Clean eating might sound like the latest food fad, but it just means eating naturally, as nature intended. This has many benefits and largely involves eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods.
We know that eating plenty of fruit and veg boosts our health, and buying fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch can save us money. Plus, it can feel pretty good to know that the food we’re cooking is nourishing our bodies.
But cooking simply and naturally doesn’t mean forgoing flavour and pleasure – and if you’re a foodie who’s concerned you won’t enjoy clean eating, think again!
Here are 14 clean-eating recipes that actually taste good.
1. Chickpea flour pancakes
Pancakes are a breakfast staple. Yet, due to the typical addition of white flour, they can’t really be classed as ‘clean’. So why not make these chickpea flour pancakes by My Natural Family?
Not only are they gluten-free, but thanks to the protein in chickpea flour, you don’t need to add as many eggs – which means these pancakes are much lower in cholesterol too.
These healthy pancakes take only 20 minutes to make, and because they’re so high in protein and full of healthy complex carbs, they’ll keep you full for hours. For maximum enjoyment and health points, drizzle with maple syrup and scatter over some fresh berries.
2. Easy jambalaya
If you’re craving a flavoursome, complex-tasting dish that’ll transport you to warm and exotic countries – but you don’t fancy fussing over a hot stove or creating a mess in the kitchen – this jambalaya from Clean Eating is a top choice.
Jambalaya is a Creole and Cajun dish with a wonderful blend of flavours. Made with spiced rice, protein, and plenty of veg, every bite is a pleasure.
While pork is traditionally used, this recipe uses leaner turkey sausages, and brown rice replaces white rice to create a healthier, more wholesome dish. Another benefit is that it’s all baked in foil pouches, so there’s hardly any washing up, and everything is cooked to perfection!
3. Quick and easy chilli
If you’re looking to make a speedy, no-fuss lunch or dinner that’s also full of flavour, this quick and easy chilli by My Natural Family is ideal.
All you need to do is open some tins, pop the contents in a pan, cook, and eat. Thanks to the cumin, cayenne, chilli, onion, and garlic salt seasoning, this is a seriously flavoursome dish – and it freezes really well, too, so you can make extra to eat another time.
Though this recipe uses ground beef, you can easily leave it out to make it vegetarian. Because it already contains chilli beans and black beans, you won’t need to worry about protein! Just make sure to use veggie stock instead of chicken stock if you’re looking for a fully plant-based meal.
If you want to keep the meat but make it as healthy as possible, you could choose lean turkey, chicken, or lean beef mince (5% fat or less). Some people even prefer to use slices of thin beef frying steak.
4. Slow cooker Mediterranean chicken and farro
If you’re a fan of the sun-soaked flavours of Mediterranean food and enjoy using a slow cooker, we might have found the dish for you. This slow-cooker Mediterranean chicken and farro recipe from Nutrium is an Italian-inspired meal that’s healthy and delicious.
Sicilian Castelvetrano olives have a buttery-sweet texture, and farro – an ancient grain that’s a staple in Italian cooking – is rich in protein and fibre. It also has a lovely nutty flavour and a satisfyingly chewy texture.
Cooked gently in a slow cooker, the chicken thighs remain tender and produce a rich juice that’s then perfectly soaked up by the farro. Garnish with fresh parsley for maximum flavour.
5. Dill garlic butter baked salmon
If you’re a fan of fish, this dill garlic butter baked salmon dish from Green Healthy Cooking is an incredibly simple way to prepare a healthy and impressive meal.
Because the fish is cooked in a parchment pouch in the oven (you can also use foil), the salmon will stay juicy. And adding a slice of lemon, a knob of garlic butter, and a scattering of dill to the pouch allows the flavours to really infuse.
Baby potatoes and asparagus go well with this dish, and to make things even easier, you can pop the asparagus into the pouch with the fish and cook it all together. If you’re not a fan of dill, you can use basil, coriander, or parsley – although dill goes especially well with salmon.
6. Tahini and carrot soup with pistachios
Throwing together simple, wholesome, delicious, and comforting soups is one of the easiest ways to eat clean. While some of the tastiest soups have a creamy taste and velvety texture, you don’t need to add any dairy to achieve this – as this gorgeous tahini and carrot soup by Cook Me proves.
Made from ground, toasted sesame seeds and packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, tahini is incredibly healthy.
While carrots can taste a little sweet, adding tahini, smoked paprika, salt, and garlic gives this soup a satisfyingly savoury flavour – and the pistachios bring a lovely Middle Eastern touch. Add a spoonful of miso paste or a splash of soy sauce for an even more savoury, umami flavour.
7. Chicken, avocado, and quinoa nourish bowls
The best nourish bowls have five key components: whole grains, veggies, protein, dressing, and toppings like nuts, seeds, herbs, or sprouts. These chicken, avocado, and quinoa nourish bowls by Eating Well contain all five of these and are quick, well-balanced meals that make a tasty lunch or light dinner.
The chicken thighs can take as little as five minutes to cook. To save more time, you can use leftover chicken, shop-bought chicken chunks, or swap for canned chickpeas.
Avocado provides plenty of good fats; quinoa is rich in fibre, minerals, antioxidants, and all nine essential amino acids; and the radishes, chopped nuts, and seeds give each bite a satisfying crunch. The zingy dressing is also a wonderful addition to all these different flavours and textures.
