Notice in the title of this article I said your kitchen. Eating clean and healthy is not hard to do but you have to know what is in your food in order to do so. Even the seemingly healthy restaurants may sneak something in on you that you wouldn’t normally eat. The only way to really know what you are eating is to prepare it yourself.
The first step you should take toward better health is to eliminate the processed, pre-packaged and fast foods from your diet. The second step should be to learn to recognize and prepare clean, natural and healthy foods for yourself and your family.
Choosing to eat “clean” and healthy meals is not so much about restricting what you eat, but rather about making better choices and eating better quality foods. Starting with more natural foods containing natural ingredients and eliminating chemicals and additives. The fresher the foods, the better.
Simplify your foods and meals. Choose almost any package in the grocery store and take a look at the long list of ingredients, most are unrecognizable, and many are made in a laboratory. Clean foods have very few ingredients with familiar names. If you can’t pronounce it or have know idea what the ingredient is you probably don’t want to eat it. The simplest clean foods are in fact known as “single ingredient” foods like a banana, a carrot, quinoa or a chicken breast. These are the types of foods to incorporate into your clean eating recipes.
Eliminate refined sugar. Adding refined sugar to your food means consuming empty calories. Alternative sweeteners like stevia, honey and maple syrup are more natural, but use them sparingly as they too will feed your sugar addiction. In the end, sugar is sugar not matter if it has health benefits, like in the case of honey, or not.
Choose local and organic foods. When choosing ingredients for your healthy home cooked meals, shop your local Farmer’s Market and choose organic products when possible. These foods are more nutritious and don’t contain any pesticides, hormones and chemicals.
Cooking your own meals. Stop buying meals or entrees in a box, learn to cook meals from scratch. It is not no as hard as it sounds. Whole foods need little preparation other than chopping and sautéing to make simple yet satisfying, delicious meals you and your family will love.
Planning and preparing clean meals in the kitchen. Start with combining simple and delicious single ingredient foods as meals.
For breakfast try two eggs with onions and peppers served with sliced avocado and tomato. Or, plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup of home-made granola and fresh berries.
Lunch could include a spinach salad with apple cider vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil dressing, walnuts, goat cheese and any vegetables you prefer.
A sample dinner might be a brown rice bowl with roasted chicken breast and vegetables with a squeeze of lime and some sesame seeds.
Notice in these examples, the list of foods is also the list of ingredients.
Your kitchen doesn’t have to be the room of the house you dread being in. Keeping things simple and enjoyable will make cooking seem less like a chore and more like a routine that makes you feel and look great.
What are your easy go-to recipes for a healthy meal?
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.