Clean Eating For 2015?

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

I had no intention of keeping to any kind of healthy eating regime over Christmas. I didn’t necessarily set out to consume my own body weight in chocolate orange (I reservedly only ate two, and no, I didn’t offer a single piece to anyone else)…but with all of the inevitable festive saturated fat fuelled delights on offer I resigned myself to at least a fortnight of “What The hell! it’s the holidays!”

Besides, cooking a gluten, dairy and sugar free roast for 11 would have been far more challenging than your regular turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Or would it? like anything, I think it’s a case of having the experience and thus the knowledge to potentially whip up these nutricious dishes in a jiffy. Or at least have the motivation to try.

I find it difficult to eat healthily in the winter, in summer I enjoy all sorts of salads, stirfrys, stuffed peppers….. anything with avocado (!) yet as soon as I can feel a chill in my bones I crave pasta, pie and mash (the latter specifically made with lashings of salted butter).

In 2014 I found there were three main difficulties in keeping up my “80%” clean eating goal. The availability of a good proportion of the ingredients I required to make certain things, the associated cost of those ingredients and eating out. Regarding the latter, lunch and brunch always seems to be easier with regards cutting out the crap where as with an evening meal, I find I have to ask for too many changes to the dish or choose something entirely uninspiring.

For 2015 I’ve had a re-think on exactly what I want to achieve, clean eating has definitely given me a wealth of ideas and easy healthier “swaps” (I much prefer sweet potato to regular potato for example) and I have seen results, particularly in my over all well being. That double helping of Terry’s was delicious as a one-off treat but I didn’t feel particularly clever the morning after. A chocolate hang-over if you will*

I’m still mid-research with regards being realistic on eating clean clean (there were certain days last year where I would just miss out meals together, particularly lunch, because there wasn’t anything suitable left to eat, and that really can’t be “good” for you!) and I still find lots of the information conflicting (can you really have wine? do you really need to quit sugar entirely? is dairy ok as long as it’s FULL fat?!)

But I’ve made a decent start. And I’m certainly re-motivated to make and bake new tasty healthier recipes. At the weekend I bought a slow cooker and yesterday made my first beef stew! it was a combination of two recipes plus a few changes to suit our particular tastes.

Mabel ate all of her portion.

I consider that a success in itself.

I’m also making a concerted effort to re-look at my The Art of Eating Well by Helmsley and Helmsley book this month and have a bash at making at least some of the more simpler dishes. I’m also very much looking forward to the release of Get The Glow by Madeleine Shaw when it’s released in April.

Did any of you lovely folks manage to “eat clean” over Christmas? Do you have plans to go back to a healthier lifestyle now the festivities are over?

If you would like me to share my beef stew recipe let me know, I did discuss with the girls how it tastes better than it looks (!) and I’m unsure how it would photograph to be honest but I’ll give it a go!

*There was also an entire box of Milk Tray. And a Cadbury’s selection box.

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
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36 thoughts on “Clean Eating For 2015?

  1. OMG LOVE a choccie orange, too tempting!

    I want to eat more clean in 2015 and have got a slow cooker too which I’m loving. Started the year off with green smoothies and discovered that freezing spinach and kale straight in the bags they come in is helping with that a lot. How did I not know you could do that?!? Trying to always have the ingredients on hand.
    I reckon half the problem is that we are all reading SO many health blogs etc these days that we are setting unrealistic targets. Unless you have a health issue – do you really need to 100% cut out gluten, dairy or sugar. My aim is to reduce the processed food but not to cut out anything totally. Swearing to never eat sugar feels to much like a diet I’ll abandon….life is too short for no chocolate orange EVER 😉
    Through this blog I found Deliciously Ella and trying to incorportate some of her recipes into the weekly meal plan. Not ordered her book yet but thinking about it. xx

    1. Nicola I didn’t even think about freezing spinach and kale, who knew?! Thanks for the tip!

      I think the same as you reduce the processed food but when making fresh don’t try and cut out gluten, dairy AND sugar, it’s really quite difficult – and restrictive!

  2. Charlotte, I was absolutely with you in regards to an an indulgent Christmas. I did say no selection box this year… but instead we got sweets and biscuits!!

    Exactly a week ago I started on my clean eating and new gym programme… the gym regime isn’t a problem, but like you I’m finding evening meals hard.

    Breakfast and lunch are both pretty easy, but it feels fairly monotonous. I’d really welcome simple meal suggestions as after a long day (and the gym), the last thing I fancy is spending hours cooking a meal!

    I did find a really great recipe this week from someone I follow on instagram – @georgiaeatsclean. She calls it Burrito in a bowl… it’s brown rice with chicken, peppers, red onion stir fried with fajita seasoning and topped with chopped tomatoes and 0% fat greek yoghurt – delicious!

