Thursday, February 28, 2013

Granola Bars

I've been happy with the all-natural granola bar selections at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but thought I might be able to save a little money by making them myself. There are several different, but very similar, recipes floating around Pinterest, so I decided to try one. 

The first picture shows all the ingredients...every one all-natural, except the crispy rice cereal, because I couldn't find all-natural crispy rice.

They didn't turn out quite like I expected...they did not stay together at all. Don't get me wrong, they tasted delicious but definitely did not stay in bar form. I had substituted agave for the honey, which probably didn't help. The honey would have helped them stick together better I assume.

So, I am going to try a few more recipes, but I may be sticking to store-bought. 
To be continued.... :)

No Bake Chewy Granola Bars
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups plain granola (I used 1 cup granola and 1 cup oats)
  • 1 cup rice cereal (Rice Krispies, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Line two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 inch baking pan (see tip #4 above if you want to use 9×13) with foil or parchment. Lightly butter or spray the foil. Set aside.
  2. Combine butter, honey and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Add the granola and rice cereal into the saucepan and fold them into the sauce until evenly coated.
  5. Spread the mixture into the prepared pans and press firmly with a spatula to evenly fill. Sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the top of the granola and gently press them down with the spatula.
  6. Let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or until mostly cooled and set; lift out of the pan and cut into bars.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pesto Baked Chicken

Pesto Baked Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chickenn breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces.

Spray a 9" x 12" (or 8.5" X 12.5") baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through. (Don't cook too much at this point, or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.)

When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. (If your broiler is separate from the oven, start preheating it when you take the chicken out.) After I melted the cheese for 5 minutes I switched my oven to broil and broiled for 5 minutes more, just long enough to get the cheese lightly browned

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wonderful Waffles

My family loves doing breakfast for dinner and I had previously posted a clean-eating waffle recipe. Tonight we tried a different one and it was amazing! The batter was perfectly sweet and the waffles came out light and fluffy. Once again, we tripled the recipe and made the extras to freeze.

Wonderful Waffles
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
3 egg whites


  1. Preheat waffle iron. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks. Blend in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  3. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
  4. Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray, or lightly brush with oil. Ladle the batter onto preheated waffle iron. Cook the waffles until golden and crisp. Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika

Another thing I have enjoyed about clean eating is that it has forced me to try new foods I never would have tried before. Case in point, I didn't think I liked garbanzo beans, but after trying this recipe, I realized I do! Thanks to my friend, Melissa, for sharing this recipe with me.

Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika
From Epicurious

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
4 chicken breast halves with bones (I used regular boneless chicken breasts)
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 450°. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Birthday - Part Duex

Tonight was the continuation of our birthday celebration dinners and I cooked my hubby his birthday dinner. I made maple-glazed salmon, twice-baked potatoes and grilled asparagus. For dessert, we had bourbon brown butter brownies. Yummo!!! And, every single thing we had was all-natural, except for the hollandaise sauce. I've made my own hollandaise sauce before and it's just not worth it time and price-wise. 

Maple-Glazed Salmon
1 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
2 tablespoon maple syrup

Prepare grill, heating to medium. Combine first 5 ingredients. Sprinkle fish with salt; rub with paprika mixture. Place fish on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes. Drizzle fish with syrup; grill 1 minute or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. 

Bourbon & Brown Butter Brownies

(makes 16 brownies)
250g good quality bittersweet chocolate (if you want them to be less gooey/fudgy then only use 175g)
100g butter
120ml (about 1/2 cup) bourbon
2 eggs
3 tbsp dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
75g (about 1/2 cup) plain flour
190g (about 3/4 cup) sugar

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease very well and line the bottom and two long sides of a 20x30cm slice/brownie tin (can be substituted with a 20cm square cake tin but you may have to bake it slightly longer as it will be thicker). Let the baking paper hang over the long edges, it will make it easier to lift brownie out later. Prepare the brown butter; place butter in a small saucepan on low heat until it melts, continue to stir over low heat but keep a close eye on it, as it begins to bubble and the milk solids separate and settle at the bottom of the pan. Stir it frequently at this point, so that the milk solids do not settle at the bottom of the pan for too long and burn. Continue until the mixture turns brown and smells nutty but take care not to leave it for too long or it will taste burnt. Remove from the heat.

