What’s in my pantry?: Baking Edition

As promised from my “What’s in my Pantry” post, I am showing you my baking shelf. Yes, I apologize, this is not the most organized shelf in my pantry. It is constantly being unloaded and shuffled around, because well, I love to bake. A lot! 🙂 But, I’m being honest here on my blog, and so here’s the lovely picture of it’s contents.

Wow, I feel kind of exposed now.

Here is the list on contents in my baking collection:

  • Honey
  • Coconut sugar
  • Evaporated cane sugar
  • Dates
  • Agave nectar
  • Unsweetened cocoa
  • Vanilla
  • Stevia
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Coconut oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Olive oil
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Bobs Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
  • Xanthan gum
  • Flaxseed meal

Changing over to more healthful baking products did not happen in one trip to the store. Slowly, as I tried new recipes I would add products and eventually came up with these as my “staples.” I buy most of my flours in bulk from Sprouts, to keep cost down. But, I have also found most of the flours at many of the grocery stores I have visited. I keep all my flours in the freezer to maintain freshness.

Also, I want you to meet my very best friend in my baking kitchen (well, it’s my only kitchen in my house…), my Kitchenaid Mixer. Love this thing. It has made me the laziest, fastest baker in town. 😉 I gather all my ingredients, completely ignore the recipe directions about using 2-4 different bowls to mix dry/wet ingredients, pour everything in the mixer, turn it on, pour mixture into the pan or whatever I’m using, bake, and *Presto!* DONE!

Thanks to my wonderful husband who surprised me with this gift a few years ago for Christmas.

Anyways, don’t judge my messy pantry. 🙂



Kraft Mac and Cheese: What’s in it?

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese used to be a staple in our house. I loved it, my kids and husband loved it and I have no idea why. It is super processed. Open the box with the package of mix to make the cheese “sauce” and you’ll wonder what is wrong with this picture. Cheese is supposed to be a solid, not a powder! Anyways, tasty as it is, I decided to take a look at the ingredients and see what all the buzz was about.

List of Ingredients (in the sauce):

  • Milk
  • Milkfat
  • Cheese culture
  • Salt
  • Sodium Tripolyphosphate
  • Sodium Phosphate
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6
  • Citric Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Enzymes

I did some research on the list of ingredients and they were so-so. I’m not sure about the quality of whey, milk protein concentrate, milk, milkfat, and cheese culture Kraft is using, but that is not what I want to focus on.

Here is the bad part of Kraft Mac and Cheese, of course I’m not including the stick of butter you have to put in it to actually make the product; it is the Yellow 5 . I am only recently aware of the power of dyes in foods, and I am shocked that a little coloring can do as much as it does! Here’s the break down (taken from livestrong.com):

Yellow 5:

Yellow 5 is also known as tartrazine or E102. Yellow 5 is widely used in the making of potato chips, jams, candy, drinks and even pet food. It is also added to shampoo and other cosmetic products, as well as vitamins and certain medications. Yellow 5 is banned in Austria and Norway, and other European countries have issued warnings about their possible side effects. It is still freely and extensively used in the US, however.


Tartrazine can cause a variety of allergic reactions that vary from mild itching and skin rashes to serious allergy-like hypersensitivity. People who are allergic to aspirin have the strongest responses to Yellow 5. An early European study, published in 1998, showed that people who are allergic to aspirin are more likely to experience adverse reactions to yellow 5. This can include asthma attacks and bronchoconstriction or difficulty breathing.


Yellow 5 seems to cause hyperactivity in some children. The Food Standards Agency, FSA, which is UK’s equivalent to the FDA, issued a warning in 2008 about certain food colorings. The warning said that certain colorings, including tartrazine, can cause behavioral changes in children that included loss of concentration and impulsive, hard-to-control activity. The recommendation is to avoid or limit consumption of products that contain yellow 5. If a child develops hyperactive behavior, try eliminating this coloring from the diet and pay attention to the changes that follow.

Other Risks

Yellow 5 has been linked to a number of health problems, including blurred vision, migraines, fatigue and anxiety. It might also cause chromosomal damage, although this hasn’t been properly studied or documented

WHOA! Crazy, some little coloring can do this much! We have eliminated dyes in our house, not on purpose or intentionally, but bananas already come in a natural yellow color, and so do mangos. 😉 No need for dyes here!

Here is some more information on dyes:

CNN: Group urges band of 3 common dyes

CSPI Urges FDA to Ban Artificial Food dyes

FDA Probes Link Between Food dyes, Kids behavior

(Source: Livestrong.com)


Some great information from my blogger friend on milk. Thank you Lisa for doing the research!

She's Losing It!

I love milk.  Most “clean eating” people I’ve met, are pretty opposed to milk and dairy products with the exception of non-fat Greek yogurt.  But why?  What’s so bad about milk?

Problems With Milk:(from the Harvard School of Public Health)http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/calcium-full-story/

  • Lactose Intolerance
  • High Saturated Fat
  • Possible Increase of Ovarian Cancer
  • Probable Increased Risk of Prostrate Cancer

I’m lactose intolerant and according to a September 15, 2009 USA Today article, 60% of people can’t digest milk.  Apparently we are not even supposed to after the age of 5!  No other animals drink milk after childhood.  Here is the article for your reference:  http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2009-08-30-lactose-intolerance_N.htm

But milk tastes really good and is a convenient source of calcium to help avoid  osteoporosis, right?  I always heard that a woman should drink 3 glasses of milk per day.  Not so!  Per Harvard:

“Currently, there’s no good evidence that consuming more than one serving…

View original post 310 more words

What’s that?: Quinoa

“What is this stuff? It sounds weird…” This is what I said a year ago when my trainer told me try it. I didn’t even know where to buy it, let alone what the stuff was. Plus, I was constantly mispronouncing it. (It’s pronounced: “KWIN-wah”) Fancy, huh!?

