We’ve all heard the term “clean eating’ and many of you have considered it but you’re not sure how to start eating clean especially when you have kids!
Today’s post will give you the full scoop on clean eating basics, food lists, and yummy recipes and help you get started.
Since writing this post, we’ve had so many amazing conversations with readers about clean eating for families. We recently recorded a podcast about it which you can listen to below or on your favorite podcast app.
What is Clean Eating
In short, clean eating involves choosing whole foods and avoiding processed, artificial foods. It’s not a diet but lifestyle and one that can be shared with the whole family.
In preparing fresh, whole food based meals you will automatically add more nutrition to your diet while eliminating any unnecessarily added fats, sugars, and “junk” often found in processed foods.
Cleaning up the foods we eat results in boosted energy, a clearer mind, improved mood (for everyone in the family) and better overall health. This is what #winning looks like.
Clean Eating Basics
Instead of pre-packaged meals, snacks, and fast food, clean eating encourages fresh, home-cooked meals made with all-natural sources of vegetables, fruit, proteins, healthy fats, and grains.
It’s also a shift from our fast-paced culture of convenience foods to a more focused approach on mealtimes.
This means that instead of drive-thru’s and prepackaged foods, meals will be prepared in the kitchen so you know exactly what is being served.
This, of course, takes planning and preparation for ALL meals, which is nothing to sneeze about when you are feeding a family but I’m living proof that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen every day to eat clean!
This blog post is dedicated to helping families successfully meal plan and prep fresh, whole-food meals for the week which I further discuss in this video:
Clean Eating Meal Plan
It’s a 30-day clean eating program that will help eliminate processed foods and sugars from your family’s diet. Learn more here.
If today you’re just looking for a few new recipe ideas to incorporate into your weekly meals, you’ll find them in this post. But first, let’s talk about clean eating food options.
Clean Eating Food List
All the Good Carbs:
- Sweet potatoes
- Regular potatoes
While some clean eating food lists include things like whole grain bread, pasta, and tortillas I have found that it’s much more simple to keep a naturally gluten-free approach. This eliminates the extra time spent looking for a specific brand plus the extra cost!
Naturally gluten-free means selecting foods that are already gluten-free; like rice and beans, for example.
All of them! Of course, organic is the better option but more costly and if that’s too much I’ve found the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list helpful. In short, it’s a great guide for which produce options are worth buying organic.
Same as veggies! You can enjoy any fresh, frozen, or dried fruit options (no sugar added).
Meats and Seafood:
- Chicken & turkey
- Seafood & fish
Whether scrambled, poached, fried, baked, or hard-boiled, eggs help build some tasty breakfasts, lunches, and even breakfast for dinner, hello savory oats!
Full Fat Dairy:
Contrary to early claims of full-fat dairy being bad for you, they actually container healthy fatty acids which their low-fat counterparts don’t offer. Plus, low-fat/no fat dairy options often contain more sugar due to the lack of fat.
- Non-dairy milk- such as almond, cashew, flax, and oat!
Coffee & Tea:
You can still enjoy your cup o’ joe but be sure to skip the milk products and sugar. Replace the usual cream with almond or coconut milk and you’ll still be able to start your day right – with a cup of coffee in hand!
Healthy Fats and Oils:
Fats are essential for optimal brain, hormonal, and overall health. Here are are a few options perfect for cooking/consuming and all 100% clean.
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Sesame oil
- Nuts & Nut butters- Make sure you purchase the real nut butter options, many come with added sugar and preservatives.
Things to Avoid When Eating Clean:
You’ve probably already guessed pre-packaged snacks, candy, cookies, frozen meals, cereal, sauces, canned soups, granola/breakfast bars, but here are a few items you might not have thought about:
- Bottled Salad dressings- many contain added sugars and preservatives
- Pre-packaged lunch meat- Shocking but many lunch meats contain added sugar and fillers. I’ve found this brand to be best for cold cuts but you can also purchase sliced meat from whole roasted chicken, beef, and turkey in the deli section.
- Vegan Substitutes- Often thought of as a healthy choice but many of these veggie burgers, “chicken, and “bacon” are still highly processed and often contain excessive amounts of sodium.
