The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 6, 2013

Amanda Stone: Eating clean is no gimmick

By Amanda Stone
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — We've passed another challenging milestone. Super Bowl Sunday has become an excuse for people to get together and eat terrible treats, myself included.

I spent the event with a dear friend who was using her pregnancy as an excuse to drag out the deep fryer. I won't pretend that it wasn't amazing.

I don't feel terribly guilty, because I eat well most of the time. I practice what has become known as "clean eating."

There's no concrete definition, but for me it means eating and preparing food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Clean eating has become popular and is at the heart of the real food movement. Yes, there's a movement. I can't speak for everyone involved with this movement, but it seems we're just nerds disguised with kale and quinoa. We're food nerds. Join us.

Unlike popular diet trends of the past, clean eating makes sense. I've spent my entire life watching what I eat, whether that meant fat-free, sugar-free, meat-free, carb-free -- you name it. Finally, I get it. It's scary at first. Suddenly, it's OK to eat fats, sugars and carbs. The key is to eat them in their natural form. Fat comes mainly from nuts and dairy with a little meat. Sugar comes from fruit and honey, and carbohydrates come from whole grains. It's really pretty simple.

What we eat affects our bodies. I know, because I was the fat kid. My first memory of realizing I was chubby was in preschool. I was 4 years old.

I was terribly jealous of my best friend, because she got to wear the flashy multi-colored leotard for our dance number in the spring program, and I had to wear a boring red-and-white-striped outfit. I was sure it was because she was thin and I was not.

When I look at my sweet 4-year-old daughter's soft, round tummy, I think about that. I hate that body image awareness starts so early. So, I do my best to keep my thoughts about my body to myself. I tell her she's beautiful, but I tell her I'm beautiful, too. Then I lead by example.

Clean eating and clean eating for weight loss are pretty similar. It's all about moderation. There's no diet, no fasts, no tricks. Eat real food, but keep your portions under control. Pay attention to serving sizes. The recipes I share with you usually follow the rules of clean eating. I say "usually" because I cheat. Sometimes I eat junk. I don't want to live my life counting calories, I just want my family to be healthy. So, we eat real food. The fat kid still lives inside me, but I keep her at bay with exercise and real food. Usually.

It's easy to swap ingredients in regular recipes to make them cleaner. Here are some recipes that already have the stamp of approval from Clean Eating Magazine.

Hawaiian sweet potato skins

4 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed well and patted dry

7 ounces low-sodium, no-added-nitrate ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 ounces shredded, low-sodium mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup cubed pineapple

4 green onions, trimmed and minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce each potato several times with a fork and transfer directly to rack in center of oven. Bake until soft, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Rinse kale well; do not shake or pat dry. Chop coarsely and add to skillet. Cover and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Remove potatoes from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees. Transfer potatoes to a cutting board; carefully halve lengthwise and scoop flesh into a large bowl, being careful not to scrape skins. If potatoes are hot, use oven mitts to hold in place while cutting. Use a potato masher to mash flesh well. Stir in ham, 4 ounces mozzarella and pineapple. Spoon mixture into skins and top with remaining 2 ounces mozzarella, dividing evenly. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until mozzarella is golden brown. Remove from oven and top with onions.

Fusion enchiladas

Refried edamame:

1/2 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 cup frozen shelled edamame beans

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Beef filling:

11/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

8 ounces sirloin beef, thinly sliced

1 cup corn kernels (frozen and thawed, canned or fresh)

1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced

2 cups baby spinach

11/2 cups all-natural, low-sodium tomato sauce, divided

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

8 small whole-wheat flour tortillas (about 6 to 8 inches in diameter)

1/2 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare refried edamame: Bring 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add onion, garlic and edamame; bring back to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain onion-bean mixture, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Pour bean mixture and reserved cooking liquid into a food processor and add cumin, chili power and lime juice. Puree until almost smooth and season with salt and black pepper. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

Prepare beef filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon oil, garlic and cumin. Add beef and mix well to season.

In a nonstick pan, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and saute for about 1 minute, until lightly browned. Add corn, red pepper and spinach, and mix well to combine. Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through. Season with salt and black pepper and remove from heat.

Spread 1/2 cup remaining tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Spread tortillas out in a single layer on a flat work surface. Scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of edamame filling and spread in the center of each tortilla. Top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of beef mixture and roll tightly. Place enchiladas seam-side down on top of tomato sauce in baking dish. Cover with remaining tomato sauce, top with cheese and place dish in oven. Bake enchiladas until hot throughout and cheese is melted, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Clean eating ketchup

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons onion, grated

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon raw honey

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Ketchup can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for about a week.

Have questions? Email them to or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.