Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Clean Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yep. You read that right! Clean PEANUT BUTTER and CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS. You are permitted to smile now. 

Can't you just taste the peanut buttery goodness? And melty chocolate-ness? 

I found this recipe on Pinterest...really, isn't that where all recipes come from these days? The picture looked so yummy and it just sounded sooooo good, so I hoped on over to the blog that it was pinned from: Kaitlin in the Kitchen

White flour, brown sugar, butter....hmmm, those are all delicious tasting things, but when you are trying to clean up your food for digestion purposes, it's not going to work. As much as my kids would LOVE the originial recipe...they need to poop! So that's when I decided to play around and clean this recipe up. 

This was the first time that I took a baking recipe and changed it. I've done it once with a dinner recipe that I had, Mandarin Orange Chicken, but that was pretty easy. So now I wanted to try my hand at baking. 

I did some research to find out what could substitute for brown sugar. I knew honey was used a lot for white sugar, but I didn't know about brown. I found out that if you mix honey and molasses it replicates the brown sugar taste. You want to use mostly honey with just a little molasses, though, because you don't want it to be overpowering. Typically when you convert a dry ingredient to a wet ingredient you go by weight. But seeing as how I did not have a kitchen scale at the time...I winged it. Luckily it turned out pretty good.  (Side note: I did end up buying one for future use.) Now that I have a scale, when I make these again, I'm going to use it and see if it changes. If it does I will post it on here.

Switching the flour was easy. First I tried White Whole Wheat Flour and then I tried Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. They both worked, so you can use either one, but I preferred the pastry flour. The muffins were less heavy with the pastry flour. I already had pastry flour because I use it for my pizza dough, so it was easy to substitute, but if you just have wheat flour then go ahead and use that!

Next up was the butter. Applesauce is used a lot in place of vegetable oil, so I knew it would work for the butter as well. I thought about doing half butter and half applesauce, but I wanted to get the recipe as clean as possible. So the first time I made these I used all applesauce and it worked great. Just make sure you get the originial, no sugar added kind of applesauce. 

The last change I made wasn't a necessary one, but I thought it would be good. I changed the milk to unsweetened almond milk. Some people don't drink milk, but we still do. However, we have just lessened our milk intake. I use Almond Milk for my coffee, for any baking that needs milk, on granola, in smoothies...it's good for almost anything! So I switched that in here, too. BUT if you don't have almond milk, don't let that stop you from making these. Just use your regular milk. 

I also made one addition. I added Flax Seed, shocker, I know. As I've stated before, I've learned to add Flax Seed and/or Wheat Germ to everything. I thought I'd take it one at a time, so I just added Flax Seed this time. Next time I'll try wheat germ and I'll let you know how it turns out!

Ok, so on to the good stuff!

This recipe is insanely easy to make. First you mix all of your dry ingredients.

In another bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients (including the peanut butter).

It should look like this. The peanut butter will be lumpy and won't mix as well, but just keep whisking. It's ok if the PB is not completely mixed in.

Next, mix the dry and wet ingredients together. I started by just stirring with a spoon, but then I got out my hand mixer and that worked much better. I like my batter smooth. 

Once the batter is mixed, then you want to add your chocolate chips. Just mix them in with your spoon.

Line your muffin tin with paper, foil, or silicone cups. I would highly recommend using cups instead of just spraying your pan. 

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Drooling yet?

You know how I just said to use muffin cups instead of spraying the pan? Here's why:

 Kind of looks like a mushroom/muffin...huh?

Hey, it does still taste the same, so it's your call!

I tested these out on Chad and the kids....and I got a resounding, mouths-full-of-muffin "YES!". So I think they passed the test. In fact, it worked out nicely that I wanted to make them again to tweak a couple of things, since they were gone in about two days!

I would say for my first baking recipe conversion - SUCCESS! 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • 2 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground Flax Seed
  • 1/2 cup honey, with a touch of molasses
  • 6 Tbsp natural applesauce
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (unsweetened almond) milk
  • 1/2 chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper/foil/silicone cups.

Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, flax seed) in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together wet ingredients (honey w/ molasses, applesauce, PB, eggs, milk) in a large bowl. When fully combined, mix in the dry ingredients and blend with electric hand mixer until smooth. Now stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way. 

