Clean Eating Cooking Essentials

I believe that in order to stick with something it needs to be simple enough to fit into YOUR lifestyle. If you have to change things around so much that your life does not feel like your own, then chances are you won’t stick with it. Whether it’s cooking, eating, or working out, make sure your plan makes sense for your schedule and life. I believe in keeping things super simple and convenient, especially in the kitchen.

Here a few of my favorite things that I always keep in stock in my kitchen to ensure clean and healthy cooking and eating all week long. 

Fresh Lemons

fresh lemon

1. squeeze the juice on greens, chicken, and fish. I use it before cooking and also right before serving 2. squeeze on fresh avocado or apple slices when storing to keep from turning brown 3. Use a slice in warm water in the morning for a gentle cleansing 4. Drink with water during the day as a natural appetite suppressant and source of vitamin C

Non-Stick Cooking Spray

I love the coconut oil spray! It smells good but doesn’t over power the flavor of food. I use on pans before cooking eggs every morning or spray in a measuring cup before honey or other sticky substance.

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

It sounds super healthy but I use it more as a flavor enhancer.  It actually contains essential B vitamins that are great for you. It gives greens, broccoli, or cauliflower a slightly tangy, “cheesy” taste. I sprinkle it on the veggies when they are warm and ready to be served. You could also use it on chicken or fish before baking.

Mrs Dash and other Herbs

I love me some Mrs Dash! She has saved my mornings by making my egg whites more exciting! It comes in many flavors and can be used on anything in the place of salt. Get comfortable trying new herbs and spices in your foods, you may never go back to salt.

Herbal Tea

herbal tea

I like to keep a good variety of flavors to help with cravings and for when I need to relax. I sometimes crave sweets really bad after a meal and I will use a nice herbal tea blend to help soothe that need. It’s also a good replacement for that nightly glass of wine.

A Variety of Oils

I use extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil for cooking. Each one has a slightly different flavor so it helps keep the daily chicken and veggies exciting.

Comfortable, Sturdy Cookware and Knives

I say “comfortable” because your cookware should feel great to YOU. It doesn’t matter if it’s from Target or Williams Sonoma or Goodwill. I use knives from a garage sale years ago and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Find what feels good in your hands and is easy to clean and store. Shopping for cookware can be intimidating so use your intuition, don’t buy something you don’t know how to use or clean.

I have 3 more weeks on my meal plan before getting tested again in the bod-pod. Goal is for my body fat to lower by 5% and muscle mass to increase from 88 to the high 90’s. Here is week 5 photo update

week 5 clean eating progress photo


Homemade Energy Bars

I haven’t bought an energy/power/protein bar from the store in years. OK, maybe a stray lara bar earlier this year because of an emergency, but that’s it. The marketing and packaging lead you to believe these bars are healthy and good for you, but one look at the ingredients and it’s obvious that’s not true. Check out the ingredients listed for the “Power Bar”:

That is not what I call healthy, clean, or powerful.
I made these oat-y, seed-y, fruity bars the other night from a recipe adapted from the kitchn. I changed it slightly because I wanted to add more ingredients.
Mix in a small saucepan: 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup brown rice syrup, 1/4 cup coconut oil. Stir well over low heat until blended.
brown rice/peanut butter
Remove from heat and add 1 and 1/2 cup apple sauce,  2 tablespoons ground flax seed (I used flax meal), 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well.
In a separate large bowl combine:
3 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 pumpkin seeds
1/2 sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
oat bars
All of these dry ingredients can be adjusted to your taste. Be Creative! I chose to also add:

shredded coconut
cacao nibs
chia seeds
homemade granola bars
Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and spread evenly in a greased  8×8 baking pan.
Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.
chocolate covered granola bars
I wanted a little extra something on these so I melted some organic chocolate chips on top and spread with a knife. Not enough to cover them, but enough to get my daily chocolate fix in a healthy way! Check out my recipe for homemade protein balls here!
homemade energy bars

Coconut Thai Legumes

After weeks of eating meat and upping my protein intake every chance I can I’ve hit a wall. I’m craving my simple vegetarian meals that I ate all throughout the winter. The stews, soups, and slow-cooked meals that kept me warm. It’s only August so there is still a lot of hot weather left but today I wanted warmth. I stopped at my favorite natural foods store for some hot soup for lunch and it inspired me to want to cook tonight.

I made this very simple but hearty bean stew. I kept throwing in different ingredients and flavors until it turned into something sort of thai flavored. It’s also high in protein so I don’t have to worry about getting off track with that. It’s just nice to have a break from chicken breasts every so often.

Lentils and Chickpeas go so well together and luckily I had both!

coconut lentils

1 cup dried red lentils

3 cloves garlic

1/3 white onion

1 can coconut milk

1 can garbanzo beans

1 can tomato stewed sliced tomatoes

2 cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup broccoli florets (I used frozen)

2 tablespoons fresh basil

1 tspn red pepper flakes

1 tblspn curry

½ teaspoon turmeric


Saute chopped onion and garlic in coconut oil Add dry lentils and 1 cup water. Cover and let simmer 15-20 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add tomatoes with juice, coconut milk and spices. Cover and let simmer on low 5-8 minutes Add fresh spinach, broccoli and basil. Stir well, turn off heat, cover and let steam 10 minutes.

Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or basmati rice

Gluten Free Pumpkin Nut Muffins

The grey day this weekend inspired me to bake as it always does. It’s funny how weather can affect what we feel like cooking. I also wanted a chance to try brown rice flour which I had just purchased for the first time. I normally bake with whole wheat flour but am branching out to some of the other great flours available like brown rice, almond, and oat flour (which is easily made by blending whole oats in a blender until fine).

