Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pine Nuts

If you are trying to lose weight, on top of {eat clean}, you MUST add pine nuts to your grocery list.  Now, pine nuts can have a huge price tag and after reading the article below I know why. They are a wonder nut(or seed)! I get mine at Trader Joe's for a great price.

When you think of a nut, it’s quite likely that a pine nut doesn’t come to mind, but may maybe it should. Although technically not a nut – it’s actually a seed from the pine cone, this underappreciated snack offers considerable health benefits. What are some of the health benefits of pine cones and why should you add them to your diet?
They curb your appetite.
It may surprise you to learn that pine nuts can be a potent appetite suppressor. Why? They’re a good source of a polyunsaturated fat known as pinolenic acid. When you eat a handful of pine nuts, the pinolenic acid stimulates the secretion of a hormone produced by the intestines known as CCK. CCK sends the signal to your brain that you’re full which turns off your appetite. It also helps to slow down the rate at which your stomach empties so you feel full and satisfied longer. Who would have dreamed these tiny seeds from the pinecone could zap your appetite?

They’re nutritional powerhoues.

A single serving of the lowly pine nut can provide you with up to fourteen grams of protein per serving, depending upon the species. Pine nuts are anywhere from ten to thirty-four percent protein. They’re also an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins E, K, and niacin. In terms of minerals, they’re an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which is important for maintaining a healthy heart and blood pressure.

They’re heart healthy.

Pine nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, the same “heart healthy” fats that make nuts and olive oil so beneficial. These fats have not only been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels but also help to protect the arteries from damage which can lead to a heart attack. Because of their high content, they can go rancid quickly when you buy them already shelled. Their shelf life can be prolonged by refrigeration.
They offer antioxidant protection.
Pine nuts are also high in antioxidants which help to protect the cells of your body from free radical damage. Pine nut oil can also be bought at some natural food markets to help you deliver even more antioxidant power to your salads.
There are so many ways to add the health benefits of pine nuts to your diet. Sprinkle them on salads or onto vegetables and pasta dishes. They also make up one of the main ingredients in basil pesto. To bring out their rich, buttery flavor even more, lightly toast them. Try experimenting in your own kitchen with these tasty “nutty” seeds. You’ll soon wonder how you ever cooked without them.
Read more:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Leek and Mushroom Rice

This is one of my new favorite side dishes. And to think it came together because of limited ingredients in the kitchen.  Before I began blogging I would have never thought to write down my ingredients as I concocted them. Well, I am glad I do now because this one's a keeper. Super simple, healthy, and delicious.

Leek and Mushroom Rice

  • 1 c long grain brown rice (not instant)
  • 2 c {low sodium} chicken stock
  • 6 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 cup white mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1 medium leek, white part (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbp olive oil

1) Cook rice according to bag but instead of water add chicken stock & add 3 minced garlic cloves to the stock. (most take 35-45 minutes to cook)
2) While rice is cooking, in another pan heat olive oil to medium heat & sauté mushroom, leeks, and remaining 3 garlic cloves until tender.  (approximately 3-5 minutes) Set aside.
3) Once rice is done cooking, add mushroom mixture, thyme, salt, and pepper to rice and stir.
4) Serve.

NOTE: If you have never cooked with leeks before please make sure to google how to properly clean them. They are very dirty little vegetables.  You don't want sand or dirt in your rice.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chocolate Banana Freezer Pie aka {Monkey Pie}

Chocolate Banana Freezer Pie, that's the official name it was given from my Clean Eating Magazine. After my critics (kids and hubby) gobbled up every single bite of their slice and begged for more, I decided this pie might just need a fun and fitting name if it's going to be a regular in our family. And here you have it, with the help of my 6 year old: Monkey Pie!

This pie will be a cold indulgence on a hot summer day. Nothing makes me happier than to find a {clean} dessert my family loves. If you love dark chocolate, this recipe is for you.  And one of my favorite parts, you can get creative with the toppings and crust. Enjoy!

Monkey Pie

Total time: This pie takes 5 hours from start to finish because of freezing time.

  • 5 small ripe bananas (about 1 lb.), peeled and broken or cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 baked Extra Easy Whole-Grain Pie Crust, using nut variation with peanuts
  • 2 tbsp unsalted dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 oz dark chocolate (70% or greater), finely chopped
1)  Combine bananas, cocoa, coconut milk, and vanilla in the jar of a blender. Blend until very smooth (like cake batter), stopping to scrape down sides of jar and stir mixture 2 or 3 times (to ensure banana is puréed).

