Throughout the last 10 years I've suffered from over a dozen chronic health issues including Lyme disease, PCOS, Hypothyroidism, Candida, C-diff Colitis, Leaky Gut, SIBO and more. After spending many years without relief from western medicine on a cocktail of drugs, I chose a different path with Functional and Integrative medicine. I soon realized I wasn't the only one suffering, and through my blog TheHealthyApple.com, I started receiving thousands of emails from people who were also suffering and not finding answers to help them get to the root cause of their symptoms. That's when I turned my life around and learned how to address the underlying imbalances in my body instead of treating my symptoms with a Band-Aid approach. I never want anyone to go through what I went through for 10 very painful, exhausting years trying to figure out how to be healthy in a real way. I'm ready to hand over the keys to you to shortcut your journey to wellness and save you time, money and suffering in your journey to wellness with my new cookbook Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body.
I want to show you that eating clean and living clean feels good. Not because you should do it, but because once you see life this way, you'll never got back. There's not an inflammatory white bagel in the world that I'd eat to give up for as good as I feel right now. When you figure out what works for you and makes you feel amazing, why wouldn't you do that every day? Don't you do what makes you feel good?
My new cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, is filled with over 200 plant-based anti-inflammatory recipes that are free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, corn, refined sugar, white flours and other inflammatory foods. This book is a roadmap to detox your food and your life no matter what symptoms you may have. Inside, I show you how to learn how to fight inflammation and support your body's ability to detox on a daily basis.
Getting healthy (and staying healthy) may take some serious shifts in your daily habits, but don't worry about revamping your lifestyle overnight. These changes take time. Start when you feel ready and take a deep breath. My "aha" moment was getting chronically ill, but you don't need to go through something that dramatic. Funny thing is that before I got sick, I cooked my own meals, brought my lunch to work, and never ate fast food. I thought I was eating healthy, but I had no idea how toxic seemingly healthy food could be.
Whether it's the birth of your first child, a scary health diagnosis, or just wanting to clean up your diet, eating clean for a few weeks will convert even the pickiest eater. My father is living proof. With a name like Tony Valpone, you can imagine--this Italian man lived off white bread, white pasta, and way too many processed snacks. Not anymore! He's dropped excess weight, and decreased his inflammation, and he's bouncing off the walls with energy way beyond what a normal person might have at the age of sixty-eight. Sound like a miracle? Nope. He's the real deal. You can do it, too! The steps, tips, and suggestions in these next two sections are dedicated to making this transition relaxed and fun.
Step 1: Create a Clean Kitchen
First things first--ditch the foods that are making you feel yucky, bloated, puffy, yada yada yada. You've already done some of this, but it's time to check your cupboards again. Move over, gluten. Adios, dairy. Sayonara, refined sugar. Never again, corn. Bye-bye processed foods. Now that you know why these foods have gotta go (reread Why Detox?, page 14, if you're feeling a little unsure), it's time to say bye to your old pantry staples and hello to a whole new world of fun, flavor, and creativity with whole, organic foods.
Step 2: Create Your Eating Clean Plan
Before you set foot in the grocery store, it's key to have a strategy. I don't want you freaking out and running out of the store inhaling a pint of conventional ice cream and crying. You don't want to risk spending a small fortune on new foods, only to have no idea what to do with them. There's nothing more discouraging! Instead, here's how to get started on your new-and-improved anti-inflammatory detox: take inventory. Go through your fridge and pantry (after you've cleaned them out!) and see what you have that you can keep (see page 375 for my Anti-inflammatory Pantry List). Choose your favorites. Sit down with this book and flag the recipes you want to prepare. Plan your meals at least a couple of days ahead of time, though ideally for the week. Don't forget snacks!
My meal plan on page 371 of my cookbook is a great place to start. Make a list. Write down all the ingredients you need to prepare these meals. Don't worry if your list is quite long the first time you do this; it'll shrink as time goes on.
The more you cook, the more ingredients you'll collect. Plus, you'll be stocking up on quality ingredients, so you'll only need to use a pinch for flavor.
Get on a schedule. Every Sunday night, make a plan: pick three gluten-free grains, five veggies, and four healthy fats to use in your meals and snacks for the week. For example: quinoa, wild rice, and millet; zucchini, spinach, carrots, and kale; avocado, almonds, walnuts, and hummus.
You can easily create all your meals and snacks for the week from this group of foods you choose.
Even if you plan to buy lunch at work, pack my Easiest Guacamole (page 305) or Kalamata Olive and Cashew Tapenade (page 304) for snacks with raw veggies, or toss a sealed mason jar filled with cooked millet (see how to cook millet on the gluten-free grain chart on page 104) into your fridge and add it to your desk-side salad. Fake out that takeout and bring a few of these healthy additions into your cubicle each week. My Freckled Sesame Almond Clusters (page 140) make a fabulous party snack, but also do wonders for a boring salad. Catch my drift?
Step 3: Shop Like a Pro
Knowing how to buy food is almost as important as figuring out what to buy. Here are my favorite ways to shop smart and simple: use common sense. This is the best way to not only end up with a fridge full of groceries that you'll want to eat, but also to save money. Don't buy quick-to-spoil items in bulk and don't buy foods you know in your heart you'll never eat. If you hate asparagus now, chances are you'll still hate it in a week. See page 39 for rounding up your list of top ten go-to foods.
Streamline your shopping trip. Organize your shopping list by where you'll find those items at the store, such as produce, grains, spices, frozen foods, etc. It'll save you time and help you to avoid forgetting any items. Do your best to stick to the list and avoid making spur-of-the-moment impulse buys.
Be flexible. You might have kale on your shopping list, but once you get to the store, you may see they're having a sale on collard greens or they only have Swiss chard. Sometimes you have to let your wallet do the talking. You can always improvise-- it might just be better than what you had planned in the first place. Check out the Smart + Simple Substitutions chart on page 44-45 for easy swaps.
Stock your freezer. If my local food store is having a sale on a vegetable I love, I'll grab a pound or two, along with my favorite marinating ingredients, combine them when I'm home, and either roast or grill them. Then I transfer the veggies to a sealed container and freeze them for a future meal when I don't have time to devote all night to cooking. Trust me--a well-stocked freezer is like finding ten bucks in your coat pocket. Almost anything freezes well except for cooked potatoes, salad greens, celery, cabbage, and cucumbers. Freeze as much as you can in small batches. Organic fruits like berries are great to freeze immediately since they often go bad quickly in the fridge. You can use them in smoothies instead of ice, or defrost and use in desserts. You can also mix them into oatmeal or add them to coconut yogurt. I defrost frozen fruit in the fridge overnight and use the next morning.
Frozen veggies like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and squash can be easily added to recipes. Freeze your own, or buy organic brands like Earthbound Farm or 365 Everyday Value from Whole Foods Market (both of which also offer organic frozen fruits, too).
Take risks. Try one new whole-food ingredient each week. Not only is it good for your body, it's good for your brain--plus, it will encourage you to get a little creative with your meals. And who knows, you may find a new ingredient you love! My favorite risk? Eating nori (seaweed sheets). They're totally going to knock your socks off. And so is jicama. You'll see. Check out my Nori Crisps (page 37) and Raw Jicama Romaine Wraps with Dilly Lime Drizzle (page 170).
Excerpt from EATING CLEAN by Amie Valpone. Photography by Lauren Volo. Copyright © 2016 by Amie Valpone. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.