Cleaner Living: Clean-Eating


It’s no secret that one of my biggest concerns is what chemicals I expose my family to.  In the last few years, I have made great strides in altering the way we clean our house and our bodies, but I haven’t, until now, looked at our diet with the same scrutiny.

A little background:  We eat as much home-cooked foods as we can.  We try to buy organic as much as our paychecks can afford.  My kids can spot the Golden Arches from a mile away and know that “I” is for ice cream.  They get candy, treats, and sweets for the occasional dessert or “just because.”  My family is healthy, yet I still have this nagging feeling that they may not be in the future.

A little while ago, we renewed our NPR membership and came away with a copy of the book, The Science of Skinny.  It’s not a diet book.  The author is a chemist, and through her studies, and her battle with obesity, discovered that the foods she was eating, and the chemicals they were rich in, were contributing to the deterioration of her body (as well as ours).  It was the wake-up call I needed to look deeper at the foods I was eating and feeding my family.

In the last 2 weeks we have adopted a Clean-Eating plan.  One that attempts to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible.  Anything that was over-processed and full of chemicals was tossed and replaced with healthier alternatives.  A few of the “rules” we have are as follows:

– Eat as many vegetables as we can in the day:  LOTS of organic green veggies mixed in with rainbow veggies for balance in flavor and nutrients.

Dump the sugar:  Refined sugar is out, and in its place are natural sweeteners like raw honey, coconut nectar, pure maple syrup, and Stevia.

5 real ingredients or less on the label:  Anything with a label that has more than 5 ingredients or has ingredients that are unpronounceable or sound like they were made in a lab are out (exceptions to this are things like soup that contain more than 5 real ingredients).  This does not apply to foods/meals made at home!

Good fats are good for you:  Fat-free and low-fat labels are indicators that there are chemicals in those foods to make them taste good, but they aren’t necessarily good for you!  We now drink whole milk, full fat foods, and enjoy good fats from extra virgin olive and coconut oils, and REAL BUTTER!

There is room for not following the rules:  I can control the food in my own house, but I cannot control life.  There are times when at restaurants, with other families or friends that we won’t be able to follow the rules.  But it’s ok, because I will know that I have been setting up a good foundation and the house will not fall.

So far it has been working well, and my kids really haven’t noticed the difference.  In fact I have been much more creative in my meals and lunches and they have been enjoying their food more.  Hubby and I have noticed less fog and more energy in our days.

This post (and any that follow) is certainly not a “you must do this” kind, and more to help harried, busy moms find easier ways to feed their families with more real food and less chemicals and manufactured ingredients.  I was very overwhelmed by the sense of wanting to do better in this area, but not knowing where to begin.  If that is also you, then you have found the right place.

For a start, I am posting my granola recipe below.  If you have ever looked at the cereal aisle and perused the labels, those things are loaded with sugar and chemicals!  This recipe has been adapted from others I found across the web, but has no nuts and is gluten-free.  It’s also the best granola I have eaten (hubby and kids think so too)!


trader rolled oats

Brown rice cereal

sweet leaftrader raw honey






Pictures of some of the ingredients I used


3 cups rolled oats ( I use Trader Joe’s, shown above)

1 cup crispy brown rice (I use Erewhon brand, above)

2 tbsp cinnamon

1tsp nutmeg

1 packet Stevia (I use Sweet Leaf brand, above)

6 tbsp butter

1/2 cup of raw honey (Trader Joe’s, above)

1 tbsp Coconut Nectar (found at Whole Foods)

2 tsp pure vanilla (without alcohol)


– Preheat oven to 250 degrees, prepare a baking sheet (with sides), lined with parchment paper.

– Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowls  and set aside.

– In a small saucepan melt butter, honey, and coconut nectar.  When butter is melted, add the vanilla and take off of the heat.

– Pour hot liquid over the dry cereals and mix until well coated. Spread mixture, evenly, in the prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.

– Take out of oven and let cool completely (it will harden as it cools).  Place granola in a plastic bag to break apart into crumble and store for up to a week at room temperature (believe me it, won’t last that long!).

We serve this with yogurt, as cereal with blueberries or raisins and milk, or just eat it plain as a sweet snack.


I hope you will join me on this journey, whether you are looking for a life long food plan, or just a few healthy tips!  Leave me some comments on what you would like to see in future posts!

16 thoughts on “Cleaner Living: Clean-Eating

  1. You should research Tosca Reno and The Eat-Clean Diet. She is the creator and founder of Eating Clean. She has a 16 book series called The Eat-Clean Diet including a number of amazing cookbooks. The food is delicious and her story is super inspirational!! Thank you for your post.

