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Easy Recipes for Clean Eating

The concept of "clean eating" has been a bit of a buzz word in the last few years and it basically means  eating "whole, minimally processed foods made with natural ingredients that are good for your body and food for the planet" according to registered dietitian and cookbook author Michelle Dudash.  Her new book is called Clean Eating for Busy Families (Fair Winds Press, 2012) and it features simple recipes that are pleasing to kids and take just 30 minutes or less to prepare.  Each recipe features a nutrient analysis, total prep and cook times, and tips for eating clean and going green.

Certainly time is the challenge for all us who are trying to eat healthy working full time, managing a family, or raising kids.  I love that most of these recipes are under 30 minutes to make and don't involve a lot of complicated cooking procedures.  Like many of you, by the time I get home in the evenings, I'm looking for something simple!

Another plus for the recipes in this book that they are not strange recipes with unfamiliar ingredients. These really are recipes that your family (even your picky kids) are going to like:  tamale pie, meatloaf, beef stew, beef and broccoli stir-fry, pot pie and chicken tenders.  Here is a recipe for chicken tenders that is sure to be popular with your family.

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Yogurt Dill Dip

For chicken: ½ cup (55 g) pecans 1/ 3 cup (40 g) whole-wheat flour 2 teaspoons (5 g) paprika 2 teaspoons (6 g) dry mustard 2 teaspoons (6 g) garlic powder 1 teaspoon (2 g) onion powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon (15 ml) expeller-pressed canola oil ½ cup (56 g) panko bread crumbs 1 large egg 1 pound (455 g) chicken tenders, larger pieces cut in half lengthwise

For dip: ¼ cup (60 g) nonfat plain Greek yogurt ¼ cup (60 g) light mayonnaise 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon juice ¼ teaspoon dried dill ¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¼ teaspoon onion powder 1 pinch salt 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

To make the chicken: preheat oven to 475°F (240°C, or gas mark 9) and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Whir pecans, flour, paprika, dry mustard, garlic and onion powder, salt, and pepper in a food processor until pecans are ground to a powder, about 30 seconds. Drizzle in the oil with the motor running, blending completely. Transfer mixture to a shallow dish and stir in the panko bread crumbs.

Beat egg in a second shallow dish and add chicken tenders, coating them completely. Transfer each tender to the breading, turning to coat evenly. Arrange chicken on the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and nearly firm, 8 minutes.

To make the dip: stir all the dip ingredients together in a small bowl.

Enjoy the cooked chicken immediately with the dip.

Total Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes • Yield: 4 servings, 2 To 3 tenders each (with 1 Tablespoon [15 g] dip)

Per serving: 418 calories; 20 g total fat; 3 g saturated fat; 34 g Protein; 23 g carbohydrate; 4 g dietary fiber; 120 mg cholesterol.

And if you have the idea that eating clean is eating boring, I think the recipes in this cookbook will convince you otherwise.  I had the pleasure of sampling the Quick-Fix Trail Mix Snack Bars (page 160) and they are that perfect combination of sweet and salty, slightly chewy with just a little bit of crunch from sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.  Michelle says that you can wrap these up individually for lunches or traveling, and  you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

I also tried a couple of the easy vegetable recipes and found them to be very flavorful and very easy: Super Simple Summer Squash Saute (great with grilled salmon) and  Roasted Citrus Asparagus.  I loved the tangy citrus notes that the orange zest, lime zest and lime juice added to the asparagus.   Next I'm going to try the Slow Cooker Cumin Black Beans & Brown Rice (page 108) and and the Whole-Wheat Farfalle with Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Sauce (page 109).

If you've been thinking about changing your eating style to be more clean, I highly recommend that you start with this book.  It's a lot easier than you may think, and way more tasty!

For more tips and ideas for healthy cooking, see the Healthy Diet channel on MyRecipes.