8. Quick and easy ramen
If you’re a fan of ramen, you may already know that it usually takes quite a bit of time to make the perfect broth. But if you want to save time, don’t be tempted by those instant ramen packets!
While they may take only minutes to make, instant ramen packets are loaded with MSGs, artificial flavourings, and high amounts of salt – so they’re about as far from clean eating as you can get.
Instead, why not make this quick and easy ramen bowl by Clean Eating? It only takes 10 minutes to cook and half an hour to prepare, so it’s a much speedier version of classic ramen. And, thanks to the flavours and textures of tamari, chicken breast, spring onions, cabbage, whole wheat noodles, and softly-set eggs, it’s no less delicious.
9. Chickpea and spinach stew
Another quick yet filling dish that can be made in under half an hour is this hearty chickpea and spinach stew by Eating Well.
With plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, chickpeas provide a whole array of health benefits – from helping manage weight to improving digestion. And because they’re mashed in this recipe, they add body and texture to this tasty stew.
Spinach, carrots, and onions provide even more nutritional goodness, and a healthy dollop of tomato paste gives a savoury umami kick without adding too much salt. Just leave out the turkey and swap out the chicken broth to make a vegetarian version of this dish.
10. One-pan veggie frittata with goat’s cheese
If you enjoy eating eggs for breakfast, chances are you’re probably washing up dirty dishes every morning. So why not save yourself time and effort and make Clean Eating’s one-pan veggie frittata on a Monday and enjoy it until the weekend?
Loaded with protein from the eggs and plenty of veg, this dish is healthy, vegetarian, and gluten-free. Plus, it lasts for days and only takes 10 minutes to prepare.
Using brightly coloured veg like cherry tomatoes and courgettes is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough antioxidants – although the beauty of this recipe is its versatility. You can throw in any leftover veg you have lying around, and if you don’t have goat’s cheese, swap it for another cheese – or just skip it altogether.
For maximum flavour, top with sliced avocado, fresh coriander, and hot sauce.
11. Fennel, pomegranate, and broad bean salad
For a light, healthy meal, why not make this fennel, pomegranate, and broad bean salad by BBC Good Food?
Pomegranates are one of the healthiest foods in the world. They’re chock-full of vitamins and powerful plant compounds, have multiple health benefits, and add a delicious juicy twist to a dish.
While this is a light meal, the bulgur wheat helps fill you up. Bulgur wheat is another food that offers a generous helping of vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
Broad beans are high in protein, folates, and B vitamins, and make this salad more filling than it might look. And the addition of fennel, mint, parsley, and a zingy dressing means every bite brings delicious, fresh flavours.
12. Sirloin beef wraps
Beef dishes aren’t necessarily thought of as being quick, but these sirloin beef wraps by Clean Eating are ready in under half an hour.
Sirloin steak is cooked until tender, sliced into slivers, and placed onto wholewheat tortillas. Then, fresh, crunchy veg like carrots, cucumbers, and red onion are added, drizzled in a homemade sauce, and everything is wrapped up in tasty little pockets.
You can adapt this recipe however you like. Adding oven-roasted tomatoes is another great way to add a savoury, umami flavour while providing another boost of vitamins. Fresh herbs go a long way here, so don’t forget to top with your favourites – parsley and coriander both work well.
13. Tofu and vegetable curry with courgette noodles
If you love the aromatic flavours of Thai curries, this tofu and vegetable curry with courgette noodles by Eating Well is perfect.
The sauce is made with red curry paste, lime juice, garlic, and coconut milk, and though it only takes minutes to prepare, it’s full of fragrant flavours. Using courgette noodles instead of rice or traditional noodles means this meal is much lighter too.
Tofu provides plenty of protein and calcium – while the kale, mushrooms, spring onions, and courgettes will give you your veggie fix. The whole dish takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and because it’s all cooked in one pan, you’ll also save on washing up.
14. Healthier creamy butter chicken
If you get a sudden craving for an Indian takeaway, why not satisfy your hunger by making your own delicious curry instead?
Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be able to make a more wholesome alternative. This creamy butter chicken recipe by Green Healthy Cooking is a much healthier version of traditional murgh makhani. It uses 0% fat yoghurt and a smaller amount of sour cream instead of lashings of heavy whipping cream and is served with brown rice instead of white.
The chicken is then cooked in a creamy, tomato-based sauce flavoured with cumin, ginger, turmeric, garlic, and garam masala. To boost your vitamin intake, try adding some vegetables on the side; Roasted broccoli goes especially well with butter chicken.
As this article hopefully proves, clean eating doesn’t have to be restrictive – and these meals certainly aren’t boring or bland! From fragrant Thai curries to super-fresh salads and punchy chillies to comforting soups and stews, there’s something for everyone here.
Sometimes, a few simple swaps can turn an average dinner into a wholesome, healthy, clean-eating meal – for example, swapping white rice for brown rice or quinoa and pasta for farro. But, essentially, the focus of clean eating is on adding lots of health-boosting vegetables to your meals, cooking from scratch, and staying away from processed food and artificial ingredients.
For more recipe ideas, you might want to check out our articles: 12 healthy recipe ideas and 18 healthy 30-minute meals. Or why not see what healthy cooking demonstrations are upcoming over on our Rest Less Events platform?
Do you try to practise clean eating? Or are you thinking about reducing the amount of processed food you eat or trying to eat more veg? We’d love to hear about your food experiences in the comments below.