“Clean Eating” expert, Diane Welland, selects simple weeknight recipes from the Cooking Light collection that work for those who are trying to eat clean.
Eating clean may sound like an “out there” buzz term, but the basic principles behind this movement are founded on sound nutrition.
Once you get used to it, cooking and eating clean recipes is a snap, even during busy weeknights. To make life easier, plan
your menu ahead of time and keep your pantry stocked with healthy “clean” foods. All of these “clean” dishes come together
in less than an hour and all of them use simple ingredients most people have on hand or can be quickly picked up at the grocery
store. For those strictly following a clean-eating diet, these Cooking Light recipes fit the bill. For those who are just interested in what “clean eating” is all about, see how easy (and delicious)
it can be.
Read More: Clean Eating Principles
Whole grains are standard fare on the clean diet, and quinoa is the best of the bunch. Not only is it high in fiber, 1 cup
cooked gives you 5 grams of fiber, it’s an excellent source of protein, providing all nine essential amino acids and making
it a complete protein. It’s slightly crunchy, nutty taste goes well with many nuts, fruits and vegetables plus it cooks up
quick in just 20 minutes or less.
View Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates and Orange
Super clean salads highlight all kinds of fresh, wholesome, unprocessed foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and
more. This one features spicy arugula, sweet red grapes, and another clean eating staple, sunflower seeds. Seeds and nuts
are a common ingredient in “clean” cooking because they fill you up, provide hard-to-get nutrients like magnesium, zinc, selenium,
and vitamin E, and are chock full of good fats.
When it comes to salad dressings, “clean” dressings are low in fat but still pop with flavor from fresh herbs, zesty spices, or a splash of fruit juice. In this recipe, maple syrup and honey blend with spicy mustard and a dash of vinegar to pack a sassy punch.
View Recipe: Arugula, Grape, and Sunflower Seed Salad
Simple, high quality ingredients are the key to putting nutritious, “clean” meals on the table fast. In this recipe, lean
steaks are quickly broiled, then topped with sweet and sour onions. Beef tenderloin is naturally high in protein and is a
good source of iron, B12, B6, and niacin. Small amounts of protein eaten throughout the day build lean muscle mass, promote
satiety, and keep blood glucose levels stable so you don’t feel sluggish. Pair with steamed green beans and smashed potatoes
for a family-pleased meal you can feel good about.
View Recipe: Tenderloin Steaks with Red Onion Marmalade
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene (pre-Vitamin A), Vitamin C, and potassium, not to mention fiber and complex carbohydrates,
making them a better choice than white potatoes in most cases. They regularly appear on clean menus alongside lean proteins
like chicken, pork, and fish. Oven-frying cuts the fat and calories from these potatoes while still giving you a crisp, tender
product. And making them yourself (as opposed to out of a frozen food bag) ensures you’re using unprocessed ingredients.
View Recipe: Oven-fried Sweet Potatoes
Nutritious, delicious, and comforting, soups are a clean eating mainstay when prepared from fresh ingredients. Vegetable purees
in particular are a great way to enjoy fresh-tasting creamy soups without relying on heavy cream and butter for flavor. In
this recipe, the addition of a dollop of tart yogurt at the end makes a good contrast to the sweetness of the carrots and
gives a smooth velvety richness to the soup.
View Recipe: Carrot Soup with Yogurt
Eggs offer high-quality protein at a low price. To keep calories at bay, make omelets, frittatas, and baked dishes with egg
whites rather than yolks (a good ratio is two whites for every one yolk), but when it comes to quick meals or snacks a plain,
a hard-cooked egg is hard to beat. This recipe takes it one step further by combining the yolk with crabmeat, yogurt, and
mustard. A chilled raw radish salad completes the dish.
View Recipe: Crab Salad-Stuffed Eggs
Health experts recommend two or three servings of a variety of seafood a week, but many “clean” eaters eat even more than
that. Oily fish like tuna have the extra benefit of supplying good fats like the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. These healthy fats
reduce your risk of heart disease, enhance your immune system, and lower blood pressure. In this recipe thin tuna steaks are
topped with a mixture of onions, mint, and heart-healthy almonds.
View Recipe: Tuna Scaloppine with Onion, Mint, and Almond Topping
Sometimes all it takes to “clean up” a recipe are a few simple changes such as substituting olive oil for butter or using
fresh fruits or vegetables instead of canned. In this case, the regular “white” breadcrumbs can easily be replaced by whole
wheat or whole grain breadcrumbs.
View Recipe: Nutty Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad
Used sparingly, naturally high-fat foods like sharp cheeses and salty condiments can boost flavor without going overboard.
Here lean low-fat chicken breasts are stuffed with a combination of roasted red pepper, feta, and kalamata olives. The small
amount of filling kicks the chicken up a notch, but still keeps calories, fat, and sodium in check. If you don’t want to grill,
sauté the chicken instead. Serve with quinoa or whole wheat couscous and steamed green beans.
View Recipe: Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts