What is Clean Eating?

What is clean eating

You've probably already seen or heard the term 'clean eating' or 'eating clean.' But what does it mean? What is so great about it? I'd like to clarify what it means for those of you who are wondering and what it's benefits are. Clean eating is not a specific diet, it's a lifestyle choice.

First of all, there are many different definitions of clean eating, depending on what meal regimen one follows and recommends (paleo, raw, vegan, vegetarian, etc). For example, a vegan might say that a clean eating regimen is one that omits all animal products, someone that only eats a raw food diet might say that clean eating is an all raw-food diet, and so forth. I don't believe that one is better than the other, it is just a matter of finding what works for you.

My definition of  'clean eating' is to eliminate all refined and processed foods from your diet. Foods like white sugar, white rice, bleached flour, white flour, and enriched flour all are foods that have been refined in some way. When refined, their nutrients are removed resulting in ingredients that only provide empty calories (calories with no nutritional value) with a blood sugar spike.

A clean eating regimen consists of whole, unrefined foods in their most natural state. These foods are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Pasture-raised eggs and poultry
  • Grass-fed meats
  • Full-fat dairy products

Be sure to read labels when buying things in a package. Just because the box says "whole grain" or " natural" doesn't mean they really are. Read ingredients closely and choose grains that don't have additives. You'd be surprised what's in that box of "whole grain" cereal you love so much, not a whole lot of nutrition. Chicken that is labeled "all natural" is interesting to me. Shouldn't chicken be natural? Sadly it's almost always not the case; instead they are fed antibiotics and hormones. Labels are misleading and most of the time not true.

Talk to the butcher at the grocery store, ask questions, and read the ingredient list. Try buying products that have 5 or less ingredients. And make sure they are ingredients that you can pronounce and that are unrefined. Visit my post on reading labels for more information.

Benefits of a clean eating lifestyle:

  • Weight loss/fat loss
  • Increased energy
  • Better skin and hair
  • Better health
  • Increased mental focus
  • Better sleep
  • Better mood
  • Decreased cravings and sugar addiction

As you can see, eating clean is a great thing. It seems to have become more and more popular these days, when in reality, it has been around for a long time and just now people are starting to realize how important it is to make this lifestyle choice in order to be healthy and happy.

How to transition to a clean eating life:

  • Eat whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats,  and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth)
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water each day
  • Eat 5-6 times a day to reduce cravings and keep blood sugar regulated - include protein in every meal
  • Avoid all processed and unrefined foods (sugar, candy, pastries, white flour, white rice, bread, cereals, packaged goods, etc.)
  • Avoid beverages that are packed with sugar (soda, juice, Gatorade, energy drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks)
  • Avoid trans fats

Clean eating is the lifestyle choice I made and what I preach every single day. I have never been happier and felt more comfortable in my skin. If you are just transitioning to a clean eating lifestyle, take it slow and make small changes every day. It takes time, but don't give up. Know that your body will love you for it and you won't regret the health benefits from it.

Trust the process.

Tips for Weight Management


There are many factors that contribute to a person being overweight. It can be frustrating to manage weight when we don't know what the issue is. "Calories in and calories out" does play a role in weight management, but there is more to look at. It's mostly the quality of the calories that matters.

