Sooo, it’s *finally* spring, and with the change of season comes a whole new lease on life, which could mean spending more time outside, doing a little organizing (and purging) around the house or spring cleaning your eating routine. Since it can be hard to switch gears after a winter full of hearty stews and roasts, we chatted with holistic nutritionist Haley Whitley and natural chef Claudine Dagit for tips and tricks for eating clean. As co-founders of the 10 Day Health Challenge, they’re all about inspiring and balancing whole-food nutrition and mindful living. Their seasonal challenges show how easy, budget-friendly and delicious a whole-food diet can be. We really dig that their foodie philosophy is NOT a fad diet. Instead, it’s all about seasonal produce, hearty grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Clean eating is a lifestyle change rather than a diet. “After you make the switch to eating whole, unprocessed foods, you feel the benefits as it starts to improve your mood, energy level and metabolism for the better,” says Claudine. Who wouldn’t want that?
What Is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is a buzz phrase tossed around health-food circles a lot, and it can mean different things to different people. Whether you’re vegan, paleo or plain ol’ omnivore, there is an approach for everyone. It all boils down to not eating processed foods, which are “full of refined sugar, soy and tons of other ingredients that have zero nutritional value,” says Haley. The goal is to eat homemade, nutrient-rich foods that help you feel like your best self, energized and fulfilled. And while they appreciate a good juice cleanse, they’ve found that a 10 Day Health Challenge can kickstart healthy eating habits and help you get your exercise in. Instead of sucking down juice all day, you’ll be filling up on “lots of seasonal veggies, some fruit, whole grains, lean protein like chicken and fish, healthy fats like avocados and nuts and lots and lots of leafy greens. It’ll keep you full and feeling great,” Haley explains. Whether you are ready to begin your spring cleanse (their next one starts March 30!) or are just looking to eat clean in your own way, these tips — and three recipes — will help you get there!
Tip #1: Eat Seasonally
Eating seasonally is not only great for your local farmer, but it is tastier and more nutritious. “Nature is clever like that. It makes vitamins and minerals in food most abundant when ripe,” Haley says. Some of her fave spring fruits and veggies include cherries, oranges, plums, leafy greens, asparagus, avocado, fava beans and artichokes. Claudine adds, “Spring cooking is characterized by lighter cooking methods (steaming, lightly sauteeing or eating raw) and more fresh foods, which help us harmonize with the energy of the season.” It’s a time when fruits and veggies take on a whole new taste, texture, smell and color.
Tip #2: Eat Often
Still eating three meals a day? Cut that out! If you want to keep your metabolism going strong and running smoothly, it’s important to have four to five small meals a day. “With weekly meal prep and delicious seasonal ingredients, you can do just that,” says Claudine. Their go-to meal this season is a super salad consisting of greens, a cooked grain (quinoa, couscous, whatever!), avocado, nuts, cheese and a lemon vinaigrette. They also suggesting starting the day with a hearty breakfast of egg muffins or homemade cashew cream yogurt and a light dinner of roasted veggies and fish or a veggie-packed stir-fry. With these anchor meals, you can feel good about munching beyond morning, noon and night.
Tip #3: Eat for Your Lifestyle
The most important thing to remember is that if you are hungry — EAT. Haley and Claudine always tell clients to listen to their bodies and treat them well with whole, nutrient-rich foods. If you are a nurse or teacher working 10 hours per day or more on your feet, make sure you have plenty of pre-made, protein-rich, filling snacks available to avoid that post-work binge eating. If you work a desk job, have snacks full of fruits, veggies and nuts, but not so many that you are mindlessly chomping all day. “It is important to accommodate your diet to your lifestyle. If you don’t, you will find yourself mindlessly eating or, even worse, binging,” says Haley. Evaluate your diet for you and only you.
Tip #4: Ch-EAT-ing Is Okay
Everyone has a cheat meal (or day). And that’s okay. “It is important to not put too much pressure on yourself during a cleanse or just when you are trying to eat mostly clean,” says Claudine. We all know it’s hard, especially with the numerous social engagements that warmer months bring. It’s hard not to indulge in a cocktail or two or chow down on some delicious BBQ. So what should you do if you fall off of the clean-eating wagon? Just pick yourself back up, get some exercise and get back to it. “If you continually feel the temptation to cheat, use it as an opportunity to evaluate your habits and look deeper into your emotional relationship with food,” says Haley. “It’s not a strict regimen. It’s about working together as a community of healthy, active people who care about health but also want to live life to the fullest.”
Recipes to Make Clean Eating a Reality
This is a great way to get your digestion going in the morning and is also a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up when served over ice.
Ingredients (makes 3 servings):
— ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
— 2 teaspoons raw honey, or more according to taste
— fresh ginger juice
— ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
— ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne (or more if you like it spicy)
— 2 ½ cups water
1. Grate a small knob of ginger (skin and all) and squeeze out ½ teaspoon of ginger. Add to a large mason jar.
2. Raw honey is often rock-hard, so it’s helpful to mix it first with a few tablespoons of hot water to dissolve it. Add it to the jar.
3. Add all the other ingredients to the jar and shake well.
These crackers are delicious, and get even better when you add a dollop of almond butter to the mix for a mid-morning pick-me-up.
Ingredients (makes 40 crackers):
— 1 ½ cup buckwheat flour
— 1 cup almond meal
— ½ teaspoon salt
— ¼ cup hemp hearts
— 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine buckwheat flour, almond meal, salt and hemp hearts. Mix well.
2. Add ¾ cup water and olive oil. Using clean hands, mix well until everything is incorporated. Divide into two balls and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
4. Roll out one ball between two pieces of parchment paper. Place on a cookie sheet and remove the top piece of paper. With a pizza cutter, cut into squares, rectangles or whatever shapes you fancy! Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges turn golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before getting your almond butter on.
Super Salad Collard Wrap
Ready for your afternoon snack that eats more like a meal? Yup, 3pm is never going to be the dreaded hour of the day, and binge snacking after work is officially a thing of the past.
Ingredients (makes 6 wraps):
— 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
— 1 jalapeño
— 1 bell pepper, chopped
— 2 cups shredded cabbage
— ¼ cup cilantro, minced
— ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
— juice and zest of 1 lime
— 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
— ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
— sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
— 6 collards green leaves, washed and dried
1. Wash the jalapeño, cut in half and remove the seeds and pith. Mince finely.
2. Combine everything except the collard greens in a large bowl and toss together.
3. Using a paring knife, cut away the collard stems from the bottom of the leaf. Place the leaves face down and slice off the extra tough middle rib. This will allow the collard leaves to fold more easily when you wrap them up.
4. On the bottom third of each leaf, spread ¼ cup of the super salad mix from the bowl. Starting at the bottom, roll the leaf once over the mixture, fold the sides in and continue to roll the leaf up.
What 10 Day Healthy Challenge recipes are you going to try this week? Are you going to sign up for the next challenge? Let’s talk all things nutritious in the comments below!