What is Clean Eating?

There is no dictionary term for clean eating, it really is more about adapting your diet and lifestyle choices to include more whole foods that are natural and nourishing and less of the processed junk.

Clean food is as close to its natural form as possible. It should never have an ingredient list with things no one can pronounce. For many people clean food means organic and if your budget permits invest in organic meat, dairy and eggs.

Clean eating to me means enjoying the foods I currently do, along with eating out and the occasional takeaway but having the main focus of my diet centred around eating natural, plant based, as organic as possible and as unprocessed as I can get away with. I genuinely prefer a diet based around veggies and fruits, which makes clean eating so much easier, my skin looks great for it and my energy levels are through the roof. But it wasn’t always the case, when I first left home I chose convenience over what was best for me, but as I’ve grown up and seen the benefits of a clean diet I’ve been drawn more and more towards that lifestyle.

It makes sense now more than ever to be aware of what clean eating is and to learn about the benefits of putting the correct food into our bodies.

Tips to incorporate Clean Eating into your diet:

  • Eat five to six times a day – Try to include lean protein, a complex carbohydrate and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating smaller meals throughout the day reduces the chance of binging on sugar laden foods at the last minute.

  • Get label savvy – Clean foods contain only a handful of ingredients. Food products with a shelf life of a few months or over a year will no doubt be jam packed with chemicals to give it that long shelf life, our bodies aren’t designed to consume these toxins and more often than not they end up as that little spare tyre around our waists.
  • Try to drink at least 2 liters of water a day – Herbal and green teas can be included in this intake. If you can try to start the day off with warm water and fresh lemon to wake up your digestive system and flush out unwanted toxins.

  • Choose organic as much as possible – Organic foods can be slightly more expensive than the average, but it really is worth investing in organic meat, dairy and eggs. All the supermarkets in Ireland have a good (and growing) range of organic produce, its becoming more easily assessable to everyone.

Tips on what to buy:

  • Meat (Lamb, Beef, Pork, Venison, Duck, Turkey, Chicken) When it comes to buying meat or poultry the best options to look out for are ‘Grass Fed’ ‘Free Range’ or ‘Organic’. The next best thing is to opt for ‘Lean’ or ‘Fat Trimmed’ cuts of meat.
  • Eggs and Dairy (Milk, Cream, Butter, Cheese, Yogurt) Again with eggs always look for ‘Free Range’ or ‘Organic’. Grass Fed or Organic livestock would have had a better quality diet and more relaxed lifestyle, because of this their meat/eggs will contain higher levels of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 Fats. They are also much less likely to have been treated with antibiotics. With Dairy always go for Organic if possible as these products are much less likely to have come from an animal source that has been produced with hormones or antibiotics.
  • Fruit and Vegetables When it comes to fruit and vegetables organic is always best as crops these days are heavily sprayed with pesticides. If you cannot opt for organic fruit and vegetables be sure to thoroughly wash before use. A good tip is to fill a sink with fresh water and a few capfuls of apple cider vinegar (Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar is my favourite) and leave your fruits and vegetables in the water for 10-15 minutes before rinsing and drying. Farmers markets are in abundance all over the country providing us with locally grown, fresh and great tasting produce, it makes perfect sense to buy locally as the produce would be farm fresh and wouldn’t have travelled far to get to you. Many of the imported fruits in supermarkets are transported across continents before they reach your plate.
  • Fish When it comes to fish try go for wild or sustainably caught rather than farmed. Wild or sustainably caught fish will have a higher fat composition and therefore more healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. I feel that we’re lucky in Ireland with the quality of fresh produce our farmers markets stock and if you’re lucky enough to live near the coast and the docksides try buy direct from the source. Special mention should be given to The Good Fish Company in Cork www.goodfish.ie and The Market at Beshoffs in Howth, County Dublin www.beshoffs.ie, both are well worth a visit! When buying frozen shellfish like prawns try buy them in their shells as the de-shelled prawns would have been preserved in a salt glaze.
  • Cooking fats and oils for dressings Animal fats are perfect for cooking with because they are rich in saturates, which remain stable at high temperatures, the best being butter, ghee, duck or goose fat. If you’re vegetarian choose coconut, sesame or rapeseed oils for cooking with. Try using plant oils like flax, avocado, pumpkin, walnut or olive oil for dressings. These oils are more delicate and more easily damaged at higher temperatures, which ruins the flavour and any nutritional benefits. Again with any of the fats and oils mentioned above organic is best if you can afford it.

