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Quick Ideas for Clean Eating

Updated on May 13, 2014

What Are You Eating?

Recently, I embarked on a 21-Day clean eating and exercise challenge. I learned a lot about myself and my diet, like I wasn't eating as many vegetables as I thought. I was surprised to find out in the process that people were interested in what I was eating, so I started posting photos of my meals on Facebook. Then, people began asking for recipes. This blew me away, since I have never styled myself as a cook. My husband has always been the creative chef of the family. I realized there are a lot of us out there who would like to cook and eat healthier but don't particularly love to cook and don't know where to start. These are some tips, shortcuts, and recipes I've gathered to help you get started cooking fresher, healthier meals with plenty of time left over for the rest of your life. Oh, and they taste really good, too.

Spruce Up Your Green Salad

Salad with hard boiled eggs and a side of homemade dijon vinaigrette
Salad with hard boiled eggs and a side of homemade dijon vinaigrette | Source

Hard Boiling Eggs

  1. Put eggs in pan.
  2. Fill pan with water until it just covers the eggs.
  3. Put on high heat, cover, and heat to a full boil.
  4. Upon boiling, remove from heat and let eggs sit in water for ten minutes.
  5. Remove and let eggs fully cool on their own or put them in an ice bath.

The Classic Salad

Salads have long been billed as healthy, and they still are, especially if topped with a good serving of lean protein. In the salad at right:

  • 1 cup organic baby spinach
  • diced white onion
  • sliced yellow and red peppers
  • sliced baby carrots
  • two diced hard-boiled eggs

Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic (I use the pre-chopped jar kind)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Add all ingredients except olive oil and stir or shake well.
  2. Add olive oil and stir or shake well again.
  3. This makes multiple servings and can be refrigerated for later.


Steak and Mango Salad

The flavors of lean steak and sweet mango compliment each other beautifully.
The flavors of lean steak and sweet mango compliment each other beautifully. | Source

Steak and Mango Salad

I ate this for lunch one day and loved it, like I'd pay for it at a restaurant loved it. It's a scrumptious thing to do with leftover steak.

  • Lean steak (sirloin or Kobe beef, for a treat) cooked medium/medium rare and spiced with black pepper and garlic
  • Mixed salad greens - baby spinach and kale
  • snap peas cut in half
  • chopped white onion
  • sliced red pepper
  • cubed mango (1/4-1/2 large mango)
  • Top with your choice of dressing. The dijon vinaigrette above works great with it.

How To Cut Up a Mango

Shrimp Stir-Fry

Stir fry is a great way to incorporate varied nutrients into one delicious bowl.
Stir fry is a great way to incorporate varied nutrients into one delicious bowl. | Source

Shrimp Stir-Fry

This one's a little more complex than the salads above. It's a good dinner recipe and does well leftover in the fridge for a day or two, as well.

  • 1 lb. peeled, deveined raw shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • McCormick salt-free garlic and herb to taste
  • 2 tsp shredded ginger root
  • 1 large crown of broccoli, chopped
  • 10-12 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped snap peas
  • 1/4 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 large bell pepper (any color) chopped

Directions

  1. Put shrimp and olive oil in a large skillet or wok.
  2. Season with lime juice, garlic, ginger root, salt, pepper, and garlic & herb (Add red pepper flakes for a kick.)
  3. Heat on high, stirring frequently until shrimp is just opaque.
  4. Remove the shrimp from the pan and add all your veggies to the pan.
  5. Stir fry vegetables on high heat until onion begins to look translucent.
  6. Add shrimp back in and stir fry for an additional 2-5 minutes.
  7. Serve over brown rice.

Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Avocados are good with just about everything!
Avocados are good with just about everything! | Source

Tilapia, Asparagus and Avocado

This is one of my favorite quick dinners.

Tilapia

  • 2-4 tilapia fillets
  • McCormick's salt-free garlic and herb to taste
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped, or 4 tsp pre-chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • Fresh, pre-made mango salsa purchased in the produce section of HEB (Feel free to make it yourself if you're ambitious.)
  • 1/4 large avocado per fillet
  1. Put tilapia in a foil-lined baking dish.
  2. Season with olive oil, garlic & herb, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and lime juice
  3. Bake in top third of your oven at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Fillets are done when they flake when pressed with a fork.
  4. Top with mango salsa and a side of avocado to serve.

Asparagus

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • lemon juice
  • sea salt, black pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  1. Chop large ends off asparagus.
  2. Place them in a large, flat pan.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with other ingredients to taste. Go light on the lemon juice.
  4. Cook on high heat, turning frequently for approximately five minutes.

