Friday, August 30, 2013

Gluten Free Muffins {Chocolate Chip Coconut}

I am always looking for something that is simple to make for breakfast or an after school snack with no guilt. These muffins were adapted from a recipe at

I wanted these to be dairy free and gluten free. They are also lacking many other things, like colors, preservatives, and trans fats!

My sweet tooth friend came over the other day and tried these. She loved that they were moist and sweet! Yes, even she thought they were sweet. These do not last in my house so I am going to have to make a lot and freeze some for later.

You can add whatever toppings you would like to this recipe.

Gluten Free Muffins {Chocolate Chip Coconut}


  • 2 cups quick oats (blended into flour with the Vitamix) or 2 cups of oat flour
  • ½ cup flaxmeal (I use golden)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (I use Barlean's), melted or ¼ all natural apple sauce
  • 1 cup apple juice (You can juice your own if you have time)
  • About 1 cup of total filling (berries, fruit, nuts, etc. – see below for details)

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) In a large bowl mix together the DRY with a fork or whisk.

3) In a separate bowl mix the wet together.

4) Add the dry to the wet and stir.
5) Then add 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut. (This is just for this variation of the recipe)
6) Grease muffin tins or use liners. Fill them ⅔ to ¾ of the way full with batter. Sprinkle 1 – 2 teaspoons of Dairy Free mini chocolate chips. onto the top of each raw muffin in the pan. Then gently mix each one with a fork or spoon. 
7) Bake for 10-13 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature and freeze some for a later date. 

Here are some options to consider for the fillings:

- blueberries
- diced strawberries
- peeled and diced pears
- applesauce
- either diced or mashed up bananas and chopped walnuts
- raisins and chopped pecans
- grated carrot and chopped walnuts
- orange or lemon zest (only add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of zest per individual muffin)
- a mix of dried fruit bits
- jelly

NOTE: You can easily add the toppings in last and mix in the bowl to avoid the individual mixing of the muffins but that step does insure all muffins have equal ingredients. And please note, my kids don't like coconut but love these!

When I make this using my Vitamix I do all dry ingredients in Vitamix then add them to the wet mixture.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

{clean} Tuscan Herb Pasta Salad

This recipe I created rather quickly with things I had on hand in my kitchen (or garden). It was so simple that I can remember the ingredients to make again and again just off the top of my head. I know, impressive! 

It was very good too! Using garden fresh vegetables made it even better. YUM! Before going clean I would have reached for a Soybean/Canola Oil Italian dressing with preservatives and additives to make this. I am glad I didn't because this is even better.

{clean} Tuscan Herb Pasta Salad

  • 2 boxes Gluten Free Pasta (Cooked and Chilled)
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Cucumbers, chopped
  • Mild yellow peppers, chopped
  • Fresh Basil, chopped 
  • 2 Tbps Rustic Tuscan Herb Blend (Found at Costco or online)
  • 2 Tbps Bragg Vinaigrette Dressing (Found at Kroger or other stores)
  • 1-2 Tbps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • juice of one lime (or lemon will do)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


1) Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill for 1-2 hours or longer before serving. 

NOTES: Do not overcook gluten free pasta it will start to fall apart. This is my favorite brand: TinkyadaI have found it many places, but the best selection is at Super Target or online. For this image I used this brand: Deboles.
If you choose not to buy the Rustic Tuscan Herb Blend (which I do suggest, it's good), then you can look for one similar or make your own. Here's a screen shot of the ingredients. Also, add any veggies you want (and you choose the quantity) and even olives would be a great addition to this pasta. Enjoy.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Children {our future}

I will admit, I was FAR from perfect when it came to feeding my kids prior to 2010. That was before I actually opened a book, watched a documentary, and took action.  Times have surely changed in our household, and for the better.

This country is in full out crisis mode with childhood obesity. Americans need to wake up and realize that the children are our future. They will shape the food industry as a whole in the coming decades.  We must start with us, the parents or mentors, to make a change. If we teach our child the importance of nutrition and the purpose of food, we can begin to shape their future.  

