Clean eating is one of those trendy terms people like to throw out there -- and nobody really knows what it means. So we find ourselves asking if we can consider our meal “clean” if it has an iota of wheat, natural sweetener (another mysterious food term), or sea salt.
Nutritionist Tosco Reno, author of the "Eat Clean Diet," has a simple way of defining clean eating: “Eating clean is about choosing fresh, whole foods with all of their nutrients intact,” she says. That means trying to avoid processed foods, including healthy things like unsweetened almond milk (unless it's homemade), as well as foods with added processed sugar.
To prove it's not as tough or tasteless as it sounds, we rounded up these recipes. All are made with common ingredients (no need for fancy superfood powders or spices you'll never use again) and contain loads of flavor, color and satisfaction -- plus health benefits because who doesn't like those?
And no, they're not all kale salad. Time to get your taste buds out of the fast-food gutter and come to the clean side!
1. Cake Batter Chia Pudding
Not everyone loves the gelatinous texture that chia seeds develop when mixed with liquid, but here things are helped along when dates, almond butter, and oats come together to fake the delightful sweetness of cake batter. Not that we have any idea what cake batter tastes like, of course. And we're sure you don't either. (It's our little secret.)
2. Everyday Oatmeal With Amaranth, Coconut, and Maple Sautéed Apples
This breakfast is like eating apple pie without the crust, so you definitely want to bookmark this page. Amaranth is a grain that has slightly more protein than quinoa does, and here it gives a naturally sweet crunch. While the blogger who created this recipe uses homemade almond milk (because she's a chef), you can simply cook the oats in water.
3. Healthy Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies
We love that this recipe is on a blog called Ambitious Kitchen—and that it has two ingredients. This is the kind of ambition we can get behind! Bananas and oats may be enough for you (and make surprisingly sweet breakfast cookies), but the addition of things like cacao nibs and nuts makes things more fun. Gasp: Four ingredients? Now we're cooking!
4. Raw Buckwheat Porridge
Soak buckwheat overnight to get yourself an easy grab-and-go breakfast with about 6.5 grams of protein from the groats alone. We like to top with a big dollop of nut butter for extra protein and healthy fats to keep us energized all morning, no matter how long that meeting drags on.
5. Skinny Omelette
There has been a resurgence of the egg, and we're 100 percent behind this shift in popularity. Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin B12, which is key for a healthy nervous system and metabolism. Turn the egg into a tortilla and top it with homemade pesto (check out our recipe), goat cheese, and greens, or try guac and salsa.
6. Cucumber Berry Breakfast Pasta
How often do you wake up and think: I could go for a hefty serving of pasta? This recipe could change all of that. Cucumber noodles are topped with berries, basil, kiwi, sesame seeds, and lime juice for a crispy, sweet morning meal. We think there's something very satisfying about twirling your breakfast and slurping it unabashedly.
7. Sweet Potato Cakes
Sweet potatoes and fiber-filled coconut flour make these cakes sweet enough that you don't need any syrup on top. Or go savory at breakfast and top with veggies and avocado. Either way, they're great alone or as a replacement for hash browns.
8. Zucchini Boats
Our lunch is on a boat! (We couldn't help it.) These zucchinis are carved out and filled to the brim with nutrient-dense brown rice, lentils, herbs, nuts, and dried fruit. It's a great switch for when you're bored of bringing zoodles to work and don't know what to do with the rest of the summer squash you bought.
9. Berry, Arugula and Quinoa Salad With Lemon-Chia Seed Dressing
A little bit sweet and a little bit savory, this salad travels really well. And while we love greens and fruit, the addition of quinoa and walnuts brings the satisfaction, plus omega-3s from the nuts. If you're feeling crafty, layer everything into a mason jar for easy, pretty portability.
10. Chilled Asparagus Soup
Minimal cooking, lots of blender time, and easy to transport: This creamy and satisfying soup is a winner. Asparagus is a good source of vitamin A, which helps to form and maintain healthy skin and teeth. Plus, you know what they say: An avocado a day keeps unhappiness at bay. OK, we say that.
11. Black Bean and Quinoa Salad
We are going to do our best not to over-quinoa you, but this salad is super colorful, easy and delicious. Here is what we love about it: It's a little spicy with the addition of jalapeños and a little sweet with the navel oranges. What more do you want in a food (or in a person for that matter)? Cooking skills needed: Boiling water, opening cans, chopping, and stirring things together. It makes a big batch, so serve some for dinner, then pack the leftovers to bring to the office since it's tasty warm or chilled.
12. Tahini Salad With Shiitakes and Arugula
Tahini has a hefty dose of calcium, which is one of the most important minerals in the body (it even helps you to squeeze your muscles!). Use this dressing on top of a simple salad of spicy arugula, warm shiitake mushrooms, and a hard-boiled egg. Warning: You may need some gum after eating. This drizzle has tons of garlic!
13. Collard Wraps and Satay-Style Dipping Sauce
Collard wraps can sometimes leave you wanting more (literally, we're hungry an hour later), but not with these! The filling of chicken, strawberries, mango, cucumber, and avocado is great, but the real star is the sauce. Almond butter and coconut cream make it super rich, while ginger and a little chili spice it up a bit.
14. Warm Farro Salad With Roasted Artichoke Hearts
Though it takes a while to cook, farro, a wild cousin of wheat, is super easy to make. Topped with tomatoes, artichokes, and leeks, this Mediterranean dish travels well and will taste good hot or cold on your lunch break.
15. Black Bean Plantain Veggie Burgers With Avocado
Homemade veggie burgers are way healthier than packaged ones, but they often require a grocery list filled with ingredients, or they end up soft with a consistency similar to hummus. These are neither and they're super delicious. The plantains add a hint of sweet, and there's a slight kick from chipotle powder. Extra baked plantains on the side make this a meal.
This article originally appeared on Greatist.