I hope these tips help & rid the idea of clean eating being a chore.


ILoveCooking.ie x Sarah's Rawbites

This week I joined ilovecooking.ie for their Focus Friday about Rawbites and everything that is baking. See below for full interview.

Can you tell us a bit about your products? 

Everything I make is made up of natural products like nuts, dates, almond butter, tahini, coconut oil and cacao. I purposely went through all the recipes I had and jam packed them full of superfoods to make them even better. All the products are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar and they’re all RAW! At the moment I make Caramel Slices, Brownies, Carrot Cake and a Superfood Bar. I’ve just started producing Raw Raspberry Cheesecakes and Raw Chocolate Tarts that have been in Avoca for the past week or so and they’re selling really well. From this week I will be making Vanilla Granola and Cacao and Hazelnut Granola for sale in Avoca and in the coming weeks there will be a raw and very clean version of Nutella avaliable. And then who knows!

What inspired you to create your products?

I have the biggest sweet tooth and wanted to come up with desserts and treats that weren’t so packed full of bad fats, sugar and gluten so I spent weeks looking online and reading blogs about the benefits of raw foods. Then I spent months playing around in the kitchen making up recipes and getting friends and family to taste them. Two or three years ago there was such a big gap in the Irish market for clean raw foods, I knew I could create something that tasted amazing, was completely natural and raw and had benefits to the body buy using superfoods, coconut oil and activated nuts and seeds.

Where can you buy your product?

At the moment everything can be brought in all the Avoca shops (even in Belfast) but I’ll be working on getting them in more local cafes around Dublin this summer.


What are the benefits of eating raw? 

Personally I found that the more raw foods I eat the more energy I have, the clearer my skin is and the less I crave fatty, sugary junk foods. I’m in my early 30’s now and feel and look better than I did when I was in my mid 20’s. I think my mood is also better with more raw foods in my diet. Raw foods have also been linked to longer life and less chances of developing heart and cardiovascular dieseases and cancers.

What tips would you give to someone trying to eat more healthily? 

Try to aim for 80% clean eating and 20% more relaxed eating (takeaway or cheat meals).. I don’t know anyone personally who eats like a saint all the time and 100% clean eating every day of the year isn’t realistic. Try adding as much raw fruits and veggies into every meal of the day. I carry small packets of nuts around in my bag if I’m out during the day to curb any hunger pangs. Drink water and lots of it, alot of the times when I think I’m hungry I’m just a little dehydrated. Stay away from Food Guilt, if you have a bad day and overindulge a little more than you should have don’t stress over it, just move on and eat cleaner at the next meal. Try to eat smaller meals every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism up and activated.

What does the future hold for your business? 

I’m really enjoying working for Avoca at the moment, I’ve learnt so much from working with them for the past few months, I’m grateful for the faith they have in me to allow me to expand the raw range for them. I am planning on getting my products into more local cafes and shops around Dublin this summer. My website is currently being redesigned and I’ll relaunch that this month with a recipe and blog section. I plan to start making raw cakes for birthdays or celebrations, I’ll have a page on my new website where customers can contact me (www.rawbite.ie)

Finally can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as a chef?

I was born in Ireland and raised in Zimbabwe, I came back to Ireland when I was 16 to do an apprenticeship in Maryborough Hotel in Douglas, Cork. I loved being in a kitchen and knew from a young age that I wanted to be a chef. I moved back to Zimbabwe for a few years after I qualified as a chef. I’ve also lived and worked in Australia (who hasn’t!). I’ve been living in Dublin for the past 4 years and am really loving it! I’ve always been interested in healthy eating and right nutrition, the older I get the more I’m concerned with what I put into my body to boost my energy and keep my skin looking as good for as long as I can!

