Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We did it! One Year of Clean Eating!!

We did it! My family survived one full year of eating clean, whole foods! I'm so excited to celebrate this milestone with my new followers. This past year wasn't without its challenges. There were days when I didn't know what to cook, or days when I did cook and it didn't turn out so well. We tried new foods, some we liked, some we didn't and some that made us sick after eating them for a while (i.e. Chia and flax seeds). My children have gone one year without eating bagged, frozen chicken nuggets, fish sticks and the like. Heck, after a while, they started asking for my homemade versions over the frozen kind! I learned how to can jelly, salsa and tomato sauce.  I also learned how to makeover traditional recipes using healthier ingredients. I even started teaching family members and friends how to do the same!
Overall, I wasn't met with much resistance. My husband eats breakfast and lunch in the city, so he's only faced with one clean meal a day. He didn't have too much to complain about. He says he misses things like hot dogs, fried foods and Dr. Pepper. My kids were a tougher sell. It took a while to wean them from juice and we're still working on breakfast cereals, but they pretty much only eat Cheerios now. My oldest (6) only drinks water now and she will eat pretty much any strange concoction I whip up. It makes me proud when we sit down to eat quinoa, salmon and a raw kale salad and she eats it like it's her job! Both my girls are eating very healthy now and even starting to make healthier choices at home, like choosing grapes over chips (which are only Organic).

I have a good routine now. I wake up, have my probiotic, lemon water and then workout on an empty stomach. I never in my life thought I would a) work out in the morning and b) workout on an empty stomach. But now, I'm not hungry first thing in the morning. I'm eating more protein and veggies and staying fuller, longer. My metabolism is higher and I can take a day or two off the regimen and still stay at the same weight. My main overall goals were to feel better and lose 30 pounds. Well, the first certainly rings true. Here's a round-up of where I was one year ago:
1. Daily headaches, migraines twice a month
2. Sluggish, tired all the time
3. Overweight - I was 178 lbs
4. Hip pain, called Piriformis Syndrome
5. Tingling and weird pain in my legs - doctors thought I was getting fibromyalgia
6. High Cholesterol, high triglycerides
Measurements Before:
Waist: 33'
Hips: 47"
Bust: 36"
Now, I won't call this my after results because I still have yet to reach my ideal weight, so we'll call this the "half-way there" results!
Waist: 31", lost 2"
Hips: 44", lost 3"
Bust: 36", the same
Weight:  157 lbs., lost 21

After losing 21 lbs, I realized that it wasn't really that much and I still needed to lose about 20 more. I'm almost to the weight I was on my wedding day and I thought I looked pretty good then. Turns out, I was about 10 lbs. overweight then. I think my goal is 40 pounds overall. So, I'll get there and see how I feel then.
Otherwise, I am headache free, hip pain is gone, leg pain is gone, sluggishness is gone, cholesterol is normal, as well as triglycerides. I also don't take an allergy pill every day or the migraine medicine.
I will say the one thing that motivates me every single day is getting on the scale every morning and watching the weight go down bit by bit. I deluded myself in the beginning of this journey thinking that clean eating alone would help me lose all the weight. Boy, was I wrong! I started making food from scratch and ate platters of food around the holidays. I actually ballooned up to 181 at Christmas! I wasn't going to share that secret, but I said I was going to be honest...
It wasn't until mid-April that I started to lose weight when I joined a program called "Lose Fat with Amy." My neighbor is my sort-of "health coach" and she started the program. Its components are simple, but you have to be willing to make the necessary adjustments to your life or it simply won't happen. I watched her lose 20 pounds over the holidays and I wanted to do the same! And, I have! If you're interested in finding out more about her program, visit and tell her I sent you.
You do have to move your body, but not in the way I was accustomed to. I thought I needed to sweat it out for hours in the gym, but it turns out that simply adjusting the time and intensity of your workout can make a big difference.
My journey is not over and I intend to keep sharing recipes, tips and my own simple program of how to rid your life of processed foods. Stay tuned for more information about the latter.
My half-way there pictures are coming soon.
Until then, eat real food!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Saving on Organics

Invariably if you tell someone you eat clean, Organic food, the first thing they ask is, "Isn't it more expensive?" And yes, some items can be more expensive, but I'm investing in my future health. I'm also not buying boxed food, bottled dressings, frozen meals, fast food, and canned food. From April to early-November, I'm buying almost all of my produce from the local Farmer's Market. I also grow my own tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, green beans, and peppers. I get my meat from a local farm that I belong to and the rest, like specialty items, from the grocery store.
To find a Farmer's Market near you, visit For fun at picking your own berries, veggies and more, visit

To save on items at the grocery store, become a member of Facebook (if not already a member). Then, "like" the companies of products you use. They often have coupons, discounts and even freebies to giveaway. Several Organic manufacturers are on Facebook, like Horizon, Stonyfield, Boulder Canyon chips, Tribe Hummus, Annie's Organics, etc...If you prefer to not be on Facebook, you can go directly to the company's website and join their newsletter to receive coupons.

