Clean Coffee Creamer That Doesn’t Suck

I think I’ve posted before about how I used to consume 99% creamer and 1% coffee, and I wish I could say that was a huge exaggeration… it’s really just a little bit dramatic. Since my days of going chemical free and shooting for the healthier stuff, I’ve been using coconut milk in my coffee {the canned kind!}, which I absolutely love. But every once in awhile, I want just a little sweet somethin somethin. So I had an idea while browsing the extract section at Walmart. There’s an amazing extract (imitation, not pure… I wish. But hey, a girl’s gotta live a little) called Caramel. I can only find it at Walmart, and it really is delish. Since it’s not pure, I don’t use it very often, but once a week or so, I’ll put it in my Shakeology for a nice treat.

Anywayyyy… why not add these extracts to the coconut milk I’m already using? There are so many amazing flavors, I can essentially make my own creamer with all the flavors I love, and tons of less calories/sugar/chemicals. Plus… what a money saver, right?!

So this morning, I opened up my can of coconut milk {I use light from Trader Joes} and put it into 2 mason jars {you can also store it in a shaker cup, or tupperware container – you just want it to be easy to pour!}. In the first jar, I added 1/2 teaspoon of this amazing caramel extract and in the second jar, I added 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. I shook it up, and BOOM. That’s seriously all. Creamy texture with a delicious hint of sweetness.

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So now… I am busy thinking off all the different extracts I want to go purchase and try. I think there will be an increase in coffee consumption over the next few weeks, at least until my excitement dies down.

Happy Tuesday!
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Pizzadilla, Please!

Pizza is almost always our treat meal, it’s kind of a Friday night thing. This weekend was a little crazy, and I kind of ended up wasting my treat meal. I had an unplanned lunch out, so I gave up my typical greasy, cheese covered goodness.

I was pouting that I didn’t get my usual taste of yum, so I got in the kitchen and experimented to make a cleaner version of pizza that I could have guilt free & here’s what I came up with.

*THE PIZZADILLA!* (cue monkey swinging from skyscraper… no?)

5 minutes, 4 ingredients, 320 calories.

Heat a frying pan stove top. Take an Ezekiel wrap and lay flat. Spread sauce on half of the wrap. Layer 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (I used vegan cheese) on top of the sauce. Lay turkey pepperoni over cheese and fold the wrap shut.

Put the folded wrap in the frying pan and cook until browned. Flip over and cook an additional 3 minutes. Cheese & sauce will probably seep out, that’s okay – the messier it is, the better it tastes!

Slice into thirds. Done & Done.

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I get lots of questions about my go-to brands, so here is what I used for this little experiment.

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Happy Sunday Funday!
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Clean {chocolate, peanut butter} French Toast

Breakfast on breakfast on breakfast. It’s getting to the point where I should just rename all of my meals – breakfast 1, breakfast 2….

My typical pancake recipe felt used up today (maybe since I’ve had it 5 times this week), so I felt like getting a little crafty in the kitchen. Can you picture me, powdered sugar on my face, tossing a whisk around, and wearing a chef hat? None of that happened.. there was no powdered sugar, my hair is in the same unwashed top knot that I rock for most of my life, BUT… I did use a whisk. So.. here’s what I came up with.

In a bowl or flat tupperware container (easier, since bread is flat.. flat on flat. Or flat in flat. Anywayyyy) combine 2 egg whites, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened almond milk, 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of PB2 or other powdered peanut butter, and 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. Whisk around until all powder is mixed. Dip 2 slices of Ezekiel bread (I used plain.. cinnamon raisin would probably be bomb in this too!) and make sure the toast is totally coated.

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In a frying pan over medium heat, spray coconut oil and drop in toast to cook. Flip over after 2 minutes or so. Once cooked, you can do 1 of 2 things. 1 – Enjoy your toast. 2 – Put toast in the oven under the broil setting on 525 for 3-4 minutes. I always love the taste of french toast, but nothing is worse than soggy bread, like if the egg isn’t totally cooked. I like mine a little crispy, hence the broiler.

You can also cook berries stove top and use for a homemade jelly/syrup. A drizzle of honey would be another topping that might rock your socks.

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For the toast recipe and 1 cup of berries – the total calorie count is around 250. I say around because….well, math.
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5 Ingredient Breakfast Pizza

I love breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of every day. You could even go as far as saying it’s one of the reasons I wake up in the morning. Breakfast should be DELISH and never boring.

