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My Most “Unclean” Meal

Sunday, February 21, 2010

One of the meals that I am slowly trying to get away from is also the easiest meal for me to make! Zap some dogs, zap some beans, plop some salad on a plate. Done! The meal literally takes about five minutes from start to eating. So what is it? We refer to it as the “hot dog meal.”

Baked beans eaten with FSTG (food should taste good) chips, potato salad eaten with cucumber, and a "hot dog." No utensils necessary! Come on, yummy! No? Well, to each their own. =)

Earlier in the day I’ll make my own potato salad with red potatoes, mustard, (unclean) relish and (unclean) mayo. Now using greek or plain yogurt for the mayo is pretty easy, but what to do about the relish? I use a tablespoon for the salad, and I use a bit more on top of my “hot dog.”

I’m sure I could make my own relish, but I use just over a tablespoon a week. I have found “clean” eating to be the hardest when it comes to meals like this. I love relish! But I don’t use it enough to convince me to take the time to make my own. Then what would I do with it? Freeze it and attempt to scrape out enough for me to use each week?

The other “unclean” part that so far has been hard for me to fix is the baked beans. I only eat about a third of a cup of beans. I could make up a batch of my own beans I suppose, but it seems like it would take a lot of effort to make them in my slow cooker and then put them…somewhere to portion out the tiny amount I have each week. Ugh, silly can of easy to dish out and zap in seconds, beans!

The easiest part to change? Definitely the “dogs.” I can make my own veggie burgers so I’m sure I could my own veggie dogs. I could probably even use the same recipe, although I’m not sure how exactly I would cook them…..

I just eat the most random things I guess and it seems easier to try and clean up my existing meals than to create so many new ones. I am so new at this “clean eating” thing that sometimes I just feel like I am in over my head. So I give up for a night and just make one of my usual staples.

The other thing that I’ve still had problems with is finding a salsa recipe I actually like. Plus it makes up a ton and I use…maybe two tablespoons a week? I don’t really feel like making up a salsa batch each week, but then I also don’t know how to store salsa so that it will last, and also be easy for me to dish out my small portion.

I just enjoy things in small doses? I don’t know! How do people do this? The dinners I make are completely different from one another. I don’t reuse the same items. I like the variety.

So I guess my question for today is: what are your dinners like? Do you make up a batch of something at the beginning of the week that you use throughout? Do you ever worry about the chemicals you’re consuming?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ADRIENNE29 2/23/2010 11:23AM

    Depending on your resources, can you salsa. I can every fall...I preserve tomatoes, bruschetta topping, pears, salsa, dilly beans, relish.......its time consuming for the season, but we use it all year.

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HUNNYTHISTLE 2/23/2010 2:51AM

    Like you mentioned, you could make your own sweet pickles (most relish is just chopped pickles plus tons of additives), your own beans, and your own salsa. The pickles will keep for quite awhile. Fresh salsa does not keep for more than a few days to a week.

Beans can be done in the crockpot, and easily frozen -- we make piles of beans this way. It's actually one of the easiest things we do, but we cook most things from scratch, so I can't judge how hard it may be for you. If you freeze them in small packets of single sized servings, that will make them easier to thaw & serve. You can freeze in glass (if you are worried about plastic) if you are careful and have a large freezer. Otherwise, you can reuse single sized serving yogurt containers with real lids for small portions.

Since the amount of food and time to prepare them seem to be an issue for you, you could buy small amounts of homemade/clean versions from places like the farmer's market, but that could be pricey.

Alternatively, you could consider doing a community share type thing. You would make a pile of beans, for instance, and trade it off to friends/like-minded individuals for their homemade pickles, salsa, what have you. I've done this in the past with varying degrees of success. We've recently traded our salami for a friend's berry preserves, and someone else's homemade sambal olek.

In the fall, in years past, we've had pesto parties, where several people show up, and we make a pile of pesto, usually several different flavors/versions, then everyone gets to take some home. Most of the pesto freezes very well, so we have homemade pesto available all year around. We've considered adopting this method for several other projects, notably cheese & bread making. Salsa is also a good candidate.

I think the only way to preserve salsa would be to can it; we're considering roasting/smoking a truck load of tomatoes this fall, then canning them just so we have good tomatoes for salsa and pasta sauce all year around.

In the end, it's all about trade-offs. I would eventually like to make most of my own condiments -- but I'm in the same boat that you are -- it's a lot of time & effort involved. The work parties and bartering are the best solutions I've come up with so far, and I'm still trying to network with like-minded individuals.

