EAT Clean, CLEAN Clean

IMG_9804You know that I like to “EAT clean,” so I suppose it should come to no surprise that I also like to CLEAN clean. If you aren’t familiar with eating clean, it means consuming whole, “real” foods that are minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible with no artificial ingredients or components manufactured in a lab. It means eating organic, non-GMO foods that haven’t been sprayed with nasty chemicals in the fields. I don’t want chemicals in our food so I should also strive to keep them out of my house too!

So when my friend introduced me to Norwex cleaning products that remove dust, dirt and grease from all surfaces using ONLY WATER I was intrigued. And when she told me about what makes Norwex different than regular cleaning products, I was convinced I needed to try them.

Norwex’s mission is to improve quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.

  • With Norwex Microfiber Cloths, you simply utilize water so you don’t breathe, touch or ingest chemicals.
  • Norwex Microfiber Cloths do not spread dirt, grease or residual particles around the way other cloths, paper towels, rags and sponges do. They pick up everything and trap it into the cloth until you rinse it out.
  • The cloth’s micro silver antibacterial agent goes to work to self purify and inhibit bacterial odors, mold and mildew.
  • These amazing cloths are actively improving your health as well as the health of our planet.

Well that all sounded great. But I have to admit, I was a little skeptical that I could only use “water” and this magic cloth would get my house as clean as I like. See, once I get started cleaning I tend to become a little VERY particular and I’m a bit of  a major germaphobe. Once I get going, I turn into a neat freak, perfectionist and somewhat (I hate this term) “anal retentive”.

So, my friend told me she’d send me some cloths to try them and see for myself. Well… I’ve been using them now for a few weeks and I AM HOOKED!! I’ve been using them everywhere and they clean better with ONLY WATER than I was cleaning before with a sponge and that toxic spray I was using to spread chemicals all over my house.

Here are some of the ways I’ve been using my Norwex cloths.

  • To clean little kiddie finger marks from my windows and mirrors. There is no residue and no streaking! All with water.
  • To wipe and clean my kitchen countertops, my electric cooktop and other kitchen surfaces. They even scrub away the maple syrup that the kids spill and gets caked on to my granite countertops!


  • When I get another one I’m going to use it to clean my bathrooms.

I LOVE that they 

  • Can be used everywhere including bathrooms, kitchens, appliances, walls, windows, floors, vehicles, toys, tools and more.
  • Reduce exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals from cleaners
  • Help reduce paper towel use and lessen contributions to landfills
  • Decrease air and water pollution from harmful chemical cleansers
  • Preserve the environment for future generations
  • Save me time – They decrease cleaning time by up to 75%
  • Save me money – Reduce the use of cleaning products and supplies by up to 90%
  • Clean my house as well, or better, than the “old way”

Don’t believe me! Well, it’s your turn to find out for yourself!

ENTER TO WIN A FREE ENVIROCLOTH! All you have to do is COMMENT on this post! TELL US one toxic cleaning product you would like to eliminate from your home. We will pick a winner from a raffle later this week and give away an EnviroCloth valued at $16.49.

To read more about all of Norwex’s MANY products or to place an order, visit

Homemade Granola

GranolaI told you recently that I am a former cereal addict. Now I’ve virtually eliminated all boxed cereals from my diet because it’s difficult to find one that doesn’t include sugar or a long list of ingredients. Earlier this month I shared with you my recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. I love starting out these cold winter mornings with a warm bowl of oatmeal. My homemade granola is another good breakfast cereal alternative. With no sugar and no artificial ingredients, it’s a great start to the day. I steer clear of most packaged granolas as well because many include quite a bit of sugar or are high in calories. My granola is yummy on top of plain yogurt with fresh berries or your favorite fruit. Add a little drizzle of honey if you need more sweetness. Feel free to replace the nuts and seeds I’ve used with your favorites.

Granola Recipe

  • 4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds/pepitas
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 cup natural applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, nuts and seeds. Stir well. In a separate smaller mixing bowl combine the applesauce, honey, cinnamon and salt. Stir the applesauce mixture into the oats mixture and stir until it is well combined. Spray one or two jelly roll pans with olive oil spray or grease with butter. Spread granola out on pan(s) evenly. Place in oven for 45 to 60 minutes checking and stirring it every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when lightly golden browned. Once cooled, you can add dried fruit if you’d like (raisins or cranberries would be good.) Store in an airtight container.


Chicken Noodle Soup

Sick BoyYesterday my baby boy woke up with a fever and was not at all himself. He wouldn’t eat, he was very quiet and very still. I kept him home from preschool and we cuddled under his blanket watching movies all morning long. I was a little worried about him because he was acting so unusual. When lunch time came around and I asked what he would like to eat, all he wanted was “chicken noodle.” I quickly realized that I had donated all the canned soup we had in our pantry because of all the fake, processed ingredients in them. So I decided to make a pot of soup for him. Sure, it took longer than I would normally spend on lunch, but I figured the rest of us could have it for dinner. I think I would have done anything to make him feel better.

