can get past the initial discomfort, you’ll start to feel the camaraderie. I’ve come out of some groups feeling like I’d made some new friends. And it’s uplifting to see someone else doing well!

Why join a clean eating group? If you’re looking to learn more about clean eating or get some new ideas, a clean eating group would be a great place for you. It’s also a good way to lose to a few pounds, get back on track after a bad spell of eating (like after the holidays!), or kick some bad habits. Some people join just to learn what clean eating is, some want new recipes and food ideas, some want to stop drinking soda (for example) and need some support.

Why am I especially excited for this clean eating group? Because it’s January! There’s a feeling of freshness and renewal and energy. I’m also excited for the timing with my fitness goals. I really want to commit more stringently to the eating plan that comes with Core de Force. I was not so stringent with Body Beast, and it makes a big difference in your results. When I am part of a clean eating group, I always make better food choices and I always learn something. I also lose a pound or two or three! I feel like I’m feeling so energized and other people are, too; this group is bound to be great.

If you’d like to give it a try, comment here! Or visit me over on Facebook and send me a message. It’s not too late to join!

Autumn’s Italian Meatballs

Meatballs are a favorite around here because everyone heats them. Sigh….

They even eat them leftover for lunch! Is there anything better than that?

I usually just wing it with my meatballs- following a general formula of 1 cup breadcrumbs and 1 egg per 1 pound of meat. I might swap out some of the breadcrumbs for some grated parmesan. And they’re good. But I love Autumn Calabrese’s recipes from her cookbook, Fixate, so I thought I’d give this recipe a try. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing, because they would be immediately suspicious. After dinner last night Rose asked me if I did something different because they were “really, really good.” Luke said he liked them a lot, too! And Frances, who usually just takes the leftover whole wheat pasta for lunch, asked for a meatball with her pasta. So I guess this is our new meatball recipe!

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Autumn's Italian Meatballs
(from Fixate by Autumn Calabrese)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly coated with cooking spray
  3. Place bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl. Set aside; soak for 10 minutes
  4. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-low heat
  5. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent
  6. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute
  7. Combine onion mixture, turkey, eggs, parsley, cheese, oregano, salt, pepper, and bread crumb mixture in a large bowl; mix well with clean hands or wooden spoon. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour
  8. With clean wet hands, form turkey mixture into approximately 42 1-inch meatballs; arrange onto prepared baking sheet
  9. Bake for 13 to 18 minutes, or until browned and cooked through
Recipe Notes

I tweaked the recipe just a little bit. I used two pounds of ground turkey and one pound of grass fed ground beef. I also omitted the onion because my bubble of meatball happiness might have burst if just one of my children found an onion.

Serve topped with tomato sauce. Autumn has a great sauce recipe, too! I'll share that soon. In the meantime, try making your own or use jarred sauce. Just check the ingredients; watch out for added sugar. Look for a brand that has just tomatoes and spices. Rao's is a great one, but a bit pricey.

Enjoy 🙂

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15 Minute Chicken & Veggies

This might be my new favorite recipe. It’s so easy, so fast, and so convenient. My sister-in-law recommended it and I’m so happy she shared it! She found it over at gimmedelicious.

What do I love so much? It’s totally healthy. You make it in one pan. There’s little prep. It cooks so fast. It’s delicious. It makes great leftovers.

This recipe is perfect for an evening where you have to pick up the kids somewhere or run an errand or something. I made it on a Tuesday when my kids had religion until 5:30. Pick-up at 5:30 throws a wrench into my dinner plans. With this recipe I got everything ready to go while they were at religion class and then threw the pan in the oven when we got home. It cooks in 15 minutes. If you have some quinoa ready ahead of time or throw a sweet potato in the microwave, you’ll have everything ready for a super healthy dinner.

I haven’t played around with it much, but I imagine you could change up the vegetables in the recipe and try different spices, too.

Pack up the leftovers for healthy lunches!

Print Recipe
15 Minute Chicken & Veggies
from http://gimmedelicious.com/2016/03/22/15-minute-healthy-roasted-chicken-and-veggies/
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F
  2. Place chopped chicken and veggies on roasting pan
  3. Add the olive oil and seasonings; toss to combine
  4. Cook for 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender
Recipe Notes

I found the chicken was cooked perfectly in the 15 minutes, but you may need to adjust time slightly.

Enjoy!!

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Homemade Shake & Bake

I am all about easy, quick dinners that everyone will eat. Before I got into clean eating, I would make Shake ‘n Bake chicken or pork chops here and there and it was a big hit each time. (I actually preferred the Oven Fry brand, but it’s the same junk in a box!) Now that school has started, I’m also looking for dinners that make leftovers that are good for school lunches.

homemade-shake-n-bake

I decided to give a homemade version a try recently, and everyone loved it! I love that it made enough for at least 3 meals, too. You don’t have to mix up the coating every time you want to make “shake & bake” chicken or pork chops. It is still a convenience food, just much healthier! I have it in a quart-sized mason jar in the refrigerator. It makes delicious chicken nuggets also.

