How to Dehydrate Summer Squash & Zucchini

chickens

I love quiet mornings in the Appalachian Mountains. With the house filled with the aroma of brewed coffee and the roosters crowing their good morning wake up call I am filled with enjoyment, peace and the security of home. I’ve always believed in that all too familiar cliche…”there’s no place like home”…even when home is buzzing with activity. Activity is actually an understatement. It’s been a very hectic week around our home. My kitchen is still buzzing with action as we plan, prepare and fill our pantry and freezer with healthy garden food for the upcoming winter months. 

As our garden flourishes our table continues to be filled with family, memories, conversation and wonderful healthy dishes. We’re also still enjoying the process of canning, dehydrating and freezing for upcoming winter months. It’s a comforting feeling and a feeling of accomplishment to know that our family will be enjoying green beans, okra, corn, apples and many more delicious homegrown treats from our garden including summer squash and zucchini. Yes, those big bountiful plants are still producing an impressive amount of deliciousness daily! We have been blessed with enough of both vegetables to enjoy daily and to also preserve for our family, our families family, our church family and our neighbors! God has truly blessed our garden with a bountiful harvest this year!

squash

In my last blog post I shared twelve ideas of how to enjoy all those summer squash and zucchini that you’ve grown. I hope you  stepped outside of the traditional banana bread and baked as well as enjoyed the tropical pomegranate bread made with summer squash! I’ll be honest…we’ve enjoyed a couple more loaves since I posted the recipe. It has quickly become a new family favorite. When you bake don’t forget to vacuum seal a few extra slices for that warm winter evening snack, or anytime snack! If you’ve not checked out this delicious recipe…don’t hesitate…check it out! What are you waiting for? You’ll love it! Tropical Squash & Pomegranate Bread/Muffins For your convenience, just simply click on the link above and introduce your family to my families new favorite!

squash II

 

With the freezers beginning to fill up and the canning shelves being carefully lined with a multitude of goodies, I decided it was time to crank up the dehydrator and begin filling up a couple of gallon jars that house dehydrated squash and zucchini each year. Year after year I am amazed how quickly a gallon of each delicious dried veggie accumulates! Dehydrating is a simple process that is also an easy an effective way of preserving almost any kind of fruit or vegetable. For squash and zucchini the process is easy. Simply follow the directions below and then enjoy your favorite summer vegetables year round.

Process:

Wash and dry squash and zucchini
Slice in desired thickness and shapes (I prefer thin sliced) with the peel
Long spiral noodles are great as well
Line dehydrator trays
Set temperature to 135 for 13 & 1/2 hours
Dehydrators will vary, but this works best for me
Check vegetables for crispness.
Stop the process when vegetables become crispy.
Place slices in an airtight jar (glass works best)

dehydrated zucchini

These wonderful slices of goodness can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Put a few in a bowl or zip lock baggie and season them with your favorite seasonings and eat them as a snack. They make great veggie chips! I enjoy putting the crispy slices in soups, omelets, casseroles and many other dishes. When the crispy slices are added to dishes they will rehydrate from the moisture of the other ingredients in your dishes. For example, in soups the broth will rehydrate the veggies and bring them back to plump deliciousness. Either way…crispy or rehydrated you can’t go wrong with dehydrated vegetables. The shelf life is great as long as the container is airtight, they don’t take much shelf space, are very versatile, they’re healthy and they taste great!

I hope you and your family enjoy yet another method of preserving, enjoying, and serving all of those wonderful summer squash and zucchini. As always, it’s a pleasure to hear from each of you. Feel free to share your comments, ideas, recipes and your thoughts on my posts. Don’t forget to clik follow to be notified of new posts in the future. Also, check out and enjoy my recipe of the week Tropical Squash & Pomegranate Bread/Muffins I’m sure your family will enjoy it as much as mine. As always, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky.

http://www.ahealthiermesimpleandclean.com Copyright 2017

 

 

Tropical Squash & Pomegranate Bread/Muffins

It’s that time of year again! What time? The time to figure out what to do with the bountiful harvest of summer squash and zucchini that consumes our garden, refrigerator, counter space and even the dining room table. Even though our family enjoys both squash and zucchini…the multitude and rate at which it grows during the month of July can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what to do with these tasty and healthy veggies. God has truly blessed our garden abundantly this year. I’m excited today to share some creative ideas of how we are preparing both squash and zucchini for our summer meals as well as filling our freezer and pantry for the winter months ahead. So grab a cup of coffee and delve into day one of our journey of preparing and processing summer squash and zucchini.

