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Healthy Tips

Quick Dose: Spring Clean, Eat Clean

Shopping Tips and Recipes for Your Diet Refresh

Published April 2021

We usually think of spring cleaning as the time to clean up the clutter in our homes. But it is also an excellent time to clean up your eating and grocery shopping habits.

"Although there are many variations on what it means to eat clean, the basic idea is to eat more foods that come in their most natural state, or foods that come from the earth with less processing," advises Colleen DeBoer, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, clinical nutrition manager at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

Shop the perimeter of the store first to find fresh foods.
— Colleen DeBoer, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Clean eating starts with what you purchase at the grocery store. When you are shopping, take a closer look at:

  • Storage: Is an item boxed or jarred? Has it been processed? How will you prepare it? "The goal is to have less steps for the food to get to your plate," states DeBoer.
  • Ingredients: Aim for items with fewer ingredients. Make sure you can pronounce the ingredients listed.
  • Buzz words: Be your own detective to determine if an item is healthy. "Any time a product claims it has something 'free,' take an extra look to see what that item — for example, sugar — is being replaced with," notes DeBoer.
  • Location in store: "Shop the perimeter of the store first," advises DeBoer. The freshest foods, such as produce, tend to be on the outside edges of the store. Aisles usually feature more processed foods.
  • Lean protein: Select leaner cuts of meat whenever possible. Lean meats include beef with less than 10 grams of fat, pork loin with less than 10 grams of fat, skinless white-meat poultry and bison.
  • Fats: Choose foods with healthy fats like salmon, avocado, Greek yogurt, nuts and nut butters. "Don't be afraid to include healthy fats in your diet. Although they are higher in calories, they have many heart health benefits and can keep you feeling full," says DeBoer.
  • Sugar: Aim to eat fewer added sugars. Start by reading food labels. Avoid foods with sugar in the first three ingredients. Sugar hides under names such as high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, cane sugar and dehydrated cane juice.
  • Sodium: Look for foods made with less sodium. Limit the amount of sodium you eat to less than 2,300 milligrams a day. This is about 1 teaspoon of salt. Experiment with herbs, seasonings and freshly squeezed citrus as other ways to add flavor.

"When you eat cleaner, you tend to see an improvement in your energy level, digestion and even sleeping habits," says DeBoer. "There is also a psychological component to eating clean. When you feel you are taking care of your body, you can experience more positive thoughts, moods and feelings."

Here are three delicious and easy-to-make clean-eating recipes to get you started on your spring diet refresh.

Apple-Cinnamon Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat milk (dairy or dairy-free alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 apple, diced into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl; pour into a mason jar.
  • Let sit in the fridge overnight. Enjoy in the morning. 


Mediterranean Power Bowl

For the roasted chickpeas:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

        For the quinoa:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water

     For the salad:

  • 2 cups mixed field greens or lettuce
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup hummus 


To roast the chickpeas:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cover baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine chickpeas with olive oil, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. Spread mixture in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake 30 minutes, stirring the chickpeas and rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

To make the quinoa:

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a small microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cover bowl; microwave 4 minutes on HIGH.
  3. Remove from microwave; stir.
  4. Heat again on HIGH 2 additional minutes.
  5. Stir; let stand 1 minute.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Layer greens in the bottom of a bowl or on a platter.
  2. Arrange tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper, olives, chickpeas and quinoa in sections around the bowl. 
  3. Spoon the hummus in the middle of the bowl and serve.

Source: Culinary Hill

Kale Pad Thai

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 bunch chopped kale
  • 1/2 purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped
  • 2 leeks, finely diced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1-2 cloves of minced garlic (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 2 teaspoon flaxseeds or sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained


  1. Add sesame oil to large skillet; heat on high heat.
  2. Add kale, cabbage, celery, leeks, bean sprouts and carrots; cook until celery becomes semi-transparent.
  3. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes or until kale and cabbage has wilted.
  4. Add peanut butter, peanuts, flaxseeds, cilantro and chickpeas; stir slowly to combine.
  5. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. If serving hot, serve immediately.

Serving suggestion: To make a cold noodle salad, cook 1 sleeve udon noodles according to package directions. Combine with the vegetable/chickpea mixture. Add 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or to taste).

Source: Momma Fit Lyndsey

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