Monday, August 23, 2010

Piel de Sapo Melon

Our family LOVES melon. It seems we always have diced melon in the fridge ready to devour. Usually it's a simple cantaloupe or seedless watermelon; however, recently we tried yellow watermelon - our conclusion was that it was good, but not as yummy as traditional red watermelon.

A couple weeks ago I picked up this bad boy at the local Kowalski's...

Piel de Sapo Melon
Piel de Sapo translated means toad skin, which is exactly what the skin of this melon resembles.

The interior flesh was very soft and delicate with the sweet smell of cantaloupe but the taste of an extremely ripe and flavorful honeydew melon. It kind of reminded me of the Galia melon that I tried last year, but with a much smoother texture - almost melt in your mouth.

In other news, we will be visiting Santa Monica because Allan is shooting a commercial in South Pasadena and would love suggestions on fun places to visit and great (healthy) places to eat - preferably within walking distance of the Miramar hotel.

What fun new Summer foods have you tried this year?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Celebrate Eat Local Month

August just so happens to be Eat Local Month. So, in honor of this wonderful occasion Allan and I enjoyed the following delightful salads for supper. Not all of the ingredients were local to MN, but some of the veggies were grown by our friends and in our own backyard.

A yummy summer salad
This salad was a mixture of baby lettuce, japanese cucumber, orange bell pepper, red onion, baby carrots, tomatoes, avocado, grilled chicken breast and long grain brown rice all drizzled with Annie's Lite Raspberry dressing (Maria) and Drew's All Natural Rosemary Balsamic dressing (Allan).

If you enjoyed my What It Means to Eat Clean post from earlier this week, you should check out my guest blog post on Wellness Daily: 5 Simple Ways to Clean Up Your Diet.

Are you participating in the Eat Local Challenge? If so, what fun things have you been eating lately?

Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What does it mean to eat clean?

I am often asked what I did to lose weight successfully. When I answer that the secret to my body transformation is simply clean eating and vigorous exercise I am greeted by three distinct reactions:

The honest and inquisitive, What exactly is clean eating?
The judgmental and know-it-all, Really? That’s it.
The well-intentioned and interested, I would really like to eat clean, but don’t know how to start. Do you have any advice?

Today I will address the question, What does it mean to eat clean?

Cantaloupe and Blueberries
Clean eating is a thoughtful way of nourishing your body. Our bodies are designed to consume foods that are whole, natural and bursting with nutrients; however, most of us do not consume foods that respect these needs. Clean eating replaces processed, refined, toxic and nutritionally devoid foods with those that are as close to nature as possible. This creates a diet that will transform you into your best self: healthy, vibrant and lean.

By combining natural, whole foods into 5-6 small meals a day, each consisting of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, clean eating will transform your body into an energetic powerhouse.

Grilled Chicken on Bibb Lettuce topped with Almond Butter
Eating clean is also good for the World. It is a preservationist approach to making smart food choices that respect the land, animals and your health. The core values of clean eating focus on making local, sustainable, eco-friendly choices that minimize waste and conserve resources.

Eating close to nature translates to shopping the outer aisles at the supermarket, especially the produce, bulk bin, dairy and meat departments, visiting farmer’s markets and making contact with local farmers and suppliers using sites like

Quinoa Mango Salad
The following are some examples of easy swaps that you can make to clean up your diet, please note that this is not a comprehensive list:

Category of food
Conventional choice
Clean choice
Refined, white sugar
Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Artificial Sweeteners (Splenda, Aspartame, etc.)
Sugar Alcohols (Xylitol, sorbitol, etc.)
SuCaNat (Sugar Cane Natural)
Agave Nectar
Raw Honey
Maple Syrup
Maple Sugar Flakes
Enriched White Flour
White Rice Flour
Unbleached white flour

White Rice

Quick Cooking Oats

Semolina (white) Pasta
Whole Wheat Flour
White Whole Wheat Flour
Brown Rice Flour
Kamut Flour
Spelt Flour