So what did we do with our bountiful harvest of zucchini and squash? We prepared them and also processed them into the following;

1. zucchini & pomegranate bread/muffins (today’s recipe)
2. tropical squash bread/muffins
3. dehydrated zucchini and squash slices
4. dehydrated zucchini noodles
6. zucchini chips
7. zucchini & squash vegetarian lasagna
8. canned pineapple zucchini
9. zucchini and squash stir fries
10. pickled squash and zucchini
11. parmesan zucchini boats
12. zucchini & squash omelets

What better way to kick off this series of blogs than with bread recipes! I love the smell of fresh-baked breads in the winter and just as much in summer months. Actually, I like the smell of fresh-baked breads any time of the year. But, there’s nothing quite as aromatic and satisfying as tropical squash bread baking. Yes, that’s right, squash bread. I have and enjoyed a variety of zucchini breads over the years but had never attempted squash bread until last week. As I worked around my kitchen with the abundance of both squash and zucchini that we had picked my mind raced with what to do with all of those beautiful yellow squash. With the dehydrator full of both zucchini and squash slices awaiting their fate of being vacuumed sealed for later rehydration. I began planning a new zucchini bread recipe…so why not try baking bread with squash. I am so happy that I followed through with this idea. Both breads were amazing! I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as my family does.

Squash Pomegranate Bread Ingredients

3 cups of self-rising flour (can be substituted with whole wheat or coconut flour)
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I prefer fresh grated cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon of organic flax chia seed combination (optional)

1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh raw honey
1/2 cup semi-drained unsweetened crushed pineapple (fresh is best)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 medium yellow crooked neck squash (about a cup and a half grated)
1/2 cup of dried pomegranates (can substitute with dried cranberries)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or apple butter ( I prefer using my homemade apple butter as it adds an additional layer to the flavor)
3 fresh eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 over-ripe organic banana
1/2 cup chopped organic pecans

Mix dry ingredients well and set aside. Mix remaining wet ingredients and add to the dry ingredients. Mash the banana and add to the mixture. Rough chop the pecans and add to the mixture. Don’t over mix. Wash, dry and grate one medium-sized crooked neck squash into the mixture. There’s no need to peel the squash as the peel adds wonderful flavor, color, and fiber to the bread. Don’t worry about the seeds as they will bake away as well. I use a simple hand grater to grate the squash. Once the squash has been grated give the mixture one last stir.

Pre-heat oven to 350 and spray a loaf pan or you may spray a muffin tin and bake as muffins instead. Once the oven is preheated pour the mix into the loaf pan or muffin tin and bake on the bottom rack of the oven for thirty minutes. Check the bread at the thirty minute mark for doneness with a toothpick. Ovens will vary therefore check every five minutes until baked. I like my bread to have a bit of a crispy edge and moist inside…so, usually fourty minutes and my bread is done! Don’t over bake the bread. You’ll know when your bread is done by the edges, when the toothpick comes out clean, and it springs back to touch.

squash II

Before you know it your kitchen will be filled with the aroma of tropical bread baking! This is a sweet delicious treat that is great served as a breakfast treat with a cold glass of milk, a hot cup of coffee or served as a dessert! Honestly, it tastes great anytime of the day or night. It’s tropical flavor dances on your tongue warm or cold.

Tip of the Day:

Once your bread has cooled  you can freeze individual vacuum sealed slices to ensure that you have a slice of this tasty bread anytime. I have vacuum sealed pumpkin roll, zucchini bread and now tropical squash bread. When you are ready to indulge in this sweet treat simply remove from the freezer and either allow it to thaw or defrost for a couple of seconds in the microwave. The bread is amazingly still moist and just as flavorful!

squash III.JPG

Pictured above are loaves of tropical squash bread and chocolate zucchini bread. I can’t wait to share the chocolate zucchini bread in upcoming days! I hope your family enjoys this delicious bread as much as mine! Please feel free to leave comments. To find out more creative and useful ways to preserve and bake both squash and zucchini click the follow button on my blog! From my kitchen to yours…Blessings from the mountains of Kentucky!

squash bread II

squash bread

 

 

 

Ooey, Gooey, Clean, Baked Apples

image

Apples are a staple in my house! They’re  also one of my favorite healthy treats. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl. I remember sneaking apples from my papaw’s apple trees when I was growing up. We would rest in the shade of the trees and eat until our bellies were full! Papaw didn’t begrudge us food, never, he was had a very giving and loving heart! But, the apples on the trees were meant for canning apples, apple butter, and many other wonderful delicious treats that my mom and grandmother prepared. We, my sister, brother, and cousins could have all the apples that we wanted that had fallen to the ground, but were cautioned to not pick the apples from the trees. But, as we all know kids don’t always follow the rules. I was no exception. I loved the taste of apples then, and I still enjoy apples of all varieties.