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LOLLIPOP62 2/22/2010 6:12PM

    Well you could just go all raw/all fresh/all vegan. I don't know if I could swing it but that would solve a lot of issues. Sounds to me like you'd then need to buy fresh raw fruit/veggies every couple days. I don't kow how I'd handle that.

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AUBREYINGMAN 2/22/2010 11:44AM

    I love this meal! It's very tasty even if its not "clean"

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DNJEN471 2/22/2010 10:57AM

    My hubby is always concerned about the chemicals we are ingesting. I would recommend vegetarian times mag. They have so many clean recipes. PS had the banana 'ice cream' last night. It was amazing!

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JUDITH1654 2/22/2010 1:25AM

    Substitute sweetener for the relish (if it's sweet relish you use) and I like the Jennie-O hot dogs. Much less junk and sodium.

Comment edited on: 2/22/2010 1:25:39 AM

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IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/21/2010 8:45PM

    i think you have adapted this dish well. i would try purchasing veggie dogs [i have done this] to see if you like them, each brand tastes different. as for the beans maybe mix a regular can drained of salty liquid and rinsed cooked then mixed with the baked beans may make your bean allowance cleaner/healthier. as long as you do not make this dish too often you should be okay. emoticon

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*AMBER512 2/21/2010 7:14PM

    For those who don't know yet : I am already at my goal weight, but now I am learning how to eat "clean" as in, not eating things like fat-free mayo and turkey dogs (FULL of chemicals!)

Those are great suggestions for those just starting this Sparkpeople journey, though! =)

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CARRIEDD 2/21/2010 6:00PM

    You can fix this meal using a fat free mayo kraft has and switch to turkey dogs! A low fat baked bean bushes has them and use the fat free mayo in the potato salad as well maybe add a green leafy vegi instead of the chips or some fresh fruit! you can add whole wheat bun to the hotdog and make it your one in a while meal! You can still eat the things you enjoy if you change them to fit your dietary needs! And don't over indulge! make sure you count your calories! As for the relish maybe make your own! Maybe make your unclean meal a little cleaner is all!

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Growing Herbs at Home

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Aubrey and I haven't made any new recipes lately, but we did start growing some herbs at home. We have had this kit to grow herbs for....I have absolutely no idea. More than a year? Quite awhile. It just kept sitting on a bookshelf just begging to be used.

So we broke it out and chose four of the herb options that we thought we might use the most.

Dill and Sweet Basil

Chives and Cilantro

We don't really know what we're doing, but so far they seem to be doing alright. Does anyone have any experience at this? We are basically just following the instructions on the box and hoping it works out! Especially since I LOVE cilantro!!

We were going to experiment some more for dinner last night, but were invited to go out to eat. I actually did really well with eating out. There was a salad bar and I only ate a romaine salad, with veggies, a little hardboiled egg and fruit on the side. I got a taco salad with a bit of refried beans, shredded lettuce, and avocado. I didn't eat the shell. THEN, I was given a bag of candy as a late Valentine's Day present. And not just any candy, but jellybeans and Cookies & Cream hearts. Jellybeans are yummy, but did not tempt me nearly as much as those dang cookies & cream hearts. I LOVE THEM. With a great passion. So yup, I ate all six of them. Bah!

I've been doing better when the cravings come (more like smack me across the face), but I am nowhere near perfect! I actually try pretty hard to eat on a schedule as it really squashes the urge to eat whatever I can get my hands on.

Pistachios still rock by the way. So glad I finally just tried them!

Oh and when I'm really craving something sweet, but want to keep it healthy I have been pairing red grapes with all-natural string cheese. I like to freeze the grapes for about 10-15 minutes and it gives them this great texture. Takes away the icky texture of when they are too watery, but they aren't in there enough to actually get frozen, which my teeth are very thankful for!

That's all I have for now!

What do you do when cravings jump out at you from nowhere?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/21/2010 12:54PM

    I try to ignore cravings but when i cannot i try to just have one or two of what i crave and tell myself if i want more i have to wait until tommorow, that does the trick. It keeps me from feeling deprived. It also helps to keep the craving food out of the house but since I am not in charge of what comes into the house sometimes that is very hard. Sounds like you had a good day despite the indulgence later. Let us know how the herb garden works out, I have been wanting to try that but don't want to waste my money in case it does not work out. Also, I know they sell herbs in a pot in my grocery store and wonder if that may be a better alternative for me when I am healed up and better. emoticon

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KESELF 2/21/2010 12:33AM

  Growing herbs is a great idea. I also love cilantro. Right now, when I get cravings for something, I usually just give in a little. But I've learned that if I don't have something for a few days or a week, it's like I forget about that food and don't crave it anymore. This doesn't work with chocolate, by the way. emoticon

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Banana "Ice Cream"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It is amazing how I can look up some recipes and make them the exact same day, while other recipes I will put in my “try it” pile and it is days, weeks, or even a month before I give them a try.

