On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

Clean Eating Meals & Recipes: Savor the Flavor of Freshness

Although “clean eating” lacks a concise definition, diet experts agree that tending towards whole foods and raw ingredients has benefits—and risks—shared here!

Clean Eating Meals & Recipes: Savor the Flavor of Freshness

n some cases companies really are changing formulations and processes to respond to consumer demand.

Cons: May Lead to a Dangerous Mindset 

For people with a history of eating disorders, clean eating can be dangerous and provide unrealistic expectations. Labeling foods as “clean” or “pure” can naturally lead to labeling others as “unclean” or “dirty,” which can quickly cause a healthy diet to turn into a restrictive one. This can create the perception that some packaged or prepared foods are somehow harmful or less healthy (which isn’t always true). 

Another way of thinking that is worrying with self-proclaimed clean eaters is that many think “natural” equals healthy. This isn’t always true, especially since the word is used on labels as a marketing tactic. The term doesn’t have a clear definition according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning companies may be able to use it at their convenience. 

Research suggests clean eating social media may also be misleading. Instagram is thought to be especially suspect since diets can look picture-perfect while causing consumers to feel like they aren’t meeting an ideal standard of purity. 

Blogs posts can also be a problem, with one study suggesting that “foods with clean eating claims contained the same amount of energy, sugar, and sodium as foods without those claims.” 

Healthy Clean Eating Foods

Looking for healthy recipes? The following tips can help you with meal prep. Before reading through these lists, it’s important to remember that a clean eating plan doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. 

What’s “Allowed” (& What Isn’t) 

The following foods are encouraged on a clean eating plan:

•Dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified alternatives)
•Grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic products
•Fermented foods 
•Healthy fats (such as olive oil) 
•Herbs and spices
•Lean proteins (such as eggs, fresh or frozen seafood, or poultry)
•Legumes (like beans, peas, and lentils)
•Nuts, seeds, nut flours, and nut and seed butter blends
•Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables 
•Whole or ancient grains (such as whole-grain bread, brown rice, oats, or quinoa)

The following foods are discouraged on a clean eating plan: 

•Added sugars and salt
•Highly-processed snack foods 
•Refined sugars and flours 

Focus on cleaner ingredients doesn’t mean meal prep must take hours. In fact, many of your go-to weeknight recipes (like sheet pan, Instant Pot, or stir fry solutions) can be easily and slightly modified to fit into clean eating parameters. 

Searching for recipes elsewhere? Try finding reputable sources, such as recipes designed by dietitians or other trusted health experts. 

Clean Recipes for Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight, clean eating could be a good fit for you. Along with the big picture of health and wellness, clean eating can assist with other goals—such as weight loss. 

Like any healthy diet, clean eating isn’t meant to be taken to the extreme; too much of a good thing—like clean eating—can be problematic. However, as a simple context for choosing high-quality foods, it can provide a helpful framework for making better diet decisions. 

Working with a dietitian to create a healthy meal can ensure your clean eating isn’t too extreme. They can help design a diet that meets your lifestyle goals while also providing you with the nutrients you need. 

7-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan

Don’t know where to begin with a clean eating diet? Start here! From easy weeknight dinner recipes to other meals and snacks, this meal plan has got you covered. 

Day 1

Breakfast: Overnight Oats 
Lunch: Rainbow Quinoa Salad
Dinner: Southwestern Zucchini Noodle Bowl (cook and cube your own chicken breasts, and you can use fresh corn instead of canned if you’d like)
Snack: Delicious Edamame Guacamole with raw vegetables

Day 2

Breakfast: Cinnamon Apple Pancakes
Lunch: Tuna Salad on lettuce leaves
Dinner: Chicken Burrito Bowl Recipe
Snack: Honey Drizzled Broiled Grapefruit

Day 3

Breakfast: Savory Oatmeal
Lunch: Greek Stuffed Peppers
Dinner: Blackened Salmon with Creole Tomato Okra Stew (can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned)
Snack: Chia Seed Pudding with berries 

Day 4

Breakfast: Mexican-Style Avocado Egg
Lunch: Cheesy Quinoa with Grilled Chicken
Dinner: Citrus Marinated Shish Kabobs
Snack: Spiced & Baked Cinnamon Apples

Day 5

Breakfast: Quinoa breakfast bowl 
Lunch: Stewed Italian White Beans
Dinner: Vegetarian Cauliflower Taco with Grilled Vegetable Salad
Snack: Healthy Banana Bread

Day 6

Breakfast: Salmon with a Sunny-Side Up Egg
Lunch: Superfood Mason Jar Salad
Dinner: Authentic Chana Masala with Honey Herb Roasted Carrots
Snack: Sesame Sugar Snap Peas

Day 7

Breakfast: Greek yogurt parfait or yogurt bowl
Lunch: Cucumber Sushi (with real crab meat instead of imitation)
Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken Bowl (can be made with chicken thighs)
Snack: Apple Nachos

Interested in clean eating but short on time? Many of the meal plans from bistroMD count as “clean eating” and can help you meet your goals when meal prep is minimal. 

In Conclusion Clean Eating Meals and Recipes

Rather than being a perfect eating pattern, clean eating can provide a helpful framework for food choices. Research suggests consuming processed food can contribute to many health problems, so focusing on more raw, whole, and plant-powered foods has its benefits. If you’re worried about taking clean eating too far, working with a dietitian can ensure your meal plan meets your nutrient needs. 


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