31 Cooking and Nutrition Tips to Help You Eat Clean in 2017

We asked our bloggers, columnists, experts and even our staff to contribute their favorite culinary and nutrition tips to help you eat clean in 2017. Find inspiration for every day of January to keep you on track!
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We asked our bloggers, columnists, experts and even our staff to contribute their favorite culinary and nutrition tips to help you eat clean in 2017. Find inspiration for every day of January to keep you on track!
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1. Eat Real Food

Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, answer your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Their "Whole-Life Guide to Lasting Weight Loss" course launches this January 2017. Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See alsoWhat is Clean Eating?

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2. Plan for Success

It's 5:00 p.m. and you have no idea what's for dinner. Never fear! Because you have a collection of quick and easy "5-ingredient meals," you can quickly run into the grocery store on your way home or rest assured that you already have the necessary ingredients for emergency meals stocked in your fridge and pantry.

See alsoOne-Skillet Suppers.

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3. Start the Day Off Right

We are big believers in breakfast. It boosts your metabolism and sets your energy levels for the morning. Chef Heather Christo, author of Pure Delicious: 200 Delectable Allergen-Free Recipes, typically starts her morning with a smoothie with vegan protein powder.

See also15 Customizable Clean Eating Breakfast Recipes.

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4. Need a Winter Warmup? Switch from a Salad to Soup!

Soups are the new juices! They are an easy way to load up on nutritious, life-extending veggies. Check our our January 2016 issue for loads of fresh soup recipes.

See also10 Cold-Weather Soups and Stews.

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5. Eat More (Perfectly Cooked) Eggs

A rich source of protein to fuel muscles, choline for brain development and vitamin B12 for red blood cell production, eggs are a nearly perfect food. Chef James Smith of the Clean Eating Academy shares this great cooking tip and more here. Join Chef James for the "Intro to Clean Cooking & Nutrition" course available on-demand now. Join the mailing list to get more info!

See alsoMeet Clean Eating Academy Instructor James Smith.

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6. Try "Veggie" Noodles

Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized.com recommends substituting spiralized veggies into your favorite pasta or noodle dish once a week. By the end of the week, you'll have reduced the amount of processed foods you've eaten, while increasing your veggie intake. It's a win-win.

See alsoOodles of Veggie Noodles: 10 Grain-Free Recipes.

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7. Drink More Water Every Day

We recommend that you drink at least 2 liters of water every day for optimal health. One of the best ways to increase your H2O intake is to flavor your water with fruit.

See alsoReconsider Tap Water: The Healthiest Water Options. 

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8. Eat More Sustainably-Raised Fish

Nutritionist Kate Geagan recommends adding more omega-3-rich fish to your diet, like little-known barramundi. Also known as Asian Seabass, barramundi has roughly half the calories of salmon, is packed with protein (25 grams for 5 oz. portion) and is loaded with brain-boosting, anti-inflammatory omega-3s (about 600-800 mg per serving).

See alsoThe Healthiest Fish & Seafood.

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9. Improve Your Mood and Stress Levels with Meditation

Take time to breathe deep. Daily meditation has been proven to increase mood-stabilizing serotonin in the brain and can also boost feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. Managing stress can help keep emotional eating in check.

See also6 Stress Relievers to Ward Off Weight Gain.

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10. Always Read Labels

Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, cover your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Their course "A Whole-Life Guide to Lasting Weight Loss" launches January 2017 – so you can actually keep your resolution! Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See alsoWhat is Clean Eating?

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11. Create a Non-Stick Surface for Cooking

Frustrated with proteins and veggies that stick to the pan? You might be adding oil to the pan before it's hot. Chef James Smith of the Clean Eating Academy shares this great cooking tip and more here. Join Chef James for his "Intro to Clean Cooking & Nutrition"course this year! Sign up now!

See also10 Tools Every Cook Needs.

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12. Lighten Up Your Snacks

Our regular health contributor, Sarah Tuff Dunn, recommends adding air-popped popcorn to your diet. Top it with salt and pepper, nutritional yeast and even butter for a light, fiber-rich and satisfying snack.

See also5 Clean Super Bowl Snacks.

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13. Discover a New Cooking Hack

Farmer, Recipe Developer and busy mom of two, Mary Brower, loves good food but doesn't always have the time to prepare it. Caramelizing onions usually takes copious amounts of butter and about an hour to prepare. This hack will get you to dinner in a fraction of the time. Simply, add a pinch of baking soda to the pan when sautéing onions. You'll go from raw to delightfully browned in 15 minutes. Just be sure to use a non-reactive pan, such as stainless steel.

See more of Mary's Cook Like a Farmer columns.

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14. Vow to Add a Vegetable to Every Meal

Leading wellness journalist and Clean Eating contributor Candice Kumai suggests adding more greens to every meal. Try a smoothie for breakfast with extra spinach or an avocado with eggs.

See alsoWhy You Should Eat More Plants.

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15. Save Money. Stop Cooking with Expensive EVOO.

According to Clean Eating Academy instructor Chef James Smith, less expensive pure olive oil has the same benefits as extra virgin olive oil and is actually better for high-heat cooking. In fact, high heat destroys the fruit flavor of extra virgin olive oil. So save your EVOO for salad dressings and pestos and save money at the grocery store. Hungry for more? Sign up for our foundational online cooking course with Chef James, "Intro to Clean Cooking & Nutrition" now.

See alsoCanned vs. Fresh Produce: When to Use Each

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16. Plan Ahead

Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized.com recommends packing at least two "emergency clean foods" into your briefcase, bag or backpack. It's easy to fall off track when you're not prepared. If your blood sugar drops, you might reach for candy or chips. Instead, pack a bag or almonds or roasted sweet potatoes--and, of course, a bottle of water.