  2. The biggest thing I struggle with is lunch! Hubby and I try to brown bag it as much as possible, to save money and avoid fast food, but I worry the lunchmeat is just as bad as what we’re avoiding. Would love some tips on how to make the midday meal healthier!

    1. I work in a school so it’s rare that I “eat out” at lunchtime, although I know this is the opposite int eh corporate world. I usually bring leftovers for lunch. When cooking dinner I tend to double the veggies and cook more meat than I need so I have enough for the next day. The hubby tends to bring the same hummus and veggie sandwich every day. I also like to cook soup on the weekends to bring for lunch during the week.

    2. Kat, yes! That was one of the hardest things for me, especially since lunch is a good time to get out of the office! Our main lunch time foods are salads, but I also have been making things like chili and soups on the weekend and freezing them in small lunch size containers. When I am making lunches the night before I take them out of the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge. By lunch the next day they just need to be heated in the microwave! I also make large batches of hard boiled eggs (yes, we eat the WHOLE EGG!) kept in the fridge, and baked chicken (sliced and kept in the freezer in portions). Maybe my next post will be lunch ideas for adults and kids!

  3. i did this last year and lost 20 lbs. it’s amazing how clean eating affects you. it’s hard to stay with it due to costs and lack of time but it’s worth it and i’m back to it now. watch the movie hungry for change, it’s a real eye opener and got me back on track. it’s the natural thing to do, eat natural food. just have to work at it and not give in to our processed foods urge!

    1. Thanks for the comment Jessie, and congrats on your weight loss success! In the last 2 weeks, I can’t tell you enough how much better I feel. I have lost maybe 3 pounds, but my clothes are looser, and I just feel “lighter.” Our grocery bill is higher, however if we takeaway what we were spending on eating meals out during the work week it is actually cheaper for us. You can also find some really great produce and dairy products locally, especially in CT, and if you look carefully at chain grocery stores (even Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have junk food!) you can find really good stuff. One thing I also have been doing is making lots of meals, breads, and snacks on the weekends and freezing them to help with the busy week!

  4. Dena, tell me more about full fat dairy products. We drink organic milk (skim) and eat organic yogurt (non-fat) so are they ok because they’re organic or not necessarily? I know to avoid ultra-pasteurized milk (which is kind of hard!) but would love to hear more about the fat free variety of organic products.

    1. The idea behind full fat dairy is that they have had to endure less processing to make it to the shelves. I was going to expand on this in another post if folks are interested, but the gist is this: Clean-eating means eating as close to the natural source as possible- have you ever seen skim milk come from a cow’s udders? Also, in order to make skim/non-fat products taste better they have to add stuff to it, mainly sugar. To that extent it is best to drink raw milk from grass-fed cows. I have a few hangups with the raw milk, one of them being cost, so for us it is whole organic milk, cheese, and yogurt. My kids thought the taste of the whole milk was too much for them at first, so we cut it with filtered water. They also drink less of it… They have milk with cereal in the morning with water to drink, they have water for lunch and milk for dinner. Hope that helps!

      1. I knew that about the sugar etc. but never thought about that for dairy products. Thanks. I heard that woman on NPR and remember her talking a lot about sugar. My guess is that you don’t really drink coffee anymore, but if you do, what do you use to sweeten it. Is raw sugar just as bad a refined? Also, yes to a lunch ideas and more info on this post.

      2. I actually have been finding I don’t NEED coffee anymore (I was at about 4-6 cups a day!)… For my caffeine fix I usually drink Yerba Mate tea or green tea. I actually never put sugar in my coffee, but you can try Stevia packets. I will warn you though, it is SWEET! It says one packet (which is tinier than a regular sugar packet) is equal to 2 tsp of sugar, but I would experiment with your tastes. I also am in LOVE with Raw Honey, even though I never liked honey before! It has a much different flavor! Coconut nectar is not to my liking plain, but as a sweetener it tastes like melted brown sugar. And of course there is Pure Maple Syrup! I will definitely be posting more about this topic!

  5. Love this!! I’ve been trying to do the same thing. I used to be really strict about what the kids ate, but between the holidays, traveling, and school, it’s a mess. We need to revisit this idea here and be more vigilant. Luckily you caught me on grocery day 😉 so there’s hope for next week!!

    1. I hear ya about the holidays… That’s why the rule about the rules being broken was put in place! Happy grocery shopping! Let me know if you make the granola!

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