Break up chocolate into small pieces place in a heatproof bowl. Heat over a saucepan of boiling water, or very carefully in 30 sec bursts in the microwave. Stir and set aside to cool for a few minutes, then add the brown butter and stir to combine. Sift cocoa powder, sugar and flour into a large mixing bowl. Add melted ingredients, bourbon and eggs to the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Take care not to overmix or the brownies will be tough. Pour into prepared tin.

Bake for about 25 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (start checking on it from the 20 minute mark, it is better to undercook it and have to return it to the oven later than to overcook it and let it go dry). Remove from the oven and place tin on a wire rack. Cool completely in tin before removing and cutting into 16 pieces. Can be stored overnight in an airtight container (they actually taste best the day after).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy Birthday - Part 1

Sorry for the lack of blogging in the last few hubby and I both celebrated our 30th birthdays this weekend. Our birthday celebrations were a good combination of all-natural and definitely not-so-natural fare. We treated ourselves to many of our favorite foods and overall had a great time. 

The morning started out right (but not so natural!) with Krispy Kremes and a Starbucks hot chocolate. Yummo!

For dinner, my DH made me some of my favorite foods, including Juicy Lucy hamburgers, cheesy hashbrowns and sangria. And for dessert, oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies :) All-natural and oh-so-good! Just goes to prove that clean doesn't = healthy, but again, it's all about moderation!

I did manage to find some excellent all-natural salad dressing at Kroger yesterday. It's Marzetti's Simply Dressed and not only is it all-natural, it's also a great price! The dressing was on sale 2 for $5 and I had two $1 off coupons, so they ended up being $1.50 each. Great deal!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Natural Teething Remedies

Our family's clean eating habits have been so successful, I am looking to expand our clean eating habits into other areas of our lives as well. 
Right now, my son G is teething and his teething for some reason is way worse than it was for his sister L. Two friends suggested Hyland's Teething Tablets (thanks Sarah and Karie!) so I looked into them...they contain all-natural ingredients and they worked wonders on G! He loved them so much in fact, he get asking for more after I gave him the first dose!
Here's the link for Hyland's...I got mine at Kroger.

Another blogger I follow also had a recent post on other natural teething remedies...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Since the hubby and I both have birthdays just a few days away from Valentine's Day, we don't usually do much to celebrate. Today, we gave the kids small gifts and exchanged cards and cooked each other a nice (all-natural!) dinner at home. We made NY Strip Steaks with sauteed mushrooms and onions, creamed spinach and spinach salad. For dessert, we enjoyed some chocolate chip pumpkin cake and wine in our new hot tub :)

Creamed Spinach
3 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. whole milk
1/2 c. sour cream - can be low-fat
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. onion, minced
1/4 c. water
20 oz. frozen spinach, chopped
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  1. Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan on Med-Low heat. Stir in flour and salt until creamed together. Stir in milk a little at a time. Increase the heat to Medium. Constantly stir with a whisk until mixture is thick and smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a 2 quart saucepan over Medium heat, add onions and cook until transparent. Add spinach and water to pan, lower the heat and cover. Stir several times until spinach is almost completely cooked.
  4. When spinach is almost done, add white sauce, sour cream and Parmesan cheese. Stir well and simmer until completely blended.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chipolte Black Bean Burritos

Tonight I made Chipolte Black Bean burritos, but instead of putting the filling in tortillas, I had mine over brown rice. I still have not found all-natural tortillas, and I haven't been up to the challenge of making my own yet!

Not only was this recipe all-natural and really good, it was super cheap to make! I estimate everything cost me $5.50 or $1.38 a serving, for 4 BIG servings.