I enjoy eating apples raw, cooked, as applesauce, apple butter, dried, in oatmeal, baked in breads, and in many more delicious healthy dishes. However, one of my all-time favorite dishes is definitely not a healthy dish! I confess…I love baked apples or apple dumplings. I love the richness, the sweet taste of brown sugar, and the deliciousness of the sweet apples.

Recently, for a week I found myself stopping and staring at the remains of a big bowl of apples. There were five apples left and they seemed to be crying out to me to be prepared in some type of rich, delicious, sweet dish. I considered baking apple bread, but that didn’t seem to be what my pallet was craving. I thought about fried apples with breakfast sweetened with honey and stevia. I even thought about breaking away from eating healthy and satisfying my craving and making apple dumplings. Then I thought about the consequences of the dough, the sugar, and all the butter that goes into traditional apple dumplings. The thoughts of feeling bloated and guilty caused me to refrain. Four years into a healthier lifestyle and the struggle is still real! So, I did what I love to do. I decided to create a delicious, clean, and healthy baked apple dish. With much thought, deliberation, a few errors, and a lot of love. I was able to create what truly satisfied my craving for a sweet, ooey, gooey baked apple dish that didn’t leave me feeling bloated and guilty. I am excited to share with you my Ooey, Gooey, Healthy, Clean Baked Apple dessert! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has enjoyed it. Let’s get started!

Filling Ingredients:

Five to six organic apples
3 cups of ground Old fashioned oats (I use a coffee grinder to grind the oats)
1/2 cup of Fresh honey or organic honey (I prefer fresh)
1/2 cup of Pure organic maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons stevia
2 teaspoons maple extract
1 tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil (this replaces the butter)
1/2 cup craisons

I like to use a small Pyrex glass baking dish for this recipe. Spray the dish with cooking spray. I prefer coconut oil. Wash the apples and dry them well. Core the center of the apples out. Set the cores and the meat of the apples to include in the crumble.

image

For the filling of the apples you will need to grind the oats to a fine flour-like consistency. Mix the ground oats with the above dry ingredients well and begin incorporating the wet ingredients slowly and one at a time until the consistency is pasty. Spoon the mixture inside the apples. Pack the mixture well and allow it to flow over the top of the apples. Don’t worry if you have extra filling you can incorporate it into the crumble. Place the apples in the dish. Now you’re ready to move on to the crumble!

Crumble Ingredients:

3 cups of ground old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of craisons
1/2 cup of finely chopped almonds
2 tablespoons of stevia
1 teaspoon of maple extract
1/2 cup of fresh or organic honey
1/2 cup of organic maple syrup
bits and pieces of the reserved apple cores, minus the tough part of the core (this is optional)

1/2 cup of Organic brown sugar (I prefer the Simple Truth brand) do not add this to the crumble. (this is optional)

Again, mix the dry ingredients well with a fork. Add wet ingredients slowly one by one until the mixture is crumbly, but mixed well. Spoon the mixture around the pan of apples. Once you’ve added the crumble mixture sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples and crumble and drizzle either honey or maple syrup over the sugar. Cover the dish with non-stick foil, or spray the foil before covering. Bake at 355 degree for an hour. Ovens will vary. You will know if your apples are done when a skewer or knife inserts easily.

While your apples are baking make the drizzle! Yes, there’s more ooey gooey goodness!

Drizzle Ingredients:

1 cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of stevia
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of maple extract

Mix ingredients well and chill. Once the apples have baked allow them to cool a little before drizzling the glaze over the apples. I prefer to drizzle each individual apple as I eat them. Either way it is delicious!

image

This dish will definitely become a holiday favorite for my household! Actually, I think this dish will be an anytime favorite. The total prep and cooking time was an 90 minutes. But, as we all know…any good dish is worth the work and the wait. I hope you enjoy my Ooey, Gooey, Sweet Clean, Baked Apple dish as much as my family has. I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave your feedback. Until the next time…from the mountains of Kentucky…be blessed and be healthy!

image

 

Clean Apple Cranberry Muffins

With a hint of snow in the air a desire to cook and create delicious meals was stirring within me. A craving for something sweet and healthy consumed my thoughts. I also knew if I did not give in to the urge and begin mixing ingredients that I would reach for something that I shouldn’t to satisfy my desires. Even though I am a clean eating activist the pantry always holds a sweet treat for one or more of our five grandchildren, and my husband who loves to indulge occasionally in a sweet dessert. I admit just knowing the sweet treats are in the pantry sometimes stirs a craving.