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool and then devour!

Or you can store them in a container on the top shelf and hide them from the rest of the family.....what? I would never do that....just saying....

A couple more things about the "clean" nature of this recipe. As with all things clean, you can make them as clean as you want or not. With things like the Peanut Butter, I use the natural peanut butter from Jif. It's not perfect, but it has less sugar than normal peanut butter. For the chocolate chips, you can use regular ones, or you can find the ones in the health food section that are more "clean" worthy. Realistically, this isn't a recipe you are going eat all the time if you are trying to drop some lbs, BUT it's a great alternative for people wanting to clean up their eating. I've been happy to learn that, while clean eating is definitely more time consuming, it doesn't mean that we don't get to eat the food that we've always loved. 

Let me know what you think of the recipe! Or if you have any other ideas on things to substitute or add in, please share!

Now, if you'll excuse me...I have a date with my breakfast plate. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

One of THOSE days...

It's one of those days. 

You know the kind. You can barely get out of bed because the exhaustion won't let go. You make your to-do list for the day and it's filled with more things than you can humanly accomplish in 24 hours, and you try to prioritize but you can't because they ALL have to get done. You loose track of time and now you are having tortilla chips and coffee for breakfast. The dog won't stop barking at every little thing outside, which makes your head throb just a little bit more. You sit down to pay the bills and wonder where all the money went, and then fight the urge to go hide under the covers for the rest of the day, which wouldn't work anyway since you would have cold little bodies climbing in with you and kicking you in the back and poking you in the face.

And it's only 8:30am.

Where's the giant chocolate-fudge-chocolate-molten-chocolate cake with chocolate icing?

Those are the days when hope is hard to hold on to. You feel like the day is out of control and it hasn't even started yet. Maybe there are health problems weighing on your mind. Maybe the dog needs to get to vet because you think he has fleas. Maybe the paycheck you got on Friday is gone, but there are bills that still need to be paid. Or maybe your usually adorable three-year-old has colored on the wall for the last time. No matter what the issues are, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

When I went to the Hearts-at-home conference last month, I took a class called Grace(and a plan) for THOSE Days. Now the focus of this class was more along the lines of finding grace in the midst of chaos created by your children. But what about when life is just chaos in general? 

I was having a day much like the one described above. In the midst of my not-so-great morning, I had a mini break down and the tears just started flowing. After an hour long conversation with my dad, I calmed down and was able to think straight again. 

Once I got my head on straight and blew my nose 100 times, I looked at my to-do list and started over. Pay bills, check. Throw a load of laundry in and move on to the next thing. One thing at a time, Evie. Then I remembered the class I took at H-A-H and I dug out my notebook from the conference.

First note I wrote down: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Ahhhh, that's right. I'm not alone! There is some other mom out there right now having a meltdown with me. And if not right now, then every mom I know has had a moment like this at some point in her life. (And if you say that you haven't, then you, miss, are a liar.) Remembering that other moms have been through hard times can help. Some women put on the air of perfection, acting as if all is well in the world and nothing can bring them down. But I guarantee that at one time or another, they too felt the walls closing in. They are just really good at hiding it. And you know what? Props to them! I wish I was that good at hiding my problems! Heck, I'm sitting here unloading my dirty laundry on the internet for crying out loud. Obviously, I can't keep my big mouth shut. Look at me! I have LOTS of problems!! Ok, sorry, I had to lighten the mood a little. 

So what happens when your bad day turns into a bad week? Or maybe a bad month? Or for some people a bad year? It can get really hard to hold on to hope through times like this. I have friends that have been through things such as cancer scares, house foreclosures,  bankruptcies, loss of a child...the list goes on. How do these people manage to still get up every morning and keep on going? I have a bad morning with some piddly issues at home and I want to jump into a gallon of ice cream.

Here are some verses that might help when you are struggling in the midst of a bad...life.

Romans 12:12 - "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."

Honestly, I could stop with this one. It says it perfectly. I think the hard part is rejoicing in hope, which is hard to do when you are having a hard time. But if we can remember to be patient in the hard times and to constantly pray, not pray a couple times, but pray continually, it will help us find that hope to rejoice in. This is an area where I struggle. I don't pray as often as I should, I'll send up a prayer here and there when I'm in the moment and really struggling, but I don't pray constantly about what ever is concerning me.

Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

2 Corinthians 5:7 - "We walk by faith, not by sight."

These two kind of go hand in hand. Faith is a huge part of hope. There is no hope if you don't have faith in the one you have hope in. A friend reminded me of the 2 Corinthians verse yesterday. It's her "mantra" so to speak, and for what their family has been through, it's perfect. If we went strictly by what we see and what we experience, we would all be so hopeless. We would have nothing to hold on to, we would have no hope that the bills would get paid, that we'll be able to get healthy even when we fall off the wagon, that we'd make it through a rough patch with our spouse, that we'd ever see that lost child again. We need to hold onto the hope that God provides us through our faith. 

Job 11:18 - "You will be secure because there is hope, you will look about you and take rest in your safety."

Security. That's a nice feeling isn't it? I doubt Job had much reason to feel secure. If you have never read Job, then I highly recommend it. If you think your life is bad...this guy lost EVERYTHING. And yet, he kept his faith in God and had hope for the future. And God stayed true to him. 

When I first started writing this blog post, I was having a bad day. And unfortunately, my bad day turned into a bad week. Now it's Sunday, the beginning of a new week, and I'm wary of the days ahead. But as I type, my 3-year-old is sitting at the lunch table singing "I want a pickle, hey, hey, hey" from the movie Little Rascals and it makes me smile.


I can hope that tomorrow will be better than today. That next week will be better than this week. That I will be able to accomplish my tasks and spend time with my children. I can hope that I will stop eating brownies for breakfast and start pay attention to my eating again. (Don't judge, you've done it, too.) I can pray constantly for God to give me patience, endurance, and strength to make it through the bad days. And I can have faith that He will get me through them. 

And the biggest thing of all for me? I have to remember that it could always be worse. I am blessed to have a roof over my head, clothes in my closet, a steady income, two of the most wonderful daughters I could ask for, and a husband that loves me. I am also blessed to have a God that forgives me and loves me unconditionally, even when I have pity parties for myself and I feel overwhelmed and hopeless. 

Maybe it's not such a bad day after all. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Black Bean Enchiladas

Another Mexican dish....what can I say? They are just THAT good! I can't help but share!

I found this via Pinterest (per usual), but it comes from a post on Self.com. Here is the Link. The only thing that I did to clean up the recipe was use a homemade enchilada sauce and sprouted grain tortillas. Otherwise this is perfect!

This one is particularly special because it is meatless, so it's easy on the budget, but tastes good enough that no one in your family will care. With the black beans you still get your dose of protein, and if you pair it with some brown rice you'll get even more. If you really love black beans, then you could make the Brown Rice and Beans side dish I posted a while ago. Either way, you don't have to worry about protein!

One nice thing about this dish is that it uses enchilada sauce, which I have a clean recipe for. The recipe makes more than enough for this dish, so you can freeze the leftover sauce and you'll have it for next time. It makes it even easier to throw this together for dinner. 

For once, you don't need green peppers, just onions. Cook some chopped onions in olive oil and sprinkle in Cumin. 

Once the onions are cooked, add the black beans, corn, tomatoes, and cheese. Then you roll the filling up in taco shells and place in a greased baking dish. 

Pour any remaining bean mixture over the top of the tacos. Then pour enchilada sauce on top.

Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Top with cheese, and put back in oven until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

And there you have it! A meatless-mexican meal everyone will love.

Black Bean Enchiladas
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup frozen fire-roasted whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup chunky medium salsa
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • tortillas
  • Enchilada sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray large baking dish with cooking spray (I use a sunflower oil). 
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cumin; cook and stir 4-5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in corn, salsa, beans, and half of the cheese. Remove from heat.
On a microwavable plate, stack tortillas and cover with a damp paper towel; microwave on high for one minute to soften. Place 1/4 cup (or more if you choose) bean mixture along center of each tortilla. Roll up tightly and place seam side down in baking dish. Spoon remaining mixture on top. Pour Sauce over enchiladas, spreading to coat all of them evenly. 
Bake 25 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Top with remaining cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

So here are my amendments to this recipe. 

  • Fire-roasted corn - I couldn't find this at the store, but I did find Green Giant's Honey Roasted Sweet Corn in the Steamer bag and I thought it tasted fine. This corn isn't "clean" so if you really want to be clean you could just use canned corn. But the frozen kind has some peppers mixed in, which tasted pretty good. I found this at Kroger, but it's Green Giant so it's probably anywhere. 
  • Salsa - you can use any salsa, but I used an organic salsa that I also got at Kroger.
  • Tortillas - Again, if you want to be "clean" then you can make your own tortillas or I buy Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas found in the freezer section.
  • Enchilada Sauce - you can buy this canned if you want, the original recipe calls for one can. I make my own and then freeze the leftover for next time. That way you can use as little or as much as you want.
Here is the recipe for the enchilada sauce: (Link to original recipe)

Homemade Enchilada Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp flour (I used White Whole Wheat flour - you can use GF flour, too)
  • 1 14oz can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a medium saucepan combine tomato sauce, water, and spice mix and stir until combined. Heat until the sauce is warmed through or as thick as you want it. To thin it out add more water. Use what you need for your recipe and then freeze any leftovers.

I hope your family like this recipe as much as mine does! Usually when I tell the girls we are having bean enchiladas I get the typical "I don't like those!", but then once it hits their plates...they eat it up.

 So try this out on your next Mexican night....Just remember to take it easy on the margaritas!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PB&J Smoothie

I've heard of snow days...maybe even in some parts of the world there are heat days...but a RAIN day? That's a new one. But for those of us lucky enough to live in the Midwest, the land of a hormonal Mother Nature, we now know what a Rain Day is. 

The kids are home, plans have to be cancelled, maybe there are calls in to work, and in between pumping water out of your basement and keeping the kids entertained...you still have to feed the family. 

Never fear! I have found a lunch smoothie to come to the rescue! I found this on a website called 100 Days of Real Food. Lisa has TONS of great recipes for people looking to avoid processed foods and she has been on the Dr. Oz show. I found this smoothie recipe one day and I thought there is no way it really tastes like PB&J. She claims that your kids will slurp it until the last drop. So I decided to give it a try. 

She was right. My kids slurped this down so fast, I barely had the blender rinsed out. Then for 5 minutes Olivia went on and on about how good it was and she could eat it all day everyday and it's the best smoothie she's ever had and can I make it tomorrow, too and....you get the picture. 

So, on this rainy day, I thought that this yummy smoothie would be the perfect lunch. Easy and quick to make, easy clean up, and satisfied youngsters. Win!

5 ingredients is all you need! Milk, Apple Juice, Peanut Butter, Bananas, and frozen berries (we like using blueberries).

 Throw it all in the blender and blend until smooth.

Mmmmmmmm, looks yummy. I add some ice to make it colder and more smoothie-ish. 

Do you hear that? It's silence.....ahhhhh....Careful, though...it won't last long. Before you know it, you'll hear SLLLUUUUURRRRRP SLLLLUUUUUURRRRRRP.

Ok, here's what you're looking for, the recipe:

PB&J Smoothie

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 bananas (or you can use one, but it IS better with two)
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh berries
  • Ice if you want
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour in cup, add straw, and prepare for slurping.

One time I made this, but I didn't have apple juice. So here is an alternate recipe if you don't have the juice. It tasted pretty much the same.

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 peanut butter
  • 1-2 bananas
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • ice
I hope your kids like this as much as mine do! The next time you have an unexpected "Rain Day" you can whip this up and the kiddos will love you even more (as if that's possible). Happy Rain Day everyone!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

You May Not Love Your Muffin Top....

......but someone does. 

About every other week I go on my major grocery shopping trip and then maybe once or twice in between I make a pit stop at the local store to grab some milk, eggs, fruit, etc. Every time I go, the same thing happens. As I stand in the never-ending line at the check out I read all the headlines on the magazines and fight the urge to waste $3.00 on one of them. I will admit...from time to time I do give in, usually when the cover pertains to some reality show that I've gotten sucked into. But I like to tell myself that buying the magazine keeps me from breaking down and buying a candy bar instead...hey, whatever works, right?

So for the last few weeks, as I've been hopelessly bored standing in the long lines at the store, I've seen headline after headline about Kim Kardashian. Now, I've never been a Kardashian fan. Every time I've seen their TV show, I've had the urge to stab my eyes out. I know a lot of people enjoy their shows and following their family and I'm not trying to judge you. I'll be the first to admit that I get hooked on reality shows, mine are more of the Housewives or Bachelor variety (I mean, seriously, how could you not watch SEAN??) Real quality television if I do say so myself. So if you are a fan of the tall, dark, and curvy Kardashians, then more power to you. 

As I have been reading all these headlines about Kim, for the first time ever I felt sorry for her. "DUMPED AT 200LBS" "DON'T CALL ME FAT" FAT FAT FAT is all I saw. At one store, there were THREE magazines that all had her on the cover with a title including the word FAT.


Listen, maybe she doesn't care. Maybe she likes the publicity. Maybe she is doing it on purpose to make headlines. MAYBE she isn't really pregnant, but rather is eating KFC three times a day just to fool us all...Or maybe she is a curvy woman to begin with and, like a million women before her, she has gained her baby weight in her hips, thighs, and oh-so publicized rear end.

My point to this post isn't to sit around and have a pity party for Kim Kardashian. No matter how much she does or doesn't gain during her pregnancy, the fact is she is uber rich and will most likely get the baby weight off a day after she has the baby thanks to all the wonderful things afforded to the rich and famous.

My point is this, why is it that in a world where every day we are flooded with pictures of 5'10 110 lb models, airbrushed celebrities, and flawless magazine covers, when a celebrity gains some (and I mean some) weight due to a GROWING FETUS IN HER WOMB, now we have to read about how she is fat, disgusting, and unwanted. As if we didn't already feel bad about ourselves before. We know we don't look like Angelina, but now we have confirmation that since Kim is officially considered fat and gross because she gained 20lbs of baby weight....well, you might as well just call the lard company, melt me down and call it a day. 

How are we supposed to feel good about ourselves when we are surrounded by these messages, not only telling us we need to be skinny and perfect but that if we aren't we are FAT and unaccepted.  


Let's start with the basics.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genisis 1:27

BOOM. There it is. 27th verse in the Bible says that we were made in God's image. In the image of GOD himself; the creator of the universe, the one who knows all, the almighty Father. He made us and he chose to make us like him. 

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

Here David gets more specific about God creating us. He knit us together, he knew every part of us before we were even made. Every cell, every hair, every blemish, every stretch mark, every love handle, every wrinkle, every gray hair (which I unfortunately have experienced, ugh)....you get the picture. He pieced us together bit by bit, exactly how he wanted us to be. That's how much he cares about and loves us!

Here is a good one:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes?" Matthew 6:25

Easier said than done, right? It's so easy to get wrapped up in working out and losing weight, wearing the right clothes, and even get distracted by things like, oh I don't know...clean eating, that you worry about it and become consumed by it. 

The transition to clean eating has definitely taken over my life. I have to make sure I have time to grocery shop, bake bread, make snacks, not to mention cook meals and make lunches while working a part time job. And I'll also admit, eating clean is not cheap! That has been a huge worry on my mind. I have been struggling with staying on my grocery budget and still being able to get everything I need. It's a process that takes time, and I know that, but it is very hard to not worry about it.

But here Jesus tells us not to worry. Life is more than the clothes we wear or what pants size we are and we need to remember to give our worries over to the one that can take care of all of our needs. I've had to re-learn that lesson a time or two. 

Last one:

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting" - Translation: Some day our charm will wear off and our bodies will be old and wrinkled. It's a fact Jack. Sure, you can use face creams and moisturizers, and some may even go the plastic surgery route, but none of that truly matters. What matters is your inner beauty. 

I know, I know, we've all heard it before. Hey, I'm the girl that heard "But she has such a pretty face..." all her life, meaning "Her face is pretty, too bad her body isn't". So I get it. Like we are really supposed to not care about what we look like on the outside because we are good people on the inside. Highly doubtful. The Bible does say that our bodies are a temple of the Lord, and therefore we should take care of them and honor him with them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). However, we can keep ourselves from being consumed by it. We can not let the flawless picture of Jennifer Lopez on Cosmo make us feel inadequate. And we can see the tabloids calling a pregnant Kim Kardashian fat and not let that alter our sense of self.

