“Changing your plate can change your fate... it changed ours.
IVY AND ANDY LARSON, M.D.
Hi there! We are the Larson family. Welcome to our Clean Cuisine website… and to our kitchen. Whether you are already living an organic lifestyle or you are a clean eating enthusiast looking for new, inspiring anti-inflammatory recipes, workouts and additional healthy living resources, or you just so happened to have landed here by accident, we are so glad you stopped by! We so hope you will stay a while--we have LOTS of blog posts for you to go through =) And just so you know, if you are new to Clean Cuisine, you are on the best page of our website to begin.
a little bit about us...
We have been eating clean for almost 20 years, ever since Ivy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 22...and way before it was the trendy thing to do. Andy was in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine at the time of Ivy’s diagnosis and neither of us knew a thing about nutrition. But, because Ivy’s neurologist at the University of Miami suggested an anti-inflammatory diet could help slow the progression of her disease, our nutritional odyssey began from a relatively early age. That was back in 1998.
Although Andy did not have any specific health concerns other than a few unwanted pounds he had gained during medical school along with borderline high blood pressure, he started eating clean to support Ivy (and also because his new wife was preparing all of his food!) When our son, Blake, was born in 2001 we started him on the same clean and “real food” diet we were following after he was weaned. As a side note, we are pretty confident Blake’s nutritionally superior diet is responsible for the fact that he is rarely sick and has only been on antibiotics once in his life.
What we can say with certainty though is that following a clean eating diet IS doable for the long run and it is absolutely doable for a family. We would love to show you what has worked for us and we are so glad you stopped by!
Andy has since become a board certified general surgeon while Ivy has combined her nutrition knowledge with her passion for cooking to become a Clean Cuisine recipe developer, cooking instructor and cookbook author. Together we have taught numerous “Health & Body Makeover Programs” and written five books on the subject of healthy living, anti-inflammatory nutrition and “clean” cooking, including our latest, the Clean Cuisine Cookbook.
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what is clean cuisine?
Although the concept of “clean eating” is a bit of a mega trend at the moment, if you ask a “clean eater” to define clean eating you’ll get a number of very different answers.
If we had to define Clean Cuisine in one sentence, it would be this: “Clean Cuisine is a plant-rich diet based on a wide variety of anti-inflammatory whole foods in their most natural and nutrient-rich state.”
CLEAN CUISINE IS DESIGNED TO DO TWO THINGS:
Reduce inflammation and Optimize nutrition.
We want to encourage you to choose whole foods that are unadulterated and unprocessed…just the way nature intended. You want to go for corn instead of corn flakes, steel cut oats instead of a granola bar that is “made with oats” (but also made with a bunch of junk like high fructose corn syrup, processed corn oil, etc.) If push came to shove, you would even want to choose whole olives over olive oil.
The closer a food is to its natural state, the more nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory it will be.
Click the topics below to learn more about Clean Cuisine:
When it comes to clean food, it’s also important to remember plant foods are lowest on the food chain and therefore contain considerably fewer toxins than animal foods.
Unrefined plant foods are also the only source of anti-inflammatory, anti-aging phytonutrients, which play a key role in the health benefits obtained from eating Clean Cuisine. Phytonutrients are substances that protect the plant and fortify it against illness, but they also offer invaluable disease protection and anti-inflammatory benefits to YOU, the plant-eater. Phytonutrients act in a myriad of health-promoting ways. Many phytonutrients are sources of natural anti-aging antioxidants and others act as powerful inflammation extinguishers. Some phytonutrients enhance immune function and promote healing. Others stimulate enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing carcinogens. In a nutshell, the more phytonutrients you can manage to get into your diet, the better! And the only way possible to get more phytonutrients is to eat more plants and less animal foods. There’s just no way around it. Thus, Clean Cuisine places a heavy emphasis on plant-based nutrition.
Although there are plenty of clean eating enthusiasts who might disagree, we don’t support the concept of “counting food” in the form of macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein). Instead, we prefer to put the emphasis on “making food count” through optimal intake of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients).