Yes, the battle with sweets is real, even after all these years. I have learned to fight fire with fire. When the cravings begin to lurk in the crevices of my mind I counter attack them with one of the many healthy sweet treats that do not leave me with an overwhelming sense of guilt, bloating, and discouragement. Instead, after indulging in a healthy treat I feel satisfied, full, and sense of pride feels my being for winning the small battle with sweet treats. Yes! I defeated and quieted the voices that call out…feed me, feed me! Again, the battle between myself and indulging in sweet treats is real!

Quickly I scoured the pantry for ingredients. I discovered that I had week old apples that I could use, or otherwise they would be prepared in protein waffles or a smoothie. I had organic reduced sugar dried cranberries hmm…yes, I had the fruit and the makings for a sweet baked treat. Now I needed to create this unknown sweet dish! The decision was made. I would have some delicious clean fruit muffins to enjoy with a midday cup of coffee.

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole wheat plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons stevia
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup peeled and diced apples (any variety)
1/2 cup of reduced sugar organic dried cranberries
1 large egg white
1/4 a cup of all natural stevia sweetened organic syrup (can substitute with honey)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh is better)
1/2 cup apple butter (I prefer homemade sweetened with stevia)
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil

image

Mix dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients one at a time.

 

 

Mix dry ingredients incorporating one ingredient at a time. Begin adding wet ingredients one at a time. Do not over mix as this will take away from the texture of the muffins. Fold in fruit as the last ingredients. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. I prefer olive oil spray. Scoop mixture with an ice cream scoop into the tin and drizzle lightly with honey. Bake until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Baking time will vary with different ovens. I bake in a convection oven and my muffins were ready to remove in fifteen minutes.

I was excited as the aroma of the muffins filled the house. I quickly brewed a pot of coffee to enjoy with a muffin, or two. Delicious is an understatement! These muffins rocked! They were not too sweet, but delicious, moist, and very satisfying. I decided to put them to the test and allow our daughter and son in-law to be the critics. Both of them gave them a thumbs up and a rating of ten out of ten! They were a hit with everyone.

I hope you and your family enjoy my clean apple cranberry muffins as muffins as much me and my family did. Feel free to leave comments or feed back as it is always welcomed. If you enjoyed this recipe I can’t wait for you try out my new clean luscious brownie recipe or my clean sweet potato casserole that I will be posting soon. So for now wishing you and your family a blessed week from the mountains of Kentucky!

image

A delicious sweet treat that tastes great any time of the day!

 

 

 

 

Making and Canning Homemade Clean Veggie Soup

I’ve have heard people complaining that there’s too much waste when clean eating. Some people feel this way because other family members won’t eat from the same clean menu. Some people are apprehensive about clean eating as they claim that it’s too hard to figure to plan a lunch menu. Still others confess to being bored with eating the same thing over and over. I totally disagree with all of the above statements and think you will too after trying my clean veggie soup!

This delicious soup allows me to make one item on the dinner menu, as everyone loves it, even if they’re not clean eating. Canning the leftovers allows me to have access to a quick and delicious lunch at home or on the go, or have it months later for a delicious supper. This soup is anything but boring!

I love making homemade clean vegetable soup. However, as many can witness when making soup there’s often an abundance leftovers. I’ve tried freezing soups in the past, which worked out pretty good, but not as tasty as a fresh pot of soup. So, the last time I made this delicious soup I decided to can the left overs. It worked out great! I actually ate a bowl of it today for lunch…and it was delicious! I’m excited to share not only my recipe for clean veggie soup, but also the directions for canning this delicious soup.

soup II

Okay, first things first the ingredients.

1 medium package of ground elk, venison, or organic beef
1 large sweet onion
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and black pepper (this can be adjusted to taste)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
one large organic sweet pepper, or one homegrown sweet pepper (any color)
1 large can of organic tomato juice, or 1 quart home canned tomato juice
1 can of organic corn, or 1 small bag of fresh corn
1 can of organic green beans, or 1 quart of fresh green beans
five-six large potatoes
small bag of organic carrots, or homegrown carrots
1 pint of fresh crushed tomatoes, or one small can of organic crushed tomatoes
1 can of organic peas, or 1 small bag of homegrown sweet peas
3 beef bullion cubes

Next, easy to follow directions:

  • Chop onions and peppers to desired size. I like to chop mine rather large for more of a bite.
  • Place a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large dutch oven and heat over medium heat.
  • Tenderize onions and peppers in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add very lean choice of meat in the same pot and brown with onions and peppers.
  • Stir in garlic and add red pepper flakes and cumin.
  • Drain if necessary. If the mean is lean enough there will be little to no drippings to drain.
  • In the same pot begin adding vegetables one at a time and stirring.
  • When all the vegetables have been added incorporate tomato juice. You may add more if desired. I sometimes add a little water.
  • In a separate kettle boil peeled potatoes and sliced carrots and add salt and pepper, boil until a knife will pierce but still have a bite.
    (if you use can carrots, they can be added when the other vegetables are added)
  • Drain potatoes and carrots and add to the pot of soup
  • Add bullion cubes to soup and season again with salt and pepper to taste
  • Simmer on medium to low heat for at least two hours before serving

This is a great supper for a cold relaxing evening at home. It’s also a fantastic soup for lunch. Very filling and deliciously clean soup that will leave full and guilt free!

Now for canning those delicious leftovers!

You will need very few things to can this delicious soup. You will need clean sterilized pint jars, rings, flats, and a canner. The steps to can it are as simple. Simply fill clean, warm, and sterilized jars with warm leftover soup. It’s important that the soup is warm to prevent jars from breaking. Also, leave approximately a half an inch to an inch headspace. Wipe jars clean and place flats and rings on them. Don’t tighten the rings extra tight, as you can do this after the jars are removed from the canner. Place warm jars of soup in a canner of warm water, bring water to a boil, and boil for 45 minutes. Remove jars carefully from water and allow to cool. Dry jars and check to ensure that each jar has sealed. Secure the rings, and date the soup. Seriously, this soup is as good, if not better after being canned than it was the day it was made! I typically will have enough soup left over to can at least four or five pints of soup.

IMG_1263

I hope you and your family enjoy this soup as much we do! It’s delicious! It’s clean! It’s satisfying and as savory the day you make or six months later when you want it for lunch! If you enjoyed this recipe feel free to check out all of my canning recipes! Also, please feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers! Happy canning!

 

 

 

 

Clean and Delicious No Bake Cookies

I confess that I have a sweet tooth, and that I love no bake cookies!  I’m sure you’ve had those cravings for something sweet as well. They often strike at the most inopportune time. For example, when there’s nothing clean in the house that we want to eat, and when we don’t want to cheat by eating unhealthy foods. Often when we eat clean it’s not always easy to find a sweet treat that satisfies, tastes great, that’s clean, and one that leaves you feeling guilt-free, and un-bloated without regrets.

So, with my sweet cravings and my love for no bake cookies, I decided to create a clean recipe that satisfied both of my cravings. I know you will enjoy my clean no bake cookies as much as my entire family does.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic peanut butter
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
2 blocks of unsweetened dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup organic crunchy oat granola

organic peanut butter      organic coconut oil

Making the cookies:

  • in a small saucepan combine peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and chocolate squares
  • melt ingredients together over medium heat (You will need to stir to prevent sticking)
  • once the ingredients have melted, stir them well
  • add dry ingredients one at a time and stirring in each
  • you can drop cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or press into a well greased cake pan for bars
  • place in the freezer for fifteen minutes and then in the refrigerator for approximately fifteen more minutes
  • cookies are ready to eat
  • keep refrigerated to prevent melting
  • yields one dozen cookies or an 8×8 pan of bars

no bake cookies

Eating clean is not a diet, but a way of life. I have enjoyed my journey with clean eating and have enjoyed the benefits as well. The benefits that have made an impact on my life include; lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, weight loss, less inflammation, more energy, and much more. I don’t feel deprived, but I feel empowered!

My entire family enjoys these deliciously clean cookies. Even my grandchildren enjoy them. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Feel free to leave comments…I love to hear from my readers!

Getting Back to My Routine

So, it’s been a little while, actually too long since I’ve posted. I’ve been under the weather with carpal tunnel and am finally ready to re-enter the blogging world! I’ve missed my computer, my readers, and reading other blogs. But with the diagnosis of carpel tunnel also came a plan of recovery, which included clean eating! But, first things first…let me catch you up on what’s been going on my world.

The holidays found me as they did most of you cheating a little here and a little there. Am I right? As for me, I enjoyed a indulging in a few Christmas cookies, a couple of pieces of Christmas candy, and of course those savory Christmas dinners with all of our wonderful relatives. With those delicious moments of indulging also came a few extra pounds, a slightly elevated cholesterol, and the suffering that comes with carpel tunnel, which included joint pain, inflammation, and some sleepless nights. But, with all of the this…the life of a college professor doesn’t stop. Classes must go on! So what’s a girl to do? Limit her time on the computer, and get back to my routine and love of clean eating.

