Clean Eating Food List for Beginners

A clean eating food list is the secret to sticking to a clean diet. If you can make sure you always have something in the house that makes it easy to fix meals and snacks you will find clean eating to be a breeze.

It’s easy to get tempted by fast food, takeout or even the convenience food section at the grocery store when you’re hungry with no easy to prepare food in the house.

Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic. My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible. It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.

I like to focus on simple concepts and moving forward one step at a time for sustained progress. If that sounds good to you, then be sure to read any “Related Post’s” within the page for more quality information.

Clean Eating Food List

Here are some staples you should keep on hand for quick and easy clean meals. Shop the outside aisles of the store to find the freshest, cleanest foods.

If you can afford it and have the room, consider investing in a small deep freezer. You can purchase foods at the peak of freshness and freeze them for later use. This makes eating clean much more affordable.

Avoid packaged foods whenever possible. Read labels, seeking out food items with the least amount of ingredients while you transition away from processed foods.

Related Post: Clean Eating For Improved Health

Meat and Fish

photo of meat and fish
Eat plenty of good quality protein

Do not skip meat when creating your clean eating food list.

Meat, and especially beef, is one of the most nutrient dense food item on the planet.

New “beyond” meats cannot compare to the lower calorie and more nutritious real beef.

Shop for deals on the best quality meats that you can find (organic, pastured, grass fed/grass finished). When it comes to meat, you won’t find my freezer without some grass-fed ground beef, ground turkey and whole pastured chickens for roasting on cooler days.

Consider cheap cuts of meat that are slow roasted using your oven or slow cooker.

This makes eating clean more affordable. You will still get the same nutrition, but these cuts have more flavor and slow cooking makes them tender.

My favorites in this category are slow roasted beef, like bottom or outside round round. For pork, if I can find a whole loin for a good price, I cut it in chunks and use one chunk to make carnitas. My favorite recipe for carnitas is here.

Fresh fish is best. If you have a fish store in your town, support it by buying fresh.

There is nothing like the taste of fresh fish that has been grilled and served with a nice green salad. Or saute some big shrimp or prawns and put them on your salad. There are so many options with fish, and even better if you know someone who likes fishing and can hook you up with fresh.

Canned tuna is a good option to have on occasion. You can make tuna salad (use a clean mayonnaise like Chosen Foods avocado oil mayo), for a super filling, high protein lunch.

Eggs and Dairy

Always keep plenty of eggs in the fridge and if you can, seek out a provider of free range, pastured eggs which are higher in nutrients. Eggs are such a versatile ingredient and they can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Keep some boiled eggs in your fridge for an easy snack.

Depending on how much dairy you are including in your clean food diet, stock the fridge with butter, raw or whole milk and some Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

You can also keep a few hard cheeses for quick and easy snacking.

If you are feeding school aged children, then give them chia pudding made with whole milk, coffee creamer, or even some heavy cream. The extra fat is good for growing brains and they have no problems paying attention.

People with dairy issues can sometimes eat hard (older) cheeses like parmesan, asiago, and old cheddar. This is due to the lower amounts of lactose from the aging the cheese. The longer it ages, the less lactose it has.

Vegetables and Fruit

photo of a green salad with berries
Add berries to your salad for variety and color….and taste!

Vegetables should fill half of your plate for lunch and dinner. This can be salads, raw veggies with a clean dip, or steamed/cooked veggies.

I try to keep a couple of bags of frozen veggies in the freezer so that I always have options. Avoid canned veggies due to the salt content, but if you must have some, go with green or yellow beans.

Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn, eating them only for a rare treat.

When fresh veggies are in season, feel free to eat as many leafy greens as you can.

These veg are packed with masses of nutrients, but lose their nutrition the further away from the time of picking. If you can, get some from a farmers market or organic grocery.

When it comes to fruit, a good rule of thumb is to eat whatever is in season where you live. When June rolls around and you can get fresh strawberries, be sure to put some on your salads for a nice burst of flavor.

Avoid fruit that comes in from foreign countries unless that country is a neighbor to yours.

Purchasing fruits from far away lands that are heavily sprayed and ripened while in transit are not “clean”.

During winter go for fruits that keep over winter like apples and winter pears (like anjou). Buy these by the case if you can or split a case with a friend.

Once your stores start selling these fruits from other countries, stop buying them. Instead, wait for the fresh crop of oranges that will come at the end of January or early February.

pin image for clean eating food list
PIN IT!! Clean Eating Food List for Beginners

Pantry Items or Dry Goods  

You can save time and temptation, by stocking your pantry with foods that make clean meal prep simpler. Keep your pantry stocked with canned tomatoes (read ingredients and avoid sugars and fillers), onions and garlic which go great with many meats for an easy supper.

It is also a good idea to keep nuts and seeds (watch for containers of nuts that contain soy or canola oils, as those are unhealthy), which are perfect for snacking. Wrap it up with some seed or nut butters and you’re good to go.

I buy nuts and seeds in bulk and keep the excess in the freezer.

Nuts contain oils that can go rancid if left in warmer temperatures for long periods of time.

If you must have grains while you transition away from processed foods, stick with quinoa and go for small portions. Avoid foods that traditionally spike blood sugar, like rice, corn and wheat. These foods are not “heart healthy” because of their high GMO or level of processing.