Instead of restricting calories or portions, you’ll find our clean eating meal plan recommends changing the proportion of the dinner plate to emphasize unrefined plant-based whole foods and deemphasize animal foods. In a “Clean Cuisine” recipe, foods such as meat and chicken are used more as condiments and flavor-enhancers rather than taking center stage at the dinner plate. And we incorporate a LOT of fruit and vegetables. For example, in our Clean Cuisine Cookbook, every single recipe sneaks in a fruit, vegetable or superfood. These subtle changes to our clean eating recipes and meals do not change the flavor or the enjoyment you’ll get from your meal, but they radically enhance the nutritional profile and help reduce inflammation.
One thing that really sets Clean Cuisine apart from other clean eating diet programs is our understanding of the that fact the only way people are going to get the results they are seeking from changing their diet is if they make a lifetime commitment. Doing a 60 day “cleanse” or detox program and then reverting right back to your old eating habits is not going to give you long-term results. However, a lifetime of clean eating can be daunting if it is overly restrictive or if the food doesn’t actually taste good. And that’s where Clean Cuisine is very different from other “clean eating” programs.
Our primary goal is life-enhancement; we want to enjoy our life maximally in every way possible.
Clean Cuisine is all about eating the absolute best-tasting and most flavorful food. Furthermore, we are strict when and where it counts most and lenient where it doesn’t matter so much. Our approach to clean eating is balanced and we promise eating this way will not decrease the pleasure in your life. And eating Clean Cuisine does not mean adopting a radical way of eating either. In fact, we are not convinced that radical diets are optimal for health either.
For example, we do borrow many cooking techniques and nutrition recommendations from vegan and raw food experts and we enjoy an abundance of vegan and raw food meals in our own diets, but as mentioned above, we are not vegan. The primary reason we are not vegan is that if you dig deep into the nutrition research you realize that people who eat primarily vegan “whole foods” diets but also include a bit of fish, eggs and lean meats are every bit as healthy—if not more so—though those who follow a pure vegan diet. Additionally, we absolutely cannot find any scientific support for eliminating omega-3 rich fish from your diet either. Instead, what the medical research shows is that while it is true vegetarians have fewer heart attacks, less incidence of cancer, less obesity, lower body weights, less high blood pressure, and longer life spans in general, individuals who are not super strict at avoiding animal foods enjoy equally impressive health benefits across the board as long as the bulk of their calories come from whole plant foods with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. In other words, the less radical approach to clean eating seems to not only be the easiest and tastiest approach, but is potentially the healthiest as well.
In short, Clean Cuisine bridges the gap between what we should eat, what tastes good, what is best for our bodies and what is actually doable in the real world. We encourage a sustainable way of eating that is in sync with the needs of our bodies and the environment.
Here’s a little acronym that simplifies our Clean Cuisine philosophy:
In addition to reducing inflammation, Clean Cuisine is also all about boosting nutrition and eating nutrient-dense foods. To understand the concept of nutrient density, it is important to understand the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are the calorie-containing substances that give us energy: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The Nutrition Facts labels you see on food products make it appear as though all carbohydrates, fats and proteins are equal. This is not the case.
There are good, healthful unrefined sources of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and then there are bad, unhealthful and highly processed sources too. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources of carbohydrates and should absolutely be an integral part of any clean eating meal plan. High fructose corn syrup, enriched or all-purpose flour and white rice are all examples of nutrient-poor, pro-inflammatory carbohydrates. Just because an apple might have the same number of calories as a slice of white bread does NOT make the two nutritionally equivalent! Raw nuts, flaxseeds and avocados are all good, anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense sources of fat and should also be included in clean eating recipes and meal plans. On the other hand, vegetable oil, margarine and vegetable shortening are all nutrient poor and pro-inflammatory fats and should be avoided. When it comes to protein, foods like fish, nuts, seeds, beans and “whole” soy (such as tempeh or edamame beans) are nutrient-dense. Isolated soy protein, hot dogs, milk and cheese are all nutrient-poor and pro-inflammatory sources of protein. In short, the best sources of macronutrients are unrefined whole foods, primarily (but not exclusively), from plants.
Keep in mind, the micronutrients in food do not contain calories (energy) and do not directly provide energy, but they do play a tremendous role in optimizing health and even appearance. Micronutrients consist of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Modern diets are highly deficient in micronutrients. Although it is true highly processed modern foods such as enriched flour and most breakfast cereals are often fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals, these man-made versions are not recognized or utilized by your body in the same way as naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals found in whole foods.
