Let them eat cake: The basics of clean eating

clean eating

I LOVE food and I LOVE eating. It’s my favourite thing ever, and, moreover, my hobby just happens to also keep me alive. In the corporate world we call that a win/win. I like to eat on my own, I like to eat with my partner, I like to eat with my friends as well as with my family. I like fancy restaurants, pub lunches, cute cafes and late night take-away joints. I like cuisines from all around the world, I like eating in the morning, in the evening and all day – it is a MAJOR part of my life.

I have a feeling that I am not alone.

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I became interested in clean eating around two and half years ago. I really wanted to lose a little weight, undoubtedly gained from my aforementioned obsession. Having always been a regular exerciser, my focus had to shift to my diet to remove the unwanted kilos. I was fast becoming my self-named nemesis: Little Pudding Harding.

In the end, losing the weight became more of an added bonus. My journey became much more fulfilling, opening up a whole new world of edible adventures that gave me energy, vitality and a new-found respect for nature’s fuel tank.

But the journey doesn’t have to be arduous. If you can read, are relatively organised, can spare a couple of hours on the weekend and care about yourself, you are halfway there. You don’t have to be terribly technical. The science behind food is complex and it’s certainly not my forte (I can never remember my antioxidants from my omegas). I am confounded by the chemical composition of various forms of sugars; glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose – which one is good for you again? And what the bloody hell do branch chain amino acids do?

The basics of clean eating? Easy.

When you empty your shopping bags on arrival in your kitchen, lay everything out in front of you. You should be able to tell if it is pulled from the ground, picked from a tree, a (relatively) recognisable cut from an animal or harvested from the sea. If your product doesn’t fall into this category, check the ingredients list on the packet, bag, box or jar. The first ingredient listed should be the most prominent from the description of said item followed by only a couple more components and if an ingredient has a three digit number in a pair of parenthesis, ditch it. Yeah, that’s my scientific contribution to this article.

I learnt how to make clean, unprocessed, healthy meals. I learnt to be organised so I could keep eating these meals all week. I learnt to use all of my leftovers and never, ever waste any precious food. I learnt how to “freewheel” in the kitchen with a fairly solid success rate with training from the University of YouTube. I learnt that you can make chocolate cake out of black beans and protein bars out of chickpeas. I learnt that you can put cabbage in a blender and mix it with fruit and it tastes unbelievable and you get all of those amazing antioxidants at the same time – another win/win!

I have learnt that it can be a lot of fun.

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Think and plan ahead

It is really beneficial to think about food all of the time, which you may not expect to hear. As I have mentioned, I am not a scientist, nutritionist or professional expert but I have taught myself that to be a good clean eater you should be thinking at least two meals in front of the one you’re going to have, and that’s not including snacks. If I cook a roast chicken for myself and my partner, I will only do so with the next two meals in mind, including a batch of stock. Healthy, sustainable and cost efficient, is that the murmur of triple bottom line I hear?

If you can read, are relatively organised, can spare a couple of hours on the weekend and care about yourself, you are halfway there. You don’t have to be terribly technical.

“Oh I’m too busy” is probably the number one objection to eating healthily and yet really the lamest of all excuses. If you are reading this you are probably a professional woman, a professional man, a mother, a father, a student or a graduate. When was the last time you met someone who was not busy? We’re all busy, that’s just how life is now. It’s a million miles an hour, it’s multi-tasking, multi-switching, it’s getting connected, staying connected, getting ahead, meetings, reports, assignments, washing, cleaning, school runs, social athletics, meetings, reports and staying ahead and round and round and back to Sunday evening again. Working hard used to mean doing the same thing really well and now working hard means doing everything really well squeezed into 18 tiny hours of every tiny day racing by in the blink of any eye. And if you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep you should be squeezing all that into even less hours! Whoosh…

So now more than ever, we should be aware of our consumption.

So I’m looking forward to sharing some of the little things that I have found along the way that have helped me to view my diet or rather my lifestyle from a different perspective. Oh I drink red wine and go out for extravagant meals from time to time, hell I’ll even order hot chips.. usually if I’ve had a little too much red wine! You don’t have to be squeaky clean, life is too short and too much fun but you have to organise yourself to make these allowances.

In the words of Ferris Bueller. “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.

I will leave you with one of my favourite recipes.

Leaders in Heels Turkey Muffins Sally Harding img

Image credit: Sally Harding

Turkey Muffins – The Culinary All Rounder

I make a batch of these every Sunday and eat one for breakfast during the week with 2 tbsps cottage cheese and a chopped boiled egg. A perfect high protein post work-out power bowl! However you could also have as a snack to curb hunger pangs or with salad for a quick no fuss lunch.

  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • 2 zucchinis, grated
  • 1 sweet potato, steamed and mashed
  • Choose any of the following – 1 cup of oats/spelt breadcrumbs/fine grit bulgar wheat/LSA
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 large scoop of protein powder
  • Herbs and spices – I mix it up each week with different combinations (get creative!). My favourite so far is 1 tsp of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a little shake of garam masala. You could also experiment with paprika, mixed dried or fresh herbs, garlic powder, cumin, ground coriander or just whatever you have to have lurking in your cupboard. Go on – throw it in!
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Mix everything together in ball.
  2. Wet your hands and roll into 12 balls.
  3. Place into two greased muffin tins (I used spray olive oil).
  4. Put in the oven on 180 for 30 minutes and voila!

Helpful Hints

Put the oven on first then get the sweet potato going so that it’s steaming away whilst you grate the zucchini. I can get these ready to go into the oven in well under 20 minutes now.

Featured photo credit: orangeacid via photopincc

Sally Harding Sally Harding

I manage the Pop Up Retail business for Lend Lease’s portfolio of 15 shopping centres. It is a demanding role and until two years ago, my diet and health were impacted by the long hours and constant travel and then I discovered that what you put into your body can impact so many other aspects of your life. Two years later and I have lost 13 kilos, I am fitter than I have ever been, I am successful at work and I wake up every day looking forward to the new challenges that it brings.

3 replies on “Let them eat cake: The basics of clean eating

  • Alicia

    Love it! I find myself nodding in agreement to pretty much everything you have said….it’s too easy to make excuses but once you stop making them and like you say put aside the small amount of time to get organised the benefits are most definitely worth it. Great recipe and one I’m sure even kids would enjoy, keep the blog coming!

  • Kasia Gospos

    Great article Sally. Im so impressed with your story and your knowledge. Wow from … YouTube university??? :)

    Time for me to get organized. Another day of eating out just because there was nothing in the fridge and too late for shopping and cooking. Ps. I’m loving my new blender

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