Clean-Eating Recipes That Will Get You Through January

Rejuvenate and treat your body with kindness in the New Year

Image from Unsplash

By Sophia Breene and Madison Flager

The word detox tends to bring to mind scary-intense juice cleanses or a gluten-dairy-meat-grain-sugar-caffeine-free diet that will make you run away screaming (and hungry). But never fear — when we say detox, we’re talking about refocusing the mind, body, and palate on healthy, tasty, and nutritious foods. Instead of going crazy restrictive and nixing all food groups except kale and steamed fish (not exactly a sustainable diet), let’s explore new tastes, textures, ingredients, and cooking techniques.

Most of these recipes are based on healthy staples like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and both vegetarian and meat protein sources. They’ll get you psyched about eating well again (and might even help kick that cookie-a-day habit you picked up over the holidays). For a super-easy meal plan, just pick one recipe from each category per day.

Kick off 2017 on a fruity note with this flavorful, baked version of steel-cut oats. Since it’s a baked oatmeal dish, you can make it the night before and heat it up for on-the-go mornings.

Start the day right with a healthy dose of chia seeds, which are loaded with protein, calcium, antioxidants, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Not bad for a bunch of tiny seeds, right? Whip up this tasty breakfast-worthy pudding by mixing them with a cup of almond milk, a dash of vanilla, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Let the mixture sit for a few hours (or overnight), and watch the chia seeds create a creamy, pudding-like texture.

These Paleo beauties are far from ginormous (gut-busting) bakery muffins. Instead of a carb-fest of processed sugar and white flour, these healthier little guys are made with almond flour, honey, and coconut oil. They’re sweetened with blueberries and vanilla extract, and are healthy enough for seconds, we think.

Is your breakfast style more savory than sweet? With just a tiny bit of olive oil and plenty of veggies and protein, this bowl is the real breakfast of champions. Pro tip: If your stomach isn’t ready for so much protein (egg, cheese, and quinoa) first thing in the morning, this dish would make a killer lunch or dinner too.

Fresh, healthy, and tasty, these Mediterranean tostadas combine hummus, scrambled eggs, veggies, and feta cheese for potentially one of the best breakfasts in the books. Eggs and hummus are an unlikely combo, but trust us — it’s a welcome surprise.

Elevate your breakfast ritual with this flavorful take on eggs and toast. Slather slices of whole-wheat toast with avocado, then top ’em with charred tomatoes, garlic shrimp, and fried (or poached) eggs.

Who needs sugar or white flour when you can make delicious, healthy muffins out of buckwheat flour, applesauce, Greek yogurt, and not much else? With plenty of fiber and healthy fats, and a bit of protein (from the eggs and buckwheat), these wholesome pastries will keep you full all morning.

With just three main ingredients, this superfood breakfast is easy as pie to make and can be topped with any (and all) of your favorite fruits. Bananas, apples, peaches, and blueberries all make great additions. Since most of the prep work takes place the night before, it’s ideal for busy mornings.

Prepackaged granola (and granola bars) are often loaded with sugar, preservatives, and other unsavory ingredients that won’t exactly help you recharge after a decadent holiday season. The solution? Make your own! This easy recipe contains whole grains, a tiny bit of oil, a touch of maple syrup, nuts, and dried fruit for flavor.

The best way to eat healthy (without thinking about it too much) is to make sure there are a variety of colors and hues on your plate at every meal. This one-bowl salad takes care of that. Chopped romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, red pepper, and avocado provide a veritable rainbow of produce. Add sesame seeds, salt, and pepper on top to bring out the flavor.

What’s in a name? This recipe title says it all. Made with raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sunflower seeds, and a lemon ginger vinaigrette, this salad is a nutritional powerhouse that’ll have you feeling strong and healthy (and satisfied) in no time.

Fall’s definitely over, but we’re not willing to forget about pumpkin just yet. This flavorful soup blends potatoes, lentils, onion, pumpkin puree, and spices like dried mint and cumin. Pomegranate seeds on top add a pop of color and a tart crunch.

This salad has something for everyone. Love crunch? You’ll enjoy the pomegranate seeds, cucumber, and chopped pecans. Need something more filing? The cooked squash rings and creamy avocado slices will keep you satiated all afternoon. Live for spice? The arugula and gingery dressing will keep your taste buds happy.

The cool crunch of the lettuce and the warmth of the rice and beans make these lettuce wraps a worthy alternative to Chipotle any day of the week. Add corn salsa for an extra kick of spice and go for Bibb lettuce over iceberg to kick up the nutrients.

This savory lunch option is reason #58,462 that detox doesn’t have to be synonymous with hungry all the time, boring, or juice cleanse. Top quinoa with roasted sweet potatoes, crispy romaine lettuce, fennel, and chickpeas for a healthy, filling lunch (or dinner).

For a hearty, healthy lunch that comes together in a jiffy, look no further. Simply roast a sweet potato (if you’re short on time, pop it in the microwave for seven to 10 minutes), fill it with sautéed spinach, kale, and fresh avocado, and top with scallions and chopped cilantro and a lemon-turmeric dressing.

The fresh lunch dish contains kale, lemon, filling kabocha squash, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate seeds. Top it all with a creamy Dijon-maple-syrup-almond-milk dressing.

On days when you’re hungry like the wolf, a light veggie salad is not going to cut it. Instead of inhaling the contents of a vending machine, prep this super-filling, super-healthy chicken salad. Loaded with quinoa, chicken, and almonds, this nutritional powerhouse will satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

This salad might just be the definition of fresh. With baby spinach, avocado, strawberries, onions, almonds for crunch, and cheese (because always cheese), it’s everything we could want in a healthy salad.

Sick of blah-looking salads? Mix things up with this homemade vegetarian sushi. Pick your own fillings (crunchy veggies, tofu, seitan, or even scrambled eggs), cook up brown rice, and get rolling.

For cold winter days, there’s no better lunch than a cup of homemade soup. Kick it up a notch with this spicy, veggie-rich chili. The stew gets its unique flavors from a variety of spices and herbs, and is extra filling thanks to quinoa, sweet potatoes, and black beans.

The weather outside may be frightful, but these grilled chicken bowls are delightful (and well worth a trip outdoors). Combine grilled chicken, red peppers, and zucchini with rice (choose brown for more fiber), easy homemade guacamole, tomatoes, and a sprinkling of cheese.

This filling, grain-based salad combines dried fruit, wild rice, butternut squash, kale, leeks, and fresh basil. Blend together olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar for a light dressing with a hint of sweetness.

Warm up after a long day in the cold (or at the office) with this rich, hearty, and 100 percent vegetarian stew. With carrots, onion, lentils, and kale (and plenty of room for more), this is a flexible dinner option to keep in your back pocket for long, dark winter nights.

Pretty much anything tastes better when it’s served in a bowl, which is probably why this dish (basically a deconstructed burrito) is so darn appealing. Layer quinoa, corn, greens, and black beans in bowls, and serve with orange slices, avocado, and a spicy homemade dressing.

Cauliflower, potato, and a truckload of herbs and spices make this curry dish immensely flavorful. Light coconut milk (added to vegetable broth) strikes a balance between creamy, savory, and filling.

When life gives you lemons (or cold, gloomy days), make lemon stew. This rib-sticking concoction features dark meat chicken, celery, carrots, leeks, onions, garlic, orzo pasta, and, of course, lemon. Make it more of a one-pot meal by subbing in a heartier whole-wheat pasta like penne or rotini.

Get psyched for this fancy-looking Mediterranean-inspired dinner that takes only 30 minutes to make and only 10 minutes of active prep time. Roast the eggplant in the oven, cook couscous, and mix in sautéed onion, garlic, tomatoes, diced eggplant, and chickpeas. Once the eggplant is done roasting, scoop some couscous filling into each eggplant half, and top with the flavorful tahini dressing.

Healthy enchiladas? Nope, it’s not a joke. This Tex-Mex entrée features lentils and veggies, and a lighter sauce made with vegetable broth, apple cider vinegar, and whole tomatoes. Rev up the flavor by adding more chili powder, paprika, and plenty of pepper.

Fish and vegetables, the mainstay of any detox program or low-cal diet, gets the royal treatment in this exotic recipe. Coconut oil, coconut milk, cilantro, fresh ginger, and red curry paste make this light, fish-focused meal far from boring. Feel free to sub in tofu to make this dish a vegetarian option.

Store-bought veggie burgers can be filled with preservatives, so we’re all about making our own at home. It’s as simple as mixing up sweet potato, quinoa, black beans, flour, minced garlic, and spices. Once you’ve made the “meat,” shape patties and refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking for 15–20 minutes. Top it with a to-die-for avocado spread made with avo, cilantro, garlic, and white wine vinegar.

Whip up a batch of these tasty chickpeas to ensure plenty of healthy snacks for the week. With a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkling of brown sugar, and a touch of cinnamon, they’re a healthy way to enjoy a sweet treat.

For those times when you’re just sick and tired of plain old hummus or salsa, this fresh dip hits the spot. Blend chickpeas, avocado, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth. Dig in with homemade pita chips, veggies, or thin slices of whole-grain baguette.

This slightly more substantial snack is ideal for the 3 p.m. munchies. Made with quinoa, eggs, plenty of veggies, and cheese, these little nuggets are loaded with protein and will keep you full ’til mealtime.

Looking for something crunchy to eat with your favorite dips and spreads? These healthy crackers contain just five ingredients — compare that to your favorite brand of store-bought crackers. Plus, with flaxseeds as the main ingredient, these crispy crackers pack a nutritional punch.

Dates, oats, cranberries, pistachios… these handy little snacks are chock-full of tasty ingredients. Fifteen minutes in the food processor, 30 in the fridge, and these healthy bites are ready for you to eat (how many depends on willpower).

It’s no secret — we’re pretty obsessed with all varieties of hummus around here. This tasty variation gets an extra boost of fiber and beta-carotene from a baked sweet potato. Bake sweet potatoes, then blend them with white beans, tahini, turmeric, olive oil, lemon, and spices in a food processor, and you’re ready to snack.