About a quarter of 2-5 year olds and one-third of school-age children (including adolescents) are overweight or obese in the U.S. (Ogden et al., 2012). Want more statistics? Here's the link: Hunger and Obesity in the US

Click on the links below and you will find a lot of helpful information:

Healthy Eating Tips

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Artificial Food Coloring

12 Signs Your Family Has Food Coloring Sensitivity   

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Prescription Medications

I know many people in my life that take over a dozen prescription medications daily. Please, before going on any new medication, do your own research. Take the side effects seriously. Make sure there isn't ANYTHING you can do to make your overall health better before going on a pill.  In regards to my cholesterol, I am glad I did the research. I chose not to go on Statin drugs at this point in my life (if ever).  I got second and third opinions.  I changed my life. I lost 20-25 lbs. I avoid trans fats. I eat a diet rich in fiber. I exercise. I have now changed my overall "picture" of health drastically. 

If you are reading this and you are already on several medications, speak to your doctor. Get to the bottom of which medications are truly needed and their side effects. Find a doctor that cares and is willing to embrace natural therapy and a lifestyle change. Realize YOU have the power to make some life altering changes when it comes to your health and getting off some (or all) of the medications. Don't be afraid to question your doctor.

Please. Take the time to read the following story.

Are you taking too many meds?
Editor's note: Americans have been led to believe -- by their doctors, by advertisers and by the pharmaceutical industry -- that there is a pill to cure just about anything that ails them. This week, the networks of CNN go deep into the politics and the pills.

(CNN) -- For Alesandra Rain, it all started with sleeplessness. In 1993 she was having marital troubles and her business wasn't doing well. Anxiety kept her up at night, so her general practitioner prescribed sleeping pills.
"It worked fabulously. I felt very relaxed and I would sleep better," Rain remembers. "I thought this was certainly the right prescription for me."
Then a few weeks later, another symptom developed.

"It was so unusual. I started having bronchitis and lung infections," she recalls. She went to a pulmonologist who prescribed an antibiotic.
Another complication soon followed.

"My heart started skipping beats, so I was referred to a cardiologist," explains Rain, who says other than a series of surgeries after a car accident, she had been completely healthy until this point in her life. The cardiologist ran a few tests and prescribed medication to treat arrhythmias.
It didn't end there.

Eventually she developed seizures. At this point, she was already taking at least six different prescriptions from three separate specialists. She went to see a neurologist who prescribed an anti-seizure medication on top of that.
"My whole day became pills and doctors and shots," she says.
In Depth: Are Americans overmedicated? How safe are natural medicines?

Rain's insomnia returned as things continued to spiral out of control. Despite all the testing and prescriptions, she says no one could figure out the problem. She was put on temporary disability. Depression followed.
"When I finally got to a shrink of course I was depressed, because no one could figure out what was wrong with me! It never occurred to me that it might be the pills themselves."

Too many drugs, too little communication
At her worst, Rain was under the care of a general practitioner, pulmonologist, cardiologist, pain management specialist and a psychiatrist. She was spending more than $900 a month, taking 12 different types of medication, amounting to about a thousand pills a month.
"That's what I call prescription multiplication," says Michael Wincor, an associate professor of clinical pharmacy, psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the University of Southern California.

He says it is not uncommon for patients to receive multiple prescriptions from different specialists, each focusing on a specific symptom. Wincor says it can be potentially dangerous for the patient, especially if the various physicians aren't communicating with one another.

"A patient could have adverse effects and think the medical condition is getting worse, when in fact it is a side effect of several different medications which are all interacting in a negative way," Wincor says. "When you're on more than 20 drugs all at the same time, you'd want to question whether or not that's really necessary."

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, prescription drug usage in the United States is continuing to rise. A recent report finds the number of prescriptions filled each year increased by 39% between 1999 and 2009, and the amount of money spent was $234 billion in 2008. The average American fills 12 prescriptions each year.