Chipolte Black Bean Burritos
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/3 cup plus 3/4 cup purchased chipotle salsa
1 avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, diced
6 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 10- or 12-inch-diameter flour tortillas

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and chili powder; sauté until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Stir in beans, corn, and 1/3 cup salsa. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 10 minutes to blend flavors, stirring often. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir together remaining 3/4 cup salsa, diced avocado, and 2 tablespoons cilantro in small bowl.

Heat tortillas 1 at a time over gas flame or electric burner for several seconds on each side to soften. Transfer to work surface. Spoon filling onto centers of tortillas, dividing equally. Top each with 1 tablespoon cheese and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Fold 2 sides in over filling, then roll up burrito from unfolded edge. Place 1 burrito, seam side down, on each of 4 plates. Top with avocado-salsa mixture and remaining cheese.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 30--Orzo Mac and Cheese

Well, I've made it! I made it through 10 days of a cleanse and my first 30 days of clean eating. The process has been a great learning experience and I feel great! I definitely notice when I am not clean eating...I feel like crap! Even more motivation to keep it up :) From now on, I'll just be sharing my new recipes and money-saving guys have a pretty good idea of what I'm snacking on each day. 

Tonight I made Orzo Mac and Cheese with roasted broccoli. I didn't really have a recipe for this, I made it up as I went. It was pretty good, but next time, I will add pepper jack or another type of cheese to give it a little more flavor. Maybe add in some chicken or broccoli too?

Orzo Mac and Cheese
1 Package of Orzo
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese

Cook the orzo according to package directions. While the orzo cooks, in a separate saucepan, melt the butter and then add in the flour. Mix well till combined. Add in milk, whisking to break up any flour clumps. Add in cheese a little at a time, stirring until melted into a cheese sauce. When orzo is cooked, mix with cheese sauce and put in casserole dish, topping with more cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Days 28 and 29--All-Natural Cupcakes

Day 28

Breakfast--banana and peanut butter
Mid-morning snack--nothing
Lunch--Wendy's Dave's Big and Juicey
Afternoon snack--peanuts and chocolate chips

Dinner--Maggiano's....chopped salad, bread and Rigatoni Pomodoro
Bedtime snack--Cherry Crunch
Workout--Insanity Cardio Core and Balance

Day 29

Breakfast--Mom's Best Cocoa Crisps cereal
Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--sliders, chips and dip
Afternoon snack--nothing
Dinner--30th Birthday Party!!! Woot woot! :) Besides the all-natural cupcakes I made, everything else was decidedly unnatural...chicken fingers, quesadillas, spinach and artichoke dip and queso and chips

All-Natural Vanilla Cupcakes

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I couldn't find pastry flour, so I just used 2 cups of cake flour)
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I used 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 12-ounce can low-fat evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.
Whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
Beat granulated sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Scrape the black paste out of the vanilla bean into the sugar mixture. Add applesauce, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. With the mixer on low, alternately mix in the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup evaporated milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared cups (they will be full).
Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Days 26 and 27--Artichoke and Roma Tomato Chicken and Mexican Casserole

Day 26

Mid-morning snack--peanut butter
Lunch--plain chicken salad
Afternoon snack--peanuts and chocolate chips
Dinner--Artichoke and Roma Tomato Chicken with green beans, mushrooms and onions
Bedtime snack--Nature Valley Granola Thin
Workout--Insanity Cardio Power 

Artichoke and Roma Tomato Chicken
From Our Story  
Core and chop about 4-5 roma tomatoes.
Thinly slice two cloves of garlic.
Drain a small jar of artichoke hearts.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and pour in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a generous amount of S&P, a teaspoon of sugar, a couple tablespoons of flour {since the chicken will produce so much liquid}.
Place the tomato mixture in with the boneless skinless chicken breasts {that are generously seasoned with S&P}. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake until the chicken is almost done. Take the almost done chicken out of the oven and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top. Place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes {keep an eye on it!} until the cheese is golden brown and the vegetables are caramelized.

