As mentioned in my last post, I am trying to eat “cleaner” recently. Clean Eating has become a popular “trend” recently but the truth is, it is not really a trend at all. It is not a diet, it is just a very sensible way to eat. Clean Eating refers to eating entirely natural and unprocessed foods. If you are looking for a more detailed explanation of eating clean, visit the Cooking Light website for an article entitled, Seven Principles of Eating Clean. I was first turned on to clean eating about a year and half ago when I had a friend who had recently taken on a “Clean Food Challenge” and was blogging about it. I was intrigued by the idea of cooking and eating this way for an entire week and was even more intrigued when I read about my friend’s results…she was down a few pounds, sleeping better and had increased energy and focus! Increased energy and focus? That sold me as it was the middle of winter at the time and I was feeling a little dull and listless. So I enlisted my husband for support and we set out for a week of totally clean eating. Our Clean Food Challenge consisted of the following: no alcohol, no sugar, no caffeine, no dairy*, no processed carbs (only whole grains), 8 glasses of water per day, and only low fat natural meats…chicken and fish. So basically you are seasoning foods with olive oils, citrus juices, vinegars, seasoning and natural sugars like honey and maple syrup. I know it sounds horribly boring and dull but we actually had fun with it and came out of it feeling really good physically and mentally. It was certainly an accomplishment to make it though the week and exercise some will power and it was great to lose a few pounds. But perhaps the most important result was that I had stocked my pantry and refrigerator with healthy ingredients and come up with some great new healthy meals and snacks. We tackled another Clean Food Challenge about four months ago and got the same results. The bottom line is, we really like to eat clean and although it is not realistic for us to eat this way all of the time (chocolate and red wine are way to important to me!), it is a great place for me to come back to when I know I need to get on track again.
*Clean Eating does not always mean no dairy at all — low fat yogurt, cottage cheese are allowed but cheese is typically avoided. Eggs are debatable.
Mediterranean Chicken Kebobs with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce (Serves 4)
3-4 organic chicken breasts
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 pkg whole mushrooms (white button or baby bella)
1 yellow or white onion
other vegetable options: cherry tomatoes, zucchini, squash
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice (from fresh lemon)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 cup plain greek yogurt
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 of a lemon (and zest)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 – 3/4 tsp garlic powder or minced garlic
1/4 cup grated cucumber
fresh parsley and mint, chopped (optional)
Whisk together olive oil, white vinegar, lemon juice, cumin and oregano. Cut chicken in large chunks. Add chicken and mushrooms to marinade. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. For tzatziki, mix yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, cucumber and herbs. Chill until time to serve. Cut peppers, onions and other vegetables in large chunks. Skewer vegetables and chicken. Preheat grill to 350-400 degrees. Cook for 3-4 minutes then rotate the skewers a quarter of a turn. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and repeat until all sides are cooked and chicken is cooked through. To keep this meal “clean”, serve with quinoa, farro or another whole grain or a light cucumber, tomato and kalamata olive salad seasoned with olive oil, lemon and some spices.