Get Real!

Finding ways to enjoy the hell out of life, while on our journey towards a healthy, authentic and passion-filled life.


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Real Clean: Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers

As you may have noticed, I love making different dishes and then ‘enchilda-izing’ them! This one is no exception. I just love all these flavors! Now to make things easier (well for every night, not just for enchilda-ized dishes), I cook and pre-shred 3-4 chicken breasts, 5+ cups of brown rice and a couple cups of black beans in the beginning of the week and store them all in airtight containers in the fridge. It makes meals like this (and so many others) easier, quicker and far less messy.

Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers

Serves 2 comfortably (each to have two halves of bell pepper over stuffed), or can serve 4 with a side dish (like salad, or brown rice with chopped up cilantro and lime juice mixed in)

Ingredients:

Bell Peppers

  • 2 Bell Peppers
  • Olive Oil

Stuffing

  • 2 Medium Tomatoes (juicy tomatoes, not roma)
  • 1/2 an onion (yellow, white or sweet)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalepeno
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • Your favorite spanish style Spices, I use 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 Tbs Chilis in Adobo Paste (optional, but I always keep this on hand for all my enchilada dishes)
  • 1 shredded chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup cooked black beans (if canned, rinse them)
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • small amount of cheese to top it off (optional, I used about 2 tsp worth of goat cheese on each half)

Directions:

First things first, if you don’t have your rice pre-cooked and your chicken pre-cooked and shredded then this must be done first. Cook the rice according to package directions, and as for the chicken boil the breast for at least 15 minutes and then shred with two forks (if it doesn’t look 100% done after that don’t worry, because these will be baked in the bell pepper later as well).

For any stuffed Bell Pepper, start out pre-heating the oven to 350. Cut the bell peppers in half vertically and scoop out any seeds or ‘guts.’ In a square casserole dish (sprayed or rubbed down with a little extra virgin olive oil), place all bell pepper halves in and spray the inside of each bell pepper with olive oil as well. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

While the Bell Peppers are pre-baking, prepare the enchilada stuffing. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and toss all of it into a pan on medium-high (all juice included), next chop and add the jalepeno, onions, garlic and cilantro. Add in the seasonings. Mix all together and let cook for at least 5 minutes until it all thickens up a bit. Next add the chilis in adobo paste and re-stir. Followed by the black beans, shredded chicken, and brown rice. Stir all together well and continue cooking a few minutes longer.

When the Bell Peppers are done pre-cooking, take them out of the oven and scoop stuffing into the halves with a spoon, overstuff them! Use as much stuffing as possible! Re-cover with foil and bake for 25 more minutes.

If desired, take them out after this, top with a little cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

Remember we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know, and if you do that you will continue to grow!

 

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Real Clean: Chicken Enchilada-Lasagna

Chicken Enchilada-Lasagna

Serves 2 people a very large portion, though can still serve 3-4 (especially if you have a side dish like a salad!).

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Chile Powder (any type of chile powder)

For the Enchilada Sauce (can use store bought to make this simpler, but highly recommend checking the ingredients, there should basically be only vegetables listed, no sugar or syrup, etc):

  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 Onion (any type, yellow, white or sweet)
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Chile Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Chilis in Adobo Paste (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 2 Cups Tomato Sauce (plain sauce, not pasta sauce)
  • 3/4 cup Vegetable Broth

For assembly of the Lasagna:

  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 2 Large Handfuls of Kale or Spinach (technically optional**)
  • 1-2 Cups Shredded Cheese, the less the ‘healthier’ (recommend buying blocks of cheese and shredding yourself, as the pre-shredded mix has a couple yuckies in the ingredients added in)

 

Directions:

  • Start a pot of boiling water. Chop each chicken breast into quarters, and sprinkle the spices (a little on each side). Once water is boiling, set chicken inside and set kitchen timer to 15 minutes.
  • In another pot, melt/heat the coconut oil (or can use extra virgin olive oil) over medium-high heat while dicing up the onion, garlic and jalapeno into tiny pieces. Then throw all the veggies into the oil and mix all around. Add all the spices in and mix all around again. Allow this to cook for about 5 minutes. Now, add in the chilis in adobo paste, followed by the tomato sauce and then the broth. Mix it all up very well and turn the heat up to high. Once this starts boiling, cover pot and reduce to low heat. Let simmer until ready to put it all together.
  • The chicken should be done any moment now, and once the timer goes off, drain the chicken and (with two forks) shred it all. It will take a few moments but will be worth it!
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 as you assemble the lasagna!
  • In a square glass baking dish (8X8 or 9X9), assemble! When pouring the sauce keep in mind that you will need 4 total layers of sauce. Pour a thin layer of sauce in the empty dish and spread around, then a layer of corn tortillas (two tortillas per layer, I tear them in half and then place them in the rounded edges are all facing inwards sort of like an envelope), followed by a layer of spinach or kale, half of the shredded chicken and half of the cheese, another layer of the enchilada sauce spread around. Repeat process, with another layer of tortillas, layer of spinach or kale, the rest of the chicken and cheese, almost the rest of the sauce (leave a small amount for the top). Now one more layer of tortillas followed by the rest of the sauce. (If this is a splurge meal, which is on the weekends for me, feel free to top it with another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese or so).
  • Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
  • Can top with some salsa and organic sour cream if you wish.

Enjoy!

And remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow!


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Real Clean: Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup

Soups are an amazing way to get a ton of veggies in, without having to add any dairy, grains, or even meat (if you are avoiding that too) to your meal. And they can be delicious and filling as well. All of my soups basically start off with the same key ingredients and then I just play around from there to find different combinations (think pot roast potato and veggie soup, Indian spiced soup, and this chicken enchilada soup). So please! Feel free to adjust the ingredients and add others as you like! The ingredients I have placed a ‘*’ next to are the ones that I would recommend as your base if you do choose to play around!

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Makes 5 good size bowls of soup (feeds 2 more than comfortably, and 4 if you add a side dish), and takes about 1 hour-1 hour and 15 minutes to fully prepare (most of this is letting the finished soup simmer)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • *1-2 T coconut oil
  • *3 cloves of garlic
  • *1 onion (any kind white, yellow or red will do)
  • *various spices: in this case- cumin, coriander, sea salt/pepper, oregano, chile powder
  • *3 cups chopped tomatoes (I like to mix it up with some roma, and some heirloom, but there are no wrong answers here!)*
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 jalapeno, de-seeded
  • 2 T chipotle paste with adobo (might take you a moment to find in your grocery store, but it’s there)
  • *2.5 cups low sodium chicken or veggie broth
  • *6 oz can tomato paste
  • *2-3 large handfuls of greens (chopped spinach, kale, etc.)

Directions:

Get two pots on the burner (one large enough to hold the 5+ bowls of soup — this one needs to have a lid — and a smaller one that will hold the chicken breasts to boil). Start boiling water on high heat in the smaller pot and add the whole chicken breast/s once boiling (you will want this to boil about 15-17 minutes which should be how long it takes you to chop everything else up).

Place the 1-2 T of oil (coconut) into the big pot, and turn the heat to medium high. Peel and chop the garlic up into small chunks (does not have to be minced super tiny), and do the same with the onion. Dump the garlic and onion into the now melted coconut oil and stir around. Add spices as you like, at least a teaspoon of each! Keep stirring mixture. Let the garlic/onions/spices cook (while stirring occasionally) while you chop up all the tomatoes into bite size chunks of various sizes and dump those in too. Let this all cook while you chop up the bell pepper and jalapeno into bite size chunks and add those in.

Add the chipotle paste with adobo, stir. Add the chicken or veggie broth, stir. Add the tomato paste, stir. At this point, I would add a bit more spice as well, again a teaspoon or so of each.

The chicken should be about boiled by now (after 15 minutes for one, 17 for two), so take this out and chop into bite size pieces (use a fork and knife as chicken will be hot!), and add the chicken to the soup. Add the 2-3 handfuls of chopped greens (I promise you won’t taste them and it is a great way to get these suckers in your diet). Stir everything altogether once more.

Turn the heat to high and once the soup is starting to boil, put the lid on and turn it down to low (1-2 if numbered). Set your timer for about 45 minutes to allow chicken to cook a bit more if needed and the rest of the flavors to all meld together and intensify!

YUMM!

And remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow!


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The 80/20 Rule (for clean eating)

So. Once I realized (and I mean really realized) that a diet is not a temporary way of being/living/however you want to look at it, I realized that I was going to have to allow myself some wiggle room. This wiggle room is what I have been struggling with lately. I’m ok at being 100% strict when it comes to what kinds of foods I allow in my daily routine. I’m also, as I know from past experience, ok at being 0-50% strict as well (gorging out on fast foods or ice cream, GASP). What I would like to find and maintain is some balance!

