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The Good Life: A Plan for Clean Eating

Oklahoma Heart Institute cardiologist Dr. Mathew Good’s wife Bethany joins us on the blog to share tips for helping you and your family improve your nutrition through clean eating. The Goods have shared their motivation for cleaning up their diets and now share tips for getting started, recipes and a grocery list.

Two-and-a-half years ago we “went clean” and drastically changed our eating habits. Meal planning and yes, even snack planning, became crucial to our new lifestyle. We had always heard of the concept of “clean eating,” but honestly it just kind of ran together in our minds with all the other fad diets. It seemed like a slightly scary way to eat - like we’d be faced with a life of eating only raw carrots and celery.  After searching the Internet for a few days to learn more about what “clean eating” really meant, we found a two-week meal and snack plan complete with a grocery list. As busy parents of a newborn and a toddler, this was exactly what was needed to push us in the right direction. It helped us understand what clean eating was – and how easy it is.

The very first thing we did was clean out EVERYTHING from our pantry that was processed. This website  was a huge help in getting us on the right track. We got rid of:

1)    Anything that was made from refined grains (white bread, white pasta, white flour, white rice… you get the idea.)

2)    Anything that contained sugar or corn syrup and especially anything with artificial sweeteners (flavored coffee creamers, soda, fruit snacks, fruit rollups, “diet” pancake syrup, etc. Let’s be honest – this right here will rid most of your pantry.)

3)    Anything in a box, wrapper or can that had more than five ingredients (chips, store bought cookies, crackers, granola and most protein bars.)

4)    We also agreed to avoid all fried foods and “fast foods.”

As you can imagine our pantry was a little, uhm, empty after that. As we followed the guidelines for “real food,” we stocked our refrigerator and shelves with the following:

1)    “Whole” food - food in its original state. Think lots of fruits and veggies (we follow the dirty dozen guidelines for our organic produce and try to shop local as much as possible.)

2)    100 percent whole-wheat and whole-grain products - again less than five ingredients.

3)    All-natural sweeteners. Maple syrup is our go-to when I bake anything and need a substitute for sugar.  Local, raw honey also works great!

4)    Local meat: grass-fed beef, organic chicken and wild caught seafood.

5)    Dairy - organic, whole and unsweetened (milk, Greek yogurt, eggs, cheese.)

6)    Dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and popcorn for snacks.

7)    Coffee, tea, water, all-natural juices, wine and beer.

There are many different ways that one can approach clean eating, but this is what worked for us.

So we thought the absolute best way to help others get started was to prepare a meal plan with a grocery list. This includes six dinners (we always leave a night for either leftovers, takeout, date night, etc). Now we love to cook, but with three kids and busy schedules, we value quick meals or meals that can easily be prepped earlier in the day or night before or that use a crockpot. 

Also, we try to have fish at least one night a week and go vegetarian another night.  We limit beef to once a week if at all possible. We believe in a balanced diet, so each meal contains a protein, a whole grain and a vegetable or fruit. Sometimes these are one-pot meals and sometimes we toss vegetables in a tiny bit of olive oil or avocado oil, mix with a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper and roast for about 20 minutes - an easy way to make a side dish out of any vegetable. You may also serve cut up, raw vegetables and hummus - even easier.

You’ll see that this menu is pretty normal. There’s spaghetti and grilled chicken and BACON. Yes, we eat bacon in moderation. We stick to uncured, low sodium and minimally processed. I like to think of eating clean like eating the “real” food our grandparents ate. And I’m pretty sure they ate their share of bacon! Don’t let the grocery list overwhelm you as you probably have most of the spices and staple ingredients.

DAY 1 Honey-Lime Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (one pot meal!) Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream

DAY 2 Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Salmon with brown rice and roasted brussel sprouts

DAY 3 Grilled Chicken (grill extra for day four!), new potatoes with butter and parsley and lemon/garlic zucchini noodles

DAY 4: Chicken Burrito Bowls (one pot meal!)

Day 5: Clean Spaghetti (big meal – good for leftovers for day seven)

Day 6: BLTs (Yes, REAL bacon!) and green beans

We use organic, uncured bacon, spinach and organic tomatoes. We love heirloom tomatoes this time of year. Serve on a toasted whole grain bread (we love the whole wheat sour dough from a local bakery). This meal is so quick, it’s easy to mix up your own clean mayo or if convenience wins for you (as it typically does for us) grab an organic version and read your labels. Go for the one with the fewest and most recognizable ingredients.

PRODUCE:

4 organic, medium sized sweet potatoes

2 organic yellow onions

1 head garlic

2 limes

1 lemon

Cilantro

Fresh rosemary

Parsley

Brussel sprouts

2 bags new potatoes

1 package organic grape tomatoes

2 pounds zuchinni (spiralized)

3 to 4 organic Roma tomatoes

2 heirloom (or other large) tomatoes

Organic green onions

MEAT:

2 pounds of salmon

3 pounds organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey (or lean, grass fed beef)

1 pound of organic, uncured Bacon

DAIRY:

Butter

Organic Monterrey Jack Cheese

Organic cheddar cheese

Grated parmesan cheese

Greek yogurt

FROZEN:

Corn

2 packages brown rice

GRAIN:

Quinoa

1 (16 ounce) package whole grain spaghetti

1 loaf whole grain sour dough bread

SPICES/OILS/VINEGARS:

Extra virgin olive oil

Cumin

Paprika

Coriander

Cayenne pepper

Dried oregano

Dried basil

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Garlic salt

Chili powder

Sea salt

Pepper

CANNED:

Local honey

2 cans Low sodium chicken broth

2 cans organic, low sodium black beans

2 (15 oz) cans organic tomato sauce, no sugar added

1 14.5 oz can of organic diced tomatoes, drained

OTHER:

pine nuts (3T)

Remember this is a lifestyle - not a diet. ANY step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. If you decide to start snacking on carrots once a week – GREAT! If you decide to get rid of all refined sugar – that’s huge! Tackle it one part at a time, instead of as a whole and you’ll quickly see how small changes can make a huge difference.