    1. Burrito in a bowl sounds lush, will investigate!

      I eat a lot of soups in winter lunch time wise, I’m going to aim to make them chunkier and more “filling” apart from avocado on oat cakes or salad though I find lunch difficult. For whatever reason I never seem to have the motivation to make eggs etc

      I’ll be looking into evening meal ideas – watch this space! x

    2. Have a look on the Deliciously Ella blog/app. Loads of ideas for main meals that are simple and could be made in bulk with portions frozen. We’ve loved everything we’ve made from the app!

  3. I feel yuk Yuk! Yuk really Yuk!! I know its down to my eating habits. I have ate what feels like my body weight in chocolate and Pringles – sometimes both together!! and dont get me started on the wine.

    We are planning our monthly shop this weekend and I feel an over-haul is needed – although gently, if I don’t change my diet habits gradually I will be pigging out on the Pringles be fore I know it. Like you Nicola I plan to cut out the processed food. Its so easy to hand when you come in late fire it in the oven and 20 mins later your dinners ready. Planing is key and I think it’s just getting into the swing of cooking again. As you say Charlotte, roll on the Summer salads!

    PS We have a slow cooker but it’s yet to make an appearance, maybe this month!

    1. I too feel pretty disgusting after Christmas – I was in the deep south of America, where everything is fried and there’s often no vegetarian or vegan item on the menu at all. When I arrived I ordered hummus and pita bread at a restaurant thinking that was the best I could do (the other veggie dishes were hush puppies or sweet potato fries) – the pita bread came deep fried. At that point I pretty much abandoned any hope of being healthy but now I feel like I’m really paying for it!

    2. Marlene the slow cooker is aces! you can throw stuff in in the morning and 8 hours later voila! I just do some extra green veg to go with the dish. Lauren C is doing a more in depth slow cooker usage post soon! x

  4. I so sympathise, I try to eat healthily but when winter comes I just want warm comfort food and chocolate. I’m vegan so eating out can be tough to start with, then trying to find something that is also “clean” is basically impossible. But I travel so much for work I find it equally difficult to meal plan and stock my fridge properly – Thai take-out has become my default option and is definitely not helping my waistline!

    1. I find eating our healthily in London when we visit clients so much easier than the West Midlands, but I do recall in my last job it was often what ever was available at the service station.

      I do love a Thai take out…. x

  5. I think I’d rather eat a balanced diet than a totally “clean” one. I’m not about for forgo the odd G&T or choccy.

    I got a Nutribullet for Christmas and am making a healthy(ish) smoothie in the mornings with spinach, carrots, or kale and fruit with 0% fat yoghurt or water and flax seeds. The problem is I like them a bit sweeter so I put more fruit than veg in which sugar wise probably isn’t too good so I need to go through the recipes and follow them rather than make my own up to begin with. Nicola M – thanks for the freezing suggestion – why hadn’t I thought of that! The big bag of kale always goes off before I can finish it!

    For dinners, we tend to eat reasonably healthy – stirfrys, fish or meat with veg etc. How about winter salads? I am always substituting ingredients for a healthier version i.e. double cream for half fat creme fraiche – and invariably it tastes better!

    Its important that our bodies do get a good balance and if you aren’t eating something make sure you get vits & mins from elsewhere (and not just popping a vit-pill).

    1. Hi Victoria! My sister is investing in a NutriBullet, I’ve refrained thus far as I have so many kitchen gadget contraptions I need to be 100% sure I will actually use it. I have just started taking a few supplements actually, I do also make a concerted effort to eat plenty of fruit and veg every week x

  6. I think clean might work in LA but is not suited to our winter climate! I don’t think there is anything wrong or unhealthy about rice and pasta either. they taste yummy, cheap and filling, and make eating a fresh tomato sauce or curry much easier. I’m doing slimming world and am amazed at how easy and sensible it is. it is a naturally low fat low sugar diet with room for treats. I’ve lost 10lbs since mid Nov and feel so good for it. I never feel hungry either as I can eat fruit, veg, lean meat etc whenever I want. I love the idea of clean eating but it just doesn’t work for me.

    1. Hi Kathryn! So glad to hear slimming world is working for you and you are enjoying the variety, from what you said it seems a sensible plan to follow. I do think some “clean” plans can be a bit extreme – what can be wrong with brown rice?! x

    2. I totally agree with this. About 3 years ago I started on Slimming World, having – obviously – attempted every “quick fix” diet under the sun, and got upset when I wasn’t miraculously a size 8 within a week. SW is a slow burn diet – I probably lost 1lb per week on average, but I reckon if you have more to lose you would do it quicker. I think it’s great because they don’t restrict how much/how often you can eat, and you are encouraged to snack on ‘free’ foods like fruit and lean meat so you never feel hungry. There’s no quicker way for me to fall off a diet wagon than to restrict my calorie intake!!

