7-Day Clean Eating Challenge + What I Ate (Recipes Included!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Last week I participated in a 7-Day Clean Eating Challenge hosted by Holly from Create Bake Celebrate (BTW she blogs with her Sister, so they share posting throughout the week). Also check out her training/nutrition FB page where she posts daily inspiration and tips...makes me totally want to get my bum back to the gym :)

The challenge was a closed-group on Facebook, and Holly shared the rules, some menu planning tools and some recipes. She also provided some inspiration and tips 2-3 times per day to keep everyone motivated. Today I wanted to share my experience with the challenge, as well as share some recipes and what I ate.

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**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. 
All of this is my opinion based on my own experience/research. 

Why did I do the challenge?

About 2.5 years ago I was diagnosed with IBS. I’ve probably been dealing with this far longer, and I’ve since then been trying to figure out what my trigger points are that causes my symptoms. I’ve gone dairy free, gluten free, tried the Low FODMAP diet and many other diets. Last Summer my IBS got really bad, due to stress/drama from wedding planning and a huge launch at work. My doctor started me on an IBS drug but I was uncomfortable taking it due to a pregnancy warning, as we are hoping to have kids someday. I kept begging him to try and help me figure out what really was wrong with me so we could deal with it and get me off of these drugs.

In November I tested positive for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth), and found out there was lots of “bad” bacteria in my gut. I took some antibiotics to try and kill off the bad bacteria, and then began taking a Probiotic to help me grow good bacteria, but the doctor said the likely-hood of relapsing was pretty high and suggested I go on a low-sugar/yeast/processed diet. 

I cook a lot more now since having so many diet restrictions, and for the most part I cook pretty healthy meals. But I also splurge now and then, and then feel like crap. So I figured this challenge would be a great way to kick-start 7-straight days of eating clean, and that hopefully I would get some great inspiration and recipes to continue to eat this way on a more regular basis. My goal for 2015 is to get healthy, feel better, and get myself to a place where I can have a healthy pregnancy.

So what is clean eating?

Clean eating is basically eating all whole/natural ingredients. It does take some research and time to read through food labels to see if a product is clean. Basically you are looking for a limited number of ingredients that are as natural as they can be. Ingredients like dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, thiamine hydrochloride, caramel coloring, are likely not natural (what are these things anyway and how do you even pronounce them??) An example of something clean is peanut butter where the only ingredient on the label is peanuts. Below are a few examples of some labels that I had in my pantry comparing clean to non-clean. 

Peanut Butter 
LEFT: has a million ingredients, half I have no idea what they are
RIGHT: has 2 ingredients - peanuts and salt

3 of these products are completey clean (can you guess what each one is?). The carrots have calcium chloride in them which is a preservative and is the salt of calcuim and chlorine. The FDA says it's safe to consume in small amounts in food. It's in a lot of canned and jarred foods. I did eat these last week, so again it's all about balance and what you are comfortable eating. I will likely keep searching for a cleaner way to eat my carrots, but for the time being we won't waste what was already in the pantry :)

I’ll be honest I use a lot of canned/jarred goods this time of year because produce isn’t at its peak. And I honestly don’t have time to make everything from scratch. But we do eat lots of fresh produce and veggies when in season (that's the key, buy what's in season throughout the year) and we can find good deals at the store. And I do try to make many things from scratch when I can. It’s really all about balance and doing the best you can with the information given. Just check the label, make sure there aren't any extra additives, and make the decision that works best for you. Here is a clean foods list for reference to see what is recommended you eat.

Why do I like the concept of clean eating?

What I like most is that you aren't eliminating an entire food group like some diets. You really are just eliminating processed foods and sugar. So you can still eat some dairy (there are different schools of thought on this, so just find the least processed versions, or do what works best for your body), breads, pastas, oatmeal (make sure it's whole grain), meat (got for more lean protein like chicken and turkey - i.e. turkey bacon), and of course plenty of fruits and veggies. It's nearly impossible to eat 100% clean (unless you have your own farm and lots of time), so the school of thought I've heard is 75-90% is best. Do what works for you, and even if you do eat something that is not 100% clean  (like my carrots with calcium chlorine in them), it's a good habit to get into reading labels and investigating what you are putting into your body. 

How do I feel?