I looked at a few recipes and made some tweaks. You can find the original recipe I based mine off of here at The Black Peppercorn.

Homemade Shake & Bake

(adapted from The Black Peppercorn)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry parsley
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Mix all ingredients. Store in mason jar or other container in the refrigerator.

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To make chicken or pork chops, moisten meat with water or egg. Coat in mixture. Cook at 400 degrees on a lightly oiled or foil-lined baking sheet for 20-30 minutes. To make chicken nuggets or chicken fingers, adjust cooking time accordingly. Enjoy!!

 

Clean Eating Snacks On-the-Go

Summer often means more road trips and outings. It’s fun, but all that fun can make it more difficult to eat healthy and stay on track with your health and fitness goals. I definitely loosen up my nutrition standards a lot over the summer! This year I’m hoping to do better…ice-cream, but not quite so much ice-cream. Chips, but not quite so many chips. There’s a fine line between allowing for indulgences that you enjoy and allowing for binges that make you feel like crap and mad at yourself too. Clean eating snacks on-the-go can help.

Clean eating snacks

I’ve found a little extra thought and preparation makes a big difference. If you start out with good intentions and do what you can you’re setting yourself up for success. Even if by the end of your vacation you’re inhaling pop-tarts on the car-ride home, at least you started out strong!

I put together a list of clean eating snack ideas for one of my groups and thought it would be useful to share here. It’s hard to find packaged snacks with a “clean” ingredient list, but with a little more prep you can have great snacks on-the-go.

My favorite go-to snack is Shakeology! It really is. When I’m leaving the house for a long ride I make a shake to take with me. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s loaded with nutrition, it’s filling, and since I drink it blended with a lot of ice, it cools me down, too. A nice bonus in the summertime. You can also shake up a scoop or a packet with water and drink it out and about. I’ll have an emergency stash with me wherever I go this summer. But there’s only so much Shakeology a girl can drink. Here are some more of my other favorites:

*Prepare some baggies with cut-up veggies and eat them on their own or dip in some hummus or guacamole. You can buy nice serving-sized containers of both.
*Homemade granola bars. Or energy bites. Or muffins. Take the time to make some healthy ones at home before you go and these are the perfect portable snack!
*Yogurt with berries & honey and/or granola. Make up some jars of berries and yogurt to take with you. These are best eaten when you’re not the driver…don’t ask me how I know 🙂
*Nuts and fruit are easy and portable. You can buy the 100 calorie packets or make your own. Seeds are a great option too. They’re my go-to healthy fat/protein to pair with fruit since we can’t have nuts. You don’t want to overdo it with the nuts or seeds, but pair it with an apple or banana and it’s perfect- filling and tasty.
*String cheese sticks and whole wheat/grain crackers (check the ingredient list on these) are a great option.
*Popcorn you’ve popped in an airpopper or in a pot with some healthy oil is a great snack. Shake some sea salt on it and bag it up, and you have a healthy salty snack. And the serving size is pretty big! I love this when I’m driving!
*Roasted chickpeas are a great healthy alternative. You can flavor them different ways- sweet or savory- and pack them up in little baggies.
*Celery with peanut butter or sunflower seed butter is a yummy and filling snack.
*Hardboiled eggs, so long as you peel them ahead of time, are a great way to get protein in as you snack.
*A whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, cinnamon, and maybe some sliced banana is easy to make ahead and pack for the road. Or a good old peanut butter (or sunbutter) and jelly sandwich. Just watch the ingredients again!

Clean eating takes some extra thought and preparation, but is so worth it! Bring a little cooler or lunchbag with you for those snacks that need to be kept cool.

Clean Eating Summer Snacks (1)

We drive from New York to Florida and back every spring, so I know how important it is to be prepared! On the way down I manage to avoid fast food and junk food 100%. We pack sandwiches and snacks in a cooler. We also bring extra water to refill our reusable water bottles. I do bend a little with the kids and buy them some treats they wouldn’t normally get at home. If you’ve driven from NY to Florida with four children you’ll understand the importance of snacks.

The way home is a little harder, because it’s harder to prep away from home. We still manage to eat pretty well, though with some packaged options thrown in there. For example, SkinnyPop is a good packaged option to have in place of my popcorn. You can also find packaged granola with a not-so-bad ingredient list.

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This picture is from our drive down to Florida this past April. I took a picture and posted it in my Facebook challenge group, writing something like, “Is it crazy that I packed mason jars of kefir and berries to eat on the drive?” I think some of them answered, “Yes.” But I am obsessed with kefir and berries with granola! And they’re a healthy way to fill up on the road! Alright, maybe it was a little crazy…but I didn’t eat pop-tarts 🙂

Enjoy those road trips! And enjoy your treats- but do your best to save them for treats you really want to savor, not “treats” you’re forced into buying because you’re in a pinch and hungry.

Happy Summer!! If you liked this article, don’t forget to Pin it or Share it on Facebook using the buttons below 🙂

Crockpot Lemon Pepper Chicken

Is anyone else going crazy lately? Isn’t end-of-the-year craziness supposed to happen closer to the actual end of the year? Or is it always like this and I’ve just forgotten? Because holy cow, I feel a little dizzy with all this end-of-the-year stuff!