See also12 Ways to Liven Up lunch.

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17. Eat More Probiotics

Probiotics are hot right now, but nutritionist Kate Geagan believes that they live up to the hype. Fermented foods featuring probiotics are packed with a bevy of real nutrition benefits. These foods can be easier to digest; they are filled with beneficial bacteria that are good for your gut (where 70% of your immune system resides), and they can also be a source of B vitamins and healthy enzymes. In addition to yogurt, experiment with a dollop of kimchi or sauerkraut on a veggie burger, try using apple cider vinegar in salad dressings or drinks or enjoy homemade or high quality store-bought kombucha.

See also3 Nutritious Meals Featuring Fermented Veggies.

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18. Listen to Your Body

Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, cover your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Their "Whole-Life Guide to Lasting Weight Loss"course launches January 2017. Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See also10 Reasons to Eat Clean.

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19. Try Juicing

Juices pack a vitamin and nutrient punch, but store-bought versions are often filled with sugar and preservatives. Try making your own at home or indulge in a fresh pressed juice from a juice bar a few times a week.

See alsoMood-Boosting Juice.

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20. Eat More Garlic

The key to the astonishingly wide range of health benefits in garlic seems to lie in a compound called allicin, which is created from the reaction of two other compounds – alliin and alliinase. Nature designed it so that the alliin and alliinase live in different parts of the garlic clove, so how you prep garlic is critical for the creation of allicin. Crushing or chopping garlic releases the enzyme alliinase, which reacts with the chemical alliin to form allicin. To get the most out of garlic’s primo health benefits, Chef James Smith of the Clean Eating Academy recommends that you crush or chop garlic cloves (the finer the better) to join the active compounds and let them sit for 15 minutes before using. Join Chef James for his "Intro to Clean Cooking & Nutrition" course. Sign up now! 

See alsoHow to Oven Roast Garlic.

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21. Ban the Box. Eat Fresh.

Chef Heather Christo, author of Pure Delicious: 200 Delectable Allergen-Free Recipes, recommends you challenge yourself to only eat from the outside aisles at the grocery store where the whole foods--meat, fish and vegetables--are located.

See alsoThe Benefits of Limiting Processed Foods.

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22. Keep Junk Food Out of Your House

It may sound obvious, but if you bring highly-processed junk into your home, you're likely to eat it. Alexis Kornblum of LexisCleanKitchen.com suggests that you get rid of the temptation and don't put your clean diet in danger.

See alsoWhy Bingeing on Fatty Foods Hurts Your Health.

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23. Eat Mindfully

Studies have shown that you eat less when you pay attention to what put in your mouth. Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, answer your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Join Tiffani and Erin for their "A Whole-Life Guide to Lasting Weight Loss"course now! Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See also5 Secrets to Win at Weight Loss.

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24. Consider Going Meatless Once or Twice a Week

Jorge Cruise, bestselling author and celebrity fitness trainer, recommends eating a vegan breakfast every morning in his new book Tiny and Full. Eating a plant-based diet a few times a week has a positive impact on both your waistline and the environment.

See alsoThe Benefits of Going Meatless.

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25. Visualize Clean Eating Success

Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized.com has a tip for making your clean eating dreams a reality. She suggests that you look back on the previous day and identify something you could have done better for your health--was it one more rep of squats, drinking more water or cutting out that afternoon cookie? Take a moment each night to reflect on that day and wake up the next morning with resolve to make a simple change. By the end of the week, you'll be a healthier version of yourself.

See alsoFlat-Belly Foods.

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26. Eliminate all Soda. Even Diet Soda.

Diet soda may be calorie-free but it still feeds your sugar dragon. Drink water instead! Join Chef Nathan Lyon this spring for his new course: Mastering Sustainable Seafood, Poultry & Meat. Find out more information here. 

See alsoDoes Sparkling Water Count as Daily Water Intake?

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27. Cook Your Grains Ahead of Time

Preparation equals success. Take an hour on Sunday to cook your grains for the week and keep them stored in the fridge to cut down on dinner prep.

See alsoCook Sunday for the Whole Week in 6 Easy Steps.

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28. Avoid Excess Sugar. Make Your Own Sauces, Dressings and Condiments.

Chef and Clean Eating Contributor Candice Kumai believes that cooking more at home helps you control what you consume. So, this year, try making your own dressings, sauces and condiments. It's not nearly as hard as you think!

See also5 Simple Salad Dressings.

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29. Start a Garden in Your Kitchen

Save money, add flavor to your food and reap all the health benefits herbs have to offer -- like disease-fighting antioxidants -- by growing your own in a windowsill! 

See alsoHow to Grow Microgreens All Winter Long.

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30. Master the Perfect Vinaigrette

Making your own dressing is one of the ways you can keep processed ingredients out of your diet. Next time you make your own vinaigrette, try adding the herbs to the vinegar before you add the oil. Oil has a tendency to coat spices and herbs and block their flavor. Chef James Smith of the Clean Eating Academy shares this great cooking tip and more here. Start 2017 off right and join Chef James for his "Intro to Clean Cooking & Nutrition" course. Join the mailing list to get more info!

See alsoHow to Make Mason Jar Salad Dressing.

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31. Don't Get Stuck in a Food Rut

Variety is the spice of life. If you always eat broccoli and green beans, this month try Swiss chard and jicama. Try a new Clean Eating recipe and treat your taste buds to a new experience.

See alsoWinter Produce Guide.