Carol Rood is a 20-year Navy vet who has a unique and interesting viewpoint on life, kids, food, LGBTQ issues, and why we all need a great beauty regimen. We recently sat down with Carol to hear her thoughts on food, cooking, and clean eating.
Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you decide to start a blog?
My blogging story started in 2008. I had a friend who was blogging and I thought to myself, “This is interesting, I think I can do this too.” She encouraged me to give it a try and participate in NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Posting Month. It is a challenge where you write a blog post every day for a month. I gave it a shot, and I was hooked! This is how Coffee, Clutter and Chaos was born. I wrote my first post on CCC in October 2012, and haven’t looked back since! Four years later, I still love blogging!
How did you become a foodie?
I think I have always been a “foodie,” although I didn’t always use that term. When I was a kid, I loved to cook and bake, and the Cooking Merit Badge was my favorite one when I was a Girl Scout. The major requirement to complete the badge was to cook a meal for your entire family. Since I am an overachiever, I had my parents also invite my aunt, uncle, and two cousins for the meal. That meant I was preparing a meal for 9 people! No sweat, right? I made Italian fondue complete with cubed Italian bread, Mediterranean salad, and a three-layer Black Forest cake for dessert. And it was delicious! Not bad for a 13-year old, eh?
As I entered my later teen years, when I told my dad I wanted to be a chef, he kept telling me how hard it would be and the heavy pots I would have to lift. I guess he had other career plans for me; however, my love for food, cooking, and baking didn’t go away. I ended up not going to cooking school, but I have definitely taught myself how to cook and bake. These days, I really enjoy watching the Food Network to get ideas for new recipes and what to do (and not to do) when in the kitchen.
What is clean eating, and how does it differ from the general healthy eating advice that we frequently hear today?
Clean eating is definitely the “phrase of the day” in the food world. However, to me it just means switching processed food for fresh food and eating more fruits and vegetables. We don’t eat “white” foods, and by that I mean foods made with white unbleached flour. In our house, we usually eat brown rice pasta, multigrain bread, and other foods made with the whole grain and not bleached or processed to make it less healthy.
Clean eating is about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups – and eating less of the not so healthy ones. In addition to swapping out some ingredients and food choices, we no longer eat “fake sugar” like Equal and Truvia, but instead eat pure cane sugar or stevia. We have removed almost all of the processed foods from our diet, and we shop, prepare, and eat differently than we did a few years ago.
Interestingly, even the USDA has made changes to their recommended daily allowances of food. They switched from the food pyramid, which had the bulk of your food coming from grains, to “my plate,” which stresses fruits and vegetables as the major portion of your food intake.
How difficult is it to prepare delicious, healthy meals for your family while navigating individual tastes, preferences, and food quirks?
When my kids wee younger, I definitely shopped, cooked, and fed my family differently than I do now. My boys are now 19 and 17, and my step kids are all grown up and no longer live at home. When the kids were little, I did sometimes make two separate meals; one for them and one for the grownups. But as they have grown and their palates have changed, that became less and less frequent.
Several years ago, I did make a house rule that if you don’t like what mom cooks for dinner, you can have a PB&J sandwich. It just became too complicated to make different meals for different tastes and quirks, and it was either what was on the menu or you had to eat peanut butter. It was even easier on me as the kids got older and were able to make their own sandwiches, but really they usually ate what I made. It was not often they fended for themselves. Even now they still ask, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” They have rolled with me switching from white pasta to whole-wheat pasta and now to brown rice pasta. They like the brown rice pasta better than the whole wheat, but they still ate the whole-wheat pasta. I guess they think it is easier to eat what I make than to make their own food.
I will say, though, that it is harder to make sure they are eating well now because they can literally get in their vehicles and drive to a fast food joint and get any junk they want. So the best thing I can do is have healthy choices here at the house and make what they like in a cleaner way -and I STILL sneak veggies in when they don’t know it.
Finish this sentence: “The hardest food for me to give up would have to be…”
That is an interesting question and definitely the answer today is different than it would have been a few months ago.
