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Saturday, August 22, 2015

{Clean Eating}

Over the years I have learned that my body just functions better when I eat cleaner.  I am more alert, have more energy and overall just feel better.  But I also like to indulge every now in then, because what is life without a little sugar?  

I will say these days I try to embrace an 80-20 lifestyle.  Eating clean 80% of the time and indulging/living 20% of the time.  It is a balance that works for me and has become sort of second nature to me.  But eating clean wasn't always easy for me, it took a lot of effort, that is why I was so excited when Cooking Light asked their Blogger Connection to share how they make clean eating a part of everyday life, in partnership with Panera Bread!   Which if you have not been to Panera recently you need high tail it over there and try their new menu!  I am in love with Panera's new fresh salads that feature good for you ingredients, clean dressing and loads of flavor!  Panera's Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa salad is my new fav, its so delicious!  Plus, I can enjoy it knowing that I am putting good for me nutrients into my body!  

So now lets talk about how I make clean eating work in my busy everyday life!  Below are 5 ways that I make clean eating work along with some tips!  

1- Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep.
I find that when I plan out meals for the week (yes even breakfasts, lunches, and snacks)  I make better food choices.  Sunday nights I like to cut all my veggies for my weekly lunches, cook up a big batch of grains and cook up hard boiled eggs for quick easy grab and go breakfasts/snacking.  By prepping all this Sunday I can easily assemble a healthy and clean salad to take for lunch each day.   I also spend Sunday nights prepping as much as I can for our weekly dinners (chopping veggies, assembling meatballs, marinading chicken, etc).  This helps ease meal prep during the week and makes creating a healthy and clean dinner a breeze during the hectic work week.   
2- Read Labels, and stick to what you know!
In the beginning I didn't know where to begin when it came to grocery shopping, so I did a lot of research to find the cleanest foods, and read a lot of labels.  Grocery shopping took a lot of time in the beginning when I was trying to clean up my diet.  Now a days I have my tried and true staples that I purchase on a weekly basis, think Greek Yogurt, Beans, Canned Tomatoes etc.  These are my clean eating staples that I know I love and help eating cleaner so much easier!  Remember the shorter the ingredient deck the better! I also make sure that I shop mainly the perimeter of the store! 
3- Stock up and fill up on fresh produce.  
Fresh fruits and veggies are some of the cleanest and purest foods you can eat, so why wouldn't you want to fill your tank with as much of that goodness as possible?  I love subbing in fruits and veggies in lace of other snacky foods like pretzels, chips, etc.  I am a huge lover of chips and salsa but in an effort to eat cleaner and up my intake of fruits and veggies I dip carrot chips into fresh salsa instead of tortilla chips!  With that simple swap I upped my veggie intake and cleaned up my diet just a little more! More go to snacks; apple with peanut butter, homemade hummus and veggies, greek yogurt with honey and berries! 
4- When in doubt make your own! 
I love making my own salad dressings, granola and granola bars/energy bites!  By making my own I can control the ingredients that go into the foods I consume and I can make sure that I am putting only whole and nutritious ingredients into my body!  Busy?  Try making a pan of granola bars on Sunday night as a part of your meal prep!  For salads try drizzling greens with a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 apple cider vinegar!  I also love combining olive oil, honey, lemon juice and zest for a zippy and bright salad dressing! 
5- Make smart choices when dining out, but also enjoy!
When dining out I stick with dishes that feature loads of fresh and in season veggies!  I love grilled foods and if I don't like something the dish is featuring I ask for it on the side or not at all!  Don't be scared to ask for modifications to a dish when you are out!  But remember dining out is also a treat and you should enjoy it!  Remember 80% clean and 20% indulging and living.

Enjoy and Happy Eating!