Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DIET {a four letter word}

THREE years. I have went three years with NO diet coke (besides that sip back at my year mark to see what it tasted like).  Each year at my (additional) year mark I make a blog entry.  I think it's very important to look back on how far I have come and reflect on my journey. I refuse to drink or eat diet foods again. Period. Why? I'll just give you the simple answer: We weren't created to eat chemicals. 

Some would like to argue that they have no side effects (overweight, headaches, stomach pain) to give them the push they need to stop ALL artificial sweeteners.  I didn't stop diet coke because I had side effects, I stopped it because it did nothing positive for my health and I was addicted to it. Also, a few months prior to this commitment, I had just lost a friend to Breast Cancer. Taking that journey with her changed my life forever. Read more about my friend Megan and how she impacted my life then and now: Age is Just a Number

 I don't care to take a gamble of whether or not, in 10-20 years from now, I find myself, or my child, in a doctor's office with symptoms, diseases, or cancer that can be linked to my (or their) consumption of artificial sweeteners.

I urge you to stop consuming anything with artificial sweeteners. Gum, candy, sweet treats, medications, drinks and the list can go on and one. 

Here is a great link that spells out what to look for on the labels: Avoid Artificial Sweeteners  

 Diet foods tricks your brain and body.  If you are one that considers yourself a "healthy" eater and still drinks diet coke...shame on you. You are sending mixed messages to yourself and your family.  Chemicals in a can with a side of healthy eating? Just doesn't make sense. But, why does what I am writing seem "crazy" to some of you? Chances are you are addicted to diet drinks (and diet foods) and you can't see a way out. I am hear to tell you that you CAN break the cycle. Your life will be full and rewarding with out a can of chemicals. Even more so you will find.

Here's a great article: The Truth about Diet Soda 

Haven't read all my blog entries surrounding Diet Coke? Here's your chance. Change your life. If I can do it, anyone can.

My 5 month entry: Diet Coke

My ONE year mark: Diet Coke {rehab}

My TWO year mark: Life Just Keeps Going... 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

{clean} snow cone

Snow cones used to be such a symbol for summer for our family. We would look forward to the snow cone hut opening up so we could begin sucking down the artificial dyes and heavy syrups. Those days are gone. 

It's not that my kids don't see one and want one from time to time. Kids will be kids. These companies added the dyes in there for a reason, to appeal to the average customer! 

I decided last year to "give in" and let both of my kids have a big snow cone with artificial dyes before school started (see, I'm not completely hardcore). That little trip to the snow cone hut ended with two kids with sick bellies that couldn't finish their snow cone.  I was actually happy I decided to let them try one after we had been eating clean for so long.  

Snow cones are so fun on a hot summer day, but not when it makes you sick and creates a sugar crash down the road. 

I decided to create 3 flavors that were made with all natural ingredients and NO artificial dyes. Here's the result:

Rockin' Raspberry
  • 2 cups Frozen organic raspberries (thawed), then juiced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 scoop Barlean's Strawberry Kiwi Greens
  • 1 tiny scoop of all natural organic stevia (not Truvia or such)
Limalicious (my daughter named this one)
  • 2 limes (skin removed), juiced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping handful of organic spinach, juiced
  • 1-2 tiny scoops of all natural organic stevia
Wacky Wildberry
  • 1 cup Frozen wildberries (thawed), then juiced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbps organic Agave Nectar
  • 1 tiny scoop of all natural organic stevia
NOTES:  I used the Vitamix to make the "snow". It's best if you use your fridge and put in a small amount of chopped ice at a time (maybe a cup worth). Using the tamper as it chops because don't have much time before it all becomes stuck in the blades. I made each snow cone at a time. 

For the wildberry, I actually did it the method you would have to if you do not have a juicer. I blended the water, wildberries, agave, and stevia together then strained it through my milk bag that I used for homemade nut milks. I will use the juicer next time because I find it easiest.

