Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One Week Clean-Eating Challenge


First of all, you might be thinking "what? I thought this was supposed to be a sugar-free challenge!" It was. But as I was writing this post Tuesday night, and after thinking over some of the comments I received, I realized that it would actually be irresponsible of me to ask all of you to do a detox of any sort. I realize there's a tricky line with blogging and giving out unqualified advice. I never want to harm anyone, and in this case I think my excitement just got the best of me, and as I was typing it out I realized I need to be a bit smarter. Although I fully believe that making healthy changes wouldn't do any harm whatsoever, there are tens of thousands of people reading this post, and how am I to know what your medical or nutritional background is? I do believe that cutting out all sugar is a great idea, but if you are going to do so it might be best if you speak with a medical professional. For me the switch was great- and I do think that because I already ate well it was an easy change. But I don't know that everyone who reads this blog is in the same boat, and I would hate to make any assumptions, especially when dealing with someone's health. Thanks to Vanessa and Lindsay for your thoughtful comments on the matter that really got me thinking. You all know that I'm not a doctor or a registered dietician, but I feel comfortable encouraging all of you to just be healthier and eat REAL, whole foods.

So with that said, I thought it would be much safer and a better idea to encourage all of you to eat clean for a week, beginning Monday, January 30th.  This means you would still avoid sugar, but fruit is a-okay. If you want to try this out, you'll be focusing on WHOLE foods, no refined sugars, no processed items, and also cutting things out like white pastas and breads if you'd like.

If you feel this is too much to commit to- maybe you eat fast food everyday or have a sweet tooth- maybe choose one area to focus on throughout this week. Perhaps you want to promise to forgo all processed items, or just not eat any refined sugar. Any way you want to do this is great- it's all about what is best for you.

And what is clean-eating? From my fave clean-eating lady (Tosca Reno's) website: "It is eating the way nature intended. You eat the foods our bodies evolved to function best on, and that makes you feel – and look – fantastic. When you Eat Clean you eat more often. You will eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. These practices keep your blood-sugar levels stable and keep you satisfied."

I thought I'd post this well before the weekend so you have enough time to prepare your kitchen for the upcoming week. I'm going to tell that you that it's going to be hard, especially if you're used to eating processed food every day, but I promise you if you stick with it for these seven days you will feel great at the end, and maybe even want to keep it up in some way or another.

On Sunday night I'd recommend preparing some of your base foods so you don't feel stressed during the week. Be sure to make a big pot of quinoa if you can, chop up veggies and put them in easy to access containers in your fridge, and make any of the big items you'll eat each day.  I often will cook some chicken breasts on Sunday evening so I can just grab them and go throughout the week. And If you work you're also going to want to take time each night to pack a healthy lunch and snacks for yourself.

Also- I know it can be hard to do something like this when you have an entire family to feed, or even a partner who may be supportive, but isn't into changing their diet. First of all, remember this is just for a week. A lot of the recipes I've included below are really, really awesome and I believe that all people would be into them, even without an open mind. Also remember that as far as meals go, you aren't that limited. You can eat everything that is whole and natural. Let's say your partner is a meat and white potatoes kind of guy or gal- well, you can do meat and sweet potatoes! Family likes pasta? Try quinoa (see my linked post on it above). Make little changes and I bet your whole family may get on board.

I thought it would be great to round up some recipes around the web for inspiration, followed by quick meal ideas.


Ricotta and Spinach Frittata (you can make this on Sunday and eat it throughout the week- it will be enough for four breakfasts.)
Veggie Omelette
Zucchini Fritters
Quinoa pancakes- just don't take her sweet topping suggestions! ;)
plain Greek yogurt with sliced almonds
a slice or two of Ezekial bread with almond butter
Wasa crackers with almond butter and a few berries
steel cut oatmeal

Lunch: (this is tough to separate because I eat the same things for lunch and dinner)

Salad with my homemade, favorite salad dressing
Pizza made in the oven/toaster oven on an Ezekial tortilla
beans and avocado with salsa
baked or microwaved sweet potato with broccoli and cheese
bowl of quinoa and steamed veggies
healthy, homemade soups


