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Real Food Friday: Fast Food

I get that there are times when the prep work for a real food meal didn't happen and time is not on our side. I do.

For those times, I would say there are real food options that can be obtained relatively quickly and at least somewhat healthfully.

There are a couple of options in my area that I would consider when wanting something quick, "real," and satisfying. You might have different options in your area, and if so, I'd love to hear about them!

Chipotle. While I'm not a fan of everything they serve, Chipotle does a great job of being transparent about their food. You can make your own informed decision by checking out their ingredient statement here. Everything, with the exception of tortilla chips, tortillas, and possibly white rice, looks like real food to me.

Elevation Burger. While not quite as transparent as Chipotle, Elevation Burger does offer100% grassfed burger patties, organic bacon, aged & unprocessed cheddar, fresh-cut fries cooked in 100% olive oil, and organic milk, all of which pass my real food test.

If you're from the Reading, PA area, what am I missing?

If you're not, I'm curious- what fast real food options do you have in your area?


Real Food Friday: Gelatin

This post is not for vegetarians. Grass fed gelatin, as discussed in the following post, is derived from grass fed cows and should not be consumed by those wishing to avoid some or all animal products.

Okay...I'm about to put my crunchy-real food- off the beaten path weirdness on display for you.

I bought a container of gelatin. Like, powdered plain gelatin made from grass fed cows.

Before you click away, remember gelatin is in marshmallows. And jello (which I don't love, but Tim and Nolan do). And fudgsicles. That makes it not so weird, right?

Besides the fact that, unless you're vegetarian, you're likely eating gelatin in some form (smores, anyone?), the stuff that comes from grass fed cows is really, really good for you.

After hearing a few casual mentions about how beneficial the stuff is, I decided to look up more info for myself, and I found out that gelatin can

-help tighten loose skin (hello, post-baby belly!)

-support better digestion and even help heal some digestive disorders

-help the body relax and sleep well at night

-promote joint health

-promote healthier skin, hair, and nails

-add protein to the diet without any of the weird, non-real food additives a lot of protein powders tend to have


So far, I've added it to banana soft serve and smoothies. I've also tried it in Against All Grain's recipe for fudge pops.

On my to-try list of recipes using gelatin are

Strawberry Lemonade Gummies by Stupid Easy Paleo

Healthy Sour Watermelon Gummies by Meatified

Dirt Worm Pudding, a guest post by Fed & Fit on Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind (This one looks like it would be a lot of work, but I'd love to try it once!)

Rustic Homemade Marshmallows with Honey by The Urban Poser

There's a lot more yummy-looking, gelatin-utilizing recipes out there; these are some of the most delicious- looking to me at the moment.

So, really, what's NOT appealing about doing something beneficial for your body while eating your pudding/marshmallows/gummies?


Spotty Bananas: How to Make This Pregnant Lady Happy

Recently, excitement rose in my world because there were 4 spotty bananas sitting on my kitchen counter.

Spotty bananas make a great addition to toast and peanut butter.

They make great banana bread, smoothies, and (somewhat) portable snacks.

But my absolute favorite way to eat them is chocolate banana soft serve, and we'd been out for a few days.  

Well, no more. (Or at least for a couple of days. )

Today's the day. (My taste buds, my baby, and my body are so happy.) Because I've received a few questions on how I make my favorite anytime "ice cream," I thought I'd offer a bit of a tutorial.

That is, if you're interested.

And really? If you like bananas, chocolate, and ice cream, you should be.

It's that good.

In addition to 2 frozen, previously spotty banana peels removed, I use the following ingredients:

I break each banana into a few pieces each and toss them in my food processor(I do NOT recommend a magic bullet for this one, by the way.), turn it on, and hold it down while it shakes for the first few moment.

Then let it spin.

Once it looks like the food processor is no longer making any progress, turn it off.

Pour in just a little bit of your almond milk (you can always add more later), add a spoonful of  cocoa powder, and add your vanilla (how much is up to you. Mine is actually vanilla flavoring and not exactly extract, so it tastes sweet all by itself ...and I am a fan of vanilla, so I am kind of generous with it- maybe a teaspoon or more?).

Scrape around the sides of the food processor to move everything back towards the blades, close the food processor, and turn it back on.

(Keep an eye on things; this next part will not take long. )

Once your soft serve looks smooth, open your processor, remove the blade (carefully, of course!), then spoon the deliciousness you created into a bowl or a mug.