2)  Pour banana purée into baked pie crust. Sprinkle peanuts and chocolate across surface of pie. Cover very tightly with plastic wrap and freeze a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.

3)  To serve, remove plastic wrap and set at room temperature for about 30 minutes (longer if pie was frozen from more than 4 hours), until pie is just soft enough to yield to the cut of a knife. Slice and serve.

Nutrients per serving (1/8 of pie):
Calories: 237
Fat: 9g
Sat. Fat: 3g
Carbs: 35g
Fiber: 6g
Sugars: 10g
Protein: 6g
Sodium: 73 mg
Cholesterol: 27 mg

Nutritional BONUS:  This dessert offers almost 25% of your daily recommended intake of manganese, a trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar levels.


Extra-Easy Whole-Grain Pie Crust

Here it is dessert lovers. A {clean} pie crust recipe that will work great for sweet or savory pies.  It can't get much easier than this pie crust.  (even I can do it)

Extra-Easy Whole-Grain Pie Crust


  • 1 1/2 c whole-wheat pastry flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1 tsp Sucanat
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 c low-fat milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp safflower oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1) Preheat over to 375 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, Sucanat, salt and baking powder. Pulse dry ingredients several time to mix thoroughly.

2) In a spouted measuring cup, whisk together milk, egg yolk, oil, and vinegar. With the processor running, slowly pour liquid through the food chute into dry ingredients. Process just enough to combine ingredients. (The mixture will be partially crumbly, but will stick together when squeezed)

3)Dump dough out onto a well-floured surface. Squeeze dough together into a singular mound and pat it down together into a disc, about 1/2 inch thick. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out until 12 inches in diameter. Set rolling pin at bottom edge of dough and gently roll dough onto pin, so that dough drapes over pin. Transfer dough to pie dish(9 inch). Gently press dough into the edges of the dish and up the sides. Fold excess dough under and pinch, creating a roughly 1/2 inch rim. Using your fingers, or with the tines of a fork, crimp entire rim. Poke Dough all over with fork to create stream holes.

4) Transfer to over and bake 20 minutes, until edges and center are just golder. Remove dish from over and cool completely before using.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE A PROCESSOR: Our dough can be made by hand instead of in a food processor. Simply whisk dry ingredients together very well in a large mixing bowl. Whisk wet together in a spouted measuring cup. Then pour wet ingredients across surface of the dry ingredients. Using clean hands or a wooden spoon, gently toss all ingredients together to combine thoroughly squeeze dough together into a singular mound and then pat down into a disc, about 1/2 inch thick. Continue with pie crust recipe as instructed.

NUT VARIATIONS:  Go nuts with our basic pie crust! Substitute 1/4 cup of whole-wheat pastry flour with 1/4 cup unsalted nuts of your choice, finely chopped or ground.

Clean Freak NOTE: I substituted Sucanat for Organic Brown Sugar and Safflower Oil for Canola Oil.  I will try the recipe as written when I get Sucanat and Safflower Oil. Nutritional info below is per recipe noted in Clean Eating Magazine's recipe. 

Nutrients per serving(1/8 crust): 
Calories: 112
Total fat: 3g
Sat fat: .25g
Carbs: 19g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 3g
Sodium: 67mg
Cholesterol: 26mg

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I have always loved the flavor in Donato's Chicken Mariachi Pizza. That should come to no surprise to any of you that know my love affair with Mexican food. I knew as soon as I started this journey that it would be top on my list to create my own {clean} version of it. 

Chicken Mariachi Pizza

Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 6oz can of {all natural, low sodium} Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea or Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
1) Mix tomato paste with one tomato paste can full of water (or 1/2 cup if you like to measure), stir until well blended.
2) Add all other ingredients and stir.

NOTE: This sauce is enough to make approximately 3 Medium Pizzas. This is a MILD sauce. Feel free to add Crushed Red Pepper or Cayenne Pepper for heat.

  • 1/2 lb Chicken breast -Cooked (diced into small cubes)
  • {all natural} Smoked Provolone Cheese (shredded)
  • {all natural} Mild Cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • Roma Tomatoes (sliced)
  • {all natural} Black Olives (sliced)-best are at the olive bar
  • Jalapeño Peppers (sliced and seeded) 
2) Top pizza dough with Mariachi Sauce
3) Add toppings to your liking and top with cheeses.
4) Bake on pizza stone at 450° for 10-15 minutes. (Adjust accordingly the first time you bake in your oven)

When {eating clean} try to avoid bags of processed shredded cheeses. It's always best to get blocks of fresh cheese and shred at home. (Read those LABELS) It's often hard to find good quality smoked cheeses that don't break the bank. If you find a smoked cheddar instead, use it and get regular provolone. Or simply try them non-smoked and see if you like it.


