In her new book, Eating Clean, Amie Valpone offers a plan to detox and fight inflammation
Getting healthy (and staying healthy) may take some serious shifts in your daily habits, but don’t worry about revamping your lifestyle overnight. These changes take time. Start when you feel ready and take a deep breath. My “aha” moment was getting chronically ill, but you don’t need to go through something that dramatic.
Whether it’s the birth of your first child, a scary health diagnosis or just wanting to clean up your diet, eating clean for a few weeks will convert even the pickiest eater. You can do it, too! Start by giving your pantry a makeover. These tips and suggestions are dedicated to making the transition relaxed and fun.
There are a few ingredients that I keep coming back to—the foods that I can’t live without. Call them superfoods, call them nutrient dense, call them your new best friends. Whatever you want to call them, it’s time to get to know them. There’s no need to go out and buy them all at once, but consider adding them into your rotation a few at a time. By having them in your kitchen, you’ll be able to easily add flavor and nutrients to almost any dish you’re cooking, without chemicals, refined sugars and any other sneaky ingredients.
Chickpea miso paste This deeply flavorful Japanese staple used in soups, sauces, marinades and salad dressings is made from chickpeas instead of soybeans. This miso changed my life; it’s fermented, so it’s great for gut health, too.
Seaweed Sea vegetables are loaded with iodine, iron, minerals, vitamin C, antioxidants and phytonutrients. You buy them dried and rehydrate them in water in five minutes. Arame and wakame are great in soups and salads or sprinkled over steamed and roasted veggies. I add kombu when cooking beans (for a boost in nutrients and to help break down starches), but you can also make a seaweed salad by cooking the kombu on the stovetop in water and adding a drizzle of coconut or extra-virgin olive oil before serving. Nori is a great snack, especially when rolled up with some avocado, hummus and veggies.
Turmeric This spice gets its yellow coloring from a compound called curcuminoid, which is anti-inflammatory and stimulates the natural detoxification process of the liver and gallbladder.
Whole mustard seeds Instead of using processed mustard from a jar—which is often filled with refined sugar and additives—these seeds add flavor to soups and salads while also stimulating stomach acid production to ensure you digest your food better. They’re a great source of selenium, too.
Fresh ginger Ginger stimulates the liver to flush out toxins. Fresh ginger is great for teas, salad dressings and marinades, and it’s delicious finely grated for a quick, flavorful touch!
Cacao Cacao is the primary ingredient in all chocolate. It’s high in antioxidants, magnesium and many other nutrients, and tastes bitter and chocolaty without the sugar and additives. You can add cacao nibs or powder to granola, smoothies, cereal and trail mixes, as well as to desserts.
Cinnamon Cinnamon adds a touch of sweetness to food and drinks. It comes from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree and has great antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It’s also filled with fiber, calcium, iron, manganese and antioxidants. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on desserts, sweet potatoes, squash or baked fruit.
Dairy-free nut cheeses These protein-packed “cheeses” add creamy texture and dairy-like flavor to any dish and make great spreads for my grain-free crackers and
Extra-virgin olive oil This crucial staple is made without being treated or altered in any way, so there’s not much you have to look for other than an organic version. Make sure your oil comes in a dark glass bottle so that heat, oxygen and light can’t accelerate the oxidation process and destroy its nutritional properties, such as antioxidants and vitamin E.
Grain-free crackers Having these crackers on hand is helpful for throwing together quick snacks and meals, especially when you’re in the mood for a “real deal” cracker instead of sandpaper from a box. You can make grain-free crackers without any fillers, gluten, grains or
additives (often found in boxed varieties).
Ripe avocado It’s a creamy replacement for dairy that can be used as a dip or spread for a decadent dish. Avocados are also a great addition to smoothies and pureed soups.
Raw nuts and seeds Nuts and seeds add healthy fat and protein to any dish. Be sure to purchase raw, unroasted, unsalted nuts because if they were roasted by the manufacturer, they most likely contain MSG, added sugar and refined salts, as well as GMO oils.
You can easily toast or roast two cups of nuts or seeds at a time yourself and keep them in sealed glass containers for up to a week. Raw almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts add tasty, crunchy texture to any dish, whether tossed in a salad, stirred into coconut yogurt or sprinkled on roasted veggies. Sweet macadamias are delicious in baked desserts or atop ice cream, and cashews are a great base for creamy sauces, desserts and dips.
Along with nuts, you can use raw seeds in meals and snacks; try pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chia, ground flaxseeds and hemp seeds.