From dirty to clean, adventures of a clean eating mom.

Save Some Money: Black Bean and Butternut Squash Tacos September 2, 2011

Taco night is a kid-friendly staple. My 5-year-old (almost)  Wesley LOVES taco night because he gets to “make” his own food. I let him put whatever he wants on them. Sometimes this consists of 5 beans, a ton of lettuce, and a ton of cheese. Other times he eats a decent ratio of everything. Either way, it is a healthy meal, so I don’t care how he takes his tacos.

For me tacos are a relatively inexpensive meal and another way I can reduce our grocery bill (and meat consumption) and still serve a healthy meal.

When I was researching vegan recipes I came across an awesome website called FatFree Vegan Recipes, this website has tons of great ideas for recipes. One of them is the black bean and butternut squash tacos.

This combination offers a TON of nutrients.

In addition to packing in 15 grams of protein and fiber, each serving of black beans contain 64% of your daily folate requirement, and their dark skin contain at least 8 different flavonoids, color-producing phytonutrients pigments that have great anti-oxidant potential. They work together with vitamins to help the body avoid oxygen-related damage.

Butternut squash provides another 10% of your folate requirement,  457% of your vitamin A (beta carotene) , and 52% of your vitamin C.

Despite being so good for you, this is a delicious dish.

I did adapt the recipe a bit. Here is my version:

What You Need:

1.5 cups of black beans, rinsed and drained

juice of 1 lime

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 of a butternut squash finely diced

1 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2  tsp salt

taco shells, hard or soft

variety of condiments: sour cream, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, cheese, salsa, olives, onions, scallions)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the butternut squash in the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Lightly spray a cookie sheet and place the butternut squash in a single layer. Roast the squash until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Then, warm the beans in a large skillet, and mash some of them with the back of a fork, or a pastry blender (this is what I use to mash beans), add the lime juice and garlic. Cook until warmed through and garlic is soft, then add the chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir to combine. Then add the butternut squash, and stir. The squash will likely get all mashed and mixed in with the beans.

Heat your taco shells according to package directions and serve.

I love the flavor that the roasted squash adds to the beans. It is very much like having caramelized onions on your taco but without the extra fat! I usually roast the whole squash because Owen (OK, me too!) eats half of it before I can mix it in with the beans.

Save some money and try this dish!


Just Try It – Savory Oatmeal August 23, 2011

I am one of those people who only likes oatmeal maybe once a month when it is cold. You know the kind I am talking about, with maple syrup, raisins, apples, cinnamon, all the sweet oatmeal favorites. I don’t like to eat it often, it gets that gluey texture that I enjoy the first couple of times and then it starts to make me gag!

However, I was recently reminded by a Facebook friend, Cyndi, about savory oatmeal. Just like the sweet versions, there are endless options for this as well. Maybe a year or so ago, I tried one from Clean Eating Magazine with salmon, apples, and celery, with steel-cut oats. It was absolutely delicious. I will have to do some digging and post that recipe.

I avoid instant or quick cooking oatmeal, and instead opt for old-fashioned rolled oats, or steel-cut oats. The processing for instant and quick cooking strip some of the nutrients from the grain. Steel cut oats are the best option, they are chewier and more toothsome than the old-fashioned oats, and take a significant amount longer to cook. The old-fashioned roll oats are more toothsome than the quick cooking version and only take 5 minutes to cook!

Here is a list of ingredients you can mix and match to put in your savory oatmeal:

  • Zucchini (yes I did!)
  • Cheese
  • Egg or egg white (adds a good protein boost)
  • Sausage (any kind, including the tofu versions)
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Dill
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder

Really any vegetables will work here! Here is how I make it:

What you need:

1-2 tsp of oil

1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats per serving

As much vegetables as you want

Meat, or meat substitute (optional)

1/2 oz – 1 oz Cheese  per person (optional)

Seasonings of your choice (trust me the dill is REALLY good in this)

1 egg or egg white per person (optional)

1 cup of water per serving

Skillet or pot with a lid (I use a pot so I can do everything in one pan, the vegetables may not brown up but they will soften.)

How do you do it:

In a skillet or pot (I use a pot, so I can cook it in one dish) heat your oil, add your vegetables and any uncooked meat (do not add eggs or precooked meat at this point). Saute until softened. Then add the water to your pot and bring to boil. When boiling add your oats, stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 minutes. Stir in herbs, and seasoning. If you are using the optional ingredients then, stir in egg or meat (precooked) or meat substitute, and cheese to the dish. Let cook an additional minute until egg is cooked, meat or alternative is cooked through, and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

My friend Cyndi, the one who reminded me about savory oatmeal, she likes it with an ooey, gooey egg on top. That is for sure not my cup of tea but I know some people like it!