Enjoy every sweet, delicious, body-satisfying bite.

I know I will.

I was originally introduced to banana soft serve through this post.



With the exception of work hours, my time is really not very structured right now.
I have things to do, of course, but most of my time is not pre-committed.
This is somewhat new for me.
In the beginning of this new phase, I felt a bit lost. I felt a bit useless.
But guess what? I've mostly dealt with those difficulties (I think).
I've moved on to embracing.
My blog header proclaims, "a healthy life is bigger than food."
I believe that.
I believe that health is about the mind, the body, and the soul.
For a while, I was not healthy.
I was doing too much and eventually doing it all poorly.
I was leading, but I wasn't learning (big mistake).
I was using my body to move through life, but I wasn't taking care of it.
This phase of life brings with it an opportunity to have all parts of me nourished.
That might make me useless to some right now
But I believe it will make me better for many others later.
So I signed up for a grad class. Almost four years after receiving my bachelor's degree, I'm going back to school. I'm pursuing a degree in Reading Diagnostics, and I'm really excited about that.
I've been reading more.
I joined a gym.
And now I'm working on nourishing my body (and my spirit- a girl needs a little dark chocolate in life!) with what I choose to put into it.
That feels good.
Sometimes all this self-care feels selfish.
I can imagine a time when my gym will be walks through my neighborhood and games of tag and hide-and-go-seek.
I can imagine that there will come a time when something much more precious will hinder me from posting meals or doing homework.
But right now, all of this self-care has me energized.
I think it's making me better.
A better wife, a better friend, a better teacher.
The list goes on. 
Everything else I eat today will have to wait until tomorrow's post- I have a date with my husband tonight! (It could be quite a bit; I'm having an especially hungry day.)
Happy Friday!
---Edited to add the remainder of my food choices for the day---
Snack: finished off the carrot chips with lots of Nature's Promise chipotle salsa + some black beans for staying power
Dinner: piece of leftover quiche + a container of raspberry chobani with some Kashi crisp cereal on top

Fuel for the Road

Wanna see what's been fueling my day?Breakfast to go! That's one egg cooked in a little bit of butter on a cinnamon raisin Ezekiel English muffin and a Green Monster (there are lots of ways to make these; I made mine with one slightly over-ripe banana, 2 teaspoons ground flax seed, a big handful of baby spinach, and a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk).I ran home during my lunch break (I work just 5-minutes from home) to throw together something that will help energize me through the rest of my work day. I chose leftover vegetable "fried" brown rice, a Dr. Praeger's veggie burger, and a few cashews...and our last apple.

I made it to a spin class today! It was the 30-minute express variety, but still. I made it, I kind of got the hang of things, and I gave it what I had. Before that, though, I made this:That's 2 tablespoons of peanut butter mixed with 1/2 cup pumpkin puree and more cinnamon (Did you know that there are many different kinds of cinnamon?! Sarah clued me in to this yesterday.) + a sliced banana on a toasted Ezekiel hamburger bun.

And...that's a wrap!


What I Am Hoping To Get Out of This

The first day of February brought me a snow day to help me ease into my goal for the month.Perfect timing.  (Breakfast was a basic Green Monster smoothie, a toasted cinnamon raisin Ezekiel English muffin with a tablespoon of cashew butter, extra cinnamon sprinkled on top, and a cup of coffee...and then a second cup of coffee later on.)

Today marks the first day out of twenty-eight that I commit to blogging everything I eat (not necessarily everything I drink- there may be many a glass of unsweetened tea, water, black coffee or flavored seltzer that goes undocumented. Everything else will be snapped and posted.)

My line of thinking goes something like this:

The commitment to post everything I eat will bring me accountability, of course, which will lead to the likelihood of a lot less overeating on my part...The idea of displaying everything I eat already has me more conscious of what I'm eating, more inspired, more excited to be in the kitchen...Cooking is fun, but lately I've been feeling so overwhelmed by it. (How do I make meals that are healthy and please both Tim and I without spending all our savings on meat and dairy that isn't pumped full of antibiotics?)

