Keeping it Clean has a new look and a new home! The url is the same - - I just wanted to devote this site entirely to nutrition and clean-eating and cooking. You can find my training blog at the new and improved

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bahamas Mama Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

First of all,  I love tacos.  LOVE them.  Lately, I've switched to a corn tortillas exclusively because they are less processed but for those of you with a gluten intolerance they are also perfect for your dietary needs in place of whole wheat tortillas. I plan on having this meal on my dinner table in short order!  I'll even grill in my flip flops tonight in the impending snow storm to get the vibe right!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oatmeal on the Go!

Never Late, Without a Plate Oatmeal Cookies

With all the cooking I do, I feel like my arms are constantly submerged in a sink full of bubbles or emptying my dishwasher. In the mornings, trying to get two girls out the door, I often find myself eating breakfast on the go and one of my favorite meals is oatmeal! Driving with a bowl isn’t recommended and many an evening I have taken a crusted bowl out of my car and labored to scrub off the remaining oats off the sides working up a sweat. I have the perfect solution. With a glass of milk, these oatmeal treats, boasting 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per cookie, are as hearty as bowlful and as healthy too! Grab two on your way out the door for delicious, healthy morning breakfast!

1 ¼ cup Old Fashion Rolled Oats
½ Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (alternative: ½ cup oat pastry powder)
2 TBSP Flaxseed
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. Sea Salt
½ cup Agave Nectar (alternative: honey)
1 egg white
1 TBSP almond butter (alternative 1 TBSP organic peanut butter)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup chocolate chips (alternative: dried fruit, i.e. raisins, craisins, etc)
2 TBSP Chia Seeds
2 TBSP Hemp Protein Powder
¼ cup Sweet potato Puree
2 scoops whey protein powder (alternative: 2 scoops soy protein powder)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix Oats, flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, chia seeds, hemp protein powder, and sea salt in a large bowl. Combine Agave, egg white, almond butter, vanilla, and sweet potato puree in a medium bowl. Combine the two mixtures. Spoon mixture into 16 or so evenly spaced cookies and flatten slightly with your spoon.
Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutrition Information per cookie: Calories: 117 Carbs: 19 Fat: 2 Protein: 6 Fiber: 3

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Casey's No Pain Novocain Chicken Chili

Ah.... nothing is better on a cold winter afternoon than a hot bowl of steaming, hearty chili!  This would go great with my homemade cinnamon roll recipe.  This past weekend, with my running partner and friend Casey serving as inspiration, I threw together a spicy chicken chili.  First, I have to explain why Casey get's this recipe title.  Casey runs for the Mud Mafia, my running team, and her nickname is Novocain because no matter how hard the training day, no matter how much is asked of her, she fights through the pain.  Our mantra is "No pain, novocain."  This chili is like a band-aid for the soul, a heartwarming, belly filling meal you can share with your family and friends.  Be bold, my friends, and feel free to add freely any seasonings and fresh ingredients you like.  Chili can really be a fun and unique recipe every time you make it.  Have fun!

Casey's No Pain Novocain Chicken Chili

1 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic pressed
1 bunch of green onions
2 roma tomatoes cut up
1 can or organic black beans
1 can or hot chili beans
1/2 cup of hemp protein powder
1/2 cup of flax seed
1 large can of roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup organic chicken stock
organic chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup sweet potato puree (or baby food)
1/4 cup spinach puree (or baby food)
1.5 lbs of ground chicken or ground turkey browned and seasoned to taste
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 large bay leaf

Instructions: After browning the meat, add all ingredients to a stock pot or a crock pot and simmer on low for several hours until the mixture is well seasoned and flavored. 


