eMeals Clean Eating Summer Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa

I haven’t posted about clean eating in a while and to be honest, I haven’t been practicing it much. I have been trying, but sometimes buffalo wings and cake are REALLY tempting and, well, I’m weak. I also haven’t been meal planning very efficiently, which is frustrating because when I do take the time to meal plan, I save money and our food goes farther. Luckily, a fellow blogger of mine told me about emeals, an online meal planning resource that have proved to be AWESOME.

EMEALS EASY AND DELICIOUS DINNER RECIPES

When you purchase a monthly subscription to eMeals, you gain access to an entire month’s worth of meals- one week at a time! Each week contains several meals and side dishes, the recipes for said dishes, and to top it all off it provides a shopping list for every ingredient you’ll need so you don’t even have to think about what you need to buy – it’s laid out right there for you!

I decided to give the Clean Eating meal plan a whirl and in my first week’s menu I was delighted to find amazing recipes for Lemon Herb Roast Chicken with Baby Potatoes, Chilled Red Pepper Soup, and the recipe I decided to share with you all – Clean Eating Summer Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa.

clean eating summer tacos emeals

eMeals Clean Eating Summer Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Author: eMeals.com
Clean eating summer tacos with avocado corn salsa, served with black beans and rice.
Ingredients
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob (may also use 1 cup of frozen/canned corn instead)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (optional)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 package whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 2 fresh limes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
Instructions
  1. As brown rice takes 30-45 minutes to cook, I recommend you do this first. While your rice is cooking, you can chop up your avocado, tomatoes, etc.
  2. Shuck & clean corn. Boil for about 7 minutes.
  3. Cool and cut kernels off ears.
  4. If using frozen corn, cook on low in a pot filled with a small amount of water.
  5. Heat oil in skillet (optional).
  6. Add taco seasoning to ground beef, and cook until no longer pink.
  7. Remove from skillet & warm tortillas in same skillet.
  8. Place ground beef, tomatoes, and onions in each tortilla.
  9. Combine avocado, corn, cilantro, and lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt. Serve with tacos.
  10. Combine your cooked rice and black beans. Season with salt to taste. Serve alongside or in tacos for a vegetarian option.
Notes

I used frozen corn instead of whole ears – it was just easier on me that way. I left out the tomatoes because I hate tomatoes! If you want to make this super clean, nix the pre-packaged taco seasoning and make your own. It’s hard to come across clean eating tortillas, so I bought Ezekial sprouted grain tortillas – that’s about as clean as they come unless you want to make your own. If you’re being hardcore about clean eating, be sure you choose grass-fed, local beef bought straight from your local butcher.

 

I was amazed at how delicious these tacos were. I’ve actually made them more than once since acquiring this recipe! My husband isn’t the biggest fan of clean eating, and he even liked these. The Ezekiel tortillas we got weren’t my favorite ever – I compromised the second time I made these and went for normal “not clean” whole wheat tortillas. I ended up eating my leftovers by just mixing the beef, avocado & corn salsa, rice and beans for a few days. Delicious!

I highly recommend getting a subscription to eMeals. The price cannot be beat – depending on how much you purchase at once, the price is between $5-$7 a month and you get access to weekly meal plans! We’re all busy, and eMeals takes a lot of the work out of planning meals for your family. They have more than just the clean eating plan – they also have gluten free, vegetarian, low carb, and many other “special” options. Go over to eMeals and give it a whirl – you will NOT be sorry!

 

 

Coconut Oil Madness!

I’ve fallen off the bandwagon with clean eating – hard. I’m trying to get back into it. I went grocery shopping the other day and made some really good, clean food choices. One of the things that I bought at my local organic grocery store was coconut oil.

 

Image source: google

 

 

I’ve heard a lot of really positive things about coconut oil lately. I think the first thing I read about it I found from Pinterest, and then I read a very funny blog post from one of my favorite internet ladies, Jenna Marbles, about how magical coconut oil is. I think the actual words she used were, “Imagine if Jesus and Lady Gaga made a MAC Viva Glam product out of pure unicorn blood and then Ghandi blessed it after it was filtered through a rainbow of infant tears on top of Mount Everest and it dropped down from the sky to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where a narwhal incubated it to it’s maturity and sold it Johnny Appleseed where he planted it on the holy grounds of Jerusalem and it sprouted into a glitter explosion of pure amazingness.” (source: http://jennamarblesblog.com/this.html)

