Here’s the secret to sticking to a clean diet – make sure you always have something in the house that makes it easy to fix meals and snacks. It’s easy to get tempted by fast food, takeout or even the convenience food section at the grocery store when you’re hungry with no easy to prepare food in the house. Here are some staples you should keep on hand for quick and easy clean meals.
Pantry Items or Dry Goods
Having things like rice, oats and corn meal or grits on hand helps whip up quick and filling side dishes and breakfasts. Keep your pantry stocked with potatoes, onions and garlic and you can whip up some quick dishes with just a few things from the fridge.
We like to keep corn tortillas, tortilla chips and popcorn on hand for quick snacks that aren’t bad for us. And speaking of snacks…nuts, seeds and dried fruit are perfect for snacking and make great additions to oatmeal in the morning. Wrap it up with some seed or nut butters and you’re good to go.
If you’re including whole grain products, keep whole grain flour and pastas on hand in the pantry. You can bake up some quick breads; make homemade bread and other baked goods with the flour. And of course pasta, sauce and some vegetables always make for a quick weeknight dinner.
Eggs and Dairy
Always keep plenty of eggs in the fridge. Go ahead and boil a dozen or so and keep them on hand for easy snacking. Eggs are such a versatile ingredient and they can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Depending on how much dairy you are including in your clean food diet, stock the fridge with butter, raw or whole milk and some Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. We also like to keep a few hard cheeses for quick and easy snacking.
Fruits and Vegetables
Let’s get down to the stuff that makes up the bulk of our diet – fruits and vegetables. Aside from things like carrots and potatoes, there aren’t a lot of shelf stable vegetables out there. Stock up on plenty of frozen and canned vegetables to use whenever you run out of the fresh stuff.
Another great thing to keep on the counter is a growing salad bowl. Lose leaf lettuce is pretty quick and easy to grow. Give it a try for fresh, organic produce from you window sill.
When it comes to fruit, apples are your best bet for shelf stable food. We also like to keep a variety of frozen berries in the freezer for quick smoothies.
Meat and Fish
Let’s wrap this up with a few things from the meat and fish department. Canned tuna is a good option to have on occasion. You can make tuna salad, or add it to pasta sauces or even as a pizza topping. We don’t have it often but it’s a good ingredient to have on hand.
When it comes to meat, you won’t find my freezer without some grass-fed ground beef, ground turkey and a few bags of chicken breast. They are all versatile options when I’m out of fresh meat or can’t find anything decent at the grocery store.
In order to have a healthy body, and to truly be well you need to provide it with nutrition that can be used as cellular fuel to keep the cells from starving and to prevent the consequences of eating non-nutrient rich foods.
In reality, all wellness begins with having a body that functions at its absolute best, and that always starts with good nutritional habits.
Sound nutrition is not difficult to achieve, here are some tips to get you started.
Time the giving of “fuel.” To keep your energy levels up, you need to continually fuel the body throughout the day. This means eating small meals every three hours, this strategy decreases the chances that you’ll eat more food with each meal because your body will continually feel full and you won’t feel starved at any point throughout the day. Each meal should have a protein, complex carb and a healthy fat. If you must skip a meal, the least you can do is to eat a nutritious snack instead.
If you skip meals, there is a greater chance that you’ll feel so hungry you’ll eat too much in one sitting the next time you do have a meal. You’ll probably eat too fast as well so that your brain won’t have a chance to send out a satiety signal telling you to stop eating. If you eat so that you stuff yourself, you will feel more uncomfortable, sluggish, and fatigued. Your body will be energized by eating several small meals per day.
Although most people are aware of the benefits of eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, not everyone knows just how important protein is for your body. Protein is one of the four macronutrients that your body needs on a day-to-day basis (the other three are fats, carbs and water). Protein is essential for our bodies to work properly. The key to replacing meals with clean, green smoothies AND feeling good is to combine protein with healthy fats. This power combo will keep you feeling full and give you the energy you need to make it to your next snack or meal.
Because your body burns protein slower than carbs, protein is important to prevent blood pressure spikes that can not only make you feel weak and dizzy, but can also lead to serious health issues down the road.
Another great benefit of protein is that when your body has enough, it doesn’t have to resort to burning muscle for the energy it needs so your muscles stay strong and toned. That’s why drinking a protein-rich smoothie after a workout is an excellent way of replenishing your body!
Load up on the nonperishable pantry items like beans and brown rice, and restock them as needed. Meats can be bought fresh weekly, or you can buy in bulk and store them in the freeezer. Only fresh fruits and veggies call for a weekly trek to the store based on which recipes you decide to make. Meet your new 10 best friends:
STOCK UP ON THESE OTHER STAPLES......
On your Shelves
Maybe you are broccoli'd out or you're a vegetarian or you ran out of a recipe ingredient. Below are ways to make trades for your favorites with virtually equal calories and nutrients, so you can always keep your taste buds happy, meet your dietary needs and stay on track with your weight management goals.
3 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
= 3/4 cup egg whites
= 3/4 cup cooked or canned beans
= 1 whole egg plus 3 egg whites
= 1 large turkey or chicken sausage
= 3 oz. canned crab, salmon or tuna; fresh fish; ground beef; pork; steak; tofu
1-slice whole-grain bread
= 1/4 cup non-creamy (without tahini) hummus
= 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal
= 1/2 cup cooked beans, corn or peas
= 3/4 cup cooked whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal or quinoa
= 1/2 large potato or 1/2 cup diced potatoes
= 1 whole-grain pita (4 inches)
= 1 whole-grain tortilla (8 inches)
= 1 whole-grain flatbread or waffle
1 tsp. olive oil
= 2 tsp trans-fat-free buttery spread; vegetable oil
1 tbsp seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower
1 tbsp chopped nuts such as almonds, peanuts or pecans
= 1 tbsp creamy (with tahini) hummus
= 1 1/2 tbsp flaxseed
= 2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
= 10 olives
Nut butter Swaps
1 tsp peanut butter
= 1 tsp almond butter; soy nut butter; sunflower butter
= 1 tsp tahini
1 medium orange
= 2 tbsp dried fruit
= 1/2 grapefruit
= 3/4 cup mango pieces
= 1 small banana
= 1 medium apple; pear
= 1 cup berries; cherries
= 1 cup melon pieces
= 2 apricots; kiwifruit
= 3 plums
= 24 grapes
1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked spinach
= 1/4 cup stewed tomatoes or tomato soup; 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
= 1/2 cup chopped nonstarchy vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, tomato or zucchini
= 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw leafy greens such as arugula, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, kale, lettuce or Swiss chard
1 cup skim milk
= 1 oz reduced-fat cheese or 80 calories of any full-fat cheese
= 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
= 1 cup calcium-fortified almond, soy or rice milk
= 1 part-skim string cheese
Andrea Stewart Roa, M.S.
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