"Many side effects from drug interactions (not all) are exacerbations of known side effects of the single drugs that are made worse by the two drugs together," says Dr. Russ Altman, a professor of bioengineering, genetics and medicine at Stanford University.

He co-authored a study in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics that found a widely prescribed antidepressant used in conjunction with a common cholesterol-lowering medication caused unexpected increases in blood sugar levels.

Altman says most drugs are tested and approved independently, and it can be difficult to predict the side effects of drug combinations.
"It is very hard to find these in advance of release of the drug, because sometimes these effects will only manifest in the context of large numbers of patients," he explains.

"I don't think people really understand the nature of medication; the (drugs) will, by definition, have some toxic, collateral side effects," says Dr. Douglas Bremner, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University. His 2008 book "Before You Take that Pill" warned patients of the risks and benefits of some commonly prescribed drugs.

Bremner says medications clearly do a lot of good and are needed in many situations, but warns that when a patient is on too many at once, there are serious questions about whether the therapeutic benefits outweigh the collateral. "When you end up on 12 prescription medications you need to seriously look at what the situation is," he says. "At that point, there's no way of knowing what's causing what anymore."
"I don't want to do this anymore"

Wincor recommends patients fulfill all their prescriptions at one pharmacy, especially if they are receiving treatment from multiple practitioners.
"Often the pharmacist is the best point person because they're the last stop before the prescription hits the hand of the patient and are ready to be taken."

He says the most important thing is to have one person who is keeping track of the various drugs and how they could interact.

If you can't have a single overall manager of treatment, experts suggest keeping a list of all your prescriptions and showing the list to any physician introducing a new medication.

Altman says, when possible, introducing new medications one at a time can help you recognize side effects and interactions earlier. You can potentially trace them to the most recent drug added, he says.

Bremner also advises patients to check out websites like and and read the experiences others have had with the medication you have just been prescribed. "Patients should become more educated about the effects and not just blindly take what is given to them."
Alesandra Rain says she reached her tipping point in 2003.

"I opened my medicine cabinet and saw it lined with prescription pill bottles," she remembers. "I looked at myself in the mirror. My skin was gray, I was hunched over in pain, my eyes were swollen and I had no quality of life. I thought, 'I don't want to do this anymore.' "

She decided to quit taking all her prescriptions cold turkey -- something neither she nor other experts recommend for any patient. "You can't go cold turkey off that many pills without doing some damage," Rain says. She eventually enrolled in a drug rehab facility that helps victims of substance abuse.

Today, Rain runs a company called Point of Return, which educates patients about the effects of prescription medications and helps them outline an "exit strategy" for safely tapering off highly addictive varieties of prescription drugs.

"I spent 10 years on the pills before I realized there was no exit strategy. It was always more drugs, never less." says Rain, who later learned the cause of her initial insomnia was a B-12 vitamin deficiency. She is now taking one daily multivitamin. "My life became nothing but a bag of pills, and I just thought there has to be a different way."

Here's a link to the article: Are you taking too many meds?

Make sure you grasp the whole point of this story. In the last paragraph the whole story of the insomnia (reason she started a medication in the first place) was a lack of vitamin B. Instead of checking for this, she was given a PILL and the rest was a decade of pill popping!

I started this blog to help others (and journal my journey). I like to "keep it real" and honest with you. With that being said,I will discuss my medications I use.

