Category Archives: CrOcKpOt

the boredom of a hurricane

Yep, we are still “riding out the storm”.  It is like never ending.  That darn thing decided to just stall over southern Louisiana, for like 10 hours…..

So in an attempt to not go insane I am playing on the web, cooking some food while we have electricity, arguing with the hubster, eating to much, drinking a beer….which will probably turn into multiple beers, and arguing with people through facebook.

Yep you could say this hurricane sucks!  But in honor of my lovely little site that isn’t getting much love lately I decided to give you some insight into some of my fav recipes located under the recipe page 🙂

  • pear and mozzarella french toast
  • soft serve stuffed crepes
  • berry and peach breakfast pizza
  • almond joy oatmeal
  • pretty n pink oats
  • rootbeer float overnight oats
  • pancake and pear stacks
  • gingerbread pancakes
  • elvis waffles
  • lemon ricotta pancakes w/ blueberry sauce
  • gingerbread
  • granola, naturally
  • no bake chocolate oat bites
  • cowboy cookies
  • hello dollies
  • apple dumplings
  • butternut squash and goat cheese pasta
  • sweet & spicy tofu
  • spinach and artichoke pasta
  • curry chicken salad
  • BBB chili
  • okra fries
  • oven roasted corn
  • slow cooker bacon baked beans

So there you go, just a few of the things I love!  We are having the chili today, I have it on the stove now.  So go on over and check out the recipe page.  I am planning to add some new items to it soon, but sometimes it is good to revisit the old ones.

If you will excuse me I have to go drown myself in my sorrows now.  Which isn’t too hard since I am in the middle of a hurricane!!  Hopefully things will not get too bad, it is still south of my town so we are only getting the outer bands right now; however, if it continues on it’s track it will be right on top of my little town late today 😦

I expect to lose power eventually, until then I am soaking it all in.  Please continue to pray for us, lots of flooding and damage in my state.  Many people have had to be rescued off their roofs already. 

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Filed under baking, Breakfast, CHOCOLATE, CrOcKpOt, DESSERT, DINNER, favorites, Fruit, lunch, Uncategorized

Liven up leftovers

Ever wonder sometimes what you can do with leftover foods other than reheat and eat as before?  I always ask myself this question.  I mean Adam Sanders even talks about leftovers in his lunch lady song which sang about yesterday’s meatloaf!!

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I try to keep things interesting with my meals.  I am a creature of habit, but those that I live with are not as keen as I am to eat the same things everyday.  Which leaves me with the task of creating new meals with leftovers.  Like pot roast.  What do you typically do with left over pot roast? 

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Well where I am from we typically shred it and mix it with gravy/bbq sauce for sandwiches.  Which is good, but that big ol’ roast will last my family for about three meals as opposed to just two!  You see we have venison roasts, which is healthier than store bought beef roasts and are bigger!  So I made the usual pot roast with carrots & potatoes, then I made the usual bbq sandwiches, but I still had a hunk of meat left.  I couldn’t bear to throw it out so I went to work on brainstorming….

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  • Tacos – mmmm yeah I could do that but that requires a trip to the grocery. 
  • Chili – yeah but we eat chili often in the winter.  It is one of my go to crock pot meals for busy work days.
  • Stroganoff – I am sure the hubster would love that, but again requires a trip to the grocery for mushrooms.
  • Beefy Mac – yeah um last time I tried that I cried for three days because Brees never showed up!  I’ll be darn if he gets any more dishes made by me……unless of course he wins this year’s super bowl!!

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Then the light bulb went off…….why do we say this?  Think about it, doesn’t the light bulb actually “go on”??

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Beef Stir Fry

  • 2T canola oil
  • 2T sesame oil
  • 2T soy sauce
  • 2T cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • leftover roast beef, cut into pieces
  • bag frozen stir fry veggies, steamed ahead of time
  • brown rice
  1. Place the first four ingredients in a heated saute pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until cornstarch is blended 
  2. Slowly pour in water while whisking
  3. Add leftover roast beef
  4. Add veggies
  5. Top brown rice with beef mixture

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Not your typical pot roast dinner.  It is quick and easy to make, healthy to eat, and filling.  I do believe this will become one of my favorite “leftovers meals”!

