25 Clean Eating Recipes for Weeknights
25 Clean Eating Recipes for Weeknights
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.
Broiled Flat Iron Steak With Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
This one-pan meal is a crowd-pleaser and testament to how 4 ingredients can come together to form a supremely satisfying dish, ready in a flash. We broil the steak over the veggies so the meat juices baste them as they cook. Choose multifaceted flat iron steak. Butchered from the shoulder (chuck), it gives you the best of both beefy worlds: One end of the cut is tender and mild, while the opposite end has sirloin-like chew and deep, mineral flavor.
Seared Tuna with Shaved Vegetable Salad
Shaving raw root veggies into a side-dish salad is a fantastic approach. They're ready in just a few minutes, their earthy flavors stay vibrant, and a simple vinaigrette tenderizes them while retaining some crunch. Toss the salad with ample vinaigrette, which does double duty: It lightly softens and "cooks" the raw veggies, and its tangy, zesty flavor complements the meaty tuna so that the fish doesn't need a sauce of its own.
Southwestern Sweet Potato and Egg Hash
If pizza, salad, or pasta is your go-to solution for meatless dinners, switch it up and try a vegetable hash instead. Traditional hashes are often tossed together from various leftovers found languishing in the fridge, but we're bringing them back as stars of the dinner table, and for great reason. Here, a beautiful poached egg tops a bowl of hearty, fibrous vegetables to create a balanced vegetarian meal in a flash. Feeling the need for extra protein? Add an extra egg to your serving. Meatless meals have never been easier, or more colorful!
Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Onions
Use a stainless steel pan instead of a nonstick here, if possible. A stainless surface will better collect fond (also known as browned bits) from the pork, which is then deglazed to lend rich flavor to the mushrooms and onions as they cook. Cook pork tenderloin on the stovetop instead of oven-roasting it; this gives it a delicious brown crust. Medium heat is key: It browns the pork without burning or toughening the surface before the middle reaches the right temp.
Pork Chops with Orange-Avocado Salsa
It’s easy to cook healthier meals when recipes are as simple as this one-pan dinner. The pork marinates while the potatoes and veggies roast, then everything takes a quick trip under the broiler to crisp up and concentrate the zesty flavors.
Roasted 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. Here, a sprinkling of grated orange peel adds a zesty note. Look for long, thin sweet potatoes; they make better oven fries than shorter, more squat ones.
Classic Deviled 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. These simple and classy deviled eggs make a great clean-eating appetizer for your next party, and the leftovers make delicious additions to your morning-after brunch
Fig and Arugula Salad With Walnuts and Goat Cheese
Super clean salads highlight all kinds of fresh, wholesome, unprocessed foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and more. Chickpeas, goat cheese, and walnuts pump up the protein in this arugula salad, making it a hearty meatless main. Dried figs add a big fiber boost—more per serving than any other fruit. Nuts (and seeds too) 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, honey blends with a dash of balsamic vinegar to pack a tangy-sweet punch.
Pan-Seared Shrimp With Rosemary Spaghetti Squash
Shrimp is an often-neglected protein, but it need not be. It cooks quickly, is versatile, and doesn't require ample prep or marinating time. For a faster option, you can use an equal amount of raw zucchini noodles or ribbons in place of the spaghetti squash. For a heartier dinner, serve with 1 cup steamed green beans.
Quinoa-Arugula Bowl With Peaches and Avocado
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. This five-minute salad offers a range of flavors and textures: earthy quinoa, spicy arugula, crunchy walnuts, salty cheese, and sweet peaches drizzled with tangy vinaigrette. It’s also quick to make and easily portable.
Tahini-Carrot Soup with Pistachios
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. Here, a hint of toasted sesame oil lends depth to this velvety soup. Use real baby carrots, not the whittled-down packaged ones, which are lacking in flavor. Garnish with sautéed carrot strips.