Headaches. I truly believe they were a result of chemicals in food and medications. I often had headaches before eating clean and was popping Tylenol like it was candy. Now, I rarely take anything and my headaches are no longer a bother.  I am looking for natural ways to treat them thanks to some willing friends that know way more than about essential oils than me. I'm hopeful they will work! (Update 2015: I love Young Living Peppermint oil for headaches and still occasionally take an OTC pain reliever)

I do still take an allergy medication, Zyrtec. I am getting immunotherapy shots and hoping to get off of them completely in the near future.  Same goes with my 5 year old son. I have seen a great improvement in both of us with immunotherapy.  Occasionally we use a nasal allergy spray too. (Update 2015: I no longer take Zyrtec and I take Allegra on occasion. I have stopped immunotherapy after almost 3 yrs)

I have reduced my anxiety medication to half the dose and I had been on that dose for over 10 years!  At this time, I will remain on this small amount. I did (after a decade) finally read the inactive ingredients of my anxiety medication and found Lactose, which gives me stomach issues (that explained a lot)! See, being thorough is the way to go! I am no longer on any anti-depressant drugs. Yippee! 
I now look for triggers, eat a clean diet, and limit alcohol in the peak of the depressing no sun days of winter in Indiana (I fixed that problem, didn't I?). Oh, and I bought a Happy Light for the winter months! Last winter was the first one that I didn't get the seasonal winter blues!  I also have a RX for a low dose of Xanax for situations that cause severe panic to me, like flights, very ill family members, or a death of a friend. I really don't take it much these days! I think it's more reassuring I have it than anything else. HA! (Update 2015: I have been off anxiety meds for a year now! WOOHOO! And I have taken one xanax in the past 12 months)

On occasion I still take a Sudafed and/or Mucinex for sinus issues, but rarely and it's half the recommended dose if I do. I figure I would rather take it than a stronger antibiotic if I land myself with an infection. 

I now take fish oil and probiotics. Probiotics are so important. Especially if you are taking antibiotics or have some issues! Antibiotics destroy all the bacteria so it's important to always have good bacteria in your gut ready to fight! Probiotics have helped my IBS so much! (Update 2015: I no longer take fish oil, but still take my probiotic twice daily)

I think that's it. I can't think of anything else I take on a regular or semi regular basis.  Make sure to do your own research on your illnesses prior to going on any prescription medication.

Update 2015: I have used many of the Young Living essential oils and have found them to be very effective. Read up on them, it's worth a shot.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

{clean} Whole Wheat Banana Bread

It's almost school time! With that being said, I will need something that's quick and nutritious in the morning to feed the kids before sending them on their merry way. I have found that making muffins or bread is a great way to get protein and fiber and keep my kids feeling full longer. My kids LOVED this banana bread!  

This banana bread has no added processed sugar, just honey. That in itself is awesome! I use WHITE whole wheat in all my recipes now that call for whole wheat. It tastes way closer to white flour than the brown.

{clean} Whole Wheat Banana Bread


  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil, melted (I use Barlean's brand)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp all natural pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (I use Bronze Chief brand, I find at Wal-mart)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbps ground flaxseed

1)  Preheat oven to 350.
2)  Mix wet together in a bowl.
3)  Mix dry together in a different bowl.
4)  Combine the two into one bowl. Do not overmix.
5)  Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan.
6)  Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


{clean} Smoked Chipotle Peach Salsa

I love salsa! And I love trying to come up with new twist on salsa. This one was inspired by a smoky mango store bought one I tried and loved. This was a big hit at a recent cookout!

{clean} Smoked Chipotle Peach Salsa

  • 4 ripe peaches (pitted & diced), I left the skin on
  • 1-2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I removed the seeds to reduce heat)
  • 1 shallot (diced)
  • 2 red chile peppers, large (these are mild and can be subbed with red pepper), (diced)
  • 3 cloves of roasted garlic (minced), I bought it preroasted in deli
  • 1-3 Tbps of fresh cilantro (minced)
  • 1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika
  • juice of a lime
  • sea salt to taste

  1. I took one pitted peach and chipotle pepper(s) and added it to the vitamix for a few seconds to create a "sauce" for the salsa.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to a bowl, then add the "sauce" and stir. If you have the time, let the salsa sit overnight in the fridge to enhance the flavors.
NOTE: I left some of the ingredients with ranges of measurements...You will have to play around with the ingredients a bit to get it perfect for you and your family. Enjoy!