Day 27

Breakfast--banana and peanut butter
Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--leftover no-crust pizza
Afternoon snack--peanuts and chocolate chips
Dinner--Mexican Casserole...low carb and oh so good...with homemade guacamole
Bedtime snack--YaYa treated to frozen yogurt...yummo!

Mexican Casserole
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup rice
1 19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 19 oz can diced tomatoes (I used Rotel)
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onion

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and red pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add water, rice, beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer covered until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes until cheese melts. If you're low on time you can just pop it in the microwave or under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. [I added 1 pound of cooked ground beef to the rice mixture before putting in the oven]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Days 24 and 25--No-Crust Pizza

Day 24

Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--plain chicken salad
Afternoon snack--peanuts
Dinner--Yankee Doodle roast...mama's in town and she loves Yankee Doodle roast :)
Bedtime snack--Nature Valley Granola Thin
On a side note, I save 44 percent at Kroger today and I would say 90 percent was all-natural...awesome!!! 
Workout--Insanity Plyometrics

Day 25

Breakfast--banana and peanut butter
Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--Scotty's Brewhouse--half buffalo chicken wrap and side salad with red pepper vinigrette
Afternoon snack--peanuts and chocolate chips
Dinner--No-Crust Pizza--it was sooo good! Tasted just like regular pizza.
Bedtime snack--Nature Valley Granola Thin

No-Crust Pizza

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
toppings - pepperoni, ham, sausage, mushrooms, peppers
Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. With a handheld mixer, mix cream cheese, eggs, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese until combined. Spread into baking dish. Bake for 12-15 minutes, our until golden brown. Allow crust to cool for 10 minutes.
Spread pizza sauce on crust. Top with cheese and toppings. Sprinkle pizza with garlic powder. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Days 22 and 23--Falling off the Bandwagon

Day 22
This weekend we went to visit our dear friends, Joe and Kathy, and also see our other dear friends, Chad and Sarah. This was my first big weekend away while clean eating and I pretty much failed horribly. I am trying not to feel too guilty about it though, because I adhere to the 80/20 rule and up to this point I've been doing better than 80 percent, so one weekend won't ruin too much. I hate to admit it though, but eating like crap this weekend I feel like crap tonight...just goes to prove once again that what we put in our bodies matters!

Breakfast--banana and peanut butter
Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--Skyline...side Greek salad, two cheese coneys and way too many of those delicious oyster crackers!!
Afternoon snack--Baby shower #1...fondue with bananas, strawberries, pretzels and animal crackers; jalapeno cheese puffs; cupcake
Dinner--Schmidt's in Columbus...some of the best German food ever...they have a buffet called the Audubon and I indulged in garlic knocwurst, bratwurst, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, green beans and spaetzel, rye German roots were singing praises :)

Bedtime snack--Another big treat...Graeter's Buckeye Blitz with their homemade whip cream
Workout--rest day

Day 23

Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--Baby Shower #2...spring salad greens with ranch, chicken salad croissant, cinnamon roll, spinach and bacon quiche, cake and chocolate creme puff
Afternoon snack--see above :)
Dinner--egg drop soup, bourbon chicken and fried rice (great Super Bowl meal, huh? lol)
Bedtime snack--fortune cookie
Workout--rest day

Days 20 and 21--Improvising

Day 20

Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--salad with cheese and Ranch dressing
Afternoon snack--peanut butter
Dinner--I wasn't in a mood for what I had planned to eat tonight, so decided to wing it. I put chicken thighs in the oven for about an hour; about halfway through I added a sauce, which consisted of ketchup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and brown sugar. (I totally just kept adding things until I thought it tasted good!) We had it with garlic and Parmesan green beans.
Bedtime snack--Nature Valley Granola Thin
Workout--25 min elliptical 

Day 21

Breakfast--Mom's Best Cocoa Crisps cereal
Mid-morning snack--nothing 
Lunch--Subway club (it's any footlong for $5 February...this will be dangerous!)
Afternoon snack--almonds
Dinner--Papa John's deluxe pizza
Bedtime snack--granola bar
Workout--Insanity Core Cardio and Balance