The Ultimate Clean Eating Plan

Thanks to gorgeous health goddess Candace Kumai, we’re no longer freaked out by the term “clean eating.” It’s not a diet death sentence. In fact, it’s not a diet at all, but rather a lifestyle, and now we’re hooked. It celebrates healthy, whole, sustainable, and unprocessed foods, and it rids the body of harmful toxins. Candice not only makes this way of eating look easy, but she also makes it look insanely delicious and totally approachable. Since we started incorporating more clean eats in diets recently, we can’t deny how awesome we’ve been feeling (and looking). Whether you’re in need of a mini jumpstart or a mega lifestyle reboot, eating clean is the way to go. After all, your body is a temple, so treat it like one. Check out Candice’s top to bottom guide to eating clean — we promise you’ll love the results…

Candice’s Eat Clean Guidelines

Clean eating can be summed up into one, powerful, glowing and healthy lifestyle: A lifestyle that involves consuming real food in or as close to its most natural state as possible. Eating to nourish and cleanse the body and mind. Educating yourself on where food comes from. Purchasing or growing foods that are nutritious, unprocessed, and sustainable. Being more mindful of your overall health and the environment in which you live. Clean eating is a choice and a way of life.

1. Eat Real Foods. Cut down on all processed foods. Read labels when you shop. Always stock your fridge with healthy and real, whole food options. Anything from the soil is a sure thing. Eat only what gives back to you!

2. Cut down the sugar! Reduce inflammation in your precious body.

3. Cook with more greens. Get more nutrients, fiber and water into your body.

4. Look to water as your main beverage! Skip all the sodas, frapps, slurpees and milkshakes.

5. Be mindful of where you are purchasing your food. Your dollar is your vote.

6. Take control of your health and your lifestyle with cooking clean. You control your health when cooking for yourself!

7. No diets allowed. With clean eating, you finally set yourself free from rules, restrictions, diets, yo-yo weight loss, and confusion. Clean eating is clear, simple and easy to follow. Clean eating will improve your whole life!

I grew up eating wholesome, fresh Californian produce, and learned to cook super-nutritious Japanese cuisine, compliments of my Japanese mom. Today, my primary job as a chef, food writer, and health journalist is to share what I know and love about food, culture, heritage, sustainability, and health. The best prescription I know for a long, happy, and beautiful life is this: Educate yourself about where your food comes from, grocery shop often, cook most days, exercise, sleep, and enjoy the meals you prepare with the people you love.

Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t like to cook. I hear you— lots of people tell me they want to eat more healthfully, but they don’t like spending time in the kitchen. Well, let me tell you something: Cooking can be fun, cooking can be graceful, cooking can make you feel good, cooking can be the best gift you give yourself every day. It is your greatest resource to finding true health— and delicious food.

Once you start cooking more often, and adding more greens to your diet, you will never look back. In fact, you will start to crave more greens. That chemical-laden processed junk food you used to crave won’t even taste good. There is no place for dieting in my life anymore. And there’s no place for it in your life anymore. Let’s get back to our Mothers’ way of eating.

Candice’s Simple Week of Clean Eating

What to Eat:  

Fresh greens and vegetables (organic when possible), fresh fruits (limit to one a day), whole grains, cracked grains, and sprouted grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, sea vegetables (be sure to check sodium content), spices like turmeric, cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, and cumin.

What to Drink:

Water (10 cups a day), lemon water, green tea, fresh green juices (limit to two a day, low in sugar), herbal teas, unsweetened nut, rice, and coconut milk (all nutmilks in moderation; all unsweetened).

What to Limit/Avoid:

Animal protein, dairy, added sugar (no soda or sugary drinks!), alcohol, caffeine (coffee and green tea are okay in moderation – a life without coffee, in my opinion, is not worth living – but no sweet creamer in your coffee; try nutmilks in your coffee and tea if needed), artificial sweeteners (never, ever!), added salt, processed and packaged foods including protein or granola bars, bread, crackers, chips, and other junk food (remember, clean eating is about nourishing that body with real food), fast food: don’t even go there!

