Clean Summer Squash Soup

I’m not sure if it’s just me or what, but I feel like we are going to have an early fall here in the mountains of Kentucky. The evenings are becoming cooler and my canning is once again filling the pantry. As our summer yellow squash and zucchini are producing their final blooms and the freezer is well stocked with both, I began to feel creative. I wanted to try something new with the squash and zucchini.  I wanted to try something other than sautéed squash and zucchini, dried zucchini, zoodles, pickled squash and zucchini and all the other creative and delicious dishes that my family enjoys each summer. I had wanted to try using our delicious summer squash in a tasty soup. After a couple of attempts, and a few alterations…we enjoyed a delicious and very satisfying summer squash soup! I am very excited to share my delicious clean summer squash soup recipe with each of you. This soup has quickly become a favorite of my entire family, even my mom!

Ingredients:

1 small onion (I prefer purple onions)
1/2 of a red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 cup of sliced Portobello mushrooms
1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 medium size yellow squash
1 large zucchini 
1 can of organic no salt added diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 box of organic vegetable broth
1 can of drained and rinsed organic cannellini beans
2 tablespoons of dried parsley
1 cup of organic frozen baby peas
1 cup of either fresh corn or 1 cup of no salt added organic corn

squash

Yellow Summer Squash

Process:

Heat one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a 4 quart cooker add diced onion, diced red pepper, minced garlic, and saute until the onions and peppers become tender. Add salt, pepper, rosemary, and paprika, stir and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms. You may need to add more olive oil once the mushrooms absorb the oil in the cooker. Only simmer for about two minutes, or until the mushrooms change color.

Add tomatoes and the entire box of vegetable broth. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cut zucchini and squash into cubes. I like to cut mine into about one inch sections. I slice the squash and zucchini and then cut the slices into wedges (similar to cutting a pie) this allows each piece to maintain some of the peel, which is important for texture. Add squash and zucchini and stir. Drain and rinse beans and add to the soup. Add frozen peas and corn. You may season with additional salt and pepper to meet your own taste preference.  Add dried parsley flakes and cover. Allow to simmer at a very low temperature for twenty minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

I have tried this recipe both with corn and without corn. My mom and I both agree that it’s best with corn. I also use fresh ears of corn cut off the cob. You may make changes to the recipe to meet you and your families needs. I hope that you and your family enjoy this savory and very easy recipe as much as my family has. You may follow my blog by adding your email and clicking on the follow button at the bottom of the page. Also, feel free to comment on my post. I love to hear from my readers.

Blessings to you and your family from our family in the mountains of Kentucky. Be sure to check back or to follow my blog for upcoming recipes, book reviews, clean eating tips, eating and living a healthy lifestyle, inspiring and uplifting articles, farm life, and what it’s like living in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky.

squash soup

Summer Squash Soup

Clean Acorn Squash Taco Boat

Beef style acorn squash Taco Boat

Mexican and Italian foods are my absolute favorite. I actually think I could eat a taco salad or spaghetti every night for supper and be happy. Just because I am eating cleaner and healthier doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice taste or Mexican or even Italian food. It just means that I cook…a bit more creative and a lot more healthy! I discovered recently that I love acorn squash. I love it so much, that I decided I would  dry the seeds to plant and grow my own!  I’ll let you know how our attempt at growing our own deliciousness turns out this fall when we harvest them.

So if you love Mexican food as much as I do, I think you’ll love this sweet and spicy take on the traditional taco salad. Keep in mind that you can alter this dish to fit your own spicy needs. In other words, you can make it as spicy as your palate can handle. My favorite Acorn Squash Taco Boat thus far includes the following ingredients;

Ingredients:

  • One acorn squash serves two
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • I use no salt, but you can substitute with salt…one sprinkle of iodized salt
  • Sprinkle or fresh ground black pepper
  • Sprinkle of paprika

To Bake the Squash:

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Clean out the seeds and stringy middle of the squash. Drizzle olive oil over the squash to prevent the squash from becoming too dry during the baking. Sprinkle with salt, or no salt if you are watching your sodium, black pepper and paprika. If you are baking in the oven, pre-heat oven to 350 and gently spray pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper and place the squash inside down on the pan and bake 45 minutes or until tender when a fork is inserted. If you choose to bake your squash in the microwave, follow the same process above when seasoning and place inside face up and bake for five minutes and check to ensure the squash is tender. Remember microwaves vary in cooking time. If the inside of the squash is not tender, bake for an additional five minutes. When I microwave acorn squash, I typically bake it for ten minutes.

Clean the seeds with a spoon.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. 

