Tuesday, August 26, 2014

5 Clean Foods I Couldn't Live Without

For the most part, I try to eat clean. There are some deviations here and there, but when I'm trying to put myself in the best position to succeed with either my health, muscle building, fat loss or performance, I've found that eating as clean as possible really helps. With that said, I love to eat!  I'm pretty disciplined by nature, but overeating and eating stuff that may be good for weight gain but not for the rest of my body systems in general, has been something engrained in me since birth. (The idea of calories at all costs is another blog for another day!) Many of the things that I like to eat are far from clean (think candy, birthday cake, sugary cereals, taquitos from Costco, pizza pockets, and the list could go on and on) and the only way to keep myself on the up and up with a "clean lifestyle" is to find clean foods that satiate me in the same ways as stuff on the not-to-eat list.

1. Eggs

5 fun facts about eggs (www.incredibleegg.org):

  • The incredible edible egg™ has a high nutrient density because it provides a wide range of nutrients in proportion to its calorie count (about 70 calories per Large egg). Nutrient-dense foods help you get the nutrients you need without excess calories.
  • A Large-sized egg supplies 12.6% of the Daily Reference Value (DRV) for protein. A little over half of the egg’s protein is in the white and the rest is in the yolk. The egg’s protein is the highest quality protein of any food. One egg of any size equals one ounce of lean meat, poultry, fish or seafood in the food groups.
  • Egg protein is both high in quality and low in cost. It’s easy to compare the price of eggs to the price of other protein foods. A dozen Large eggs weigh 1 1/2 pounds, so the price per pound of Large eggs is two-thirds of the price per dozen. For example, if Large eggs cost 90¢ per dozen, they cost 60¢ per pound. At $1.20 per dozen, Large eggs are only 80¢ per pound.
  • To tell if an egg is raw or hard-boiled, spin it. Because the liquids have set into a solid, a hard-boiled egg will easily spin. The moving liquids in a raw egg will cause it to wobble. 
  • Each of the roughly 280 million laying birds in the U.S. produces from 250 to 300 eggs a year. In total, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs a year, about 10% of the world supply.
How much I eat: 

At a minimum, I eat 2 eggs over-easy or over-medium with 1 cup of egg whites to start off every day. Then, it's not uncommon for me to eat 2 hard-boiled eggs for a snack at some point during the day and I often have a 1-cup egg white omelet or scramble for dinner. Thank goodness that Costco sells all of the above in bulk!

Why I like them:

I love how versatile eggs are! You can prepare them a variety of ways and they seem to be a great base for so many different meals. I also like the fact that they are mostly made up of a slow-release protein that fuels muscle repair throughout the day or night.  

2. Roasted Vegetables

Fun facts about vegetables:

  • Asparagus - Everyone makes "asparagus pee," but not everyone can smell it. (http://modernfarmer.com)
  • CauliflowerCauliflower contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check, including indole-3-carbinol or I3C, an anti-inflammatory compound that may operate at the genetic level to help prevent the inflammatory responses at its foundational level. (http://www.whfoods.com)
  • Bell PeppersTraditional Chinise Medicine (TCM) uses bell peppers as a natural treatment for certain medical conditions relating to digestive issues and blood circulation such as indigestion, loss of appetite, swelling frostbite(Injury or destruction of skin and underlying tissue) and stagnation. (http://durablehealth.net)
  • BroccoliBroccoli is high in fiber. Not only in soluble fiber but insoluble as well. Since your body needs both types, it's great to know that broccoli is can fulfill both your needs. (http://www.mindbodygreen.com)
  • CornAn ear or cob of corn is actually part of the flower and an individual kernel is a seed.
How much I eat:

I highlighted the five vegetables (well, bell peppers are actually fruits) above because those are what I eat most often. In fact, they are listed in probably the quantity in which I consume them. It's common for me to have at least 10 stalks of asparagus and 1 cup of cauliflower with both lunch and dinner. Lately, I've been adding a cup of bell peppers to lunch and dinner as well. I used to eat more broccoli, but I've been on a cauliflower kick lately and I buy a 8-pack of corn every two weeks or so.