Most popular weight management diets just restrict calorie intake and don't consider the quality of the food going into our bodies. If a diet is low in calories and still full of refined sugar and carbohydrates, a person might lose some weight at first, but the sugar cravings, mood imbalances, and old eating habits will still be there. A weight management plan should be a lifestyle change and not temporary restrictions or eliminations that are not realistic to stick with.
Factors that contribute to a person being overweight:
  • Behavioral
    • Eating when not hungry
    • Skipping meals
    • Lack of exercise
  • Emotional
    • Overeating due to stress, anxiety, depression, or frustration
  • Metabolic
    • Low thyroid
    • Slow metabolism
    • Medical drugs
    • Low muscle mass
    • Lack of exercise
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Toxicity
      • Metals
      • Food colorings, preservative, and flavorings
      • Plastics and pesticides
      • Bacteria or parasitic overgrowth
  • Nutritional
    • Eating too many foods that lack nutrients such as processed foods, high sugar foods, and refined carbohydrates
    • Consuming more energy (calories) than expanded 
    • Having an imbalance of essential nutrients (usually it's an excess amount of carbohydrates and not enough protein and healthy fats)
Factors that contribute to a person being underweight:
  • Not consuming enough energy (calories)
  • Not getting enough nutrients
  • Digestive issues
  • Anorexia/Bulimia
  • Excessive exercise
  • Allergies
  • Stress
  • Crohn's and Celiac Disease (gut issues)
  • Mal-absorption of nutrients
  • High thyroid
  • Medication side effects
Tips to manage weight:
  • Detox/Cleanse: A detox is not the same as fasting and should not be a calorie restriction diet
    • Feed your liver: The liver is an organ with many important functions such as making enzymes, making proteins, making bile (helps digest fats), detoxifying chemicals, detoxifying drugs and alcohol, filters about 95% of microbes and toxins from the bloodstream, and regulates blood sugar
      • Increase protein: eggs, meats, yogurt, nuts, seeds, legumes
      • Increase bitter foods: arugula, dandelion greens, chard, raw cacao powder
      • Increase greens: leafy greens, sea vegetables
      • Increase sour foods: sauerkraut, vinegars, lemon juice
      • Increase herbs and spices: parsley, cilantro, licorice root, cinnamon
  • Regulate blood sugar: Weight gain around the waist is usually a blood sugar issue
    • Decrease gluten-containing grains and sugar intake (refined carbohydrates)
      • Eat gluten-free grains: amaranth, millet, quinoa, brown rice
      • Avoid tropical fruits (banana, pineapple, mango) because they are very high in sugar, stick to berries and seasonal fruits
    • Increase non-starchy vegetables: greens, greens, and more greens
    • Increase healthy fats: coconut oil, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olive oil
    • Increase protein: protein at every meal is important, especially at breakfast (Ideally within an hour of waking up)
    • Increase fiber: vegetables, legumes (good source of fiber and protein), flax seeds, chia seeds
  • Increase metabolism
    • Cinnamon
    • Cardamom
    • Green Tea
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Sea Vegetables
    • Cumin and Curry Powder
    • Hot Peppers (Cayenne)
  • Exercise daily
    • Exercising in the morning is best because training hard at night messes up cortisol balance and can cause you to hang on to weight
  • Get enough sleep!
    • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night
    • Lack of sleep leads to cravings and overeating
  • Stay hydrated
    • Water
    • Herbal teas
Bauman College Workbook, Spring 2012

Sauté the healthy way

Healthy sauté is a way of sautéing without the use of a fat, such as olive oil, that could potentially get damaged (rancid) by heat. The sautéing is done with vegetable or chicken broth and still makes the food to taste great. The olive oil can be drizzled over after to preserve its good flavor and nutritional value. This method can be used with any vegetable or meat. 
I personally love this cooking method and use it with mostly everything. I don't harm my body by eating rancid fats and I add healthy fats such as such as avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil (without heating) after I'm done sautéing. To learn more about healthy fats and fats becoming rancid when heated click here:
Any vegetable or meat of your choice cut into bite size pieces. 
  1. In a stainless steel pan, heat 2 Tablespoons unsalted vegetable or chicken broth over medium heat. 
  2. When broth begins to bubble, add onion and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, or chicken, and continue stirring for another few minutes. 
  4. Add other vegetables of your choice and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until tender and all ingredients are cooked through. 
  1. You can add another Tablespoon of broth at any time throughout the cooking if it evaporates completely and food starts to stick to the pan. 
  2. If not using onion in your sauté, just skip that second step and add the vegetable(s) of your choice instead. 
  3. Visual signs of knowing that chicken is cooked through is that meat is no longer pink when cut into with a knife.
Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods
Healthy sautéed onion, eggplant, red bell peppers, and chicken with curry powder over spinach
Healthy sautéed garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil with quinoa on the side