Ingredients for the Taco Filling:

  • 1/4 quarter of an onion (I like red onions best)
  • Small red pepper
  • Four baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Meat of your choice (I like to use left over shredded boneless chicken breast, but have used beef as well)
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small yellow summer squash
  • Two tablespoons of refried beans (you may also add rice of your choice, I’ve made it both ways. Love adding a tablespoon or two of leftover rice) you may also substitute with black beans this can be your own preference.
  • 3 tablespoons of diced tomatoes
  • One cup of baby spinach
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Taco seasoning
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • No salt or salt
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Shredded cheese of choice
  • Optional tablespoon of sour cream
  • Salsa of choice
  • Half of an avocado

While the squash is baking:

While the squash is baking you will need to prepare meat, unless you are using leftover meat that only needs warming. Set aside and spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Heat pan, but don’t over heat. Add diced onion and peppers and a sprinkle of pepper and salt. Stir and cook but don’t allow them to caramelize. Add sliced or diced zucchini and squash and sauté until nearly tender, but still has a bit of a bite. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and add sliced portobello mushrooms and meat. If your meat is dry, such as chicken, you may need to add a little extra virgin olive oil as the mixture simmers due to the mushrooms soaking up the moisture. Once the mushrooms become tender add the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and baby spinach. Allow to simmer at a low heat for eight to ten minutes and remove from the heat. You do not want the zucchini and squash to be overdone.

Remove the squash and allow to cool for about three to five minutes. You may use a fork to shred the inside of the squash or leave it in tact. I enjoy leaving it and taking bites of more chunky squash while I’m eating. Spread the refried beans over the inside of the squash (I have used leftover baked butternut squash as a bean substitute…it was an awesome twist) After spreading the beans over the squash spoon the delicious filling that you sautéed into the acorn boats and top with diced avocado, shredded cheese, salsa, and sour cream. All that’s left to do is to enjoy!!

Vegan Style filling for Acorn Squash Taco Boat

Acorn squash chicken taco boat with vegan provolone cheese! Delicious!

I hope you enjoy this delicious twist on the traditional taco salad as much as I have. Keep in mind that you can alter the recipe to fit your dietary needs, taste preferences, and or alter and make the recipe a recipe of your own. This is a great dish to clean out those leftovers that have a way of consuming our fridge. I enjoy shredding baked chicken breast for this dish as well as shredded baked turkey, and have used that leftover chicken burger or turkey burger as well. I have used shredded steak, and even used turkey sausage. That’s just one of the joys of cooking…creating a dish to be exactly what your palate is craving! You may also mint the meat for a delicious vegetarian meal. The possibilities are unlimited. If you like my take on Acorn Taco Boats, you will enjoy my twist on a Clean Spaghetti Boat.

I hope you enjoy my Acorn Squash Taco Boat. Please feel free to leave comments, or ask questions. I love hearing from my readers. Be sure to visit A Healthier Me Simple and Clean in upcoming days. I will be adding new recipes, canning recipes and tips, a book recommendation, and also an inspiring post that will motivate you to eat clean and enjoy the simple things in life. From the mountains of Kentucky, God bless each of you and thank you for stopping by my little corner of the world.

Clean Pumpkin Fig Bars

pumpkin patch II

Fall is my favorite time of the year! The mountains of Kentucky are visually stunning this time of year! The brilliant colors of the leaves are gorgeous! While puttering around the house and making plans for fall break this weekend my thoughts turned to the joys of holiday baking. I wanted to create a new fall dessert…I wanted to create a new clean pumpkin treat that was more than a pumpkin treat. I wanted to create a delicous clean treat! While scouring the pantry for ingredients I stumbled upon inspiration. I love when that happens! The unthinkable ingredient just kind of jumps out at you and your original plan takes a total 360! That’s when inspiration truly takes over and an inspired recipe begins to unfold and come together!

With that being said, I am super excited to share with you my latest recipe for clean fig pumpkin bars. If you like fig cookies and pumpkin pie…I am confident you will enjoy my fig pumpkin bars! Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Crust Ingredients:

2 cups of Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 cup of dates
1/2 cup figs
2 tbs. coconut oil
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbs. honey
1/4 cup water

Pumpkin Pie Filling Ingredients:

15 oz. canned pure organic pumpkin or puree (I like pure)
2 fresh eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbs. honey

2 tbs. coconut oil or you may substitute with unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
small pinch of salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Ovens will vary, but my best bars worked at 350. Combine the dry ingredients for the crust one at a time and add to either a food processor or a ninja. I used my ninja and it worked out great. Once you’ve added the ingredients you will need to pulse slowly until the mixture is chopped well. Add water and honey a little at a time until the crust comes together. You will know your crust is ready to press in the pan when it forms a ball and stays together. Spray a 8 X 8 glass pan with cooking spray and press crust mixture evenly into the pan and set aside.

pumpkin fig bars I

For the filling you will need to whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Add softened oil, or butter to the mixture. Add wet ingredients one at a time mixing with each additional ingredient. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Whisk until the filling is fluffy.

