Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey Y’all!

I think I’ll forgo the weekly menu this week.  We will be with family all week, so who knows what our meals will entail!

We are planning on keeping our Thanksgiving pretty “clean”!

We’ll be making our pies with coconut sugar, whole wheat, and leaving out any canned fruit.  It’s all from scratch!

For our side dishes, we’ll be having lots of fresh veggies, and wholesome grains.

Aside from tons of good food, I’m looking forward to spending lots of time with these folks-

And these guys…..

Oh, and this super fun girl…..

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

{Whole Wheat} Sugar Cookies

I promised you a sugar cookie recipe in this post.

You would not believe how soft and delicious these were.  They did not taste whole wheat at all!

Now, why would I bother to make whole wheat cookies?  I explain it all here!

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

ingredients
  • 1/2 c + 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 c coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 c + 3 Tbs Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 tsp vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-3 Tbs Milk
directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat gluten, and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Scrape the bowl and add the dry ingredients. Mix well.

At this point, my dough was looking pretty dry.  Add milk, 1 Tbs at a time, until your dough is moist, but not too wet.  I used a little less than 2.5 Tbs.

Divide into three pieces. Roll out each of the 3 portions between two sheets of parchment paper.  Roll it to the thickness you like your cookies.  The thinner you roll it, the crispier your cookie. You are “rolling out” the dough now, because it’s hard to work with after its been chilled.  Experience speaking!

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Then, take out your dough, and place on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until a light golden brown.

Decorate!  Check out ideas here for junk free cookie decorating!

**recipe adapted from Joseph’s Grainery**

Linking up here!

{Dye FREE} Holiday Cookie Decorating

If you read this post, you know how I feel about artificial dyes!

The effect they have on my niños is noticeable-they get cranky, whiny, and super emotional! It makes them, and me, miserable.

Now that we have completely eliminated any artificial dye and processed sugar from our diets, the effect on them is noticeable if they do have those things.

Let’s just say Halloween around here was crazy-I let my kiddos eat lots of candy, full of lots of sugar, and lots of dyes.  It was not fun for anyone.  I’m not imagining these effects-my children, and I would venture to say most, are really affected by lots of dye and sugar.

With the holidays looming around the corner, I set out to find a way to make sugar cookies without all the junk!

Natural Food Coloring

I found an awesome Whole Wheat Sugar Cookie recipe (to come soon!), and I found A TON of really cool dyes and sprinkles that have NO artificial junk in them.

I bought my food coloring here.  I’m SUPER HAPPY with how vibrant the colors turned out when I mixed them up with some frosting!

The yellow was so pretty!

These dyes are made with things like beets, carrots, cabbage, turmeric, annatto, and spinach.

They are sugar free too.  That makes them just about perfect!

Junk Free Sprinkles

For the sprinkles, I found a great selection/price here.

Would you ever guess that these pretty sprinkles were artificial dye free?  They are colored with things like annatto, red cabbage & beet juice.

Now, I searched high and low for sprinkles that had no added sugar.  I just don’t think it’s possible.  So these dye free sprinkles do have sugar, but it’s not like you eat a whole jar all at once!  I would say the “sugar” in them is negligible.  The more important fact is that they are dyed naturally!

So, how did our whole wheat sugar cookies with no artificial dye turn out??

Just Lovely.

The cookies are vibrant, colorful, and tasted delicious.  A success!

Now, if you want to try your hand at making your own dyes (to save money, etc), here are some good resources:

DIY Natural Dyes
From Scratch Club: Natural Food Coloring

Happy Junk Free Decorating!

Linking up here!

Weekly Menu Nov 12th-16th

As a review of last week’s menu, here were our favorite meals!

My kiddos LOVED the empanadas!  I didn’t see that one coming.  I was floored at how fast they gobbled them down!

The chimichurri sauce was pretty awesome too!

This weather here this week has turned pretty cold.  Lots of warm soups in store for our menu this week!

Monday

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Melted Blue Cheese

Crusty Whole Wheat Rolls

Seasonal Fruit

Tuesday

Slow Cooker Indian Lentil Soup

Clean Eating Naan Bread

Brown Rice

Wednesday

Cajun Red Beans

Hatch Chile Corn Bread

Seasonal Fruit

Thursday

Farmstand Tomato Soup with Arugula Pesto

Whole Grain Artisan Loaf

Seasonal Fruit

Friday

Macaroni and Cheese
(using whole wheat pasta)

Seasonal Fruit

{Pumpkin} Streusel Pancakes

I’ve been on the look out for some fun Saturday morning-type recipes….when I found this recipe, I just knew I had to try it!