Friday, February 18, 2011

Catey Baby Berry Muffins

I am a single mother to two beautiful girls: Taylor and Caitlyn.  They are mini clean eaters and love helping me bake and cook.  My older daughter Taylor helps me pick out dinner recipes for the week, shops with me and even pitches in on the cooking and cleaning up.  My girls often inspire my baking and today after dance class, while still in her tutu, Catey came up to me while I was making protein bars and asked, "Mama, will you make me something sweet?"  After my heart melted, I checked the fridge and found that  I had plenty of fresh berries and decided to make her some muffins.  I threw this together with some nutritional bonuses from the baby food, flax seed, and hemp protein powder.  I always put a drop of honey on the top of my muffins for an extra touch of sweetness.  They turned out delicious and Catey got her "sweet" for the day.

Catey Baby Berry Muffins
2 cups white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup Stevia
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 TBSP hemp protein
2 TBSP flax seed
4 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 serving sizes of sweet potato orchard baby food (about 1/2 a cup)
1 cup fresh chopped strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray two muffin pans - makes about 18 or so.
2.In a large mixing bowl, mix whole wheat white flour, Stevia, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
3.In medium mixing bowl, mix together egg whites, hemp protein powder, flax seed, baby food, and vanilla extract.
4.Mix the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Fold in the berries.
5.Spoon combined batter into lined muffin cups. Top each muffin with a small drop of honey. 
6.Bake approximately 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a couple of the muffins comes out clean.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Grilling in February! Houston's Honey Teriyaki Kabobs!

Nebraska has four distinct seasons.  As a runner I find it diversifies my outdoor training and it also diversifies my closet.  Any excuse to go shopping for shoes and fall is boot season my favorite!  I digress.  Where Spring is mild and fragrant, Summers are hot and humid, runs generally end with tight lungs and soaked gear.  Fall is gorgeous... trees are changing colors, a light layer is comfortable (it's football season) and the air is crisp, and then there is winter. 

Nebraska has cold winters.  COLD.  Not cold like 32 degrees, but sub zero and windy.  Did I mention we get snow?  I don't mean an inch or two at a time.  I'm talking about lots of snow, bucket fulls of it, and sheets of ice, sleet, and slush have been known to rain down days at a time, and it can last for months.  We have the thermal gear so we get outside and contrary to my whining, I'm actually pretty conditioned to the cold after the initial shock, I don't wear a winter coat unless it's below about 20 degrees, but it's still frigid for several months out of the year. 

Brad Houston
This week, it's been beautiful.  B-E-A-utiful.  That means one thing....BBQ!  My amazing friends Kim, Chad, and Brad Houston (the recipe namesake) all came over to share in the experience!  We have video footage of the evening and so stay tuned for that!  It was quite a night of fun, food, and laughter. 

As is customary, my recipe has an inspiration and namesake.  This time it's named after my friend Brad Houston.  Brad is sweet (like honey) and saucy (like, soy sauce, get it?), one of the wittiest guys on the planet, and always willing to try out my food.  The first time we hung out it was when I was making "Kick You in the Face" pancakes so we have a great food history!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lafawnduh Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Balls

I love peanut butter.  I have been known to come directly home from the grocery store, leave the bags on the counter top, rifle through the bags until I find the jar, unscrew the lid, tear off the foil and inhale the sweet, salty scent for a long moment before eating it out of the jar, two full tablespoons, 190 delectable calories of healthy fats down the pipe.

Ask any endurance athlete what they have in their pantry and  I assure you peanut butter will be in there. It's a staple go-to because it's cheap, it can be slathered on just about any kind of carbohydrate, and it's a great source of protein for rebuilding muscles.  I don't want to leave out other nut butters like almond and walnut, peanut butters' delicious cousins.  They are all fantastic. 