Greek Yogurt and Cereal

This breakfast is quick to put together, tasty, and filling.
This breakfast is quick to put together, tasty, and filling. | Source

Tips to Speed Up Prep Time

  • Pre-cook steak, chicken, and/or pork on the grill Sunday night to cut up for salads for the week ahead.
  • Buy already cut-up vegetables.
  • Cook more than you need for one meal - leftovers are great!

Breakfast and Snack Ideas

Quinoa and Eggs

This is a favorite of mine, because it contains a lot of protein, is tasty, and keeps me full. I like to cook a pot of quinoa and save it to reheat quickly in the morning:

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (reheat with a tsp coconut oil)
  • 2 scrambled eggs, seasoned with sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 an avocado chopped

Greek Yogurt and Cereal

  • 6 oz. plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 - 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup Plant Strong cereal (or other low-sugar, whole grain cereal)

Peanut Butter Banana Taco

  • whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 tsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/2 small banana, sliced

Spread the peanut butter on the tortilla, sprinkle with coconut, add banana slices, and roll - great on-the-go snack!

Crudités

This is a fancy way to say cut-up veggies with dipping sauce. Here are some good dippers:

  • Sliced bell-pepper, any color
  • baby carrots
  • snap peas (My kids love the sound of snapping them in half.)
  • celery
  • raw broccoli
  • cauliflower

Sauces:

  • hummus
  • salsa
  • plain greek yogurt (good substitute for sour cream)
  • vinaigrette dressing
  • guacamole
  • ranch dressing (not because it's good for you, but because my kids will eat almost anything dipped in ranch.)

A Few Choice Ingredients

Keep good spices and flavors in stock.
Keep good spices and flavors in stock. | Source

Stock Your Kitchen

It's a whole lot easier to cook healthily when you have the right ingredients at your fingertips. You probably notice these recipes have a lot of ingredients in common, because those are the things I keep in my kitchen. Here are a few things we keep in stock:

  • McCormick's salt-free garlic and herb seasoning
  • Coarse-ground black pepper
  • Minced garlic in a jar
  • Lemon and lime juice (It's best fresh-squeezed, but faster if it's in a bottle.)
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Do What You Can Without Going Nuts

In a perfect world, we would all squeeze our lemon juice fresh, just moments before adding it to our homemade salad dressing. We would grow and dry all our own spices for ultimate freshness and flavor. We would spend time chopping, mincing and dicing all the vegetables necessary for a scrumptious stir-fry. If you do, and you enjoy it, I applaud you. For those of us who aren't completely in love with the cooking process, there are short cuts we can take without significantly compromising the health of the meal. So if the difference between you cooking grilled shrimp and not having the time is that you buy shrimp already peeled and deveined, then do it. In my mind, it's worth a few extra bucks to buy pre-cut vegetables on occasion, if it means we'll actually eat them. And if my kids do still eat Kraft mac and cheese sometimes, nobody's going to keel over. With a little bit of preparation, a handful of simple recipes, and a dose of practical short-cuts, though, we can all improve our eating habits.

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Yummy in my tummy!

    • April Garner profile image
      Author

      April Garner 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks, Eric!

    • choosetolive profile image

      Ravi and Swastha 3 years ago from London, Canada

      Awesome information ! Looks so yummy.

    • April Garner profile image
      Author

      April Garner 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks, choosetolive, for reading!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      All these recipes are so wonderful! Delicious at the same time healthy and I am going to try some of them. Since this is mango season, I will try those with mango as an ingredient.

      Thanks for sharing the details and thanks for the follow as well.

      Voted up and pinned!

    • April Garner profile image
      Author

      April Garner 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks, Chitrangada! I'm glad you found it interesting. I love mango!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      I think that eating clean can help one to be healthier and helps you to feel better. I will be trying these recipes sooner rather than later. I especially liked the asparagus, tilapia, and avocado. I love all three of these foods. thank you ! voted up.

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      These are GREAT! Thank you so much for these simple and delicious recipes. I have definitely been trying to eat better and these offer some great ways to do that. I like that they all include protein - I've noticed that when I try to eat just veggies and grains I end up too hungry too soon, but if I include some protein I feel full for a long time.

    • April Garner profile image
      Author

      April Garner 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thank you, torrilynn and twoseven. Yes, adding protein helps a lot. I've noticed when I snack on carbs I don't stay full nearly as long.

    • kumarlaltu profile image

      Biswajit Patnaik 2 years ago from Bhubaneswar

      Utterly butterly delicious,very nice and informative post.

    • April Garner profile image
      Author

      April Garner 2 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Kumarlaltu, thank you!

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