We are big pancake fans around here, and what a perfect combination for fall!  Pumpkin AND pancakes.  Yum.

Ready for the recipe??

Pumpkin Streusel Pancakes

Ingredients:

For the cinnamon streusel:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

To make the pancakes:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. First, make the cinnamon streusel. In a medium bowl, combine flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Mix together with your hands or a fork, until you have a crumbly mixture. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, coconut sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, pumpkin, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until combined.

4. Heat a griddle or pan to medium low. Coat with cooking spray. Drop 1/3 cup of batter onto heated skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon streusel. Cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip pancake over and cover very generously with cinnamon streusel. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Continue this process to make the rest of the pancakes.

5. Serve pancakes warm with maple syrup and butter.

**Note-my griddle was too hot at first, and my first batch burned before they were cooked through!  Make sure your griddle isn’t too hot!**

Lightly adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Linking up here!

Weekly Menu Nov 5th-9th

Hey Y’all!

Last week’s menu had some TASTY recipes….our favorite, hands down, was P.F. Chang’s night!

The Mongolian Beef was YUM-O!

Mr. Clean loved the Garlic Noodles!
(“clean” recipe coming soon!)

This Week’s Menu

Monday

Vegetarian Empanadas

Chimichurri Sauce

Mexican Rice

Seasonal Fruit

Tuesday

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Melted Blue Cheese

Crusty Whole Wheat Rolls

Seasonal Fruit

Wednesday

Cafe Rio Salad with {Clean Eating} Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Cafe Rio Style Black Beans

Cilantro Lime Rice

{Clean} Taco Chicken

Seasonal Fruit

Thursday

Kale Pesto Pasta



Sun Dried Tomato Mini Buns

Seasonal Fruit

Friday

Lebanese Taverna’s Hummus
BEST restaurant in D.C.!!!

Manakish – Lebanese Zaatar Bread

Warm Freekah Salad with Fig, Feta & Carmelized Onions

{Copy Cat Recipe} P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef

I love the Mongolian Beef at P.F. Chang’s!

When I found this recipe, I was excited to give it a try!

I’m happy to report that this tastes pretty darn close to P.F. Chang’s!

P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef

ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup water
½ cup coconut sugar
coconut oil , for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak (gras feed if po
¼ cup cornstarch
2 large green onions, chopped

directions:

for the sauce:
Heat 2 tsp. of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Don’t get the oil too hot.
Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.
Dissolve the coconut sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

for the beef:
Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.  Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef.  Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.  As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil). Heat the oil over medium heat until it’s nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté until brown. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.  After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels.  Dab excess oil off meat with a paper towel and add to medium saucepan with the sauce in it.  Put the pan back on the oven over medium/low heat.  Add chopped green onions and let sauce simmer until warm. Serve over brown rice.

**lightly adapted from Six Sister’s Stuff**

linking up here!

Our {TOXIC} Sugar Culture

Sugar has been on mind- a lot these days.

Seeing as today is Halloween, and my niños are being bombarded with sugar, I decided it was time to write this post.

I’m not writing to demonize sugar, but rather educate on healthy sugar intake!

First off, our bodies NEED glucose (or, sugar!)-it is the primary fuel source for all living things.  Our bodies can synthesize it, but it is much easier to obtain it through our diet.

You may not realize this, but the brain is a major consumer of glucose.  In fact, the brain uses 30% of the available pool of glucose.  Whenever you have that feeling that blood sugar is dropping, it’s because your brain is running out of glucose!  Your brain needs a steady stream of glucose-some people need food every 2 hours, some every 6-8.  Each person’s body is different.

So, where should you get the sugar/glucose your body needs?  FROM COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES!  Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to break down than simple ones, which helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level.

Where can you find complex carbs?  Legumes, unrefined WHOLE grains, fruits and vegetables.  These can fill your need for sugar quite nicely.

What you DO NOT want to do is constantly consume simple sugars to keep your body and brain going!

What are simple sugars?  Simple sugars are carbohydrates that are QUICKLY absorbed by the body to produce energy.  They are broken down quickly, producing a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.

Simple sugars are found in candy, cakes, SODA, sugary cereals, sugary yogurt, “fruit” drinks (think kool-aid), condiments (think ketchup, salad dressings, etc), and processed food in general.  Loading up on simple sugars is not doing yourself any favors, folks!

By this point, you are probably thinking, “I don’t eat THAT much sugar!”

Well, have you read the labels on what you eat lately?  Because sugar is in JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING.

Other names the food industry uses for sugar…..

