Author Archives: Catherine

Making over Taco Night. Twice.

Clean eating | Dairy-free option | Soy-free option | Gluten-free option | Nut-free

My girls LOVE Taco Night. Something about being in charge of their own meal and what goes in it. Not to mention it’s messy, which makes it fun. But I’m going to be honest: it’s not always been my favorite. First, the taco seasoning packets. Gross, am I right? Have you seen those ingredient labels?! Well, Alton Brown’s taco seasoning takes care of that REALLY quick. And clean too! Make it once and keep it in a small jar or even a little Ziploc bag to use a couple tablespoons at a time.

Second, as a mom, I find that once I’ve assembled everyone’s burritos the way they want them, once I get mine assembled and sit down, the meat is cold. That’s where this new crock pot recipe comes in. It features the same taco seasoning as our usual ground turkey, but the meat stays warm as long as I need it to! Plus more veggies! It came from an unlikely source: one of those easy video recipes you see in your Facebook feed that are usually semi-homemade, from processed ingredients. But with this easy and clean taco seasoning, it’s a cinch to keep the artificial junk out.

Clean Taco Seasoning

Original recipe here

  • up to 2 Tbsp. chili powder, depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika (he uses hot smoked, I use Hungarian–both are delicious)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want it
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar.
  2. Store in an airtight container (jar or Ziploc bag) for up to 1 month.

Slow Cooker Easy Chicken Fajitas

Adapted from here

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (see above)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained (check the ingredient label on this one; sometimes spices and preservatives are added here)
  • For serving: tortillas (use whole-grain or gluten-free and check ingredient labels for hidden soy and other junk), cheese, sour cream, beans, avocado slices, or anything else that sounds tasty!
  1. Place half of the sliced peppers and onion in the bottom of your slow cooker. Lay the chicken on top, coating on all sides with taco seasoning. Top with garlic, drained tomatoes, lime juice, and remaining peppers and onion.
  2. Cover and cook on HIGH 3-4 hours.
  3. Remove chicken and cut or shred, then return it to the crock pot for 10 more minutes (on LOW) to absorb more of the juices, while you prep your toppings.
  4. Assemble tacos/burritos/fajitas however you want!

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Coco-Three-Nutty Granola.

Clean eating | Gluten-free | Dairy-free | Soy-free

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If you’re looking for a tasty new breakfast recipe for this holiday weekend–or want something to eat by the handful, because that’s what I’m doing right this second–look no further. My husband and I are currently obsessed with this granola. I now want a double oven, not just for big holidays, but so that I can make double batches of this stuff all the time.

We’re big cereal eaters, and we try to stick to the healthier stuff. In fact, we were on vacation last month and I let the girls buy a certain marshmallow-containing cereal branded with a certain popular Disney movie, just because it was vacation (and they’d been begging for it for awhile), and they didn’t like it! I was feeling all proud of myself until I read this article from 100 Days of Real Food about how bad boxed cereals really are for you. Besides being easy and eat-four-meals-a-day delicious, the greatest thing about this granola is that we know everything that’s in it, and it’s all good, healthy stuff.

My finicky middle child is still coming around to it (she doesn’t like coconut much, which could explain it), but my grade-schooler loves it on yogurt and my toddler eats it by the fistful. I’m going to need to find more tasty granola recipes to expand my repertoire!

Coco-Three-Nutty Granola

Adapted from here

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (if you can only find larger shreds, increase amount to 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 fl oz (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp.) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat your oven to 250 and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. (I just learned that foil works in a pinch, but parchment is lots easier.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, and sugar.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, combine syrup, oil, and salt.
  4. Slowly pour liquid into oat mixture and mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon until oat mixture is well coated.
  5. Pour half onto each prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
  6. Bake 70 minutes or until golden, rotating baking sheets halfway through.
  7. Let cool, then break up chunks slightly and pour half of the raisins on top of each sheet. Use the parchment to pick up each batch and pour into a resealable storage container. I then give it a little shake to mix the raisins in further.
  8. Enjoy as a breakfast cereal with milk of choice, over yogurt, or by the handful!

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Clean, Dairy-Free Banana Muffins or Mini Muffins.