I had some pumpkin in the freezer that needed to be used as well so I came up with these nutty, healthy muffins made with honey and unsweetened apple sauce.

brown rice flour muffins

Combine 2 cups brown rice flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder.

In separate bowl combine 2 eggs, 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup mashed pumpkin, 2 cups unsweetened apple sauce, 2 tablespoons olive oil (or avocado, coconut).

pumpkin muffins batter

Add generous sprinkle (about a teaspoon or more) of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of all-spice

spiced pumpkin muffins

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Stir in any or all of the following:

Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Shredded Coconut, Raisins. I used all but the coconut, I just thought of that one!

nuts and seeds

Pour into muffin tin and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

healthy pumpkin muffins

These muffins have a lot of liquid ingredients  so be sure and bake thoroughly, use a toothpick to check. Some of mine came out a little too “doughy” for my liking because I didn’t leave them in long enough. Patience has always been my weak spot.

These are SO good!!! Moist, chewy, full of flavor and texture. Plus NO white flour or white sugar (of course!)

I spread mine with almond butter while still warm!

pumpkin nut muffins

Coconut Adzuki Beans w/Acorn Squash

Here is  a great recipe to try for Meatless Monday- or any day of the week you’d like a hearty, filling meal that tastes like a spicy tropical stew. Beans are a great source of plant protein and there are many varieties to try.

I’ve recently discovered adzuki beans and love them. They are small, solid red beans that hold their texture well. Sort of like a cousin of my beloved black bean. Unlike larger beans, they don’t take too long to cook either so this dish was made in about an hour.

Adzuki Beans

I boiled, then simmered the dried adzuki beans in water until tender.

Acorn Squash

While they were cooking I peeled and chopped an acorn squash. I’m not going to lie- this was not fun- if anyone knows of a trick to easily peel hard winter squash please share! I tried softening it a bit in the microwave but that didn’t help either. Anyway, I got what I needed- some good chunks of sweet orange flesh. You could use butternut squash, or even sweet potatoes in this as well.

In coconut oil I sauteed a half of white onion,  2 cloves of fresh garlic, and  the squash cubes until soft and golden.

squash, onion, garlic

Then I added the beans and poured in one can of coconut milk and stirred well.

coconut milk over beans

The spices I chose to add were: red pepper flakes, cumin, and chili powder which gave it a rich, comforting flavor mixed with the sweetness of the coconut.

spicy bean stew

I let this all simmer so the flavors could mingle together after adding a can of unsalted diced tomatoes with juice.

bean stew

I served over brown rice. It was very filling, yet still not as heavy tasting as a regular chili might be. Good dish to try for a meatless meal!

bean, squash, tomatoes

Tempeh Buddha Bowl

I love having tempeh in my kitchen for those nights that I need something substantial that doesn’t require a ton of prep work. It’s a good vegetarian source of protein but I don’t eat it too often because I don’t like a lot of soy in my diet. I usually have it once a week like this or in a stir-fry

In preparation for my vacation in 1 more day I’ve been trying to eat lighter but have a hit a few rough spots. Dinner at an indian restaurant, sunday brunch (I ordered kale salad instead of waffles), and a thai lunch have all added up to too much restaurant food for my taste. Plus the fact I decided to make a batch of these lovelies for no particular reason.

Last night I got back on track with a delicious light meal-in-a-bowl.


I sauteed the tempeh in sesame seed oil with some white onion slices. I dusted liberally with paprika and a bit of cumin. I didn’t add any liquid because tempeh really soaks up whatever you put it in and I wanted it subtle enough to take the tahini.

paprika dusted tempeh

For the sauce I used tahini, tamari, water to thin, a dash of olive oil, juice from 1/2 fresh lemon, minced garlic and a smidge of maple syrup.

tahini sauce

I sauteed some rainbow chard in coconut oil.  Nothing makes me feel lighter and happier than fresh greens prepared in coconut oil. It’s one of my favorite things on the planet.

sauteed kale

I put the whole thing in a bowl on top of brown rice so it sort of mixed together as I ate.

tempeh with tahini

You could vary the bowl with different greens; kale, broccoli, spinach or bok choy. Toppings could include raw cashews or slivered almonds.

Buddha Bowls are the Best!

Salmon with Mango Salsa

Even though it’s not seasonal or local, mango is one of my all-time favorite fruits! It brings to mind sunny sandy beaches and steel drum music. When I found this recipe online here–  I had to try if for myself with a few slight modifications. It looked like a little more kitchen prep than I’m used to doing but with good music and a cold beverage, the chopping became a meditation. Peeling and slicing juicy mangoes made me want to go to an island right away!!

salsa ingredients

For the salsa-  Chop one half red onion and 2 garlic cloves. I’m going to tell you upfront the red onion was TOO overpowering for me. If you LOVE onion then use half, if you want it milder use about 1/4 of the onion.

red onion and garlic

Peel and dice 2 fresh ripe mangoes……yummmmmm

juicy mango

I substituted a half red pepper instead of using jalapeno. 1. Because I thought it would look pretty 2. I forgot to buy a jalapeno at the store which may have been subconsciously deliberate. Not a big fan, I’m a red pepper girl if anything at all.

red pepper

Add chopped fresh cilantro. As much as you’d like. Dash of white wine vinegar, olive oil and the juice of 1 lime.


Stir well and let chill.

pretty salsa

Prepare fish by placing in a foil “envelope” and top with a drizzle of olive oil and seasonings of your choice. I sprinkled with cumin and set some fresh cilantro on top. Place in 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. The steam will keep it moist and soak up the flavors of the spices.

salmon with cilantro

Serve salsa over fish. I had a side of greens cooked in coconut oil for even more tropical flavor.

Mango Salsa

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