  • barley malt
  • beet sugar
  • brown sugar
  • cane-juice crystals
  • cane sugar
  • caramel
  • carob syrup
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • date sugar
  • dextran
  • dextrose
  • diatase
  • diastatic malt
  • ethyl maltol
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • glucose solids
  • grape sugar
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltodextrin
  • maltose
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • refiner’s syrup
  • sorbitol
  • sorghum syrup
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • turbinado sugar

That’s not an exhaustive list!  There are other names.  Point is, if you want to watch your sugar intake, you have to be pretty vigilant about reading labels.

Now that you know WHY your body needs sugar, let’s talk about JUST HOW MUCH your body needs

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more that about 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.  For men, it is about 9 teaspoons.

What does the AVERAGE American consume per day?  Oh, that would be over 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day!  Most of which comes from sweet beverages.

I found some pretty disturbing statistics about our sugar consumption….in 1822, we ate the amount of added sugar in one 12 ounce can of soda every five days, while today we eat that much sugar every seven hours.

So, what are the effects of our constant sugar binging?

Degenerative diseases that were practically nonexistent 200 years ago, are now common place.  In fact, did you know that cardiovascular disease (now the most common type of heart disease!) was so rare at the early part of last century, that it wasn’t even studied until 1912?

So what has changed so dramatically between then and now to bring on devastating conditions like cardiovascular disease?  The industrialization of the food industry, and all that entails.  A huge spike in sugar consumption, processed and refined foods.

We have changed our food from being real food, to being chemically changed, altered and processed so that it doesn’t even resemble the kind of food you can grow in a garden.

To end,

Control your sugar intake.  Eat real food.

For more info on refined sugar alternatives, read here!

Weekly Meal Plan Oct 29th-Nov 2nd

***Be sure to Click the CLEAN EATING: WHERE TO START tab at the top of the page…..lots of good articles and resources to get YOU eating clean!***

Hello!  Last week’s meal plan was full of YUMMY dinners!

Here were our favorites!

The Farmstand Tomato Soup with Arugala Pesto was TO. DIE. FOR.  The best soup you’ll ever make.  I mean it!

The Grilled {fresh} Mozzarella Sandwiches we had that same night….HEAVEN!

The Spinach Pesto Quesadillas were awesome too.  Definitely a recipe I’ll use again!

Now, this week’s menu!

Monday

(this is what we had last night!)

{Clean} BBQ Chicken

Red Skin Mashed Potatoes
(I used sour cream instead of half & half)

Seasonal Fruit

Tuesday

Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash & Carrot Stew


Crusty Whole Wheat Rolls

(these look delish!)

Seasonal Fruit

Wednesday

Since it’s Halloween, I’m leaving this night open!  I know it will be craziness around these parts…..

Thursday

(Didn’t get to this last week…..sigh.  Try two this week!)

Ginger Scented Rice

P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef

P.F. Chang’s Garlic Noodles
(I will be heavily modifying this recipe….I’ll post a *clean* version if it turns out good!)

Friday

Pizza Margherita

Quick & Easy Salad

Seasonal Fruit

{Clean Eating} Pizza Margherita

If you read this post, you know how to make a killer {clean} pizza dough!
Today, I want to walk you through how to make an amazing Pizza Margherita!

Steps to an {awesome!} pizza

First, roll out your dough as thin as possible.

Place your dough on a pizza screen or cookie sheet.  Drizzle with Olive Oil.

Chop up those ripe tomatoes super thin, and spread them around evenly.

Stack your basil leaves….

Roll up your basil leaves tightly, and slice into thin strips.

Spread your basil and minced garlic evenly over your pizza.

Next up, cube your fresh mozzarella-not too big!

Spread that all over your pizza too!

My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures!  YUM!

Bake at 550 degrees for 5-10 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it, and don’t let your cheese burn!  You want it brown and bubbly.

{Clean Eating}

Pizza Margherita

ingredients

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
3-4 ripe tomatoes
8-10 fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
olive oil to drizzle

directions

Roll out dough as thin as possible.

Place dough on pizza screen or cookie sheet (will get much crispier on a screen)

Drizzle dough with olive oil.

Thinly slice tomatoes, and spread evenly over pizza.

Thinly slice basil, and spread over pizza.

Sprinkle pizza with minced garlic.

Take cubed cheese, and evenly distribute over pizza

Bake at 550 degrees for 5-10 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it, and don’t let your cheese burn!  You want it brown and bubbly.
Take out of oven, and let cool for 4-5 minutes.  This will make the cheese less runny when you cut it.

Enjoy!

Linking up here!