Portabello mushroom pizzas- be sure if you use tomato sauce try to avoid unnecessary, added sugar- Trader Joe's makes a great one, but you can also just mash up some Roma tomatoes to stand in for the sauce.
big salad topped with protein of choice (chicken, salmon, etc.)
Sweet potato/black bean/quinoa burgers
Chicken Taco Stew (omit the taco seasoning in favor of your own spices- those flavor packets include a lot of nasty additives and preservatives)
Walnut-crusted chicken breasts (be sure to use an Ezekial bread slice rather than the whole wheat specified in the recipe)
Quick Kale and Quinoa Minestrone
veggie stirfry
bean burritos with fresh salsa


Kale chips
Edamame with sea salt (you can buy ready-to-microwave packs at Costco)
Wasa crackers with almond butter and a few mashed up raspberries
hummus and veggies
plain Greek yogurt with sliced almonds
pieces of cheese and meat rolled up
raw nuts (raw means unroasted, no salt, etc.)

To recap, remember you are eating whole foods- fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy grains, nuts and seeds. No processed food or refined sugars. No soda! The more colorful your plate the better, so be sure to focus on variety in your meals. The recipes and meals I listed up above are just ideas, so feel free to look around online and get creative.

When it gets tough, remind yourself that this is not a punishment, it's actually a reward. Nothing feels better than being healthy, and I know that at the end of this week you will feel great when you look back and know that you only ate whole, healthy foods for an entire seven days. And if you mess up, do not give up! It's all part of the journey. Just make sure the next thing you choose to eat is on point.

Here are a few clean-eating blogs to check out: one, two and three!  The last one is my most favorite. And here is a large collection of recipes on the Eat-Clean website.

And if you're on Twitter, be sure to keep me updated via @danihampton and use the hashtag #SScleaneating so we can all follow along.  I was going to just use #cleaneating, but it's a well-used tag and wouldn't allow all of our tweets to be in an organized feed.

Oh! And also, if you end up cooking and blogging about an awesome meal, send me the link! I will share it next week so everyone else can get inspired too.

Get ready...Monday will be here before you know it! I'm so excited.


  1. I'd love to try this but with a 2 month old I think it might be a bit too difficult at the moment :( Still I will aim to eat better this week even if I just stocked our fridge full of ready made meals!

    I don't know if anyone has shared this site with you:

    She's an Australian who's been a magazine editor, a presenter on Masterchef etc... but she has quit sugar and some of her posts etc... were quite interesting and inspiring.

  2. Excellent. Two glitter-tipped thumbs up! This is a challenge that I can get excited about! I'm moving to a new house this weekend, so it's the perfect time to review my eating habits. I'm looking forward to cooking some of these scrummy recipes in my new kitchen.

  3. Your blog is wonderful and has the potential to make all of your readers better people. :) This challenge could NOT be more timely for me. Thanks a million! :)

  4. I'm definitely excited to try this!!! I've had a nasty chocolate craving hit me, which rarely ever does, this last week. Plus, I have an unhealthy addiction to sugar, something that does worry my wife Jen often as her family has a history of diabetes. On top of all that, I'm looking to just become healthier overall, so this is seriously just great. <3

  5. So inspired by this. I think my diet is pretty good but its so easy for processed foods to sneak in and much of what is marketed as "healthy" is full of rubbish! This is also a really great chance for me to try some new meal ideas as I do feel like I get into food ruts and eat essentially the same foods everyday.

  6. Woo hoo! I'm jumping on this. I usually eat pretty clean, but never for a week at a time. I always have one or two naughty days were I tend to go crazy on stuff.

  7. Soooo excited :) Yippee. Here's to healthy living :)

  8. One of my favorite books on clean eating is Tosca Reno's book "the eat clean diet" there is an awesome work out routine with it and I always feel amazing when I eat clean and do her work outs. (I am 2 weeks in to a clean diet and p90x routine and feel amazing.) eating clean is the best, I'll never go back.

  9. This is great!

    If I were you I would stay off the lunch meat.. it really is bad for you and super processed :)

    1. I eat slices of meat from our organic deli- they are nitrate free and unprocessed!

  10. I was just writing a blog post about healthy living malaise! This challenge was exactly what I needed. Thanks Danielle!

  11. I am looking forward to this challenge. My diet is already pretty clean, so for me this next week will be cutting out refined sugars and focusing on getting rid of those few processed food stragglers that are still around.

    I am super excited!

  12. I plan on joining in on this! My soon to be hub and I have already started cutting processed foods out of our diet & have made the switch from white to wheat, so this shouldn't be too difficult! I love your meal ideas and I am all go for preparing meals on Sunday! I think I shall start doing this on the regular! Thanks!

