Frisky Eats: An Intro To Clean Eating With Celebrity Chef Ariane Resnick

If your patience for that New Year’s health resolution is dangerously close to running out, here in the middle of February when you just want to eat macaroni and cheese and swaddle yourself in blankets on your couch, I have a motivation injection for you: Some tips from badass nutritionist and chef-to-the-stars Ariane Resnick!

Ariane is a survivor of late stage Lyme Disease and chemical poisoning, both of which she recovered from holistically. Now, she draws on her own recovery experience to help others live the best and healthiest lives they can. When she’s not cooking for people like Gwenyth Paltrow (yup, GOOPy herself!), Matt Groening, and Lisa Edelstein, she consults on nutrition does hands-on instruction on healthy cooking.

Ariane is a proponent of organic and clean eating. And before you groan and go “OH MY GOD WHAT DOES IT EVEN MEAN?!” — I’m right there with you. Between working at Whole Foods for three years and being a habitual peruser of fitness forums, I’ve received about 20 different definitions for “clean eating,” and while it sounds like something I ought to do, the confusion makes it hard for me to actually feel like doing it — who wants to overhaul their diet for something they don’t understand?

Thankfully, Ariane is not only a powerfully talented chef; she’s also a very chill advocate for health who can explain how and why to dip your toes into a cleaner diet in simple terms. I asked her a few questions for those of us who are new and/or resistant to clean eating, and she gave me not only some boss answers, but also some incredibly simple recipes.

So you want to eat better? Here’s some advice from chef Ariane, followed by some really and truly no-brainer, simple, easy-peasy clean eating recipes:

What exactly is clean eating and what does it entail?

Like every term, clean eating is subjective. To me, it means simply not eating processed foods, or at least strongly limiting them, and choosing individual food ingredients over prepared food items. It entails often cooking, or at least putting together, your own meals, from fresh ingredients as opposed to frozen, canned, or packaged ones. In short, clean eating means eating food, instead of food-like products.

OK, and when you say “individual food ingredients,” do you mean that you encourage people to simplify their meals down to the fewest possible ingredients?

Not at all; I mean that they are two separate categories of food: ingredients, and packaged foods. An apple is … an apple. A bag of corn chips is corn, oil, salt, flavorings, and often chemicals and dyes too. I encourage people to buy food that is an ingredient, rather than has ingredients. Usually as many as you wish at once.

A lot of people feel like fresh food gets way too expensive. What’s your perspective on that? Do you have any budgeting tips?

Healthful food is far cheaper than the cancer and other diseases it helps prevent!  Also, most real food items are way cheaper than packaged foods. Staples like beans and rice are generally under $3 lb, a $2.49 head of organic kale is multiple servings, and grass fed meats that are meant for braising can feed a family of four for about $10.

What are your feelings on meat? I’m sure you know how adamant a lot of people are about keeping meat in their diet.

I’m the only non-meat-eater I know who is a huge advocate for meat. I believe in eating what your body asks for, and I trust that when most people say, “I couldn’t live without XYZ,” they know better than I do. While I have seen some people adopt a vegan diet and thrive, I’ve seen far more suffer health consequences and return to eating meat with a voracity they didn’t have before. Personally, I haven’t eaten it much since my parents stopped when I was a kid, but occasionally I get a craving for poultry, or my body will want bone broth if I’m having digestive troubles. I always honor that craving, and it’s usually years in between them.

And, of course, what are the benefits versus conventional eating?

The #1 benefit to eating better is feeling better. Along with that comes looking better, which isn’t too bad either!  In a short while, after you have adjusted your taste buds to not constantly crave MSG, sugar, fat, and hydrogenated fats, you’ll be amazed at how incredibly good individual real foods taste. It will take less complex meals to satisfy you, and the reward will be that you’re lowering your risk for countless diseases while likely toning up your figure with very little effort.

When and how did you start getting into clean eating? What were your first steps?

I was very lucky to be raised by a mother who made everything from scratch and ran a co-op out of our basement. We didn’t have much commercial food at all, so when I began cooking professionally it was natural for me to gravitate to only cooking whole food, organic ingredients.

For others, the first step I recommend is to simply change out one food for a healthier choice. Do not try to overhaul your life, or you’ll get overwhelmed, fail, and go back to eating as badly or worse than before. If you make one change a week, month, or year: that’s success! ANYTHING you do in a positive direction is success, period.

And the recipes…

Beautiful Bruleed Oranges

Beautiful Bruléed Oranges

The presentation of this dessert belies its two little ingredients! Coconut sugar is a great alternative to cane sugar because it’s lower-glycemic, meaning it doesn’t give you as much of a blood sugar spike and crash as the regular stuff. It has a caramel flavor like brown sugar, and is readily available in grocery stores. Trader Joe’s sells an organic version for under $4 per pound.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 [can be doubled or halved]):

  • 2 oranges (cara cara are great if available)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar

TO PREPARE:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut oranges in half, making sure to breathe their uplifting oils in deeply, and lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  If bottoms are not flat enough, cut bottoms so they sit upright. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut sugar each. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until coconut sugar is melted and bubbly.
  2. Drizzle plate with any excess coconut sugar that fell off, which creates its own caramel as it cooks, then enjoy an old favorite in a brand new way as you beat some winter blues!

*Best eaten with a grapefruit spoon.  If you don’t have one, slice segments with a knife before serving.

 Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”

These can be used in place of regular mashed potatoes, and often people won’t even realize they aren’t eating potatoes! You can also use parsnips or turnips; parsnips will have a sweeter taste, and turnips will have a bit more bite.

INGREDIENTS:

  • One head cauliflower
  • 3-4 tablespoons grass fed butter (or, coconut oil and nutritional yeast)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

TO PREPARE:

  1. Cut one head of cauliflower into florets. Any size is fine, as long as they are fairly even so they cook at the same speed. Put it in a steamer, or a pot with 1-2 inches of water. Cover, turn onto high. Once boiling, turn down to low and let steam for about ten minutes. Drain water.
  2. Once cooled enough to handle, put steamed florets in a high powered blender or food processor with 3-4 tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Some optional add-ins for even more tastiness: Toasted garlic, dill, chives, grass fed Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Sweet Potato Bread 

Sweet Potato “Bread”

These hearty slices can be spread with mayo, mustard, pesto, or any other condiment before you pile on the fixings. They’ll stand up to a burger or any sandwich you can dream of!

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 extra large sweet potato – white will give a more “normal” appearance
  2. 1 tablespoon neutral oil such as avocado or grapeseed
  3. Salt to taste

TO PREPARE:

Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Slice sweet potatoes in 3/4 inch thick rounds. (If you can’t find extra large potatoes, slice lengthwise.) Place on a baking sheet drizzled with 1/2 tablespoon of oil, then drizzle remaining oil over slices. Salt to taste. Bake until golden, 35-45 minutes.

You can find more amazingness from Chef Ariane on her web site, ArianeCooks.com. Send me a line at [email protected].