The beautiful thing about nut butters is that there are so many health benefits to nuts and nut butters.  Nuts and nut butters contain healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and are a great source of protein without any cholesterol. And according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (Nurses Health Study), consuming nuts lowers Type II diabetes risk. So eating as few as 5 servings or 30 grams of nuts each week can cut risk by almost one third.
The Lafawnduh Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Balls were born when I got a call from my close friend and ultra distance athlete Jason Jaksetic.  He is currently living in the mountains of Vermont training for several races and he informed me that he was eating organic peanut butter with a giant peanut butter chocolate chip
cookie as a spoon after watching Napolean Dynamite. I think that says it all.  This is a similar version to Jason's cookie spoon in the jar only CLEAN and with some additional nutritious benefits. Plus, my version won't give you a glucose crash and carbohydrate hangover like the one Jason had the next day...I took a few to the gym with me tonight and had them as soon as I was done working out. It was a great snack and kept me satisfied until dinner.
Music selection: I recommend making this recipe while listening to a little Orbital Halycon.  It takes about as much time to make these little beauties as it does for the song does to play through a couple times.  Maybe nine times for the balls to freeze.  Just enough time to catch Napoleon Dynamite. 
See the recipe by clicking below.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recipe? What Recipe?
I love posting my recipes.  And let me issue a disclaimer: My recipes are not things you will find in a Betty Crocker Cook Book. I didn't go to culinary school and I rarely use measuring cups. At the grocery store I have a list for basics, but outside of that it's basically a free for all. 

When explaining how I make things I use words like a scootch, a dash, a touch, a pinch, a handful, a little bit... It's just not how I cook.  Often times you'll see my recipes and I'll have multiple options because I believe that in almost every recipe you do!  I empower you, as cooks and bakers to use seasonings and spices how you see fit and to boldly step outside the lines of the conventional when you cook.  It's not uncommon to see me stop, mid stir, suddenly stare off into space, grab something out of my spice rack, fridge or pantry and toss it into whatever I am making with a flourish.

The bottom line for me is that, precision and accuracy have no place in my kitchen.  I am what I like to call an "inspired chef" so I let my mood, my friends, music (most of these recipes have a song too), moments, experiences, and places move me and it creates dishes that are memorable and unique.  My recipes all come from somewhere and have a back story so when I talk about them, share them, prepare them, and eat them I am reminded of where they came about and I think that is the last special ingredient that makes it delicious. 

My "inspired" cooking ensures a few things:
1. It's Different EVERY time.  Even the same "recipe" is never totally the same
2. I Use it all!  I don't waste anything.  I find a recipe for anything and everything in my pantry or fridge before it goes bad.
3. I'm bold... and random!  Why shouldn't you use onions, garlic, cranberries, lime and tequila as your marinade when they are the only things you have in your kitchen.  (True story - and it was delicious). I get to be creative in the kitchen and while shopping so I can try new things and not be a slave to a recipe.  It doesn't always work, but it usually does.  Remember that all these recipes are clean, hearty, and healthy so don't let the names fool you! 

Some of my personal favorites are:
Catey's Kick you in the Face Pancakes 
Broadway Drunk Chicken Fitness Fiesta
Houston Honey Teriyaki Kabobs
J&J's Protein Power Bars (These have to be made while listening to ANYTHING by Journey
Lafawnduh Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Balls
Casey's No Pain Novocaine Chicken Chili
Payne Train Sweet Potato Pie

I'll be posting each of these recipes soon along with the story and maybe even a song or two to get the creative juices flowing.  You have to enjoy the process of cooking, the inspiring moments that the recipes carry with them.  Each one has a story, a history and when I make them, when I share them, I am reminded of the blessed life I have and how I have to savor every bite.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kick You in the Face Clean Pancakes

I have an obsession with pancakes.  Making them, eating them, creating new recipes... it's far and away one of my favorite comfort foods.  Pancakes have become somewhat infamous with my circle of friends and family. Notably, my three-year-old once threatened our beautiful Golden Retriever, Molly that she would, “Kick you in the face if you take my pancakes.” Rather than assume my little one had emerging anger issues I decided to assume that my pancakes were just THAT good, a person would resort to violence to protect them. Thus, “Kick you in the face pancakes” they became!

My classic recipe is below, but I switched it up this week to add some quality calories since my training hours are ramping up.  This morning for my single serving I added: 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein.


Friday, February 11, 2011

J&J Protein Bars

In honor of my good friends, Jamie and Jim, and their combined sweet tooth, I have put together a fantastic recipe for homemade protein bars that are more like brownies than bars. Believe me when I tell you that at 200 calories for two large bars you'll satisfy your sweet tooth, keep it clean, and help you stay fueled for the day!  These will keep me going during my "brick" workout today! More to come on that later! 

