When lunchtime rolls around, you want to be able to put together a simple meal that is nutritious, filling, and doesn’t take a lot of time. The following lunch ideas will fit all of these requirements.
Pita, Hummus, and Veggies
This Meditteranean inspired lunch is such a fun and easy to put together that, and you can even gather ingredients the morning before work and not spend too much time on it. Get a bag of whole wheat pita bread and a container of hummus. Since you are reducing your processed foods, making your hummus is preferred, and it is easy to make with a food processor. If you don't have one, at least choose your container hummus wisely and look at the ingredients. Open up the pita, add some hummus, and layer the veggies. That's all you need to do.
Sandwich or Wrap
You can still eat sandwiches for lunch while clean eating, but re-think the ingredients you are using. To start with, stop using pre-sliced or processed meat and cheese for your sandwiches. Go to your grocery store’s deli section and get meat sliced right there. It will be fresh, much better for you, not processed and fewer preservatives, and you will be amazed by how much better it tastes. You can also get your cheese sliced in the deli, or you can buy a block of cheese and slice it up yourself. Remember that dairy is a borderline approved food with clean eating, so try to find cheese from grass-fed cows if you can.
If you don’t want to have cheese with your sandwich, homemade hummus is another great addition. Pile on the veggies onto your sandwich and use whole grain bread when you can. Wraps will be lower in carbs and only require a big lettuce leaf.
No-Mayo Chicken or Tuna Salad
With clean eating, mayonnaise isn't necessarily a big no-no, but dairy in general needs to be ‘from the farm' as much as possible. Many people make their own, or you can try to look at the ingredients of organic mayonnaise. Another option is to make tuna or chicken salad with no mayonnaise at all. Another option is to use mashed-up avocado. This healthy fat is approved on a clean eating diet. Chicken is better than tuna since it doesn't come in a can and you can even prep it ahead of time to use for lunches. Cut your chicken into small pieces, add your avocado and any other veggies or seasonings. You can have it in a wrap, on its own, or alongside some fruits or veggies.
“A healthy body is a platform for flourishing a healthy mind.”
― Pawan Mishra
Clean Eating as a Vegetarian
If you are a vegetarian, you might be looking for a way to eat healthier, but also avoid meat and possibly dairy products as well. Luckily, a clean eating diet is one of the easiest to follow and still maintain a meatless lifestyle. Here are some tips for eating clean as a vegetarian.
Add Plenty of Healthy Fats
As you know from your current vegetarian lifestyle, you need to make sure you get protein and fat from food sources not related to meat and seafood. Luckily, there are still lots of healthy fats that provide good nutrients without anything that isn't allowed on the clean eating diet. Keep eating plenty of healthy fats like nuts and seeds, flaxseed, avocados, olive oil, and canola oil. These oils are better to use instead of butter. Even if you allow yourself dairy on your vegetarian diet, you should avoid dairy on a clean eating diet unless it is from grass-fed cows.
Eat Lots of Fruits and Veggies
Naturally, the majority of what you are going to eat on a clean eating diet is fruits and veggies. Try to pile them on, not skimping at all. You don't need to worry as much about your macros with clean eating, as long as you know to recognize your body's hunger signals and stop eating when you are full. Most of your meals should consist of lots of fresh produce, preferably not frozen and never canned. Start picking up your produce at health food stores or farmer's markets for more variety and to save money.
Go For the Complex Carbs
Carbohydrates are okay to include while practicing a clean eating vegetarian diet, but you want to avoid your refined carbs. These tend to be overly processed and include foods like white pasta, white rice, and white bread. If you're going to have rice, grains, or pasta, at least go for the complex carb version, including whole grain or sprouted versions. There is also brown rice pasta, which is even better for you than traditional whole wheat pasta. These also happen to be good sources of fiber and some protein as well, which is always essential to have included in a vegetarian diet. Add in plenty of quinoa and oats as well.
Avoid Processed ‘Veggie’ Foods
The clean eating diet is about eating as many clean, fresh, and whole foods as you can. An easy way to know what to eat or not eat is to look at the food's packaging. If the food is in plastic or a box, it probably is processed in some way. For example, if you wanted to eat hummus, making it yourself is a better choice than buying a tub of it that's been processed and distributed to your local health food store. However, if the tub is sold behind the deli counter, they might make it right in the store and package it themselves, which doesn't require processing.
Why Everyone Should Meal Prep One of the tips you will be given often when you look up clean eating diets is that you should meal prep. The reason this is so effective is because it is more convenient and ends up saving time, plus it really gets ahead of those temptations you might have. Here are some of the top benefits of meal prepping and planning on the clean eating diet.
You Can Avoid Unnecessary Snacking
The first reason you should consider meal prepping is so you can avoid snacking on foods that aren’t clean. This is a very common pitfall among people who are used to hitting up the vending machine at work or grabbing a few cookies for a snack. If you prepare before the week begins, you should already have all the clean snacks you need, from fruit and nuts to homemade clean baked goods and won’t need to grab a candy bar while at the gas station.