Coconut oil has a plethora of uses for beauty, health, cosmetic, cleaning, cooking, and a lot more. A good place to start with information on coconut oil is this post, 160 Uses For Coconut Oil.
Once I got my coconut oil I was eager to try it. The first thing I did with it was smell it. Not surprisingly, it smells amazing because it’s coconut oil. It smells like coconuts. Are you shocked? Most of the things I’ve read about coconut oil suggest ingesting it. One of the Pinterest sites advised “eating a heaping tablespoon for a natural burst of energy”. So the other night as I was cooking my chili, I dug a spoon in and collected some of the magical coconut oil. I shoved it in my mouth., and then I almost vomited in my kitchen sink.
It doesn’t taste bad. It pretty much tastes like nothing, with a hint of coconut. Wrap your brain around THAT one. What’s nasty is the consistency. When the oil isn’t heated, it actually clumps together but is also coated in oil. So eating a spoonful of coconut oil is like swallowing a big, greasy lump of slightly coconut-flavored slippery gunk. Note to self: buy some ingredients to make a smoothie and use coconut oil in said smoothie. Blech. It’s a lot more tolerable when you put it in a cup of hot tea.

Nellie just happened to have a diaper rash the night I bought the coconut oil, so I rubbed some on her butt and I’m not kidding you: the next morning the rash was GONE. And it was a pretty nasty rash. I was way impressed, even if she screamed and ran away from my coconut oil-covered hands because she didn’t want them touching her. What does she know? She’s a toddler.

In a spontaneous and way crunchy/hippie move, I also decided to try it as a deodorant. I rubbed some coconut oil under my armpits.  It works pretty well – I’m no more stinky by the end of the day than I usually am with normal deodorant. I am planning on trying out a homemade recipe though. I sometimes think I am a San Franciso-living 1960’s hippie trapped in a 21st century body. Except that I really like the internet and would be sad if I didn’t have an iPhone. That’s not very hippie of me, is it?

I’ve also started using coconut oil as a method of washing my skin – for a few days, I’ve been exclusively utilizing the “oil-cleansing method”. I know the thought of rubbing oil on your face probably has you cringing with visions of pimples dancing in your head. But contrary to popular believe, pimples and acne aren’t caused by oil but by a number of factors including bacteria, hormones, buildup of dead skin cells and several other things that will clog your pores with impurities. Basically, the oil-cleansing method is a natural way to restore the balance of natural oils to your face, while still cleansing your skin. You use castor oil and another oil of your choice. A lot of people use olive oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, etc. I decided to give the coconut oil a try. The castor oil draws out impurities from your pores and the oil of your choice adds natural, healthy oils back to your skin. You can read a more in-depth description of how to do the OCM here.

I’ve been doing the OCM for a little less than a week – I really like the way my skin feels. I only do it at night and in the morning, I splash my face with a little cold water and use just a dab of coconut oil if my skin feels a bit tight. I have noticed that my pores are purging a little and I do have some blemishes – which is to be expected.
I’m going to do the OCM with the coconut oil for another week or so before I make up my mind totally – if my skin doesn’t clear within 1-2 weeks I will probably switch to castor and olive oil. I think that the method is wonderful, but from what I’ve read from other people who do the OCM is that it sometimes takes a little while to find the perfect oil combination for your skin.

Will the OCM work for my skin (who, we’ve already established is a stupid asshole) or will I break out like a screaming, frothing Justin Bieber fan? Will ingesting it give me superhuman flying/jumping/x-ray vision powers? Stay tuned to find out.

 

Grief and Eating Clean

Grief, tragedy, and stress do funny things to a person. To me, they make me eyeball a plate full of chocolate chip cookies knowing full well that I shouldn’t eat them – ESPECIALLY if I’m clean eating – and say “fuck it” and shove all the cookies into my mouth with the wild abandon of Cookie Monster. Stress – real stress, not “ZOMG I LOST MY DEBIT CARD” stress – makes me eat all the things forever.

My brother and I both have adopted similar eating styles without really knowing it. He’s been living according to the Paleo diet where I have been clean eating. There are a lot of similarities, some differences, but both are based on eating whole foods. When mom was admitted into the hospital and we were both there all day long neither of us had the time to devote to cooking. So we ate out a lot. My poor brother did pretty well at first, modifying the things he’d get.