The recipe I tried today was one of those that I have known about for more than a month and yet I just never took the time to actually make it. I found it on Spark Recipes and it is actually by Coach Stepfanie. You can find the original recipe here:

I read some of the reviews and did add a couple of things. It was really good! I can’t wait to try a number of the variations mentioned in the reviews.

You start off with four bananas.

Chop them up and freeze overnight. (I forgot to take a picture until I had already blended everything so I took a picture of another frozen banana I had in the freezer).

I pulsed it in my food processor a few times to break up the chunks some more. Then I added about an eighth of a cup of water and a teaspoon of vanilla and blended it until it reached a soft-serve consistency.

I dished it into four portions and put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden up. It isn’t exactly like soft-serve ice cream, but it was kinda close. I decided to top mine with about an 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon. Then I mixed in how much I wanted with each bite.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of eating ice cream out of a dish. I very much prefer eating it directly out of a sugar cone. But, I know that the whole point of making banana “ice cream” is to have a much healthier dessert! I will definitely make it again (and I’ll try another portion tomorrow) and see if there is any way I could use it as a dessert since I love ending my day with a little something sweet. It is the calmest part of my day and I truly enjoy it! And right now my guilty pleasure is slow churned ice cream. I am absolutely in love with it!

The problem with it? Yup, full of chemicals. Even “natural” ice creams are full of much more sugar than I need. I have read people use just eat a piece of chocolate or something else that’s small. But that is just not me! I need a dessert that I can savor and takes me awhile to eat. An ice cream cone can last me a good 20 minutes. And I know one day, when I finally become a mom, I won’t be able to always savor something for that long!

Are you as crazy about sweets as me? Or are you a salt person?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MDTWEETY 2/19/2010 8:22PM

    I remember when they sent out this recipe in the daily spark or one of the SP e-mails a while back. I wanted to try it but never did. Thanks for the reminder.
I am SUCH a sweets person. Ice cream and cookies are my weaknesses. Especially ice cream. It IS difficult (maybe even impossible) to find clean ice cream at the grocery store.
P.S. From the pics, it really does look like soft serve.

Comment edited on: 2/19/2010 8:23:36 PM

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SKIRNIR 2/19/2010 7:43PM

    This does look and sound delicious. Might have to give it a try.

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IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/19/2010 12:57PM

    yeah i used to freeze bananas and make "banana ice cream" all the time, now, not so much but as I remember boy is it good :) emoticon

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TEXASFILLY 2/19/2010 12:42AM

    Hey Amber, I went and took a look at your SparkPage to learn more about you. You've really done wonderful in recreating yourself! A big CONGRATULATIONS on your amazing transformation! Thank you for being such a BEAUTIFUL inspiration. All the best, Bonnie

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TEXASFILLY 2/19/2010 12:38AM

    YUM! I've always enjoyed a frozen banana like a popsicle, but this looks delish! Thanks for sharing! Bonnie

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Traveling and Eating

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recently my husband and I went on a road trip to visit his mom. I knew we would be on the road for most of the day and I had no clue what I was going to eat. In the past, we would have stopped by a drive-thru, eaten out with his mom once we got there, and then stopped by another drive-thru on the ride home.

I knew I did not want to do that, since I have been eating a lot cleaner. Sitting in a car for a long trip coupled with eating pure junk was simply not going to make me feel very good. So I decided to be proactive about it and I made my battle plan.

I ate a small, but filling breakfast right before we left (ok, so my breakfast wasn’t clean, but VitaMuffins are so yummy and filling!)

And then I chopped up the veggies for a hummus wrap. My favorite veggies to mix with hummus are diced broccoli, cucumber, and radishes. For the picture I left the broccoli whole since it makes kind of a mess! But I diced it at as well.

I mix about a cup’s worth of diced veggies with a quarter cup of hummus. Just enough for great flavor, but not too much or the sodium is killer!

I didn’t want my wrap to get soggy so I packaged everything up separately. I had my hummus mixture in one container, romaine lettuce in another, and my wrap in its own. I also had a side of Food Should Taste Good potato chips.