A chat with Brendan Swan

Today I met with Brendan Swan for a quick chat about his view on healthy living and quizzed him for all his tips on training and exercise.

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Brendan Swan is a Personal Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach with 13 years experience. He is also a Coach in Martial Arts and Self Defence with 16 years experience in that. His training included a mentorship in Chicago with Charles Poliquin www.strengthtsensei.com and Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition... Brendan knows what he's on about, and he's very blunt when its comes to training, I've had a few sessions with him and he's brutally honest about training and diet, but I've learnt a lot from him.

What has been your career highlight to date? 
Although Brendan has trained former Miss. Ireland's, Daniel Bernhardt (The Matrix), and Suzanne Jackson (Sosueme.ie) career highlights for him include helping people transform their bodies from a size 16 to a size 8 with right nutrition and exercise. He has also helped clients manage depression through his programs. 

What is his favourite healthy treat?
Brendan loves baking!!! He makes a range of gluten Free desserts and treats for himself/family including a No-Bake Cherry Brownie & Cinnamon Swirl Bread both using coconut flour and stevia instead of traditional white flour & sugar. He wouldn't give me any recipes though; mean Brendan!
He also recommends eating high water content fruits as treats whenever you get a sugar craving such as;
Watermelon  ///  Galia Melon  ///  Honeydew Melon   ///  Strawberries  ///  Mango

What motivates Brendan to work out on 'Off Days'...
Brendan knows that after a workout he will always feel better than before he started and be ready to take on his day...

Best diet advice?
He recommends meal prepping, having healthy snacks on standby and knowing in advance what and when his next meal will be. He recommends Google for researching new recipes. 

Brendan health secrets...
7-8 hours beauty sleep. But if you have a high stress job, awkward working hours or children and you can't manage the full 7-8 hours try get a 20-30 minute power nap in if possible to rest and repair your body.  Good vitamins and supplements... Brendan says that our Grandparents had 100 times less stress and 100 times more nutrients in the soil that grows our food compared to our lives today, which we need to make up for in the food choice and supplements we make.

He recommends Vitmain D3 to combat the lack of natural sunlight in Ireland, Vitamin E as a good antioxidant, immune enhancer and skin rejuvenator. And a Fish Oil, Brendan recommends Eskimo Oil or Krill Oil for joint health, brain health and help with normalising hormones.
WATER! Brendan recommends drinking plenty of water, he says 1 litre of water for every 15kg of body weight. 
Weight training! Weight training burns more muscle than doing hours and hours of cardio. Weight training helps reduce feelings of depression. Helps to fight Osteoporosis, lowers your risk of Diabetes and helps strengthen your heart!

Brendan's best workout advice...
He recommends getting a personal trainer if its your first time stepping into a gym. You will need someone to show you how to train and do the exercises correctly to avoid any injury. A trainer will also be able to give you a gym program to follow on your own based on what you're trying to achieve; better health or an upcoming event or holiday. Brendan recommends working out x3 a week to maintain the body you already have and x4 or more workouts a week to change your body. 
He also says be a little selfish and put yourself first, if you go away on holidays the work you've put into your body will show, so make time to put the effort into taking care of yourself first. 

Favourite 'Cheat Meal'?
Brendan loves Thai, so anything from Canoodle or Camile as a treat will do him... Still sounds pretty clean to me!!!!
He also recommends, for anyone doing a Body Transformation program or heavy training program, to research restaurants and their menus before going to them so you have a rough idea of what clean choices you can order. He has a cheat meal every other weekend!

Brendan Swan can be contacted on 0831440215... I've done a few personal training sessions with him and hes given me a really good program that I still follow myself in the gym. He runs small training groups of no more than 8 people to help you get into shape over 6-8 weeks and gives a full diet and training program.