Once mom got into hospice and the reality sunk in, we both just said fuck it. We ate whatever the fuck we wanted. I’d have two to three beers each time we’d go out. I honestly did not care; I didn’t have the emotional energy to invest in making good food choices.

I’m finding it hard to break the habits of the past three weeks. The holidays are a hard enough time for those of us eating a certain way, but pile putting your mother in hospice and watching her die on top of that and you get a big fat nomfest of emotional eating. Sugar cookies? In my mouth. Gingerbread lattes? Directly in my veins, please. I KNOW YOU DIDN’T JUST EAT THAT LAST PIECE OF RED VELVET CAKE.

I’m still not back to emotional normalcy. I’m better; each day I am less and less sad but I am still easily distracted and feel emotionally fragile most of the time. I’ve found myself more interested in cooking, which is good. I chose 2 clean recipes for this week’s menu plan. I cooked one on Saturday night and it was delicious (don’t worry, I will share the recipes/links to the recipes here) and will probably cook the next one tomorrow evening. It was nice to cook. It didn’t feel overwhelming. We’re in a better place financially for me to pick my clean eating habits back up, so now I just have to get back into the swing of menu planning and hunting down clean foods for me to eat.

Saturday’s recipe was The Gracious Pantry’s 4 Bean Chili.

4-bean-chili-1-

What I loved about this recipe was how simple it was. I look for recipes with inexpensive ingredients, easy-to-follow instructions; nothing too terribly complicated. I added a little bit more spice to this than the recipe calls for; I seasoned it with more chili powder and some onion salt and garlic powder to taste until I was happy with it. It was really, really good and made a LOT of leftovers.

The second clean recipe I have planned is also from The Gracious Pantry. It’s her Clean Eating Chicken Bok Choy. I can’t say for sure if this will be good, but I LOVE bok choy and the again, ingredients are very simple. I’m looking forward to making this.

I’m a huge fan of The Gracious Pantry in case you hadn’t noticed. I’ve tried maybe ten of her recipes so far, and have yet to meet one I didn’t like. Everything has been SO good, and I like knowing that what I’m eating is good for me. She is such a hardcore clean eater, I know that she is taking a lot of measures to ensure her recipes follow her eating philosophy, which I like. It takes guesswork out of it for me.

So anyway… Yesterday was my birthday and I literally ate junk all day. Thai food, cupcakes, chips and queso, more cupcakes. I decided that it was my birthday and I was gonna eat what I wanted, damnit. And that’s exactly what I did.

Baby steps back into clean eating. Each day gets a little easier to tackle the tasks and goals from my old life; the one I led before all of this shit happened. What once seemed an insurmountable amount of things to take on gets less and less intimidating each day. In the words of the Beatles: “It’s getting better all the time.”

Clean Eating Update, Bachelorette Parties A.K.A, Life Lately.

Hey! So, I haven’t been around much lately. Sorry ‘bout that. There’s been a lot going on and I’m having internet issues, blah blah blah, etc. and so on.

So what’s been happening? Well, for one, I’m doing so-so with clean eating. It all started a few Friday nights ago with my best friend’s bachelorette party. Let’s just say that wine, buttery nipples (the shot, not actual nipples covered in butter though some of you weirdos may find that appealing), strawberry champagne and god knows what else aren’t exactly clean eating. Oh, and also, all of those things in a really short amount of time on a slightly empty stomach when you haven’t had any alcohol/sugar/processed foods in two weeks = being completely hammered before 9:30 and throwing up at the first bar you go to. I also told a random person on the street wearing a blue wig that I loved his/her wig (I don’t remember if it was a dude or a chick), I fell down at a karaoke bar, and remember being at each and every bar we went to (about 6) with the exception of one.. Which my best friend the bachelorette tells me that I was at. She told me about us going, sitting down for a while, and I have zero recollection of being there. Absolutely none. Fantastic.

I had a really great time, except the next day I was absolutely 100% useless and miserable. I managed to drag my ass to the zoo with my husband and child. It was free day which translated to everyone in the history of everything was there to stare at the damn monkeys and fat-ass raccoons, and it also meant that I almost vomited in all of the trashcans. 5 years ago, I guarantee I would have been slightly hungover but still functional, and I probably would have gone drinking that night also. I’m too old for this shit.

Our grocery budget has been tight the past few weeks, so I wasn’t able to buy all of the clean foods I’d like. I did okay eating leftovers from last week (YAY FOR FREEZING FOOD), but I’ve had more slips this week than I care to think about. I’m trying to focus on this week, and vow to do better moving forward. I can tell the difference. My body is feeling icky from the stuff I’ve been eating and I don’t like that.