Pumpkin fig bars II

Pour pie filling over the crust and smooth out. Tap gently on the counter top to remove any air bubbles and then bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Check your pumpkin bars for doneness by inserting a toothpick. When the toothpick comes out clean your pumpkin bars are ready. You can add a sprinkle of chopped nuts for a little extra crunch. Allow them to cool completely before cutting. I like to allow mine to cool for about thirty minutes on a wire rack and then place in the refrigerator for an additional thirty minutes before cutting. Once the bars are cooled you are ready to enjoy!

Pumpkin fig bars III                                       Pumpkin fig VI

The bars will keep refrigerated for up to two weeks, but trust me they won’t stay around that long! I hope you and your family enjoy my spin on a tradition pumpkin pie for a sweet and clean holiday treat or any day treat!

Pumpkin fig bars V

Feel free to leave feedback. I love to hear from my readers. I would like to hear how you enjoyed this sweet treat. Did you try it with a whipped topping, for an afternoon treat with coffee or for your fall festivities? From the mountains of Kentucky…happy fall y’all!

Each bar is approximately; 75 calories, with 6 g fat and 2g saturated fat, 17 carbs, 24mg cholesterol, 3g protein, and 4g dietary fiber and 46 mg sodium.

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!

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

 

 

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness & Clean Almond Joy Bites…

Have you ever felt compelled to display a random act of kindness? Did you act upon it or did you override the feeling and let the opportunity pass by? Maybe you felt like stepping aside and allowing the person behind you in the checkout line to check out ahead of you. Maybe it was the gentleman sitting on the curb holding a homeless sign that stirred the desire within you to buy him a meal from McDonalds, or maybe you thought about leaving a kind note in your co-workers mailbox. Did you follow your heart and act on your feelings? Whatever the kind thought or act of kindness that you feel compelled or inspired to do…I urge you to act on the impulse. You see, we truly do not know what others may be going through. Many people display a happy face in public even when their hearts are aching with sadness, or they’re in a turmoil trying to make an important decision, or just feeling a little down for no particular reason at all. A random act of kindness that may seem insignificant to others, may be a prayer answered for another.

Discouragement visits everyone at one time or another. Recently this sad emotion invaded my peace of mind and tried to camp out long term and linger within my thoughts. I had encountered one of those weeks where I felt tired from daily appointments, overwhelmed with obligations, pressured to meet deadlines, and terribly worried about a loved one’s heath. But, with a smile on my face and faith in my heart I pressed on and prayed for peace as I did not like feeling this way.                                                        . Image result for picture of thank you cards with a candlePeace came in a way that I didn’t expect. I was reminded through a series of small random acts of kindness over a period of days from various people that helped the feeling of discouragement dissipate . I found a small notecard in my mailbox from a student with kind words that filled my heart, two days later I found a candle on my desk from a colleague with a thank you note, and finally one of my students told me the other day that if she could be like anyone in the world, she would like to be like me. What a heartfelt compliment and unforgettable moment. I’m thankful for each of these random acts of kindness as each was timely, and each helped restore my faith in mankind and each brought a smile to my heart and face.

The daily appointments are nearly over and I still feel energized, obligations no longer overwhelm me, and a plan of management is in place to help meet the deadlines that fill my calendar. I am still concerned with my loved one’s health issue, but through the random acts of kindness that I received I am better able to think positive, have increased and renewed faith, and expect better days ahead.

With peace and contentment also comes inspiration. So, with the holidays ahead and plenty of opportunities to overindulge in sweet treats I decided to post a new clean candy sweet treat that’s easy to make and one that I enjoy indulging in without the guilt! I hope you enjoy them as well. I plan to deliver some special treats to my coworkers this week…just a simple random act of kindness that I feel compelled to do. I hope you enjoy my clean version of Clean Almond Joys Bites.

The ingredients that you will need are:

2 cups of Unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup of fresh raw honey
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of organic coconut oil
4 squares of unsweetened dark chocolate
Whole or sliced almonds

Making this sweet treat:

In a glass bowl combine unsweetened shredded coconut, honey, vanilla, and half of the coconut oil. Place in the microwave for just enough time to melt the coconut oil. Mix and allow to completely cool. You may either roll the mixture or spoon the mixture onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least thirty minutes.

almond-joy-one

I prefer to spoon the coconut mixture onto the parchment paper.

Just before removing the candy from the refrigerator place the remaining coconut oil and dark unsweetened chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave. While the chocolate is melting place one almond on top of each piece of the coconut candy. Spoon the hot melted chocolate mixture over the chilled coconut balls and refrigerate again until completely chilled and the chocolate is set. Finally, enjoy your sweet treat without the guilt!

almond-joy-four

Delicious bites of pleasure without the guilt!

Don’t forget if you feel compelled to do something nice for someone…don’t talk yourself out of this random act of kindness act on your feelings. I hope that I have inspired you with my story as I am still inspired by others’ small acts of kindness. These thoughtful acts of kindness helped brighten my day, lighten my load, inspire me, and helped me to smile from my heart. I hope that you enjoy the clean almond joy bites. Please feel free to leave feedback as I love to hear from my readers.

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.

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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!