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

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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!

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let Those Leftovers Go to Waste…Freeze Them!

Is your refrigerator like mine after Christmas each year? If so, it’s overflowing with dish after dish of delicious leftovers. However, if your family is like mine they are also tired of leftovers, even if they are delicious. The question is…what do you do with all those leftovers? I have asked myself this same question year after year. I usually resolve this problem by feeding the leftovers to our wonderful guard dog, Frosty, and of course the cats. I have also added them to the compost pile, but this year I decided to do something different with my leftovers.

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This is Frosty…our faithful friend that guards chickens, cats, and our garden.

As I was shopping for groceries this week I reached for one of my favorite foods, southwestern grilled chicken strips. To my surprise there wasn’t one bag left in the cooler. I thought about how I would miss this tasty addition to my salads, breakfast, and even as a side dish. I stood there staring at the cooler as if I could magically will a bag or two of my favorite salad fixing to appear in the cooler. Instead of the bag of chicken appearing I had a vision of adding the left over smoked turkey that still resided in my refrigerator to my salads. It was already pulled from the bone and stored in an air tight container. Smiling to myself I left the store with a plan, and a full cart of items to fill my pantry for a couple of months of clean eating. But, that’s a post for a later date.

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Vacuumed sealed individual servings of turkey.

After researching how to freeze cooked meats, I decided that I would freeze my leftovers. The next day with my plan, the vacuum sealer and a large bowl of turkey I moved forward with my plan. I was excited as the smoked turkey would be a tasty and healthy alternative to the southwestern chicken strips. It would be delicious warmed up in salads, as a side, or on wraps. Why had I not thought of this before? Soon I had the turkey vacuum sealed, dated, and in the freezer. I was on a roll and wanted to add additional healthy choices to my freezer. I wondered about freezing other leftovers.

I decided after reading further about freezing foods that I would vacuum seal individual portions of the dressing, and slices of a pumpkin roll that my niece brought as a dessert for Christmas dinner. These would be great sides when our granddaughter, who loves both dressing and pumpkins roll, came to visit. These would also be great sides for my husband as well, and I admit, for myself when I have a cheat day.

Freezing foods is a quick and easy process. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer you can still freeze your leftovers. Below are directions for freezing turkey, pumpkin roll, and dressing.

Freezing Turkey:

Remove turkey from bone
Separate turkey into serving sizes
Vacuum seal or wrap in plastic wrap and place in zip lock freezer bag
Date bag with a permanent maker

Freezing Pumpkin Roll:

Slice the pumpkin roll
Place individual pieces on parchment paper in freezer for fifteen minutes
Either vacuum seal or wrap in plastic wrap in place in zip lock freezer bag
Date bag with a permanent marker

Freezing Dressing:

Cut into serving sizes
Place in freezer on parchment paper for fifteen minutes
Wrap in plastic wrap and place in zip lock freezer bag
Date bag with a permanent marker

I’m excited about being able to enjoy smoked turkey, dressing, a baked sweet potato, and a delicious slice of pumpkin roll any day of the year! The smoked turkey will also be great to make turkey wraps for lunch on the go, and a tasty addition to salads.  I love seeing the full section of leftovers in my freezer and the feeling of satisfaction of having little to no waste with Christmas leftovers, while also stocking my freezer with delicious food.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to freeze all of your tasty holiday leftovers. You don’t have to wait for holidays to try this idea…you can begin freezing leftovers any day of the week! It’s also a great way to plan ahead and meal prep for those busy weeks that we all have. Feel free to leave your feedback. I enjoy hearing from each of you. Be sure to check back next week for my New Year’s post where I will share ten inspiring achievable goals to improve your New Year and your life! Wishing you and your family a very happy and blessed New Year!

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 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!

It’s Organic Coffee Time

So, Tuesday was National Coffee day. In order to celebrate I, like many others, posted my celebratory comments on facebook. That’s when I realized how many posts I had made about coffee over the years! Wow! Everyday could be National Coffee Day, well according to my posts it could!  A friend commented on my post suggesting that I start a coffee blog. I explained that I didn’t want to start another blog, but thought I could occasionally write a coffee post! She loved the idea. So, here goes…

But first, a little about me and my coffee addiction. I have loved coffee since I was a little girl. Some of my earliest memories are of me spending the day with my mother while my brother and sister were at school. I remember sitting in the kitchen while she cooked, washed dishes, sewed, or whatever the task at hand was. No matter what she was doing she always had a cup of black coffee nearby. I also remember sipping her coffee after it cooled. I loved black coffee even at a very young age!