I know what I consider clean eating (and it may be different than what you consider clean eating):

  • As many fruits and vegetables as possible (organic)
  • Nuts and seeds (mostly peanut butter with no other ingredients, and chia seeds)
  • Lean (organic, and grass fed when possible) meats such as chicken and fish and occasionally beef (no more than once per week)
  • 100% organic whole grains in terms of breads, pastas, or rice (not during every meal, not even everyday), preferably sprouted grains
  • Organic, grass fed when possible, dairy (butter, cheese, sour cream, etc… sparingly 2-3 times per week)
  • Organic cooking oil, such as coconut oil or ghee (as needed)

So it is easy to see what 100% coherence to these guidelines would be. But is that feasible for the rest of my life, forever and always? I truly do want to get to the point where it is. Where a treat is organic dairy on top of an organic slice of sprouted toast and the ice cream with several ingredients I generally shutter at (and will definitely give my stomach a problem afterwards anyway) just isn’t even appealing at all.

Many folks go by the 80/20 rule, choosing to stay strict within their dietary guidelines 80% of the time. This allows for some ‘cheat’ foods to be eaten 20% of the time. That being said, to some the piece of toast with butter on it would be considered a ‘cheat.’ While to others it would be the ice cream. I’m still trying to figure this out for myself.

Anyway, it has been a journey so far, and will continue to be. I have the rest of my life to work all these details out, and that is important to remember as well. Enjoy today, but keep working towards what you want for all of your tomorrows.

And remember that we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that you will continue to grow. 

 


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Stocking a clean (healthy) kitchen!

shopping

Making sure I always have the following food items on hand, makes it easy to always reach for a healthy meal or snack. Equally important, of course, is keeping the junk out because otherwise a super bad day or a few too many cocktails one night and that junk will be your stomach ache later. It is true that if it’s not in the house, you won’t eat it (and that if it is in my house, I personally will!)

Anyway on to stocking the kitchen:

  • The first thing you need is access to clean fresh water! Ideally through a kitchen faucet filter or filtrating pitcher or something of the sort. You may not be ready to let go of diet coke, or other high sugared fruit juices or energy drinks altogether…. but it is important to always move towards making water your primary source of liquid intake! Tea and black coffee are great alternatives as well!

In the freezer:

  • Frozen lean meats: chicken breasts or whole chicken, lean ground beef or turkey, salmon, or cod. Buy in bulk and freeze in individual serving sizes. Aim for organic, grass fed, antibiotic free meats if at all possible (again, we all have different constraints). If nothing else you ate was organic, it is most important that your meat at least is (blog on why coming soon!).
  • Pre-packaged frozen veggies. Great to have on hand in case you run out of fresh veggies for stir frys, soups, etc.
  • Pre-packaged frozen fruit or homemade smoothie packs.

In the fridge:

  • Eggs (Dairy is second in importance to go organic with. Meat and Dairy organic if possible!)
  • Almond milk (ingredient check for no sugar or carrageenan)
  • Turkey bacon (ingredient check for no sodium nitrates, and again organic and grass-fed if possible)
  • Natural nut butter (peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc… ingredient check for no added sugar or salt and ideally the only ingredient would be peanuts)
  • Fresh Herbs, some last much longer than others such as rosemary and thyme
  • Your favorite greens and other veggies: For us, we always have white mushrooms, bell peppers, kale, spinach, red potatoes, carrots and jalapenos on hand. We also buy green beans, asparagus, artichoke, or Brussel sprouts on a regular occasion.
  • Your favorite fruits: For us, this usually includes green apples, oranges, strawberries and bananas.
  • Other dairy: I try to keep my dairy intake low but organic, grass fed, butters and cheeses can still be part of a healthy diet.
  • Grains: I also try to keep my grain intake low, but prefer 100% whole grain (usually sprouted) bread, sprouted cinnamon raisin bagels (for a treat) and whole grain corn tortillas.