J&J (Jim and Jamie) Protein Bars

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour (or Oat flour)
4 Egg Whites
2 scoops Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
½ cup Splenda, Truvia, or Ideal
½ tsp Baking Soda
¼ tsp Salt
8oz Gerber's Organic Berry and Banana Blend baby food
3 tbsp unsweetened baking Cocoa
1/2 cup Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal oats
1/3 cup slivered almonds
4oz Water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients (oat flower, vanilla whey protein, baking soda, salt, baking cocoa) together in a large bowl.
3. Mix wet ingredients (egg whites, Splenda, Truvia, or Ideal, Berry flavored Baby Food,Water) together in a medium sized bowl.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together.  Add oats, chocolate, and almonds.
5. Spray cooking dish with a non stick butter spray and add batter to dish.
6. Bake 20-30 minutes in oven.

Makes 16 squares, serving size is 2 bars.

Calories per 2 bars: 200 
Carbs: 28 grams
Fat: 6 grams
Protein: 14 grams
Fiber: 6 grams

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day is all About Heart...

In honor of Valentine's Day I am sharing some of my favorite heart healthy clean recipes you can share with your Valentine, take care of your heat, and take it easy on your wallet.  I have never been a fan of going out to eat on Valentine's Day.  I'd much rather stay home, open a bottle of Cabernet, and take a couple hours making a meal, enjoying the process, and hopefully, the company!  Not only does it bring you closer, but you'll never have to wait for a table or call months in advance for reservations.  With more and more people re-evaluating how they spend their money, these recipes will also make your bank account love you.  Each dish comes in at under $3 a serving.  You can't beat that...

Wine tip: Opt for a red wine on Valentine's Day to do your heart some good.   Many studies investigating the benefits of red wine suggest that moderate amount of red wine (one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) lowers the risk of heart attack for people in middle age by ~ 30 to 50 percent. It is also suggested that alcohol such as red wine may prevent additional heart attacks if you have already suffered from one.  Just take it easy... after one or two glasses the benefit of the wine is no more. 

Just Desserts...
What is Valentine's Day without a little chocolate?  Skip on the milk chocolate version and opt for an antioxidant rich dark chocolate alternative with this rich, tangy, crunchy, and delicious confection:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dinner and Dancing

I spend so much time thinking about food.  I love food.  I do. On top of all the thinking about the food, I spend almost as much time shopping for it, preparing it, serving it and eating it!  I cook for my family, for my friends, for my running team - pretty much anyone. My kitchen is the heart of my house.  Food is a passion... So is dancing... I spent my whole life dancing and there is something remarkable about what happens to your body when you hear music begin to play.  Even babies are compelled to move when they hear music... we are born to move.  So it would stand to reason that my kitchen doubles as a dance hall. 
On the surface, it may appear that cooking and dancing don't inherently go together... but at my house, there is no distinction.  It's very simple, you cook, you dance (and sing).  My girls and I keep an iPod player there for what we lovingly refer to as "dinner dance party time" or DDPT.  I don't have any scientific proof, but I am pretty sure that when I play loud music and cook, the food tastes better...  In between seasoning, peeling potatoes or carrots, stirring pots, and drying dishes my girls and I twirl and shake and sing at the top of our lungs.

I even have play lists for cooking... for those of you who follow my blog, you know I also keep play lists for running.  One of my favorites is my "Island" mix that is played when we make Tapas, Tacos, fish or anything where I get to use citrus seasoning... Some songs on that one are "Toes" by Zach Brown Band, "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys, and about a dozen Bob Marley songs.  When I make salsa, yep, you guessed it, salsa music... Celia Cruz Guatanamera, Salsa Brava, and Carlos Santana "Oye como Va."   I have to use my Spanish Language minor or I'll lose it!  The girls are not only learning how to slice tomatoes but how to do a perfect open form hammerlock!