Most of all? We can remember that no matter what we look like, God truly does see past all of it. He doesn't see my stretch marks, pimples, or gray hairs. He sees my heart. If my heart is consumed with worry over fitting into a size 6, wearing the right clothes, or striving to be perfect, then there is no room for him. But if I accept myself and just do my best to be healthy and happy, then God has room to work in my heart. And when God changes your heart, the possibilities are endless. The fact that I'm even writing this blog proves that God can change your heart and do things you never imagined. 

Ask yourself what it is that is consuming your heart these days. Maybe you'll realize something that you hadn't noticed before. I didn't realize how much I was affected by the media until I actually got angry over the covers of Kim Kardashian. I feel better about myself now than I did 63 lbs ago, but I still have my share of insecurities. 

I hate it when people tell you to embrace your flaws. LOVE your flaws! They are a part of you! Celebrate your blubber! Seriously?! I don't think so. I'm not saying we should LOVE every little part of us, I will NEVER be okay with having gray hairs at 28, but we shouldn't let them consume us.

So the next time you go to the store and see a tabloid cover of celebrity beach bodies, don't let it get to you. Remember that you may not love your flaws, but God does. And that's what really matters. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mandarin Orange Chicken

Last week I posted a yummy Mexican meal, so this week I thought we could go Chinese. Who doesn't love some good Chinese take out? I know that MY family loves it. Every time we visit back home, we want to eat at the local Chinese restaurant. I swear, they have the best crab rangoon I've ever eaten. Buuuuuut, it's not so great for the clean eating thing...or any kind of healthy eating for that matter.

I got this recipe a few years ago from my Moms Group. We had a recipe exchange and swapped some really good recipes. This has been one of my family's favorites, but since starting our clean eating adventure it didn't totally fit the bill. So I thought I could clean it up a bit. This was the first old recipe I've reworked to fit eating clean, and luckily it turned out pretty good! It's nice to know that all of our old favorites don't have to be scrapped, but instead can be changed. Yay! 

First, you want to chop up your onions and mushrooms. The old recipe called for canned mandarin oranges, but to cut back on sugar and add freshness, I used clementines. Along with chopping your veggies, peel your oranges and check for any seeds. 

Saute your mushrooms in a large skillet on medium heat stirring repeatedly. Add flour. 

Add in chicken broth, onions, and frozen orange juice and bring to a boil. 

Then add your chicken and simmer for a few minutes. Once it is simmered, add your oranges and pour the mixture over some brown rice. 

There is a freezer meal option for this recipe, too. After the mixture has simmered, let it cool and pour it in a freezer bag. When you are ready, thaw and reheat the mixture, then add the oranges and pour over rice. Easy!

Serve with some veggies and you have a whole meal ready to go. Just don't forget the chopsticks!

So here's the one caveat. The frozen orange juice. As I have previously stated, we are not 100% clean and probably won't be for a while yet. But we are taking steps. So this recipe isn't completely clean because of the frozen orange juice. Even though it doesn't have a million ingredients that you can't pronounce, it is still a processed food. I found this interesting post about the orange juice you buy in the store, if you are curious, then check it out. The only way to make this meal completely clean is to use fresh squeezed orange juice....which A) I don't have time for and B) I would have to play with it to get the right taste. So there it is. It's a "cleaner" recipe than it was previously, but I'm not trying to sell this as 100% clean. For those of you that aren't necessarily looking for clean, but rather looking for healthy, this will work just fine!

Mandarin Orange Chicken

  • 5 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 1 can frozen orange juice, from concentrate
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced
  • 3-4 fresh clementines, peeled and separated
Do your prep first: slice mushrooms, slice onions, and peel and separate oranges.

Cook mushrooms in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring continuously to prevent burning. Add flour and stir well.

Gradually add broth, onions, and orange juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chicken. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add oranges to mixture and serve over brown rice.