Kale chips are the perfect solution when you want to eat junk food but also feel good about your choices. They’re super easy to make at home — just toss chip-size pieces of kale with a bit of olive oil and let them crisp up in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. This version, reminiscent of salt-and-vinegar potato chips, gets its flavor from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Turn regular old raw fruit into a fancy snack (or dessert) with this simple cooking technique. Cut fruit into bite-size chunks, put them on skewers, and cook them on the grill until they’re golden brown. Drizzle with a honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon glaze. The recipe calls for pineapple, watermelon, and peaches, but other similar-size fruits would probably work just fine.

Underdog beets get the star treatment with this coconut oil recipe. Just 35 minutes in the oven take the three-ingredient snack right to the edge of caramelized and crispy, where we’d like to spend our lives.

Move aside, cheese and crackers. These grilled eggplant stacks are full of flavor and a major upgrade from your typical snack. Layer eggplant slices with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and tomato sauce or fresh slices. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes and drizzle with a little balsamic.

Get excited about eating healthy with this fresh and bright, simple salad that’s far from boring. Combine asparagus, grape tomatoes, walnuts, and feta, and top it all with an easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Crispy, herby, and slightly sweet, this side dish hits plenty of flavor high notes. With just a few tablespoons of olive oil in the whole dish, it’s a super-light way to take advantage of everything cauliflower has to offer.

Loaded with grilled veggies such as peppers, zucchinis, and eggplant, this salad makes a delicious side dish or even a light lunch. Chopped dill and parsley add even more pop.

Green cabbage, beets, and kale come together to make this super-bright, super-healthy raw veggie salad. Drizzle the shredded vegetables with lemon, sunbutter, ginger, and apple cider vinegar to give it some bright, nutty flavor. You’ll feel healthier after just one bite!

Take advantage of these slightly sweet winter root vegetables by making this side dish, stat. It’s simple — just roast beets in a sauce made from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme. When the beets are cooked all the way through (about 30 minutes), slice them up and sprinkle with creamy goat cheese.

Did you know citrus fruits are at their best during winter? Brighten up cold, gloomy days with this summery (and healthy) salad. Peel and slice up two oranges, two mandarins, two blood oranges, a grapefruit, and a lime. Drizzle with honey and vanilla to balance out the tart fruit.

Roasted artichokes drizzled with lemon, garlic, olive oil, and salt make for a simple snack or an easy, healthy appetizer everyone will enjoy. Mix Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and fresh dill for a dipping sauce that will make you forget all about boring mayo.

Need a break from all those mashed potatoes, buttered rolls, and breakfast breads? Squash is here to save the day — it provides some healthy (and satisfying) starch but doesn’t send you into a carb-induced coma after one bite. This acorn squash recipe, which features shallots, parsley, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil, will wake up your taste buds in no time.

For some reason, cabbage is not exactly the season’s hottest vegetable. Join Team Cabbage for good with these crispy roasted “steaks.” Seasoned minimally with just salt and pepper, olive oil, and a touch of red wine cooked with the mushrooms, this easy recipe lets cabbage’s texture and flavor shine.

This smoothie is kind of like a piece of art, and while we’ve had mixed luck achieving such a beautiful gradient, it tastes so good we’re willing to overlook our failure. Banana, mango, raspberries, lemon, pineapple, and coconut water? Close your eyes while you picture the beach.

Get your daily dose of antioxidants with this berry-rich blend. Mix up blueberries, raspberries, a banana, beets, and almond milk for an energizing (and pretty!) way to start the day.

While juice cleanses aren’t really our thing, we won’t turn our noses up at a glass of green juice first thing in the morning (as long as it’s not the only thing being consumed all day). This pungent beverage features cucumbers, cayenne pepper, lime juice, parsley, and ginger — it’ll definitely wake you up.

This green machine manages to be that elusive combination of healthy and tasty. To make it, just blend together baby spinach, lime juice, lemon juice, coconut water, and a drizzle of maple syrup (to keep it from getting too sour).

This smoothie is chock-full of the good stuff (kale, pineapple, avocado, chia, and more), and the taste is just as on point — it’s sweet but not over the top.

Feeling like Santa himself after one too many trips to the holiday dessert table? We’ve all been there. Feel fresh ’n’ clean after just one sip of this superfood-filled green smoothie. Combine spinach, half an apple, pomegranate seeds, honey, and coconut water, plus a few ice cubes, and hit reset on your diet.

This blended drink is loaded with healthy fruits and veggies, from banana and berries to red cabbage. Pump up the texture with yogurt and your favorite nondairy milk, and add in a few red grapes for even more purple goodness.

Adding beets to your smoothie is a super-easy way to up your veggie, fiber, and vitamin C intake all at once. Combine with banana, strawberries, raspberries, almond milk, and a touch of maple syrup for a pretty-in-pink breakfast to go.

Prepare for pineapple with a kick. Lemon, cayenne, and ginger also get in the mix — the perfect partners in crime, especially when warding off a cold.

Originally published January 2013. Updated December 2016.

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Originally published at greatist.com on December 29, 2016.