So what is my favorite combo?

Zucchini, spinach, onions, cheese, garlic, dill, and some salt!

Who knew…savory oatmeal! Just try it! Tell me when you find your favorite combo!


Let’s Talk Ingredients – Tofu August 16, 2011

Filed under: Let's Talk Ingredients — cleaneatingmama @ 8:29 pm

Tofu has always scared me. Literally, it is a kind of creepy looking food. Its consistency is a combination between sponge cake and jello. Just really weird.

I remember many years ago I tried to make stir-fry with tofu, and it was a major fail. It turned an awful shade of gray (from the soy sauce) and just reminded me of gray brain matter. It was in tiny pieces and I could not eat it at all! I vowed I would NEVER make tofu again! Haha!

Never say never right?

So what the heck is tofu? Tofu is just mashed soybeans pressed together.

There are lots of different versions of tofu, silken (which comes in soft, firm, extra firm) is used for desserts, sauces, and dips, and then there is regular tofu (comes in firm, and extra firm) which is good for cooking, baking, frying (if you must) and even grilling.

Remember my gray brain matter? This was the result of using silken tofu, it did not hold its form and turned into brain matter. So choosing the correct consistency for your recipe is important.

Recently, soy in general has come under fire and has a lot of controversy surrounding it. There are some things you need to keep in mind when eating soy:

  • The whole bean, also know as edamamme is better for you than any other version of soy. Obviously this is because it is in its whole form.
  • When purchasing soy products, go with non-genetically modified ingredients. Organic is a safe bet because you don’t have to worry about GMO with organic ingredients.
  • Just like everything else, eat in moderation.

I feel that soy products are healthy in moderation, and we are trying to incorporate a meal here and there with tofu. We do enjoy edamamme regularly though!

I do want to say that I am very new to the tofu arena and still have TONS to learn about it. I would love to hear comments and suggestions from those of you who have tried tofu. Please share your wisdom, suggestions, and most importantly, successful recipes.

Try my recipe for tofu scramble! Just click the link below!

Just Try It – Tofu Scramble


Just Try It – Tofu Scramble

Filed under: Just Try It,Recipes,Vegan Recipes — cleaneatingmama @ 8:26 pm

Tofu is one of the things I am trying to incorporate into my diet. Tofu is one of those things that I am just really unsure about. I have researched tofu recipes and came across a recipe for tofu scramble. This is similar to scrambled eggs.

We made it a couple of mornings ago and it turned out pretty good. Bryan ate it for breakfast and lunch, and Owen (18-month old) loved it!

Here is the recipe I made.

What you need:

1 TBSP olive oil

1/2 small onion finely chopped

1 block of organic firm tofu (the kind you find in the refrigerated section, not silken)

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1/2 cup black beans (rinsed and drained)

1 TBSP nutritional yeast (I get this in the bulk aisle of my local health food store, theoretically you could leave this out, click here to learn more)

1 TBSP onion powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp turmeric (optional…but recommended…adds color and flavor)

1 cup of chopped fresh spinach

1 TBSP soy sauce

In a large skillet heat the olive oil, add the onions and cook until softened. While the onion is cooking cut the tofu into large cubes. When the onions are soft, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, break the tofu cubes into smaller pieces into the skillet. Do not completely crumble as it will break up more when cooking and stirring. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring as if you were cooking eggs. Then, add the nutritional yeast, spices, and soy sauce, stir to combine. Add the spinach and black beans and cook until the spinach wilts and the beans are warmed through.

You can serve with toast and fruit, or on a tortilla with some salsa. There are lots of variations of this dish out there, so look around and see if you find one that is more interesting to you.

So what was my verdict on the dish? I liked it, it was very much the consistency of a soft curd scrambled egg. On the other hand,  I like really firm eggs, so I think next time I make it I will try it with extra firm tofu. I will update the recipe if that version turns out better.

Scrambled tofu…just try it! Let me know what you think!


Save Some Money – Beans August 15, 2011

At our house we eat a ton of beans. We all love them and they are so good for you.We use them in tacos, recently we tried black bean and butternut squash tacos, tofu or egg scramble, for burritos, with rice, and in soups. You can do a ton with these little guys!

Overall beans are a great choice for eating healthy. Beans are an exceptional source of fiber and soluble fiber. One cup of beans provides between 9 and 13 grams of fiber. Fiber helps you stay fuller, longer, helps lower cholesterol, and helps maintain healthy digestion. Beans are also high in complex carbs, folate, and iron.

In addition to their health benefits, beans are versatile, and cheap!

The key to making beans really, really, really budget-friendly is to make them yourself. This process can seem daunting, but seriously, it requires very little active time and the fruits of your labor are worth it.

