Last week, my aunt, cousin, and I decided to partake in a “clean eating challenge.” I had found this challenge on Buzzfeed, of all places, when it showed up on my Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago. It is a two-week challenge consisting of a meal plan made up of three meals and two snacks a day. It had initially caught my eye because I am always drawn to creative new ways of preparing healthy meals. Clean eating, for those of you who don’t know, is a diet made up mostly of fruits, vegetables, and vegetable protein. Absolutely no processed foods and very little sugar. It is gluten-free and involves some lean meat and fish. This plan included dairy in the form of goat cheese and yogurt, but many clean eating programs do not encourage dairy. The premise of clean eating is to detoxify your body—cleaning you from the inside out. There will be a future post on clean eating, as I am in the midst of reading up on the research and new recipes behind it. My reason for wanting to follow this challenge was mainly because the recipes all looked delicious. It is a completely doable plan for people with real lives and relies on easy to find ingredients; it even includes a shopping list, and there is minimal cooking on weekdays when most people have less time. I had been holding onto the printout of the plan for three weeks when the three of us finally got around to starting it. We made it through the first week, up until the 4th of July (sorry—not going to do a cleanse on a holiday…). Overall, I really enjoyed the breakfasts and lunches. I liked some aspects of the dinners, but some of them just didn’t leave me feeling very satisfied. I enjoy having a basic plan for dinner but also having the freedom to let inspiration take over. We all decided that we created better dinners on our own. By the end, I often took some creative liberties (they were all considered clean though!) and rearranged/skipped over some of the meals. Cauliflower and lentils for dinner just really were not enough… “Too much mushy brown stuff” as my cousin described it. I definitely recommend trying to eat similarly to this plan though! Even though it was a struggle for me to not eat dessert, I will admit that it always feels better in the long run to eat healthier. If you are exercising a lot, you will need to add more to your meals—either more of the same food or add some more sides to your meal. I was starving and often had to eat a decent sized snack before bed until I started double batches of breakfast, more protein at dinner, and some other additions throughout the day. I did find lots of new breakfast and lunch ideas that I love! I will share some of them here so you don’t have to go scrolling through the Buzzfeed link. This post will only cover breakfasts so that I don’t cram too many good recipes into one post. These are only from week one. I also changed some of them slightly based on what I thought would taste better. I add cinnamon to everything in case you couldn’t tell.
Kale and banana smoothie: Don’t be scared by the kale. I promise you can’t taste with the other ingredients (bananas are magical in smoothies), and now you have secretly eaten a serving of green leafy vegetables.
– one frozen banana (peel before freezing)
– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 1 tbsp almond butter
– 3 cups kale leaves (remove the center rib)
– 1 tsp cinnamon
Simply blend the ingredients until smooth.
Overnight oats with blueberry and chia seeds: For overnight oats, as the name implies, you prepare the oats the night before and let them sit in the refrigerator to soak up the liquid and mix together overnight. No cooking required in the morning and they have a great texture. This is a breakfast that will fill you up until lunch. -1/2 cup rolled oats
-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
-1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (we used vanilla but you can also use plain)
-1 tbsp chia seeds
-1 tsp honey (we didn’t add this since vanilla yogurt is sweet already)
-1/2 cup blueberries
-1 tsp cinnamon
Mix all the ingredients the night before, place in the fridge in an airtight container for 6-24 hours before eating.
Blackberry yogurt parfait: This is incredibly easy. Not much of a recipe, but it’s a great combination of delicious, good-for-you ingredients! The recipe recommends ground flaxseeds, which we did not use. In retrospect, this might have been good advice; toothbrushing and teeth checks in the mirror were definitely required after eating this seedy breakfast.
-1 cup Greek yogurt
-1/2 cup blackberries
-2 tbsp roughly chopped raw almonds -2 tbsp flaxseeds
-1 tsp cinnamon
Layer the first three ingredients, then sprinkle with flaxseeds.
Chia seed pudding with pistachio and mango: Yum! I actually made this one a day early instead eating the omelet that was planned. Like the overnight oats, the chia seeds soak overnight to create a gel-like consistency like a pudding. Don’t worry if it seems very liquid-y the night before as the chia seeds will absorb most of it by the next morning.
-1/2 mango finely diced
-2 tbsp chia seeds
-1/2 cup almond milk
-1 tsp honey
-pinch of salt, 1 tsp cinnamon
-2 tbsp pistachios, chopped
Mix all the ingredients except the pistachios the night before in an airtight container. Place in the fridge 6-24 hours, then sprinkle the pistachios before eating.
Check back soon for some clean lunch ideas!