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The standard way of “eating clean” is not one I follow. Eating white rice with chicken breast six times a day came about because of the bodybuilding industry — not because it is particularly healthy. In fact, eating that way day in and day out will leave you nutritionally deficient, especially if you are a performance athlete or a mother (where you are/have been pregnant or breastfeeding, as most of my personal clients are).
What follows is an example of what I consider “eating clean.” This is an easy-to-make meal I eat on a daily basis, and not just because it tastes good (which is does), but because it is chock full of essential micro- and macronutrients.
The Science Behind This Awesome Meal
The meal is simply bursting with micronutrients such as antioxidants and phytochemicals that are essential for good health. It’s no accident this meal is colorful. There is a reason we are drawn to color in our food (an instinct the candy industry has pounced on, by the way). Phytochemicals such as flavonoids and carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their colors, which means these foods are full of antioxidants and micronutrients that are anti-inflammatory and immune boosting. The deeper the pigment, the richer the fruit or vegetable is in these valuable phytochemicals.
This versatile meal, which can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, also contains a good balance of the macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrate):
- The protein and fat is derived from the eggs.
- Complex carbs are found in the sweet potato mash.
- More good fats (monounsaturated) come from the avocado.
While it’s good to enjoy a healthy meal for its flavors, it’s also good to know why it’s a healthy meal. So let’s break down all the ingredients in this versatile favorite of mine.
Eggs are one of my favorite sources of protein since they have the highest bioavailability of all natural protein sources. Said simply, that means they are efficiently metabolized, absorbed, and used by the human body. Eggs also contain all the essential amino acids. These are important for rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue, especially after a hard workout.
Eggs, in particular the egg yolk, contain all the fat-soluble vitamins, A,D, E, and K, and B vitamins such as B6 and B12, as well as folate and choline. Choline is important for nerve transmission and liver health. Eggs also contain omega-3 fats, which are important for heart and brain health and reducing inflammation.
Sweet Potato Mash
I prefer to eat my carbs from a vegetable source rather than a grain source, with the exception of quinoa (since quinoa is so potent in vitamins and minerals and is one of the few grains that contains all the essential amino acids). Starchy carbs such as sweet potato, yams, pumpkin, and butternut squash contain phytonutrients called carotenoids that give them their yellow/orange coloring. Carotenoids are converted to vitamin A in the body and this is important for eyesight, healthy immune function, and bone health.
Arugula contains high levels of folic acid and antioxidants like vitamins C, K, and A, which makes it potent in the fight against free radicals. It is packed with carotenoids, just like the sweet potato, which get converted by the body to vitamin A. Folate is very important for the development of the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy and may prevent in neural tube defects. This dark leafy green vegetable also contains many other minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium, all of which are important for bone health and are valuable electrolytes for proper muscle and nerve function.
Avocados are quite high in fat. The body needs fat for vitamin absorption, brain health, heart health, hormone production, and lubrication of the joints. The idea that eating low fat or no fat is healthy is false and outdated, and if the body is not getting adequate amounts of fat in its diet it will manufacture it from other sources, such as unused carbohydrates.
What is important is the type of fat you eat. A whole avocado will up have to 30 grams of fat, more than half of which will be monounsaturated fat. The body prefers these types of natural fats over processed and synthesized polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, sunflower oil, or, even worse, trans fats from packaged goods. Avocados also contain plenty of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and magnesium. They also contain fiber, which aids digestion.
So now that you know this meal is packed with super foods and awesomeness, here is how to make it!
My Favorite Healthy, Easy-to-Make Meal
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 to 1 whole sweet potato, depending on your weight-loss goals
- 2 tsp butter
- 2 cups of arugula, washed
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 an avocado
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Steam the sweet potato for 20 minutes until very soft. Drain. Add 1-2 tsp of butter, then salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly or blend with a food processor. (I do not like to add milk to sweet potato since it makes it too runny.)
- Meanwhile, fill a pan 1.5 inches high with water and heat. Add vinegar (this will help your eggs keep their shape once in the water.) Bring water to a light boil and add the eggs. Cook on low until the eggs are cooked but the yolks are still a little runny (about 4 minutes.) Drain and transfer to a plate.
- Toss the arugula salad in the balsamic vinegar and olive. Add to the plate with the eggs and serve with sliced avocado and sweet potato mash. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!