Additionally, if you have the time to "hunt" for coupons on the web, there are dozens of websites like Coupon Mom,, and hundreds of blogs devoted to the art of couponing. I actually took a class from a local "coupon expert" and learned some savvy ways to stretch a dollar at the grocery store. Unfortunately, I don't buy much at the grocery store anymore, so most of my coupons go unused. But I really don't need them because I can take $20 to the Farmer's Market and come home with all the veggies I need for the week and then some. I spend about $50-60 a week on my grass-fed beef, pork and chicken. Then another $100 every 2 weeks at Wegman's, my favorite grocery store. They have a great Organic selection!

So that's it. It's really not as much as I was spending before and I'm getting nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich, local Organic food. I subscribe to the SOLE method of eating: Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical. I love supporting local farmers over the big box retailers.
I'm just a few days away from my one-year anniversary of clean eating! How should I celebrate? I'm looking forward to my before and after pictures and measurements. I'm proud of how far I've come and look forward to where this will take me!
Until August 30...

Thursday, August 18, 2011


For months now, I have coveted my neighbor's juicer. I watch in envy as she gulps her green glass of delicious vitamins and minerals. Some folks would say, "Gross, I'm not doing that!" But I find it to be a perfect way to get in all those servings of veggies that we need every day. Plus, it's a great afternoon snack when the munchies start around 3:00pm.
So, I ordered one, from Amazon, like everything else I get these days. The shiny Omega 8005 is not a cheap kitchen appliance, coming in around $250, but there are less expensive models out there that can do the job for you.
Why juice, you ask? (Because my husband sure did!) A typical American diet consists of numerous, if not all, processed foods - foods that are denatured, packaged with chemicals to make them shelf stable for months, if not years and the commercial farming industry grows its plants in toxic soils laced with petroleum and other chemicals.  Then there's conventional meats and poultry derived from animals growing on top of each other, being fed poisons like arsenic and given regular antibiotic shots, not to mention their feed of genetically-modified (read: pesticide-laden) corn and soy.
When fresh, natural whole foods are harvested and processed, the nutrients they contained are mostly destroyed, only to be replaced with an array of chemical preservatives, food dyes, additives, and sugar before they are packaged in boxes, cans and plastics and shipped thousands of miles away. By the time you eat said packaged "food," every last drop of vital nutrients, minerals and vitamins are depleted.

So, why juice? When you drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices, you get a product rich in vitamins, enzymes, minerals and other nutrients. The nutrients are quickly absorbed by the body and act as detoxifiers, antioxidants, anti-carcinogens, digestive aids, blood purifiers, immune stimulants and more! So, why wouldn't you juice should be the question! The whole is greater than the sum of its parts applies very well here.

At first I was unsure of what to combine. Would I like it? What ratio should I use? But, after a bit of trial and error, I discovered you could really just put in any veggie you like and combine it with some greens and get a real tasty treat. I also noticed that if you don't like the veggie in its true form, like celery for me, then you probably won't like it juiced - as I did not. After a trip to the Farmer's Market, I came home with a bag of cucumbers, organic baby spinach, celery, apples, purple cabbage, carrots and garlic. With the exception of the celery day, I've liked all my concoctions thus far. I started adding a clove of garlic for a little zing, plus it has myriad healthy properties.
Here's a couple of shots of my creations.
This one has a lot of spinach, half a cucumber and 1 carrot. It was my first. Notice I didn't make a large glass. I was a bit hesitant.

This one was made with the purple cabbage! It gave it a hint of sweetness.
 I'm by no means a juicing expert now. I just know that the healthy benefits I'm receiving from drinking fresh vegetables will help my immune system and give me lots of energy! In case you were wondering why I'm not adding any fruit, it's because of the added sugar. I'm still in weight-loss mode and need to keep my sugar grams under 20 per day. I still eat fruit, but maybe just a handful as a late day snack or after dinner as a treat. If losing weight is a goal of yours, you need to cut out the extra sweets. I'm not going to say where I am yet, but I'm still losing weight every week and that is what's fueling my fire to keep this thing going!
Till next time,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Salad Dinners

The one thing about cooking from scratch that can send a cook running for the closest restaurant is turning on the oven when it's 90 degrees outside. Nobody wants to bake inside their own home. That's why summer is great for salads. The produce is fresh, readily available and so delicious. A few nights ago, I was hot and not in the mood to cook, it was also 6:00pm. I fantasized about our recent vacation to Europe and how clean the Europeans eat. I recalled a fantastic salad I ate in Nice, France. Salad Nicoise. I thought it only appropriate that I eat the salad named for the city. You have to have an open mind and a palate willing to take on tuna, olives, anchovies and hard-boiled eggs. It's not a salad for the masses. But if you like a little adventure and don't mind the prep work, it's a fast and delicious salad to make.
Here's the prep work. The cherry tomatoes are from my garden, as well as the green beans. I blanched those for 4-5 min to get rid of the raw taste. They still had a nice crunch. I used a mix of green-leaf lettuce and Organic baby spinach. I chopped up some kalamata olives and 3 hard-boiled eggs. Then I added a can of tuna fish. You could use salmon and add anchovies as well. Use whatever you like.