Clean eating | Dairy-free option | Soy-free 

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My friend Jessica is the first person I go to for clean recipe ideas–if I’m in a rut or just haven’t found a version I love yet of what I’m looking for. So today, when I noticed I had 4 bananas browning on my counter, and every other clean banana recipe I’d tried had come out completely flavorless, I went straight to her–halfway across the country. And as usual, we’re all full and happy over here. Isn’t food great that way? I love that even when miles and miles separate us, we can still gather together and keep in touch through good food.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe thoroughly substituted with clean ingredients. You should end up with up to a dozen and a half standard-size muffins, close to 3 dozen mini-muffins, or, like I did, a full pan of regular muffins and a half pan of minis.

Banana Muffins

Adapted from here

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (or sub in up to a cup of regular whole-wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup soured almond milk* or dairy sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla

* Sour your almond milk the same way you make buttermilk: for every cup needed, add 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar to a measuring cup and fill the rest of the way with milk and let sit sit several minutes. In this case, add 1/2 Tbsp. of vinegar and then fill to the 1/2 cup line with almond milk.

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease your muffin tin(s) with soy-free cooking spray (I use PAM for Grilling).
  2. Peel bananas and add them to the bowl of your stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to beat until well mashed, about a minute. Add coconut sugar, coconut oil, applesauce, and egg and beat until smooth.
  3. Add dry ingredients to bowl; mix on low until well incorporated.
  4. Add soured almond milk and vanilla; mix until well incorporated.
  5. Scoop scant 1/4-cupfuls for standard muffins and/or 2-Tbsp.-fuls for mini muffins (dough scoops work really well here) into the wells of your muffin tins. Bake 20 minutes for mini muffins or 25 minutes for standard muffins, rotating pans halfway through cooking time. Cool on a wire rack before enjoying.
  6. Store in an airtight container on the counter or freeze to enjoy later!

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Clean, Dairy-Free Chicken and Dumpling Soup.

Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free

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Winter has finally reached Florida! We woke up to temperatures in the low 40s, and after spending most of December in the 80s–including a record high 86 degrees on Christmas, for crying out loud–it feels magnificent. Time to bring out the soup! This is what we had for dinner tonight.

This soup (albeit not the clean version) was a comfort-food lifesaver during the cold months we lived in Switzerland. It was nice to have something familiar when we were feeling homesick, and it was easy enough to make in our tiny blue rental kitchen with limited kitchen tools that it made frequent appearances on our little linoleum table.

I’ve adapted the original recipe to make it clean and dairy-free. Also, because we all know the dumplings are the best part, for our little family I usually cut the soup recipe in half but keep the dumpling recipe whole so there’s enough for everyone to enjoy.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Adapted from here

Soup:

  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, scrubbed well and chopped
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw or cooked (see variations in instructions below)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour + 1/2 cup cold water, to thicken broth
  • heaping 1/2 cup frozen peas

Dumplings:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • heaping 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth, water, and chicken (if using uncooked chicken). Bring to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, start the dumplings. Add vinegar to a measuring cup and fill to the 1-cup line with almond milk. Let sit several minutes until curdled. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil to almond milk and stir. Then gradually add wet ingredients to dry, stirring as you go, until a soft dough is formed. You will not need all of the liquid.
  3. Remove the chicken from the soup to a plate. Add salt, thyme, and pepper to the soup.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and cold water, then whisk into the hot broth. Stir in frozen peas, bringing it back to a simmer, then cutting up cooked chicken and adding it to the soup.
  5. Working quickly, drop teaspoonfuls (yes, teaspoon–they’ll expand right away) of dough all over the surface of the boiling soup. Cover the pot and simmer 12-15 minutes without lifting the lid to allow the dumplings to cook.
  6. When the dumplings are fully cooked, lift the lid and break dumplings apart with your serving spoon. Serve immediately.

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Clean Carrot Cake Cookies (with or without nuts).

Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Gluten-free option | Nut-free option

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These babies are poised to usurp the title of “favorite clean snack” from my Maple Pumpkin Oat Muffins for me–or at least tie. My advice right off the bat is to freeze 3/4 of the batch right away. Or you WILL eat all of them. Speaking from experience.

The flavors mix perfectly in these to match my favorite carrot cake recipe–minus the cream cheese frosting, which my husband did not hesitate to remind me after his first bite–but was missing one thing. No, not raisins or pineapple. I never understood why people would put raisins or pineapple in their carrot cake. If it was meant to have those things in it it would be called carrot-raisin-pineapple cake. But I digress.

Walnuts!