In the pantry:

  • Oils: Coconut oil for cooking, extra virgin olive oil for salads and marinades.
  • Plain tomato Sauce and tomato paste to use for the base to pasta sauces or soups.
  • Low sodium chicken or vegetable broth to use for soups, watering down sauces, adding flavor to rice and pasta while cooking, etc.
  • Whole grain pasta or spaghetti
  • Brown rice
  • Baking supplies if you like occasional treats: whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, organic cane sugar or coconut sugar, organic brown sugar, molasses, pure maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla beans
  • Spices: sea salt, peppercorns in a grinder and cinnamon are must haves and then just start slowly adding to your collection (one new spice per shopping trip perhaps?). For savory spices, try oregano, mustard powder, coriander, etc. For spicy try chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, etc. Check ingredients on spices as well! You never know when sugar or natural flavors are hiding out in these.
  • Garlic and Onions also for extra flavoring!

 shopping2


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Real Clean: Pumpkin Pie Power Smoothie

ImagePumpkin Pie Power Smoothie

This is a smoothie I drink almost daily, as a power/energy boost and generally as a meal replacement. I don’t normally calculate calories, etc. (instead I focus on eating only fresh whole ingredients and minding my portions when it comes to high calorie/fat items), however I have the calculations below the recipe. The nutrients and healthy ingredients are more than worth their weight in this smoothie, because they help with digestion and elimination of toxins as well as to increase energy and stave off hunger. This is primarily due to the chia seeds and the filling and fibrous half banana. This smoothie would be considered vegan, paleo, and clean.

The Recipe:

  Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree (canned with pumpkin as the only ingredient, or fresh roasted at home and frozen into ice cubes, this would be around 4 regular sized cubes…can also substitute 2 tbsp nut butter if you prefer)
  • 2-3 Ice Cubes (unnecessary if using pumpkin cubes as stated above)
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • Seasonings to Taste (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice are all great additions .. I use 2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of ginger, and a pinch of nutmeg myself)
  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds (if new to these, I would start with 1/2 tbsp and increase with each smoothie)
  • (optional but recommended) Add-Ins as Desired (I personally use maca powder most of the time and always top my smoothie with some bee pollen, there are a lot of other possible add ins out there. With maca and bee pollen, as with other add-ins, start with a small amount [1/2 tsp or even less] and increase slowly up to 2 tbsp or so)

Preparation:

First, combine frozen and liquid elements (here it is the banana, pumpkin or nut butter, ice cubes if needed, and almond milk) and blend fully. Then add chia seeds and any other spices or add ins, and blend once more. Top with bee pollen if desired.

Nutritional Info:

This is around 220 calories (depending on the type of almond milk used), 11 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs. So, yes, I suppose high carb. But again, this is a meal replacement and aids in digestion, energy, and staving off hunger for a good period of time.

Some extra smoothie tips

Image

  • For the frozen banana, there is no right or wrong way persay. I used to buy bananas and if I wasn’t able to use them before they were starting to brown on my counter, I would just toss them in the freezer and then cut off the skin and cut into chunks when needed. But I have found that buying 7+ bananas at once and peeling and chopping them all up and placing each 1/2 banana into its own ziplock bag works wonders.
  • I do roast the pumpkin myself and then freeze the homemade puree into ice cubes and then toss 4 cubes into each of the ziplock bags with the banana. These two steps make these daily smoothies a breeze. Just dump out the baggie into the blender, add almond milk and blend. Then add seasoning, and additional add-ins, blend again and I’m done.
  • Yogurt can also be frozen into cubes and added to the pre-made smoothie packs.
  • Greens are great to add to smoothies and if you add in just a handful, the taste should not even be noticeable (a handful of spinach for example).
  • Berries are also a wonderful fruit to add in if in season, instead of the Pumpkin or Nut butter (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries… all lower in sugar than many fruits and so high in nutrients).
  • I recommend the use of all organic ingredients.

With all the tips I have mentioned, though, I realize we all have different constraints (be them time related, physical, financial, etc). On this journey to health each of us needs to do the best we can with what we have and what we know. As long as we are doing that, we will continue to grow!


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The Whole Wheat Debate: Understanding Grains

The whole wheat debate…

Ok…. So my boyfriend and I were going through self-checkout at the local grocery store. He got to the huge bag of brown rice that I put in the cart when he wasn’t looking. Crap, I thought, here it comes. “What is this?” “Brown rice, really?” “You know the only difference is that the white rice is bleached, right?”

And I was stuck. I knew that this wasn’t the only difference, but heck if I could actually explain. All I knew was that whole grains were healthier than white ones, they just were! Luckily for me, I just had to whine for a couple of seconds and all was well … we were back out of the store brown rice and all. But it did make me wonder. Why is whole wheat healthier?? I should know these things!

