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Smart subsitutes nut crumbs instead of bread crumbsClean eating is a concept that can sound daunting, in terms of meaning (what exactly is a “clean” food?) and follow-through (“I have to give up what now?”).

Eating Clean Amie Valpone smart swapsBut it’s not as difficult and complicated as you think, says health coach Amie Valpone, founder of The Healthy Apple and author of the forthcoming book Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body (out March 8).

Her clean-eating manifesto includes straightforward gems like this one: If a food makes you feel lousy, it’s not for you. “I want to show people that eating clean is amazing, not because you ‘should’ do it, but because you feel great,” says Valpone, who overhauled her own diet and overall health after years of struggling with digestive problems, PCOS, and Lyme disease, among other issues. “Every little change…has such an impact on your life.”

Eating Clean includes easy-to-act-on tips like a comprehensive list of simple swaps that anyone can make (plus an in-depth 21-day detox, if you need to go deeper). So we asked Valpone to share three of her favorite smart substitutions for foods we all love but may not exactly be serving our wellness goals (sorry, pasta). Here’s what they are…

(Photo: Eating Clean)

 

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Eating Clean

1. Instead of carb-loaded pasta, try grain-free veggie noodles. Yes, giving up pasta in favor of veggie noodles does take a bit of getting used to, Valpone says. “It’s not starchy, like white pasta is,” she admits. “So the best thing to do is add a healthy fat with the noodles, because that’s what’s going to satisfy you.” Think olive oil (which is plentiful in this recipe for basil mint squash noodles), and/or crumbling some healthy nuts on top. Clean, but satisfying!

Basil Mint Squash Noodles
Serves 2

3 large yellow summer squash, cut into thin strands with a vegetable peeler, spiralizer, or julienned
1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, toss to coat, and serve.

(Photo: Eating Clean)

 

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Eating Clean2. Instead of sugary packaged granola, make your own. “A lot of granolas from packages are really just starch and sugar,” Valpone explains. “If you’re eating packaged granola with yogurt for breakfast and wondering why you’re starving an hour later, that’s why.” Valpone’s version cuts ways down on the sugar, but goes big on satisfying protein.

Amie’s Grain-Free Granola
Makes 8 cups

1 1/2 cups raw almonds, chopped
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup raw pecans, chopped
1 cup raw Brazil nuts, chopped
1 cup shelled raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, coconut, pecans, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, water, and almond extract. Add the wet ingredients to the nut mixture and toss to coat.

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Remove the granola from the oven and stir in the dried apricots and cherries. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for three to five days.

(Photo: Eating Clean)

 

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Eating Clean3. Instead of bread crumbs, make grain-free nut crumbs. “People don’t realize how starchy bread crumbs are, or that they’re very inflammatory,” Valpone says. Yet she also acknowledges that they can seriously up the “yum” factor of many dishes, which is why she came up with her own nut-based version, which is crunchy and earthy…and totally delish.

Grain-Free Protein-Packed Bread Crumbs
Makes 5 cups

1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup shelled raw sunflower seeds
1 cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sesame seeds
1 cup ground flaxseeds

Combine the walnuts and almonds in a food processor. Pulse three or four times, and then add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Pulse two times. Add the sesame and flaxseeds and pulse until coarse. Continue to pulse until the mixture is finely ground and resembles bread crumbs, but do not overmix or you will end up with nut butter. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Another way to eat clean? Learn how to build a healthy, holistic pantry with one of these awesome services or check out the staples of Dr. Alejandro Junger’s clean kitchen

(Photo: Eating Clean)