BuzzFeed Life's Clean Eating Challenge is a two-week plan that's all about eating real food in order to feel great and have more energy. The food is low-carb and gluten-free with an emphasis on lean protein, healthy fats, and lots of fresh produce. There's no processed food allowed; every meal is homemade.
It's important that you follow the meal plan in order starting with Day 1 since most of the recipes call for leftover ingredients from previous days. But you can start any time and find full instructions here. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours and try not to eat within two hours of bedtime.
***Before you start Day 1, check this post and make sure you did the prep: Bought your groceries and put the meat and bananas in the freezer.***
Banana-Coconut Green Smoothie
Makes 1 serving
½ large ripe banana, peeled then frozen (from Saturday)
2.5 ounces (half a 5-ounce bag; about 2 cups loosely packed) baby spinach
1 cup coconut water
2 tablespoons natural, unsalted almond butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut the banana into 1-inch chunks, then add all ingredients to a high speed blender and puree until smooth (about 1 minute).
310 calories, 16.3 g fat (3.1 g saturated fat), 37.1 g carbohydrate (5 g dietary fiber, 21.9 g sugars), 9.6g protein, 114.1 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol
Roasted Fennel, Asparagus, and Red Onions with Parmesan and Hard-Boiled Eggs
Makes 2 servings of roasted vegetables and extra eggs.
You'll eat half these veggies today and half for lunch on Tuesday.
2 large bulbs fennel, cored and cut in ½-inch wedges, lengthwise*
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut in 8 wedges each
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
freshly ground pepper
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
2 hard-boiled eggs** (recipe below)
*If your fennel comes with the fringe-like green fronds still attached to its stalk, feel free to throw them in the finished dish like fresh herbs! Just don't roast them; they're super delicate and won't survive the oven.
**Men, use 3 eggs.
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Add the fennel and onion wedges to one of the the baking sheets, drizzle with 1 teaspoon canola oil, and season with ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss to evenly coat, and roast in the preheated oven until caramelized and soft, about 35-40 minutes.
When the fennel and onion wedges have been roasting for about 20 minutes, put the asparagus on the second lined baking sheet, drizzle with the remaining teaspoon of canola oil, and season with the remaining ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss to evenly coat, and roast on a second rack in the oven until cooked but still a little bit crispy, about 15-20 minutes.
While the vegetables roast, prepare your hard-boiled eggs.
Plate half of the roasted vegetables with the hard-boiled eggs and shaved Parmesan and eat. Let the leftover vegetables cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
446 calories, 23.2g fat, (9 g saturated fat), 29.7 g carbohydrate (11 g dietary fiber, 0.4 g sugars), 33.5 g protein, 873.9 mg sodium, 394.4 mg cholesterol
Make sure your vegetables aren't too crowded on the sheet tray.
They're done when they're soft and browned on the edges.
The root end of the asparagus is super fibrous and doesn't taste good. Trim 1-2 inches off the ends before you cook it.
Spread the asparagus out as much as you can.
Roast until they're dark green little bit browned at the tip. You want them to still be a little bit crunchy.
Women, cook 4 eggs; men, cook 6 eggs
You'll eat two of these eggs now, one tomorrow, and one as a snack on Friday. (Double those amounts for men.)
Fill a medium saucepan with a lid with 5 inches of water and bring to a boil. When water is boiling, add eggs one at a time, dropping them in carefully with a spoon so as not to crack the shells. Reduce the heat as low as it will go, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, set up a medium mixing bowl with 1 ½ cups cold water and 1 ½ cups ice. When eggs are done, use a spoon to transfer them, one at a time, into the ice water bath. Cool 3 minutes, then peel the eggs. Slice 2 eggs (men use 3 eggs) and add to the veggies. Refrigerate leftover eggs (2 for women; 3 for men) in a paper towel-lined airtight container.
For consistently awesome hard-boiled eggs, first bring 5 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan.
Drop the eggs in one at a time, very carefully.
Turn the heat as low as it will go, cover the saucepan, and set a timer for 10 minutes.
As soon as the timer goes off, transfer your eggs to a bowl filled with ice water.
Let the eggs sit in the ice water for 3 minutes, then crack them gently and peel them underwater.