I mean, why choose whole grains over other processed grains? And what’s the difference anyway? While we are at it, what’s the difference between whole grain and whole wheat? What’s a whole berry (sometimes listed in the ingredient list)? Also, what does wheat mean (as opposed to whole wheat)?

After much research:

Our bread, pasta, tortillas, baked goods, rice, etc. are all made from wheat (which is a grain) or other grains (such as oats, rye, barley, corn, rice, etc). A product, say a piece of bread, can be made from only wheat or it could be multi-grain (made using multiple types of grain, both oat and wheat for example). Now, there are different ways for these grains to be processed which will result in wheat flour (what we consider white, processed flour), whole wheat flour, whole grain flour, or sprouted grains (a whole other ball game, I’ll explain shortly).

It’s important to note that multi-grain does not mean whole grain, it just means it has multiple types of grain within the product but it has nothing to do with how the grains were actually processed (they could be whole grains or they may not be whole grains, this is when you want to check the ingredient list to look for the word whole in front of every wheat ingredient vs. white or wheat or enriched, etc.) Similarly, if a product states it ‘has whole grains’ it still may not be completely whole grain (it may be partially whole grain and partially non-whole grain). If a product says 100% whole grain (or 100% whole wheat), you are in the clear, but if in doubt this is, again, when to check the ingredient list. And again wheat is not whole wheat, if it was whole it would have the word whole in front of it.

So… the grains are either milled or sprouted. Milled is much more common. This just means it is ground (could be stone ground which was the original way of processing grains, or through a machine that now does this for us) into flour. During the milling process for regular wheat flour (white, processed, refined, flour) two important aspects of the grain are removed. These are the bran and germ, which contain many of the nutrients/vitamins/etc. Then these grains might be bleached white (ah ha, the aspect my boyfriend knew about) using chemicals. Then the grains may even be enriched (in other words some nutrients are added back into the grain, but still not with the same nutritional value as the whole grain – bran and germ included – would have). One of the reasons for processing grains in this way is shelf life, as these refined grains can last much longer since some of the natural oils in the grains have been removed with the bran and germ.

When whole grain or whole wheat flour is made, it is milled using all aspects of the grain, the entire or whole grain. Another thing to note here is that with the extra fiber and the makeup of a whole grain, our body processes this slower which prevents spikes in blood sugar (which we all know results in crashes, which result in craving more). So all of this is helpful for our heart, blood pressure, weight management, etc.

For those that can’t stand the taste of whole grain. It doesn’t all taste the same! There are many different types of grains (here’s one list: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-a-to-z). And there are even different types of wheat (by the way, a wheat berry is the whole completely unprocessed form of wheat, though there are different types). There is white whole wheat for example (wasn’t as commonly used in the US but is now being picked up a bit more) that has a milder taste but is still whole wheat. Different grains and different types of wheat have varying levels of nutritional value, however. But it is still always safe to say that the wholer our grains are, and the less they have been processed, the healthier they are for our bodies and the more nutritional value we gain from them.

Lastly, grains may be sprouted instead of milled. This is when the whole grains are soaked in water to be sprouted. The benefit here is that in whole grains that have been milled, there are nutrients that our body won’t be able to digest, but sprouted grains are broken down in a way that allows our body to more easily digest and absorb the grain and nutrients within. Honestly, I see now that I may have another blog on my hands in regards to these sprouted grains, but for more information right now, I found this website very easy to understand: http://www.foodforlife.com/what-are-sprouted-grain-breads.htm.

Whew… so take that and eat it boyfriend!! Oh wait, we have already switched completely over to all whole grains. Even having whole grain pancakes and turkey bacon with pure maple syrup tonight. YUM YUM!

Here are a list of websites that helped me in my research : )…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheatberry

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/diningouttravel/g/What-Are-Wheat-Berries.htm

http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2009/02/24/meet-this-grain-wheat-berries/

http://www.foodforlife.com/what-are-sprouted-grain-breads.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprouted_bread

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6318/Whole-Wheat-vs-Sprouted-Grain-Bread.html

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/multigrain-vs-whole-wheat-whats-the-difference.html#b

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/multigrain/AN02047

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/whole-wheat-vs-durum-wheat-vs-stone-ground-4024.html

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-white-wheat-faq

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/white-bread-vs-wheat-bread/

http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/grains.html

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Whole_Grain_vs_Whole_Wheat

http://askville.amazon.com/special-stone-ground-wheat/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=669640