I mixed it up in a large bowl and added a little dressing. In a jam jar I mixed 3 T of red wine vinegar (don't use balsamic in this salad, too heavy), 1/4 cup EVOO, sea salt, pepper and 1 T Dijon mustard. Shake and serve.

My husband even ate this, which I feared he would not. Then when my 6 year old saw us enjoying it so much, she started making herself a plate. This salad is a great source of protein, Omega-3's, vitamin C, iron, calcium and more! A healthy dinner for all!

Now I have to quickly share with you my experience and fun canning this past weekend. Canning is something we think of our grandmothers doing. I remember looking in my grandmother's pantry and seeing all these tall jars stocked with green beans when I was little. So, now it's my turn. More people are canning these days and preserving a little bit of summer as we do. I've made a dozen or so jars of strawberry jelly thus far and now I've got 16 pints and 2 quarts of homemade salsa. All the tomatoes were from my garden - 20 pounds of them!! I harvested a pound of hot peppers and bought the rest of the ingredients from the farmer's market. Overall I used 20 lbs of tomatoes, 5 lbs. of hot and sweet peppers, 5 lbs. of onions (sweet and green), 2 bunches of cilantro, 12 cloves of garlic, 10 tsp of sea salt and 4 cups of white vinegar. It's the recipe from the Ball Blue Book, almost tripled. I had my neighbors over to help with all the chopping.

Here's what five pounds of peppers looks like. The small red ones and green jalapenos are from my garden!
Peppers chopped up and ready for the tomatoes! Make sure you wear gloves and protective eye wear is not a bad idea either!

Everything is chopped and ready to cook. It has to boil for 10 minutes. Then it's ready for the canner.

Bottling up my liquid gold! It's fiery too! Nothing beats fresh salsa in the dead of winter!
There's still time for you to try this. Head to the nearest Farmer's Market and pick up a few pounds of tomatoes! Till next week!
Eat real food!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One thing leads to another...

When I started this journey, almost a year ago now, my goal was to clean up my diet, feel better and hopefully lose weight. My goals have since been upgraded to things I would have never considered doing, but certainly enjoy and find fairly easy to do. When you start doing research on clean eating and follow the lifestyle of this flexitarian diet, you start learning about a hundred more things you could be doing to make your family healthier. Like what, you ask? Well for starters, I'm using chemical-free sunscreens, bug sprays, facial lotions, and soaps. Our skin is one large organ and one that absorbs those items slathered on it. So why would you slather on dozens of chemicals onto your skin? Yuck, right?
So, that's one area that was pretty easy. I bought Dr. Mercola's sunscreen, bug spray and Neutrogena's new line of Naturals facial cleaners. I also found some chemical-free body lotions.

Next up: household cleaners. For years now, I've purchased Green Works, 7th Generation and Method cleaners. But you can save even more money by just mixing up a bottle of plain old vinegar and water. I also use a spray bottle of 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide and water to spritz down my shower walls, clean counters, get stains out of laundry and I even spritz our toothbrushes once a week. The main purpose of the 3% H2O2 is to wash all my produce. The anti-microbial properties of this stuff is amazing. You can see the bubbles forming and your dirty veggies start fizzing up a storm. Good stuff!

Want to know how much farther I've gone? Well, I've cut down use of our microwave oven to about 10% now, stopped using aluminum foil to cook things and got rid of all plastic containers that had a 3, 6, or 7 on them. I also bought several tall stainless steel water bottles and a few "safe" (5 on the bottom) refillable plastic ones to cut down on my bad habit of buying bottled water. I also threw away 3 skillets coated with Teflon. Additionally, my husband and I went out to dinner this week for our anniversary. We were at Bonefish Grill. It takes me a little more time to order these days because I have questions and I need to weigh the options. I wanted seafood, but the special was swordfish (large fish high on mercury list) and Chilean sea bass is my favorite but is horribly over fished and almost extinct! Don't order it! I opted for the trout and it was good!  It's all about choices and informing yourself to make the right ones.  I could sit here all day writing about why Teflon and BPA are bad for you, but we'd be here a while. I'm enjoying the book, Easy Green Living, by Renee Loux. She explains how and why we should be cutting these things out of our life. They're leaching chemicals into our bloodstream and into our environment.

I'm by no means done. I've still got more work to do. But I feel good when I remember to take my reusable bags to the store and enjoy getting my 5 cents at Target for each bag! I'm composting all my kitchen waste, growing my own herbs and veggies, buying local and sustainable foods and supporting local farmers. You could say it's time for me to change the name of my blog to UNprocessed living!

My blog is approaching its one year anniversary soon and I'm looking for ways to celebrate. Any thoughts? I've love to get more followers, so if you know anyone who could benefit from this information or is trying to make positive food changes in their life, send 'em my way. If more people start eating real, whole foods, then perhaps it will send a message to the food manufacturers that we need better quality food and to our gov't to stop approving GMO-projects and shut down Monsanto. (more on that next time).
Until then...Happy Eating!