Today’s post is all about clean eating, and along with answering questions like; “what is clean eating” and “how can I start eating clean,” I’ll be sharing tips on how to stock your pantry and make real food recipes for your family.
Grab your coffee, pull up a chair, and let’s talk all about this clean eating lifestyle, shall we?
Clean Eating Definition
Clean eating is a way of preparing meals that include whole-foods and minimally processed ingredients to create delicious and healthy meals.
This way of eating is meant to be uncomplicated and sustainable allowing you to make it a lifestyle and enjoy it!
Clean eating, in its simplest terms, is eating foods with the purpose of giving our bodies the nutrition it needs. The body will use food as a fuel source, giving us improved energy and an overall feeling of well-being.
Clean Eating Rules
When it comes to clean eating “rules”, I like to think of them as guidelines and they include choosing fresh ingredients, using simple cooking techniques, and minimizing sugar.
Following these clean eating specific guidelines can help you make better eating choices and stick with a healthier eating plan longer.
The term “rules” can feel rigid and limiting and should you “break” a rule, it’s easy to feel guilt and shame in ourselves for the “bad” choice made.
Forget all of that. There’s already enough pressure placed on ourselves when it comes to feeding our families -especially if you struggle with picky eating.
Below is how I approach clean eating as a lifestyle when you have a family:
The primary rule is that your food should come from whole sources with as little processing as possible. Think fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Make sure to check out the clean eating food list below.
This one should be a wave of relief. No complicated recipes take half the night to make; instead, basic baking, broiling, steaming, and sauteing techniques are used to make incredible meals that are both clean and kid-approved.
The main focus of clean eating is to provide our bodies with nutrition from food by limiting the amount of added sugar and processed ingredients we consume.
Whether it’s granulated sugar or corn syrup (a cheap sweetener found in many foods) those two should be avoided at all costs.
If you’re baking, you can easily reduce the amount used and swap it with honey, maple syrup, and coconut palm sugar (a granulated form that does not spike insulin).
Of course, this doesn’t include fruit since it has naturally-occurring sugars that add a lot of nutritional benefits.
How to Start Eating Clean
Eating clean doesn’t have to be complicated, cook everything from scratch, and it doesn’t mean you have to start cooking two different dinners every night. Trust me. Been there, done that. There’s an easier way!
If you want to know how to start eating clean and make it stick here are my tips:
- Find recipes your kids already love.
- Swap out the not-so-healthy ingredients with whole or minimally processed ones.
- Recreate the recipe in a way that kids and adults will enjoy.
At the beginning of a clean eating journey, the goal is to find healthier versions of the meals your family already enjoys eating.
You can do this yourself or have it done for you with a clean eating meal plan like the Family Kickstart.
It’s a 30-day program with recipes, meal prep tips, and a completed shopping list for each week so you can better focus on eliminating processed foods and sugars while making incredible meals for your family. Learn more here.
Clean Eating Basics
The basics of clean eating start with properly stocking your fridge and pantry with basic staples to help keep you prepared and making stress-free meals all week.
No, you don’t have to go throw out everything, but it would be a good idea to make sure you have the ingredients necessary to make delicious, clean meals.
Here are some of the ingredients from in each of the main food categories:
Yes, clean eating involves carbs! Instead of white flour and simple sugars, think complex carbs like brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, fruit, and veggies (yes, those are carbs too).
Minimally processed meats like chicken, eggs, fish, ground, beef, and turkey. The only limitation is that you shouldn’t opt for pre-packaged lunch meats or breaded and deep-fried frozen options. These foods contain mystery ingredients and chemicals.
When it comes to dairy, some people choose to omit it altogether. If you are lactose-intolerant, this is necessary, and dairy alternatives such as almond and coconut-based products or ghee are great options.
However, certain dairy options such as butter and whole milk yogurts pack health benefits such as calcium, unsaturated fats (that’s the good kind), and minerals.
Veggies & Fruits
The sky is the limit in this category.
It’s important to keep staple items such as canned beans, vegetables, tomatoes, rice, oats, and grains on hand for easy additions to soups, stir-fries, and building well-balanced meals.
Clean Food List
Not sure where to get started? I’ve got you covered with my ultimate clean eating foods list! Check it out to find everything you need to create epic recipes.
If you’re shopping on a budget, stick to seasonal produce and use this guide to double-check if you aren’t sure what’s in season. Frozen foods such as veggies and berries for smoothies can also be great budget-friendly options.
I created a simplified list for you below:
More recipes and food ideas when you eat clean:
Clean Eating Program for Families
If you want to try clean eating but still aren’t sure how to incorporate healthy recipes or get your family on board, I’ve got you covered.
There are so many different diet plans and diets out there, but the problem I found is that they cater to rigid schedules and adult tastebuds. Try getting your little ones to eat kale salad – yeah, right.
So, to help not only myself but other parents in my shoes looking for better ways to feed their families, I’ve created a Family Kickstart Program.
It’s a 30-day clean eating program designed for families of all ages and all food preferences. It includes a full guide explaining clean eating, meal plans, weekly shopping lists, and of course, kid-approved recipes (hello, pancakes!).
This program’s goal is not to be yet another crash-diet but to help you change your family’s eating habits for the better without placing more strain on you. Side effects may include:
- Improved energy.
- Less time spent in the kitchen.
- More time spent around the family dinner table.
Ready to get started?
Easy Clean Eating Recipes For Beginners
While clean eating comes down to removing all the pre-packaged junk and processed foods from the fridge and pantry; it doesn’t mean we have to get rid of easy meals and snacks!
Instead, they are replaced with better-for-you options that are just as delicious.
Give these easy clean eating recipes a try to help you get started:
Recipe: Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Tender, juicy chicken topped with homemade Avocado Salsa- it’s so much flavor in every bite and less than 30 minutes from oven to table.
Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Salad with Baked Chicken
When you need comfort food that makes you feel good on the inside, this roasted vegetable salad is here for you! Leftovers make incredible lunches the next day.
Avocado Salmon Bowls with Spicy Mayo
A restaurant-worthy meal you can make at home with fresh or frozen salmon fillets. Add a drizzle of spicy mayo and you. Are. Set.
Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats
The flavors of lasagna in a low carb vessel: baked spaghetti squash. This is one the kids are going to want again and again.
Recipe: Skillet Chicken Thighs with Carrots & Potatoes
A simple and delicious meal you can make in one skillet with that pack of chicken thighs and root veggies.
Recipe: All Meat & Veggie Chili
This chili has no beans and is loaded with ground beef and veggies in a smoky tomato base; you may need to double the recipe- it’s that good.
Now that you know all the basics of clean eating – all that’s left to do is start making these healthy, whole-food meals your whole family will enjoy!