Clean Eating

IMG_9666Many people opt for health in the new year, particularly after weeks of festive parties and holiday cheer. This marks a new column for the site focused on Clean Eating. While you wouldn’t necessarily make the connection, many of the recipes I write are considered ‘clean’ - they take advantage of healthy fats, steer clear of inflammatory foods and maximize flavor. I don’t eat wheat, rely on fruits and vegetables for bulk, and count on lean proteins for their nutritional properties and ability to sate. I’ve been eating like this for years. It all started when…… A little over ten years ago, on my 29th birthday, I woke up tired, fatigued and overweight. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I thought “Twenty-nine….what am I going to do with my year?” and the answer came easily. I decided I didn’t want to be fat anymore. At the time I weighed close to 200lbs – a lot of heft on a 5’6” frame. I didn’t want to take the self-doubt, body hate and shame into my 30s with me, and I knew I had to make changes. So, I got up, put on some grubby clothes and snuck out for a run. I use ‘run’ loosely here, because in truth I lumbered down a block before I had to stop and gasp for breath. I kept walking and as soon as my breathing leveled off, I’d run another short bit until I was forced to stop.

And so began my journey into health. I’ll spare you the details, but give you the overview; I started exercising near daily – walking briskly at first, but eventually my body wanted more and I naturally became a runner. I invested in my health and started working out with a personal trainer three times a week for one month. (And then dropped into her group classes two nights a week.) I stopped eating bread. I’d have an occasional whole wheat pita, but never white bread. And I curbed my snacking, no small feat as I worked in the epicenter of Tom Douglas Restaurants, up in the corporate office. At first I got hungry during the day, but I allowed for a mid-morning snack of an apple with peanut butter and a mid-afternoon snack of a steamed cup of milk with some vanilla extract, cinnamon or a few shakes of nutmeg over the top. Over the course of 3 short months, I lost about 40 pounds. It was that easy. I made up my mind and made it happen through sheer dedication. And while I ate healthy, I wasn’t compulsive about calorie counting. I still drank wine and cocktails, and I still ate pork belly – I just did it all in moderation, balancing my nutrition across the week. (Interestingly, this is the time in my life where I took a clear pivot and starting making all of my food from scratch home and relying on whole foods for nutrition. This personal ethos provided the background for my eventual cookbook, Urban Pantry and food-writing career.)

Today marks a day of new starts for many. I have always cherished the peace and pause a new year offers. This day provides a great opportunity to reset. For breakfast, I had a bowl of fermented kefir sprinkled with a handful of my Coconut-Chamomile Granola (from Apartment Gardening), a cup of fresh melon and a drizzle of honey. Good stuff.

In the coming year, I will host a series of posts here on Clean Eating. It could be an interview, a recipe, a trick, a nutritional factoid, a meal plan – whatever I’m doing at that moment in my own kitchen. I hope you’ll follow along and start experimenting at home in your own kitchens. You know, get a little bit healthier – support your goals with ease.  Who knows, maybe you’ll drop a few pounds? (I have about 8 to loose, ma’self!) If you’d like to learn how to do something specific, or have any questions along the way, holler out. Until then…….

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s to a healthy 2014.