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His chili, my way

I had two cravings this week.  Both of which I was able to enjoy.  Both that left the hubster looking at me strangely.  But when a girl has a craving, a girl has a craving!

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Craving numero uno – Hot Chocolate, my way!

  • 1/2c coconut milk
  • 1/2c almond milk
  • 1T cocoa powder
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1T nut butter of choice (I used dark chocolate dreams)
  • 1T chocolate chips
  • few marshmallows

Place both milk in a sauce pan to heat.  Pour into a blender, add the cocoa powder, stevia, nut butter, and the chocolate chips.  Blend until smooth.  Place the hot chocolate back into a mug and garnish with more chocolate chips & marshmallows.

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No I am not crazy, at least not today.  No I do not have my seasons mixed up.  Hello I live in Louisiana.  You can’t mix up your seasons in this state.  We only have one.  It is called beyond summer!

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But like I said when a girl has a craving…..

Craving numero dos – chili, my way!

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Now you all know how things go in my house.  The hubster wants (me) meat. 

okay side note……I totally typed “me” in as opposed to meat.  When I went back to proofread I  fell out of my chair laughing.  So I had to leave the me in there 🙂

I don’t buy meat.  So usually we don’t eat meat.  I knew that this would be a challenge when it came to making chili.  Give him a vegetable chili, and I guarantee he will throw it at me.  Or at least in the garbage.  So I did what any good wife would do. 

Nope I didn’t run out and buy ground meat.  I bought meat crumbles.  As in meat substitute crumbles.  He will never know!

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His Chili, My Way

  • 1 pkg meat crumbles ( I used morning star)
  • 1 can chili ready diced tomatoes
  • 2 small cans tomato sauce
  • 1 can beans drained & rinsed
  • 1/3c vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3T chili powder
  • 1T ground cumin
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1-2T liquid smoke

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker.  Cook on low if you are leaving this on all day.  If you are home you can cook on high for around 3-4 hours. 

I prepared everything the night before in the crock pot bowl, and then placed it in the refrigerator overnight.  This saved me time in the morning.  I simply placed the bowl into the heating part of the slow cooker and turned it on!

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Serve with rice, corn bread, or my favorite way – with a baked sweet potato.

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WIAW – with my shot

**update:  I had computer issues at work earlier with trying to add the link for Jenn’s blog 😦  so I am know updating the page to reflect her link, go give that girl some love!

I had to get a shot today 😦

Whoever said those things do not hurt – you lied!

We had a local clinic provide flu shots for our staff at school, so like any good mother/school employee I patiently waited in line to have a needle jammed into the top of my arm.  I understand why my kids hate me so much when I take them for theirs.  For those future mothers out there…..never tell your kids it’s okay it is not going to hurt.  It does!

Now my arm is sore 😦

I feel like someone has punched me super hard in it.  I feel like I have lifted one to many reps of a way to heavy arm weight.  I feel like someone should invent an oral flu vaccination!  Is it funny to torture us with needles? 

If your house is like my house those things are a necessity.  Truly they are.  Last year the boys couldn’t get one due to the whole shortage thing.  Guess what?  They both had the flu.  At the same time!  Which meant a week of misery for us all, a week of work missed for us all, and a vacation was mucho, mucho needed seven days later for us all.  Well all but the hubster.  He didn’t get the flu.  He didn’t have the misery of taking care of sick children.  He didn’t have to eat up his PTO for a week at home caring for sick babies.  Guess what else?  He didn’t get to pick the vacation!