Why I like them:

I like that I can load up on vegetables to feel full, but not over do it on calories. I also like the texture of most roasted vegetables and love experimenting with different hebs, marinades, etc to roast them with.

3. Cholula

Fun facts about Cholula (www.cholula.com):

  • It is named after "Cholula", the oldest inhabited city in Central America. It is a 2,500 year old city in Mexico and famous for its 365 churches. The term Cholula is derived from the pre-Hispanic word "Chollollan" meaning "the place of retreat".
  • Cholula delivers a palatable 1,000 Scoville units 
  • Cholula Hot Sauce is made in Chapala, which is a one hour drive from the city of Guadalajara, a five hour drive from Mexico City, a four hour flight from Los Angeles, 1,000 miles from Dallas, TX and a long way from New York City.
  • Cholula has been in existence for at least three generations; it has been commercially available in the United States for over 20 years.
How much I eat:

I am very generous with my Cholula because I like "heat" and it is zero calories. I add it to my eggs most mornings, cauliflower or broccoli, chicken or turkey and sometimes, my salads.

Why I like them:

I like spicy food, but not spicy to the point that it's not enjoyable to eat. Cholula for me is the perfect balance of heat and flavor. It makes bland things better and flavorful things even more flavorful.

4. Frozen Fruit

Fun facts about (frozen) fruit (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-incredible-facts-about-eating-fruits-and-vegetables-that-you-probably-didnt-know.html):

  • Pineapples can destroy your taste buds.
  • Apples can give you more energy than coffee.
  • Grapefruits are a horrible idea if you take certain medications (list here).
  • Bananas are technically herbs.
  • Studies by the FDA have confirmed that any decrease in nutrition from freezing fruits is negligible at best.
How much I eat:

How much eat depends on whether it's a high carb day or a low carb day. I've been doing more and more low carb days lately, so my fruit intake has been less. With that said, when I do eat fruit, I do it right! For dessert on my high carb days I make "ice cream" out of only frozen fruit in my Vitamix. I have a concoction, made of frozen pineapple, mango and cherries, that tastes a lot like my favorite ice cream, Rainbow Sherbet!! I also drizzle (or pour) some honey on it to bring out the sweetness.

Why I like it:

I have a sweet tooth and this not only helps with that, but it does wonders for my post-dinner before bed snacking habit. I use a small spoon to eat it so I can enjoy for as long as possible, and I'm positive that eating it on some nights has kept me away from snacking on dry sugary cereal (another favorite of mine!).

5. Honey

Fun facts about honey (http://honeything.com http://honey.glorybee.com):

  • Honey stored in air tight containers never spoils. Sealed honey vats found in King Tut's tomb still contained edible honey, despite over 2,000 years beneath the sands. 
  • Two tablespoons of honey would fuel a honey bee flying once around the world.
  • German peasants were required to give their feudal lords a payment of honey and beeswax
  • Honey is the ONLY food source produced by an insect that humans eat
  • Honey is much more than just a simple sugar. Rich in minerals and nutrients, honey also has some antibiotic properties that may aid in the healing process.
How much I eat:

As mentioned above, I often (and by often I mean always) put honey all over my frozen fruit ice cream. This could be anywhere from 2 tablespoons to a 1/4 cup! I get raw honey from my mom (who works at a farm) or the purest form of honey at stores. I probably shouldn't eat as much as I do, but it keeps my away from refined sugars.

Why I like it:

I love how the honey gets hardened by the frozen fruit ice cream and as mentioned above, I love its sweetness!! I could actually eat spoonfuls of just honey and I have been known to stick a spoon full of peanut butter into a raw honey jar and eat it as a snack.
Honorable mention

Any kind of dehydrated meat!! Such a great source of protein that is easy to grab and go!

I know, I know, to come clean eating enthusiasts out there this list may not fall under 100% clean eating, but I decided that if I was going to eat healthy, it would have to be a lifestyle and not a fad. I show myself grace daily by choosing to eat healthy food that is satisfying, but not necessarily "by-the-book clean". I also show myself grace on special occasions like camping (s'mores!) and occasionally, birthdays or other events (cake!).

NOTE: I realize that for some who read this blog, every calorie counts. If you'd like ideas on some high calorie, "clean eating" foods or recipes, please let me know!