So, first things first! The holidays were officially over. It was time to do a healthy cleansing detox which included the following routine:

  • an eight ounce glass of room temperature lemon water first thing in the morning every morning to help kick-start the digestive system.
  • breakfast of either fresh egg whites with wilted baby spinach (I also included onions, red peppers, and mushrooms) or a plain cup of plain Greek yogurt with a fresh fruit and a drizzle of raw honey.
  • fruit choices included apples, tangerines, strawberries, red grapes, blueberries, or fresh peaches.
  • Lunch consisted of lots dark green lettuce, fresh veggies, with either tuna in water, grilled chicken, or grilled turkey.
  • Supper consisted of fresh vegetables steamed or cooked with grilled salmon or halibut.
  • the meats could be rotated between lunch and breakfast.
  • Snacks included fresh fruit (no bananas) or a handful of almonds.
  • For the first two weeks I didn’t incorporate any grains, or pasta into my diet and also drank one cup of unsweetened green tea after each meal to help increase metabolism, I also included eight full 8 ounce glasses of water daily as well.
  • I reduced my coffee intake to two cups per day.
  • And I returned to working out on my elliptical on a daily basis. I started slow and increased a couple of minutes each day.

The results of my all of the hard work and dedication paid off. I dropped the five unwanted pounds that I had gained through the holidays as well as two more stubborn pounds that had hung around far too long! With the clean diet also came less inflammation and more restful nights. My doctor prescribed an arm brace to wear at night and while on the computer, which made a huge difference. I’m also a believer in prayer as well, so between many prayers, a clean and safe detox, returning to a dedicated clean diet, adding more exercise into my daily routine, and a simple arm brace…I’m back at my computer with no pain, down seven pounds, and feel like a brand new person. I’ll return to the doctor in a few weeks to have blood work to check my cholesterol level. I’m expecting great results there too!

Remember, we’re only human. We all have desires, cravings, family dinners, and we all enjoy sweet treats occasionally! We all fall of the wagon occasionally, but the important thing is to regain focus before things get out of control. I’m excited about regaining my vision, inspiration, and love of clean eating. I’m also excited about being back in my comfortable routine after a couple of weeks of indulging in unplanned meals. I’m thrilled about losing a few extra pounds, and thankful that I physically feel well enough to spend the time that I need to with God, my family, students, my computer, my blog, and simply feeling well enough surfing the web with no pain. I give God the praise and glory for it all. I’m also super excited about upcoming posts. I will be sharing new clean and delicious recipes with you! Be sure to come back and check out my blog weekly. I’m planning to post recipes on Mondays.

Eating Clean? Tips To Help You Through The Holidays!

The holidays are quickly approaching. Have I mentioned that I love all of the fall and winter holidays? I love everything about them. I enjoy watching the kids trick or treat, the family gathering for a traditional Thanksgiving feast, and a few weeks later the Christmas festivities begin. Each of my favorite holidays revolve around family, and food! Halloween candy seems to be everywhere during the month of October. My desire to bake breads, cookies, pies, and cakes increases as the falling leaves turn to snow. Oh, and how about all that Christmas candy, and cookies? A few weeks later, it’s time to indulge in all of those delicious Valentine chocolates. Yes, the holidays are a great time for family interaction, celebration, making memories, giving to others, and an opportunity to indulge in our favorite foods! It’s also a time that those extra pounds have a way of creeping up on us before we know it. Yeah, it’s happened to me in the past, year after year. But, not in the past four years!

Since I began the journey of a healthier lifestyle through clean eating, I have learned to be prepared and equipped for the holiday eating binges. How? You might ask. I want to share with you a few tips that have helped me to maintain my focus, resist temptation, and feel satisfied and not deprived of all the holiday goodies!

A Daily Promise

I have found that by making a verbal promise to myself each morning I am more motivated, dedicated, and have a clearer vision of my ultimate goal of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I simply promise myself that I will be good to myself today by making healthy food choices, exercise, and drinking plenty of water. This is a simple statement that I make usually while I am making my morning coffee, and doing my routine stretches, and resistance exercises. I also give myself a little pep talk about how I deserve to feel healthy, have more stamina, energy, joy, and peace with myself. I follow-up with my morning prayer. I have found too that meditation, and prayer help me to stay focused.

Planning meals ahead of time!

Planning meals ahead of time!

