Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wellness Wednesday - The Clean Eating Craze

My quest to feel better about myself in 2014 has led to friends and family asking me advice on how they can do the same.  While I love to help a few people here and there while I can, I thought a good thing to help more people...and continue to hold myself accountable...would be to start a "Wellness Wednesday" on the blog.  My goal is to post a new blog every Wednesday that has something to do with health concerns and general healthy living.  So if you have a topic you want to hear about, let me know.  First up...clean eating!

I'm not going to claim to be a genius on the whole clean eating movement.  It's become increasingly popular over the last few years, as has the Paleo diet.  I've talked in several blogs before about the Paleo diet and the Whole30 food challenge which both did AMAZING things for my level of energy and general "feel goodness".  If you are looking at clean eating as a means to help you loose weight, I suggest you head over to the website The Gracious Pantry.  She breaks it down so much more than I ever could.

That being said, here's my two sense.  Eating clean is exactly that, clean...no chemicals, artificial additives, nothing that can't be found naturally in nature.  The best way I've learned to think about this is to imagine your grocery store.  Now pretend the only place you can shop is around the outer edges of the store and not the isles.  This will hit your produce, fresh seafood, fresh meat, dairy and frozen foods.  Now, we all know that wonders of Ben and Jerry's that hide in the frozen food sections, but this does give you a starting point for figuring everything out.  You could also imagine that you are back in the pre-grocery days where everything you put in your body was either grown or made naturally and that is clean eating.  The truth behind the phrase, you are what you eat is ever present, and when you put crap in...well...you can figure the rest of that.

A lot of people look at this lifestyle change and think they can't afford to eat clean.  My opinion on this one is that they are confusing eating clean with eating organic.  So, ok, soapbox moment.  Most people who are full force on the organic train do so because they are under the understanding...or misunderstanding...that their organic food is grown COMPLETELY natural without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.  The truth is, organic farmers are only limited to the fertilizers and pesticides they can use, not completely banned to do so.  And when farmers have rough seasons, most will turn to some type of help to keep putting food on their families tables.  So when you're buying that organically grown lettuce that you're going to go home and wash before you're eating anyway, you kind of washing that money down the sink.  Buying fresh produce is enough.  If you want the added benefits of an organic product, do so in your protein (meat, eggs and the like).  Rules are stricter and you will taste and feel the benefits.  *Soapbox moment over*

Time is also a big issue I hear people talk about when wanting to make a change in what they eat.  For that I say, I hear ya!  My life is just as crazy as the rest of yours, and while I would love to spend my days testing healthy recipes for my family (and readers), it's not practical to everyday life.  So, that's why at the end of every Wednesday blog, I'm going to give you a recipe that is healthy, family friendly, tasty...and most importantly...quick and cheap!  Sound good?  Here you go...

Edamame Hummus (adapted from Oh My Veggies)

Quick note here:  I am a hummus fanatic!  I would buy Trader Joe's out of every single flavor every single day if I could.  But it's so easy and I know I could get more bang for my buck if I made it.  So I ran on to this gem one night...which I immediately cheered about since Trader Joe's doesn't sell Edamame Hummus anymore.  With a few tweeks, I had a fabulous hummus I would put up against them any day!

1 16 oz bag frozen edamame; thawed (not cooked-it gets really mushy if you do!)
3 T lemon juice
4 cloves garlic; peeled
1/2 c cilantro; leaves picked and stems discarded
1/2 c tahini (sesame seed paste)
4-6 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 - Get out your handy dandy food processor and get ready to be amazed at how easy this is!  The original recipe called to rough chop the garlic and cilantro (or herb of your choice).  No need!  Let the processor do the work for you.  And don't be scared about adding the thawed edamame without "cooking" them first.  I ate a handful just to be safe and I'm still here :)
2 - Add everything to your food processor except the olive oil.
3 - After a few seconds, slowly drizzle in your olive oil while the processor is running.  Stop halfway through, scrape down the sides, and continue adding the rest of your olive oil.
4 - Taste, season as you would like with salt and pepper and mix again.  Done!
My little one was even chomping at the bit to get a hold of this one!  Best yet, along with being "clean eating" approved, it's vegan, dairy free and gluten free!  Yeah for quick, easy and healthy!

Stay tuned next week for a few snacks for the little ones in your lives...