Clean eating: Nostalgia? A fad? Or is there more to it?
Rethinking an old concept has spawned a huge trend
Google the phrase “clean eating”, and you get almost 17 million hits, several (unbelievably successful) books, and blog upon blog with tips and recipes as far as the eye can see. So it’s clear to see that clean eating is most definitely “in”. And yet, this way of eating, which involves mainly going for unprocessed foods, is anything but new. Our grandmothers did so without thinking.
So, where do things stand today? In the US, clean eating has been around for about 20 years. And on closer inspection, it turns out to be unexpectedly sustainable, interesting and healthy. The trend has now made it to Europe, too. Essentially, eating “clean” means avoiding highly processed foods, as well as refined sugar and too much salt. It means going for food which is as fresh and simple as possible, ideally buying organic products, and cooking and baking for yourself as often as you can.
It really isn’t rocket science – nor is it merely nostalgia for the good old days. Rather, it’s a way of eating which is open to anyone who puts a bit of thought into sustainability, the food they eat, and their own health. And the best thing about it? Clean eating will awaken your senses – and your fondest memories!
Pure, unadulterated yumminess!
You know those magical moments when you take the lid off a saucepan and the full-bodied aromas of fresh vegetables, herbs and homemade sauces make their way into your nose? Simple, pure and unadulterated. These are the memories that clean eating is meant to conjure up.
Crucial for determining whether a food can be deemed “clean” is whether it is free from additives such as thickening agents, preservatives, flavor enhancers, and artificial colors. Many foods contain such additives to give them a boost in terms of shelf life, appearance, and consistency. And, when people go without these non-clean products for the first time, many of them experience pure, unadulterated taste for the first time in their lives. For example, real strawberries taste astoundingly different to processed products which are supposedly “strawberry-flavored” 😉
And once you have your “clean eating glasses” on, you realize how high the sugar or salt content is in many foods, and you get to know new flavor profiles – even if they are less sweet or salty. At some point, many foods you used to eat suddenly taste much too sweet or salty. This just goes to show how far we have removed ourselves from natural flavors. But the good news is that this process can be reversed. It’s all about experiencing the pure flavor of the ingredients we eat, getting our tastebuds used to the original flavor of real foods again, and only treating our stomachs to “clean” foods – instead of going on tedious detox diets later. And now, you might be able to add a modern, vegan twist! Read on to find out how…
Clean & vegan – a real power couple
Rediscovering eating habits which center fresh, unprocessed foods is a whole lot of fun! And it’s a rediscovery which nourishes not just your body, but also your soul. So, what’s the main idea? Instead of relying on additives, clean eating focuses on whole foods and natural produce.
We think this approach complements a vegan diet perfectly. The focus is on the quality, simplicity and freshness of the foods. It’s all about experiencing unadulterated foods when you cook and eat. A plant-based diet is the ideal starting point for this, or you could see it as a future-oriented approach to developing tried and tested ways of eating. How wonderful it is that we can do the planet a whole lot of good at the same time! Combining clean eating with a vegan diet makes sense – and it’s a whole lot of fun, too!
Can a ready-made product be “clean”?
When it comes to clean eating, the aim of the game is simple, good food with a new take on it. The clean food trend has reached the restaurant trade, and even ready-made food products. Taking just a handful of ingredients and preparing them carefully is an age-old approach which is now being looked at from a fresh perspective.
As we live in a very mobile world, there are some situations in which we want – or have – to resort to ready-made snacks. Is this in conflict with the principles of clean eating? That’s a question each of us has to answer for him or herself. How can you adapt clean eating so that it fits into your everyday routine? We have plenty of ideas for you!
The fact is that there are plenty of start-ups and young companies taking the idea of clean eating, making it a reality, and flying the flag for it. An example of this are companies that sell organic snack bars which are free from colorings and preservatives. Natural energy food doesn’t need a long ingredients list – and those ingredients that are there won’t weigh on your conscience. None of this is new. In Germany, a great example of clean vegan food that’s been around since grandma’s day is a simple mix of nuts and raisins, with the tongue-in-cheek nickname “student feed”. But that’s not the only example. Allow us to present some brands which emphasize going back to the roots, and short ingredient lists.
Velivery’s recommendations for a day of clean eating
You could start the day with a delicious porridge, either homemade or ready-made, topped with fresh fruit and a good organic alternative to milk. Millet porridge is yummy too! Or, how about some home-baked bread slathered in one of the irresistible jams from Anne’s Feinste? Of course, the only kind of sweetener you’ll want to put in your Fairtrade coffee is coconut blossom syrup.
For lunch, try throwing together a small but perfectly formed mezze buffet with homemade hummus, tahini, lemon – and there you have it!), roasted veg, olives and pita bread. Or, how about a crunchy, fresh bowl with vegan chicken style chunks and cashew kernels, or maybe a poke bowl with beetroot, edamame and kimchi from beavia?