Don't be fooled by food labels - What to look for

We often think we're buying the right thing because we purchase foods with labels such as "All-natural," "organic," "free of pesticides," "cage-free," and "hormone-free." Be mindful that marketers will write anything they can in order to get you to buy their product. There are specific labels that you should be looking for and organic is one of the most important. In order to know if a food is actually organically produced, it must carry the "USDA Certified Organic" label. This label ensures that the food has been inspected and follows the food safety regulations of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).The term "organic" means that a food is free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Choosing organic produce and meats is essential in order to get the highest nutritional value. Conventional foods are filled with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and are genetically modified. Eating these foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies and inhibit the ability of our body to absorb nutrients. By eating organic we are not only getting the most we can from what we are putting into our body, but maintaining soil health and supporting that animals are treated with respect. Buying organic foods might be pricier, but in the long run, it will keep you from having to spend on medications and medical bills due to diseases caused by food.

There are some exceptions when it comes to produce of what you can get by without purchasing organic, but it is highly recommended to always pay the organic dollar for animal products because these are the ones that are most chemically altered and harmful to our health. So don't deprive yourself from the nutrients you need by purchasing conventionally grown meats and dairy products.

"Choose local, chemical free, organic, and delicious foods. You'll feel the benefits and will have peace of mind and body as a consequence" -Ed Bauman, M. Ed., Ph.D

Here are some general guidelines for purchasing good quality meats and produce:

Chicken Purchasing the best quality chicken can be a challenge. A chicken that is labeled organic can simply mean that whatever it was fed (usually grains and soy) was organic. Although you want to look for chickens that are raised on pasture, chickens that are fed organically grown grains and soy still provide more nutrients and better health benefits than those that are not fed organic. Organic chicken can be hard to find and a lot of times what is labeled organic still doesn't necessarily mean it meets other requirements you want to look for.

Now a days, the way conventional chickens are raised is completely inhumane and sad. They are being fed genetically modified grains and kept in tight spaces which makes them stressed and messes with their immune system. This leads to farmers giving them antibiotics in order for them to not get sick and spread any disease to the other chickens. Once the chickens are slaughtered, they are dunked in iced-cold water combined with chlorine and other chemicals to speed up the temperature reduction of the chicken.

With all this said, there are many factors to consider when purchasing chicken. Reading labels carefully is very important because statements on the packaging can be misleading. Make sure to look for the proper wording of certain statements. For example, "antibiotic-free," "cage-free," and "all-natural" don't mean the same as "raised without antibiotics," "free-range," and "organic."

Here is what to look for when purchasing chicken:

  • Organic
  • Free-range
  • Raised without antibiotics
  • Hormone-free
  • Air-chilled
It might be hard to find chicken with all of these factors, but try to at least always purchase organic.

Eggs Look for:

  • Organic
  • Pasture-raised
  • Hormone free
  • Free-range
Note: Remember that "cage-free" is not the same as "free-range."
Organic, pasture-raised eggs
Meat and Dairy 
Like chicken, they way cattle is raised in industrial farms is unnatural and inhumane. Naturally, cattle should be fed grass, but industrial farms feed their cattle genetically modified grains and soy because it is cheaper and fattens the animals faster.
The first compartment of a cow's stomach is called a rumen. The rumen is designed to breakdown plant-based foods (grass). When ruminants (animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, bison) are constantly fed grains and soy, they become physically stressed and develop health disorders that ranchers then try to fix by introducing chemicals and antibiotics. These antibiotics and other drugs are present in the meats and dairy products we buy and put us at high risk of developing disease as well.
Meats and dairy products from animals that are fed organic plant foods are shown to have an overall higher nutritional profile. Dairy products include milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Here is what to look for when purchasing meats and dairy products:
  • Organic
  • Grass-fed and grass-finished (The term "grass-fed" can sometimes be misleading because cattle that is fed grass for half of its life and grains for the other half can still be labeled "grass-fed." Look for the term "grass-finished" in order to reassure it was only fed grass. Be sure to ask your butcher for help if not labeled)
To learn more about grass-fed meats, dairy and eggs visit Eat Wild - and Michael Pollan's website -

