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What is Clean Eating?

If I polled 100 people, there could easily be many definitions and viewpoints.

However, after years of detailed research, personal experience, and conversations with certified nutritionists and dietitians alike, I’ve developed a definition that is the heartbeat of Take Back Your Kitchen. It’s throughout all my recipes and incorporated into my personal life.

Clean eating is enjoying food in its purest form. This directly translates to the number of ingredients used to create the food you eat. In other words, the fewer ingredients, the better.

Do you see yourself in any of the following descriptions?

  • A reluctant and picky eater
  • Feel you lack time for meal prep
  • Don’t enjoy cooking
  • Are you simply bored with the same old recipes

I can guarantee that clean eating is right for you! It will look distinct for each individual, but when you tackle it one healthy habit at a time, the benefits of clean eating will quickly become obvious. 

CONSEQUENTLY, WHAT YOU PUT INTO YOUR BODY, DIRECTLY CORRELATES TO HOW YOU FEEL FROM THE INSIDE – OUT. Your gut health controls your emotions, your physical pain, sleep and more day to day functions. When you can get your gut biome to a healthy state life just works out so much better in every aspect.

So ask yourself this? Do you feel any of the following symptoms on a regular basis:

  • lack of energy
  • poor digestion
  • exhaustion and fatigue
  • hair loss
  • weight gain
  • muscle tension 
  • headaches 
  • mood swings 

Clearly, these symptoms are often caused by the food one consumes on a regular basis.  While I am not a doctor and am not claiming to know your specific situation, choosing to be intentional about the foods you put into your body is a great place to start.  

Likewise, sometimes your body needs more help than just choosing clean foods. 

Unfortunately, many people not only need to take out inflammatory foods (see descriptions and ideas below) but they also need to ADD something to help them gain and maintain a healthy gut. This will allow your body to absorb all of the nutrients it needs to get the BEST results overall. I recently have had success and LOVE the program that Arbonne uses and would love to tell you more about it. The products are 100% vegan and full of 21 vitamins and minerals. The program itself is full of products that re-align the PH balance of your gut biome as well include delicious protein shakes fill you up to get you to the next meal. These plant-based products are clean eating at its best!

Here are some thoughts to consider when choosing ingredients:

Does the ingredient cause inflammation in the body? 

The only way to find out what’s causing the inflammation is to remove ingredients from your diet.  Hit that reset button! 

Likewise, while many people do not have an allergy to gluten or dairy, many products Americans consume are mass produced and full of additives and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). These products are hard for your digestive tract. Over time, those extra sugars, chemicals, and artificial junk turn into fat and inflammation in the body. Furthermore, since these hidden ingredients are in so many foods with labels claiming to be “natural” or “healthy” or “no high fructose corn syrup”, they still contain variations of corn syrup. This alone is a leading cause of higher spikes in blood sugar. 

Solution: Look for products that have 5 or fewer ingredients that you recognize. Furthermore, unless the product is something that is naturally sweet, avoid buying brands that include unnecessary sugars. Overall, this will cut down the added sugars, sodium and additives that turn directly into fat in the body.

What food does my own food eat? 

Identifying what is pumped into proteins is also important. If your food eats it, guess what!? You’re eating it! Many of the ingredients you’ll see unnecessarily added to proteins like sausage, bacon, and even ground beef is:

  • Nitrates (preservatives)
  • Dextrose and Maltodextrin (a form of High Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Sugars
  • Added artificial colors and flavorings

Why are they added? It’s cost-effective. But if I’m being honest, it’s only cost effective for the manufacturer.  Choosing to add preservations that will keep food on the shelves longer means they can sell it to you for slightly less to the consumer, but sell more due to the lower cost. As the consumer, you might save a few bucks over time, but is the cost of your health worth it?

Solution: Look for organic and grass-fed products if its in your budget. This helps to eliminate those unnecessary ingredients. When choosing sausage, stick with the leaner version like chicken sausage. However, indulging in a local, quality version of sausage is okay in moderation. Most importantly, read labels and know what you’re putting into your body. There is always a wiser option. 

Do I have to give up dairy?

As a general rule of thumb, I avoid dairy. However, I do include goat, sheep and lamb milk cheeses as they are lower in lactose and easier for the body to process. Keep in mind that quality cheese that is aged for over one year is lactose-free. So check with the deli counter at your natural food store for one of these quality cheeses when you want to indulge. 

Solution: The quality of ingredients is key. Treating dairy as a treat rather than a daily ingredient will make all the difference. Including Greek yogurt with zero additives is a great addition to healthy digestion. Adding fresh berries or organic honey will make it sweet enough. Over time, these are small changes that will directly affect how your gut feels and how it looks! 

Ghee is my butter substitution. It is simply clarified butter that is lactose-free. 

Are my baking ingredients plant-based Products?

Grains commonly used in baking flour, pasta, and bread tend to be genetically modified and overly processed. They are one of the leading causes of poor gut health and inflammation. 

