Farmer’s markets are in full swing, Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs are delivering hefty jackpots nationwide, and more and more supermarkets are making it a point to highlight their local produce. Wherever you are, it’s a great time to load up on fruits and veggies and eat clean.
The terms clean eating and eating clean are all over Instagram and Pinterest, and for good reason. This is the perfect time of year to experiment with clean eating thanks to simple summer recipes and lighter fare that can be easily prepared. Plus, thanks to the season’s bounty of produce, there are so many options!
Early in the year, we promised to share a new intention that we on the Modern Kids Design Team set each month. This month it is clean eating, so here goes...
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is all about cutting out processed foods. While some proponents do so as a way to improve their health and physical fitness, others eat clean as a way to appreciate foods in their more natural state. Essentially, the goal is to skip the preservatives and additives from that frozen chicken dinner for example and focus on making a healthy alternative at home with fresh ingredients.
Now, not all processing is bad. For example, fresh fruit is great, however, fruit frozen and packaged while fresh can be a good alternative. It’s important to note that there are various levels of processing. A diet soda and a smoothie are both technically processed, however, as we all know, one is generally healthier.
Those who eat 100% clean generally eat a diet free of additives, preservatives, refined foods, and manufactured foods. While it’s great to strive for this, we understand that not everyone can commit to eating clean all the time and believe it’s just as important to cut back on processed foods as it is to eliminate them completely. As busy parents, it can be difficult to not only get the whole family on board but to also prepare nightly meals that adhere to “clean eating” guidelines. Rather than being a stickler though, it may be more important to follow the intent and slowly reduce processed foods to ensure sustainability. Going cold turkey is hard enough for one person; it can be even harder for a family to do!
4 Tips for Eating Clean
Stick to the “outside” of the supermarket: Most produce, meat, and dairy are along the outside edges of the supermarket. While some healthy grains and nuts party in the bulk foods aisle and international sections, consider limiting visits to other aisles. If you’re feeling the need to grab a box (or two) of cookies, consider making some “clean” treats instead. Even if you make chocolate chip cookies from scratch (without a “clean” or “paleo” recipe), they’ll still be healthier (and tastier) than anything in the store. Focus on real ingredients like unbleached flour and raw sugar. We even made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and replaced the butter with organic virgin coconut oil and it was amazing (and flavorful beyond belief without being overpowering). We realized afterwards that if we had substituted the milk for almond milk, it would have been vegan. :-)
Put your detective hat on: Deciphering labels is getting trickier but it is very important. Additives like corn syrup hide under many names. If you’re buying packaged foods, read the ingredients and make sure you’re satisfied before placing the item in your cart. Clean foods include fruits and veggies, farm-fresh eggs, legumes, nuts as well as minimally processed foods such as whole grains, quinoa, oils, meats, and hormone-free dairy.
Plan ahead: Meal planning can make it easier to get food on the table. Having a plan in place reduces the chances that you’ll order something that’s tasty but less than ideal or opt for that frozen dinner.
Do it again: As with every intention, a habit is built by continued effort. Every day you eat clean is a victory and every day you get back on the horse after some processed treats is a victory as well. The goal is not perfection, it is finding a sustainable way of eating that keeps you happy and healthy.
Do you eat clean? If so, we’d love to know what you’re cooking! As always, feel free to reach out and less us know what you think and what you’d like to read about at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!