Fish Choosing sustainable seafood is always the best choice. Seafood that comes from fisheries that meet sustainable seafood standards assures that the fish populations are healthy and that the fish is being caught or farmed in a way that is friendly to the environment. So not only are you getting good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but you are supporting healthy oceans when you purchase sustainable seafood.

Depending on the species, some seafood is better wild-caught and some is better farmed.

Here are the best choices to make when purchasing seafood:

  • Catfish - U.S. farmed
  • Pacific Halibut - U.S. Pacific, wild-caught
  • King Salmon - Alaskan, wild-caught
  • Rainbow Trout - U.S. farmed
  • Albacore Tuna - U.S. troll/pole
  • Tilapia - U.S. farmed
  • Scallops - Worldwide, farmed
  • Sole - Pacific, wild-caught
  • Atlantic Cod - Iceland, Northeast Arctic, hook-and-line

To learn more about sustainable fish and recommendations visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch-

Produce Fruits and vegetables are best when organic, but the level of pesticides varies in conventionally grown and some are safer than others.

Ferry Plaza Saturday Famers' Market

Here are what environmental workers call the "Dirty Dozen" which are highest in pesticides and should always be purchased organic:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes (white)
  10. Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens
Here are the "Clean 15" which are lowest in pesticides and are safe to be purchased conventionally grown:
  1. Onions
  2. Corn (non-GMO)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avoado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms
To learn more about organic foods and a yearly updated list of the "Shopper's Guide" visit The Environmental Working Group news - or
Amy and I visiting Earl's Organic Produce Market

Soy Due to their low cost, most soy products are unrefined and genetically modified.

Here is what to look for when purchasing soy products:

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism)
  • Unrefined and Fermented
Fermented soy products are:
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Tamari/Shoyu
  • Tofu (Not always fermented)
Purchasing local, organic, and sustainable foods will always guarantee you the best health. Stay healthy.

Sources Natural Chef Training Program Textbook, Bauman College, Spring 2012

Whole Foods Pantry Essentials

7 easy ways to detox daily_v2

In order to cook healthy you need to have healthy ingredients to choose from. I've created a table to help. Eating a variety of these foods every day will ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. Purchase foods organic when possible for the highest nutritional value. Organic unrefined ingredients might cost more, but investing in your health now will prevent having to invest in medical bills later.  All the ingredients I use in my recipes are found in this list. Feel free to print this out and keep it somewhere handy for when you go to the grocery store. Happy shopping!