These are rough measurements but give you a great starting point to make your own. Keep in mind you can use fresh fruits, however, they aren't always best because frozen ones are usually picked at the peak of season and have the most flavor and color concentration! Next time I'll leave leave out the agave nectar. I hope this helps. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chewing gum {stop the chewing}

I have NEVER been a fan of chewing gum. The thought of someone chewing something all day long, probably with food particles in it, makes me gag. I do not like when I see a sweet picture of a couple and you can see one of them has a piece of neon colored gum in their mouth as they smile wide for the camera. I can't stand to watch someone chew and chew as they have a conversation with you. You have all probably witnessed the "nervous chew", rapidly chewing as they go about their day. It's no wonder after reading the ingredients of many gum packets lately people are chewing like crazy!

It has been YEARS since I have purchased an artificial flavored gum. A couple months back I was driving with my mom and she pulled out a piece of gum. The whole car quickly filled with this STRONG smell. Strong enough I reacted to the smell with a "wow!" (or something like that). I think it was Polar Ice flavored (whoever makes that).  No way was I putting that into my mouth. It was so strong. Apparently my sensitivity to smell has changed too. I truly believe that gum is the nonsmokers cigarette. Think about that for a minute. 

I felt compelled to write this blog entry so we can get the word out. Chewing gum is not helping you lose weight. It is damaging your taste buds and making you think you need to be chewing something ALL. THE. TIME! Stop now.

This is from Trident Layers gum:

Where do I begin??? Gum Base, I'll just skip that for now (you can google it), Maltitol (artifcial sweetener), Maltitol Syrup (made from Maltitol), Sorbitol (artificial sweetener), Natural and Artificial flavorings (both NOT natural), Mannitol (artificial sweetener), Acesulfame Potassium (artificial sweetener), ASPARTME (Satin's candy), artificial dyes, trans fats, more artificial sweeteners...WOW!

If you think for ONE minute that just because you aren't swallowing the gum it isn't getting into your bloodstream, you are telling yourself whatever you want to hear. 

If you haven't read this article by Food Babe, you need to! Wanna Piece of Gum?

Monday, July 8, 2013

{gluten & dairy free} Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

We love cookies. We love clean cookies! We really love cookies packed with nutrients! My daughter helped me with this recipe. It's great to get kids involved with baking and cooking at a young age. It really teaches them they have control on what goes into their little bodies and how a real cookie comes to be a cookie (not just from a box on the shelf).

 We tasted these in the "test kitchen" and we give them 4 thumbs up! 

These cookies have a lot going for them. 1) They are gluten free. 2) They are dairy free. 3) They are packed with fiber. 4) They have calcium from the almonds and flax. 5) You have the benefits of Organic Cold Pressed Coconut oil! 6) And finally, I used Coconut Sugar instead of table sugar, which will not give you the cookie "sugar crash" like table sugar. Yippee!

{gluten & dairy free} 
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups Oat Flour
  • 1 cup Almond Meal
  • 1/4 cup Flax Meal
  • 1/2 cup Oats (Certified Gluten free if you have a true allergy)
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2-1 cup of dairy free chocolate chips (I recommend, Enjoy Life brand)

  • 2 eggs (Pasteurized is best)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (not imitation)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup Organic Coconut Oil, melted (I highly suggest Barlean's)


1) Preheat oven to 325.
2) Mix the dry together in a bowl. Mix the wet together in a bowl. Combine the wet with the dry and stir until mixed well.
3) After lining a pan with parchment paper, a reusable baking sheet liners, or spraying the pan with oil,  scoop tsp size balls onto the pan.
4) Bake for 10-12 min at 325. Move to a cooling rack and let cool.

NOTE: The chocolate and the sugar have a range of measurements. I do this because you can make them sweeter or less sweet to your liking. I always try to go with less sugar the first go around and add more for a special occasion. It's up to your personal preference. Enjoy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cholesterol {still not giving up hope}

I'm not sure how many of your know why I start this Eating Clean journey, but the main push was to lower my cholesterol. In August 2010, I was frustrated that I had incorporated working out, limited my food intake (not the thing to do at all, now I know this), and hadn't lost any weight! My doctor ordered blood work. The results were in...My cholesterol was high. It wasn't super high, but it wasn't normal.

My doctor immediately wanted me to start on a statin drug. I pushed back. I went on a mission to change my overall health.  A mission to lose the weight for good and get active. I got my cholesterol tested every 4 months and it never got to the perfect "normal" range. My triglycerides dropped drastically but that was about it. I did, however, feel great, lost the weight and got educated on cholesterol and overall heart health.

