Clean eating doesn’t require you to cut out whole food groups (here’s looking at you, Atkins and keto!) or eat during specific hours (hey there, intermittent fasting!). Rather, clean eating is about being mindful of the food you put into your body and choosing foods that are as natural as possible.
Challenges of Clean Eating
While clean eating sounds great in an ideal world, in today’s world, it can be downright challenging, since so many of the foods available at supermarkets are sugary and processed. Things as basic as bread, cheese, chicken, eggs, even vegetables and fruit, can come with varying levels of unnatural ingredients, added sugar, MSG—you get the idea.
Not to mention the frozen foods section—you know, all those delicious, microwave-ready burgers, french fries, and pizzas, all filled with ingredients that you can’t pronounce and which are totally unhealthy. (Except the fruit and veggies.) As you can probably surmise, none of those frozen, processed foods fly with clean eating.
So the burning question is, what foods can you eat if you practice clean eating?
The basis of clean eating is a plant-based diet, and you can spice it up with whole grains, chicken, meat, and even dairy.
Clean eating staples include:
- Vegetables and fruit (fresh and frozen)
- Brown rice
- Beans (raw is best, and canned is okay if it doesn’t have added sugar)
- Whole, organic milk
- Whole, plain yogurt
- Fish, chicken (wild caught and free range, ideally)
- Meat (hormone-free)
And then there are the superfoods...
There are plenty of clean eating superfoods that are rich, tasty, and bursting with flavor. Eat them on their own or use as ingredients for other foods.
- Berries—Delicious on their own or in smoothies and yogurt. Berries are high in fiber, naturally sweet, and the bright colors will add a splash of excitement to any snack or meal.
- Dark leafy greens—Spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, kale, and mustard—there is so much fun to be had with leafy greens! You can eat them raw or cooked, in salads, sandwiches, stir-frys, and more. Plus, they’re loaded with vitamin A, C, calcium, and fiber, so you won’t have a guilty conscience.
- Legumes—Includes kidney, black, red, and garbanzo beans, soybeans, peas, and lentils. Buy them raw and follow cooking instructions (you can even freeze them in batches after they’re cooked). Legumes are great in soups, salads, and on their own, plus, they add a healthy dose of fiber and plant-based protein to your diet.
- Avocado—Eat it with a spoon, as a dip, or even in ice cream. Avocado is super-versatile and rich in nutrients and vitamins. Folic acid, Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, lutein, fiber, and vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B group, to name a few.
But wait, there’s more….
You already knew about kale, beans, and berries, right? It seems like everyone in the world at one point tasted a kale chip in their life, but did you know—there’s another superfood that hasn’t gotten so much attention...yet.
Tahini is one of the best-kept secrets of clean eating. It’s certainly a superfood, as its packed with phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B15, protein and unsaturated fat.
When you have a food that’s filled with so many nutrients and minerals, you’re going to get some serious health benefits with it.
The health benefits of tahini include:
- Liver detoxification
- Promotes healthy cell growth
- Prevents anemia
- Helps maintain healthy skin and muscle tone
- Weight loss assistance
Additional side effects of eating tahini include a serene smile on your face as you enjoy a food that’s delicious, healthy, and versatile.
What Exactly is Tahini?
If you’re not from the Middle East, chances are you didn’t grow up with tahini as part of your diet. Tahini is considered a staple in the Middle East, which makes sense—the Middle Eastern diet has been rated as one of the healthiest diets in the world!
Tahini is made from toasted ground hulled sesame and can be eaten on its own or used as an ingredient in other wholesome foods.
There’s Tahini, and Then There’s Tahini
Just like you can eat natural peanut butter or peanut butter that’s injected with sugar, you can also eat pure, natural tahini, or tahini that’s loaded up with junk. The tahini that’s good for clean eating is raw tahini, or tahini paste—it’s plain and unprocessed, and can be used to create the healthy, tahini-based foods that we know and love (or will love).
For example, to make tahini dip, mix raw tahini with some water, garlic, and lemon juice until it reaches the consistency you want. You can also use it to make salad dressings, hummus, baba ganoush, and halva. (Though I’d stay away from halva, since that’s typically loaded up with sugar.)
Incorporating Tahini into Your Diet
Okay, you’re sold on the health benefits of tahini, but you don’t love the taste. If that’s the case, I recommend not eating it as a dip but using it as an ingredient in other foods.
- Hummus—Looks like tahini, but it’s not. Since it’s made from chickpeas, it has a totally different taste, even though tahini is one of the ingredients.
- Salad dressing—Tahini goes great in lemony salad dressings, which means you can get its health benefits along with all the nutrients that come with your big green leafy salad.
- Baba ganoush—Similar to hummus, except instead of chickpeas, it’s roasted eggplant that’s mixed with tahini. Is your mouth watering yet? A variation on this is an entire broiled eggplant, cut into halves, and drizzled with tahini (similar taste, but looks prettier).
- Desserts! Tahini can be used to make ice cream, protein balls, brownies, and more. Just be careful not to choose a recipe that calls for processed sugar—raw tahini doesn’t cancel out the effects of sugar!
Health Benefits of Clean Eating
Clean eating is a whole food, plant-based diet, and those have been shown to assist with weight loss, heart health, cognitive functioning, and diabetes management—they can even reduce the risk of certain cancers. And while clean eating isn’t totally a plant-based diet (it allows for natural sugars, proteins, and even dairy), there’s no question that cutting out all that unnatural junk can improve your health.
Making Clean Eating Easy with Meal Delivery Kits
Clean eating sounds great, but let’s be honest—it’s hard. And undertaking this way of life involves a big commitment on your part. It’s not just about cutting out all the junk food, but actually taking the time to look at food labels and prepare healthy meals.
If you want to make the lifestyle change to clean eating but are concerned that you won’t have time to go shopping or prepare meals, there are plenty of meal delivery services that cater to clean eating diets. Sun Basket, HelloFresh, Sakara and others offer a variety of meal plans to suit your clean eating choices. Their menu plans include plenty of clean eating superfoods, along with tahini, and frankly, they’re delicious!
But perhaps most important is that these services make it easy to stick with clean eating; as opposed to going shopping, coming up with recipes yourself, and cooking, you can get your meals/kits delivered to you.
If you’re considering clean eating but are daunted by all the effort it involves, meal delivery services can be just the thing to get you going down the right path.