Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chocolate Mint Water, Goodbye Diet Coke and My New Friend Stevia

It's official.  I have not had a Diet Coke in two weeks now.  I am a fiend when it comes to this wonderfully delicious, bad for you drink.  Early Morning Large $.99 large drinks and Happy Hour at Sonic are some of my favorite times of the day.  I am addicted to the drink. 

I decided to stop drinking it once and for all.  At least I said, "Let's see how long I can go without one."  I have known for a long time now that aspartame is terrible for you.  It's poison on our systems but my family and I consume it in great quantities.  After I watched this video (see below) on Underground Wellness on YouTube, I knew that I needed to make some changes. 

 I have to say, water is very boring especially when you are used to the fizzy flavorful soda.  I have found something that helps break up the boredom of plain water.  Liquid Stevia.  Flavored Liquid Stevia to be exact.  I bought some chocolate flavored liquid stevia the other day not really knowing what to expect. I knew what I was going of my favorite flavor combinations- mint and chocolate. My plan was to use the chocolate stevia and some crushed mint leaves (from my potted plant) and make some healthy, no calorie, flavorful water.  My plan was successful.  This water is wonderful!  I add four drops and about 4 or 5 mint leaves to my glass of water and I have a refreshing beverage.  It is not Diet Coke by any means but for now it is helping.  If only they would make a Diet Coke flavored liquid stevia!  Boy, would I be in heaven!

AND, my son LOVES it!

I have to figure out the easiest and most painless way to cut the soda completely out of my son's diet
(not going to happen with hubby).  Ughhhh..... It's going to be a fight, but it has to be fought.

The bottles are pretty expensive.  I paid $15.  I can rationalize the expense in many ways: 
1.  We will be healthier without the soda and aspartame 
2.  I am not making daily runs to Sonic 
3.  I am not buying Diet Coke by the case. 
4.  It doesn't take much and my water becomes sweet and flavored.  It should last a while. 

If you would like to learn more about the dangers of aspartame there is tons of info out there.  I recently found Sean Croxton at Underground Wellness.  He has videos on YouTube about health and wellness.  He is very informative.  You ought to check him out! 

Here is a video that he made about Stevia.

I would love to hear from those of you that are going through some similar challenges. 

Let me know if you watch some Underground Wellness videos.

Let me know if you try or use the liquid stevia. 

Wish me luck.  Everyday, I want a Diet Coke.  I have not given into the temptation, but I can make no promises.  Everyday, I want a Diet Coke.

I have gone 4 weeks without Diet Coke.  The first week or two was very difficult, but it has gotten much easier.  I still have cravings if I eat certain things.  AND my son stopped drinking sodas all on his force involved on my part!  I am so proud of him taking charge of his health like he is and making good, healthy decisions.  He is only 11 by the way.  Pretty impressive, huh???

I have linked up this post to Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.  Come check out all of the great ideas and recipes!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spicy Cilantro and Lime Potato Salad

I wanted to make a potato salad but not a traditional one.  I am not a fan of the mustard-based potato salad so, I came up with this recipe.  My son and I really liked it- my husband, not so much.  He likes the yellow potato salad and wasn't very excited about eating this green potato salad I set before him. 

I am posting this at Side Dish Showdown at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.  Side dishes have always been a challenge for me.  I have very little creativity when it comes to side dishes and usually all of my attention goes to the protein part of my meals.  This monthly challenge has forced me to think about this important part of the meals we eat.  At least I am creating one good side dish a month.

Side Dish Showdown Blogger Event

I found the dressing recipe at For the Love of Cooking and just added to my ingredients. 


3 lbs of red potatoes, diced in large chunks and steamed
1 onion, yellow or purple
2 large poblano peppers
2 jalepeno peppers
1/4 cup of sliced green onions

1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
1-2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar OR red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp oregano

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad. 

Roast the onion and peppers under a broiler or on the grill until they are nicely charred.  The peppers should be blistered.  Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 15 minutes to steam them.  Take them out and peel the skin off.  Roughly chop the peppers and onions and add them to the potatoes.  Add the green onions.  Pour the dressing on the potato, onion and pepper mixture and combine well.

The salad can be eaten cold or at room temperature.

This post is also being linked to:

Finer Things Friday

What's on the Menu Wednesday @ Dining With Debbie

Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chocolate Banana Almond Smoothie

This is my new favorite breakfast lately!  I kind of made it up and have been adjusting a little as I go.  My newest addition is the spinach.  You don't even taste it (proof- my son didn't) and it only changes the color a little. 

I thought I was doing great with this smoothie until I entered the recipe into Spark People.  There are quite a few more calories and fat than I expected.  Now I know that I will only drink half of this smoothie from now on.  My son can drink the rest. 