I have to admit it really does sting when you lose the weight and get healthy and the numbers still don't budge, but I am trying to remember the overall bigger picture. I focus my life on heart healthy foods, staying active, and staying on top of my health.

After nearly 3 years of working hard to get my numbers where they need to be...they still aren't perfect.  BUT, I will say for the first time my HDL (good) cholesterol has finally come one point from being normal (10 pts higher than it was in 2010).  I will take that as a huge deal.  For anyone that checks their cholesterol they know there is an ideal ratio you are aiming for: <4.45

I like to be open and honest with you guys in hopes my journey helps you.  I won't bore you with all my individual numbers, but I will say that my ratio has went from 6.14 to 4.98 in the past 3 years with no medications. Yay! 

I have since switched doctors (I was very frustrated my past one kept wanting to push medications) and love my new doctor. I highly suggest you LOVE your doctor. Look for one that isn't quick to write a RX for the latest medication. My new doctor wants to treat me, not a number or test result. After reviewing my overall health and eating commitments he doesn't think I should be on statin drugs now and possibly never (time will tell). He is looking at all my health considerations and seeing how they are linked together. He wants to commit to making me the best I can be for my future and my family.  He builds me up. He gives me hope. He listens. He is a GOOD doctor. He was worth the 6 month wait to get my initial visit.

This may help you find the "perfect" doctor for you...How to Find a Doctor

If you haven't had your cholesterol checked lately you need to schedule an appointment ASAP. It's very important to know your numbers.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Disneyland/California Adventure

Amusement parks can be a hard to place to eat clean, especially if you aren't in the habit of packing a cooler bag.  Recently my family and I went to Disneyland and California Adventure and made it out without going broke or feeling the fast food bloat.

First up was...


Breakfast (7 am-10 am):

I stated the day off with a banana, slice of Ezekiel raisin bread and roasted almonds. (All of this I brought into the park). It's great to use Ezekiel bread because it's frozen and thaws by the time you eat it. I also made coffee at the condo and took it with me along with water. Lots of water. 

Kids had banana, yogurt stick, cheese stick, and they split a cinnamon roll (purchased there). My daughter wasn't impressed and said the icing tasted weird, but there wasn't much open at this point.

Then on to lunch (around 11:00 am):

The kids split a small pepperoni pizza in Toon Town and later had some Dole Pineapple whip. (my son couldn't finish his, I think it was too sweet)

Then we headed to Bengal Barbecue so my husband and I could get lunch (I had already researched where I wanted to go in a sea of deep fried foods). I ordered 2 chicken kabobs, one veggie kabob, and one bacon wrapped asparagus for us to share. This place is really considered a "snack" place, but we made a meal out of it! I also ordered a bread stick type thing called Tiger Tails for later and NO ONE ate it because it was gross. Dry and flavorless. There went $3.79 in the trash. 

My daughter bought herself cotton candy with her own money. She ate some and saved some for later. WOW! It's no wonder kids "act a fool" at these parks if they are pumped up on cotton candy, candy, sugary drinks, etc and then crash! I tried some cotton candy that evening...I didn't like. It was strange and super fake tasting. It had been years since I had tried any. Holy sugar!

Around noon:

We got in line to wait for the Beauty and the Beast show and it was HOT and the kids had been drinking plenty of water. I decided to get a couple cute souvenir cups with a frozen apple juice concoction in them for the wait and the show. I like surprising them from time to time with something I would never buy on a normal day. They were shocked and excited. They were decent but super sweet. Hubby and I had a few sips of theirs and they had the rest.  My husband and I split a strawberry pastry stick "thingy" from the same stand. It was good and did the trick for a snack.

I'm sure I snacked on almonds if I got hungry. We left the park and had dinner at a local place in Dana Point.

We left the park around 4:30 pm.

California Adventure:

We had some of the same things packed as Disneyland. Bananas, yogurts, cheese sticks, etc. and 4 huge bottles of water. Two of the bottles were frozen solid to serve as a freezer pack until the food was eaten and to provide  super cold water later in the day. It worked great. I chose water bottles with the sports lids that stayed on. They seemed to work better with the kids (and adults!) Make sure prior to freezing a water bottle you removed a small amount of the water so it doesn't burst the container. 