Easy Clean Eating Food List Substitutions

After eating clean, whole foods for a while, you will feel better. But that does not mean that you have to completely give up everything that you used to enjoy. Read on for some clean ideas for your old faves.

Breakfast Cereal

Of course the number one breakfast idea is eggs, especially if they are cooked in a good fat like butter or coconut oil. The combination of protein and fat will keep you full for hours, and you will not have brain fog because your brain loves the fat.

This is also why Bulletproof coffee is so popular with the low carb and Keto crowd. Adding coconut oil (which contains medium chain triglycerides aka MCT) to your coffee allows the MCT  to pass through the blood/brain barrier so the fat goes straight to your brain.

Bye bye brain fog. You will be amazed at how clear your thinking is. Get the original recipe here.

Chia seeds for breakfast

A great product for a simple, clean breakfast is chia seed puddings. These are not like traditional pudding, but rather once you soak the seeds, they plump up and slightly thicken whatever liquid was used for soaking.

Use coconut  or almond milk and add in some berries and you are good to go. This is a higher protein food, and is good for breakfast as it will not spike your blood sugar like bread, oats, or cereals. Here is one recipe that I use, but I do not add the stevia because it causes me to have sugar cravings.

Add hemp hearts to your greek yogurt for a nice bit of crunch.

Hemp hearts are high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 and are great for your skin. They are also about 25% protein, that can keep you feeling full.  Here are some recipe ideas.

Pasta

A simple substitute for pasta is spaghetti squash, spiralized veggies, or “miracle” noodles (noodles made from Konjac yam). All of these are available in most grocery stores now, because they are also vegan friendly.

The miracle noodles are a bit of an acquired taste and they smell fishy right out of the package because they are packed in liquid. They come in different shapes, like egg noodle shape, spaghetti, rice, macaroni and others.

The best way to deal with them is to drain them and give them a good rinse under cold water. Let them drain and then rinse again. After the second rinsing, put them in a skillet and pan fry them to remove the excess water.

Then toss them into your favorite clean sauce. You will either love them or hate them.

I am a big fan of using zucchini in place of lasagne noodles.

You can easily slice thin slices to lay out instead of pasta and then proceed as usual. You cannot taste the zucchini and you get extra veggies for the day.

We also regularly use spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti pasta. I buy them in fall when they are on for cheap, then cook and freeze the squash for use over winter.

I cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Then put upside down on a baking rack and into a 350F oven for about 30 minutes. The time depends on if the squash is older and a bit tougher or younger and softer. After the pieces are cooked to fork tender, use your fork to pull at the inner flesh to see the “spaghetti” strands. Squash is a bit sweeter than many squashes, and akin to sweet potato in sweetness.

You do not have to prep them this way if you have a cold storage area at your home. Squash will keep for a couple of months in an insulated bin with old towels or blankets thrown in to keep them from freezing.

Breads

Thanks to government food guidelines for promoting 6 to 12 servings of grains a day a while back, everyone is super hooked on bread, bagels, and buns. There are tons of keto bread recipes on YouTube if you want to experiment.

Wraps and sandwiches make the perfect portable lunch. If you’re wondering what you’re supposed to be doing without them, look no further than a leaf of lettuce.

They make great wraps and hold your favorite clean sandwich ingredients just fine. Just cut the tough spine out to make the lettuce roll up easily.

Pizza

My all time favorite pizza crust recipe is the Fat Head pizza recipe. This is yummy and easy to make.

As well, the recipe can be used for so many food items. Try this recipe for bagel dogs , stromboli, or danish. And now that you know about this recipe, you can find dozens of other variations of your old favorites that are now cleaner because they are homemade.

Did you know that you can make pizza crust from cauliflower? It’s a bit of work and slightly messy to eat, but boy does it hit the spot when you’re craving a piece of pie.

You can also buy frozen pizzas made with cauliflower or broccoli crust and this is another way to get some veggies in.

Snacks

My go-to snack when I need salty/crunchy is parmesan chips. Costco has a brand called Whisps, but most stores have at least one variety (though they may be pricey). You can smash them up and add to your salad for a nice bit of texture.

You can also make your own by finely grating parmesan and putting small piles on a non stick baking sheet or pad and baking at 400F for 7 to 10 minutes (watch them after the 7 minute mark, as they can burn).

There are plenty of veggie chips out in the market now.

Watch for the ones that use clean oil, like olive or avacado. These types of brands tend to use sea salt instead of iodized table salt.

I live in Canada, and we have a chain of automotive/hardware stores called (aptly) Canadian Tire. They sell veggie chips made by FRANK, and they are mostly clean kettle chips. My daughters favorite flavor are the sweet potato and sea salt ones.

If you have a veggie slicer/peeler or mandolin, you can make cucumber chips, kale chips, or radish chips.

Interested in Keto? See this Related Post: Keto Made Easy

Conclusion

Eating clean does not have to be hard. There is a huge difference in how you feel after eating a clean food versus a highly processed shelf stable food-like product.

Consider making a simple shortbread cookie without white flour or sugar (or use honey or maple syrup like the recipe on this page) if you want to make a treat for your family. White flour is not a clean food, but it can be a treat once in a while.

The idea here is to get away from packaged, processed foods

These are devoid of nutrition; instead, eat more home cooked meals using fresh, local, and/or organic foods as much as possible.

There is a learning curve to eating clean, but you will be a pro in no time!

And follow me on Pinterest!

Here’s to our health!

-Irma 🙂

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