1 banana
3/4 cup (about) lowfat/fat-free yogurt or kefir
4 cubes of ice
1 ounce almonds
1 tbsp milled flax seeds or chia seeds
1 tsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 tbsp chocolate chips
1 handful of baby spinach

Nutrition Facts

(this is just an estimate)
1 Serving

Amount Per Serving

Calories 496.6
Total Fat 25.1 g
Saturated Fat 6.7 g
Cholesterol 11.0 mg
Sodium 147.3 mg
Potassium 1,242.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 58.5 g
Dietary Fiber 10.0 g
Sugars 36.0 g
Protein 19.2 g

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pineapple with Mint

This is one of my favorite summertime treats.  I got the recipe from Whole Foods years ago.  Don't you love walking through that store eating all of yummy samples that they offer? 

It's very simple to make.  All you need is some fresh pineapple, mint and sugar.  I use about 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of fresh mint.  I put them (sugar and mint) in my mini food processor and pulse until everything is chopped and the sugar is green.  Combine the mixture with the pineapple.  Let it rest for a little while before serving so the flavors can mingle together. 

This is best if served the same day. The mint tends to turn black/brown if it hangs around too long. 

I have linked this recipe to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Come check out all of the fabulous recipes that have been posted.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Almond Clafoutis

I saw this recipe on Cinnamon Spice the other day and knew that I had to make it.  It looked like a fancy French dessert that was didn't look too difficult.  The name is pronounced (kla-foo-tee). I would say that mine is not a traditional clafoutis because you are supposed to use cherries.  I had strawberries in my refrigerator so that's what I used.  It's a crepe-like, custardy dessert that is so easy to put together because all you do is mix everything in a blender and pour it into a dish and bake. 

I made it for breakfast the other day.  Hey!  It was a nutritious breakfast including fruit, protein, whole grain and dairy.  What else do you need?  I rationalized it anyway....

You can eat this warm out of the oven or after it has sat in the refrigerator for a while.  I actually preferred it eaten cold. 

Cherry Almond Clafoutis

(adapted from Saveur)

1/3 cup Sliced Almonds
1 tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
6 Eggs (I used Egg Beaters)
6 tablespoon Sugar
1 + 1⁄4 cups Milk
2 tablespoon amaretto
Pinch Salt
3⁄4 cup All-purpose or White Whole Wheat flour
3 cups strawberries, sliced
Confectioners' sugar (optional)

1. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until they get a golden-brown color to them, tossing often. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 425° and generously butter a 9" cast-iron skillet or baking dish. Combine vanilla extract, eggs, sugar, milk, amaretto, and salt in a blender. Blend for a few seconds to mix ingredients, then add flour and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

3. Pour batter into buttered skillet and evenly spread strawberries over top then sprinkle with almonds. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from center. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar and a dollop of whip cream if desired.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

PBandJ - Updated Healthier Version

We love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at our house.  I have done my best trying to make them a little healthier by using fresh all natural peanut butter, reduced sugar jelly and whole wheat bread.  The biggest problem in this sandwich was the jelly.  Even with "reduced sugar" it still wasn't great. 
I found this idea in my new favorite book, The Eat-Clean Diet for Family and Kids by Tosca Reno.  This is a terrific book if you are looking to improve the diet of your family. 

Instead of plain peanut butter, I decided to make some of the healthy peanut butter dip (minus the chocolate chips) I made a couple weeks ago and use that on the sandwich.  It was perfect!  AND instead of the "reduced sugar" jelly I just used some sliced sugar at ALL!  I thought it turned out very yummy and so did my son.  It made a quick lunch after his baseball game today.

I am sharing this post at Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen, Make it From Scratch and Tasty Tuesday at City Wife, Country Life so come check out all of the wonderful soup, salad and sandwich recipes that others are sharing.   

Tasty TuesdaySouperSundays

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ranch Chicken Salad Sandwich

I didn't think my son would ever eat chicken salad, but I found a way to make it that he loves.  As I have said before, he will eat ranch dressing on just about anything.  I decided to make some chicken salad using the homemade healthy and clean ranch dressing recipe I tried a couple weeks ago.  Total success!

This makes a lot of chicken salad so you may want to half it.  You will also have some ranch dressing left over to use elsewhere. 


4 small chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 cups of grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
2 cups of ranch dressing (recipe below)

Mix all ingredients until well combined. 

Healthy and Clean Ranch Dressing

1 1/2 cups of low fat buttermilk
3/4 cup of plain nonfat greek style yogurt
1 1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried dill
2 1/2 tsp dried parsley
2 1/2 tsp dried chives
2 1/2 tsp salt

I have linked this recipe to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum and Food on Fridays. Come check out all of the fabulous recipes that have been posted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

My son and husband get to feeling a little neglected at times because I don't buy ice creaWem often.  I thought that I we could try some frozen yogurt.  Little did I know that this stuff is EXPENSIVE!  I couldn't believe it was at least $3 for a little bucket of frozen yogurt.  Well, I am always on the lookout for new ways to use my homemade yogurt so this provided me the perfect opportunity to use a batch.  I bought an ice cream maker and made my first batch of vanilla frozen yogurt.  I wasn't sure I liked it at first because it was so tangy, but I quickly grew to love it.  I chose to just make a simple batch of vanilla, that way we could flavor it individually. 

The problem with this little treat is that we have it in our heads that it is healthy because it is yogurt.  It is, but there is still quite a bit of sugar that you add.  I have made it several ways; with all sugar, with half sugar and half Splenda and with all Splenda.  I enjoyed all of them.  I think next time I may substitute some honey for some of the sugar. 