For dinner, we could take a leaf out of Michelin-starred chef Ricky Saward’s book , with his tremendous veg-only creations. Here at Velivery, you’ll also find great, simple recipe ideas for soups, quiches, salads and more. Or how about trying to make your own pasta or dumplings? For dessert, you could treat yourself to a fruit salad or our all-time favorite banana bread, and voilà, there you have a simple, aromatic dinner with plenty of unadulterated flavor! And for those moments when only chocolate will do, it’s great to know that Fairafric and Vivani sell vegan dark chocolate bars with short ingredients lists. 😉
The ultimate tips for everyday clean eating
1. Keep things as simple and fresh as possible: that’s the common denominator of this food trend. What ends up on your plate will be a bit different for everyone. But it’s sure to be helpful to buy groceries at the market, to order a veg box delivery, or to order chilled products from Velivery.
2. Choose products with short ingredient lists. It’s ideal if the products you buy have five ingredients or fewer. Another clean eating philosophy says that there should never be more ingredients in the mix than the number of fingers you have. Don’t be fooled by advertising slogans: “low in salt” often means a product contains flavor enhancers, and “sugar free” often means sweeteners.
3. Reach for natural sweetness: Conventional refined sugar doesn’t feature in clean eating: instead, you’ll need to use natural alternatives such as coconut blossom sugar or, at the very least, whole cane sugar. You could also get your sweetness from fruits such as dates, figs or bananas. These are also used to make products such as date syrup, agave syrup, or thick apple syrup. Our tip for desserts: Cinnamon provides a great deal of sweetness even though it isn’t a sweetener. You can read more about good sweeteners here.
4. Try making something new: whether it’s your own pasta dough or dumplings, power balls or veggie burgers: have you ever tried your hand at any of these? If not, why not give them a go? There’s a whole lot of fun to be had – at least at the weekend, when you have more time. Your friends will be astonished when you proudly serve up your first homemade ravioli!
5. Milling flour and baking bread – After all, the German trend for healthy, whole foods also started out with people buying their own home grain mills and baking their own bread. That way, you know what you’re eating. Instead of taking conventional wheat flour, you could also choose wholegrain flour, spelt or nut flours.
6. As little “concentrated fat” as possible, i.e. going for tahini instead of sesame oil when it comes to sauces, or sometimes baking a cake using avocado instead of margarine. Nuts and olives are other good “fatty” ingredients. Hardened fats like deep-fryer fat are usually not particularly compatible with clean eating.
7. Ready-made products? Yes, but not just any old ones: We know that our busy lives sometimes mean we need practical solutions. Ready-made products can be an option, but we would encourage you to make conscious decisions when it comes to selecting them, to check the ingredients list, and then to enjoy them! The lentil dishes from Ashoka comply with the rule of thumb for ingredients, for example.
8. Bye bye e-numbers: Try at least to reduce your consumption of artificial preservatives, flavor enhancers, acidulants, colorings and other e-numbers. If you want to reduce your consumption of pesticide and herbicide residues too, it’s best to go for organic produce.
9. GMO free, of course! It goes without saying that if you want to be a clean eater, you’ll also need to avoid GMO corn and soy etc. Furthermore, say goodbye to products made using genetically modified ingredients (such as rennet in cheese).
10. Balance is key: When it comes to clean eating, vegetables are the stars of the show. Outside of that, it’s worth making sure you get a balance of foods from the food pyramid, including good proteins, fiber, fats and carbohydrates.
Does that sound like a bit much to manage all at once? Then why not pick out just one or two “clean” criteria for yourself?It’s better to keep tabs on your daily consumption of one or two things than on none at all! Here at Velivery, we’re there to support you with this: reach for handy, pre-cooked pulses such as chickpeas A008299, seasoned tofu, protein powder (to boost the protein content of your porridge, for example), or occasionally for a ready-made meat substitute product, and prepare some crunchy fresh veg to go with it. That’s one way of fitting clean eating into your daily routine! And remember that our grandmothers always added a pinch of love when cooking! 🙂
A touch of nostalgia in your kitchen
Oh, and talking of grandmothers… the next time you’re carrying a basket of fresh produce home from the organic supermarket, why not have a root around for one of your grandma’s favorite recipes? In Germany that could mean a potato gratin, dumplings, or potato soup. Of course, things have moved on a little since grandma’s day. You like the idea of a vegan lifestyle, for example. But that’s no problem – because with a few simple tweaks here and there, you can veganize granny’s favorite recipes! We’re sure that some of these milk and cheese alternatives could come in handy! Take a glance at the ingredient list: one, two, three, four, five… if you’re happy, grab your apron (just like grandma would) and get cracking! Wonderful scents will soon fill your kitchen. That’s clean eating for all the senses!
Back to the roots – but do it vegan, if you please
Experience how it feels to treat yourself to high-quality meals from homemade or fresh ingredients, in the knowledge that the higher the quality of the fuel you give yourself, the more good you’ll be doing your body. Clean eating is an invitation to eat simpler foods without having to make sacrifices in terms of enjoyment or practicality. It’s a gentle push towards a world in which food is once again valued as it used to be: as honest and uncomplicated nutrition for body and soul, and as the literal translation of the German word “Lebensmittel” illustrates: a means by which to LIVE. It’s not about being trendy, but becoming more conscious of what we eat. Why not give it a try? Your inner child (and inner grandmother) will be proud of you!