When reading all of these items below realize that we were there for almost 12 hours that day!!! In HOT weather. It's amazing we lasted that long but we stayed hydrated and went in and out of the sun watching shows.

I had already researched where I wanted to eat based on reviews. I am not usually a corn dog person but if it's a GREAT corn dog I will indulge. We went to the Corn Dog Castle around 11 am (and yes, a line forms quickly prior to open). The corn dog came with a bag of plain chips or apple slice. We all got a corn dog and 2 bags of chips and 2 apple slices. I had also packed grapes and we had some of those too. The corn dog was really GOOD! And filling. It was a perfect choice. Kids had a frozen yogurt (thawed by then) shortly after lunch.

 Not a bad list of ingredients for a potato chip at Disneyland. I typically would avoid these oils listed.

 I was shocked...A) that my husband was the one that read the labels on these and pointed out that B) there was no HFCS or artificial coloring in these packets. WIN!

Around 4pm:

Later in the day my daughter picked to go to Flo's V8 dinner in Carsland. It was one on my list anyway so I was up for giving it a try. You can easily go broke eating at a Disney park so we are always looking for ways to NOT waste any food.  We decided to split a kids meal and an adult meal. Oh, and my son wanted a huge pickle ($2.99) so we picked up one of them on the way to the restaurant.  He ended up sharing it with his sister.

Minus the mac and cheese
 (you can see the small bowl it came in at the back of the image.)
 Enjoying his pickle! Or attempting too with two really loose teeth. :)

The kids meal was a SMALL bowl of mac and cheese, grapes, apples, peas and carrots (and your choice of drink, we got a small bottle of water). My husband selected the barbecue pork (it had a Cola sauce poured over it-gasp!) .It wasn't bad and wasn't drenched in sauce so that was good). I should have said "sauce on the side". I used to make mine marinated with Coke prior to going clean.  We selected pasta salad and peas/carrots for our sides. It came with a (dry) roll.  We ate all of the food. Down to the last pea! It wasn't 5 star or even 4. BUT it was decent considering I could tell the carrots and peas weren't drenched in butter or a butter impostor. I forgot to take a picture of the adult meal.  

My daughter was dead set on having ice cream at the park. I figured I would risk it and have some too. (I am lactose intolerant so often I end up in pain and bloated so it's usually not worth it.) We went to Ghirardelli and ordered single scoop sundaes (not found on the menu, but you can get if you ask). Mine had caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream and small amount of almonds. That was PLENTY and I was NOT impressed. Luckily my stomach didn't act up. I do find it helpful to try things I used to like and realize how far off my taste buds was hard ice cream, I felt the sauces were lacking in flavor. My daughter complained I didn't get her a huge sundae (I learned from letting her indulge and WASTE gelato a couple of days prior). I wasn't willing to waste more food and money because I knew she couldn't eat it all. She gets sick before she can down a huge sundae.  She thanked me towards the end of her sundae and said "You were right, I wouldn't have been able to finish the large one!" (My husband and son were elsewhere getting a beer and blue cotton candy-his first time trying it and he wanted to try it for himself!)

It was HOT that day and my daughter agreed to have an artificially color and flavored ICEE twice a year as a special treat (It's so rewarding when your own kids recognize how crappy some foods are and that you shouldn't really have them much, if at all!). We came across a stand serving ICEES. She ordered cherry and my son got a frozen apple juice (he hates cherry and the blue (his favorite color) was broken so that was his only choice). She said a few times, "this really is an ICEE!". I am not sure if that was a good thing or not. I couldn't tell from her tone of voice as she drank it. At that point, in that heat, I am sure anything ice cold would be refreshing. HA! I really wanted a frozen lemonade but the stand was broken that served them. 

That was it for the day until we got back to the condo. I had chips and homemade salsa that evening. Kids had boxed Annie's mac and cheese and fruit. That's about all I can remember.

There were many fruit stands to grab a healthy snack. We saved money by bring in our own fruit, but i was tempting to buy a bunch of fruit precut, washed, and ready to eat!

Mango, Berry Bowl, and Hummus/Pretzels

If you are planning a trip to Disneyland or Disney World in your near future I highly suggest you plan ahead. I also want to give a shout out to O'hana at the Polynesian Resort at Disney World. It is hands down the best food I've had at a Disney property yet. YUM! Book your reservations early for it!