In addition, although processed foods may be fortified with a synthetic vitamins and minerals, they are not fortified with all the other good things found in unrefined whole foods, such as antioxidants and phytonutrients. These anti-inflammatory compounds are destroyed during food processing and are not added back. And even if a food does happen to be fortified with an individual isolated phytonutrient, such as a lycopene-fortified beverage, your body does not recognize or utilize the isolated substance in the same manner it would if the phytonutrient had been consumed as part of the whole food. Without question, phytonutrients found in their “whole food” form are superior.
And finally, lets address detox briefly. Clean eating and detox seem to go hand in hand, but a lot of people are confused about what constitutes healthy detox.
Here’s the deal: cleansing, or detoxifying, is a process that occurs naturally and regularly in your body. If you stick to our clean eating meal plans and use our nutrient-dense/ anti-inflammatory recipes, you will be supplying your body with the necessary materials it needs to safely and healthfully detoxify, while also limiting the intake of new toxins.
As mentioned earlier, since animal foods are highest on the food chain, they have the highest concentration of toxins. Keeping animal intake low and choosing the highest quality and cleanest animal foods possible is just one way Clean Cuisine helps keep your body’s toxin burden low. Also, the abundance of chlorophyll-rich greens that we recommend do wonders to enhance detoxification.
We do not support drastic detox methods such as colonics and prolonged fasts because they can be dangerous and because they are not really necessary (Note: Although we don't advocate prolonged fasts, we are big supporters of 12-hour intermittent fasting.)
It is important to keep in mind that nature provides all the nutrients your body needs for safe, gentle and effective detoxification. You simply need to keep toxic food intake at a minimum while simultaneously supplying your body with a steadfast stream of detoxifying phytonutrient-rich clean foods. Once again, we are not supportive of anything that is too radical.
In conclusion, if you are new to clean eating, it should be encouraging to know that a clean eating lifestyle exists that is not only doable and enjoyable, but has been put to the test by our family for 20 years.
clean cuisine books
Here is our selection of cookbooks to help as you make the transition to the clean cuisine lifestyle.
clean cuisine recipes
Clean Cuisine recipes are based on anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense whole food ingredients. We emphasize a plant-rich way of eating and just like we do in our most recent book, The Clean Cuisine Cookbook, we sneak in extra vegetables, fruits and superfoods to as many recipes as possible. And it's good to know we are pretty big on flavor too!
- ALL RECIPES
- Clean Cocktails
- Dips, Sauces and Spreads
- Fish and Seafood
- Side Dishes
- Smoothies and Shakes
- Soups and Chili
My solution to staying fit and strong throughout the years (including postpartum as well as after two major hip surgeries) has been an anti-inflammatory 30-Minute “Full Fitness Fusion” workout system I developed as the companion workout to our Clean Cuisine nutrition book.
The workout is intense enough to get results, but not so intense that it elevates cortisol or overly stresses the body. In fact, the workout was filmed less than 9 months after my last hip surgery (a 7-hour derotational osteotamy to correct a congenital issue called femoral retroversion) and is 100% no-impact.
In addition to yoga, walking and biking "Full Fitness Fusion" is the only type of workout I currently do as it fuses cardio and strength / toning into one super time-efficient 30-minute solution.
With "Full Fitness Fusion" you will move quickly from one exercise to the next and burn fat while simultaneously keeping your heart rate elevated and sculpting lean strong muscles. And one thing is for sure...you won't get bored. Promise!
frequently asked questions
Here is our most frequently asked questions answered just for you! These resources should help you better understand our Clean Cusine lifestyle.
Have questions? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org We would love to hear from you!
Clean Cuisine is an anti-inflammatory way of eating and cooking based on unrefined ingredients with a heavy emphasis on plant foods.
Clean Cuisine is designed to do two things:
• Reduce inflammation
• Optimize nutrition
Keep in mind, unrefined plant foods are also the only source of anti-inflammatory fiber and phytonutrients, two substances that play a key role in overall health (including gut health.)
Our definition of clean eating is a diet based on anti-inflammatory foods packaged in their most natural and nutrient-rich state.
This means you want to choose whole foods that are unadulterated…just the way nature intended. You want to go for corn instead of corn flakes, steel cut oats instead of a granola bar that is “made with oats” (but also made with a bunch of junk like high fructose corn syrup, processed corn oil, etc.) If push came to shove, you would even want to choose whole olives over olive oil.
The closer a food is to its natural state, the healthier it will be.
We shift the focus away from deprivation and introduce a whole new world of cuisine that combines flavor with superior nutrition. It’s a totally different mindset. Instead of saying, “Oh, I can only eat XX amount of carbs or XX number of fat grams,” we want people to say to themselves, “How can I get more fruits and vegetables into my diet? How can I make sure I am getting enough omega-3 fats? Did I eat enough phytonutrients and antioxidants today?” There is no shortage of food on Clean Cuisine! Once you start supplying your body with what it needs you stop craving the junk it doesn't need. Over time your taste buds simply change (yes, really!)
Instead of encouraging people to “count their food” in the form of calories, carbs, fat grams, etc., we want people to learn how to make their food choices count nutritionally. And then we show them how to make their food taste amazing. Tasty food is a very important component of Clean Cuisine!
Ivy Larson is a nutrition, fitness and wellness expert and the creator of Clean Cuisine. She is the founder of CleanCuisine.com and author of four nutrition books including the bestselling Gold Coast Cure (HCI Books, 2005) and Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Program that Will Change the Way You Age, Look & Feel (Penguin-Berkley, 2013) She is also an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health Fitness Specialist and creator of Full Fitness Fusion: The 30 Minute Solution workout DVD. Ivy holds additional professional certifications as a fitness instructor and fitness testing specialist through the Fitness Institute International.
As an All-American Cheerleader, dancer and gymnast, Ivy always had a passion for fitness. Her interest in nutrition was sparked by a diagnosis with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1998 at the age of twenty-two. Along with her husband, Andy Larson, M.D., Ivy developed an anti-inflammatory nutrition program that has kept the symptoms of her disease in remission for over 15 years. Ivy’s “MS diet” has helped thousands of people with all kinds of inflammatory medical conditions improve their health and regain their lives. In 2012 Ivy faced another health calamity when her decade-long hip pain was diagnosed as “Femoral Retroversion”. She underwent a major surgery for a femoral derotational osteotomy and was unable to walk for over six months. But once again, Ivy turned her health mishap into a positive with the development of a no-impact workout system, Full Fitness Fusion, that was filmed just nine months after her surgery and created as a workout anybody can do.
Ivy’s story as well as her expertise in fitness and nutrition has made her a popular figure among top national media outlets; she has appeared on Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN, Martha Stewart Radio, The Montel Show, NBC’s ivillage Live and as a host of nutrition and fitness segments on Lifetime Television. Her recipes, fitness and nutrition advice have been featured in in Time Magazine, US News and World Report, Fitness Magazine, Life & Style, Get Active, Oxygen, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, Star, National Examiner, First for Women, Quick and Simple and many others.
As a mother, Ivy intimately understands the time constraints other working women and mothers face and she aims to make her lifestyle and fitness recommendations as realistic and doable as possible. Her Clean Cuisine recipes, workouts and nutrition advice are especially popular among time-crunched women trying to balance family, fitness, health and work. Ivy lives in North Palm Beach, FL with her husband and their son, Blake.
ANDREW LARSON, MD, FACS, FASMBS
Dr. Larson is a board certified general, laparoscopic, and bariatric surgeon, one of only a couple hundred physicians in the world currently directing an internationally certified “Center of Excellence” program offering weight loss surgery. He serves as part of the affiliate faculty of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Surgery at the JFK Medical Center. Dr. Larson is also an Affiliate Clinical Assistant Professor at the Schmidt College of Biomedical Science at Florida Atlantic University.
Dr. Larson graduated with distinction from Cornell University, where he earned a BS in mechanical engineering. He earned his MD from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, consistently ranked amongst the top five medical schools in North America. Since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine Dr. Larson has trained at some of the nation’s most storied medical institutions including:
Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital
- Philadelphia’s Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
- New York’s prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
- New Jersey’s premier heart hospital, the Newark-Beth Israel Medical Center
- New Jersey’s Monmouth Medical Center, a referral center for minimally invasive surgery
Dr. Larson presently works in Palm Beach County, Florida where he serves as medical director for JFK Medical Center’s Bariatric Wellness and Surgical Institute, a certified “Center of Excellence” facility for weight loss surgery. Dr. Larson is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, the American Medical Association, and the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity. He holds a fellowship in the American College of Surgeons and is the 2013 President of the Palm Beach County Medical Society. Dr. Larson sits on the nutritional advisory board for Barlean’s, a nationally distributed and award-winning manufacturer of nutrition products.