  13. Another great recipe is roasted cauliflower!

    1 head organic cauliflower (cut in to pieces)
    1 T of olive oil
    1 garlic clove minced
    dash of sea salt

    Set your oven to 425 degrees. Put all above ingredients in a bowl. Shake it around. Spread out on a cookie sheet. Flip after 15 min. Roast another 15-20 min. Serve as a snack or a side dish! So delicious!

  14. I am so in! Lucky for me I'll barely be changing the way I already eat, so it shouldn't be too bad of a challenge for me :) Good luck everyone!

  15. I've already been doing this for January, following a Whole30 protocol with some other changes to rule out food allergies. I feel great! I get some acne when I snack on nuts, but otherwise have no negative symptoms (aside from still apparently being allergic to something arrggh!).

  16. This sounds really great but I have to ask - does your son eat all these recipes? My 3-year-old can be very picky. I want to feed our family healthier meals but yikes, I don't think he would go near the kale chips. I however, will try them.

    Also? We're on a strict budget and can't shop at the expensive whole foods stores. I'm hoping I can find some good options at the cheap store. None of their produce is organic so I try to wash it really well before we eat.

  17. I'm not ready for the whole challenge, but you have definitely inspired me to make some healthy changes/additions for me and my family, so thank you! Off to buy some quinoa... baby steps ;)

  18. I think this is so great! I already try to subscribe to the clean eating lifestyle (although I do deviate every now and then), but would love to join the challenge as a way to show support and share some ideas and recipes with friends on my blog. Yay!

  19. I made kale chips for the first time last week and they are SO good. I'm so glad you included them in your snack list. =] I can't wait to do this and be in a supportive community AND feel great at the end of the week!

  20. Hi! Can you eat tofu? I'm starting a blog to chronicle my new years resolution to "eat more green food.". Been a vegetarian for over 15 years but still wasn't making the best food choices. I started posting my food pics on Instagram @michelle_my_belle and had a lot of people interested in what I was eating! If you search #eatmoregreenfood on IG you will see a lot of my green food! I love this clean eating idea!

  21. I'm very excited about taking part in a clean eating week next week! I've been wanting to try it for ages and your post has inspired me to do so! I have been "diet blogging" ( for the last month or so, so shall definitely do a few posts about this. Thanks for the meal ideas and blog links - will check those all out. Looking forward to spending Sunday making some soups for the week :)

  22. This is going to be tough, but I'm excited for it!!

  23. I'm just wrapping up a detox I did throughout January. I feel fantastic, good luck to you! If you want some more recipe inspirations, check out my detox posts here:

  24. I'm excited for this, thanks for all the meal ideas. As I've stated before I'm doing the no-sugar as well so this won't be hard for me. Ironically, my "sugar strike" was supposed to end Jan 30th, but I was going back and forth about adding another week or two. I guess I'll be adding that extra week.

    Great post, Danielle.

  25. I try to eat clean, but I definately don't all the time. This will be a fun challenge. I did it last year & you're right, you do feel so much better. My face was glowing. I do have a MAJOR sweet tooth though. Thanks for the great recipies & I'm looking forward to checking out the blogs you listed. I'm making a grocery list right now!

  26. This is great!! I have been really wanting to 'clean up' my diet lately. I've been doing okay (I find it really challenging being married to someone who is SUCH a picky eater) but I think this is a great motivator. And awesome meal ideas!

  27. My eating habits have absolutely sucked lately because I work at a job where grabbing fast food is the easiest thing to do on break. I really love your meal ideas, so maybe I'll try clean-eating for at least a couple days and see how I feel.

  28. (OK, I admit I haven't read through all the comments but) .... I would really recommend listening to this nutrition podcast:
    Not only do the nutritionists discuss all kinds of recipes and food options, but they discuss specific health issues and HOW they can be affected by diet/nutrition, cite actual scientific research to support it AND have adorable Minnesota accents....
    I've learned SO Much from from them!

  29. Your recent posts and made me want to change some of my eating habits. I tend to crave sugar at night, and often indulge in that. So instead I am going to just eat a piece of fruit or cheese instead of the ice cream, cinnamon-sugar toast and chocolate I was eating.
    I don't ever see myself giving up fruit but I am going to try to eliminate added sugars.

