"Clean eating" is all the rage among fitness enthusiasts and health seekers alike. While "eating like a lady, over my plate and making no mess" sounds like a logical definition, this is not the clean eating I'm referring to. The definition of clean eating varies, depending on who you talk to. I define it as eating food that was either grown, raised or made somewhere other than in a manufacturing plant. Also, most clean foods have no commercial and are not pronounced the same in every language. Last time I checked there was no Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese or Portuguese word for "cheeto". It's just "cheeto".
My recommendation to you is to find a definition that works for you and your family. It can get overwhelming and downright confusing. Clean eating has everything to do with the ingredients of your food. It's not necessarily the nutrition information that's most important, but the ingredients that make up the food. A few questions to consider when trying to figure out if an ingredient list is clean: Can you read it? Can you pronounce it? Can you picture it being grown or raised or made?
If you want to start incorporating "cleaner" foods into your family's diet, here is a list of 10 simple swaps. Start here. Start with this list and as you learn more, make more changes. Don't get over zealous or you may encounter opposition from your family. Start small. And be positive about the changes. Don't think about it as things you are taking away - think of it as an upgrade. Think of these exchanges as the newer model, the better version.
*We are not compensated in any way from the manufacturers of the products we are recommending.
- Peanut Butter. Choosy moms don't choose Jif. They buy natural peanut butter, or make their own. The only ingredient in your peanut butter jar should be peanuts. Maybe salt too. To make my own, I use roasted unsalted peanuts and my Ninja blender.
- Coffee Creamer. Most creamers for your coffee are full of ingredients you cannot pronounce and some even have carrageenan, a known carcinogen. I started making my own using 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1.5 cups milk & 1-2 tsp pure vanilla extract, hazelnut extract, pure mint extract or a combination depending on taste preference. Pour into a 1 pint container and shake vigorously until mixed well.
- Forget the microwave popcorn. Pop your own. You can get a reasonably priced air-popper machine, or use a nice stock pot or dutch oven with a lid and pop your own with coconut oil, according to the package directions.
- Tortilla wraps. Use Ezekiel wraps or pure corn tortilla wraps (or you can make your own using the recipe Becky taught us) instead of the flour wraps. Some brand's ingredient list is almost a full page long.
- Infused water. Replace sodas, juices or fancy waters (bubbly and typically full of artificial flavoring) with homemade fancy water. I use lemon, cucumber and mint infused overnight in my water. The options are endless. You could use any citrus fruit, berry and herb that you like.
- Cereal. Cereal is an easy go-to breakfast in the rush that is mornings. There are good cereal brands out there. Be picky. Check the labels. Or, if you remember our Breakfast Club series, make your own cereal. We like this in our parfaits, over ice cream or in a bowl with milk on those busy mornings.
- Have fun with flours. If you tend to bake a lot, start playing around with the different types of flours - almond four, coconut flour, rice flour, peanut flour and oat flour are just a few. You are not limited to wheat flour. I make my own oat flour using a coffee grinder and I have found that for many recipes, it's an even swap - use the same amount of oat flour for the called traditional flour.
- Use bagged beans instead of canned beans. This is more cost effective and the only ingredient in a bag of beans is beans.
- Use all natural ketchup. Most brands have a version of natural ketchup that isn't too expensive and does not contain any high fructose corn syrup or preservatives.
- Grate your own cheese. Not only will this build great forearm and grip strength, but you will be sparing yourself the extra preservatives and starches added to the bags of shredded cheese.
We'd love to hear what exchanges have you made or what clean eating tips you have!