So that’s how clean eating has gone. I’m trying to get my crap together with budgeting (weekly daycare expenses kind of threw a wrench in the system I’ve had all of my adult life and I’m still trying to adjust). I got my first issue of Clean Eating Magazine, and cannot wait to try some of the delicious-looking recipes in it! My best friend’s wedding is was a few weekends ago, and Nellie and I were both in it. We had a really great time and Nellie and her fellow flowergirl (and daughter of the bride and groom) were precious together.

So that’s what’s been going on lately. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post regularly again, so my posts will probably be sporadic for a while. I do have some giveaways coming up soon as well as a few funny stories and hopefully some cute Halloween pictures. Nellie enjoyed her costume. We’ve been planning her 2nd birthday party, which blows my effing mind. She’s going to be two in a little over two months. Where does the time go?

Adios for now, friends. Keep it gangsta.

 

 

 

 

Surviving the First Clean Eating Temptation.

Tonight my daughter’s daycare had an open house. It was the first one they’ve held since she started this summer and I was excited. An open house! At my daughter’s “school”! This was another one of those “holy fuck I’m actually a parent” type moments. I have a kid. I go to open houses. I bring home her artwork. Oh, and I also pushed her out of my vagina. But whatevs.

This post isn’t about my kid’s artwork OR my vagina (too bad for you). This post is about how I survived my first temptation since really beginning my clean eating journey. At the open house, there was food. Not anything fancy or extravagant but they had grapes and strawberries (with yogurt dip), broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes and celery… And they also had chicken salad sandwiches, spinach-artichoke dip, brownies, cake… All sort of foods that I would normally be all over. Let me tell you, I wanted that spinach-artichoke dip. But instead of loading my plate with preservatives, carbs, saturated fats and gods-know-what-else, I piled it with the fresh fruit and veggies…. And no yogurt dip or Ranch dressing.

I felt very proud of myself as I ate my selections! I love parties, and I love to snack on party food so this was a big hurdle for me to overcome. Now don’t get me wrong, I plan on having cheat days… I happen to be saving up for a big one coming up next week. My best friend’s getting married and her bachelorette party is coming up, and I plan on having fun and not worrying about what I’m eating/drinking that night. But in order to do it in good conscience, I have to save up and be good until then.

It actually wasn’t terribly difficult. All I could think about when I looked at the food on the table was how I had no idea what was in everything that was there.. And that made me not want to eat it and stick to the items that I knew I could count on being whole and clean.

Natalie: 1, Junk Food: 0. Booyah.

Adventures in Eating Clean

About two weeks ago, I posted about how I wanted to start eating clean. I went to Chicago pretty soon after that, and needless to say clean eating was shot in the butt for those five days I was up North. There was a lot of food, wine, and beer and I enjoyed all of it. When I got back and went to the grocery store, I was ready. I collected a few recipes, made a menu plan and off I went.

I’ve tried five clean eating recipes so far, all from The Gracious Pantry.

  • Clean Eating Stir Fry: O.M.G. Amazing. AMAZING. This clean stir fry is loaded with flavor. Brown rice, bok choy, cabbage, onion & garlic powder and eggs make this delicious and packed with goodies.
  • Clean Eating Chicken & Rice Soup: This turned out…… Okay. But it was all my fault, not the recipe’s. I put WAY too much brown rice and not enough chicken. It was very bland, but with a little salt it ended up being okay. Also, this recipe calls for parsnips and I’d never had a parsnip before. I’m not sure that I’m a huge fan. I can’t really decide if I like the flavor again. I will try this recipe a 2nd time, keeping in mind to put more chicken and less rice. Because mine came out kind of mushy.
  • Clean Eating Breakfast Pita: Yum. Yum. Yum! Eggs (the recipe calls for whites; I used whole eggs), spinach, and red pepper plus garlic & onion powder make this delicious. I felt full after just one! This was super easy to make and very tasty.
  • Clean Eating Quick Pizza: This was good! The recipe calls for cottage cheese.. But cottage cheese makes me wanna yarf, so at the suggestion of my clean-eating friend Michelle I tried ricotta cheese instead. I made this at my office and almost everyone was craning their necks to see what my yummy-smelling lunch concoction was!
  • Clean Eating Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: More yuminess. I didn’t stay 100% true to the recipe, mostly because I couldn’t find any damn pumpkin pie spice. I found it at my local organic grocery (for almost $5!! OMG) so I just kind of winged it. I put in the pumpkin puree and sweetened it with Stevia and it was really good and filling! I didn’t put walnuts on top of it either, because walnuts are expensive like whoa.