Now I’m not saying my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe is magic, but, I swear after he took just a few bites I could see my boisterous boy coming back. Soon he was also eating apples and then was back to playing trucks. This soup has great flavor and it is so much healthier than any canned soup. You could even freeze some to warm up on days like these in an e-germ-ency, as my mother-in-law calls it. Enjoy!


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp., extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta (any shape)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken breast in baking dish and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through (about 30 minutes). Set aside to cool. Shred with your hands or cut into chunks.

In a large skillet add olive oil, onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook until softened but not browned (5 minutes or so). Add thyme, bay leaf, chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add pasta and cook several minutes until pasta is cooked. Add shredded chicken. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


Nutritional Facts: (1 Bowl. 8 Servings Per Recipe)/Estimated by My Fitness Pal

Calories: 212

Fat: 7.8 g

Cholesterol: 23.7 mg

Sodium: 375.6 mg

Potassium: 451.5 mg

Carbs: 21.1  g

Fiber: 2.2 g

Sugars: 7.2 g

Protein: 14.3 g

Vitamin A: 40%

Vitamin C: 7.7%

Calcium: 3.2%

Iron: 7.3%

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Hello, my name is Ashley and I am a cereal addict. Well, I used to be. If I didn’t have a family to feed, didn’t enjoy cooking and wasn’t paying such close attention to what I eat, I would probably eat cereal for every meal, every day. In fact, back before I was married and had kids, I’m certain that some days I did just that. For years I usually bought the pseudo-healthy cereals. You know, the ones that trick you into thinking they are healthy, but actually have way too much sugar and are highly processed. Honey Bunches of Oats, Frosted Mini Wheats and Honey Nut Cheerios were always some of my favorites. The words OAT and WHEAT in their names and the fact that they say “Whole Grains” all over the box are very misconceiving. But now, I know better.

In recent years I switched to cereals that are healthier, well at least a little bit. They include 100 percent whole grains, less sugar and no “fake” ingredients. For months I’ve been buying Nature’s Path Brand Heritage Flakes. I enjoy a bowl with sliced bananas or blueberries on top. For the most part the ingredients can all be considered “clean.” However, many people who follow a strict “clean eating” diet would frown upon the “evaporated cane juice.” But in my experience, you can drive yourself a little crazy trying to eliminate everything. And almost every cereal you buy, is still going to be somewhat processed. There is no doubt that oatmeal (whole grain rolled oats) is a much better choice. One look at the list of ingredients will make it clear why. There is just one ingredient and it is a 100 percent whole grain. But don’t be fooled by the little pre-made packets. Those are full of artificial ingredients. You have to make oatmeal yourself if you are striving to follow a “real food” diet.

For awhile now I have abstained from eating oatmeal because I couldn’t find a clean way to prepare it that didn’t taste like mush. Sure, with brown sugar and raisins it’s delicious,  but if you are trying to avoid added sugar, that’s not an option. After a bit of experimenting, I’ve finally discovered a way to prepare oatmeal that tastes delicious without adding sugar. I’m excited to share my recipe with you! With 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per serving it will keep you going all morning long. And with just 202 calories it will easily fit into your calorie total for the day.  I think you’ll enjoy it so much that you might just replace your boxed cereal for good. Even if you’ve been a cereal addict like me.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal“Clean Eating” Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup natural applesauce
  • 1/2 cup apple, diced

Combine all ingredients except for the diced apples in a medium-sized microwavable bowl. Stir well. Heat in microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Add diced apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top. If you prefer it to be sweeter, add a little drizzle of extra honey on top. Makes one serving.

Optional: Add chopped walnuts or raisins.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 202

Fat: 3.1 g

Saturated: .5 g

Polyunsaturated: 1 g

Monounsaturated: 1 g

Trans: 0 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 1.2 mg

Potassium: 79.6 mg

Carbs: 41.2 g

Fiber: 6 g

Sugars: 11.2 (From honey. No added sugar)

Protein: 5.1 g

Vitamin A: .2%

Vitamin C: 7%

Calcium: 3.7%

Iron: 11.7%


Eat Clean Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Mom's RecipeWe can probably all think of certain meals that remind us of our mother’s home cooking and take us back to our childhood. For me, it is my mom’s chicken broccoli casserole. Here’s her recipe. Isn’t her handwriting beautiful? I’ve always wished I could write like her. Every time I make this dish for my own family, the aroma transports me back to my childhood home sitting at the table with my parents and my sister. Kind of like that moment in Father of the Bride when Annie tells her dad she’s getting married and he envisions her as a preschooler with pigtails sitting at the table. This time of year with the cooler, fall temperatures and the craziness of after school activities, a warm make-ahead casserole dish is perfect. I can prepare it while the kids are at school or even the night before and then just pop it in the oven when I am ready. By the time I’ve got their backpacks and shoes picked up from the middle of the kitchen floor and set the table, dinner is about ready!