  30. well I just actually started making better choices a week ago. I realized just how much extra junk is put in our food, even simple things such as bread. I used to think people that were all into this whole food stuff was crazy but now that I'm nearing 30 and have 3 kids to feed and keep up with, i am becoming one of those "crazy" people. it actually makes me mad when look at the ingredients and see all the extra stuff in what should be simple foods! My problem is that with my family of five, I was spending $200 easy on groceries per week! and i also desperately need to lower that so shopping at whole foods is not going to help this problem. I have decided to serve 3 vegetarian meals a week, and I personally am not going to eat meat now since I never really cared for it. also my husband and i need to cut back on our snacking. so this allows me to spend money on better quality food now, and without as much meat i am saving on my bill!. I made my first trip to trader joes and it was neat, although i still had to label read, there was a better chance for better foods. I still eat m&ms, and some no-no foods but i am so happy with our switch. I just feel good.

    i have gone without sugar before and i agree once you get over the withdraw, it becomes so easy! but I also never fully went no sugar- i loved my bread and fruits.
    I'll admit your blog inspired me to eat more wholly, so thank you!

  31. P.S. I've also read that eating protein for breakfast helps curb sugar cravings later in the day.

  32. I really want to do this (for longer than one week,too!) However,I'm afraid I won't be getting enough nutrients or I might get too many (is that possible?). Should I talk to my doc first about eating healthier? Or is it better to just go with it and not worry? I don't know what I'm doing really,so if you have any advice or blogs or whatever for me to check out,I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

  33. I'm so excited to start! I eat a fairly healthy diet now, but it has a ton of room for improvement. Far too often I often cave into the convenience of pre-packaged foods and snacks. I'm hoping by prepping ahead of time I can stay motivated to make better choices. I can't wait to see how I feel at the end of the week. Who knows, maybe I can even get my husband to try it!

  34. Awesome! I was into the whole sugar free thing, but this is so much more accessible and I am so much more excited!!

  35. I will admit, I was going to keep fruit anyway! Yay, now I am SUPER excited for this. I have been cleaning up my eats this month anyway so being a bit more strict for a week should be a fun challenge :)

  36. I'm SO glad you shifted the general focus to something that promotes cleaning up your eats because I think ANYONE and EVERYONE can do that and achieve long term success rather than focusing on specific "bad foods" There are so many great whole foods out there and I think many people want to eat cleaner just need a little direction in how to do so. I also like to promote eating local whenever possible and really become aware of where your food is coming from and how it affects not just your body but your community, and the world. Thanks Danielle for being so great about feedback and starting all of this!

  37. I love the sound of this! Like some of the other commenters, I was intrigued by the sugar-free diet but a little overwhelmed at the idea of cutting out all sugar (though it has helped me, even in just the past two or three days, to become more aware of sugars in the foods I buy). I normally eat fairly well but am far too susceptible to "treating" myself with something processed, sugary, or fast-food-y, I think committing myself to a clean diet for a week will help me at least think about making better choices and be more aware of how I eat.

  38. This is wonderful! And it comes at the best time, considering the fact that my little family has just gone vegetarian (and hopefully soon, vegan!)

  39. I'm definitely going to do this! I made a post about clean living today and I linked on over to here! I hope I can do this.

    xo kristen

  40. I'm glad Clean Eating is such a topic this month! I'm trying my best: Loving it so far!

  41. Nutritionally, what's the difference between eating raw or roasted nuts? I LOVE making my own almond butter!

    1. Raw doesn't have any added oils or salts.. roasted sometimes does (if you are buying from a store).

  42. Woohoo! Just stumbled on your blog, but I'm so glad I did :) My husband and I are both in...should be great!

  43. Hey. I'm Kate , I'm from Ukraine I want to become a organic healthy skinny eater. Thank you. Good luck everyone!

  44. Alright, you've got me! I'm joining in. I'm not totally abandoning sugar - I'll eat fruit still - but no added sugar. And I'm doing it for a week! Oh yes! Giving up on my DH's birthday and then maybe, possibly, re-starting? We'll see how hard it is!

  45. i would love love to do this but everything required i wouldn't be able to eat. I'm going through a weird diet of avoiding goitrogens and eggs and dairy make me go fetal from pain.

    I'll be happy to admire and cheer on the sidelines!! GO YOU!!

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