Store leftover eggs in a paper towel-lined airtight container in the fridge.
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken
Makes 3 servings
You'll eat one third of this recipe tonight, one third for Tuesday's lunch, and the last third for Wednesday's dinner.
2 medium boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (12 ounces, total)*
8 ounces salsa verde**
*Men, cook 3 large breasts (24-ounces, total)
**Men, use 12 ounces salsa verde
Put chicken breasts and salsa verde in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, until chicken is cooked through. Use two forks to shred the the chicken into pieces, then cook on low for another 30 minutes.
Eat ⅓ of the chicken for dinner tonight; cool the leftover ⅔ completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
Note: If you don't have a slow cooker, put the chicken and salsa verde in a small saucepan over low heat on the stove and cook, covered, for 90 minutes. Shred with two forks, then continue to cook, covered, for 20 minutes more.
This is maybe the easiest way to cook chicken, ever. Just put chicken breasts and salsa verde in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.
Shred with two forks.
Cover and cook for 30 minutes more.
Eat 1/3 of the chicken for dinner tonight. Let the leftover 2/3 of the chicken cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Broiled Grapefruit with Shredded Coconut
Makes 1 serving
This recipe only uses half a grapefruit; save the other half for lunch on Wednesday.
½ large grapefruit
½ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
Preheat the broiler of your oven, and put an oven rack on the top rung of the oven. Use a knife to slice all the way around the grapefruit flesh where it meets the pith, to loosen it. Then, make little slices on both sides of each segment to loosen them. This will make the grapefruit easier to eat. Place the grapefruit half on a baking sheet or in a skillet and spread the honey over the surface of the grapefruit. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the top of the grapefruit is beginning to brown and caramelize. Take the grapefruit out of the oven and immediately sprinkle it with the shredded coconut. Let the grapefruit cool for a minute, then eat.
Wrap the unused half grapefruit in plastic and store it in the fridge for lunch on Wednesday.
120 calories, 3.5 g fat (2.1 g saturated fat) 24.9 g carbohydrate (3.7 g dietary fiber, 14 g sugars), 1.3 g protein, 3.7 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol
Run your knife around the edge of the grapefruit, to separate the flesh from the pith.
Make cuts on both sides of every grapefruit segment. This will make it much easier to eat.
Spread honey over the top of the grapefruit, and put it on a baking sheet or in an oven-safe skillet.
Broil for 3-5 minutes, until the edges are browned. Make sure your oven rack is as high as it can go, so that the grapefruit is as close to the broiler as possible.
Slow-Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken with Cauliflower “Rice” and Green Beans
To make this dinner, you'll combine:
4 ounces* (⅓ recipe) Slow-Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken (recipe above, prepared this afternoon)
½ recipe Cauliflower "Rice" (recipe below)
⅔ recipe (about 2 cups) steamed green beans with almonds (recipe below)
2 tablespoons parsley leaves, for garnishing the rice and chicken
1 tablespoon chives, thinly sliced, for garnishing the rice and chicken
*Men, eat 8 ounces
358.7 calories, 8.2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 33.2 g carbohydrate (9.1 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugars), 32.8 g protein, 860 mg sodium, 70 mg cholesterol
Makes 2 servings
You'll eat half of this rice today and the other half for dinner Tuesday.
1 large head cauliflower (about 1 ½ pounds), cored and cut into florets
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tamari
¼ cup low-sodium chicken stock
Pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor until they're they consistency of rice. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop the florets with a knife until they're the consistency of rice. Note that this will take much longer and will be messy.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until the shallot starts to soften, about 30 seconds. Add the minced garlic, stir quickly, then add the cauliflower, stir, and let it cook for about a minute. Add tamari and chicken stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender but still crunchy, about 6 minutes.
Eat half of the cauliflower rice for dinner tonight, then cool the leftover half completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
First, mince you garlic and shallots, and cut the cauliflower into small florets. You can discard the cauliflower core.
Pulse cauliflower in a food processor, just until it's the consistency of rice.
Don't pulse it too much, or it'll turn to mush when you cook it. If there are some big florets left, you can just pick them out.
Cook the shallots over medium heat until they start to soften, then add the garlic and stir everything again.
Add the cauliflower, tamari, and chicken stock. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender.