Clean Eating With Kids
So you’ve decided to do a clean-eating lifestyle with the WHOLE FAMILY. No, you’re not the only one and yes, it is totally doable!
We all know kids can’t go without their favorite foods and they don’t have to because those foods can still be enjoyed by making smart ingredient swaps that eliminate the processed ingredients. Instead of buying bottled pasta sauce you’ll make your own pasta sauce.
Kids can’t live without pancakes and this healthy pancake recipe can be made ahead of time, frozen, and reheated. If you are choosing to eliminate pasta, swap regular spaghetti noodles for zoodles.
Here are a few family favorite recipes that have been recreated and still just as tasty!
Easy Clean Eating Recipes for Beginners
Clean Eating Breakfast Ideas:
Blueberry Baked Oatmeal – This blueberry version of traditional baked oatmeal is delicious to make with fresh or frozen blueberries and it tastes delicious warm or cold
Healthy Breakfast Cookies – 3 ideas for healthy on-the-go breakfast cookies
Healthy Banana Oatmeal Muffins– These are easy to make, come together in the blender, the oven does the rest. A quick and easy clean breakfast idea.
Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding – This recipe provides a healthy way to indulge a pumpkin pie craving. The kids will love this dessert-for-breakfast recipe!
Clean Eating Lunch Ideas:
Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box – These bistro boxes are super fast to assemble and they work for both kids AND adults, so no need to prep and pack two separate lunches. One prep for everyone.
Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups – Made in the slow cooker these chicken wraps are a healthier version of the buffalo flavor we all know and love.
Cheesy Quinoa Bites – These cheesy bites are baked with love, and they freeze great.
Greek Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups – A fresh, delicious salad made in a lettuce cup is just what you need to stay cool on a hot day.
7 Layer Dip Cups – Try these 7-Layer Mexican Dips inside the lunchbox or as a healthy snack idea.
Zucchini Bites – Load these zucchini pizza bites with your favorite toppings for a healthy pizza night full of veggies!
Clean Eating Dinner Ideas:
Jamaican Pork & Pineapple Stir-fry – This easy skillet meal is one the entire family will love.
Salmon Cakes – These salmon cakes come together easy without frying and the chipotle lime sauce is one you’ll want to drizzle over everything.
Cheesy Taco Skillet – Change up your taco night with this delicious, cheesy, taco skillet that all the family will love.
Enchilada Soup – Need an easy enchilada soup recipe that is filling and vegetarian? This is one delicious quick meal that’s also perfect for school lunch.
Egg Roll in a Bowl – Every bite is full of flavor and it’s exactly what you love from eating egg rolls minus the wrapper and grease
Beef & Broccoli Bowls – The Asian-inspired sauce is naturally balanced and sweet thanks to the honey in the recipe.
Healthy Turkey Burger – Kids love burgers, and this recipe is a lower calorie version of everyone’s fave!
Snack Ideas for Clean Eating:
Coconut Peanut Butter Dip – Sweet, nutrient dense and a favorite among the Fuentes kids! Ham & Cheese Apple Wraps – Kids love these easy to make hame and cheese apple wraps. You can have them alone for a wonderful after-school-snack, or pack them with some extra veggies for a tasty lunch.
Fruit Skewers – We love fruit skewers because the fruit is bite-size, portable, fun, and healthy!
Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits – This fresh strawberry, blueberry, and yogurt parfait is a delicious easy snack! It’s easy to make ahead and store in the fridge for a convenient and healthy afternoon snack.
Banana Chips – These are simple to make with ripe bananas and a bit of time in the oven.
What do you think will be the most challenging part of eating clean? Let me know in the comments below and just to get you started here is those healthy Banana Breakfast Muffins!
Best Clean Eating Recipes for Families – Blueberry Breakfast Cookies
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas, about 2 bananas
- 4 ounce container unsweetened all-natural applesauce
- 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas, add applesauce, and vanilla, stir to combine. Add the oats and stir until the mixture resembles dough. Gently, fold the blueberries into the dough.
- Scoop batter onto a baking sheet, gently pressing it down to shape the cookie.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool down prior to serving.