Make Clean Eating Easy

cookbook, the Mediterranean diet, the three tomatoesRecent health and fitness conversations have seen an increase in dialogue about “clean eating” or “whole foods” diets. What started as a buzz word has transformed into a movement to change the way Americans eat and think about food. Unfortunately, getting started on a clean eating diet plan can seem like a daunting task for many. Where do you start? How do you eliminate processed foods and incorporate healthy recipes into your diet? Here’s how to make clean eating easy.

Luckily, Denise Hazime – creator of DedeMed.com – offers an easy way to transition into a healthier lifestyle with her new book, Idiot’s Guides: The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Countries located along the Mediterranean Sea have been implementing elements of a clean eating lifestyle into their diet for hundreds of years by avoiding processed foods, embracing nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats and limiting use of refined sugars, salt and unhealthy fats.

Recipes from Idiot’s Guides: The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook can be used to introduce clean eating concepts into every meal of the day:

  • Breakfast: Start your day off right with a Mediterranean-style Yogurt Bowl, full of protein-packed Greek yogurt, or a quick-and-easy Mediterranean Omelet, packed with fresh, flavorful vegetables.
  • Lunch: For lunch, dive into a bowl of Roasted Beet Salad or Quinoa Salad, or pack individual servings of Vegetable Grape Leaves for a quick work lunch.
  • Snack: At the beginning of the week, make a batch of Traditional Hummus or Baba Ganoush, recipes below. Divide into single servings for quick and healthy snacking with cut vegetables or whole-wheat pita.
  • Dinner: Sauté up some flavorful Chicken Shawarma and serve it alongside Pickled Persian Cucumbers and Bean Salad for a dinner full of healthy protein and fiber.
  • Dessert: Traditional favorites Date Balls and Halva combine ingredients such as dates, pistachios, coconut and tahini paste with natural sweeteners to end the day on a sweet note without using processed ingredients or refined sugars.

Hazime also offers recipes for staple ingredients such as Greek Yogurt, Tahini Paste, Harissa and Seven Spice Mix, allowing readers to better control what ingredients are being used in their homes.

Traditional Hummus

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 fresh mint leaves

In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, blend chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, and salt for 2 minutes or until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add Greek yogurt, tahini paste, and extra-virgin olive oil and blend for 1 minute or until creamy and well combined.

Add mint leaves, and pulse for 30 seconds or until you see little specks of green mint throughout.

Serve, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Baba Ganoush

Yield: 3 cups

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
  • ½ medium green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 medium radishes, finely diced
  • 3 whole green onions, finely chopped

Preheat a grill top or grill to medium-low heat.

Place eggplants on the grill and roast on all sides for 40 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Immediately place eggplants on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, let cool for 15 minutes.

Remove eggplant stems, and peel off as much skin as possible. (It’s ok if it doesn’t all come off.)

In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, pulse eggplant 7 times. Transfer eggplant to a medium bowl.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Add white onion and sauté occasionally for 10 minutes. Add onions to eggplant.

Add garlic, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and parsley to eggplant and stir well

Spread baba ganoush on a serving plate and drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over top. Sprinkle with cayenne, radishes, and green onions.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

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