At this point, you’ve probably heard the phrase “clean eating” once or twice (or maybe 10 times!) and maybe you’re starting to think you’re ready to try it out. But there is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be though. Even a few simple changes in your day to day eating habits may lead to a much healthier lifestyle and an overall sense of well-being. Start here by checking out these 5 clean eating recipes for beginners.
5 Clean Eating Recipes for Beginners
One of the main principles of clean eating is to stop eating processed foods and start eating more real food. One of the best ways to know what you’re eating is by cooking your own food, instead of relying on pre-packaged goods.
To get you started, we’ve put together 5 simple clean eating recipes for beginners and added some healthy lifestyle tips along the way. Enjoy it - your body will thank you!
Herbs and Spices
Cleaner eating can start by simply limiting salt and refined sugar and instead opt for herbs and spices that can add flavor while also boosting your health. This shrimp and vegetable paella from Clean Eating uses saffron for a unique taste and gorgeous color, and takes only 20 minutes of prep!
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, trimmed and finely chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice, rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp each sea salt, ground black pepper and smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp crushed saffron threads, optional (TIP: You can purchase whole threads and crush them yourself.)
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 lb small shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- In a medium skillet on medium, heat oil. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Transfer to a 5- to 6-qt slow cooker along with zucchini, tomatoes, broth and rice. Stir in bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, saffron (if using) and turmeric. Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until rice is tender.
- Remove bay leaf. Gently stir in shrimp and peas. Cover and continue to cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes, until shrimp are opaque throughout.
Load Up on Veggies
Finding creative ways to add vegetables to our daily diet is an important part of clean eating, and one of our favorite ways is to swap our bread and tortillas for lettuce cups! Check out these healthy lettuce wraps from 40 Aprons, and feel free to swap out the chicken for your favorite protein, such as ground turkey, beef, tofu, or fish!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1 cup baby bella mushrooms minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground pork or ground chicken
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon Whole30 compliant hot sauce sriracha or sambal oelek if not on Whole30 (or make the homemade sriracha recipe in the notes)
- 8- ounce can water chestnuts diced
- 3 green onions thinly sliced, 1 tablespoon reserved
- 1 head Bibb lettuce leaves gently removed from stem
- sesame seeds
- thinly sliced green onions
- In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat olive oil. When the oil is hot, add onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until beginning to soften, then add mushrooms and cook 3 more minutes, or until onion is translucent and mushrooms are softening. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add ground pork and cook until browned, crumbling with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add carrots and stir until starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup coconut aminos, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, almond butter, ginger, and hot sauce. Whisk until smooth then pour over meat mixture. Stir until combined, then add the chestnuts and green onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Make sauce: whisk together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
When ready to serve, spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf and serve with sauce. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
Get to Know Your Grill
The grill might be one of your best friends when you’re trying to cook your own food, but it’s too hot to be in the kitchen. Another favorite from Clean Eating, these Chicken Panazanella Skewers come together easily and the summery flavors of lemon and basil will help you keep salt to a minimum.
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp sea salt ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 small red onion, quartered and layers separated
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 4 oz baguette, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 3 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste, optional
Prepare marinade: In a shallow, glass container, combine all marinade ingredients. Add chicken and onion and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Remove chicken and onion mixture from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling. Preheat a grill to medium. Thread skewers, starting with 1 piece each chicken, onion, tomato and baguette. Repeat, then finish with 1 cube chicken. Repeat with remaining skewers.
Grill skewers 5 to 6 minutes each side, until chicken is cooked through. Drizzle skewers with balsamic (if using). Serve hot or at room temperature.
Choose Carbs Wisely
Clean eating doesn’t mean dropping the carbs, but it’s important to note that not all carbs are created equal. Choose whole grains and unrefined carbs, such as quinoa, that are packed with nutrients that white rice, bread, and potatoes may lack. Adding quinoa to a salad, like this one from Green Healthy Cooking is a great way to load up on nutrients for a quick weekday lunch or light dinner.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1-1.5 cup broth (vegetable for vegan/vegetarian or chicken for omnivore)
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 2 carrots
- 1 cup cooked broccoli
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon
- sea salt
- 1 Tbsp honey (optional for honey mustard dressing)
- 1 Tbsp mustard (optional for honey mustard dressing)
- 3 Tbsp avocado oil (optional for honey mustard dressing)
Cook quinoa in the pressure cooker: 1 minute high pressure + full natural pressure release 1:1 quinoa to broth ratio
Cook quinoa on the stovetop: 1:1.5 quinoa to broth ratio bring to boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove quinoa from pot and add to a big salad bowl and immediately fluff up with a fork.
Half, pit and peel avocado and cut into cubes and add to quinoa (if not meal prepping - for meal prep refer to blog post above).
Cut up grape tomatoes in 4 or 8 pieces and add to quinoa.
Peel and julienne or grate carrots and wash, dry and finely chop parsley then add to salad.
Add dressing and toss salad.
Simple Dressing: Add juice of 1 lemon, sea salt and pepper to taste.
Honey Mustard Dressing: Add honey, mustard, avocado oil and 1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice to a sealable jar and shake until silky smooth.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
One of our favorite ways to satisfy our sweet tooth without sabotaging our diet is to throw pineapple and stone fruits, such as peaches, on the grill! Heating up the fruit releases the juices and natural sweetness. Finish your fruit off with a sprinkle of cinnamon or drizzle of honey, like this recipe from Bethenny Frankel!
- 3 peaches, pitted and halved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Preheat grill to high
- Cut Peaches in half; remove pits
- Brush cut side of peach halves with olive oil and place on grill, cut side down.
- Grill until golden brown and caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn peach halves over and grill until slightly soft and just warmed through, about 2 minutes longer.
- Remove from grill and drizzle with honey