So I added some. And my daughters told me in no uncertain terms to never ever do that again. So I think next time I’ll just add them to half of the cookies.

I’ve given you a double batch of the original recipe so that you have a bunch to keep in the freezer for lunches. They’ll still go way quicker than you expect!

Clean Carrot Cake Cookies

Adapted from here

  • 2 cups instant oats, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or your favorite gluten-free flour mix, spooned and leveled
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup maple syrup, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 4 small)
  • optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or add 1/4 cup to the last half of the dough if not everyone likes nuts)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in the maple syrup until incorporated.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just incorporated. Fold in the carrots, and if desired, the walnuts.
  4. Cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Preheat your oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  6. Use a 2-Tbsp. dough scoop to drop rounded scoops onto the prepared sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are golden and middles are set. Cool on the baking sheet several minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

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Crock Pot Chicken-Chickpea Curry.

Clean Eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free

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Happy New Year! Anyone else feeling a little sluggish after all of the treats and traveling and lack of schedule? I’m beyond ready to get back on track and back in control of normal, healthy life.

This easy crock pot meal is a staple in our home, especially on Thursdays when we have swimming until 5pm. I love being able to come home to this delicious smell and serve up a warm, comforting, healthy meal to my wet-haired, often shivering–yes, even in Florida–young ones. I make the rice before we leave and it’s still warm when we get home to eat. The chicken practically shreds itself when you stir in the final ingredients, and the sweet potatoes soften to make the texture rich and creamy.

Crock Pot Chicken-Chickpea Curry

  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8-oz can tomato sauce OR 1/2 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • optional: up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 med. onion, thinly sliced
  • 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • cooked brown (for clean eating) or Basmati rice
  1. In the bottom of your slow cooker, whisk together first 6 ingredients until incorporated.
  2. Add chicken, onions, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes; use tongs to toss until coated with curry mixture.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours or high 3.5-4 hours.
  4. 5 minutes before serving, stir in peas and lemon juice, shredding chicken with the tongs.
  5. Serve over warm rice.

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Clean Gingerbread (that doesn’t taste clean!)

Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free

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I love gingerbread cookies. My girls love decorating gingerbread cookies. The problem: since I’m the only one who likes eating them, I wind up eating all of them. 

So this year I wanted to try something a little different. My husband made me promise not to “ruin Christmas” by changing all of our time-honored traditional recipes to clean ones. But I’m the only one who usually eats the gingerbread, right? And I had to change it to dairy-free for my youngest anyway, right? So I went on the hunt.

These are great. They require little to no chilling time, so you can get them made and decorated in an afternoon. They don’t spread. They’re sweetened with maple syrup and molasses, the whole-wheat pastry flour keeps the texture the same as we’re used to, and they’re not too spicy and don’t contain cloves, so guess what? My family likes these! Turns out they just didn’t like my old, spicy gingerbread recipe. Maybe I should’ve made a double batch so I could have some to myself!

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Clean Gingerbread Cookies (makes about 18, 3.5-inch-tall cookies)

Adapted from here

  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, room temp
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses, room temp
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for rolling out dough
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and line a baking sheet or two with parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg. Add coconut oil, syrup, molasses, vanilla, spices, soda, and salt, and whisk well.
  3. Add flour and mix until incorporated, using your hands when it gets too thick for the spoon.
  4. If desired, chill for half an hour or so.
  5. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, then roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and place on cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 9-12 minutes depending on the size of your cookie cutters and how soft you want them. Mine are about 3 1/2 inches tall and I like them soft, so 9 minutes is plenty for me.
  7. Cool completely before decorating.

To decorate:

If you want to keep it totally clean, look at the original recipe for ideas of natural toppings to sprinkle onto maple-brushed cookies. My girls like to decorate theirs with frosting to look like real gingerbread men, so I made a dairy-free icing that we could pipe on. It’s not clean, but there’s so little on the cookies that we’re still balancing 80/20, right?

Dairy-free icing

(Not a recipe so much as “here’s how I did it this time because it worked”)

  • 1/2 cup shortening or Earth Balance buttery stick
  • if using shortening: pinch of salt
  • coconut cream from 1 can of coconut milk
  • powdered sugar, 2 cups plus, to desired consistency
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • optional: 1 tsp. meringue powder, to help it hold its shape
  1. Add ingredients to your stand mixer gradually, adding powdered sugar until desired consistency.
  2. Spoon into piping bag. Pipe onto cookies.

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