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A Week of Clean-Eating Dinners and Sides

By Breana Lai, January 28, 2014 - 9:06am

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A Week of Clean-Eating Dinners and Sides

Eating clean may seem like a trendy idea, but in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, it’s what we always think about when we develop recipes—and how we like to cook at home. It’s simply a healthy—and sustainable—way to approach all your meals. “Clean eating means filling your plate with real, whole foods, eating a variety of fruits and whole grains, moderate amounts of lean meats and sustainable seafood, dairy, nuts and seeds and healthy oils,” says Michelle Dudash, registered dietitian and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. And, she adds, “Notice how you don’t eliminate food groups?” Now that’s good news!

Don't Miss: See How to Eat Clean

To help jump-start your clean-eating efforts, I’ve put together a 7-day clean-eating dinner menu. All the planning has been done for you! I focused on delicious recipes that embody clean-eating principles, so you’ll be limiting processed food, slashing sodium, eating less meat, loading up on vegetables and choosing more whole grains.

The recipes in this week’s plan start with an Asian-inspired orange chicken and include omega-3-rich salmon, a protein-packed quinoa veggie burger, pizza with a salad on top (we like to call them pizz’alads) and healthy pasta with pesto and vegetables. Fast and healthy side dish suggestions round out each meal.

Download a mini cookbook with all the recipes for this week of meals plus a printable shopping list!

Here’s this week’s menu:


Clementine & Five-Spice ChickenMonday: Clementine & Five-Spice Chicken
Clean-Eating Theme: Eat Less Processed Food

Ditch the Chinese takeout and make this gorgeous homemade chicken recipe. Vitamin C-rich citrus, fragrant Asian five-spice powder and spicy Sichuan peppercorns blend together to create a sweet, yet tangy flavor. You’ll be amazed at how flavorful this dish is, using just a handful of basic ingredients.


Serving Idea: Pair with couscous and a mixed green salad with Carrot-Ginger Vinaigrette.

Salmon with Toasted Israeli CouscousTuesday: Salmon with Toasted Israeli Couscous
Clean-Eating Theme: Slash the Sodium

This simple one-skillet salmon dish with toasted Israeli couscous has only 368 mg of sodium per serving. (Compare that to Chili’s “Lighter Choice Grilled Salmon” served with rice and steamed broccoli, which has a whopping 1,920 mg of sodium!) In addition to being healthier, our EatingWell version is ready in just 30 minutes. Look for whole-wheat Israeli couscous for added fiber.

Serving Idea: Try roasted carrots with cumin or Basic Sautéed Kale for a vegetable side.


Quinoa Veggie BurgerWednesday: Quinoa Veggie Burger
Clean-Eating Theme: Eat Less Meat

This veggie burger is perfect because it has 11 grams of protein from the quinoa. This meatless burger is also especially delicious because it’s packed with toasted pecans, mushrooms, cheese and herbs. YUM!

Serving Idea: Mixed Green Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette


Margherita Pizz'alad Thursday: Margherita Pizz'alad
Clean-Eating Theme: Eat More Vegetables

I picked one of my favorite foods and added a veggie twist: pizza with a salad on top. This healthier update to the classic Margherita pizza is topped with juicy tomatoes, slices of fresh mozzarella and a generous portion of tangy green salad, but feel free to use your favorite veggies. And with a pizza this loaded with good stuff, you don’t need a side!


Spaghetti GenoveseFriday: Spaghetti Genovese
Clean-Eating Theme: Choose Whole Grains

In this recipe, we combine green beans, potatoes and pesto with whole-wheat pasta for a satisfying, yet fiber-rich meal. If you are eating gluten-free, swap the pasta for enriched gluten-free pasta, quinoa or brown rice.

Serving Idea: Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette


Quinoa Pilaf with Seared ScallopsSaturday: Quinoa Pilaf with Seared Scallops
Clean-Eating Theme: Cut the Sugar

Most people eat far too many added sugars. The easiest way to clean up the sugars in your diet is to limit obvious sources of sugar like soda, candy and baked goods. But don’t stop there. Healthy foods like yogurt, tomato sauce and cereal can be “sneaky” sources of added sugars, so check the labels. In this recipe, we use whole-grain quinoa and get natural sweetness from citrus and scallops.

Serving Idea: Basic Sautéed Kale

Spaghetti Squash & MeatballsSunday: Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs
Clean-Eating Theme: Curb the Alcohol

For Sunday we’re serving up some cozy comfort food: spaghetti and meatballs with a healthy swap: spaghetti squash instead of noodles for an extra-tasty dose of vegetables. And because eating clean also means drinking clean—even on the weekend, folks!—stick to the recommended alcohol consumption of one drink for women and two for men. One drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of liquor or 12 ounces of beer.

Serving Idea: Garlicky Green Beans

Download a mini cookbook with all the recipes for this week of meals plus a printable shopping list!

What does clean eating mean to you? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Breana Lai, Food Blog, Clean-Eating Challenge, Dinner, Family meals, Health

Breana Lai
Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., is an associate food editor at EatingWell where she splits her time among EatingWell magazine, eatingwell.com and cooking new healthy recipes in the Test Kitchen. Breana has a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, a Wine Spirit & Education Trust trained sommelier and is a registered dietitian.

Breana asks: What does clean eating mean to you?

Tell us what you think:

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