Peas and Crayons

So no matter how bad it hurts.  No matter how sore my arm is.  I will/can still enjoy a wonderful day of eats 🙂

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Breakfast:  Oat bowl, coffee (as usual)

Snacks:  Apples & nut butter (that is a picture of my son’s lunch…lol! – recycling pics :), yogurt

Lunch/Dinner:  Salads, baked beans w/ couscous

“Dessert””:  Sandwich thin with pumpkin, a little stevia,  & cream cheese

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In other news – Helen, Naturally is gearing up for fall!  I battled the heat, climbed in the attic, and pulled down the fall decorations 🙂 

I have to tell you that I only put out fall decorations this time of the year.  I use to decorate for each holiday.  That became a little expensive.  Considering that the holidays change like crazy this time of year, I have small children that always break things, and did I mention I have small children?  Yeah they always see something new each year they want.  So now we stick with just fall decor!

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A few items scattered on the mantle.

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Updated wreath!  This was super easy.  I removed the ribbons/butterflies from the summer version, wrapped a fall ribbon around the wreath, and then I simply hung the above sign that I already had in front of it, making it look like part of the wreath 🙂

Happy Fall ya’ll!

p.s. – Mr. Weather can you please cool down already.  I mean we are just a little tired of 90-100*temps here in Louisiana!  Mmmkay, thank you 🙂

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Slow cooker “bacon” flavored “baked” beans

Raise you hand if you are a fan of bacon…..(I have both raised)

Raise you hand if you are a fan of beans…….(yep still both raised)

Raise you hand if you are a fan of the slow cooker……(yep – two hands)

source

I know, I know….you are thinking who is this crazy lady, asking us this crazy question that she should obviously know the answer to.

Let me just say – I never claimed to NOT be crazy so just humor me with this will you?

Oh and p.s. don’t tell the hubster that I said I agree that I am crazy.  As far as he is concerned, I am not!  No matter what I do, ask, request, or how much I spend…..hello please send my package already crazy people…..to him I am not crazy.  I mean I have to have something to argue with him about, right? 

And no I will not argue about how much I spend on super secret package.  I make my own pay check mister.  I have my own bank account.  It was your idea to have separate accounts….so guess what? My money is my money, I can spend it how I see fit!

But back to this regularly scheduled post……

As I stated in yesterday’s post we had lunch at my brother’s house on Sunday.  It was for my niece’s baptism.  She is such a little cutie 🙂

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I was asked to bring baked beans.  So let’s think about this for a minute.  You want me – Helen – the one that is late for everything to cook a dish.  Like really cook! 

The girl that takes more than an hour to dress herself (yes this is true – but only if I am really dressing up).  The girl that has two very active little boys to dress.  The girl that has to make a thirty minute drive to get to your house, minimum, and you want me to be there by 10:30…..yeah cooking “ain’t” happening!

Oh and I am in a house full of meat eaters!  Like meat and potato eaters, and yes we had chicken legs there the size of my thigh…..come on people how many times do I have to preach to you about the steroids for you to stop eating it! 

So how do I get bacon flavor into beans without actual bacon????  Liquid Smoke!

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  • 3 cans navy beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 3T molasses
  • 3T maple syrup
  • 2T yellow mustard
  • 1-2T liquid smoke, depending on how intense you want the flavor
  • 1T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3c ketchup (make sure it doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1/3c vegetable broth
  • 1/2t chili powder
  • 1t sea salt
  • 1 small can tomato sauce

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker, turn on high for 4 hours, eat and enjoy!

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I enjoyed mine as is for lunch at the cookout, but later that night I added in some couscous that I had in the fridge.  A perfect, balanced dinner!  Have a salad along side the beans and you will have your carbs, protein, and veggies all wrapped up in one 🙂 

Happy girl, happy girl!

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Back on Track w/ WIAW

Due to technical difficulties I was unable to post my WIAW.  So I am giving it to you this morning, better late than never right 🙂

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If you missed yesterday’s post, I wrote a plea to Autumn (Fall) to hurry up and get here.  I haven’t heard back yet.  I will let you know as soon as I do.

Until then let’s celebrate hump day……don’t go there with me, you obviously didn’t read my last post on that topic……I am talking Wednesday!

Shout out to our wonderful host Jenn.  Go check out her blog for food inspiration!

 Peas and Crayons

What I Ate Wednesday – back on track edition 🙂

I started my morning off with a lovely cup of warm lemon water – this is being consumed first thing every morning.