Of course, I know it isn't "my job" to cook for both Tim and I every night, but still a guilt of sorts has been weighing me down. I love the kitchen; I love to chop and create and nourish. I seek out retail therapy at the grocery store, but I've been shy and overwhelmed in the kitchen lately. A defeated attitude has been creeping in lately, and I don't like it. The kitchen is a place for therapy, comfort, trial and error, and messes. Not anxiety.

So I stepped into the kitchen today with one thing on my mind: Enjoy.

Enjoy I did. In the process, I made:

  • Caramelized Onion, Asparagus, and Parmesan Quiche (I used a Wholly Wholesome whole wheat crust and adapted the recipe based on one found at Weekly Bite and previous quiche-making experience.
  • apple pie (also using a Wholly Wholesome  whole wheat crust and based on the recipe on the back of the package)
  • whipped cream
  • my favorite hummus
  • vegetable "fried" brown rice

Ladies and Gentlemen, you may just witness the evolution of a wannabe cook over this next month.

All that cooking and cleaning up (in addition to the workout I broke for in the middle of the day) called for some refueling.An apple to tide me over until I could pull lunch together

Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger, extra sharp cheddar, and avocado on an Ezekiel hamburger bun.

Two squares of really great dark chocolate to signal the end of the meal (I did this after dinner, too, but neglected to take a picture the second time).

Another apple to tide me over until I could pull dinner together.

Vegetable "fried" brown rice and steamed edamame.

Oh, and that apple pie? I made it with Tim in mind, but I couldn't resist a taste test. I cut a small piece, added a dollop of whipped cream and a little plain Greek yogurt for staying power (+ a mug of decaf French vanilla coffee for perfection's sake) and closed the kitchen.

But I'll be back tomorrow.


Oh, Comfort Food

I'm thinking maybe I won't post my entire Shepherd's Pie recipe. I went bananas over the final result, but my husband didn't (which meant I got to eat almost all of it, so I'm not complaining.) Tim and I tend to have very different tastes, so I've been challenging myself to come up with healthy, satisfying meals that we both enjoy. My Shepherd's Pie did not get me closer to that goal, but it did make me quite happy.

It was probably the mashed potatoes.

Not just any mashed potatoes.

In fact, there weren't any potatoes involved at all.

Meet the stars of the show:Cauliflower (Neither Tim or I are tempted at all by this particular vegetable in its raw form, but roast it? Well, then it's lucky to last 2 days in our house.) 

and Navy Beans.

For the mashed "potatoes," all I did was:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Rinse a head of cauliflower and then break it into pieces.
  3. Put pieces into a non-stick pan. (I actually used two cake pans.)
  4. Drizzle a total of 4 teaspoons of olive oil over the cauliflower, and then toss well.
  5. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, uncovered. Some of the cauliflower will likely turn a light brown color.
  6. Turn off oven, allow to cool, and go about your business.
  7. When cauliflower has cooled, transfer to a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add navy beans (I used a can's worth, drained and rinsed), 2-3 additional teaspoons of oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Healthy comfort food cravings, sated.



Comfort Food

That snow day I mentioned did not materialize.

Oh, it snowed. Roads were not plowed adequately.Few students showed up.

But no snow day.

Which turned out fine,really, because today was a relaxed day at work and guess what? In anticipation of the snow, I completed this week's 6 mile run yesterday and I have ingredients for both  Shepherd's Pie (also in anticipation of the snow) and White Chicken Chili. (Stacey and Kevin, I'll be trying your version just as soon as I round up all the necessary ingredients!)

I think what I mostly wanted out of that wished-for snow day was some good-for-me comfort food and plenty of time in the kitchen. There's something so relaxing-even therapeutic- about the chopping, the stirring, the melding together of tastes and smells. I'm still going to get those things; I just might make both recipes tonight.

[If you're wondering (and you're local), I've recently started buying eggs and chicken from  Shollenberger Organic Farm. I highly recommend them!]



From My Head Down to My Legs

I love food. I love to eat it, I love to cook it, I love to share it.

But...I tend to be pretty picky about what I put in my mouth when I'm going with what feels good for my body.

And like any other hot-blooded American woman, I tend to be fairly busy. I work, I volunteer, I spend a lot of time with people. I like it like that.

What I don't like is that I'm often left with not quite enough time in the kitchen as I'd like. (Maybe that's why I tend to choose more elaborate meals whenever I have anyone over for lunch or dinner...)