Canned SoupIn recent years, I have been trying to avoid canned soup, one of the key ingredients in my mom’s recipe, as it is full of sodium and unappealing ingredients like “monosodium glutamate” and “butyric acid,” whatever those are. So I recently created my own version of my mom’s good old Chicken Broccoli Casserole, using “clean” ingredients. While it doesn’t taste exactly the same as my mom’s recipe, it’s pretty darn close.

What is “clean” eating, you might ask? Essentially it means eating fresh, whole, natural foods and avoiding processed and refined foods. Clean eating means consuming food in it’s most natural state or as close to it as possible. Packaged “clean foods” contain only a few ingredients or at least a short list of real, recognizable foods. It means buying organic and local whenever possible. I strive to eat “cleaner”. You can drive yourself crazy examining labels. And to be frank, I don’t the have time or patience to walk through the grocery store studying each and every box while my two-year-old is climbing out of the shopping cart. I focus on buying lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, some organic meats and I have my stand-by packaged brands that I know have as few “ingredients” as possible. All of which are real, recognizable, healthy foods. Here’s a good article with more information about clean eating.

So here is my “cleaner” version of my mom’s Chicken Broccoli Casserole:


  • 2 to 4 spears broccoli
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp. flour (divided)
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko or regular bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts in casserole dish, brush with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until internal temp is at 165 degrees. Chop broccoli into medium sized florets. Cook in boiling water for no more than 5 minutes. Drain well. Arrange broccoli in casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cut chicken into slices, chunks or shred. Arrange on top of broccoli.

Chicken BroccoliIn a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and add garlic. Saute a few minutes until fragrant. Add 3 Tbsp. flour and mix well with whisk. Cook for a few more minutes. Whisk in chicken broth and cook for a few minutes. Add in milk and simmer until the sauce thickens stirring occasionally. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. of flour and whisk to mix in completely. Add salt and curry powder and stir. Top broccoli and chicken with cheese. Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli. Mix butter and bread crumbs. Sprinkle over top of everything. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted. If you want the top to look more browned, turn on the broiler for a minute or two. Makes 6 servings. Serve with brown rice.

With all that delicious creamy sauce you’d think this dish was a splurge. Nope! A serving is actually low in calories, high in fiber and protein and the benefits of broccoli make it high in potassium and Vitamin C. I use the My Fitness Pal app to track calories and nutrition.

Nutritional Facts for 1 serving:

Calories: 196

Fat: 7.8 g

Cholesterol: 32.5 mg

Sodium: 722.5 mg

Potassium: 496.2

Carbs: 16.5

Fiber: 5.6 g

Sugars: 4.1 g

Protein: 18.4

Vitamin A: 60.8%

Vitamin C: 99.2%

Calcium: 17.4%

Iron: 7.3%

I hope I’ve inspired you to try “cleaning up” some of your favorite recipes. It’s a lot easier than you might think. Enjoy!



Baking Pumpkin Bread with My Pumpkin

Early BirdMy daughter Elizabeth and I are both early birds and this Saturday morning we were up even before the worms. After a quiet cup of coffee, I was ready to make the most of this rare alone time with her. Instead of flipping on cartoons, we flipped open my cookbook. One of my favorite things about fall are pumpkins. It seemed fitting to bake up some pumpkin bread with my own pumpkin.

Today I’m sharing with you a family recipe I made healthier by using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. I cut out a whole cup of unneeded sugar and replaced one of the remaining two cups with honey. With whole wheat flour, less sugar and all the health benefits of pumpkin, you can enjoy an entire slice of this bread instead of picking at it like a bird. Pumpkin is low in calories, yet it is a good source of fiber, vitamin A and iron. My pumpkin bread recipe is quite simple to put together. Here I’ve made one loaf with nuts and one without. You could freeze one loaf and pull it out one night to thaw and serve as breakfast the next morning.



  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Future ChefIn a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Whisk together. Break eggs into a separate small bowl so that you can fish out shells if needed. Make a well with your fist in the middle of the flour mixture. Add eggs, oil, water and pumpkin. Beat with hand mixer until smooth, about two minutes. Add sugar and honey. Beat another two minutes until smooth.

Spray two 9 x 5″ loaf pans with nonstick spray. Add half the batter to one pan. Add 1/2 cup of pecans to remaining batter and stir to combine. To save time chasing renegade nuts, place them in a Ziploc bag before you chop them up. You’ll spend a lot less time cleaning up afterward too! Pour nut batter into second loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of pecans on top of nut batter. Bake both at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool briefly then run a knife around the around the outside of the pan. Remove bread and cook on rack.

Enjoy the smells and flavors of fall!

My kids love to help me bake and cook. I enjoy teaching them what I know. Cooking together provides an opportunity to encourage them to try new foods and helps them learn about making healthy choices. The girls even put to use some of the math lessons they are learning at school as they count measurements or talk about how many half cups make a whole. Little John practices his motor skills by stirring, scooping and tasting, of course. It’s also a good lesson in helping out and cleaning up. (We need all the help we can get around here teaching that.) But today baking bread was simply a chance to spend quality time, talking and laughing, with my not-so-little pumpkin.

My Pumpkin

Pumpkin Bread