      The main things I learnt from SW were
      (a) to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! I always end up eating rubbish when I’m caught out;
      (b) that you can have fibre and dairy, just in small quantities; and
      (c) that the main things to be cut out are oils, refined sugar, and (sadly) alcohol. Gin and Slim is my saviour though!!

  7. I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only person to fall off the wagon for 2 weeks over Christmas! And I also demolished a Chocolate Orange – I swear they put crack in them or something! But I’ve done 5 pre work gym sessions this week, am back drinking 3.5lt water a day, having 3 ‘cleanish’ meals a day and 2 snacks (of nuts or a boiled egg) and feel so much better for it already!
    I am following The Body Coach plan at the moment and in phase one of that you use his recipes but most of them adopt a ‘clean’ approach – it cuts out sugar, uses ‘good fats’, lots of lean protein, vegies . He does use oats and dairy though. One change I have made on the plan is using Coconut Oil for cooking (as recommended by many ‘clean’ gurus) which is supposed to be much better for you.
    Following this plan though means I’ve had to stop having my fave breakfast for a while though – chia seed overnight porridge made with almond milk. So clean and good for you!
    I can’t wait for the Madeline Shaw book to come out – I will be off the Body Coach by then (it’s a three month plan) and will also get to make full use of the Hemersely & Hemersely book Santa brought me. I have also pre ordered the Deliciously Ella book – I am serious about trying to stick as closely as I can to the clean regime in 2015 (that rhymes!). I think it’s really just about doing as much as you can in terms of cutting out wheat, sugar and choose good quality ingredients – but living in the real world it can be so hard to stick to the principles 100%.

    1. That’s it Bryony, in the “real” world – i.e. where I don’t have endless funds, an organic produce shop near by/veg patch and loads of free time to cook some days it can prove difficult.

      I am rubbish at drinking water – I really need to sort that out. I have the Deliciously Ella app pn my phone and will be having another look at it tonight! x

  8. Like Nicola says, do we really need to eat 100% ‘clean’ all the time? And who says what’s truly clean and not?

    The one resolution I made was to try and get my five portions of fruit and veg every day which makes a huge difference (partly because you’re so full of fruit and veg, you’re too full to eat chocolate!)

  9. I’ve also just bought the Hemsley and Hemsley book, in hope of a bit of January clean living and compensating for the Christmas over indulgence! Like a few other people have mentioned, I’m not really sure I’m committed to the idea of following it all of the time. Do I really need to abandon gluten and sugar all of time if it never seems to have troubled me in the past? And I just find that there are so many different things that we are not meant to eat these days, and these are often conflicting depending on which diet/’way of life’ you follow. Is there is anything much left?! The Hemsleys seem to be pro dairy, whilst other are not, plus they also are very pro ghee, which I was led to believe was really bad for you?! Anyway, that said, I’m up for a bit of clean living, and even when I decide I don’t fancy doing it full time any more I think I’ll still take away elements of it. I’ve actually been amazed (and so has my husband) as to how delicious some of the recipes in the book are. The aubergine and courgette curry was really good and so was the shepherd’s pie (though I did cheat a bit and mix some sweet potato in with the topping as I couldn’t face just cauliflower).
    Anyway, as my mum often says, ‘a little bit of what you fancy never does any harm’ so I think I’ll go along with that. I guess I just need to keep in mind the ‘little’ element!

    1. Hi Emma! Right, I’ll be trying out the curry and the pie, I too will use sweet potato – it’s delicious. Can’t say cauliflower is one of my favourites.

      I very rarely eat white bread (or any bread for that matter) these days and opt for wholemeal or gluten free pasta, that in itself makes a difference to not feeling bloated.

      I also as many people mentioned on here, use creme fraiche (or light Philadelphia) in place of cream – it’s still dairy of course but also much better for you x

  10. Bit of a random slow cooker question!! Do you leave the house and keep it on? Often the instructions say to not leave unattended which does seem to defeat the whole purpose. I tend to get paranoid about these things 🙂

    I am back on the healthy eating post Christmas and having success with batch cooking. Made a lovely fish pie last Sat (with sweet potato topping) – ate one and popped one in the freezer. Made a lovely quick dinner on Weds pre running out for yoga!

    Loving 2015 RMS xxx

    1. Hi Diane!

      Hmmm, I would leave it on yes – everyone I know does with theirs, that’s almost the point! I can’t say I read don’t leave unattended on mine?