I present you with… breakfast pizza, totally clean. Stop what you’re doing for 5 minutes, and make this! Even if it’s not breakfast time right now.. do it anyway.

On a panini maker or frying pan {medium heat}, lay 1 Ezekiel tortilla flat. Cook until browned along the edges, and flip. Should take about 4 minutes. You want it to be fairly crispy, but not burnt.

While tortilla is browning, heat 1 cup of berries of choice in a frying pain over high heat, stirring frequently. The berries will turn to a jelly texture as they heat. You want to also cook these for about 3-4 minutes, until they are 50% liquid, but still have some berry consistency.
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Take tortilla off frying pan, and spread 1/4 -1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt {I use 0% Fage!} across the top. Sprinkle cinnamon over yogurt, and cover with berry mixture.
2015-04-08 06.50.54Delicious, clean, and easy breakfast pizza. You are welcome.

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Lasagna Stuffed Peppers

I think I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love Italian food. I grew up with pasta, Texas Toast, and breadsticks being served with every meal. When I started eating clean, it took some time for me to accept the fact that I don’t need several servings of carbs at with every dish. In fact, depending on my activity level for the day and previous meal choices, at times, I try to avoid carbs with dinner altogether. Last night was one of those nights, so I had to be a little creative with my dinner plan.

Cue in; Lasagna Stuffed Peppers. Note; I make several versions of stuffed peppers, and my hubby said this was his favorite. Scoreeeeee. I think I can finally tell him about the house cleaner I hired 😉

You’ll need – 2 bell peppers (color of choice), low fat or fat free cottage cheese (I use Daisy brand), shredded mozzarella cheese, cooked ground turkey, organic low sodium marinara sauce (or homemade – see recipe below), fresh basil, ground pepper.

Cut the stem off of the peppers, and cut them down the center, clearing out all the seeds. Toss 1cup of pre-cooked ground turkey in 1/2 cup sauce. This will fill both peppers, all 4 slices, so spread it evenly. Next, combine 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with fresh ground pepper to taste, and 5 chopped basil leaves. Mix well, and also divide up between the 4 pepper halves. Last, top each pepper with mozzarella cheese shreds (just enough to cover each one when melted). Bake in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes, and enjoy!

Homemade sauce – you’ll need:
1 can of whole, organic tomatoes
Fresh Basil
1 clove of minced garlic 

Put the can of tomatoes into a processor or blender, and pulse until liquified. You can leave them chunky if you like a bit of a chunkier sauce. In a saucepan, combine tomatoes, 5 leaves of chopped basil, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, and 1 clove of minced garlic.  Heat until bubbling, and then let simmer for 20 minutes. 

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DIY Nightstands – rustic & cheap

I know that most of my posts are about fitness or eating or working out… or eating while working out 🙂 but I have unleashed my creative gene (one single gene) and I have been trying some fun projects for our new house. I really like this one, and it was incredibly easy, trust me, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t. Also, super affordable.

First things first – print a coupon from Michaels or Joann Fabric for 40% or 50% off an item, whatever you can find. These crates cost $12.99 at Joann’s and $13.99 at Michaels. So use the coupon for one, and it should make your wood around $20 total. If you’re feeling real ambitious, you can buy one at a time with 2 separate coupons to get them both at a discount.

Anywhoooooo – look for crates that are not damaged. Just because these come from the store doesn’t mean they don’t have cracks, chips, and splintered wood. So, be sure to look them over before you get them – the best condition possible is what you’re looking for. You’ll need 2 crates for each nightstand, so in my case, I bought 4. I also bought everything I needed to paint and put them together. This list includes;
Martha Stewart Wood Stain (in the paint section)
Americana Decor soft touch varnish (note; this keeps it looking like wood – not shiny. If you want shiny, you’ll want to go for the wax. Same brand.)
Foam brushes (I got a package of 3 different sizes so that I could reach all the angles of the crate)
3M refill kit (no hooks needed)
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Lay out a towel or newspaper to paint on. I would not paint these outside, because they will need to sit and dry for about 24 hours, and you won’t want to risk leaving them in the elements or having to move them while wet. I did mine on the laundry room floor with lots of old towels. You’ll want to paint the crate right side up, so that you can get all areas, including the inside, at one time. That way, after it’s dry, you’ll only have to flip them over to do the bottoms, and any touch ups. I only did one coat, but you’ll want to see the color and make sure it’s dark enough for your liking. Once all stain is done and dry, paint on one coat of the varnish. This dries clear, so you don’t have to be as careful with hitting every nook.

***CAUTION – Be sure that both the stain and the varnish are even and do not have clumps anywhere before drying. If you let it dry with clumps, they will remain that way, so I suggest using a separate foam brush to dry brush over any parts that look a little wet.

Once completely dry, select the crate that you want on the bottom. Look at the tops of each crate to see what has the best finish and use that as your top crate. Place 2 of the 3M refill strips on the selected bottom crate, I used the second place in, but the third would work too. Peel the backing off the other side, and hoover your top crate over to line it up before sticking it done. Once lined up, stick it down and hold it tight for 30 seconds or so to be sure the adhesive has connected. That’s all. You’re done!

In total for 2 nightstands, this project cost me:
$41 for all crates (used a 40% off coupon for 2 of the crates)
$14 for wood stain
$13 for varnish
$5 for brushes
$3 for 3M strips
$76 for TWO nightstands!

I didn’t look for the best pricing on any of this stuff other than the crates, so you can probably do it even cheaper, or may have some of this stuff around the house!

And here is your end result->
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Happy crafting!
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More clean pancakes.. safe to say I have a problem yet?

Honestly, I could eat them for every single meal. My husband hates me. He doesn’t want pancakes anymore. My challenge group hates me, they don’t want to read about pancakes anymore. But….I just.can’t.stop.

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In a food processor, combine 1 diced banana, 1/2 cup of steel cut oats, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Blend until completely mixed and pour 1/4 cup of batter into frying pan to form pancakes. Makes around 3 small pancakes, which is a single serving!
The perfect vegan pancakes! Enjoyyyyyyy!

Pancakes {no flour or sugar added!}

Okay, I know that I’m behind on my 40 day food breakdown, I promise to catch up! We are moving this week, and it has been an absolute mad house. No more excuses, getting back to it! But… before that, as a little apology, how about a new pancake recipe?!

{FULL DISCLOSURE: These are not the same as traditional pancakes, due to the lack of flour – the airiness isn’t there. But… they are still delicious, and a nice change of pace if you want to use your carbs elsewhere for the day!}

In a bowl, mash 1 banana into small pieces and pour in 1 egg white. Next, add 1/2 of a diced and skinned apple, 1 T of Justin’s almond butter (or any almond/pb of choice… I just love Justin’s), 1/2 t each of cinnamon and nutmeg, and 1/2 t pure vanilla extract. You can also add in cocoa powder for a little chocolatey treat (1 tsp!) Pulse in food processor or blender until in batter form. Cook stovetop with coconut oil or ghee! These take a little longer to form than traditional pancakes, and the inside texture will remain soft (similar to the banana!) so it will stay that way, even when cooked!

This is for one serving, so double or triple the recipe is feeding more people! I topped with a tsp of raw honey 🙂
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Enjoy 🙂

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Day 7 – Gatorade

So.. I have fear that I’m going to upset someone with this post. Gatorade. We all love it, right? We grew up drinking it – it was on the sidelines of our favorite team sports, it’s a “healthy alternative” to soda, and it followed us into our college years to cure a hangover. As a distance runner, I know that I have Gatorade at my water stops, and even on occasion have the Gatorade chews as fuel. But… what’s in this stuff, anyway? For those of you who didn’t know, the Pepsi people own the Gatorade brand – so if a soda maker is also making your “healthy alternative”, there might be a reason to take a deeper look.

This is based on the Orange flavored (my fav!) Thirst Quencher – found here.

Ingredients: water, sugar, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, gum arabic, sucrose acetate isobutyrate (<- what the hell?), glycerol ester of rosin, yellow 6.