One of my favorite mugs!

One of my favorite mugs!

Over time coffee has changed in many ways. It’s not just perked as it was when I was growing up. Now you can perk, boil, or drip it! You can have it brewed in large quantities, or one cup at a time. There’s hot coffee, cold coffee, and iced coffee. We can select from a wide variety of flavors, brands, and roasts. There’s whole-bean, freshly ground, and all ready ground. We can buy coffee cakes, coffee chewing gum, coffee candy, cappuccino, espresso, frappuccino, lattes, and more! There’s even organic coffee. The coffee craze is sweeping the nation, and I for one am thrilled!

A favorite flavor from our local coffee shop, The Axis!

A favorite flavor from our local coffee shop, The Axis!

So, for this week I would like to recommend one of my favorite organic coffees. I have found Green Mountain House Blend Organic Coffee to be delicious and satisfying. It’s great prepared in a Keurig, dripped, or perked. I especially like buying the whole-bean and grinding just enough for either one pot, or one serving at a time. The aroma while brewing is sensational! This is great coffee with breakfast, as an evening cup, with a sweet treat, or with a meal! It can be ordered online from Amazon for a very reasonable price, and can be found in most super markets. I have tried several organic coffees, but have found myself returning to Green Mountain Coffee again, and again. Coffee was once a breakfast staple in most households. Today, coffee time is any time! Be sure to check out my post  Clean Apple Ginger Bread for a delicious bread that goes great with a hot fresh cup of coffee! Feel free to leave your comments after trying this delicious coffee, and my sweet and moist apple ginger bread.

Love This Organic Coffee!

Love This Organic Coffee!

Drying Stevia

I love fall, but I’m saddened about not being able to step outside my backdoor and clip fresh herbs. My summer herbs are still green, perky, and plentiful…but their days are numbered! Even though I love fall, and will miss fresh herbs, it’s time to focus on the chore of harvesting herbs. To harvest tasty herbs, the herbs must be green and still full of life. Fresh herbs make any dish taste better. I cut fresh basil this morning for an omelet…delicious to say the least! As tasty as summer herbs are during the hot months…they still kick your dishes up a notch when they are dried. Dried herbs can be used year around, but are especially a treat during the cold winter months. Drying herbs can be a bit of a slow process, depending on the method that you choose. Drying herbs is the process that I thoroughly enjoy the most!

My backdoor herb box

My backdoor herb box

When I made the choice to eat clean, I also made the choice to grow my own herbs. What better way to know that your herbs are truly organically grown! I was also eager to try different types of sweeteners. I found that I love using agave nectar and honey, but sometimes a dry sweetener is necessary. After researching, and speaking with some wise old farmers about stevia, my mind was made up. I would grow and harvest my own sweetener!

Stevia is a beautiful green plant that is very easy to grow. It takes very little maintenance, other than water, regular pruning, and a lots of sunshine! I decided to start small, since it was a new herb in my garden. I planted a very large pot of the beautiful green plant. One pot of the sweet herb has provided through the spring and summer months, and is now ready to be harvested for the fall and winter months ahead.

Sweet Herb/Stevia growing outside my back door!

Sweet Herb/Stevia growing outside my back door!

The process is fairly simple. There are a variety of methods of drying herbs. You may air dry them by placing in them in shallow pans, dehydrate them, hang them to dry, or oven dry them. If you plan to dehydrate your herbs, or in a flat pan, simply clip the desired amount of shoots of the sweet herb, and then clip off the leaves. If you dry them by hanging them, you will not need to clip the leaves.

I prefer to dry stevia in a pan in a dark room near filtered window light. No matter the method discard leaves that may be bruised, or have brown spots on them. Rinse the leaves to remove any pests, or dust and allow to air dry. Once the leaves are dry place them in a dry shallow pan near filtered window light in a dark room. Be patient, and check the herbs in a couple of days. You may occasionally manipulate the leaves to allow even drying. After about two weeks, your leaves should be dry enough to pass the crunch test. The crunch test, is simply hearing the crisp and crunchy sound when you crumble the leaves. If they pass the test, you are ready. If they do not pass the crunch test, allow a few more days and check them again.