      Batch cooking is definitely the way forward, my best friend does this a lot with lasagnes, pies and the like x

  11. Hehe on the asterisk, that made me laugh out loud when I scrolled down! I like the idea of clean eating – it’s one that I can understand versus ‘diets’ that I would never sign up to – but it can be a bit overwhelming. I am an Instagram newbie and some of the mentalities on there seem a little too extreme for me, so I just take some of the inspiration. Currently I’m embracing the things that I really do like (porridge with almond milk, berries and chia seeds; poached or boiled eggs with asparagus; a clean&lean butternut squash, feta cheese & broccoli recipe; anything with avocado, salmon or sweet potato). I like the look of Hemsley+Hemsley’s anytime eggs with chorizo so that’s on the cards for this weekend! But there are some things that I just cannot give up (wine, spaghetti), and after a difficult year last year I just do not want to 🙂 Good luck everyone with a balanced eating plan! x

    1. Siobhan – I think that’s the best way to describe it a “balanced” diet but with cleaner thinking in general, not necessarily “altogether” (besides, who can actually live without ice-cream?! and chocolate?!)

      I rate the Koko milk substitute for porridge, yum x

  12. Err I fell off the clean eating wagon last Christmas and never got back on. Tut tut. Finally after festive flu, I’ve actually started to make an effort again. But need lunch ideas – I know I also get stuck on the Avacado and oatcake combo as delicious as it is.
    I think I should invest in a slow Cooker but worry that it’ll be another one of those kitchen ‘things’ to fill up he cupboard. It does sound delicious though and Sammy LOVES a beef stew! Oh to feel healthy again… x

    1. Sarah perhaps I could put together a few other slow cooker recipes? it might inspire you and others to invest. What I will say is it’s a doddle to clean. Just one ceramic “pot” that you soak for a bit and wipe down….easy.

      Team RMS are working on some healthy lunch recipes – watch this space! x

      1. Charlotte, would you like my low fat (Slimming World friendly) slow cooker pulled pork recipe? Every time we have it I cannot believe it is not a naughty treat, and it’s so easy and leaves loads left over for a variety of meals! x

  13. Ahh I am so motivated to eat clean in 2015. I am uber enthusiastic about anything that sounds like a new years resolution. Lots of my friends have just had an over sugary christmas and have just set up a facebook group so we can share recipes and snack ideas, shopping tips etc (like where do you find the best almond butter etc) which I’m finding really helpful as its keeping me trying lots of new recipes. It works for me to read a bit of my H&H book, or IQS and then do a big motivated online shop with a clear meal plan and then spend the following day cooking things for the freezer… having a stash of clean meals in the freezer for a lazy-can’t-be-bothered-to-cook day helps out massively.
    Ahhh once you get a slow cooker you do wonder how you lived without one… best £26 I ever spent! All the veg thats sitting in the fridge not knowing what to do and a couple of tins of tomatoes all prepped the night before, some nice spices and perhaps a bit of meat and thats my standard dinner… amazing to get in at tea time with a hungry family and dinner is all ready. 🙂

  14. Every year we buy too much food for Christmas so this time I was very disciplined. I did a big shop to cover the whole festive period. I planned it out meticulously and only bought three Xmas treat meals, the rest were just pretty standard meals. I even used an evening to cook and freeze a few healthy meals, which were amazingly cost effective, and I felt better for it. But then on my first day back at work I started getting stomach pains and have been told by the doctor that I have an enflamed stomach and had to take a couple of days off work. The best laid plans eh..! This has spurred me on to look at eating clean again and today I will be looking for a few new recipes. The slow cooker will be seeing a lot of action.

  15. Hi Charlotte
    I’ve been eating like this (paleo-ish) for about 4 years now but I still loosen the reigns every now and then. Wine is definitely part of my weekend and that’s not going to change.
    Fitter Food is a great cookbook and podcast by a lovely English couple. You should check it out. There are some amazing paleo blogs you could look at – paleo parents, against all grain, practical paleo (balanced bites podcast), nom nom paleo. These are alla my faves.
    My next purchase is a pressure cooker as I don’t like how my whole flat smells of cooking for hours with the slow cooker.
    I did a gluten free Xmas and but ate some sugar and dairy. Mmm
    I think the trick is to find a balance. The first few years I was way too strict and it wasn’t fun. Now I’ve found a happy place. Although I’m getting married in April and want to shift a few lbs so will tweak it again. My ultimate goal is health and fertility though.
    Best of luck. Love the blogs!

  16. We also invested in a slow cooker this month – a colleague has done the same – maybe this is a thing!

    I would welcome some slow cooker recipes please.

    I am rubbish at cutting out “bad” food, as soon as I say I’m not going to have chocolate or wine I want it!

  17. I also fell off the wagon over Christmas but I feel as though I didn’t fall as far as I had during previous Christmas holidays. After a bit of a false start last week which involved trying to eat up leftover goodies and buying ice cream to go with them I’m hopefully back on track. One thing that has helped me is cooking for four in the evening. This means that my hubby and I get one portion each that night and then another portion each for lunch the next day.

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