Expert Tips, Tricks And Recipes For Clean Eating In The New Year
by Patty McGee, RN, BSN Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Story and photos by Patty McGee
The new year is all about resolutions and new beginnings. The year 2020 is an exciting time here in the Capital Region: Everywhere you look, people are making healthier choices and eating cleaner. And that is not an accident: Research shows that eating a clean, healthy diet prevents chronic and autoimmune diseases, saves money and decreases stress and inflammation. Clean eating has also been proven to help people safely lose weight and keep it off forever. Eating clean is about changing your lifestyle from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to eating real, whole foods.
Changing how you eat and feed your family can be overwhelming, so I’m offering some of the best tips and tricks to enjoy a healthy new year, along with some delicious, clean recipes to help you get started and make your New Year’s resolution a sustainable reality.
Cook Your Own Food: Home cooking, meal planning and meal prepping are great ways to get started with your 2020 New Year’s resolutions to eat clean and healthy.
Kitchen Cleanout: Throw out foods that have expired and don’t have clean ingredients. Donate cans, jars and boxes of processed food, if they havn’t expired or been opened.
Organize And Declutter: Overstocked and disorganized refrigerators, pantries, drawers, cabinets and countertops make preparing meals overwhelming. Being organized helps you prepare meals quicker and makes them more fun.
Pull Out Appliances: A food processor makes meal prep quick and easy. Use it to slice, chop or grate foods to make delicious, healthy stir fries, salads and soups. A good blender will help you produce satisfying smoothies, sauces, nut butters and bowls. The list of options is endless.
Plan Ahead: Plan meals for the week, make a shopping list, buy what’s in season (and grown locally) and know your budget before you go shopping. There are some great apps out there that will make this easier, but an old‐fashioned notebook and pencil will do the trick, too.
No Labels: Reading food labels can be confusing, so take the guesswork out of it to ensure you’re eating clean and purchasing real whole foods with no labels. Create your own cereals, soups, sauces, dressings, nut butters, jellies, bars, desserts and even crackers using real ingredients. Pinterest is your friend when it comes to recipes.
Weekly Meal Prep: Prepare vegetables, fruits, grains and lean protein once a week and enjoy delicious, healthy, stress‐free meals. In mere minutes, bake, roast, sauté and grill meals for the week ahead, so you can get on with your other resolutions such as exercising and spending more quality time with your friends and family.
Quick And Easy: Use recipes that call for only one pot, skillet or sheet pan, so that you can prepare delicious healthy meals making cleanup quick and easy. Google one‐skillet meals and enjoy.
Cook Once, Eat Twice: Double the recipe and use the leftovers the next day or freeze them and enjoy them at a later time. Homemade food as leftovers always tastes better for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.
Use Clear Glass: Multi‐size glass storage bowls and lidded jars that store dry and cooked ingredients make staying organized and cooking at home a breeze. Glass containers can be used in the pantry, refrigerator, oven, microwave and dishwasher, then put back on the shelf for next time. Neither option harms the environment. However, lids should not be microwaved or washed in the dishwasher, so that they last for a longer period of time.
Quick Cleanup: Cleaning as you prep and cook meals makes this part of healthy eating more manageable and easier at the end of the day. This is where you can ask for help from your friends and family.
Vegetarian and Gluten-Free:Winter Wellness Bowls
½ cup of uncooked brown rice
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of arugula
½ cup of chickpeas
½ cup of finely chopped red cabbage
½ cup of finely chopped raw carrots
½ cup of finely chopped raw beets
½ cup of finely chopped chives
2 Tbsp of your favorite roasted nuts, chopped
3 cups of vegetable broth
• Place the uncooked rice in a medium pot with one cup of water (or vegetable broth for more flavor).
• Cover and bring water/broth to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
• While the rice is cooking prepare chopped vegetables using the grater blade on your food processor.
• In a separate large mixing bowl, add spinach, arugula, chickpeas, red cabbage, carrots, beets and chives. Mix everything together.
• Now, build your bowl: In two separate medium bowls divide the rice and use it as your base.
• Add mixed vegetables and sprinkle toasted nuts on top.
• Heat the remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth and divide into each bowl.
Time-Saver One-Skillet Meal: Warm Chicken And Vegetable Stir Fry
1/3 cup pineapple juice
3 1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 large garlic minced
1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 cups broccoli florets (cut into bite-size pieces)
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced
1 pound organic boneless chicken breast, cleaned and sliced into thin strips
Instructions for sauce
• In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients and set aside
Instructions for stir fry
• Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
• Cook chicken in skillet, then add the onion and cook until it’s soft and translucent.
• Add Brussels sprouts and cook until soft. Add the broccoli florets and continue to cook until vegetables are tender but still have a bit of a crispiness.
• Add the chickpeas, cashews, sauce and mix together.
• Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes while the sauce thickens and caramelizes.
• Remove from heat and serve.
• Garnish with sliced green onion.