So… water = good.
Sugar – second ingredient, which means there’s a lot in there. Refined sugar = spiked insulin levels and fat storage.
Dextrose – more processed sugar.
Citric Acid – processed preservative used for flavor.
Natural Flavors – I am curious to see if I can write one blog throughout these 40 days without THIS being in there… whatever the hell this is.
Salt – sugary and salty.. just like a chocolate covered pretzel.
Sodium Citrate – used to regulate acidity. This is our good old friend who is also used in medication.
monopotassium phosphate – used as a source of potassium, but this is an additive or preservative.
gum arabic – added stabilizer, basically keeping all the sugar from just sinking to the bottom of the drink. Fun fact; this is used in shoe polish ;). As far as the research goes for this one, there isn’t a lot out there, and no negative side effects that I could find. I try live by the “if our food didn’t have it 100 years ago, it doesn’t need it now” rule, but that choices is yours!
sucrose acetate isobutyrate – this was fun for me, because as I mentioned before, most crap ingredients are used over and over again, so the research gets a bit boring – not today! But… I was quickly disappointed because there’s not a lot out there (the problem with lab made ingredients without time to watch the effects on the body). Appears to be an additive used as an emulsifier and weighing agent, based on some extensive Googling. Also has no studies of short term toxicity or health problems in animal studies that I could find. Again, your call – but we didn’t need it before (and we still don’t!).
glycerol ester of rosin – used to keep everything mixed evenly in the drink. Again, not a ton of research, but while digging around – I did find this article. You can take the time to read it if you care, but the point that I took from it was this; Europe takes time to evaluate additives BEFORE adding them to their food. Why is it that we are hearing things like “BVO is being taken out of products because of ill effects” on consumers? I guess my confusion is why they are even doing animal studies on these additives, when they have us! If you don’t want to read the article, the important take away here is that this product is not allowed in Europe or Australia because of “lack of testing”
yellow 6 – lots of different yellows, but it is added food coloring which has been linked to lots of sensitivities and health concerns. Check out some here (note, these are posted opinions from those affected).

Nutrition label; Calories 80 – Total Fat 0g – Sodium 160mg – Potassium 45mg – Carbs 21g – Sugar 21g – Protein 0g.

It should be noted that those reflect 1 serving, and the bottles that most of us grab are 2.5 servings – so more than double.

Again, if you choose to ignore the potentially harmful chemicals in your sports drink – the issue is this; we have encouraged the use of gatorade or others like powerade as an “anytime” beverage. The amount of electrolytes in these drinks are made for MOVING. The only time large amounts of sugar and carbs in a beverage are necessary is when you are fueling or refueling your body from lots of work. So, first tip – when you are having dinner and then going to bed, or basically anytime you have a drink that doesn’t involve a football game or marathon to follow, water should be your best friend.

For those of you wondering about those times that you are going to be doing some endurance activity, there are better options (in my opinion). The reason for these sugary drinks is fuel. So… carbs = sugar. Sugar = energy. Water = hydration. With those things in mind, here are some options.

Coconut water – will hydrate you the same as water, and is filled with natural sugar (not the refined, processed kind) to keep your energy levels high and potassium, which helps to balance out the sodium in your body that builds up in your body during that endurance activity.

Fresh fruit juice AND water – the same info applies to fruit juice; it’s high in natural sugar and also rich in potassium. However, one glass or fruit juice won’t hydrate you properly from something intense – so be sure to also add water!

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Day 6 – Rice Cakes

I used to eat rice cakes on the daily, as a snack with peanut butter or almond butter. As I’m digging into the nutritional facts on these, I’m having mixed thoughts. I guess what I mean by that is that I was self sabotaging, as usual.

I am using the quaker rice cakes, which you can compare the flavors and look at the info here.

The lightly salted rice cakes are perfectly fine, who would have thought.
Ingredients; whole grain brown rice and salt.
Nutrition; Calories 35, Total Fat 0g, Sodium 15mg, Total Carbs 7g, Protein 1g.

Now… here’s where the problem is; Caramel Corn Rice Cakes.
Ingredients; whole grain brown rice, sugar, fructose (another form of sugar), maltodextrin (processed starch turned sugar), caramel color (additive used to change the color), natural flavor (who knows?), salt, soy lecithin (processed and not chemical free, as most soy plants in the US are GMO).
Nutrition; Calories 50, Total Fat 0g, Sodium 30mg, Total Carbs 11g, Sugar 3g, Protein 1g.

The caramel corn has lots of additives in it. We have discussed all of these already, but basically lots of sugar and unnecessary stuff.

With that being said, rice cakes are kind of just an excuse to eat something in general. They have no nutritional value. With no fiber and only 1g of protein – they are basically empty calories.

If you are going to eat a rice cake, go for the plain and add your own flavor with something like Justin’s almond butter or if you are looking for a crunch, try an apple or celery with almond butter instead. It will give you more nutrients and help to keep you full!
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