Another favorite is my "Hot Damn" mix for when I cook spicy food... it has songs with the word "Fire" or "Hot" in the title.  Some examples are "I'm on Fire" by the Boss, "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon, "Light my Fire" the Doors, "Sleep Now in the Fire" by Rage Against the Machine, and Hot Tottie by Usher.  It always inspires a nice mix of spicy seasonings and I never measure them... it's all on the fly!
In the sake of full disclosure, some play lists have not been as well received... the opera for organic lasagna night left my girls saying, la melodia stonata, mama!  When I attempted Sarah Brightman's "Con te partirĂ²".  And who can forget the Lil Wayne Debacle of 2010 when the eff bomb was unexpectedly dropped during what I thought was a radio friendly version of "Knockout" in the middle of making chocolate chip muffins with the girls.  My audience inspires all kinds of music.  When I cook for Kim, it's all country or 80's pop, "A Little Bit Stronger" by Sarah Evans or some "Heaven is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle.  With Casey, it's rap and R&B like Grenade by Bruno Mars, Animal by Ke$ha, or My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson.  When we made Cinnamon Rolls and the girls had to knead the dough, they requested Irish Rock to the tune of Dropkick Murphy's "Shipping Up to Boston."  It fueled some hard hitting dough beat downs of epic proportions. 
When it's just me, I rock some Amos Lee, Bonnie Raitt, Jonny Lang, Joe Purdy, Van Morrison and Ray LaMontagne.  I love a mean guitar riff and it is the perfect kind of music to cook to... I have even been known to grocery shop with my iPod.  Always on shuffle just to see what comes up... Sometimes a song will inspire a meal...
I have an amazing all piano list I like to listen to when I make meals that take time and have specific preparation or remind me of my grandma.  Sweet Escape by Paul Cardall is a favorite.  Listening to that song while I chop vegetables or bake bread reminds me of my grandma Adams and how her cooking brought the whole family together.  Holidays of years past, everyone crammed around the table elbows rubbing together, laughter, and warmth, heads bowed in a moment of thanks.  Those smiles shared with family brought together from all over the country for precious hours a few times a year were enough to sustain us.  When we'd leave with our containers of leftovers, I always felt like we were taking the memories of that day home with us... it meant so much.  Wrapped up in the smells, the sounds and those precious moments I feel like she's nearby.
I want my legacy in the kitchen to be the same thing for my girls.  I want them to remember how they feel when I pick them up from school or daycare and announce in the car that it's DDPT time when we get home and their faces light up and the wiggle in their seats calling out song requests on our drive home.  I want to cherish seeing their smiling faces as they toss noodles into water or pour milk into the batter all while singing at full volume and how the whole room feels completely full when we are together like that. I want them to recognize the value of investing themselves in the ritual of food.  I want them to value and appreciate the idea of eating well, eating healthy, and making it a fun and enriching time spent with people you love.  Those moments get me through those hard days when the kitchen is empty and quiet... I can feel them there, hear their bubbling laughter and be reminded of how truly blessed we are to have each other.
I blog about the rules of eating clean, break down the glycemic index, and avoiding additives, and I believe that all of those things are important to know... but you don't need to learn them overnight.  If there is one rule you follow and you start today, make meal time a special time where you make the food together and then actually sit together as a family to eat.  And NOT in front of the television or in the car rushing to the next place you need to be.  Take a breath, take a moment, look each other in the eye... appreciate the time...because it will pass by so very quickly.  And while you are together in those few precious moments each day find a song, turn it up, and bust a few hot dance moves on the dance kitchen floor. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Decoding the Processed Side of Clean Eating

You hear me talk about eating clean and avoiding processed foods, foods altered by people but then I go and make a recipe with milk… so what gives? I’m going to break down the reality of processed foods and how it relates to a clean eating lifestyle. Processed foods have been altered from their natural state for safety reasons and for convenience. The methods used for processing foods include canning, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration and aseptic processing.

