Sneaky Ways to Eat Clean All Day Long

NUTRITION
By POPSUGAR Fitness

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Whether you’re trying to take off weight or improve your health, adopting a clean-eating lifestyle can be the change you need to see (and feel) the results.

Replacing processed foods with natural, unrefined options might seem like a struggle at first, but soon it will feel like second nature. If you’re curious what it’s about, or you’re ready to eat clean for a day, here’s what to do all day long.

MORNING
Start the morning with a smart sip: After you’ve sipped on some water, kick your clean-eating plan into gear with a healthy green juice or hot water with lemon before breakfast. As you hydrate with H2O, the lemon works to balance your body’s pH and aid in healthy digestion.

Skip sugar in your coffee: Your sugar-laden latte or iced coffee is (unfortunately) not a clean choice. Skip the sugar—and the calories, bloat, and crash that can come with it—and opt for a strong, bold, and unsweetened caffeinated choice instead.

Kick out refined carbs: No goods from the pastry case or bagels this morning! If you like to start the day with carbs, be sure to keep them complex (like quinoa or sweet potato) and full of fiber. This way you’ll be supporting your digestion and your energy levels.

AFTERNOON
Reach for green tea: Overstimulating with loads of coffee can leave you feeling anxious and unfocused, so swap out your second cup of joe for antioxidant-rich green tea. It’s high in catechins, which speed up liver activity and increase the production of detoxification enzymes.

Cut out condiments: Ketchup, mayo, ranch dressing—whatever comforting condiment is your pick — keep it far away from a day of clean eats. Focus on fresh natural flavors of your favorite herbs and citrus to add extra flavor and benefits to your plate. If you’re in need of something creamy on a sandwich or salad, spread on avocado for all its omega-3 acids and fiber.

Bring on the greens: When it comes to lunch and dinner, always add something green to your plate. Serve spinach with last night’s leftovers or order a satisfying salad at your favorite lunch spot. It ups the nutrition of every clean meal, every time.

EVENING
Skip the booze: Beyond all the sugar and unnecessary calories an evening cocktail offers, alcohol can keep you up or make for a restless night of sleep. Skip the booze, and opt for an all-natural mocktail instead.

Go au natural with dessert: You don’t need to say sayonara to a sweet ending at the end of your meal—just keep it clean and natural instead of overloading with sugar and chemicals. Grab a light treat like a piece of fresh fruit or a taste of dark chocolate instead to stay on course.

Keep water beside your bed: Hydration is key to any healthy lifestyle, and sipping on water through the night will keep you feeling energized and clear-headed the following morning. One of the best ways to ensure a great next day is a good night’s sleep and water ready to go in the morning!

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Frozen Berry-Granola Squares

With only five ingredients, these yogurty snacks are a cinch to prepare. To make your life in the kitchen even easier, cut the tangy squares prior to freezing them.

BerryGranolaSquares_article

Photo: Peter Chou

By Linda Melone

Serves: 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole-grain granola
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, raspberries or combination
  • 3 cups low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil.
  2. Sprinkle granola evenly on bottom of pan and set aside.
  3. In a blender, whirl together berries, yogurt, agave nectar and vanilla until blended. Pour berry mixture over granola, smoothing mixture to the edges of the pan. Cover with foil and freeze until firm, approximately 4 hours. Keep frozen until serving.

Nutrients per 2-inch square: Calories: 170, Total Fat: 2 g, Sat. Fat: 1.5 g, Carbs: 28 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 16 g, Protein: 10 g, Sodium: 64 mg, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Nutritional Bonus: Each serving of these fruity squares is a good source of manganese, a trace mineral required by your body in smaller quantities than more well-known nutrient superstars like fiber, protein and carbs. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less vital. Manganese activates enzymes responsible for important nutrients like thiamin and choline, and helps you metabolize proteins and carbohydrates.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Black Beans, Avocado & Lime Cream

This satisfying meatless dish combines sweet and tender sweet potato with spicy beans and creamy avocado and yogurt.

Stuffed-Sweet-Potatoes

Photo: Laura Wright

By Dina Cheney

Serves: 4
Hands-on Time: 35 minutes.
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours.

COST PER PLATE: $2.41

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 small (3-oz) sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp seeded and minced jalapeño chile pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 1 15-oz BPA-free can unsalted black beans (about 1½ cups), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup finely chopped beefsteak tomato
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp lime zest plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray. Prick potatoes all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Mist potatoes on all sides with cooking spray. Bake potatoes until tender and golden brown on outside, about 55 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan on medium and brush with oil. Add onion, jalapeño, garlic, chile powder and 1/4 tsp salt and sauté until onion softens, about 6 minutes. Add beans, tomato, 1 tbsp cilantro, honey and 1 tsp lime juice; simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Prepare lime yogurt: In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and 1 tsp lime zest; set aside.
  4. Carefully transfer potatoes to serving plates. Cut each potato in half, slightly mashing and fluffing potato flesh with a fork. Sprinkle remaining ¼tsp salt over potato flesh. Spoon bean mixture over potatoes and top with avocado, lime yogurt and remaining 1 tbsp cilantro.

Nutrients per serving (1 stuffed sweet potato): calories: 430,  total fat: 15 g, sat. fat: 3 g, monounsaturated fat: 7 g, polyunsaturated fat: 4 g, carbs: 43 g, fiber: 9 g, sugars: 12 g, protein: 35 g, sodium: 624 mg, cholesterol: 78 mg