Process:

Dry leaves in a shallow pan in a dark room with filtered light

When leaves pass the crunch test, crumble the leaves by hand onto a clean white paper towel or large pan.

Place crumbled leaves in a coffee grinder.

Pulse until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

Place fresh ground herbs in a clear glass jar with a lid. (I prefer glass jars to preserve the freshness of the plant.)

Label the Lid or Jar to identify the herb.

Growing & drying stevia

Growing & drying stevia

Enjoy your organically grown stevia in teas, desserts, canning, and more. If you have enjoyed learning about growing and drying stevia, be sure to check out Drying Fresh Basil. I look forward to hearing from you! I would love to know how you incorporate fresh stevia in your favorite dishes.

Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip

It’s a beautiful fall morning in the mountains! It’s hard to believe that fall temperatures have already arrived. It’s a cool 43 degrees this morning. While taking my usual morning walk, I was amazed to see so many fallen leaves on the ground. It’s a little early, but it truly feels like fall in Kentucky! I love everything about fall. I love the temperatures, the beautiful foliage, the holidays, and recipes with pumpkin!

A fall walk in the mountains of Kentucky.

A fall walk in the mountains of Kentucky.

I have had many ups, and some downs since I started the wonderful journey of clean eating my way to a better quality of life. Some of the ups include the joy that I have found experimenting and modifying my favorite recipes to qualify as clean recipes. With the success of each recipe, I have been able to expand my food choices, menu, and my pantry! However, one of the hardest modifications for me is modifying snacks that remain both tasty, and satisfying. But, with trial and error…eventually comes success.

Once again, I was inspired to experiment with pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt to create a clean and delicious pumpkin fruit dip. I have found fruit to be a very satisfying and filling snack, and with fruit dip, an even more satisfying treat. Finding snacks that are clean, healthy, and tasty also helps reduce the desire and craving for many of the unhealthy snack that I once indulged in. This pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip, is a winner, and totally satisfying! If you love pumpkin as much as I do, I am anxious for you to try this clean and tasty Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip.

A delicious sweet treat

A delicious sweet treat

A delicious fall treat

A delicious fall treat

Pumpkin is a fall favorite in our house

Pumpkin is a fall favorite in our house

plain or vanilla yogurt will work for this recipe

plain or vanilla yogurt will work for this recipe

A tasty treat

A tasty treat

Not just for smoothies anymore!

Not just for smoothies anymore!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree

1 cup of either pumpkin spice Greek yogurt, or vanilla Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 scoop vanilla Pure protein (Optional)

1 tablespoon organic Almond Butter (you may add an additional spoon for a thicker consistency)

1 teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Procedures

1. ) Mix all ingredients until smooth and chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.

2.) Enjoy this delicious snack with sliced apples or bananas.

Delicious Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip

Delicious Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip

I hope you and your family enjoy this delicious fall snack as much as my family does. I have tried it with both the pumpkin spice yogurt Greek yogurt and vanilla Greek yogurt. Both are delicious, but I think the dip with the pumpkin spice yogurt is my favorite. If you enjoy my Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip, be sure to check out my Almond Butter Fruit Dip or my Clean Pumpkin Spice Smoothie. Feel free to check out  A Few of My Amazon FavoritesAs always, feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers! Happy fall!

Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip, a delicious fall treat!

Pumpkin Almond Fruit Dip, a delicious fall treat!

Clean Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

So, this afternoon I am blogging from our local coffee shop, The Axis. What a great place to hang out with friends, drink awesome coffee, socialize, and host a book club. That’s what’s going on later this afternoon, book-club with a terrific group of girls. Many of which are previous students. Another great reason to spend time at The Axis, is the Christian atmosphere. It’s always upbeat and positive with plenty of friends, and quiet spaces as well.

The Axis...a great coffee shop!

The Axis…a great coffee shop!

Even though it is just September 03, fall is ever-present. Leaves are beginning to fall and scatter across our drive, we’ve harvested the last of the green beans, and only a few tomatoes linger on the drying vines. Night fall is coming earlier than it was two weeks ago. I am always a bit saddened by the changing of seasons, but also find myself longing for those delicious fall drinks! I love pumpkin spice lattes! Truthfully, I love pumpkin anyway it’s served! I’m excited to share one of my favorite fall smoothie recipes with you…my twist on a clean pumpkin spice smoothie!

