Eating Clean + Healthy Living Recipes
The idea to come up with 50 eating clean tips and healthy living recipes was sparked by an article I wrote explaining Clean Cuisine’s definition of clean eating and why the reductionist approach that is popular in so many best-selling diet books (such as The Wheat Belly Diet, Atkins, etc.) is not optimal for long-term health or weight management. Although you can control your body weight by many different methods (some of which can be downright dangerous), the only way to optimize your health is to take a whole lifestyle approach, which is the approach we take with Clean Cuisine. The side benefit of gaining health on a whole lifestyle approach is hunger free weight loss and effortless weight management.
My Eating Clean Journey
On a personal note, I began my eating clean journey when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1998 at the age of twenty-two. I have been symptom free for over a decade and I have never needed to take any of the disease-modifying medications used to treat MS. I am convinced that changing my lifestyle and cleaning up the foods I put on my plate changed my fate. You can read more about my story HERE.
But rest assured you do not need to have MS to benefit from eating clean and healthy living! Together with my husband, Andy Larson, M.D., we have taught numerous health and body makeover programs and we have seen absolutely incredible results among people with a wide variety of inflammatory conditions (arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, endometriosis, etc.) We have also seen dramatic improvements in cholesterol profile, blood pressure, triglycerides, blood sugar levels and CRP levels in as little as 5-weeks. And without question the number one “side benefit” is always the same: hunger-free weight loss.
It is important to note though that there is not just one special thing that I did or that you can do to dramatically improve health or lose weight for the long term; it is a combination of many different things and a whole lifestyle approach that gets results. Everyone always wants me to tell them one or two quick tips for weight loss or for reducing inflammation. But you can’t just eliminate wheat or sugar or fat or any other one single thing and expect results.
Note: The following 50 tips for clean eating and living are based on the overall lifestyle program recommended in our book, Clean Cuisine (Penguin, 2013)
50 Quick Eating Clean Tips & Healthy Living Recipes
1. Eat at least 9 to 12 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
2. Make sure you are eating at least one very large serving of greens every day (preferably 2 servings!)
3. Ditch dairy (this includes milk, cheese and yogurt) Note: Using a teeny amount of milk in your coffee or a smidgen of gourmet cheese as a condiment/ flavor enhancer is acceptable, but realize that dairy is not a health food in any form.
4. Eliminate all processed foods (including protein powders!) and eat foods in their most natural and unrefined state (choose corn instead of corn flakes, oranges instead of orange juice, potatoes instead of potato chips, etc.)
5. Consciously reduce your consumption of all oils (this includes olive oil!)
6. Try to get more of your dietary fat from “whole foods” rather than oil (this means olives are a better choice than olive oil, whole soybeans are a better choice than soybean oil, etc.)
7. Drastically cut back or eliminate land animal foods (chicken, eggs, beef, etc.)
8. If you do eat animal foods make sure you are choosing the absolute highest quality, which means going beyond organic and making sure the animals were fed a healthy diet and raised in a healthy environment.
9. Eat wild, fatty fish 2-3 times a week for omega-3 EPA /DHA. If you don’t eat fish take a pharmaceutical-grade EPA/ DHA supplement. (Note: ideally you would both eat fish and also take a supplement).
11. Exercise your full body (all major muscles) for a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 days a week.
12. Don’t eat more than 1 or 2 servings of any single grain—including wheat—a day.
13. Choose only unprocessed “whole” carbs (potatoes, corn, barley, oatmeal, quinoa, all fruits, all vegetables, etc.)
15. Trash any food with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. There is no safe level of intake for these man-made fats.
17. Do yoga.
18. Make a green smoothie every day with green leafy vegetables, fruits and water.
20. Prioritize your relationship with sleep (note: most people need at least 7 to 8 hours a night).
21. Put an end to toxic relationships.
22. Boost the flavor and nutrition of your food by cooking with herbs and spices.
23. Use hemp milk instead of cow’s milk.
24. To boost glutathione levels be sure to eat a serving of cruciferous vegetables everyday.
25. Rethink snacking and grazing: there is absolutely no proof that eating 5 and 6 “mini meals” is helpful for weight loss or general health (note: In my husband’s bariatric practice it has been his experience that those who eat many meals a day are much heavier than those who stick to 3 main meals a day).
26. Incorporate non-dairy vegan fermented foods into your diet (such as miso, raw sauerkraut, kimchi, Kombucha, tempeh, etc.)
27. Work superfoods into your diet such as acai, mulberries, hemp seeds, cacao, chia seeds, camu berries, flaxseeds, gogi berries, maca, maqui berries, and pomegranate (note: Navitas Naturals is an excellent source for superfoods).
28. Learn to love vegetables!! I suggest going to the bookstore to browse the cookbook section and picking up 2 or 3 cookbooks that focus just on vegetables. Plenty (Chronicle Books) by Yotam Ottolengh is a great one to start with!
29. Drink at least 3 cups of high quality “real” green tea each day
30. DO NOT EAT IF YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY!!!
31. Learn to cook. eat clean, eat clean, eat clean
32. Make sure the oils you use to cook with are heat-stable; cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and macadamia nut oil are good for medium heat and organic extra virgin coconut oils is good for higher heat (note: but remember, go light on the oil!)
33. Focus on enjoying your food and take the time to prepare delicious foods for yourself; it is amazing how your taste buds will change over time.
34. Take several “deep breathing breaks” throughout the day.
35. Have 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar a day (we like Bragg’s ).
36. Eat garlic every day.
37. Eat 1 teaspoon of turmeric a day (you can add it to your green tea and believe it or not it tastes good!)
38. Stretch every day—even if only for 5 minutes first thing in the morning.
39. Learn which foods contain prebiotics and probiotics and make sure you eat those foods regularly.
40. Take a broad-spectrum probiotic supplement daily.
41. Do not eat fried foods.
42. No artificial sweeteners (FYI: my favorite sweetener is whole dates that I use with a lot of Vitamix recipes, but if you don’t have a Vitamix you can use date sugar or coconut palm sugar, both of which are not refined and still have nutrients in tact).
43. Forget the Nutrition Facts label and instead read the ingredients list of everything you buy: the ingredients don’t lie.
44. Take a broad-spectrum but “gentle” multi-vitamin/ multi-mineral supplement every day that contains vitamins D3 and K2 (note: avoid supplements containing iron, isolated and synthetic vitamin E in the form of dl-alpha-tocopherol, folic acid or high levels of copper).
45. Take a phytonutrient-rich “whole food” supplement each day (such as Green Vibrance, New Chapter Berry Green, Barlean’s Greens, Juice Plus+, etc.)
46. Get out of a whole wheat rut! Make an effort to rotate your grains and incorporate other whole grains such as millet, quinoa, barley, etc.
47. Supplement your diet with 200 to 400 mg of GLA from evening primrose oil (we like Barlean’s brand).
48. No margarine and no trans fats.
49. Incorporate exotic mushrooms (shitake, oyster, maitake, etc.) into your weekly meals.
50. Take fun seriously (If you never make time for fun and never enjoy yourself then what is the point of it all?)
To read more about Clean Cuisine’s lifestyle approach to health and wellness click HERE.
For the scientific explanations behind these recommendations and for a lifestyle program that puts the 50 tips into an action plan please refer to our book, Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Program that Will Change the Way You Age, Look and Feel (Penguin, 2013).