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5 Ingredients to Jump Start Clean Eating

5 Ingredients to Jump Start Clean Eating

When I was introduced to Clean Eating three years ago I was very overwhelmed and did not know where to start. 

I found that these are the top 5 items I always have on hand.  There are multiple uses for the ingredients and it’ll give you a good jump start to understanding and adding clean items to your pantry and refrigerator.

I like to explain Clean Eating as eating food the way your grandparents did, before it all got so “convenient”.  Clean eating is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s about removing processed foods, looking at labels and seeing what is actually in them.  The label should contain about five ingredients or less, all that you can pronounce.

I am still learning but I know how hard and overwhelming it was for me when I started, and I wish that someone would have broken it down for me into little steps.  The most memorable moment I had when I began the process was when I walked into my pantry and started reading labels…  It was scary.  I couldn’t believe the amount of ingredients on the packages and then how impossible it was to even read the names!  If you haven’t tried this little exercise yet, I highly recommend it.  It will make you want to throw it all in the garbage, which is exactly what I started doing.

The biggest change for me was realizing I might need to learn how to cook… Oh, boy.  I could burn water.  I’m not kidding, I literally burnt water once.  Still have no idea how!  If you are like me and can’t, dislike or just don’t have time to cook, don’t worry!  You can still make the switch to Clean Eating!  It does take some dedication, but take it in small steps.

Ingredient #1:

Agave–  Agave is a natural sweetener which has not been refined like sugar.  We use A LOT of Agave.  Like most sweets I have to be very careful how much I use, I try to stay at 1 tbls. a day, but it is a perfect substitute for sugar.

Before Clean Eating I used to use Coffee-Mate because it was “sugar free” and “fat free” and then I read the label.  Let’s say it was eye opening…  Instead now I use a teaspoon of Agave and tablespoon of organic half and half.  Agave can be used instead of maples syrup on pancakes, as a sugar substitute for baking, and as a sweetener for protein shakes.

Where do I get it?

When I first heard of Agave, I had no idea what it was, where to get it, or how to even pronounce it!  Just about every store carries it now, including Target.  But my family, between the four of us, uses so much that I buy it at Costco.  They sell 2- 36 oz. Organic Agave bottles for about $10.  At Target it’s about $6 for only 11.75 oz.  If you find you love Agave as much as we do, make the trip to save!

Ingredients #2:

Organic Spinach–  An important part to Clean Eating is eating many vegetables, preferably organic and ideally dark green and leafy.  I recommend starting with spinach because it is very convenient and easy to add to meals.  I use it in my eggs in the morning, add it to my protein shakes, stuff it in a wrap, and put it as a bed under any leftover.  Before Clean Eating I ate some vegetables at dinner and now I eat spinach 2 to 4 times a day, about 4 to 8 cups.  It is the go-to vegetable in my house that my kids will eat with any meal.  All you have to do is rinse it and it is ready to go!  No cutting or cooking (unless you want to) and you get a great addition to meals you probably already make.

Where do I get it?

We eat so much spinach that I get it from Costco most of the time, but if I haven’t planned well, even my local grocery store has their own tub of organic spinach.

Ingredient #3:

Organic Eggs–  It’s actually mostly the egg whites I use.  Breakfast is my favorite meal, I could eat it three times a day!  I make protein pancakes, oatmeal breakfast muffins, omelettes, and plain scrambled eggs all the time.  I also sub egg whites for baking recipes.  Part of Clean Eating is reducing the chemicals in your food and organic eggs are a great place to start with organic meats.

Where do I get it?

I buy mine at Target.  I find they are about a dollar less than my grocery store and with my Target Red Card coupons print for them pretty regularly.  I’m not a big couponer though so you might find better deals at your locals stores.

Ingredient #4:

Organic Coconut Oil–  I use this for everything.  Instead of cooking spray, just read the label (scary!), I put this on the pan.  I also use it for sauteing vegetables and I substitute it for any recipe that calls for vegetable oil.  Coconut oil has many health benefits including:  reducing cholesterol, balancing weight, and helping you resist viruses and bacteria.  It is an easy switch!

Where do I get it?

I do not recommend buying this at your local grocery store.  I buy it at Costco because like Agave, it is very expensive in small containers.  I buy 54 oz. for about $16 and it lasts forever.

Ingredient #5:

Organic Peanut Butter–  My family and I eat this everyday.  Everyday.  I have to be careful, just like with Agave, not to eat too much but I love peanut butter.  Why organic?  It only has 2 to 3 ingredients.  I love to add it to protein shakes, have it on Ezekiel bread for a snack or all over a piece of fruit.  Sometimes for dessert I’ll eat it off a spoon…  Yumm!

Where do I get It?

We eat SO much peanut butter that I buy it at Costco.  I get two 40 oz jars for about $13.  And we go through them quick!

As you can see, I do recommend buying organic or non-GMO products when you can.  Many conventional products add chemicals, preservatives, and dyes to their products.  Those are exactly what you want to move away from when you are choosing clean ingredients for your home.  I will be posting my favorite easy recipes and more ingredients that I find helpful in future posts.

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