I’m really enjoying clean eating so far. I do not feel deprived; not even a little bit! I’m looking at ingredients in a whole new way. When I see a pre-packaged cereal bar or dessert cake now, I cringe thinking about the artificial junk in it. I have run into some roadblocks, mainly the availability of whole food at a reasonable price. We are on a budget, and I’ve had to settle for some less than clean items. I have actually been shocked at how even some “organic” brands are packed with sodium, and have added sugar (something I’m trying to stay away from).

I bought low sodium chicken broth that was about the cleanest I could find at my normal grocery store. I stopped by a local organic grocery store today and bought some from them. When I got home, my jaw dropped at the comparison: what I thought was a pretty clean chicken broth ended up having 540mg of sodium where my organic chicken broth had 140mg. That’s a huge difference. Pita bread has been another hard-to-come-by item. I managed to find some whole wheat pita bread but again: added sugar. Yeast. Gluten. Blech. I peeked at the whole wheat pitas at the organic grocery, and they were really clean! I picked up some clean peanut butter (finally) and browsed around the organic grocery store to do some pricing to see what items were within my budget. I cannot shop there exclusively, but I was surprised to see that there were many comparable prices to my normal grocery store.

On next week’s menu I’ll be trying two new recipes: butternut squash lasagna and pumpkin chili! Stay tuned for more adventures in eating clean :)

 

Eating Clean

My friend Michelle mentioned that she and her family were attempting to eat clean, which I thought was a bizarre term. Who the hell eats dirty? I mean, besides crazy people and hoarders. I just sort of smiled and nodded and pretended I knew what eating clean was, because it sounded very progressive and smart.

Then I decided to look it up and it’s actually really simple: Don’t eat shit. Don’t fill your body with garbage.

I’ve been having stomach issues for about two weeks now and I think it largely has to do with my diet. I don’t gorge myself on junk; during the day I eat pretty much the same thing for lunch (turkey sandwich on wheat, bowl of soup, apple, orange. Wash, rinse, repeat). But for dinner it’s usually whatever is fast and tastes decent. Frozen pizza, fried potatoes, leftover chicken nuggets that the kid didn’t want.. Crap, crap, crap.

In my attempt to learn about clean eating, I came across a blog (another Michelle suggestion) called The Gracious Pantry.  I clicked on her “Clean Eating 101” tab and started reading. Clean eating is really very simple: don’t eat processed things. Don’t eat things with ingredients you can’t pronounce. A general rule of thumb is if what you’re about to eat has more than 3-4 ingredients in it (and those ingredients you can’t pronounce), it’s not clean. TGP has developed a plethora of tips and trick for eating clean, plus recipes galore. The idea of clean eating has burrowed its’ way into my brain and has been snuggling in for a few days. I’m intimidated, and worried that I won’t do it “right”. I’m worried people will think I’m silly. I’m worried it will be too expensive. I’m worried that I don’t have the time to prepare and cook things that are clean.

But, I’m going to do my best. As TGP suggests, I’m laying down a few ground rules for myself:

  • Limit white sugar with the goal of eliminating it completely. Also limit artificial sweeteners.
  • Limit amount of food with ingredients that sound artificial/processed.
  • Eat at least 1 fruit and 1 veggie a day.
  • No fast food. Ever. Period.

Those may seem like really small steps but I can’t make big leaps. I’m not that kind of person. The sugar/sweetener thing is going to be hard enough, because I loves me some Splenda with my coffee. Instead of focusing on the things I’m not going to be able to nom anymore, I’m going to set my sights on some recipes I’m excited to try:

Mexican Crock Pot Chicken

 

Chicken & Rice Soup

 

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

 

So… All of this looks and sounds really good. I don’t look at these images and feel sad and like I’m going to be deprived. That chicken and rice soup looks so good I can hardly stand it. I’m not expecting to be able to do this all at once, and I know that I will break sometimes (hi, Thanksgiving and Christmas) but I think that small steps can lead to big ones. Let’s see where this takes me!

P.S. Thanks to the Gracious Pantry for the lovely pics & recipes!