The possibilities are endless with this new ice cream machine and all of the different flavor combinations and ingredients that I can use.  AND, at a fraction of the price it costs to buy the store bought.  I figure it costs about $3 to make 1/2 gallon of homemade frozen yogurt.   How can it be better?  I can't wait to experiment! 

3 cups of plain yogurt
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla

Mix all ingredients well until the sugar disolves.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.  Simple as that!

We like to top our frozen yogurt with a little vanilla agave nectar and fruit or mini chocolate chips.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry

I love chicken teriyaki and found this recipe by Ellie Krieger from Food Network.  I added onions and bell peppers and stir-fried.  It was wonderful!


1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press or minced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds


Combine the soy sauce, sugar, sherry, vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Seal the bag and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, turning once, for 1 hour. The chicken can be marinated for up to 4 hours.

Add some oil to a large nonstick pan on medium high heat.  Add the onion, peppers and chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve over rice and top with sesame seeds and green onions (if desired).  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Healthy and Clean Ranch Dressing

My son loves ranch dressing and will dip just about anything in it.  I found this recipe on The Gracious Pantry while I was seaching for information on Clean Eating and healthy recipes.  I am baby-stepping my way into Clean Eating.  My family is not really excited about it, but I am going to push forward anyway.  I have tried another recipe that I found for healthy homemade ranch dressing and we didn't like it at all.  This one turned out really good. 

I made some to dip broccoli in on our way to Texas tomorrow.  I have spent most of the day preparing food for our 550 mile trip and some for the week while we stay at my brother's.  I am determined to not stop at McDonald's tomorrow like we usually do.  I made chicken salad using this dip as the combining agent today and will make pita sandwiches with it (recipe coming soon). 

I will let you know how the trip goes and how our healthy eating on the road goes.  I am a little nervous, but I plan on doing my best to eat the right food most of the time. 

Check out The Gracious Pantry for more great recipes.

Healthy and Clean Ranch Dressing

(Makes about 8 tablespoons)

5 tablespoons low fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste


Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until well blended.

Nutritional Content

1 serving = 2 tablespoonds

Calories: 10
Total Fat: 2 gm
Saturated Fats: 0 gm
Trans Fats: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 0 gm
Sodium: 55 mg
Carbohydrates: 1 gm
Dietary fiber: 0 gm
Sugars: 1 gm
Protein: 1 gm

This post has been linked up to:

Food Revolution Friday @ Notes from the Cookie Jar

Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spinach and Feta Fritatta

This was a yummy recipe that I found at Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes


2 whole eggs
8 egg whites
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 oz crumbled feta
2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and freshly ground pepper


Squeeze all water from spinach. In a 9 inch non-stick sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and scallions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add salt, pepper, cheeses and spinach and mix well. Pour the mixture into the skillet and cook until the bottom sets, about 5 minutes. Hold a large plate over the pan and invert the frittata onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan. Cook about 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rosemary Chicken with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

This chicken was incredible! I took advantage of my new herb garden for the fresh rosemary.  I quickly realized that I'm going to need another rosemary plant.  It took quite a few little branches to make the required amount of minced rosemary for this recipe. 

The dipping sauce was so easy to make and  went perfectly with the chicken.  We will be having this chicken again very soon.

Rosemary Chicken with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
from The Best of Fine Cooking
         Fresh and Quick

1Tbsp plus 1tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp vegetable oil; more for the grill
1 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup rice vinegar


In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp fo the rosemary with the brown sugar, red pepper flakes, 2 tsp salt, and 1tsp black pepper.  Put the chicken thighs in a shallow pan, drizzle with the oil, and toss to coat.  Sprinkle the chicken evenly with the rosemary mixture.

In a small saucepan, warm the marmalade, the vinegar and the remaining 1 tsp rosemary over low heat until just warm.  Set aside in a warm spot.

Prepare a hot charcoal fire or gas grill with all burners on medium high for 10 minutes.  Clean the hot grate with a wire brush and then lubricate it with an oil-soaked paper towel.  Put the chicken on the grate and grill (uncovered over a charcoal fire, or covered on a gas grill) until one side has dark grill marks, 5 to 6 minutes for large thighs or 4 to 5 minutes for medium and small thighs.  Turn and continue to grill until well marked on the other sides and cooked through, another 5 to 6 minute for large thighs or 4 to 5 minutes for medium and small thighs. 

Transfer the thighs to a platter and let rest for 4 to 5 minutes.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with individual bowls of warm marmalade dipping sauce. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

This makes a perfectly healthy mid-afternoon snack for the kiddos and for us, also.  I got the recipe from Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen.    I added a tsp of vanilla agave nectar to sweeten it a little. 

We ate the dip with apples as you can see but I was thinking that it could go on our waffles in the morning, also.  Cameron wants to eat it with bananas.  YUM!

Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

1/2 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt (I used some of my homemade yogurt)
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla agave nectar

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve with apples, celery, pretzels or anything else you can think of that will go well with peanut butter.