Nutritional Benefits
Healthy Fats/Oils and Nuts/Seeds (raw or dry roasted)
Brazil nuts
Sesame seeds
Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Hemp seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Nut butters
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Unrefined sesame oil
2-3 servings per day
A serving of nuts and seeds is 2 Tablespoons 
A serving of fats/oils is 1 Tablespoon
Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fats (Omega-3 and Omega-6), vitamin E, protein, B vitamin, beta carotene, minerals, and folic acid
Soaking nuts and seeds helps digest them better and increases nutrient availability
Coconut oil reduces inflammation, aids digestion and metabolism, and decreases risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer
Whole Grains
Rice (Brown, Jasmine, Short grain, Long grain, Wild, black)
Contain Gluten:
Oats (oats don't contain gluten, but are usually always cross-contaminated with other gluten containing grains unless gluten-free certified)
1-3 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup cooked
Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates and fiber
Gluten-free grains are hypoallergenic and provide B vitamins and magnesium to help with digestion and balance blood sugar
Gluten-containing grains can be inflammatory and hard on digestion
Soaking or rinsing grains before cooking helps their digestion
Spices, Condiments, Supplements, and Natural Sweeteners
Unrefined sea salt
Tamari, low salt
Vanilla, pure 
Nutritional yeast
Dijon Mustard
Apple Cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Sea Vegetables (Nori, Sea Palm, Dulse, Agar flakes, Kombu, Wakame, Hijiki, Arame)
Dried herb/spices:
Bay leaves
Pepper (Paprika, Cayenne) 
Fresh herbs:
Ginger root
Raw cacao powder
Maca powder
Spirulina powder
Chlorella powder
Protein powder (vegan, sugar-free)
Mesquite powder
Natural Sweeteners:
Raw honey
Grade B maple syrup
Coconut sugar
Maple sugar
2-4 servings per day
A serving is 1 teaspoon - 1 Tablespoon
Spices and herbs add flavor and boost metabolism
Sea vegetables provide amino acids (building blocks of protein), vitamin E, B vitamins, fiber, and minerals
Nutritional yeast provides B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals
Powders and supplements are ingredients that contain high nutrient value in small amounts
Natural sweeteners are unrefined and provide more nutrients than white sugar or artificial sweeteners, but should still be consumed in moderation
Dairy (Choose organic and grass-fed. Choose whole, low-, or non- fat without any additives)
Raw dairy
Goat cheese or yogurt 
Cottage cheese
1-2 servings per day
A serving of cheese is 1 ounce
A serving of yogurt is about 4-6 ounces
Dairy are a great source of protein and calcium
Calcium-rich foods help immune system, fat metabolism, and protect against bone damage and breast cancer
Dried Legumes and Soy (Choose soy products that are fermented and non-GMO)
Garbanzo beans
Black beans
Pinto beans
Adzuki beans
Mung beans
Kidney beans
Navy beans
Cannellini beans
Fava beans
Lima beans
Split peas
Soy beans (Edamame)
1-2 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup cooked
Legumes are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates
25% of their calories come from protein
Darker legumes contain antioxidants
Soak legumes overnight before cooking to reduce gas
Meats (Choose organic, pasture-raised [grass-fed, not grain-fed] lean meat and poultry; free of hormones, antibiotics, and nitrates)
Eggs (organic and pasture-raised)
1-3 servings per week
A serving is 3-4 ounces
Animal foods are a very good source of protein and also provide some vitamins and minerals 
Eggs boost brain health, reduce inflammation, and provide heart health
Cold-Water Fish (Choose high in Omega-3, low mercury)
Salmon (wild caught)
Ahi Tuna
Cod, Halibut
Tilapia (farmed in the U.S.)
1-3 servings per week
A serving is 3-4 ounces
Seafood is rich in protein, minerals, and essential fats (Omega-3)
Vegetables (Choose fresh, organic, seasonal, and locally grown)
Bok choy
Napa cabbage
Cabbage, red/green
Broccoli sprouts
Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Chard, Swiss
Leaf lettuce
Mesclun salad mix
Romaine lettuce
Crunchy and Starchy:
Bell pepper, green/red/yellow
Summer squash
Green beans
Sweet potatoes
Mushrooms (button, crimini, enoki, maitake, oyster, portobello, shiitake)
Peas, sugar snap
Peas, green
Onions, red/yellow
5-6 servings per day
A serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked
Vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals that aid digestion, immune system, growth and development, and bone health
Vegetables with the highest pesticide contamination (should be purchased organic) are: Bell peppers
Fruits (Choose fresh, ripe, organic, and in season)
Grape, dark skin
Grapefruit, pink
2-3 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup or 1 medium piece of fruit
Fruits provide complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals
Fruits with the highest pesticide contamination (should be purchased organic) are: Peaches
Filtered water
Herbal tea
Green tea
Vegetable juice
Nut milk
Filtered water:
8-10 cups per day
Herbal tea:
2-4 cups per day
Beverages provide hydration and help detoxify 
Natural Chef Textbook, Bauman College