We tend to think of processed foods as bad, but it turns out that many processed foods are not unhealthy. For example, milk would be considered a processed food because it is pasteurized to kill bacteria and homogenized to keep fats from separating. While some people prefer to drink raw milk, most of us should consume the "processed" version we find in our grocery stores.

Another healthy example of food processing is frozen vegetables. While fresh may be best, freezing vegetables preserves vitamins and minerals and makes them convenient to cook and eat all year around. Fruit and vegetable juice is also an example of a healthy processed food. In fact, some orange juice is fortified with calcium to make it even more nutritious.

Of course, there are a lot of processed foods that aren't good for you. Many processed foods are made with trans fats, saturated fats, and large amounts of sodium and sugar. These types of foods should be avoided, or at least eaten sparingly.

Processed foods that may not be as healthy as fresh foods include:
  • Canned foods with lots of sodium
  • White breads and pastas made with refined white flour, which are not as healthy as those made with whole grains
  • Packaged high-calorie snack foods, like chips and cheese snacks
  • High-fat convenience foods, like cans of pasta
  • Frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners
  • Packaged cakes and cookies
  • Boxed meal mixes
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
These processed foods and prepackaged meals are very convenient and popular. If you do shop for these foods, be sure to look for products that are made with whole grains, low in sodium and calories, and free of trans fats. Make sure you pay attention to serving size, too, and balance out the processed foods you eat with a delicious fresh salad and some whole grain bread.

Read the Label - Additives to Avoid
You are what you eat, even when you don't know you are eating it!  Your food label needs to become your roadmap for grocery shopping.  After a few trips, a little practice and some helpful tips you'll be well on your way to knowing what to avoid! Here is a list of some of the most harmful and common additives that are in the average American’s diet.

Natural Flavors
Natural Flavors are naturally occurring substances approved for use by the FDA. These substances could contain flavors that come from allergy causing ingredients like nuts and wheat. If you are prone to food allergies this could be a big problem for you.

Chemical Mixtures
These are fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides that farmers spray their plants with the repel insects and weeds. Unfortunately they are not required to be listed on the ingredients of food. More often than not the residue from these chemicals remain on your food. Studies have linked these chemicals to cancer. You can avoid these toxins by washing your food with 1tsp of dish washing detergent with 4 liters of water or you can shop organic and avoid these chemicals all together.

Sodium Nitrate
Sodium Nitrite is a preservative that is found in processed meats such as Bacon, lunch meats, and other processed meats. The problem with Sodium Nitrate is that it can mix with other chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines have been linked to various types of cancer. You can avoid this by avoiding canned soups, frozen dinners, and buying fresh meats and nitrate free lunch meat.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
This ingredient is listed as High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Sweetener, Corn Syrup, or Corn Syrup Solids. It is found in frozen foods, sweets, breads, sauces, sodas, candy, ketchup, and countless other foods in the American diet.  HFCS is the grim reaper when it comes to your health. It brings with it a truckload of health problems including increasing your risk of diabetes , heart disease, and high cholesterol. It also can increase insulin resistance which can lead to obesity and a plethora of additional health problems. In fact High Fructose Corn Syrup tricks your brain into thinking it’s still hungry so it actually encourages over eating! Unlike other natural sources of Fructose like fruit HFCS has no additional vitamins or minerals. It has zero nutritional value. You should try to avoid foods that contain HFCS at all cost.

Artificial Colorings
You can find these ingredients under the names red #3, green #3, blue #2, and the list goes on. They are find in Candy, sodas, and other foods that seem to be unnaturally brightly colored. Studies have linked artificial food colorings to a host of health problems including cancer and thyroid problems. You should steer clear of artificially colored foods.

This additive is found in dairy products. rBGH is a growth hormone that is injected into cows to stimulate milk productions. After approving the use of rBGH in 1993, the FDA has turned a deaf ear to the pleas of consumers, food safety organizations and scientists to reverse its approval of the hormone, or to simply require labeling of foods containing rBGH. The milk in grocery stores often contains this hormone. rBGH has been tied to prostate, colon, and breast cancer. You should look for milk that does not contain rBGH or switch to organic milk.