Between baseball, ballet- ballet dress rehearsals- ballet recitals, spring concerts, field trips, field days, writer workshops, picnics, Daisies, Girl Scouts, and birthdays I feel a little overwhelmed. Add in a sprained ankle (not mine) and some spring sickness and the party really starts.

This is part of the reason why I was so excited for the clean eating crockpot group last week. What a great way to stay on top of healthy dinners! But that didn’t pan out like I expected. A key part of crockpot success is being here to turn it off and eat the food that’s in it. Last week my husband had late nights with his track team a few days, and we had a couple days where the kids and I were basically gone 3-8pm. I only got to make a couple dinners from the weekly meal plan. But I thought I’d share one I really love!

Crockpot Lemon Pepper Chicken

This recipe takes a little prep at the start, which takes away a bit from the beauty of a crockpot dinner. I think it’s worth it, though. The chicken actually had a nice semi-crusty coating when it was done.

 

Slow Cooker Lemon Pepper Chicken
(from blog.feelgreatin8.com)
Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
Preparation:
Prepare your chicken by rinsing it and trimming the fat. I cut each breast into 2 pieces to make them more like large tenders.
 In a shallow dish, combine the flour and 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning. Coat each piece of chicken in flour.
 Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Once melted, brown each side of the chicken. You want them to be golden brown, but not cooked through because you’ll be cooking them in the slow cooker.
 Spray the slow cooker (crockpot) with cooking spray and place the browned chicken into the bottom. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning on top of the chicken.
 Mix together the lemon juice and chicken broth. Pour over the chicken and seasoning.
 Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Enjoy!
I doubled the recipe to serve all of us (not that all of us ate it of course) and so we’d have leftovers for lunches. It came out great. I served it over a quinoa and wild rice blend and it was delicious. You can find the original recipe here at Tiffany’s blog.

Clean Eating Crockpot Challenge Group

I am so excited about the free cleaning group I’m running this week with some other amazing coaches! We have a private Facebook group where we share a meal plan, including recipes and a shopping list. We’ve also included alternate dinner options in case there’s something you don’t like, and vegetarian options.

Clean Eating Crockpot Challenge Group

Our focus this week is crockpot recipes, particularly crockpot recipes that are lighter and feel more like spring than the stews and roasts you might associate with the crockpot. And the group is huge! We have a lot of interested people. I can see why, too. I love my crockpot. I know it’s not glamorous or fancy, but it’s easy and practical and can make some delicious dinners! I plan on using it when we have baseball in the evening, or ballet dress rehearsals. Most of my crockpot recipes are heavier and feel more at home on a cold winter day, so I’m excited to try out some new ones. There are also a lot of recipes out there that are loaded with processed ingredients. Clean eating crockpot recipes can be harder to find.

I’m also really excited that so many people are going to learn more about clean eating. It’s changed my life, and I love when I see it changing other peoples’ lives too. These groups are great for support and accountability and I always learn something.

Did you miss out on the clean eating group? We will have another one soon…Send me a message and I’ll add you to the list and keep you posted 🙂

Have a great week!

Turkey & Beef Meatloaf

I made meatloaf for the very first time tonight…and it was delicious! I have never really liked meatloaf and my husband loves it. I never made it and never felt I was missing anything, but I did feel a little guilty for never giving it a try. Well, I decided it was about time to give it a go- and figured there was a chance the kids would eat it too. They love meatballs! (I feel like chopped meat recipes are becoming a theme around here- chili, tacos, meatballs, sloppy joes, and now meatloaf!)

I wanted to find a clean eating meatloaf recipe, especially one that didn’t use ketchup. I hate ketchup, I have an aversion to ketchup, I don’t want to look at ketchup, smell ketchup, or touch ketchup. I only soften to it a little bit because I have a beautiful niece who loves the stuff and puts it on everything! Anyway, clean eating meatloaf, meatloaf with no ketchup. That’s what I looked for…

I looked around online, combined two recipes that I found, and will definitely make it again soon. Meatloaf isn’t pretty anyway, but after it’s been sliced it’s even less pretty. I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of it before we sliced it!

Turkey & Beef Meatloaf

Turkey/Beef Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 TBSP vinegar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • water

Preparation:

In large bowl, combine meat, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Mix well. Use a loaf pan or form the mixture into a loaf shape in a baking pan. Make a small depression in the top of the loaf to form a well for the sauce. In a small bowl, mix remaining tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and a small amount of warm water. Pour over the top of the meatloaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

This recipe is a combination of Kim’s Ultimate Meatloaf, from allrecipes.com, and the Body Beast turkey meatloaf recipe. I’m sure you could use all turkey, all beef, or ground pork or lamb too.

My only qualm about my tweaked recipe is the brown sugar- it’s not clean. Next time I’ll try something else. But it was really good! I liked it, my husband was so happy to have meatloaf and said it was delicious, and all but one child ate it! I think I could get the fourth one to eat it next time though…That’s what I call a successful recipe!