Until I got reasonably chubby while being a pastry chef (several misshapen croissants for breakfast, anyone?), I didn’t actually know what clean eating meant. My first foray into the world of commercial cooking had been with an emphasis on butter and sugar.
Clean eating aims for people to eat natural whole foods, with meals that are complex with a combination of carbohydrates and protein, as well as necessary good fats. You’re looking for unrefined sugars and foods that have avoided commercial processing. There is an emphasis on fresh food and an avoidance of excessive levels of sugar, salts and fats. With an aim to keep bloody sugar levels steady, several small snacks or meals are recommended rather than large meals, and drinks such as sugary soft drink or caffeinated coffee and tea should be avoided.
With clean eating, you will feel fewer drops or spikes in energy levels and overall eat less food because of the consumption of complex wholefoods which keep you fuller for longer.
As mamas, our eating habits can be lax at best, with little time to scrounge together breakfast or lunches while feeding our families, and afternoon binges of the quickest and easiest consumables we can get our hands on. While it might be easy to say ‘eat an apple or a banana, or perhaps munch on a carrot?’ for those of us starting out, to be enticed away from that chocolate stash, we’ll need more delicious and interesting enticement. Here are some clean eating snacks that you can prepare for the rest of the week.
1. Delicious clean eating hummus
3 cups cooked chickpeas (1 cup of dried)
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup natural yogurt
1 sprig of rosemary
2 tablespoons of good quality avocado, safflower, walnut or extra virgin olive oil
To make this I like to roast the garlic cloves in their skins to take the edge off. In a food processor blend together the chickpeas (if you can do this while they are still warm, they are easier to process), lemon juice, roasted garlic cloves, yogurt, rosemary leaves and oil until smooth. You can add a little salt and pepper to taste, but the aim is to add lots of fresh flavour and avoid needing salt to be able to enjoy it. If you love salt, try and adopt your palate to less salty tastes by adding only a small amount.
This dip should be enough for many snacks through the week when accompanied with carrot or celery sticks, which are easy to prepare and will happily last the week in the fridge when well covered and sealed.
2. Refrigerator Oatmeal
I love eating this for breakfast, but it’s also an awesome snack. Start with one part whole rolled oats, one part milk, one part natural yogurt, and add a couple tablespoons chia seeds. From this base, add some of your favourite seasonal fruit, whole nuts, unrefined sweetener and warming spices like cinnamon. Let sit overnight and while most recipes say that this will last 4 days, I find a big batch of it will still taste good at the end of the week.
3. Hard boiled eggs
The perfect boiled egg can be achieved by placing eggs in a saucepan with at least 3 cm water over the top. Boil for 12-13 minutes, remove from water and drop into a bowl of cold water to stop the eggs from cooking further with the residual heat trapped inside. Don’t peel the eggs, as they’ll keep better for the week that way. Though if you know you’ll be more likely to grab one if they’re already peeled, keep the boiled eggs in a bowl with enough cold water to cover them. Change the water daily. Otherwise keep them in a sealed container with wet paper towel draped over the top, which should also be changed daily.
4. Home-roasted nuts and seeds
I find that pre-roasted nuts never taste as deeply roast-y and nutty as I hope they will, so I prefer to get the freshest raw nuts I can find and roast them myself. If you like your nuts salted, why not try roasting them with some herbs or spices to add flavour and stop yourself reaching for the salt shaker. Most nuts should be roasted at 150 degrees C for between 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the nut. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds should only be toasted for 5-10 minutes at the same temperature, and you’ll need to watch them closely.
5. Roasted Chickpeas
You’ll need 3 cups cooked chickpeas and some spices like paprika, cumin, coriander, chilli, cinnamon, whatever kind of spices you like. Toss the chickpeas with the spices, pour onto a lined baking tray and bake for one hour at 160 degrees C or until the chickpeas are crisp. Allow to cool fully before storing in an airtight container. You’ll be eating this out of hand so much you’ll need to make another batch within a few days.
Those ‘three-thiry-itis’ powdered soup advertisements really creeped me out with that poor starving office-worker being wooed by a pack of insta-soup. Your own home-made soup quickly heated on the stove or in the microwave will do the trick for a warm, savoury drink that satisfies. Try a soup that incorporates a combination of pulses or meat, whole grains and vegetables.
7. Raw Banana Oat Energy Balls
These little snacks are tasty and just one will give you energy and also leave you feeling pretty full. Mash a ripe banana, combine with 1.5 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 cup of whole oats (or use something like whole quinoa flakes or similar for GF), 1 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of unrefined sweetener (agave, honey, maple syrup etc.) and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Use damp hands to press into balls, about 2.5cm in diameter. Place on a paper lined plate or small baking sheet and freeze for 3-4 hours. Keep these in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a month. You can eat them straight out of the freezer but you can let them thaw a little too.
8. Dehydrated fruit or vegetable chips
I’ve had a dehydrator on my ‘most wanted gifts’ list for a long time, but the oven at low-temperature has been fine for all my simple dehydrating jobs. Thin slices of apple cut from top down (core removed) or the much beloved kale leaves can be dehydrated to crisp and chewy deliciousness, elevating them from obvious health food to genuinely delicious treat. For kale chips, your oven should be at 170 degrees C, and for each bunch of kale you will need to dress it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Keep in mind that from a single bunch of kale, your kale chip yield will be ¼ of the weight or less. For apple chips, your oven should be at 130 degrees C and the apples should be sliced as thinly as you can manage, or you could use a mandolin. On a lined baking sheet roast, lie the slices flat and bake for one hour before turning over and baking a further half hour. If they need more time, bake for no more than another half hour and check throughout the time. Allow to cool fully before putting in airtight containers.
9. Natural yogurt with fruit salad
There’s nothing like sweet fresh fruit and cool creamy natural yogurt. Knock together a seasonal fruit salad and dress it with a little fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice. This is a great snack on its own, but will be more complete a snack and satisfying combined with yogurt.
10. Chia pudding
This is the ‘dessert’ you should resort to if your other options just won’t cut it and you need something sweet, cool and (seemingly) decadent. If you haven’t seen Mamabake’s chocolate cherry chia pudding, then read it now. It is extremely delicious and incredibly healthy. So you’ll feel like you’re having dessert, but really you’re being good.