Omega-6 fatty acid
This often appears on labels as Linoleic acid, sunflower, sesame, corn, and soybean oil. Many frozen and processed foods contain these oils. This oil is not harmful in small amounts, but unfortunately Americans consume on average 5 times to much of these acids. This excess intake can cause high Blood Pressure and heart disease. You can avoid this excess intake by avoiding processed foods and substituting Omega-6 intake with OMega-3 from foods like almonds and fish.

This can be found on food labels as Monosodium Glutamate, baking soda, or salt. It is found in almost every food we eat, but processed foods and meats contain large amounts of salt. Unfortunately most restaurants often use Sodium in excess to season their foods. Excess Sodium can cause High Blood Pressure and put undue strain on your heart. You can avoid high salt intake by cooking at home and using herbs instead of salt.

MSG(Monosodium Glutimate)
This might disguise itself as yeast extract, gelatin, textured proteins, sodium casseinate, and many other names. This is found in many frozen foods, chips, and fast food. It has been shown to trigger migraines and make you feel hungrier than you are. You should carefully read packages to make sure there is no MSG in them.

Trans Fat
Usually this additive is listed under the name partially hydrogenated oil. It is found in many baked goods we find on our shelves. It is also in margarine. Even though a food claims to have 0 trans fats that might not be true because a company is not required to list the trans fat content if it contains under .5 grams. So you must read the ingredient list on the label.

Read a few labels on your next shopping trip and look for fewer ingredients and ones with names you can pronounce!  The more wholesome the better! 

Additional Sources:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cooking Clean Challenge

Last week, while hearing Jim lament some of his nutrition challenges and comment on his ambitious marathon goals for May I decided that I would issue him (and myself) the ultimate challenge.  Make the average guy undergo a nutrition make-over to get more clean, lean, and mean before May 1st.  My approach to clean eating is pretty straightforward.  You have to make it work for yourself, but everyone needs help to get started and support on the journey, so once a week Jim and I are going to be getting together so I can cook and we can chat about how to eat cleaner but still packs a flavorful punch for this fast food frequent flier.  What better way to kick it off than with some clean sweet and sour chicken (no take-out here) and chocolate raspberry cupcakes?
Check out the video of the experience and the recipes are listed below.  Try this alternative to takeout the next time you have a craving for Chinese food or rich chocolate goodness!
Check out the recipes for everything we made tonight!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Fitness Tech Podcast #16: The Trek, a Frozen Burrito Race, Ultra Runner Jason Jaksetic and Fat Fast Food!

itunes picOn a blustery Friday night I joined Jim and Jamie to talk nutrition, the recent races, a new ultra-marathoner friend, and an upcoming challenge I’ve issued for Jim.  We were live on uStream recording #16 for the Fitness Tech Podcast.  If you want to know when the podcast is live, follow Jim on Twitter at  If you want to contact us here at the show, email us at

We spent some time talking about the Groundhog Race in Kansas City on January 31st.  If you missed the audio and video content we did that day, it’s still available right here.  We also talked about the up coming Trek up the Tower and the 1st Annual Frozen Burrito Race in Neligh, Nebraska.  Jim will do some live podcasting from both events.  What here for more details as the events get closer.

As many of you saw last week, I shared a blog post from Ultra running athlete Jason Jaksetic and his old school “Rocky” training style.   We talked about both the physical and mental aspects of endurance training and what it takes to get an event like a 100 mile race done.  We are hoping to have Jason with us on a future show and talk about his races, his training, and what inspires him.

Jamie and I then grilled Jim on his eating habits and gave him some suggestions on how to fix it.  We once again looked at my earlier blog about fast food and how to manage the consumer traps at your favorite fast food joints.  I also issued a challenge for Jim to make some minor changes to his diet and show is progress here on the blog.  Game On! 

