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Clean eating is a diet that focuses on natural, mostly unprocessed foods. When we talk about diet, we’re not talking about the latest and greatest weight loss program. In this case, we’re talking about a way of eating. The focus with a clean diet is on fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains in their most natural, unprocessed form. The choice of diets is overwhelming these days – vegan keto, paleo, flexitarian, high fat, raw food, etc.
What I know is this: Every truly healthy diet is clean and built on the same foundation – eat real, whole food. They each focus on foods that don’t raise our blood sugar, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy protein and fats, and no junk.
Instead of eating pizza, pasta, bread and fried chicken, a clean diet consists of meals like steamed broccoli and grilled chicken, omelets, homemade chili or steak, baked potato and a side salad. In essence, it’s going back to how we used to eat before there was a fast food restaurant at every corner and grocery stores packed with processed foods and meals ready to heat and serve.
Consume fresh unprocessed foods
The idea behind clean eating is to get back to consuming fresh, mainly unprocessed foods that contain their full nutritional value. As an added bonus they aren’t stuffed full of preservatives, additives and flavor enhancers. The main reason for choosing to stick to a clean diet is to eat healthier.
How “clean” you make your diet is up to you. Some proponents of this way of eating insist that you should only consume completely unprocessed foods. Others are comfortable enjoying things like butter, cheese, cured meats and cultivated vegetables like Sauerkraut. How far you take it is up to you. Even cleaning up your diet just a little by cutting out fast food burgers and creating freezer meals will help.
Fill up your plate with plenty of raw or cooked vegetables. Cook up some rice or bake a potato (unless you are eating low carb) and round it all up with a little fruit and cheese for dessert. Find a couple of go-to meals you like and build your weekly meals around those dishes.
It’s hard to find healthy snacks that fit your clean diet while you’re out and about. Keep some fresh and dried fruit along with some seeds and nuts handy for emergency snacking. When it comes to drinks, water and herbal teas are your best friend. Black coffee is another good choice. Just be careful about adding sweeteners and creamers.
It may take you a little while to get used to the “real” taste of food after eating foods that are laden with sugar, salt and flavor enhancers. Once your taste buds adjust, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how delicious real food is. And your body will thank you for the change to clean eating as well.
What happens after a few days when you start to miss your favorite processed foods. Packing a lunch is hard when making sandwiches isn’t an option. And how are you supposed to go without your favorite pasta dish? Below you’ll find easy substitutions for some of your favorite processed foods.
Eating clean usually cuts out any and all pasta. Rice is a quick substitute as is spaghetti squash. There are also “miracle noodles” available for purchase online and in some health food stores. They are mushroom based and usually come packed in water. To be honest, they are a bit of an acquired taste. By far the best and most versatile option is to use squash and zucchini as a pasta replacement. Use a spiralizer, a veggie peeper or just a knife and cut pasta shapes form the squash. You can eat it raw, or cook it in a dry skillet until your mock pasta is al dente. Serve with your favorite clean pasta sauce or top it with some tomatoes cooked in olive oil and garlic.
Wraps and sandwiches make the perfect portable lunch. If you’re wondering what you’re supposed to be doing without them, look no further than a leaf of lettuce or cabbage. They make great wraps and hold your favorite clean sandwich ingredients just fine. I also believe, that unless you need to be low carb for insulin resistance reasons or fighting cancer, sourdough is a very good option for bread or some baked goods. I have a whole sourdough page here at the website that will tell you more about this option.
Of course you can also bake some great gluten-free baked treats using eggs, and either flax seed coconut flour, or almond meal if you choose not do use sourdough. Do a quick Google search for all sorts of quick and easy recipes to try.
If cold cereal is your breakfast of choice, look no further than a bowl of fruit and chopped nuts topped with a little almond milk. You’ll agree that it is much better than that same old bowl of corn flakes. Keep the ingredients ready in the fridge for a quick and easy breakfast. Or if you are comfortable eating grains, oatmeal is a good hearty breakfast especially if combined with a spoonful of raw honey, a spoonful or two of nut butter, and some coconut oil to give you healthy fats along with some grain. If you get tired of that, then give eggs a try. They make great breakfast food and will keep you full for hours.
Did you know that you can make pizza crust from cauliflower? It’s a bit of work and slightly messy to eat, but boy does it hit the spot when you’re craving a piece of pie. One of my favorite pizza options is Fat Head Pizza with almond flour, mozzarella cheese, butter, and salt. It is very filling and a delicious option for pizza. You won’t even miss the bought pizza parlor stuff. Depending on what you’re eating on your personal version of clean eating, corn tortillas may be a good gluten-free option. They make perfect individual sized pizzas.