Clean eating, being healthy in mind and body.
Clean eating. We’ve all heard the term. People with whiter than white teeth, abs you could cut a watermelon on and that self smug permagrin that only someone who chooses to eat Kale would have. But cut through the self gratifying bollocks and what you’ve got is a way of eating which is healthy, cheap and tasty.
I’ve been a lunchtime sinner in the past, gorging on way too many supermarket carbs and then feeling like I’ve been hit by a train by 3pm. These days however, I’ve been spending a lot more time on my health & nutrition and I wanted to write a little blog post about what clean eating means to me, and how I do it as a normal person, in the real world – and hopefully demonstrates how you can too!
So what the fck is it?
First and foremost then, let’s understand ‘clean eating’ means enjoying food in it’s as natural state as possible and avoiding anything processed. So think vegetables, complex carbohydrate & protein & such like.
During the week, I’m pretty busy. I work 8-9 hours a day, I usually do a 5-10k run in the evening plus I run my own side-business and online blog, so along with a family, kids & some ‘me time’ it’s important to ensure I get a healthy nutritious lunch which doesn’t leave me reaching for the chocolate cake by 3pm. (fck me that sounded like a diet advert)
It’s all good news here though; eating clean is cheap, quick and convenient. First thing I did (and I’d thoroughly recommend you do too) is get yourself over to your nearest wholesale or catering store and by yourself a months’ worth of microwavable Tupperware containers. The kinds you get from a Chinese Takeaway (!!) and you can expect to pay no more than a few pounds for those.
Then, off to the super market & get yourself lots of differing frozen veg. I find the following gives decent variety;
- Soya Beans
- Green Beans
- French Beans
- English peas
It goes without saying you already know that all these frozen veggies are super nutritious, easy to cook & store and microwave well. (now I sound like QVC)
To further increase your carbohydrate, as I tend to find to keep your carbohydrate intake steady & consistent throughout the day is a winner, a few sweet potatoes diced up can help bulk out your meal.
To go with those veggies, you’ll need to get some protein, so go to your local supermarket and pick up a couple of large frozen bags of chicken breasts and fish fillets.
So once you’ve got that little lot home, I tend to find I need a couple more staples, and then I can start cooking. Namely some rice, and pasta. (you can even use lentils but I’ve not really experimented with those yet). All of the cooking below takes less than 60 minutes and makes meals for 7-10 days both lunch and dinner. Bare that fact in mind because each meal is costing you way less than a £1 and if you wander yourself over to your lunchtime Tesco or Sainsbury’s for example, you can expect to pay £5 on lunch and it’ll be terrible for your insides plus you waste a bunch of time in a supermarket, I mean, come on why are people doing this?
Get your oven on, and get both the chicken and fish pieces into it for about 30 minutes on Gas Mark 5 (I tend to find fully wrapping the fish fillets & studding them with a small amount of bay, pepper and butter really make them sing), slightly undercook everything as you’ll be microwaving it when you eat it remember.
Whilst your cooking your chicken or fish, dump your vegetables in a large pan of water and bring them up to no more than a simmer. Remember, don’t cook them through, because you’ll be microwaving at the point of eating them so that will finish off the cooking. Just cook them enough to take the hardness out and then dump them in cold water to arrest the cooking process. Use your common sense here with how much veg to cook for each meal. I use weights and macro nutrient measurements, as l log everything into My Fitness Pal, but you don’t have to do that. Just think about what you’re doing.
Get a couple of big pans and make some brown rice, and some brown pasta. Make enough to last for 7-10 days. I use 30-60g of carbs for each meal. Go easy on the salt if at all, I tend to find a good herb mix does wonders and is much healthier.
Don’t let the rice scare you!
A note on the rice. Cook the rice as normal, rinse it through with cold water to immediately chill it and then refrigerate it (whereby it’s good for three days) or freeze it (where it’s good for a month or so). You can guarantee if you do this, you’ll not poison yourself. There’s a myriad of do’s and don’ts when it comes to cooking rice. Trust me, follow those instructions and you’ll be golden.
Run your pasta through with cold water too – this washes some of the starch off & also helps cool it down quickly. I flavour my pasta with a little olive oil, pepper and thyme. The oil also helps it to not stick together when its stored cold.
What you should then end up with is some cooked chicken and fish fillets, a bunch of vegetables, and some rice & pasta. All chilled (by using cold water to get everything cool at the same time) and lots of tupperware containers. For Monday, Tues, Wed etc.
Then all you do is equally split out some veg, carbs and protein, and top with some herbs and spices, pop the lid on and refrigerate (or freeze) and you have some truly awesome lunches.
I go a step further and make a little herb mix (or urbs, if you’re a yank!) which works with everything in the container. I include garlic & fresh chilli, rosemary, thyme and paprika – always tastes lovely and makes anything you buy at the supermarket for lunch an embarrassment.
These meals are great, look great when you’ve popped them back on a plate and microwaved them for just a few minutes & leave you full and happy, but don’t hit you with that post carb lull. If you’re dieting, you’ll know these are quite low calorie meals so feel free to do a little side portion of salad (with peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and beetroot) and you have some amazing cheap but wholesome meals.
Doing the above, for some time now and I’ve gradually and safely lost stones in weight, with little or no effort. My energy’s through the roof and I know I’ve nourished by body properly. Plus, all these meals come in at less than a £1 per meal and you don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to cook them.
I stick them in a decent thermos lunchbox, add a couple of snack apples and some raisins, a little salad and maybe a yoghurt and you’ve got enough healthy food to last you 10-12 hours straight. It takes less than an hour to prepare all this, and that my friends, is how I find the time to work my job, run my business & spend some time on me.
Some top tips for general health & wellbeing day to day
- Drink plenty of water – ( I use a Brittas filter bottle, makes all water taste great). Maybe 2-3 litres a day
- Drink green tea and go easy on the coffee
- Swap whatever milk you drink to fully skimmed (the red top). You barely notice any taste difference & its so much better for you
- Swap out regular bread for high grain bread (with bits in). Whilst it doesn’t really matter whether you go for white or brown, granary bread is the best choice
- Stay away from synthetic margarine and pick something natural and/or with high mono-saturated fat in it (which helps with Cholesterol balance). After pure butter Bertolli is a pretty good choice.
- If you like cheese, you can always use Quark for your day to day cheese replacement
- Don’t forget staples like Quorn, you don’t always have to eat meat.
You may find all this sounds like hard work. I mean, you could just wander to Sainsburys and get yourself a pasta salad, sandwidch and crisps. But believe me, this shit is killing you slowly, and you don’t even know. Feeling like you want to curl up under your desk to sleep after your mammoth 200g Carb loading is not the way to be a productive person.
I do all the above, on a Sunday, in less than an hour with a glass of red wine by my side and Classic FM on the Sonos, I mean, what could be easier?