Solution: Stick with plant-based products, as you’ll see in the pantry must-haves section. These are all waistline friendly. But like anything you eat, moderation is key.  

If you have any questions concerning clean eating, message me! I would love to hear from you and be able to answer your questions.

In Health,

Jenni

Weeknight Stir-Fry

Need dinner in 30 minutes tonight? Try this stir-fry. I posted it on my FB page and Instagram page

It quickly became a hit and my cousin Kelly asked me to post it here, so of course I am. Because well…family. 🙂

What I love most about this dish is that it is full of #realfood and will fill you up without that feeling of regret later. #cleaneats #takebackyourkitchenwithjenni #wholefood #cauliflowerrice #stirfry #coconutaminos #plantbased

I was on my way home from meeting up with a friend that went longer than expected. I realized I needed something quick to make that would hit the spot and fill me up.

I stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way home and grabbed all the essentials for a stir-fry. But I am always certain I avoid processed and pre-packaged foods as they are full of preservatives and sodium. The same rings true for soy sauce, which is one of the main ingredients of most stir-frys.

My substitute is easy: Coconut Aminos! Derived from plants, this easy swap has fooled many as soy sauce and better yet, it has up to 10x less sodium.

So enjoy this quick weeknight fix, feeling satisfied without compromising your health.

Prep work is EASY!
Just add Ginger Cauliflower Rice and you’re set!

Weeknight Stir-Fry Weeknight Stir-Fry Print This
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: calories fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 6 cups mixed veggies, chopped (peppers, red onion, mushrooms, zucchini)
  • 1 pound organic chicken breasts, sliced thin
  • ½ -¾ pound shaved flank steak
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • ½ -1 teaspoon chili sauce paste
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • 12 ounces riced cauliflower
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ cup green onions, diced
  • dash of sea salt and pepper

Instructions

For the stir-fry:

Prep your meat and veggies. To save some money, purchase veggie skewers from your local grocery store. This gives you about 6 cups of variety without having leftover veggies to use later in the week.

Pound the chicken to ¼ inch thick. Slice into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the veggies and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to fully combine.

Add the coconut aminos, ground ginger, and chili sauce paste. Continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

To avoid another pan, push the veggies to one side. In batches, add the chicken and cook for a few minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Add to the veggies and continue this process, following with the shaved steak until all are cooked. Mix together and let the flavors simmer for a few minutes.

For the Ginger Riced Cauliflower

Add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Add the riced cauliflower and a dash of sea salt and pepper.

Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to cook evenly. Add 1 cup full fat coconut milk and ground ginger. Simmer on medium-low heat for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

With 10 minutes left, add the diced green onions and continue to stir to combine.

Better in a Bowl?

When looking over my cookbook recipes and the new recipe creations, they are not only full of flavor, but I’ve found that putting a meal in a bowl makes life easier. So here’s a few oldies but goodies AND a few new ones you need in your life.

Loaded Burger Bowl:

This is my latest creation and I just ADDED a new blog post with the recipe.

Simply Rooted Salad:

I needed something light and filling for a late night of work. This salad did the trick! I felt full and satisfied and didn’t have to worry about my body fighting to digest my late dinner while sleeping. (recipe below)

Not Beetin’ Around the Bush Smoothie Bowl

I love this go-to bowl for when I have a little more time in the morning or as a great snack. I top it with some dried fruit (no sugar added) like figs and my favorite grain-free granola.

Sheet Pan Fajitas … in a Bowl

I took my simply flavorful sheet pan fajitas and went low carb. I created this lime-cilantro cauliflower rice instead. (recipe below) It makes these fajitas even easier to eat the next day. Meal Prep WIN!

Better in a Bowl? Better in a Bowl? Print This
Nutrition facts: calories fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )

Ingredients

  • Simply Rooted Salad:
  • 3 medium beets
  • 2 medium carrots or 1 1/2 cups organic rainbow carrots
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • pepitas
  • Drew's Italian Dressing
  • Spinach
  • Lime Cilantro Cauliflower Rice:
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 16 ounces of frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (Thai Brand)
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, diced

Instructions

Simply Rooted Salad

Heat oven to 400 degrees 

Roast beets, wrapped in foil for 50-60 minutes

Add sliced carrots to the pan, sprinkled with salt, pepper and avocado oil and roast for 25 minutes

Compile salad and add fresh pepitas and 1 tablespoon of Drew’s Italian dressing.

Lime Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

Add coconut oil and the riced cauliflower to a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Cook for 5 minutes, adding a dash of salt and pepper along the way.

Add the coconut milk and let simmer for 10 minutes until fully absorbed into the cauliflower.

Add the juice of 1 lime and cilantro and continue to cook for 5 minutes. 

 

1

Loaded Burger Bowl

When I gave up grains, dairy and processed foods a few years ago, I was surprised on what foods I actually missed eating. While I didn’t missed the processed foods, I missed a good juicy burger. And especially today, you can find places that use quality ingredients. But still I know all the sauces are full of sugar and fries high in calories and fat. So why no recreate a burger that I can enjoy throughout the week without feeling guilty?