Dr. Larson has published multiple peer-reviewed medical journal articles and presented scientific research at national conferences. Along with his wife, Ivy Larson, he has authored three national top selling books to date in addition to serving as the medical expert for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living: Weight Loss book.
We focus on nutrients! The best way to get the most nutrition is to eat predominantly plant-based foods in their most natural and unrefined “whole” state. This means we want you to go for corn instead of corn flakes or steel cut oats instead of a granola bar that is “made with oats” (but also made with a bunch of junk like high fructose corn syrup, processed corn oil, etc.), we’d rather you eat apples—with their skins on!!—instead of store-bought applesauce. We’d rather you eat “whole” orange juice made with peeled whole oranges rather than commercial pasteurized orange juice. We’d even prefer you eat “whole” olives or “whole” flaxseeds over olive oil or flax oil. The “whole” food is always, always going to have more nutrients per calorie.
Clean Cuisine is an anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich way of eating that places heavy emphasis on getting enough phytonutrient and antioxidant-rich plant foods from unrefined sources (all fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, unrefined whole grains, beans, legumes, etc.) Omega-3 rich seafood is also strongly encouraged.
We also include small amounts of quality organic and pasture-raised beef, pastured organic eggs and pastured organic chicken into the Clean Cuisine lifestyle.
As a deliciously decadent alternative to milk, we introduce nut milks and nut creams such as cashew nut milk, pecan milk, almond milk, hemp milk, etc. Curious as to why we are not big dairy-fans? Check out our article titled “The Top 10 Reasons Milk Does NOT Do a Body Good” HERE. (Note: small amounts of cream are allowed in coffee though and a very small amount of organic cheese from grass-fed cows is acceptable as a “condiment”.)
Discover clean eating recipes for kids, eating whole foods, and clean eating for the entire family! Check out a few of Clean Cuisine's healthy breakfast ideas for kids as well as whole foods recipes.
Our son, Blake (in the photo above), was born in 2001 and has been raised on our anti-inflammatory whole foods style diet ever since he was weaned. He has enjoyed incredible health his entire life and has only needed to be given antibiotics once (for an ear infection after swimming in a murky pond.) We attribute Blake’s vibrant good health to his incredibly nutrient-rich, clean diet.
Not only does Blake eat clean, he enjoys cooking Clean Cuisine and has contributed to a good number of recipes on this website. See below for some of his favorite Clean Cuisine recipes.
A Few Sample Clean Eating Recipes for Kids
Clean Cuisine works for weight loss in a number of synergistic and overlapping ways:
- It’s rich in the nutrients your body needs to support a healthy metabolism and curb food cravings. Your body needs certain nutrients such as essential fats, B-vitamins, calcium, chromium, vitamin C, antioxidants and plant-based phytonutrients to support fat-burning and to “cure” food cravings. A low calorie, nutrient-poor diet will slow your metabolism and result in out-of-control food cravings.
- A Clean Cuisine plant-strong “whole foods” diet takes up a lot of bulk and space in your stomach because it is rich in both fiber and water, thus it works mechanically so you actually feel full on fewer calories. Clean Cuisine foods are also slowly digested, so they help keep you feeling full longer. One of the biggest differences people notice eating Clean Cuisine is that they don’t need to snack between meals (FYI: We aren’t big fans of snacking! We would rather people learn to enjoy three solid good meals rather than graze all throughout the day.)
- The foods are anti-inflammatory and any foods that decrease inflammation help your body burn fat. Although Clean Cuisine is not a low-calorie diet, the foods we encourage activate your body’s PPAR (peroxisome proliferator activated receptors) receptors that help your body burn fat for energy as well as improve sensitivity to insulin. When you eat Clean Cuisine you can lose weight without a drastic calorie reduction.
- The foods are slowly digested and keep your blood sugar levels stable while also suppressing insulin, which is your body’s primary fat-storage hormone.
- Clean Cuisine foods are so filling and so satisfying that by default you end up drastically reducing the empty-calorie foods (such as trans fats, sugars, processed flours, refined vegetable oils, etc.) that are known to thwart weight loss, increase insulin resistance and stymie weight loss.
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