Honestly I was afraid I would feel hungry or tired or deprived. But I was actually pretty full after each meal, although I did go through a little withdraw from not having coffee all week (I tried to drink green tea but it wasn’t the same). It was hard to find certain ingredients that were 100% clean. Examples were mustard, marinara sauce, chicken broth, and obvioulsy my canned carrots. I had a few moments of weakness, like when my husband suggested Chipotle one night for dinner. But we held strong and just made homemade Chipotle the next night for dinner. Overall my stomach did start to feel much better, I was more regular (sorry TMI), and my stomach was much flatter. My symptoms are still a balancing act between diet, stress, exercise and drinking enough water, so although I’m still not perfect, the clean eating diet did help. And I found a whole bunch of great recipes that I am excited to add to our meal rotation.

What did I eat?

Here is a list of foods I ate last week. I either linked to the Pin on Pinterest, or I have listed additional recipes at the bottom of this post.

  • Oatmeal with (frozen) blueberries and a banana – I did use some almond milk which is NOT clean BTW
  • ½ cup of Kind granola – which is pretty close to being clean. There is some canola oil, which I’m not sure how that counts
  • Sweet Potato Waffles with Pure Maple Syrup – these were amazing!!!
  • Scrambled eggs with salt and pepper
  • Coffee with homemade flavored coffee creamer – 1 TBS cocoa powder + 1-2 tsp of pure maple syrup (more if you want it sweeter) + some almond milk (again NOT clean, but it was my only option)

  • Left-overs
  • Chicken Waldorf Salad – this was a recipe Holly provided and it was really good (recipe below)


I had snacks in the afternoon and sometimes after dinner if I wanted something a little sweet:
  • Fresh pineapple and grapes
  • LaraBars – apple pie
  • Banana Ice Cream – in a food processor blend 2 frozen bananas with a TBS of cocoa powder

  • Meatball Sliders (another recipe from Holly see below, I did not use the buns) and Sweet Potato Fries
  • Mediterranean Fish, Brown Rice, Canned Green Beans and Carrots
  • Italian Meatloaf with a Baked Potato with salt and pepper
  • Honey Mustard Chicken (another recipe from Holly see below) and Roasted Zucchini slices with salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning and a little Parmesan cheese
  • Homemade Chipotle Bowls – (see recipe below)
  • Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage and jarred Marinara Sauce (tried to find the cleanest one I could with no high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Pork Roast with carrots, canned tomatoes and potatoes in the crock pot (recipe similar to my beef roast, but sub chicken broth for beef broth, and no cocoa powder)


Chicken Waldorf Salad

  • 5 oz. Cooked chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ¼ medium granny smith apple, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Raw almonds, chopped
  • ¼ cup halved red grapes
  • 1 Tbsp Citrus Vinaigrette
  • Dressing
  • 3 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. Raw honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Combine vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in a medium bowl ; whisk to blend. Stir in mustard; mix well. Slowly add oil while whisking; mix well.

TIP-Store leftover dressing covered in the fridge. If dressing thickens then hold at room temperature for 30 minutes then stir and serve.

Honey Dijon Chicken

  • 2-3 medium Chicken Breasts (halved)
  • 1/3 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. Honey
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Directions: Mix Dijon mustard with honey. Salt and pepper your chicken, then coat chicken in mustard/honey mixture. Cook on a grill for about 7 minutes on each side, or you can bake at 375 for 25-30 mins. If you bake it, like we did, you may want to make some extra dressing to add to the top.

Italian Meatball Sliders

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup minced roasted red bell peppers (packed in water and drained)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup natural jarred marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 24 cocktail-size whole-grain pitas or buns, split, toasted lightly if desired

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine turkey, garlic, egg white, onion, bell peppers, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Gently mix until combined. Using a spoon or small scooper, from into patties about 1 scant tbsp each, making about 24 sliders; place on sheet. (MAKE AHEAD: Prepare patties up to one day in advance, wrap tray in plastic wrap an refrigerate.)

Transfer to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and flip patties over. Bake for 5 more minutes. Remove patties from oven; spoon marinara over each patty and sprinkle each with cheese, dividing evenly. Switch oven to broiler setting on high, return to oven and broil for 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through and cheese is bubbling. Using a fork or tongs, transfer each patty into a pita or bun.

Homemade Chipotle Bowls

  • Brown rice with a little cilantro, lime juice and salt
  • Sirloin steak (broiled in the oven)
  • Pico de gala – Dice roma tomatoes, little bit of onion, cilantro, salt, pepper and lime juice
  • Guacamole
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1 comment:

  1. My husband and I ate clean all off last summer and we both felt so much better. However, the time it took to plan and research eventually turned us away. We've been doing a modified version of the Daniel Fast but I like clean eating better because of the food group thing.


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