“I eat clean” is the most recent mantra of people trying to lose weight, stay fit, or merely avoid eating processed foods. The term ‘clean eating’ is now synonymous with healthy eating. Most professionals would agree with that statement because of the rules of clean eating. c
Eating clean however, is also perceived by many as mundane and flavorless. People fear dieting and/or eating clean because they think they will be hungry all day, they will have to eat like a rabbit, or what little food they are supposed to eat will taste like cardboard. Processed foods are typically perceived as more flavorful mainly due to the added sugar and salt. For those trying to eat healthier, removing these two main ingredients from daily meals can be a shock. This registered dietitian can promise you that healthy eating does not have to be flavorless and bland. Many of my clients have made the move from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to clean eating and flavor was not sacrificed in order to obtain a healthy waistline.
A fast food burger seems full of flavor because of the fat, sugar, and additives. If we remove all of the ingredients that make us crave this food, we must replace them with excellent flavor-packed options or of course, it will taste awful! The following recipes are quick-and-easy ideas to transition to a healthy eating regime that is packed with flavor but not unnecessary calories. For those of you that have been doing this clean eating thing for a while and are stuck in a taste rut, you will find some new ideas to spice up your routine!
African Spiced Chicken
- 2 Tablespoons Ras el Hanout spice blend
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive or canola oil
- 8 ounces of raw chicken
Mix spice blend with oil to blend. Rub oil mixture onto chicken. Place chicken on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 F for 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 F. Take the foil off the chicken and continue to roast until the top becomes crispy and browned, about 5 more minutes.
Mediterranean Vegetable Dip/Salad Dressing
- 6-8 oz 2% fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Za’atar spice blend
Mix together yogurt and spice blend, then refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend. Enjoy as vegetable dip or add water to thin for a salad dressing.
3 Pepper House Spice
Find 3 types of dried peppers at your local grocery store. Dried peppers seen recently in the bulk section or already ground include allepo, Birdseye, pasilla, ancho, guajillo, morita, and puya.
Add each dried pepper in equal amounts to blender or coffee grinder. Blend to powder.
Tips: Use to add a little heat to any dish. Add to olive oil and vinegar salad mixture to add new element, or sprinkle on air-popped pop corn for a little heat without too much salt.
Herby Garlic Roasted Vegetables
- 1 pound of mixed root vegetables and corn cut into 1” chunks (can include beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery root and kohlrabi and fresh or frozen corn)
- 6 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
- 1/4 cup canola or extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons of salt-free spice mix (such as Chef Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blends or McCormick Grill Mates)
In a large bowl, lightly toss vegetables, garlic, oil and spices together. Place coated vegetables onto a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are just fork tender and the edges are becoming golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Tip: If you are serving meat with the meal, use a different seasoning for the meat so that the meal does not have a ‘one note’ flavor.