Jump Start your Healthy Eating Plan with a “Clean” Approach

From CHEFS Mix Editors:

Chef Heather Mitchell | CHEFS MixBack when we launched CHEFS Mix, we asked what kind of recipes and information you would like to see. Many folks responded telling us they wanted to see more healthy recipes and blogs for experts. We took your request to heart and have begun searching out those subject matter experts.Today’s blog post is by one of those experts we are partnering with; allow us to introduce you to our guest blogger, Chef Heather Mitchell

Heather is a Personal Natural Chef, here in Colorado. She teaches in our cooking classes that hosted at the Colorado Springs Outlet Store.  She sees a range of personal clients, enjoys entertainment cooking,  teaches many classes in the area and works closely with the Colorado Farm and Art Market as a board member and chef.  Her cooking style is finding the best tasting ingredients and simply enhance the flavors.

We hope you find Chef Heather’s article on clean eating as useful as we do! And, please let us know what you think.

Spring time, after an unfortunate diagnosis, moving back to the dating scene, New Years…these are common events that provoke thoughts of making an improvement.  Our eating habits are often on the top of the “improvement list”.  To jump start some action towards this goal, a detoxifying cleanse can be helpful.  “Cleansing” means so many things, sometimes healthy, sometimes harmful.  Rather than looking towards a cleansing pill, or juicing for a full week, a more healthful approach would be to choose a “clean” diet for a week or two.

When we eat in the cleanest way, our body thanks us by performing optimally.  We sleep well, our digestive tracts are active and consistent, our skin is radiant, we have energy and we feel happy.  In the clean eating world, conditions that plague many of us are lessened, or even eliminated.  When we eat a less clean diet our body still works but it has to make choices.  Our organs have to work extra hard and in the meantime toxins get stuffed away to be dealt with later.  Our digestive tract slows and we stop eliminating waste in a timely manner. Our skin begins to show blemishes as it tries to take on some of the toxic burden.  Sleeping patterns change, energy exhausts quicker and we feel sluggish and depressed as our brain struggles in this toxic environment.  We gain weight, get sick, deal with headaches, and our pains and ailments worsen.  Yes, ALL can be linked to the food we eat!  Now is as good a time as any to clean things up a little!

Clean Diets

  • mostly plant based foods, purchased as they exist in nature (non-processed)
  • plenty of water (enough to urinate every 2-3 hours during the day)
  • animal protein choices that are organic, grass fed and locally produced
  • vegetable sources of protein (beans, nuts and seeds)
  • minimally processed grains
  • avoid wheat, dairy, corn, soy and eggs (common inflammatory or allergenic foods)
  • foods with little to no packaging and 1-5 ingredients
  • foods free of chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors
  • vegetable based oils that are organic, free of hydrogenated oils and trans fats

Non-Clean Diets

  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • sugar
  • processed foods, convenient foods, fast foods, microwaved foods in plastic
  • junk food, baked goods, snack foods
  • low quality animal proteins produced in the non-organic, factory farming industry
  • high levels of foods known to cause inflammation, allergies or sensitivities
  • dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, corn, shellfish, some nuts
  • highly processed oils containing hydrogenated and trans fats

Cleansing Guidelines

  • Look at your calendar and choose an appropriate time to start.  You will be making most of the food at home and it is difficult to follow a clean diet when traveling, eating out or in the middle of a busy time.
  • Set a goal of 1-2 weeks, set yourself up for success, remove the toxic foods in your kitchen and get to the grocery.
  • Ease yourself into the change over a few days.  Give up a few foods each day.
  • Be prepared for your body to feel a little grumpy about the changes you are making.  Commonly, headaches, blemishes and an overall feeling of blah can occur at the beginning of the cleanse.  This is a sign that your body finally feels like it can work on getting those stored toxins out and when they are traveling through your organ systems it can be uncomfortable.  Stick with it and it will subside.
  • Try blending your breakfasts and eating soups for dinner.  Blended foods are easier to digest.  Blend whole foods, do not juice, you need the fiber and nutrients from your foods.  Eat an appropriately portioned, well balanced lunch.
  • Work towards allowing a full 12 hours between dinner and breakfast (with no food) to give your body the time it needs to digest meals.
  • Detoxing is extremely hard work on your body!  It needs fuel in the form of a well balanced diet to work (protein, healthy fats and healthy carbs).
  • Give your mind and body the chance to restore by taking it easy.  Yoga, meditation, and reading are all supportive of a cleanse….this is not the time to train for a marathon!

It is difficult to eat this way all the time, so after the cleanse you can cheat a little here and there.  But listen to your body!  If you eat something that makes you feel bad, you may want to avoid that food.  Try your best to continue to eat as clean as possible and find the diet that makes you feel whole, happy and healthy.

Clean recipes are available all over the Internet, and the book Clean, by Alejandro Junger goes into extensive details about the detoxifying process.  If you would like help working on your clean diet, please contact me!

Heather Mitchell is a Certified Natural Chef who enjoys working with personal clients and teaching classes focused on healthy eating. Find more about Chef Heather at her website NaturalChefHeather.com.

Apple, Fennel and Sour Cherry Salad

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Serves: 4 side dishes

1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 large bulb fennel
1 crisp, apple (Honey Crisp, Granny Smith, Fuji)
1/4 cup sour cherries, chopped


  1. In a small bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and spices.  Whisk until combined.
  2. Cut the stalks from the fennel bulb, reserve some fronds for garnish.  Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and remove the core.  Cut the bulb into quarters and thinly slice, or use a mandolin.  Cut the apple into quarters, remove the seeds and thinly slice.  Toss the fennel and apple with the dressing and allow to sit for about 30 minutes to fully marinate.
  3.  To serve, place the salad into a serving bowl and garnish with fennel fronds and sour cherries.

Detoxifying Breakfast Smoothie

Printer-Friendly Version
Serves: 2

1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 apple, seeded and chopped
1 cup chopped kale or spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1/2 avocado, chopped
1-2 servings plant based protein powder
1 cup water

In a blender, add whole flax seeds and grind to a powder.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Enjoy immediately.

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