Ingredients

1 cup of ice
2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 scoop of Pure Protein Whey powder (I like vanilla) check out A Few of My Amazon Favorites  link to purchase this item.
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

ice

plain or vanilla yogurt will work for this recipe

plain, or vanilla yogurt will work for this recipe

Almond milk is a great source of calcium

Almond milk is a great source of calcium

Pumpkin is a fall favorite in our house

Pumpkin is a fall favorite in our house

Procedure

1.) Add all ingredients to the Ninja (I use this as it is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen, a blender will also work) you can purchase a Ninja at A Few of My Amazon Favorites

2.) Pulse until you achieve the desired smoothness and pour yourself a rich and delicious smoothie

This smoothie is great for a snack, lunch, or an on the go breakfast!

This smoothie is great for a snack, lunch, or an on the go breakfast!

This delicious pumpkin pie smoothie is a great anytime treat! I enjoy it most as a substitute meal for lunch. It’s also a great on the go breakfast, or just as satisfying as a sweet treat! I’m sure you will enjoy this delicious and satisfying smoothie as much as I do. If you enjoy this fall favorite be sure to check out my post for Feel free to leave feedback. I love to hear from you!

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

Driving to work this morning was such an awesome experience! It was the same stretch of road that I have traveled for years! But, this morning God’s beauty and grace seemed so very evident, as was the beginning days of fall. I always dread saying good-bye to summer, but eager to welcome fall. I think I enjoy events, colors, activities, food, and the wardrobe that comes with fall more than other seasons. Okay, secret’s out…I love wearing sweaters and turtle necks! I also love baking in the fall!

God's beauty abounds in the mountains of Kentucky.

God’s beauty abounds in the mountains of Kentucky.

Even though it’s not technically fall I baked one of my favorite breads Saturday Morning. I baked it for our ladies meeting at church, and it quickly became a favorite among many of the ladies as well. Most of them were surprised when I told them it was clean. Several didn’t know what I was referring to when I said clean, so it started a nice conversation about clean eating while we enjoyed a variety of dishes.

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

For this recipe you’ll need the following ingredients;

1 tablespoon of fresh ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of fresh ground ginger
1 pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 and 1/2 cups 100% Whole grain/flour

Fresh ground cinnamon is delicious

Fresh ground cinnamon is delicious

1/3 cup raw honey (the honey and molasses replace brown sugar)
1 and 1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup agave nectar (the agave nectar replaces white sugar. I have also used stevia as well.)
1/2 cup almond milk
2 fresh organic eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (the yogurt and applesauce replace the butter)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large apple of your choice diced (I like larger chunks, but that’s a personal preference)
1/2 cup of walnuts roughly chopped

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

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

Almond milk is a great source of calcium

Almond milk is a great source of calcium

I love having fresh farm eggs that I know are truly organic.

I love having fresh farm eggs that I know are truly organic.

1.) Whip eggs with a wire whisk and through a strainer into mixing bowl.

2.) Add and mix wet ingredients one at a time.

3.) Sift flour through a sifter, or a wire strainer to promote a smooth texture.

4.) Incorporate dry ingredients, spices, and lastly add the diced apples. I like to add the apples last to prevent bruising while mixing the ingredients.

I like larger chunks of apples in my bread.

I like larger chunks of apples in my bread.

5.) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

6.) Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. (I like to use organic coconut spray)

7.) Pour batter into the sprayed loaf pan, sprinkle rough chopped walnuts, and bake for 30 – 40 minutes. (You can increase the amount of nuts and incorporate them in the batter as well.) Oven temperatures may vary, so baking time may vary.

8.) You will know your bread is done when the sides pull away from the pan, and the bread is brown. You may also use a toothpick to test. Insert a toothpick in the center of the loaf, if it comes out clean your bread is ready!

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

This is a recipe that my family enjoys for breakfast, lunch, warm, cold, for dessert, or just as a snack! It will make you feel like you’re cheating, but you’re not! I truly love eating a slice of this delicious bread warm with frozen vanilla yogurt, and a cup of hot coffee. I’m excited to hear how you enjoy eating this deliciously clean treat! If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out my post for Almond Fruit Dip! I’m excited to bring you more fall favorites including; My Pumpkin Passion Smoothie, Pumpkin Apple Bread, zucchini Bread, all of which are clean and delicious! Thank you for taking time to read about my journey through clean eating! Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from you!