My only problem with doing it this way was that the veggies were not very crunchy by the time I ate. The hummus had softened them up so the texture was a bit off. But otherwise, I did fairly well balancing everything in my lap to assemble and then eat.

I ate right before we arrived so there wasn’t any need to go out to eat. We had a nice long chat with his mom and then he set out to fix her computer while she and I talked some more.

When it was time to head back, it was also just about time for me to eat again. I had brought the fantastically yummy apple chips with me:

And in case I was still hungry (and for some protein) I brought a Kashi Go Lean Roll. Not exactly 100% clean, but very filling and tasty. I have the hardest problem giving up snacks of mine that have been staples for SO long. I just haven’t found substitutes that taste as good and are actually filling. But I really should cut these out, mostly because they use whey protein as one of the ingredients which my body doesn’t digest well. For some reason it just doesn’t like whey!

So instead of having them as often as I was, I have been trying to have only one or two a week. I have tried making my own protein bars/granola bars at home, but like I said, I just can’t seem to find a recipe I like that is also filling. Same with high-fiber muffins! I can make some okay tasting ones, but none as low calorie or as incredibly filling as VitaMuffins.

So was it a perfect day? No. But I think I did a lot better than usual. No eating total junk for me! And we even made it to the gym! Which was desperately needed after sitting all day.

Do you travel often? Or do you do it rarely and just eat what you can?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DNJEN471 2/18/2010 2:32AM

    Way to pre plan!

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IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/17/2010 6:58PM

    the hummus wrap looks tasty. with time you will be less drawn to processed foods. give yourself a chance emoticon emoticon

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DAISYBELL6 2/17/2010 5:05PM

    Nice job! I love the look of the hummus wrap, I'll have to try it!

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CLOTHEDINLOVE 2/17/2010 4:13PM

    WOW! That hummus wrap looks yummy yummy yummy. Maybe if you put the hummus and veggies in the tupperware but didn't MIX it til you were about to eat it, maybe that would help it from getting soggy?

I usually end up doing fast food when traveling, but only at places I can count calories. That is the ONLY time I am counting calories-- eating out. McD's southwest salad is terrific. Sometimes I'll just stop at a Walmart and buy fruit and PB!

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RAINDROP2000 2/17/2010 4:08PM

    Wow! Amazing how planning ahead can make such a big difference. Horray for you!!

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Double Broccoli Quinoa

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I know I have already typed a blog about this dish, but I thought I would add some pictures of the process. We had it again recently (because it’s YUMMY) and I snagged some photos.

So far, this is the only recipe I have had ever had quinoa in. And since it is so good I am definitely looking into new recipes that utilize it.

Since the recipe calls for three cups of cooked quinoa, we need to cook it up! So I rinse one cup of quinoa in a fine meshed strainer. Then in a medium saucepan heat it with two cups of water until boiling. You can also add about a teaspoon of salt, but like I’ve said before, I don’t add salt to anything.

Then reduce the heat, cover it and simmer until the water is absorbed and it fluffs up, about 15-20 minutes. Drain away any excess water and set aside.

The second thing to be premade is the broccoli pesto. To make it, blanch two cups of broccoli. Then in a food processor, puree the broccoli with three cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of slivered almonds, two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and an ounce of freshly grated parmesan cheese. (If you want salt also, add one teaspoon). Drizzle in olive oil and blend until desired consistency. I personally add about two tablespoons of EVOO.

My magic bullet in progress:

For the “double” broccoli part of the recipe, more broccoli needs to be blanched. So blanch two more cups of broccoli (or you can be lazy like me and blanch all four cups at once and then just divide it in half, using half in the pesto and setting the other half aside).

To the broccoli that was set aside add 1/3 cup of slivered almonds.

Then add the quinoa that was premade.

And then grab the broccoli pesto to mix it in.

My portion of the final product:

I eat it with a salad, but for you meat eaters I bet it would pair well with chicken or fish.

So that’s the recipe for Double Broccoli Quinoa in story form. If you prefer it with a list of ingredients and then the directions, feel free to check out my previous quinoa blog here:


What was for dinner at your house tonight?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUST_TRI_IT 2/17/2010 3:48PM

    Hmmmm. I might just have to try this. I love broccoli.. Need to see if I like the quinoa.

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DNJEN471 2/17/2010 10:52AM

    Jeff and I finally made some. As he is vegan we didn't do it with the pesto. We ate ours with steamed veggies. It was good.

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JULES6186 2/16/2010 11:11PM

    That looks delicious!

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