You might remember a while back when I posted my review of Tosca Reno’s Eating Clean Cookbook. Tosca was kind enough to do a Q&A session on clean eating. Many people’s resolutions involve “getting healthy” (whether it’s by exercising, losing weight, or just cleaning up their eating habits), so this comes at a good time! Thank you, Tosca!
For anyone out there who isn’t familiar, what is the basic premise of eating clean?
Eating Clean is eating the way nature intended. You eat the food our bodies evolved to function best on, which is why you feel and look fantastic. When you Eat Clean you eat six small meals each day. You eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, which keeps your blood-sugar levels stable and your hunger under control.
What was your biggest inspiration for coming up with the “eat clean” idea?
I can’t take credit for the idea of Eating Clean. This is the way that bodybuilders and fitness athletes have gotten ripped for competitions for decades. The inspiration for my books came from my Oxygen readers – they often wrote in asking for diet and fitness advice so I thought I would make the information available to them in one concise package.
In your Eat Clean Cookbook, I noticed several recipes that would make wonderful additions to holiday meals; can basically any recipe be remade into a clean recipe?
Most recipes can be made Clean, so long as they don’t contain any processed ingredients. Even then, substitutions can be made. The focus of Eating Clean is on real food – the more natural, the better.
Where do you get all of your incredible recipe ideas?
Sometimes I get recipe ideas from family and friends, and occasionally from readers, but most of the time it’s just from experimenting in the kitchen. I have a large family and I love cooking healthy, wholesome foods that everyone will enjoy.
What are some of the benefits of seasonal eating, in addition to superior taste?
When you choose fruits and vegetables that are in season, you not only ensure that you are eating a wide variety of nutrients throughout the year, but you also save money. Purchasing produce that is in-season is a cost-effective way to Eat Clean.
What are the best ways to cook vegetables to retain as many nutrients as possible?
Although I eat a lot of vegetables raw or steamed, you can also bake, grill, broil or roast your vegetables. So long as you are eating your veggies without sauce or melted butter, you’re good to go.
What are three staples that are always in your refrigerator?
Eggs, grilled chicken, and brown rice.
How can someone follow the clean eating plan when eating at a restaurant or at someone else’s house?
In restaurants, make friends with your server and let them know you’d like your food prepared without added sauces, gravies, butters, fats and oils. Ask for meats to be grilled or “dry.” Request your vegetables to be steamed and served without sauce or butter. If the restaurant you are at serves sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta, or brown rice, feel free to enjoy a serving, otherwise ask for a double portion of vegetables.
Eating Clean at someone else’s house can be more difficult but it’s not impossible. If you know your host well you can explain your dietary concerns before the meal, or offer to bring a dish to share (if the situation is appropriate).
What are some clean protein sources, in addition to beans and tofu?
Chicken, tuna, bison, beef, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, eggs, nonfat plain yogurt and kefir, fresh fish, low fat cottage cheese, lentils, lean ground turkey, tempeh, edamame, unsalted raw nuts, natural nut butters, textured vegetable protein, natural protein powder – the list is quite long!
How many nights a week do you think it’s beneficial to eat vegetarian (both for our health and environmental purposes)?
At my house we make a point to have at least one meatless meal (and sometimes more) for dinner each week. I rely on protein powder, beans, lentils and other vegetarian proteins quite often.
Are there any vegetables that should be avoided or eaten minimally when eating clean?
When you Eat Clean you can feel free to enjoy all vegetables. Starchy vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, radishes, split peas, and yams should be limited to two to four servings each day. Other vegetables, especially leafy greens, have no limitations.
Why do many people frequently crave sugar?
People crave sugar because it’s addictive. In my opinion, sugar is a legal drug – addictive and destructive. Eating sugar provides an immediate energy spike, which is why people turn to it when their blood-sugar levels are dipping. By Eating Clean and keeping your blood-sugar levels stable, you can prevent sugar cravings.
Which clean foods are good for reducing and/or eliminating sugar cravings?
The best way to reduce sugar cravings is to cut sugar out of your life cold turkey. You wouldn’t suggest to an alcoholic that they wean themselves off of alcohol and sugar should be treated in the same way. In a couple of weeks, the cravings will disappear and you’ll begin to appreciate the natural sweetness of foods such as berries and apples.
What’s your all-time favorite meal?
I love a bowl of filling oatmeal topped with ground flax seeds, wheat germ, and bee pollen. I eat it every morning! Served with a side of scrambled egg whites, it’s one of my favorite breakfasts.
I had so much fun with this Q&A! Thanks again, Tosca!