Eat half of the cauliflower "rice" for dinner tonight. Let the leftover cauliflower "rice" cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Blanched Green Beans
Makes 2 servings
You'll eat a third of the green beans today and the rest for lunch tomorrow.
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups raw green beans, ends trimmed
5 raw, unsalted almonds (10 for men), roughly chopped
In a large pot, bring at least 5 inches of water to a boil with the kosher salt. In a large mixing bowl, set up an ice bath (half ice, half water) that's deep enough so that you can completely submerge a medium mesh strainer in it.
When the water is boiling, add the green beans. (You may need to cook them in two batches if your pot isn't very big, in which case fish the first batch out with a slotted spoon or tongs so the water stays boiling for the second batch.) Cook until the beans are still a little crunchy but not raw, 3-4 minutes.
As soon as the green beans are cooked, strain them into the fine mesh strainer. Take out about ⅔ of the green beans and set them aside on a plate and top with the almonds (you'll eat them for dinner—make sure they don't sit out for longer than 15 minutes before you eat them). Submerge the remaining ⅓, still in the strainer, in the ice bath in the mixing bowl. Let the blanched beans sit in the ice bath for at least 2 minutes, then drain them on a paper towel-lined plate until they're completely dry, and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Trim the ends of the green beans to get rid of the stem.
Bring at least 5 inches of water to a boil in a large pot, then add the green beans.
As soon as the green beans and bright green and cooked al dente, use a mesh strainer to lift them out of the water. Put 2/3 onto a plate, and plunge the remaining 1/3 into a large bowl with ice water.
Serve 2/3 of the green beans for dinner tonight. Drain the remaining 1/3 on a paper towel-lined plate after they've been in the ice bath for 2 minutes.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
DAY 1 (SUNDAY) TOTAL NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
1,341 calories, 60.2 g fat (22.1 g saturated fat), 128.8 g carbohydrate, 30.7 g fiber, 41.9 g sugars), 79.2g protein, 1916 mg sodium, 464 mg cholesterol
Before bed, prep the Chia Pudding with Strawberries, Fig and Almonds (recipe below) for tomorrow's breakfast, and the Banana, Chocolate, and Coconut Popsicles (recipe below) to eat as night snacks throughout the challenge.
Banana, Chocolate, and Coconut Popsicles
Makes 4 popsicles
You'll eat these for a post-dinner snack over the next two weeks.
2 large, very ripe bananas, peeled and cut in chunks
1 medjool date, pitted
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Combine bananas, date, almond milk and vanilla in a blender and puree until smooth. Take the blender container off of the electric base and set it on the counter, then add the coconut and cacao nibs and stir together with a spoon.
Put the bananas, pitted date, vanilla, and almond milk in the blender.
Blend until smooth, then add the cocoa powder and the coconut.
Don't blend the mixture, just stir it with a spoon
Put 4 dixie cups in a shallow dish, then fill them up with the blended banana mixture. Leave about half an inch at the top of each cup.
Put popsicle sticks or straws into the center of each dixie cup.
Put the popsicles in the freezer to eat as night snacks over the course of the next two weeks.
Chia Pudding with Strawberries, Fig and Almonds
Makes 1 serving
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dried Turkish fig, thinly sliced into strips
3 large strawberries
10 raw, unsalted almonds (20 for men)
In a small mixing bowl, combine chia seeds, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, and the sliced fig. Stir everything together to combine, then transfer to a small airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
When you're ready to eat the pudding, slice the strawberries and roughly chop the almonds, then add them to the chia pudding and eat.
358 calories, 21.7 g fat (1.9 g saturated fat), 39g carbohydrate (19 g dietary fiber, 19 g sugars), 13 g protein, 151 mg sodium 0 mg cholesterol
Combine chia seeds, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, and the sliced fig in a mixing bowl.
Stir together and store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.
See, that was kinda fun, right? 13 more days!
So, you’re taking the Clean Eating Challenge? We’d love to see how it goes! Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and tag them #BuzzFeedCleanEating
BuzzFeed Food editors tested the entire Clean Eating Challenge and can vouch for the validity and deliciousness of every recipe. If you have questions about the challenge or any of the dishes, you can email Christine Byrne.