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Breakfast:  pumpkin & walnut oat cakes & coffee

Morning snack:  plain greek yogurt, stevia drops, autumn granola, a couple shredded wheat biscuits (kashi)

Lunch:  pesto pasta, navy beans, green peas (I promise the navy beans are under the pasta)

Afternoon Snack:  boiled egg, apple

Dinner:  red beans, brown rice, cornbread, venison sausage, roasted sweet potato slices

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I enjoyed water through out the day today as well as some nice blueberry tea (herbal) with lunch.  My water consumption has dropped from its usual amount over the last month.  It is my goal to get the recommended 8-12 cups daily back into my routine.  I use to drink water like crazy and would never have to think about how much I am getting.  Of course with cleansing water consumption is uber important in order to flush toxins from your body.  So I have been tallying my totals daily.  Monday I was at 7 cups and yesterday I was at……… so things are getting back on track slowly.  I am still going to tally over the next few weeks until the habit is developed again.  Oh and I need to get some more green tea pronto – also a good beverage to help flush toxins from your system 🙂

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Helen, Naturally’s very first………..

 

Peas and Crayons

 WIAW 🙂

I have been promising to join in the party for many weeks now, and well – a promise is a promise!

Today I present to you the first ever……..

Helen, Naturally – What I Ate Wednesday

 

BREAKFAST – the most important & loved meal of the day 🙂

    • whole wheat english muffin with fried egg & steak sauce
    • cottage cheese w/ sliced banana, cinnamon, and honey
    • coffee

LUNCH

    • romaine
    • artichoke hearts
    • cucumber slices
    • grilled hamburger (from last night’s dinner)
    • ranch dressing

SNACK

Source

cliff bar (help I’m addicted) I have been using these as replacements for candy bars since vacation.  Trying to tame that sweet tooth again……lol!

 

DINNER

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    • pork loin
    • baked corn
    • salad

What?  You’ve never had baked corn? 

  • 16 oz  fresh/frozen corn kernels (I am fortunate to have some in the freezer from Dad’s garden)
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2T butter or butter substitute
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place corn in an over safe casserole dish.  Beat the egg and milk together, pour this over the corn.  Cut the butter into chunks and drop over the mixture.  Sprinkle on some salt & pepper, and place the dish in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 1 hour.

That’s it – super easy.  Taste great too 🙂

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ball game eats: part I

Kohl has a t-ball game tonight!

Noah has ball practice tonight!

Practice starts at 5:30.  The game starts at 6:00, which means we have to  be at the field for 5:30…..what?  Thankfully I have Dad to rely on, and both fields are within a couple miles of each other. 

But what will I do when one is playing in one town, while the other one is playing 10 miles away on another field?  How is a mother to choose which child to watch? 

Needless to say nights like this will not be filled with delicious cooked from scratch meals.  There will be no plates stacked with spaghetti and meatballs with fresh herbs,  no freshly baked breads, and no darn baked desserts!

This requires some pre-planning and organization.  Lucky for my family I am of the OCD type.  Lucky for my family I care about what they eat.  Lucky for the hubster’s wallet I insist that we have a good dinner and save the concession stand food for really desperate times!

I guess a quick stew and grilled cheese will have to do 🙂 <—-love those rhyming skills don’t you!

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Crock Pot Minestrone Stew

  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can veggie broth
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery diced
  • 1/2c chopped onion
  • 1t thyme
  • 1/2t sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & black pepper
  • 2c cooked pasta
  • 1 medium squash, chopped (originally calls for zucchini)
  • 2 c spinach
  • parmesan cheese
  1. In a crock pot, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, squash/zucchini celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
  3. Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add pasta and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese.

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This is what I consider a type of stew since it has little liquid.  Of course an extra can or two of veggie stock easily turns this recipe into a soup.

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Serve a bowl along side one of my pear & mozzarella stuffed french toast   🙂

Oh and let’s not forget about dessert – good thing I made this last night!