Breakfast:

Start each day with a simple-to-make, delicious, filling, and low-sugar green smoothie, like my Anti-Inflammatory SmoothieTo keep smoothies from getting too sugary, always use unsweetened nut, rice, or coconut milks and you can even swap avocado for frozen bananas. This heart-healthy fruit is full of natural fiber and contains high levels of vitamin E and vitamin K. Avocados are also a beauty food—they have been linked to promoting a healthy body weight and BMI, and those healthy fats will do wonders for your skin, hair, and nails. Here are a few more ways to make delicious, clean and green smoothies, the right way!

Snacks:

Cashews are my favorite nut to snack on. Cashew nuts are actually seeds that grow on the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit from the cashew tree. They contain healthy plant protein and magnesium, which help to control inflammation, give you energy, and promote bone health. I love packing up cashews to go in a mason jar before a long plane ride. Check out my Clean Green Herbed Cashews for a delicious treat. Add superfood booster spirulina, a brilliant plant-based super green derived from blue-green algae for an extra-boost of nutrients. Considered nature’s “multivitamin,” spirulina is packed with protein, vitamin A, K, B12, iron, magnesium, and even probiotics.

Lunch:

Plan a cleansing lunch – see my delicious Roasted Kabocha Squash Salad packed with powerful green detoxifying ingredients like seaweed, leeks, kale, and avocado. Kale is not a trend, it is here to stay. Packed with everything from vitamin A, C, and K to mega-antioxidants and even protein, one cup of this superfood contains approximately 206 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A, approximately 134 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C intake, and approximately 684 percent of your recommended vitamin K intake. Wow!

Try finishing your salads with hemp seeds (which is a complete protein!), meaning it offers all of the essential amino acids your body needs to fuel metabolic function and build muscle. There are five grams of lean, muscle-building protein in just two tablespoons of hemp seeds. Hemp seeds and marijuana come from the same species of plant, but there’s no THC in hemp seeds, thus—sorry, friends—no high! But…your body will be high on their benefits.

Dinner:

Your dinner will harness the power of plant protein (yes, protein from plants!) for hearty bowls and salads that are meat-free and allow your digestive system to take a rest from the energy-consuming job of processing animal protein. I love to use fiber-rich barley as a base for hearty bowls—it has such a great texture and is really filling. With a nutty, earthy flavor, a “pasta- like” consistency, and a powerhouse nutritional profile, barley is a clear swap from your plain old boring rice dish. Barley contains manganese, selenium, fiber, copper, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, and more. Barley can also help aid in digestion due to its fiber content. Add tofu, edamame, and—my favorite—avocado, and you have a totally satisfying meat-free meal.

Four things to Remember While Transitioning to Eating Clean

MOVE! Studies have shown that regular exercise can help alleviate depression, boost brain health, and even keep your immunity strong. Even as little as thirty minutes of movement a day can do your hot body good. My favorites? The Bar Method and yoga.

REST! Sleep is when your body repairs, detoxes, and recovers on a cellular level (and that includes skin cells, so it literally is beauty sleep!). Sleep can also help to relieve stress, boost energy, and improve cognitive performance. Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, a weak immune system, and even heart disease and diabetes. Trust me, this is one healthy habit that is a pleasure to indulge in. And put your screens away before bed time, try to keep them out and don’t go for them until the morning hours. You deserve to be away from those screens and do-you, sans-tech.

RELAX! The benefits of a regular meditation practice are many, and include reduced stress and anxiety, a sharper mind, and an enhanced immune system. Make it a goal to meditate once a day. It can be for as little as five or ten minutes when you’re starting out— whatever time you have is fine, just try to be consistent about meditating at the same time each day, and practice in the same space to establish a ritual. I love to meditate in the mornings when I wake up. I sit on the floor, place my hands on my knees (palms up to receive good energy, palms down to stay grounded), and breathe in and out deeply.  I like to internally say to myself: “Clear mind, no drama, beautiful day.” Once you start making clean and clear mental space you’ll find that you are able to not only be more mindful, but also happier and more creative.

Make the drink that has skin looking supple!

Get Candice’s recipes for Clean Green Herbed CashewsRoasted Kabocha Squash Salad, and the Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie.

Looking for simple tips on how to lose weight? Click here. If you’re thinking about going Paleo, check out our guide. You can also try an easy and delicious smoothie cleanse.