10 Clean Eating Recipes for Weeknights

“Clean Eating” expert, Diane Welland, selects simple weeknight recipes from the Cooking Light collection that work for those who are trying to eat clean.


Clean Eating Recipes

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

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates and Orange Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates and Orange

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

Arugula, Grape, and Sunflower Seed Salad Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Arugula, Grape, and Sunflower Seed Salad

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

Tenderloin Steaks with Red Onion Marmalade Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Tenderloin Steaks with Red Onion Marmalade

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

Oven-fried Sweet Potatoes Recipes

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

Oven-fried Sweet Potatoes

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

Carrot Soup with Yogurt Recipes

Photo: Sang An

Carrot Soup with Yogurt

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

Crab Salad-Stuffed Eggs Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Crab Salad-Stuffed Eggs

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

Tuna Scaloppine with Onion, Mint, and Almond Topping Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Tuna Scaloppine with Onion, Mint, and Almond Topping

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

Nutty Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad Recipes

Photo: Randy Mayor

Nutty Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

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

Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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

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