Updated: Mar 24, 2019
The Mayo Clinic says,"Consume more whole foods-such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats-limit highly processed snack foods, sweets and other packaged foods."
When you live in America eating totally clean can be difficult, to say the least. I am a cook. I cook whole foods daily, but still struggle with this.
As we travel throughout the day, if you haven't eaten before you left the home or made a prepacked meal eating clean can be a great feat. When you are hungry your options tend to sway to foods that are not so good for you. You may find yourself in a fast food drive thru window or grabbing Chinese takeout, or ordering appetizers from a restaurant menu. Though the restaurant appetizer menu sounds like a good option, it's not always a clean eating option,
( especially when you're hungry).
My philosophy is 'everything in moderation'. Meaning 80/95 percent clean eating and room for not beating yourself up about it.
It's not splitting atoms :) to prepare clean meals at home. It literally takes me 30-35 minutes to make a meal from start to finish, including prep time.
If you have a "good stocked pantry" along with fresh veggies and fruits in your fridge it makes this do-able for anyone. A ''good stocked pantry" is grains,( rice of all sorts, oats, pastas, cornmeal, flour etc.) , Yeast, baking powder, baking soda, broths and stocks, dried herbs, canned tomatoes, beans, oils, ( olive, coconut, veg, canola, etc.), soy sauce, sesame oil, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, honey, sugar, ( brown and regular), onion, garlic, shallots, anchovy, and canned tuna for a good start. Fridge ingredients may include peppers, herbs, tomatoes, assorted vegetables, ( spinach, cabbage, mushroom, salad greens, carrots, kale), butter, milk, cheeses, cream, fruit, lemon or limes, meats and seafood. You can generally make anything with these staples that would be considered clean eating.
For example: You go to the pantry grab a grain, a can of tuna, onion, garlic, and olive oil. Go to the fridge and grab some tomatoes, a lemon, salad greens, and Parmesan cheese, Saute the onion, garlic, tomatoes, add the tuna, and boil your grains ( like pasta), top it with your tuna mixture. Plate your salad greens, add olive oil, the cheese, squeeze the lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and you have a tasty clean meal.
Any combo of pantry and fridge items could work. Even quick flatbreads using the flours, baking powder or soda and water are an option. If you are watching your carbs, I use greens to wrap everything I eat. It's extraordinarily easy to prepare seasoned quick sauteed or grilled meats and seafood. Grab a pile of greens, put them on your plate and eat the meat or seafood wrapped in bunches of greens. You get full easily and consume less meat. I also like to add some fresh thinly slice garlic and onion to the plate, tomatoes are a nice addition as well. Healthy salads can be quickly made with any combo of greens, fresh vegetables, fruit and nuts, and/or meat.
The key is to purchase good quality ingredients. If your vegetables are fresh they are sweet and don't need much dressing up. If your seafood is fresh it's very flavorful on it's own. A mix of herbs, crushed garlic, salt and pepper brings out the best in all meats; just rub it down and quickly saute or grill it. Grains can be topped or mixed with any kind of veggies; roasting is the best way to deepen the flavor and bring out the sweetness.
Try to cook enough for leftovers, they make an awesome lunch and cut down on eating out.
I am not an expert but I believe whatever your diet, keeping whole foods in your pantry and fridge is the key to clean eating. Boxed or canned ingredients can be limited to tomatoes, tuna, salmon, anchovies, and grains. Processed foods aren't necessary if you get out of your own head on what a proper meal should be. Good quality, simple ingredients make the best and tastiest meals. Combining pantry and refrigerator staples will get you there. Meals don't have to be thought out, of have a title. Just grab and create.