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Banana Cream Pudding

  • 1 pkg of instant banana cream pudding mix
  • 2c almond milk
  • 1-2 banana(s), sliced
  • vanilla wafer cookies
  • heavy whipping cream
  • vanilla stevia drops

Mix the pudding according to package directions with the milk and set aside.  Pour your whipping cream into a chilled mixing bowl and add in the stevia drops.  Turn the mixer on and whip until peaks form.  While the pudding is setting arrange cookies and banana slices in the bottom of your serving dish.  Take half of the whipped cream and gently fold into the pudding.  Pour half of the pudding mixture on top of the cookies/bananas, top with more cookies/bananas, add another layer of pudding, top with remaining whipped cream and cookie crumbles.

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I had to make this for the work husband.  He requested it.  Unfortunately I picked up the regular pudding as opposed to the sugar free, the boys will be happy.  Now I usually like to make this home made so that I can use stevia as the sweetener but time did not allow for that.  So we cheated a little on this one.  Hey at least work husband is happy 🙂

So hopefully one day in the near future I will venture into home made southern banana pudding and share the recipe with you…..I see the future….chances are good!

For now the quick stuff will have to do.  I mean I can only do so much pre-planning and organizing.  I only have so many minutes in a day…I know gasp right.  And it is better than concession stand fair since the whipped cream is homemade.

But hey these are desperate times.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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fairy time

Today was a great day!

Not only was it great because it is Friday, but I was able to spend some time with my little kitchen fairy and his class today.

We celebrated all things Cajun/Louisiana.

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Red beans & rice, gumbo, jambalaya, & boiled crawfish.  Now a mom can get use to this type of lunch 🙂

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We even had some entertainment for the afternoon 🙂

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Yes, that is a real gator. 

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Yes, that is a grown man singing and dancing for a group of pre-k’s and 3rd graders.

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I am not sure what frightens me more – the gator or the man!

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Not only did I get to see my kitchen fairy, but my fairy helper was allowed to come out and enjoy the entertainment as well.

Nothing as enjoyable as spending some time with your fairies 🙂

But I do have something that is enjoyable.  What makes it enjoyable?  It contains orange juice, it contains chicken, and it contains your crock pot.  Now who doesn’t enjoy cooking in the crock pot!

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Crockpot Orange Chicken

  • 1.5T soy sauce
  • 1.5T water
  • 5T rice vinegar
  • 1/2c orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4c green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1T sesame oil
  • 4 small chicken breasts, or two large
  • 2T cornstarch, 2T water
  1. Mix first 9 ingredients in a small bowl.  Place the chicken in the crock pot and pour the sauce over the top.  Set on low and cook for 7-8 hours. 
  2. Remove the chicken from the crock pot and reserve the liquid in a sauce pan
  3. Combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl until corn starch is dissolved.  Add this to the liquid and cook until thicken.
  4. Serve chicken over rice with sauce on top.

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Saves you lots of time with dinner so you can spend time with the kitchen fairies!

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My Journey

Today’s post is taking on a more serious tone that the usual.  I hope that you will take the time to read through the post and really consider my words.  Several of my readers will know this information (fellow bloggers) because you have the same basic principles.  For those of you that aren’t as familiar, this one’s for you!

Before we begin let me leave you with some photos of today’s eats.  Basically all leftovers so nothing exciting to report, just yummy to look at!

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There has been somewhat of a buzz going on in my life lately pertaining to health, weight, clean eating, exercise, etc.  As many of you as bloggers know, we often times have to deal with others questioning our lifestyles.  More often than not the questions are out of curiosity or they genuinely just want information.  I do occasionally get the idiotic questions/comments from uneducated people that feel my way is just plan dumb!  My answer for those – to each her own 🙂

Let’s change the course back to the original path in order to keep this post free of pessimism shall we.  Like I said I get asked questions very often, and while I am no expert, I try to answer the questions with as much knowledge as possible.  At any given day you can find me at some point reading/researching on the net about nutrition, foods, benefits of certain items, etc.  I like to stay informed and educated on the topic of clean eating.