My solution? I rely on a few simple and quick staples when I don't have a whole lot of time to cook (or when I do have the time but am no longer excited at the prospect of chopping, sauteeing, and roasting- this doesn't happen often, but it does happen.)

First up?Does anyone remember the egg commercial? You know, I love eggs, from my head down to my legs? That's me. I mean, I could have very well been in one of those commercials because I get pretty excited about eggs. They're so versatile. Mix them with leftover beans, cooked veggies, or raw veggies that are about to go bad, a little seasoning, and voila! You have a new meal. 

Another thing you can do with those eggs? Cook one up, slice up some avocado or cheese, a veggie if you want it, and pack it all in to one of these[Source]

I am a big fan. These babies are dense, chewy, and filling. My favorites right now are the Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel English Muffins. Which taste great with a little cream cheese (the good stuff with recognizable ingredients- not the stuff that carries fewer calories but is chock full of non-food), some of my beloved cashew butter, or a couple of tablespoons of this deliciousness[Source]

I honestly prefer the "just peanuts" kinds of peanut butter. The store brand organic kind was on sale last week, so I gave it a whirl. It's good! But I think Smucker's Creamy Natural Peanut Butter (when I want a little salt) and Crazy Richard's (when I don't) might still be my favorite brands.

Perhaps not quite as exciting, but equally as useful[Source]

I usually have veggie broth on hand. Saute some onions or garlic (or both), add the broth, throw in some veggies, a protein, a starch, and any seasonings you're interested in, and you have a meal (or several!). Just last week, I made a soup out of only low-sodium vegetable broth, leeks, navy beans, potatoes, and corn. It was actually my second time making the same soup because I enjoyed the first batch so much.

Those are a few of my quick-in-the-kitchen-but-still-healthy-and-yummy fixes. What are yours? I'm always wanting new ideas!


Try-it-Out Tuesday

I am a self-proclaimed carb queen. Always have been. I distinctly remember my favorite meal growing up being a plate half-full of mashed potatoes and half-full of pasta. To the brim. (This particular type of meal really only took place on holidays, and I took full advantage.) My favorite foods have changed since then ( I no longer get so excited about pasta or mashed potatoes.), but my absolute love for carbs? Hasn't.

Around here, tortillas are king. I eat them with all my other favorite foods- beans, avocados, peanut butter, eggs, hummus, chocolate- but I think the tortillas might actually be the star of the show. For that reason, I like tortillas with a little "chew." I want them to add a little something of their own to my meal- mainly texture and flavor, so  I tend to go for Ezekiel tortillas. However, my favorite Ezekiel tortillas have not been in stock at my local grocery store for quite some time now. The brown rice version are- and they are tasty- but they tend to fall apart.

I will happily eat my brown rice tortillas (with plenty of napkins nearby),  but I'm also open to other (perhaps cheaper) options. AND I've been wanting to try out the recipes I've been drooling over at Raw Motherhood. So while my fridge is currently full of veggies to be roasted, stir-fried, or turned into soup, like I said, tortillas are king. 

These tortillas require two steps 12-24 hours apart, neither of which seem all too time consuming. Which is wonderful. Who isn't looking for healthy, delicious, satisfying, and quick recipes right now?

Here it is: my attempt at Quinoa-Flax Tortillas:

The ingredients

  • 2 and 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp. quinoa flour (I had it leftover from last's week's quinoa flour-based recipe)
  • 3/4 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup warm filtered water
  • 1 tbsp. acid medium (kefir, whey, buttermilk, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice)- I used apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup butter/oil blend, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

What I did tonight:

  1. Combined flour, flaxseed, melted butter blend, and 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar.

2. Cover with plastic wrap and set my covered bowl on the counter for the next 12-24 hours.

What I'll do tomorrow:

  1. Knead the baking powder and salt into flour mixture until the dough can easily be formed into balls.
  2. Form dough into 8-10 balls and let stand for 10 more minutes.
  3. Roll to form a 10-inch circle (this is where a tortilla press would come in handy if you have one).
  4. Toast on a lightly greased pan for approximately 20-30 seconds per side.

Kristen says these are freezable, but I think we all know that these tortillas aren't going to last long!

For the original recipe, click here.

I 'll let you know how my version turns out. Oh, and those quinoa-based pumpkin chocolate chip muffins I made last week? They were delicious, even addicting, even after they'd cooled down. Although I wouldn't mind a few more chocolate chips next time:-).