food blog

My Clean Eating Philosophy

My Clean Eating Philosophy

In this post I want to share with you my personal philosophy on what is called "clean eating." A few years ago I embarked on a 5 week health journey on a clean-eating plan with a health coach. I learned so much from that journey and learned a lot of great nutrition habits. However, I soon began to slip back into old habits because they were much more familiar to me. 

This year, in 2017, beginning on January 1st with the help of The Freedom Journal I decided to take a similar health journey, but for a 100 days and really cement those habits I had learned in the shorter program to really make them part of my permanent lifestyle and not a short "diet" plan or something I only did "sometimes." 

My personal 100 day goal is to lose 15 pounds and get back to my ideal weight by eating clean, following a 20 minute workout plan 6 days a week and consistently drinking 6 or more large glasses of water per day. This plan is also to reach the goal of having more energy throughout the day to work on my business, help my family and have fun! I am already seeing great results! I have lost 7.5 pounds so far and I feel much more energetic. 

I want to share with all of you my personal thoughts on eating, and finding out what works for you. I believe that there are basic guidelines, but you need to experiment and tailor ideas to fit how your body works. 

Here are my basic guidelines: 

1. Eating clean can be for omnivores or for vegetarians alike. 

2. Eating clean means including: 

  • lean meats and seafood
  • whole grains (you may choose to go gluten free or have whole wheat or other whole grains) 
  • lots of vegetables
  • fresh fruits
  • cutting back on dairy but I choose to have whole milk Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. You may choose to go dairy free and have alternatives there. I have dairy maybe 1-2 times a day. 
  • choosing small amounts of honey or maple syrup as sweeteners
  • cutting back on large amounts of starches such as bread, pasta and potatoes. I choose to have small amounts of those- perhaps only a 1/2 serving a day. I do however, have small amounts of brown rice with dinner or oatmeal for breakfast. 
  • choosing healthy snacks such as apples/nut butter
  • drinking lots of water and tea without sweetener

I have found this plan to really work for me and it has so many possibilities! I do love fruit, but I have found that it is best to reduce fruit to maybe 1-2 small servings a day and concentrate more on vegetables. 

Also, on the 5 week plan that I was on, by week #4 once a week you chose a "cheat" meal. I actually like to call it a "fun meal" or "celebration meal" instead. I like to keep it positive! It is very interesting how this time around I am really cutting back so much on refined grains and sugar that they do not tempt me as much as before because I feel so great when I am eating lots of whole foods! It is amazing what your body will do! I do always choose a "celebration meal" once a week and it's fun! Last week I had a pasta dish, one breadstick and salad at a restaurant. It was so yummy! I really enjoyed it very much and really took the time to notice that. 

Sometimes you will be in a situation where you are a guest, or you are in a situation where there are not a lot of whole food offerings. Not to worry! Just make the best choices that you can and don't fret about it. It's all about an overall healthy lifestyle and not about perfection. I absolutely love to try new foods and go out to eat on the weekends, so there may be some extras thrown in, but it's all in moderation. When you make the best choices 80-90% of the time, you are doing awesome! 

I have noticed how much more energy I have had since I started to once again focus on eating as clean as possible, even at restaurants, parties and buffets. It's all about balance and living our best lives. I really want that for you too, and I am always here to support you on every step of your journey. Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you. 

 

The Cheery Chef Manifesto

In this special manifesto I want to bring everyone together to have a conversation about food. I create all of my recipes so that they are gluten free and dairy free, however I want to invite everyone to the table whether they are vegan, vegetarian, paleo or follow a more traditional diet. We all have a place when it comes to food. We all have a right to share in the beauty and the bounty that is food. 

1. Food is Beautiful: 

It is said that we eat with our eyes first. This is so true. We are often captivated by the look of a food or a dish, by its colors, shape or textures. I view food as a thing of beauty. We can marvel in the colors that nature has provided for us, the lovely shapes of fruits and vegetables that come from the earth. 

2. Food is Social:

When it comes to being social, we invite people to get together over coffee, or a meal. We share food as we talk together, get to know each other. Meals are shared, smiles are exchanged, we laugh, we cry, we connect over food. 

3. Food is Sharing: 

In good times and in bad, sharing a meal, bringing over a dinner can mean so much. We share our efforts and our labor over that special meal and we share it with others to show that we care about them. Meals brought to those in need, seniors, families going through grief or tragedy it is all a way to share. I want everyone to embrace food, to know its beauty and share its love for us. 

4. Food is Nourishment: 

Food nourishes our bodies by providing vitamins and minerals we need to grow, thrive and have energy to create the dreams in our lives. 

5. Food is Art: 

I love how we can arrange fruit on a platter in the shape of a rainbow or a flower, we can paint the plate with a delicious sauce to go with an entree, we can play with colors, shapes and textures. The palate of colors we have to create with is limitless. 

6. Food is Love: 

When we think about a celebration, the center of it is always food. We celebrate birthdays with beautiful candles in a cake, we celebrate holidays with special, traditional dishes, we celebrate anniversaries with a special dinner out. This food shows our love. 

7. Food is Nature: 

All food originally comes from nature. Let us look for the source of our food. The closer to nature our food is, the more it will nourish our bodies and in turn nourish the earth. Look to nature and whole foods when you cook and bake, it will in turn bring you back to your true nature. 

8. Food is Us: 

It is said "you are what you eat." We are all made up of the foods that we eat. Let us make choices that help us, help each other, nature and the earth. We are all in this together. We are all together. We are all connected through food. 