It Ensures You Have Enough Food for the Week
In addition to avoiding the little snacks that can add up fast, you can also make sure you have all the food you need for a week or longer. Another common pitfall of clean eating is that you run out of food for meals later in the week, leading you to getting fast food or ordering pizza, since it’s easier than going back to the store. By planning out all your meals, you can then prep them and have all the hard work done so that cooking is a breeze.
Your Week is More Streamlined
Nobody wants to spend time each day figuring out what to pack in their kids’ lunches and deciding on what to cook for dinner. If you spend a good portion of your day thinking about what to cook, you are stressing yourself out, and that mentality often leads to failure of these types of diets. This is a brand new healthy lifestyle and one that does take some prep work. Think about how easy it will be going through your day knowing your breakfast and lunch is packed and ready to go, and everything for dinner is scheduled, prepped, and ready to put in the oven. It really does not get any simpler than that.
Remember that meal prep isn’t always cooking ahead of time, but prepping ingredients like chopping veggies, putting smoothie packs together, and making salads.
Ready to Join our Clean Eating 14-day challenge Jan 3? Click here to sign up: https://lisaanndegarcia.synduit.com/LRFC0001
Super Easy Clean Eating Smoothies
Smoothies are a wonderful addition to meals and snacks when you are eating clean. You can have smoothie during any time of the day, from breakfast to a post-workout snack, and there are an endless amount of combinations. Take a look at some of these easy smoothie tips and some ideas for putting it all together.
Formula for Making Smoothies
Before starting, here is an easy formula for putting your smoothie together:
Frozen banana or ice + fruit + greens (optional) + yogurt + liquid + optional flavorings
This is a really simple formula that will help you when creating your own smoothies. Of course, there are many variations on this as not all smoothies need yogurt and you may have just fruit and juice in your smoothie. However, this works great when you really aren’t sure what kind of smoothie you want to make.
Simple Green Smoothie
A green smoothie is ideal for clean eating if the smoothie is replacing a meal because it helps to give you more fiber, increases the nutrients, and makes you fuller for longer. A good green smoothie includes about a cup of greens, a cup of frozen fruit, ½ frozen banana or handful of ice, and some liquid. You can also choose to add a little yogurt, but since you have a banana in there, it isn’t required. Here is a fun green smoothie recipe:
1 cup of kale and spinach
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup almond milk
½ frozen banana
All Berry Smoothie
To simplify it even more, you can have a smoothie with just frozen berries. Bananas that are frozen are often used in most smoothies because they not only thicken it up and make it to where yogurt isn’t a requirement, but if it’s frozen, you don’t actually need ice. That way, if you are using fresh berries, but a frozen banana, your smoothie is cold even without the ice. So for a berry smoothie, try this simple combination:
½ cup strawberries
½ cup raspberries
½ cup blueberries
½ frozen banana
1 cup liquid – milk or juice
This is where you can really get creative with it. When your smoothie is for breakfast, and you don’t think fruit and veggies is enough to keep you full, add in some other ingredients that turn it more into a filling breakfast. For example, you can use oats or peanut butter in your smoothie. Try a simple smoothie with:
1 frozen banana
½ cup oats
½ cup peanut butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup milk
Want to join our 14 day clean eating challenge (to begin Jan 3, 2020)? Join here: https://lisaanndegarcia.synduit.com/LRFC0001
As you go through your clean eating journey, you will begin adding more meals and snacks to the mix, but don’t make it difficult in the beginning. If you want to be successful and live a cleaner lifestyle, then it should start simple. Here are some meal ideas when you are just starting out with clean eating.
Components for a Balanced Clean Meal
Before getting into the meal ideas, it helps to know what to include in each of your meals and snacks. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks between meals, and any desserts you want to enjoy. For clean eating and to stay full, you want to be sure you have carbohydrates and protein with every meal. These together provide enough energy for your day and ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. You should also add some healthy fats to as many meals as you can.
Make Meal-Building Simple
If you are new to meal planning, here is a simple formula:
1 protein + 1 carbohydrate + 1 fruit or vegetable + 1 healthy fat
This can be adjusted as needed, but it is a good way to figure out your meals. For example, a very simple meal might include salmon (protein), brown rice (carb), broccoli (vegetable) and olive oil (fat) that was used to cook your salmon. Don’t worry about adjusting it later on and just make your clean eating meals simple to put together.
Use Ingredients More Than Once
Another tip that is going to help you with your first week’s worth of clean eating meals is to choose ingredients you can use more than once. This allows you to save money and simplifies both the grocery shopping and cooking processes. For example, you can get a whole rotisserie chicken that easily works for more than one meal, and buy your rice in bags and cook in larger batches to be used for multiple lunches and dinners.
Meal Ideas for the First Week
Now for some meal ideas. These are just a few easy ways to put breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. There are of course many other options.
Breakfast – Avocado toast w/whole grain bread, mashed avocado, and fried eggs on top for some added protein.
Lunch – Chicken salad with greens, cooked chicken, veggies, and some vinaigrette as your fat.
Dinner – Chicken (same as used during lunch), quinoa w/black beans, and some roasted asparagus.
Interested in joining our 14-day Clean Eating Challenge? If so, click here to join: https://lisaanndegarcia.synduit.com/LRFC0001
Lisa Ann de Garcia, MA, MEd.