My path to clean eating did not happen overnight.  As mentioned before, I grew  up in a very rural area where we planted garden, drank fresh milk, and raised our own animals for meats.  This was just the way of life for me as a child.  Because of that upbringing I have a love for fruits and vegetables.  I will pretty much eat any fruit or vegetable you put in front of me.  So I basically had a good foundation for eating clean.  I know that is why the transition was so easy for me.  Even before clean eating my dinners would be filled with home cooked meals, lot’s of vegetables, yogurts, etc.  What was so different?  I ate sugar laden yogurts, I was a dessert queen, white sugar, white flour, fried foods, you get the picture.  So my diet needed an overhaul but not a major one.  I loved wheat bread and such, I just found it more budget friendly to use the same products that the hubster and kids would eat as well. 

I finally got off of the budget issue, and it was the best thing I have ever done.  I even have the family eating healthier options now, that’s another story as well.

Instead my path to clean eating came about when I just needed to do things for my health.  You see I have vitamin deficiencies, bacterial deficiencies, female issues and the such.  That and the fact that I would spend time in the gym daily throughout the week with no difference in the way my body was shaped.  I say shaped because I was not trying to lose weight but gain definition.  I finally consulted an old friend of mine that is also a personal trainer and owns her own training facility.  Her answer was simple – clean up the diet! 

So that is what I did and I haven’t looked back.  That’s not to say I do not enjoy life, treats, family gatherings, dessert, or even the beloved fried seafood of Louisiana.  Of course I do.  But I do so consciously.  I know it is a treat or splurge, not something to be consumed on a daily basis.  So what are the benefits of eating clean for me, here you go:

  • more energy
  • clear skin
  • healthier hair
  • no longer have to take a bag of supplements
  • digestive issues have lessened (I say this because I still have to work in this area)
  • many of the health issues I had are now gone
  • no acid reflux

I think you get the picture.  My overall health is better, but the main point is I just feel so much better.  It is easy to get carried away with eating during holidays, parties, or special occasions.  While I enjoy myself to the fullest during those events, I can always tell the difference the following day.  I am bloated, sluggish, and just feel drained.  That is a lovely reminder as to the importance of clean eating.

So what is clean eating?  The definition of clean eating will vary depending on who you ask.  Every person has their own explanations for the lifestyle (yes I said lifestyle it is not a diet).  Clean eating to me is simply eating as close to nature as possible.  This means no processed foods, no white sugar/flour, no chemically charged food, eat whole grains, nuts & seeds, lean meats for protein, beans, legumes, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.  Again it all goes back to nature.  If you couldn’t grow it, don’t eat it!  Here are a few more tips to help you on the clean eating path. 

  1. You must read labels.  So many things that you think are healthy are really full of artificial ingredients.  Sure the calories are low and the fat grams are low, but give me a tablespoon of natural peanut butter on whole grain bread over a miniature “healthy cupcake” and day! 
  2. Eat several small meals daily.  I usually eat every three hours or so.  This not only keeps me satiated through out the day, but I never feel deprived since I eat all day. 
  3. Drink around 2 liters (or more) of water daily.  I also enjoy coffee in the mornings and various teas throughout the day.  I love to end my day with a chai tea latte 🙂
  4. Consume sweets in moderation.  I love sweets!  Always have and always will.  I still enjoy my desserts, I just just use healthier ingredients.  Moderation is key.

If you have any questions or comments about clean eating, how to get started, books, or anything else feel free to email me.  Keep in mind that I am not an expert, but I do have a lot of information and will help as much as possible.  I can be reached at helennaturally(at)gmail(dot)com.

With all of that being said, several people that I know have started eating clean and freak out when they eat what they call “dirty” food.  No food is dirty, some is just more nutritional than others.  Sugar is from nature, just go with the least refined/processed option you have available such as turbinado or succanat,  not white. 

If you want dessert, have dessert.  Just do not have it everyday.  I want to suggest a post for all to read.  Avery over at Love Veggies and Yoga wrote a post about how rules are meant to be broken.  Please take the time to read that here.  I think it will help shed some light on the all things in moderation concept.  I really enjoyed the post!

So remember, keep it as close to nature as possible, but enjoy life to it’s fullest!  Who would want to go through life without ever having a piece of cake again? 

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