Lentil Salad With Beets and Spinach
Mild and healthy, spinach is the perfect base to many meals and allows bold flavors to seep in and soak the leaves. Precooked lentils make this healthy lunch come together in 10 minutes (or less!). You can also roast the beets ahead of time—look for the golden variety in grocery stores. They're much less messy than red beets, which can stain your hands and your cutting board.
Tahini-Dressed Chicken With Squash and Kale
The chicken and squash soak up all the flavors in this dish from the garlic, ginger, and the lemony tahini sauce; the rice is there to make sure no sauce gets left on the plate. You can purchase pre-chopped butternut squash in the produce section of the supermarket. Curly kale works well in place of Tuscan.
Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs With Orzo
This Mediterranean-style grilling recipe comes together in 45 minutes, and it's packed with fiber and protein. This eight-ingredient dish (plus salt and pepper) delivers big taste with minimal fuss. If you're pressed for time, cut the marinating back to 15 minutes--lemon flavor will still come through.
A whole-grain protein bowl is the perfect solution for when lunch needs to be quick—as well as tasty, filling, and healthy. Cook quinoa ahead of time (or buy precooked, available in pouches near the rice). To complete the lunch, serve with 1/2 cup steamed green beans as shown. Dairy-free option: Use 2 teaspoons toasted chopped walnuts instead of feta cheese.
Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Chicken and Farro
Capturing the simplicity found in sun-drenched Mediterranean cuisine, these chicken thighs hold up nicely in the slow cooker, surrendering rich juices that make this fiber-packed farro extra-satisfying. Castelvetrano olives are bright green and buttery; look for them at your grocery’s olive bar. Having trouble finding pearled farro? Pick some up here.
Beef Tenderloin With Madeira-Dijon Sauce
Simple, high quality ingredients are the key to putting nutritious, “clean” meals on the table fast. 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. Ask your butcher for the Chateaubriand cut, which is an evenly sized portion taken from the heart of the tenderloin. Serve it with our recipe for a simple Roasted Broccolini, pictured above.
Tuna Niçoise Whole-Grain Bowls
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. Here, we combined the classic Niçoise combo of haricots verts, potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, tuna, and olives with whole-grain rye berries, which have a nutty, faintly peppery-tangy flavor. If you can’t find them, use farro or wheat berries.
Sesame Shrimp With Ginger Broccoli
Sesame shrimp is usually a dish that’s been fried and coated in a sticky-sweet sauce. Here we incorporate sesame seeds into a light, supercrisp panko coating. Brown sugar and Sriracha go into the egg white used in the breading—a brilliant way to achieve big flavor in little time and with less added sugar. We love a bit of crisp-tender stem with the broccoli, though you can save on prep by using two (12-ounce) packages of fresh broccoli florets instead.
Crispy Salmon Salad With Roasted Butternut Squash
Small touches like the charred lemon vinaigrette and tart pomegranate arils elevate this speedy salad into a showstopping main dish. Preheat your sheet pan to get a jump-start on cooking the squash and onions.
Coffee-Rubbed Steak with Brussels Sprouts Salad
This super fast weeknight meal comes together in 20 minutes, but is elegant enough to impress a date, or wow a family. The blue cheese and honey give the salad plenty of depth and flavor, and the coffee adds an unbeatable richness to the steak. (Don't worry. It's not enough to keep anyone up.) And it all comes together at just 427 calories per serving! Serve this company-worthy entrée with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans, and pour a bottle of cabernet sauvignon.
Farro Burrito Bowls
This colorful grain bowl is a great make-ahead option for lunches or warm summer evenings. To cook the farro, simmer 1 cup uncooked unpearled farro in about 6 cups water for 25 minutes or until slightly chewy, and then drain, cool, and refrigerate. The bowls are delicious at room temperature, but you can also heat the beans with a splash of chicken stock and reheat the vegetables in a sauté pan with 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil. Cold eggs are best for soft-boiling so the yolk stays slightly runny after the whites are set. Add straight from the refrigerator once the water starts to boil.