The perfect recipe for clean eating

If you are trying to improve your health, it may be time to “clean” your plate. Eating cleaner foods is like fueling your car with high-octane gas. It’s one of the best ways to ensure you have energy all day. It’s also a great way to manage your weight. But perhaps most importantly, eating clean can add years to your life by considerably reducing your risk for things like heart disease and diabetes—even cancer.

Learning how to eat clean is largely a matter of acquiring the right recipes. True, it requires a little more planning, food prep, and cooking, but you’ll have so much more energy that you may even welcome the effort.

Whether you are new to clean eating or an old pro looking for a new recipe, you’ll want to tune in to Time to be Well, Episode 23. In this episode, Kathy Barry, registered dietician for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, discusses clean eating while showing you how to prepare a “Buddha bowl,” full of healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

As she cooks, Barry explains what it means to eat foods that are “clean.”

“Clean eating is primarily having foods that are closer to their natural state rather than refined foods,” says Barry, “and then having that as the basis of your diet. Not just having one healthy meal a week, or one healthy meal from time to time with wholesome foods, but trying to have that as the basis of your diet.”

She says that it can be overwhelming to think about changing your diet or going on a diet. You should think of clean eating as less of a diet and more of a lifestyle.

“It’s easier to get some of the refined, high-salt and high-sugar foods out of your diet when you have such an abundance of really healthful, good, wholesome foods to fill it up,” says Barry.

Keep big macs in your diet

Many popular diet plans may recommend eating fewer carbs or foods with less fat, but Barry explains why your body needs carbs and fat, as well as protein. In fact, these are the three big macronutrients (big macs!) that every healthy body needs.

You need complex carbohydrates for energy, healthy fats to absorb vitamins and protein to rebuild cells.

Carbs are especially important for active people.

“You need energy. Every cell needs fuel and the first place it’s going to reach for fuel is the carbohydrates. If you don’t have enough carbs to fuel yourself, your body will use protein for that fuel. So don’t be afraid to have carbs in your diet,” says Barry. “You just want smart carbs in your diet.”

All carbs are not created equal

Carbohydrates can be divided into two categories: complex carbs and simple carbs. The difference between the two is how quickly your body can break them down and use them for energy.

Complex carbs are harder for your body to break down. This means that they stay in your system longer. Complex carbs give you long-lasting energy. When you think complex carbs, think endurance. Complex carbs are found in vegetables and whole grains. Look for these foods: sweet potatoes, quinoa, bagels, pasta, rice and oatmeal.

Simple carbs are easier for your body to break down and use as energy. They provide a quick burst of energy. Once you’ve burned the energy, though, you may be left feeling tired and sluggish. Some people refer to this as a “sugar crash.” You can find carbs in many processed foods and high-sugar foods, including soft drinks, sugary cereals, fruits, candy, jelly and baked goods.

Get cooking

If you want to stock up before doing some virtual cooking with Kathy, here are the ingredients you’ll need to make your very own Buddha bowl.

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1-1.5 cups quinoa (rinsed)
1 Tbsp. minced ginger root
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken strips or medallions
1 large sweet potato
1 large red onion
¼ cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Red pepper flakes and honey (optional, to taste)