Liz Hands immerses herself in the clean eating craze
Lots of us have heard the term clean eating, but how many of us actually know what it means?
Turns out it’s a way of eating healthily without feeling like you’re missing out. I’m sold already!
Dani Gibson, owner of Newcastle’s the Love Lunch deli, hidden away behind the Centre for Life under the railway arches, says: “It’s not about denying yourself, quite the opposite. You actually feel you’re getting more because you’re cooking with ingredients you may not have tried before.”
The clean food revolution may sound like another Hollywood diet fad, but the concept is a lot simpler than you think. “It’s getting back to a way our parents probably cooked in the 1950s when we made our meals from scratch,” explains Dani. “I don’t like hard and fast rules but there are two musts for clean eating; no refined sugar and everything either unprocessed or as minimally processed as possible. The body knows what to do with food in its natural state.”
Instead, Dani sweetens with honey, uses ground almonds instead of flour, cooks everything with coconut oil and makes ‘bread’ with eggs and cream cheese. The results are big, bold, honest natural flavours.
Clean eating is also about being mindful of the provenance of the food you’re putting into your body. Chicken at Love Lunch is from Freemans in Gateshead. Dani’s red meat comes from Charlotte’s Butchery in Gosforth. The beef for her Thai Beef Curry is from West Rack Wood Farm in Hamsterley, Co Durham. This is mixed with Love Lunch’s own spice blend of cumin, turmeric, coriander, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds and cardamon, and dry fried before being slow-cooked for 8-10 hours.
The man maker pie is pie but not as you know it; there’s no pastry. Instead of carb overload, this is a high-protein, energy-giving, hunger-banishing combo of spiced beef, sweet potato, egg and cheese topped with chorizo or lamb and feta and baked.
Wraps are made with a very thin, spiced omelette, pancakes with almonds not flour and sweetened with honey, while any chocolate fix comes in the form of cacao balls. “People aren’t talking about being thinner anymore,” says Dani, “but about looking after themselves and getting stronger, fitter and leaner. Clean eating is a way to do that while reigniting a love affair with food, enjoying the shopping and prepping again, and most of all, the tasting.” A diet that’s not really a diet? We’re in.
Clean eating hacks
• Substitute almond meal, made from ground almonds, for flour
• Cook in coconut oil rather than vegetable oil
• Only use olive oil cold and unheated; heating it releases toxins
• Try almond, cashew or hazelnut butter on pancakes or added to yoghurt for a filling snack
• Don’t feel a pie has to have pastry in it. Instead, bind ingredients with egg and cheese and cut into chunky squares
• Swap sandwich wraps for egg, making thin crispy omelettes infused with spices to put your fillings into
• Use honey and banana for sweetness instead of adding sugar to recipes
• To create ‘breaded’ chicken without the breadcrumbs, use ground almonds as an alternative