The podcast has had some tremendous growth in the last two weeks.  Thanks listeners for making this adventure fun and successful!  We included some awesome outtakes…make sure you listen all the way thru the podcast.

or Download

Intro and Exit Music from “Motion” by Adelaide.  Hear more great tunes at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fast Facts About Fast Food

“The journey of a thousand pounds begins with a single burger.”
Chris O'Brien

You get off work and you’re tired.  You pick up the kids and sitting in traffic you come to the conclusion that you don’t want to make dinner and the kids are screaming in the back seat that they are “STARVING”.  Looking at your watch you realize it’s nearing dinner time and you aren’t even sure what’s in your fridge at home to make.  Up ahead on the next corner the golden arches appear… what do you do?
Before you stop and order something take a look at what you are getting yourself into and what you can do to take control and keep it healthy.

The negatives of a Fast Food Culture

High Calories
Fast food, as is no surprise to anyone contains significant calories and the density of those foods is misleading to the body. Fried foods actually contain twice the calories than before they were fried. If you compare a typical fast food meal with other same-sized meals that contain a more healthy balance of food groups, you'll find that the fast food is much denser than the alternative. Some fast food combinations can provide almost 100 percent of an adult's recommended daily caloric intake with just one meal. By eating a Big Mac and fries, the body consumes almost twice as many calories as you would if you ate the same weight of pasta and salad. I blogged about high glycemic foods... this is what I'm talking about!  The glycemic response of taking in these many calories is treacherous to the body's fat stores and the muscles abilities to try to absorb quality calories.

Many fast food choices contain harmful fats that negatively affect the body. From fatty meats to fried food, fast food is full of trans fat that has been linked to coronary heart disease, strokes, obesity, liver damage and even cancer. Although the scientific evidence is not conclusive, high levels of trans fat consumption have been linked to diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, erectile dysfunction, and infertility.

A fast food meal delivers plenty of unhealthy ingredients to the body, but it's also important to realize what a fast food meal isn't belly_fat_providing. Most fast food doesn't contain any healthy ingredients like fiber, vitamins or minerals. Instead, processed food contains too much salt, sugar, artificial additives and preservatives. Replacing a healthy meal with a fast food meal deprives the body of essential nutrients that are a key part of a healthy, well-functioning body.

Oversized Portions
Clever marketing campaigns continually try to influence what kind of fast food to purchase and in what quantities. The acceptable  meal sizes and portions that an adult should consume are ignored when it comes to fast food. Restaurants sell meals that are beyond average size, and then they give the customer the option for even bigger meal combinations. People get a false sense of an appropriate portion size, and they ingest even more unhealthy fast food in order to feel full.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Clean Comfort Food! Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs with Pesto

casserole For virtually everyone across the country right now, you are snowed in, iced over, or just downright cold… it’s been a rough couple of days with the weather. NORMALLY, I would have just womaned up and gotten out my shovel calling it an excuse for more cardio and strength training, but 8 – 10 inches of fresh powder and drifts up to 3 feet facing me on my massive driveway made that a pipe dream.  So, last night I sat warm and cozy in my kitchen sipping hot tea with lemon watching the snow flew past my windows (a friend of mine was snow blowing my driveway and walkways)  I contemplated what every person must in a moment like this… carb loading.  And I digressed rapidly into a spiral of carb fantasies from which I won’t quickly or easily recover.

My running partner doesn’t know it yet, but we are running a half marathon distance for our long run this week and so I let my mind wander about all the possibilities of the carbs I’d get to eat in preparation.  It’s not an out-an-out glut fest, mind you, but I do get to increase my carbs in my later meals a couple days before the long run and it could, quite possibly, be one of my favorite parts of racing season; well outside the racing part.  Let me put it in perspective.  I love to cook and what Playboy is to men, Clean Eating Magazine is to me… It’s like crack on Christmas when I think about all the delicious possibilities that come in clean carbohydrate form… I rarely follow the recipe as is, and often times I change it on the fly but it is a great place for me to find some really great foods.
So, on a dark, cold, snowy night like last night all I could think about is one thing…baked spaghetti and meatballs.