What is it?

Straight from Wikipedia: “Quinoa is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seed. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. Quinoa is closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.

Above is a picture of Quinoa growing. It is a seed not a grain, although cooks and tastes more grain-like than seed-like. It is known as the “little rice” of Peru.

Where do I buy it?

I have found quinoa to be at every grocery store I’ve been to, which includes Randalls, HEB, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Tom Thumb, Safeway, and Kroger. Is that enough places to say it’s everywhere?

It is not in the main-viewing area of shopping, usually. Although, it is growing in popularity. If you are trying to find it, look low and look high on the shelves. More than likely it is down the same aisle as rice. In the grocery store I shop at the most, I’ve noticed that they usually only have 1 row of about 8 boxes on the shelf. Pretty small compared to the 20 rows of various rice flavors and such. Anyways, look hard, it’s there!

Why would I want to buy it and eat it?

Quinoa is very high in its protein content (18%). It is also a source of complete protein. Other things it’s a good source of is dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and iron. It is also gluten-free and is considered easy to digest.

So, your not sold yet? It has a grain-like flavor to it as the carb content it similar to rice and pasta. I use it frequently as a side dish, or it could easy be served as part of a main dish….stir-fried chicken and veggies over quinoa,  or marina sauce with veggies served over quinoa…. The ideas are endless. Basically, I think of it as a healthier option in substitution for rice or pasta.

How would I prepare it?

Place two parts water or stock to one part of quinoa in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer the quinoa for about 15 minutes or until it becomes translucent and the white germ forms a visible spiral on the exterior of the quinoa grain. Quinoa will be soft, in the same way as pasta, when done.


What’s for lunch?: Gymnastics day!

Julia is on the gymnastics team at her gym. She just got her round-off/back-handspring, a goal she had been working on since January. She loves everything about gymnastics, and enjoys the friendly competition. During her work-outs, her coach gives the team a quick break to have a snack. So, what does a clean, healthy, kid-friendly snack look like?

Here’s what she brought:

  • Cashews
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Archer Farm Wild Berry Fruit Strip

What was lunch today at our house?

  • Banana sandwiched with natural peanut butter
  • Baby carrots
  • Lays Natural Chips
  • Fresh strawberries

One of my goals for this blog is to show people that eating clean and healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or make you travel 50 miles to a Whole Foods. Clean and healthy eating is just about choices with what resources are given to you. That’s all.

For some reason this week, I have talked to 4 people about healthy eating, and all of them gave me the same response: “It’s too hard.” It is hard at first….it is hard to change your thinking about food. I hope that this blog can be a source of information to show you that making healthy choices is easy. It has become so second nature for our family to eat this way, I can’t really think of how to eat any differently.


Recipe: Nutbutter Bars

It’s complete! My very first recipe!

I had to start with something baked and something with chocolate….which to me, is the perfect combination!

This recipe is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and vegan (if your the kind that is okay with honey ;)). Full of nut flavor.

(Please feel free to try this recipe, but please don’t steal it without giving credit; that’s just mean.)

Nutbutter Bars


  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 T. chia seed gel
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Mix in a medium bowl, almond flour, coconut flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir. Mix in almond butter, honey, almond extract, vanilla, and chia seed gel. Mix well. Gently stir in shredded unsweetened coconut and chocolate chips until well combined. Mixture will be thick.

Pour mixture/dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Top will be slightly brown when done. Allow to cool in pan before cutting. Makes 12 servings.

Happy Baking!

What’s in my pantry?

Many people have asked “well, what DO you eat then?” I guess when you remove processed and boxed foods, the list of “acceptable foods” seems small, but actually it has opened up a huge world for us that is full of endless possibilities. Remember: “Think outside the box!” (sorry, I keep quoting this but I have no other way of saying my point.)

Here is a picture of one shelf in my pantry, to give you an idea of what I store for snacks and meals. (Yes, my children have learned to eat all this stuff too!) I figured you wouldn’t be too interested in my ziplock bags or parchment paper shelf, but that’s in the pantry too.


Here is the list of contents of my pantry shelf (note not all are in the picture, but are a regular staple item in our house.):

  • Brown rice
  • Lentils
  • Raw almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cinnamon almonds
  • Jasmine rice
  • Flaxseed
  • Quinoa
  • Pecans
  • Trail mix
  • Dried black beans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Vegan Protein powder
  • Gluten-free oatmeal
  • Almond butter
  • Raisins
  • Archer Farms real fruit strips
  • Natural no sugar applesauce
  • Canned beans (no salt added)

I try to buy most of these items in bulk from Sprouts or the local grocery store. They are not expensive items. At the beginning of our food change, it took us about 3 months to clean out what we already had. Every time I went to the store, I’d come home with some new find. I try to vary the snacks in the containers. Today, we have raisins. Sometimes, I buy other kinds of dried fruit, like apples. I check the labels because frequently dried fruit, for example, has added sugar….which I cannot understand since fruit is sweet by itself.
Anyways, that’s my pantry! (Baking Edition, coming soon!)