9. Food is Life: 

Food starts with life-giving clean water. Food is integrated into our lives. It sustains us, young and old. 

10. Food is Fun

Food is so much fun! We can play with our food, introduce new flavors, new ingredients, new spices, new ways of preparing our food. The possibilities abound! Go ahead and have fun with your food! 

I hope that you can find beauty and love in food. I want to invite you to the table, to our table that belongs to each and every one of us where we can share food and connect. 

Mom's Mulligatawny Soup

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This is my mom's soup that I grew up with. It is such a delicious soup and perfect for cold winter days. I love all of the colors in this soup, especially the bright carrots and the curry powder. I love that my mom taught me to always cook from scratch, to use lots of whole, healthy foods, to grow some of your own vegetables. These are such healthy habits that create delicious food that is so enjoyable! 

I remember my mom making this soup and I am so glad that I asked her to give me the recipe. In fact, the recipe that she gave me is on a piece of copy paper, written out by hand. I have it in my notebook of family recipes. 

I grew up out in the country where there was just one little grocery store, so we usually bought a lot of staple ingredients in bulk and also grew a lot of our own vegetables. In fact, our entire front yard was a vegetable garden. In the fall we would harvest and freeze the vegetables and also gather the fruit from the orchard and dry it, can it and make jam. 

This soup reminds me of those quiet country days. I would love to go out into the woods to play, to make up so many imaginary stories and come evening I would look forward to dinner with my family- to a soup like this one! 

Mom's Mulligatawny Soup: 

Makes 6 servings

2 1/2 to 3 pound cut up chicken

4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1+ teaspoons curry powder (I like to add extra towards the end of cooking) 

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1/8 teaspoon mace

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons gluten free flour mix

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 large apple, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch slices

1 cup brown rice, cooked (optional) 

1. Remove the excess fat from the chicken. Heat the chicken, giblets (except liver), neck, water, salt, curry powder, lemon juice, and spices (including the cinnamon sticks)  to boiling in a large Dutch oven. Then, reduce the heat. Cover and simmer until the thickest pieces of chicken are done- about 45 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the mixture.

2. Remove chicken from the broth; cool the chicken just until cool enough to handle with your hands, about 10 minutes. Remove the meat of the chicken from the bones and the skin; cut into bite size pieces. Skim the extra fat from the broth. Add enough water to the broth to measure 4 cups. 

3. Cook and stir onion in the coconut oil in the Dutch oven until the onions are tender; remove from the heat. Stir in the gluten free flour mix. Gradually, stir in the chicken broth. Add the chicken, tomatoes, apple, carrot and green pepper. You may also add the optional cooked brown rice at this time. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer the soup until the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. 

I like to adjust the seasonings at the end, make sure there is enough salt and pepper. Also, I like to add a bit of extra curry powder at the end as well. 

I hope that you enjoy this super yummy soup! 

Tomato Thyme & Sea Salt Savory Shortbread

Gluten & Dairy Free Tomato Thyme and Sea Salt Savory Shortbread

I find it so fun to find out about recipes from other cultures! I learned about this type of savory shortbread from my husband's co-worker who is from Indonesia. She grew up with a savory Dutch-Indonesian shortbread with cheese in it called Kaastengles. One day my husband brought one back to me so that I could try it. It was a commercial version of the shortbread, and very tasty. 

From there, we found a basic recipe for the cheese shortbread which I made with success. I wanted though to develop a recipe that was both gluten and dairy free and had other savory flavors. The shortbread still has a very soft feel to it and has a great flavor. I have achieved the shortbread/cracker I was looking for! Soon, I will be exploring other flavors, so let me know if this inspires you and what else you would like to see created! 

I can envision these lovely shortbread as the centerpiece of a wonderful appetizer spread. Imagine everyone's delight when they discover how delicious these are and that everyone can enjoy them! 

tomato thyme sea salt savory shortbread

 

Tomato Thyme & Sea Salt Savory Shortbread

Note: Some of the measurements in this recipe are listed in grams. I have approximations in cups, however I do suggest that if possible you use a kitchen scale to measure out these ingredients in grams to be most accurate) 

125 grams vegan margarine (a little over a 1/2 cup) 

2 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

150 grams gluten free flour mix (see recipe below) (about 3/4 cup) 

GLUTEN FREE FLOUR MIX: 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca starch. Mix together in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. You will use about 3/4 cup of this mix. 

25 grams cornstarch (about 1/8 cup)

1 teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon xanthan gum 

1 tablespoon tomato paste

+ 1 extra egg yolk for brushing on shortbread before baking

+ extra sea salt for sprinkling on shortbread before baking

1. Heat oven to 350F. 

2. Grease 2 baking sheets with vegetable oil spray, vegan margarine or coconut oil. 

3. In a stand mixer, mix together the margarine with the egg yolks. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the gluten free flour mix, cornstarch, sea salt, thyme and xanthan gum. 

4. Add in the flour mixture and the tomato paste. Mix on medium speed until the mixture just comes together. Then, add in the tomato paste and mix. 

5. Using a rubber spatula, scrape dough out onto a board sprinkled with gluten free flour and knead to combine the dough thoroughly. 

6. Roll to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out small shapes with cookie cutters. Place the shapes on the greased baking sheets, brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sea salt. 

7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Enjoy! 

These savory shortbread make a great addition to appetizers at a party or are also great served alongside soup or chili. Pass this on to a friend!