By Elke Probkevitz
My friends and I have taken on the task of eating clean. As mothers—and personal chefs to our families and loved ones—it is difficult to maintain a healthy diet while we whip up gourmet banquets fit for kings every weekend. Clean eating seems complicated, but it is actually deceptively simple. Unlike other diet plans with specific foods allowed or restricted, eating clean is more about being mindful about what you put in your mouth. To allow yourself that latke or just one sufganiyah, start a clean way of eating now and you’ll feel better about that splurge when Chanukah comes around.
Why eat clean. Eating clean means eating whole, real foods that are unprocessed and refined so they are as natural as possible. A largely unprocessed, plant-based diet filled with fruits and vegetables can prevent diseases, help manage healthy weight, and promote healthy-looking skin and hair, among other benefits.
Stay away from processed. Ultra-processed foods have many health risks besides being bad for a diet. They are stripped of nutrients necessary for a healthy diet, leaving empty calories with little nutritional value. They can also contain genetically modified organisms. Processed foods have also been injected with additives that overstimulate the production of dopamine in the brain, causing you to crave more junk food!
How to eat clean. Eat fresh produce, legumes, nuts, and eggs. Minimally processed foods include unrefined grains like whole-wheat breads and pastas, popcorn, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, frozen fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats, hormone-free dairy, and oils. It’s preferable to eat foods that are pesticide-free and organic to avoid hormones and chemicals. Keep in mind that you still need to be aware of portion control when practicing clean eating.
At the market. Obviously anything raw and whole is the best option, but choosing foods that are minimally processed with the fewest ingredients on the label is your best option. The ingredient list should be very short, and all ingredients should be recognizable. Avoid ingredients like artificial colors or flavors or anything else you know is unhealthy.
Cooking clean. While some foods are best eaten raw to gain the most nutrient benefits, others are most nutritious when cooked. Eating a mixture of cooked and raw foods will ensure you get a good balance of nutrition in your diet. Don’t overcook your food by boiling or charring it, or all nutrition will be lost. Keep the integrity of the food you are preparing and don’t use high-fat cooking methods that will make it unhealthy. The best methods are flash-cook methods such as stir-frying, steaming, or quick-roasting to preserve the nutritional value. v
1 tsp. olive oil, plus more for coating pan
4 chicken breasts
5 small tomatoes, such as Campari
1 clove garlic, minced
½ small red onion, chopped
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
⅛ tsp. sea salt
handful of fresh basil, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat an ovenproof grill pan or large skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with olive oil until hot and place chicken in pan to brown, 2 minutes. Flip over and brown other side, another 2 minutes. Place pan with chicken in the oven and bake 15–20 minutes until cooked all the way through.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and basil in a medium bowl. Set aside until chicken is ready. Remove chicken from oven and place on platter to cool. Slice on an angle when ready to serve and top with tomato–basil mixture.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.