Plan ahead

Temptation is the hardest when I don’t plan ahead. For example, I know during the month of October, bowls of candy seem to appear everywhere on campus, at the check out in many of our local stores, all over the store shelves, on television commercials, and in the hands of my students and colleagues. To be equipped to say no, I have found that if I keep a healthy treat with me at all times, I am more likely to say no. By planning ahead, I shop for small healthy and clean items that I can keep in my purse, and or my lunch tote along with a bottle of water. I have found that apples help curb my sweet tooth. Carrot sticks help curb a desire to eat something crunchy, and my homemade apple dips are wonderful to help curb a sweet craving, and are an easy take along treat. These are only a few of many treats that I have found to be satisfying. I love to have organic dried cranberries to snack on, as well as toasted almonds, Greek yogurt, granola, homemade energy balls, organic peanut butter, honey, sorghum, cauliflower bites, oranges, bananas, homemade clean breads, and even smoothies are a terrific way to help carry us through those weak moments. Don’t feel bad for having those weak moments, we all have them. We’re not machines that can be programmed. We are just human. Keep in mind there are loads of healthy and clean recipes that can made with organic peanut butter, dark chocolate, and fruits that are awesome! I’ll post a few of those recipes very soon!

Clean Pumpkin Apple Bread that is Delicious!

Clean Pumpkin Apple Bread that is Delicious!

Holiday Substitutes

For every delicious and fattening holiday recipe, there is also a delicious, clean, and healthy recipe awaiting to be prepared. Do you homework. Scour the Internet for clean recipes. I have several clean bread recipes, clean fruit dip recipes, and many more recipes to come before the holidays. However, there are many more blog sites, websites, and Pinterest pins filled with clean and healthy recipes just awaiting for you to try them. You may also fill up on vegetables, fruit, and healthy dishes of baked or roasted turkey, sweet potatoes sweetened with sorghum, and many more delicious healthy versions of various holiday recipes to substitute the unhealthy recipes that we’ve all eaten for years. It just takes a little creativity and careful planning.

Food journals help keep me accountable.

Food journals keep me accountable.

Food Journals

Food journals have been a source of inspiration for me for years. Many years ago, while I was in college we were required to keep a food journal for a health class. We not only had to record our food intake, but also our water intake, exercises, our daily weight, weekly measurements, and vitals if we had any medical complications. I was amazed how this made me more accountable than ever before. The trick is to be consistent and honest. As years have passed, technology has increased and many wonderful computer programs, apps, and other health monitoring equipment have been developed that makes it so much easier today. I have used various websites, and apps to help me track my food intake. I have also used several apps and interactive bracelets that have proven to be beneficial in tracking my exercise. I love using the map my walk app, and also wearing my fitbit, which can be purchased on amazon. Check out my amazon favorites for a quick look at them. Tracking, journaling, and recording have never been easier. It just takes desire, honesty, and dedication.

Every day brings hope, it's a brand new day!

Every day brings hope, it’s a brand new day!

Every Day is a New Day

Even when we’ve made ourselves a promise, meditated, read an inspirational devotion, planned ahead, made healthy substitutes, and recorded our food, exercise, and water intake…we still are only human, and we will make mistakes, and poor choices. I have my fair share of both. I have also learned through this three-year journey of eating clean, that when I make a poor choice, or I fall off the health wagon, it’s not the end of the journey. Everyday is a brand new day with new choices to make. In years past, when I made poor choices, I often felt so guilty and frustrated that I gave in, and gave up. One day of making poor choices turned into weeks of really bad choices, and before I knew it…five pounds had accumulated, my blood pressure was rising, and I was feeling really depressed. With the changes that I have made in my life through these last three years, I have learned that it’s not the end of the journey, I am only human, I don’t get angry at myself, I give myself a pep talk, re-motivate, and I start a brand new day with a new promise, new plans, new substitutes, and a clean slate. Life is too short to live in the past with regrets, and bitterness. Remember, every day is a brand new day in your journey of clean eating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about me and my personal journey to a healthier life. I have found that the above tips have helped me through this three and a half-year journey. I have also learned that with patience and loving myself, I have developed new eating habits that become easier to maintain with time, and new routines that also become easier over time. I have also learned that every day is a new day, and every day is precious. My desire is to live a clean, healthy, and happy life through healthy choices that I make. Feel free to check out my Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip and my Almond Butter Fruit Dip to help curb your sweet cravings. I love to hear from my readers, so feel free to leave your comments. Make your holidays clean and happy!

Clean Pumpkin Apple Bread

Fall would just not be fall without pumpkin lattes, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies, and the list could go on and on! As a matter of fact, I like pumpkin anything! When I began the journey of living a healthier life through clean eating, less stress, and more exercise I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of my fall favorites. I was wrong, really wrong! Eating clean and healthy is not as difficult as many of the attempts that I previously made by trying to count calories, fats, sugar, etc. With clean eating, I don’t think about counting anything really. I simply use organic ingredients, little to no processed and packaged ingredients, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

One of my all time favorite fall breads is pumpkin apple bread. I’ve been working on getting the recipe just right. I attained that perfection yesterday! My bread was delicious. So delicious that the entire loaf disappeared by night fall. No, I didn’t devour the entire loaf. It was consumed by myself, my daughter (who also enjoys clean eating), and believe it or not, my husband who does not eat clean. I’m excited about sharing this recipe with you, and it’s just in time for the holidays!