In my cookbook, I have a BBQ meatball recipe that was inspired by a bun-less burger I tried to make. The problem with that burger was never it’s flavor. It was simply hard to eat… Don’t you feel that way about eating a burger without a bun!?! Completely messy!!!

BBQ Meatballs from Take Back Your Kitchen

A few weeks ago I created another burger with a smashed sweet potato for the bottom bun. Full of flavor once again, it had so many steps to make and was a mess to eat.

Smashed Burger: My inspiration

So I’m learning, that if it’s going to be messy, why not use all those components and make it a salad? Finally, I nailed it! (I’m just realizing I did forget to add the bacon…but clearly I didn’t miss it.)

So enjoy this Loaded Burger Bowl. It will fill you up and help to satisfy that craving without any real guilt. All components can be made during meal prep and complied when you’re ready to eat!

So grab a fork and dig in!

Loaded Burger Bowl Loaded Burger Bowl Print This
Serves: 3 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: calories fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Balsamic Onions
  • ⅛ yellow onion, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons pure balsamic vinegar
  • Maple Dijon Aioli
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet Potato Seasoning
  • PRO TIP: Make a batch to have on hand.
  • Sweet Potato Seasoning (from my cookbook: Take Back Your Kitchen)
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 6 cups mixed greens, loosely packed
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • avocados

Instructions

Components can be made in advance and much of this will all be timed together, but here are some tips:

  • Double your batch of sweet potatoes and add them to one of my power bowls.
  • Chop all of the components first. Then getting each component baking, simmering and cooking.
  • Place all of your spices in a small bowl first so you can just add when ready.
  • Make the aioli when you’re ready to eat.
  1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the sweet potato and chop into ¼ inch pieces.  Toss on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with avocado oil and Sweet Potato Seasoning.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  4. Thinly slice, or julienned, ⅛ of the onion.  Place in a skillet on medium-low and add the balsamic and onion slices. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Place the ground turkey in a large skillet pan on medium-high heat. Cook and drain. Add the spices, water, and garlic and continue to bring all the flavors together.
  6. Whisk the aioli ingredients in a small bowl.
  7. When you’re ready, compile your salad. Each salad has about 2 cups of loosely packed mixed greens, a few cherry tomatoes, and ½ a small avocado.
  8. Store components in meal prep containers so it’s ready for your lunch the next day!

Spaghetti Squash Bowls

Another favorite growing up was spaghetti. I loved my pasta and bread but even when you eat those ingredients in moderation, they tend to have hidden sugars. Using spaghetti squash instead of noodles allows you to fill up on the meat sauce and your portion increases. Bonus: you get a serving of veggies.

Found on page 84 of the Limited/Deluxe Editions of Take Back Your Kitchen.

Balsamic Bacon Brussels

When I say bacon, you say…YES! Eating clean doesn’t mean you have to cut out all rich foods, but it does mean you focus on the quality of your food. So when choosing meats like bacon that are high in fat, choose a brand that doesn’t have added preservatives (nitrates), sugars or other variations of corn syrup like Dextrose. I love Hemplers brand and the price is right!

This balsamic and bacon Brussels sprouts recipe is easy to whip up and sure to be a crowd pleaser. In fact, it is perfect for your Thanksgiving day feast! Ready in 20 minutes it can be cooked in the final push. Brussels sprouts used to be a vegetable with a bad rap, but that is no longer the case. These little green veggies are full of nutrients, antioxidants, Vitamin K and fiber.

Serve yourself a helping of this delicious side!

When I created this recipe, I literally had some leftover bacon and my balsamic reduction all ready to go in the fridge. I would recommend making a larger batch of this reduction and using it as a healthier option for your salad dressing! It will save you time and pull the meal together! So cheers to something deliciously easy and may your Thanksgiving be filled with blessing too numerous to count!

With gratitude,

Jenni

Balsamic and Bacon Brussels

Balsamic Bacon Brussels Balsamic Bacon Brussels Print This
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: calories fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Brussel Sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved
  • 4 Strips Nitrate Free Bacon, thick cut
  • ⅛ cup Balsamic Reduction
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Balsamic Reduction

Yields 1 cup

2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Make a Balsamic Reduction by simmering 2 cups of balsamic vinegar on medium heat for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. It will reduce to half the amount.

Balsamic Bacon Brussels

Cook the bacon on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side. The bacon should not be fully cooked at this point.

Wash, trim and cut the Brussel Sprouts in half.

Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a few paper towels to drain. Soak up most of the grease, leaving on a little to cook the sprouts in. (These two steps are not only to reduce the oil, but mainly to keep the bacon crispy in the end without making the sprouts mushy.)

Place the sprouts, and a dash of salt and pepper to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes.

Dice the bacon.

Add the balsamic reduction and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Turn the heat up to high for 2 minutes to blacken the sprouts.

Reduce heat and add the bacon and cook for another 2 minutes.

 

Not a brussel sprouts fan? Try this recipe with fresh cut green beans. Either way, you won’t regret it.

 

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