If you feel tired, lazy, unhealthy, or ‘bogged down,’ chances are you need a diet makeover. It’s time to pull yourself together and start eating foods that will make you feel good. Clean eating means eating foods closest to their natural state. It means avoiding processed and altered foods, or foods high in ‘empty’ calories. The diet includes whole grains, organic lean animal proteins, and fruits, vegetables. These foods are naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will perk you up, not slow you down. Need a push? These easy and delicious clean eating foods and meal ideas will get you on track so that you can feel like you again.
Stir fry is a way of making a whole meal in one pan. It includes a variety of colorful vegetables—you add the vegetables you enjoy the most. The most popular vegetables to add to stir fry include asparagus, baby corn, bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, green beans or mushroom, but add whatever you like! Stir fry can be made vegetarian served over rice or rice noodles, or it can be made with beef, chicken, or turkey. To minimize on the unhealthy fats, use less oil. To minimize on sodium, add less salt and focus on the herbs and spices instead. If you are using soy sauce, opt for a low-sodium version.
A salad is undoubtedly one of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense meals out there—if you pick your veggies right. For a base, choose mixed dark, leafy green vegetables. Add colorful veggies to the salad for a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, sweet red pepper is an excellent source of vitamin C, while one carrot contains more than 100% or your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Tomato is an excellent source of potassium. If the salad is your lunch or dinner meal, add protein. Chicken, steak, salmon, and tuna are all wonderful options. If you choose to add salmon, you get the bonus of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Not a fan of animal protein? Prepare tofu the way you like, and add it to the salad instead! Reach for a light, low-calorie dressing that doesn’t come pre-made in a plastic bottle. Drizzle olive oil and lemon over the salad, or prepare an apple-cider vinegar dressing with honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and garlic.
Homemade soup is a great meal for anyone trying to eat clean. Just do yourself—and your family—a favor and don’t add any artificial soup flavoring that comes in a bottle, a packet, or a box. Start from scratch with fresh vegetables and an organic meat/poultry of your choice. Lots of fresh spices and herbs will give your soup an authentic, homemade flavor. For a filling meal, add lentils, barley, or beans.
Homemade burgers and patties can be made from any protein of your choice. The best thing about burgers is that you can sneak in healthy ingredients like spinach or kale, and your family will never know better. Burgers with minced chicken or turkey—instead of red meat—will provide the lean protein. Instead of making tuna patties, make salmon patties for less mercury and more Omega-3s. You can even make patties out of quinoa and beans! Spray your patties with a light layer of oil and bake them in the oven instead of frying them to cut down on the oil and grease. Eat alongside a salad or some roasted veggies and whole grain (i.e., brown rice) for the perfectly balanced meal.
Quinoa is the ultimate “grain” food that isn’t a grain. It contains a lot of protein and many essential minerals. It is also rich in folic acid and vitamin B6. Quinoa salad is delicious, filling, and—most importantly—nutritious. Quinoa has a mild, nutty flavor so that it can be matched with sweet, savory, or acidic, and it’ll taste great no matter what. Add colorful veggies (and maybe a little fruit) to your quinoa salad for a satisfying lunch!
Pan seared tuna steak
Really—pan-seared anything is delicious—and tuna steak is just one of the many delicious options. To pan-sear tuna, turn the heat to high and add a minimal amount of oil. Wait until the pan (or griddle) is very hot and add your (already seasoned) tuna steak. The tuna needs to be on each side for only 2-3 minutes until caramelized. Serve with a side of salad or a lightly steamed vegetable like broccoli or asparagus.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
This delicious side dish is the perfect addition to just about any meal. Sweet potato is an excellent source of B-vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, and many essential minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. Season the sweet potatoes as desired, and lightly coat in vegetable oil. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees F.
You’re craving pasta but avoiding processed foods. The solution? Zoodles! Zoodles are noodles made from zucchini. They can be made a number of ways: peeled, spiralized, or chopped. They are a great alternative to grain pasta when you’re craving a comfort food! Zucchinis are low in calories and packed with nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, B-vitamins, and essential minerals. Cut the zucchini into long strips (or peel, or spiralize), salt, and let sit for 20 minutes. Then transfer to a cheesecloth and squeeze, draining out all the excess liquid. Sauté in a pan for 5-10 minutes until it reaches desired consistency and add your favorite pasta sauce!
A vegetable omelet or frittata is a fun and easy way to whip up a quick meal. It doesn’t require much effort, but it provides many important nutrients and does not contain any processed foods. The egg yolk contains an important nutrient called choline which is crucial for brain health. The more veggies you add, the more nutrients there will be. So, for example, if you add spinach to your omelet, you are inserting vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron, potassium, and manganese. An omelet doesn’t just have to be breakfast, either. It serves as a great lunch or a light—but filling—dinner.
Chili is a classic comfort food that you don’t have to forgo when going clean. If you add beef to your chili, choose an organic grass-fed beef. In fact, choose all organic ingredients—including the tomato sauce—and don’t add any prepackaged chili seasoning. Do it all yourself. Chili contains so many clean and nutritious ingredients. You just can’t go wrong with beans, tomatoes, corn, green pepper, chili pepper, celery, and grass-fed beef.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could make your whole dinner in 15 minutes on one tray? No, we’re not talking about a TV dinner. You can make a clean, nutritious, and delicious meal for your whole family on a tray, pop it in the oven, and serve it 20 minutes later. Dice vegetables of your choice, season, and add to a large baking tray. Arrange the vegetables around the outer edges and put a lean protein of your choice in the center. Options include (but are not limited to) salmon, chicken cutlets, grass-fed beef steak, or tuna steak. Put it in the oven at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, and you’re good to go. Try this One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies recipe for inspiration.