Brown Rice
Wild Rice

Rolled Oats
Steel Cut Oats
Whole Grain Malt O Meal

Whole Wheat Pasta
Brown Rice Pasta
Multi-grain Pasta
Conventionally Grown Produce
Organic Produce, specifically those you intend to eat the skin of and the “Dirty Dozen”:
Imported Grapes
Dairy and Eggs
Milk from cows treated with rBST

Conventional Cheese

Conventional Yogurt

Conventional Eggs
Organic Milk

Cheese that is free of hormones and antibiotics

Organic Yogurt

Cage-free or Organic Eggs

Conventional meat from animals treated with hormones and antibiotics

Processed, cured and preserved meats (bacon, hot dogs, brats, deli meat)
Meat from animals not treated with hormones and antibiotics, preferably allowed to roam in their natural environment

Uncured meats that do not contain added nitrates, nitrites, preservatives and sodium

In future posts I will explore the topics of how to start eating clean, the importance of reading nutrition labels, and how to shop each grocery store department. Also, check out a previous post that gave you a glimpse into my Simply Clean Fridge.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Quality pure vanilla extract is a clean eating kitchen staple. I personally use it several times a day. Vanilla extract adds a distinct dimension of flavor to my morning oatmeal, post-workout smoothies, mid-morning greek yogurt, homemade protein bars, the list goes on and on. However, at $7.60 per 4 oz bottle, this fabulous kitchen staple can really put a dent in our clean eating grocery budgets. So, when my dear friend, Melissa, told me that she was making her own homemade vanilla extract for a fraction of the cost of store bought I was all ears.

Vanilla Extract one of those items that never occurred to me could be so simple to make at home. I feel slightly embarrassed even calling this a recipe. Had I known that I could easily make my own vanilla extract I would have started saving money years ago!

Vanilla Extract

1 cup good quality organic vodka (I use Phillips Organic Prairie Vodka)
2 organic vanilla beans, split in half lengthwise

Combine the vodka and vanilla beans in a glass mason jar. Cover and shake vigorously. Store in a cool, dark place to steep.

Give the mason jar a good vigorous shake daily for 1 week. Vanilla extract will be ready to use.

At this point you can remove the vanilla beans; however, I let them steep until I use up all of the vanilla extract and it is time to make a new batch.

Tip: Look in the bulk spice section of your local co-op for BIG savings on vanilla beans. Local grocery stores usually charge upwards of $7 a piece for pre-packaged organic vanilla beans; however, I can pick up 2 vanilla beans at Valley Natural Foods for $3-$4 total. In addition, I have found that the bulk vanilla beans are softer and have more flavor than the pre-packaged vanilla beans.

Which kitchen staples do you make at home to save money?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cold Busting Smoothie

Monday morning Matt woke up with his very first cold and fever. I also woke up feeling under the weather. We toughed it out at daycare and work yesterday, but are laying low at home today. For second breakfast I made the following Cold and Fat Busting smoothie...

In the VitaMix went 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1/2 banana, a handful of strawberries, spinach, 1/2 an avocado, an orange, water and ice.

This meal in a cup is filled with Vitamin C, natural decongestants, flavonoids, enzymes, and essential minerals to not only ward off my sniffly nose but also help me in my pursuit to loose the baby weight.

In addition to eating lots of fruits and veggies, I have been loading up on clear fluids, especially water, Acai Pomegranate Coconut WaterTazo Zen Green Tea and Traditional Medicinals Mother's Milk Tea.

Matt has been taking lots of naps with his frog cool mist humidifier, cuddling, feeding frequently to keep his fluids up and using saline nasal drops along with a bulb aspirator.

Growing up I always loved Dole Pine-Orange Banana juice. Later today I plan on making a batch of protein popsicles that are a throwback to my summer days of childhood spent sipping that beloved juice. However, my version will soothe my sore throat while being figure friendly and loaded with Vitamin C and protein.