A delicious treat anytime!

A delicious treat anytime!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, or adjust with gluten-free flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
1/1/2 fresh grated cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 fresh, or organic eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh sorghum
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 small apple peeled and diced

Fresh farm eggs

Fresh farm eggs

A clean replacement for brown sugar!

A clean replacement for brown sugar!

Agave nectar is a great way to sweeten any drink or dish!

Agave nectar is a great way to sweeten any drink or dish!

Procedures

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stir and set aside.

3.) Mix remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and pour into the dry ingredients, mix well.

4.) Oil a loaf pan with coconut oil.

5.) Pour the bread mixture into the oiled pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Bake at 350 degrees

Bake at 350 degrees

A delicious treat anytime!

A delicious treat anytime!

Fall breads make great treats anytime of the day. They also make great gifts. I hope that your family enjoys this delicious and festive bread as much as my family does. It’s healthy, clean, tastes great, and feels like you’re cheating, when you’re not! If you enjoy this bread, be sure to check out my recipes for Clean Apple Zucchini Bread, and Clean Apple Ginger Bread. Both of these recipes are easy and just as delicious. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, try my recipes, and enjoy a few minutes in the mountains of Kentucky! Feel free to leave comments, and share how you enjoyed my Pumpkin Apple Bread. Also, feel free to follow my blog!

Clean Apple Zucchini Bread

It’s that time of year again! The beautiful fall foliage is always a welcome sight in the mountains of Kentucky. Bright colors of orange, lemon-yellow, russet-red, and deep-green silently welcome visitors to the mountains. Menageries of pumpkins proudly fill the many pumpkin patches in various parts of the state. Each orange splendor of beauty awaits the eager hands of a child to select them for their fall project. Swirling and drifting leaves fill the air, while the birds gather in preparation of their long journey south. With the arrival of cool temps, beautiful colors, and holiday festivities, also comes the desire to bake delicious breads.

Pumpkins awaiting to be selected by an eager child.

Pumpkins awaiting to be selected by an eager child.

When I began clean eating almost three years ago, I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of my fall favorites. I just knew that I would miss the delicious pumpkin, apple, and zucchini breads. Boy, was I wrong, and glad of it! I discovered that there are wonderful, healthier, alternative clean recipes for almost every bread that I baked. It took experimenting, trial, error, and adjustments to achieve just the desired taste. All of the experimenting was fun, and a learning process. One of my new fall favorites is my version of clean apple zucchini bread. It’s satisfying, tasty, clean, and delicious with a hot cup of coffee!

Ingredients

2 cups of either whole wheat flour, or gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup raw honey
2/3 cup sorghum
1 generous cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 small apple peeled and diced
1 whole fresh, or organic egg
1 fresh, or organic egg white
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup of fresh walnuts chopped

A clean replacement for brown sugar!

A clean replacement for brown sugar!

Fresh eggs

Fresh eggs

Directions

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.) Oil one large loaf pan with olive oil

3.) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sea salt, walnuts, and nutmeg (I like to sift my flour through a strainer, or use a sifter, but this is optional.)

4.) In a separate mixing bowl, mix sorghum, honey, zucchini, apple, apple sauce, egg, and egg white, olive oil, cinnamon, lemon zest, and yogurt. Mix well.

5.) Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture and blend well.

6.) Pour batter into the oiled loaf pan and place in the preheated oven.

7.) Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a wooden tooth pick comes out clean.

8.) If your bread begins to brown to quickly, you may cover it loosely with aluminum foil for the last few minutes of baking.

A delicious bread anytime!

A delicious bread anytime!

My entire family loves this delicious, healthy, and clean bread. It’s great with honey, as a breakfast treat, for dessert, or as a snack with a big glass of almond milk, or a cup of hot coffee. I also like to give whole loaves as gifts as well. I love receiving fresh homemade breads, cookies, and candies during the holidays, but enjoy giving it even more. If you know someone who enjoys clean eating, bake them a loaf as a special gift. Enjoy a slice with your family. Serve it as a holiday treat! Take time to just enjoy it! If you like this recipe, be sure to check out my Clean Apple Ginger Bread recipe. Please, feel free to leave your comments about either recipe. I love hearing from you, your comments, feedback, and your ideas. Happy baking, and happy Fall Y’all!