If anyone tries to replace the frozen orange juice with fresh, please let me know! I'd love to hear how it turns out!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Clean Chicken Taco Dinner

Over the years, my mom continuously told me to buy a whole chicken and cook it in the Crockpot. You can get so many meals out of a chicken, she would tell me. I'm sure that's the case, Mom, but I don't have time for that. I was a working mom with a knack for Hamburger Helper. 

Well, now that things have changed, I finally bought an organic whole chicken a few months ago because it was hugely on sale. I did learn all the things you can do with it; cook it in the crockpot, stew the carcass to make broth, pick off every last bit of meat for chicken soup, etc. A couple weeks ago I had some left over chicken in the fridge and a short amount of time to throw dinner together, so I made this up. It's not revolutionary, but it's clean, easy and tasted really good! 

First I grabbed some onion and green pepper, which I have pretty much learned to always have on hand. You can add those to ANYTHING!

Then I shredded the leftover chicken, double checking for any little bones that might have sneaked by me the first time. 

Next, I threw it all in a skillet with a couple Tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning. The seasoning is clean, it's made with spices you have at home. It's much better than the packets you buy at the store, it tastes better, and is less greasy and drippy. We LOVE it. I'll post the recipe at the bottom. 

Add some water to the skillet and then cook them like you do normal tacos. Bring it to a boil and then simmer until you think it's ready. For my stove, it's about 15 minutes.

While my tacos are simmering, I cut up some olives (We are HUGE olive fans here) and tomatoes, rinsed some canned black beans, and shredded some cheese. I just used whatever I had on hand. 

Warm up a tortilla in the microwave, spoon in your chicken mixture, add your toppings and you are good to go! 

If you want this to be a truly clean meal, then you would either use homemade tortillas (which I have NOT ventured into yet) or a clean store-bought tortilla. We discovered Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas and we really like them. You can find them in the freezer section. In this picture, however, we only had some whole wheat tortillas so that's what we had to use that night. One of the difficulties that I've found with eating clean is that living in a small town, your local grocery stores don't carry much of what you need. So when you run out of tortillas, you have to make due with something else. And I'm okay with that, we can't be perfect 100% of the times, right?? Remember what Jill Savage said??

I served the tacos with a side dish my clean-eating-guru friend told me about. She is quite possibly a genius. Cook brown rice in your homemade chicken broth and add black beans to it. Normally we eat brown rice cooked plain, but by making it this way the broth adds flavor, the beans add protein, and it all adds nutrition! The rice dish alone probably has a full serving of protein for one meal. 

I would say for a throw-together meal, this one turned out pretty good! It is really nice to have some recipes on hand that I know are easy and quick to put together for those days I have to work or have spent all day in the kitchen baking and the last thing I want to do is make dinner. This one has been added to my rotation, and the best part for me is that I didn't have to consult a cookbook every 2 minutes. I have to say, that was pretty fun!

Here are the recipes for the tacos, the taco seasoning, and guidelines for the brown rice.

Leftover Chicken Tacos
  • Leftover chicken from your crockpot meal, shredded and de-boned
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Pour the olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium. Add onion and green pepper and cook until softened. 

Add the shredded chicken to the skillet and stir. Then add in taco season and water. Turn heat to high, bring it to a boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While chicken is cooking, prep your toppings:tomatoes, lettuce, olives, beans, cheese, etc.

When chicken mixture is fully cooked, place in a tortilla, top with toppings, and enjoy!

Clean Taco Seasoning
I found this recipe on Pinterest. I think the credit goes to Rachel Ray, but HERE is the website I printed it off of.

  • 1 part Chili Powder
  • 1 part Ground Cumin
  • 1 part Garlic Powder
  • 1 part Onion Powder
  • 1/4-1/2 part crushed red pepper 
You can basically make this in any amount you want. I made a lot and then stored it in a container in my spice drawer and then I had it when I needed it. It had been great!

Brown Rice Side Dish
  • Brown Rice
  • Black Beans, canned (no salt added)
  • homemade Chicken Broth
This is extremely easy. Cook the rice according the directions on the box, but replace the water with either half broth/half water or all broth. Then add in as many black beans as you desire and cook. 

That's it!

There is your totally clean Mexican Dinner made from things you have around the kitchen. 

Now, back away from the Hamburger Helper....just back away....