It’s Back-to-School Night: Let’s Eat Clean

photo 4If you have kids, you’ve probably been to a few Back-to-School events to kick off the scholastic year with a guide on what’s ahead. Well, why not take this week to review what we consider our best practices in the world of food shopping, cooking and eating. We’ve heard it all before, but it’s just good to bring to mind what we already know before we forge ahead into another year of over scheduled feeding frenzy. To borrow a widely-used and very intuitive headline for this exercise, let’s call it our Clean Eating Best Practices. Clean, because when it comes to food, our bodies can only be as clean as the foods we feed them! Come and cook with us!

So what exactly is “clean living” when it comes to food? Clean stands for minimally processed and as direct from nature as possible. That means whole and free of additives, colorings, flavorings, sweeteners, and hormones. As one article put it, “aim to eat as much as you can of foods with one-word ingredients, such as spinach, blueberries, almonds, salmon, and lentils”.

Here are our Clean Eating Best Practices for what’s ahead:

  1. Cook real food. Dust off your pots and pans and “join the revolution”, so to speak. Mark Bittman is the perfect spokesperson to hone in on the message that the most radical thing you can do to improve your health is to cook real food at home. Start with simple dishes and work yourself up to be the next Alice Waters in your own culinary realm!
  2. Buy the best food in the store. Stock up on fruits and vegetables (organic, when you can), including whole carrots, artichokes, bunches of spinach and whole heads of lettuce, at least one vegetable from the brassica family when you shop (arugula, cabbage, broccoli and kale), and anything that’s black, blue, red or purple to round out that rainbow.
  3. Eat your bacteria. Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi or yoghurt (the real kind) are all packed with living bacteria that aid digestion and make nutrients more accessible. Add them to your menu as well.
  4. Cut down on meat. Do it for the planet, as it saves fossil fuels. In fact, if all Americans avoided meat 1 day a week, that would save the same amount as taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Let’s do our part.
  5. Shop at the farmers market or sign up for a CSA. There are plenty of great platforms (e.g., www.goodeggs.com, www.quinciple.com) that bring fresh produce and other great products from farmers straight to your door-step, often free of shipping charge.
  6. Keep it simple. Nothing says nutritious like a simple dish, where fresh, local and seasonal ingredients take center stage. A simple green salad, roasted beets, ratatouille and whole stone fruits all make for great additions to your dinner table.

The list could go on … plant a garden, cut back on eating out, buy staples in bulk, cook from scratch, eat left-overs and drink water. I haven’t mastered it all yet myself but getting a friendly reminder on what really matters is a great way to kick-off this season, particularly as scheduling conflicts, soccer practices and necessary playdates make a family dinner all but impossible. We know it’s hard and all we can do is add one single new habit or improvement to our day, week or month. And let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Indulging every now and then is ok, keeping in mind that a little balance goes a long way when it comes to eating clean.

We love to share with you our tips and inspirations throughout the year on how to turn these best practices into habits. Spread the good word and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where we post frequently on what we’re cooking, reading and loving right now! And continue to cook great food! We love you even more for it. Come and cook with us!

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