Here are some benefits of making your own beans, instead of buying canned:

  • You save a lot of money!!!!
  • You can significantly cut the amount of sodium you consume when eating canned foods.
  • You reduce your exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) from the cans.
  • You can replace some of your meat-based protein with a plant-based protein.

These are all great reasons to take a little time to do this, but did I mention that you really can save a lot of money????

Here is an example:

2 pounds of organic, dry black beans (from the bulk aisle) costs about $2 a pound, I recently purchased 2 pounds of black beans ($4) and I made the equivalent of 7 cans of beans, each can has about 1 3/4 cup of beans. This makes the beans about $0.33 a cup.

A can of organic beans costs somewhere in the $2.20 range or about $1.26 per cup.

7 cans of black beans would have cost me about $15.40. Instead it cost me only $4, a savings of over $11. That is way better than a $.50 off coupon.

The general instructions for making your own beans are:

  1. Rinse and drain one pound of beans.
  2. Place the dried beans in a large pot and fill with water.
  3. Let soak overnight. (This is an important step, there are quick soak methods but I truly feel the beans turn out better when you do the overnight soak.)
  4. The next day, rinse and drain the beans, put back in the pot and put in 8-12 cups of water. (Depending on the bean, such as kidney beans where I like a lot of juice left, I will use more water.)
  5. Bring the beans to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and put a lid, tilted on the pot.
  7. Let cook for approximately 2 hours. (Imagine all the things you can accomplish in two hours!!!!!)

DO NOT SEASON THE BEANS UNTIL THEY ARE DONE COOKING!!!! Salting the water will PREVENT your beans from cooking properly.

You do not have to stir the beans, but you may want to check on them to see if you need to add a little more water. After they are cooked I usually add a little salt or other seasonings. Then I store them in 1 3/4 bags (we have a vac and seal) in the freezer and pull them out when I need them for a recipe.

You can use your beans to make my recipe for this fabulous, budget-friendly dish:

Clean Red Beans and Rice


Clean Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is one of those dishes my husband adores. You know the kind I am talking about, loaded with sausage, tons of fat, and seasoning.

As you can imagine, this was  crossed off the list when we started eating clean. However, I have come up with an amazing substitute. He absolutely loves this and RAVES about it! It is so easy to make!

What you need:

1 TBSP olive oil

1 small onion, diced finely

3 cloves of garlic, diced finely

2 cups of cooked kidney beans (light or dark), rinsed and drained (if you made your own beans you can use the bean water in place of the water in this recipe)

.5 cups of water or bean water (only if you made your own beans)

2 salt-free bouillon cubes (I like Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon No Salt Added)

1 tsp salt

2 cups of COOKED brown rice

2-3 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro

Cooking Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet. When hot place the onions in and cook until softened, about five minutes, add the garlic and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, bouillon cubes, and water. With a fork mash some of the beans, but not all of them. Stir and cook until the “sauce” starts to thicken, add the salt and stir. Remove from heat.

If your brown rice is not hot, warm it up.

In a large bowl mix the beans and the rice together, and stir in the cilantro.  This dish is great as a main dish, served with a vegetable like green beans.

Please let me know if you try this and how you liked it! Enjoy!


Just Try It – Chocolate Avocado Pudding August 13, 2011

Avocados are considered a fruit and not a vegetable, in fact the avocado is a member of the berry family. According to, “avocados have nearly 20 essential ingredients including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.”

What do you do with an avocado? Make guacamole, right? Sure, this is a delicious use for avocados and one of my favorites. However, this little powerhouse fruit is involved in a movement to prove it can do more!

I have seen recipes for avocado frosting, sauces and dressings, and it is a great first food for babies. The one recipe that intrigued me the most is a Chocolate Pudding with avocado as a base. Now before you turn your nose up at this idea, hear me out. The pudding is the exact consistency of homemade chocolate pudding, but it does have a bit of a different taste, but I promise if you try it, you will not say, the different taste is avocado. The recipe I have come up with is dairy, and soy free, and can accommodate a vegan diet

What you need:

1 ripe Haas avocado, chilled (click here for information about selecting the perfect avocado)

1/4 cup  cocoa powder

3 TBSP evaporated cane juice (or sugar, honey, or agave)

1/4  coconut milk (you can use light coconut milk to save a few calories)

1 TBSP + 2 tsp of almond butter (not a necessity but does add a nice texture)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

NOTE: Depending on the avocado you may need a little more or less sugar

Put all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth. You will need to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure all the avocado gets blended well. Serve immediately, this is not the dish you want to make a ton of and store in the fridge for company. Storing it, just makes it taste like chocolate flavored avocado.

Serves 2

My husband and I both really liked this dish. We have made it a couple of times and have enjoyed it. I can’t guarantee you will like it, but you might…so Just Try It!