I am not a baker. And that is an understatement.  If I can bake something and blog about it, then ANYONE can make it.  Period. 

This isn't a recipe but a product shout out. It's very hard to find simple, prepackaged, sweet treats to reach for on the shelf that sticks with the {clean eating} lifestyle. Well, I have FINALLY found one worth trying that does just that. One of my favorite parts about this product is that you only add vanilla yogurt to the mix and you're done! (now, if sticking to clean living, make sure you use {all natural} vanilla yogurt-not fat free). It can't get much easier than that. 

No Pudge! Brownies
No Pudge! Fat Free Fudge Brownies Mixes are the only brownie mixes that make delicious, decadent brownies with NO FAT. Great news for chocoholics who want to satisfy their craving while keeping the fat out of their diet. Our mixes are made from only the finest ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS using no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Just add fat-free vanilla yogurt, mix and bake!

For more information visit:

Oh, and it's worth mentioning that they have 4 flavors...Original,  Cappuccino, Mint, and Raspberry.

NOTE: I found the Original Flavor at my local Kroger. I haven't tried it yet but I am guessing I can sneak in flaxseed to this mix with no complaints. Try adding your favorite chopped nuts or dried fruit.  Let me know if you do and how it turned out. 

Which Is Worse: Aspartame Or High Fructose Corn Syrup?

It's always refreshing and encouraging to read about others that are trying to make a huge conscious decision in their health and their family's health.

Check out this great blog entry from: 

Written By: Betsy Escandon, Eco-Novice:
Is the artificial sweetener aspartame bad for you? The FDA and food industry think it is A-OK. But some researchers have linked aspartame to cancer, neurological problems, and preterm delivery. For me, it’s really a non-issue whether government regulatory bodies and researchers ever reach a consensus on the safety of artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
As a general rule, I try to eat only food, not substances never found in nature that were synthesized in a laboratory (a.k.a. food additives). This is surprisingly difficult if you shop in an American supermarket. Lots of ingredients in processed foods fall into this food additives category: artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners. I avoid them all.
Somewhat related rant/ true story: my vegan sister has long been an avid ingredient reader. She told me that recently she looked up an unfamiliar ingredient listed on a loaf of white bread at my mom’s house to see if her kids could eat it. The unfamiliar ingredient, she discovered, was derived from human hair. So, as a vegan, she couldn’t eat it (since humans are animals, after all). But, seriously, what is that doing in a loaf of bread??? What I’m saying to you is, there are a lot of non-food ingredients in “food” these days. Maybe the government thinks they are OK, and maybe researchers haven’t found anything wrong with them (yet). I think you should avoid them.
Are artificial sweeteners better than processed sugars such as refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup? To answer this question….Read More 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

{Baked} Spicy Barbeque Saratoga Chips

These chips are inspired by deep fried ones I had last week at Jim Dandy BBQ in Ohio.  These are baked, not fried. Maybe I have been living under a rock all my life but I don't recall ever hearing potato chips referred to as Saratoga Chips. Who knows!? Maybe you have been under that rock with me or you are just dying to find out how the name Saratoga came to be. 

If you want to read {as the legend goes} regarding Saratoga Chips visit: 

{Baked} Spicy Barbeque Saratoga Chips


  • 3-4 Russet Potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Cane Sugar
  • Olive Oil or Canola Oil Spray

1) Preheat oven to 450°.
2) Slice potatoes thin with a mandoline or sharp knife.
3) Spray baking sheets with oil spray or coat with olive oil.
4) Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.
5) Arrange potatoes in a single layer on sheets.
6) Spray tops of potato slices(or coat them with olive oil), then sprinkle dry           mixture over potato slices.
7) Turn each potato slice over, spray and sprinkle with remaining mixture.
8) Bake at 450° for approximately 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

NOTE: If you do not own a mandoline I highly suggest purchasing one. It is a HUGE time saver in the kitchen.  Also, I have read that you can soak your  "chips" for about an hour in water and then pat dry before starting my recipe. I have yet to try that method. I will try to update once I do.

KID APPROVED??? Yes! (but may be too spicy for some)