Recently, I participated in a 30 Days to Healthy Living detox program, which changed some of my perceptions about what I was eating and how it made my body feel. It is a program that removes allergenic and acidic foods from our diets, and it was definitely interesting. I had to remove gluten, sugar, ground nuts, coffee, dairy, high sugar fruits, and a few other things. I thought I would die without my cup of coffee every morning! And no cheese??? What??
But I did it (I cheated once or twice, though), and I survived. I did miss cheese, but I found a dairy-free, soy-free substitute that tastes good and actually melts!! In fact, I have kept some of those foods (such as cow milk) out of my life since then because when I added them back in, I didn’t feel well. It was interesting to learn what my body likes best by removing some foods and seeing how I felt when I added them back in.
So if I had to live without a food forever that would be really hard to give up, it would most definitely be bread. I don’t have to give that up now because I have found some really delicious gluten-free breads, and I am going to try to make my own GF bread in the near future. But my life without sandwiches, paninis, gooey melty cheese on bread, or just a nice piece of bread and butter – that would be absolute torture!
OK, can you really cook or bake desserts that are tasty and healthy?
Yes, I can! Years ago, I started substituting Truvia baking blend for sugar and used applesauce in place of oil. That never interfered in the way things tasted. Subbing white whole wheat flour for white flour, however, did make a difference in that the baked goods were denser. So I learned what types of baked goods that substitution worked best with. For example, cake or cobbler dough might not be as yummy when it is dense, but I can definitely sub white whole wheat flour into cookies and brownies without any noticeable difference.
In the past year as I have removed man-made sugar substitutes from my diet, I have actually gone back to cane sugar and even found a stevia cooking blend that keeps the taste while removing some calories and sugar grams from baked goods. I have even found some recipes where I can sub in some vegan protein powder for some of the flour, and add some protein to baked goods without taking away ANY of the yummy flavor you want in baked goods!
And more recently, I have been baking with GF flour mixes. I have used a couple of different ones and definitely have my favorite, but the adventurer in me is really hankering to create my OWN GF flour blend that is one for one with regular flour.
Could you share one of your favorite foodie recipes with us?
Honestly, I have so many it is hard to narrow down to one; but I am really a fan of Indian food. When I found a recipe for baked Indian Samosas, I was intrigued for sure. They tasted even better than the ones I got at the restaurants, and were way healthier because 1) they were baked not fried, 2) I used white whole wheat flour in place of the white flour, making them healthier, and 3) when you make something at home, my favorite ingredient – LOVE – always makes things taste better!
BAKED INDIAN SAMOSAS
For the filling
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
• ½ teaspoon minced ginger
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 Russet potatoes – boiled and coarsely mashed
• ½ cup peas (thawed frozen works best)
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon coriander
• 1 teaspoon garam masala
• ½ teaspoon chili sauce
• 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
Homemade Samosa Pastry
• 1 cup white whole wheat flour
• ¼ cup fat-free yogurt (or water)
• ¼ cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
• Big pinch salt
- In a saute pan, add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is shimmering, add in the cumin seeds and ginger.
- When the seeds splutter, add the onions and saute till soft and translucent. When the onions are cooked, add in salt, turmeric, coriander, and garam masala. Add in the chili sauce. Saute briefly for a minute or so.
- Add in the boiled potatoes and peas and mix well.
- Add the chopped coriander leaves/cilantro. Remove from heat, and when the mixture is cool enough to handle, make 8 balls. Set aside.
- Roll the dough into a cylinder, cut in half, and then again into 4 pieces. Roll them into a ball. Flatten the balls into circles; then, on a floured surface, roll them into a 1/8-inch thick, 7-inch wide circles. Cut in half to form 2 semicircles.
- Put the filling in the center of a semicircle. Have a small bowl of water handy. Dip your finger in the water and run it along the edges of the semicircle. Arrange the samosas so the flat side is facing away from you. Grab the right corner and fold it over the dough in a triangular motion, so that this corner lands on the bottom left side of the filling. Do the same with the other corner. Squeeze bottom shut, and fold over, sealing with water. If you like, seal using a fork.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Arrange the 8 samosas on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk an egg and 1 teaspoon water with a fork until thoroughly combined. Brush the tops of the samosas with the egg wash.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, then turn heat down to 375 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes. You can flip them over just before you turn the heat down if you like.
There are plenty of bakery and dessert items available on the Foody Direct website, so check them out today!