Clean eating may be a relatively new term for the average eater. But for Candice Kumai, chef, former model, and author of the new cookbook Clean Green Eats, it’s been a way of life for years.
Kumai’s own love of healthy living took off out of necessity. “I was a fit model in culinary school — that’s how I paid my way,” she explains to Yahoo Health. “If I didn’t fit into my jeans, I couldn’t model. So I found a balance. Once I started to eat clean, I didn’t have to worry about fitting into my jeans.”
That’s how Kumai found herself writing Cook Yourself Thin, her first of several healthy cookbooks. Instead of turning to crash diets to stay trim, she reverted to the healthy habits instilled in her by her Japanese mother. Plus, she discovered that eating real, good-for-you foods had more benefits than just weight control: “If you’re eating clean the right way, you’re going to find that you’re stronger, with more stamina and energy, and you’re feeling your best,” she explains. “Food is about nourishment.” Think of your body as a Maserati, she says: You wouldn’t put bad fuel into it — so why would you do the same to your body?
In Clean Green Eats, Kumai puts an emphasis on making sure the recipes are both healthy and accessible for the average person. “I wanted people to be able to cook at home, because that’s the way to control your health,” she says. “If you’re getting food delivered, that’s great, but you’re missing out on the control, and you don’t find that gratification and satisfaction.”
“Everything changes when you eat whole foods. It’s a lifestyle overhaul,” she adds. “When you eat whole foods, they make you feel good. And when you feel good, you live a better life.”
Want to eat like Kumai? She took us through a typical day of noshes:
Breakfast: “Sometimes I have lemon water, and then I make this thing called a teaccino, it’s a blend of almond, dates, figs, and carob. It tastes like coffee, but non-acidic. I have it with unsweeted almond milk. Sometimes I’ll make a sweet potato the night before. I love eating a whole avocado with lemon and soy sauce, and you just have it in the morning before you get going.”
Snacks: “On hand I always have almonds and walnuts. Mini-meals are key, healthy snacks are key.”
Lunch: “If I’m on the run, I’ll make a green smoothie with pea protein. A smoothie can take the place of breakfast or lunch, just make sure you have a base that’s healthy and low in sugar, like avocado, pear, or ice. If you have banana, cut it into pieces and use a small piece. I’ll bring lemon in a water bottle, so I can just squeeze it into water and throw it in there.”
Dinner: “My boyfriend and I make a really clean dinner — something like curry salmon salad with quinoa and kale. I’m totally a chocoholic, but I’ve had to cut back because of the sugar. I cut sugar out, and now I really only eat it in sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, apple. I’ve also recently cut down on dairy, because dairy makes me break out.”
Dessert: “I eat seasonal fruit — wild strawberries from the market right now. I love frozen blueberries. And if you invest in a Vitamix, you can whip up frozen banana as an ice cream. Once you clean your palate, you start craving different foods.”
If you want to eat the clean, green way yourself, try out these two exclusive recipes from Kumai’s new book.
THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SMOOTHIE
My boyfriend and I created this delish smoothie after he needed an anti-inflammation kick! We loved the natural, positively packed anti-inflammatory powers from the blueberries, blackberries, and walnuts — it tastes like a berry milkshake! Try it out with a loved one, too, and share the clean green love!
1 frozen banana (or swap for 1 avocado to reduce sugar)
¾ cup frozen blueberries
¾ frozen blackberries
1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon bee pollen
¼ cup raw walnuts
1 cup baby spinach
1 teaspoon spirulina powder (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
LEMON-SOY EDAMAME BARLEY BOWL
The distinctive flavors of lemon, sesame oil, soy sauce, and oregano combine beautifully in this perfectly balanced “power lunch.” I love to use fiber-rich barley as a base for hearty lunch bowls — it has such a great texture and is really filling. Add tofu, edamame, and — my favorite — avocado, and you have a totally satisfying meat-free meal.
4 cups cooked pearl or hulled barley*
1 ½ cups shelled, organic edamame
2 cups wild baby arugula
2 blocks savory, baked, organic tofu (firm or extra-firm), cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 ripe avocado, halved and thinly sliced
Lemon Tamari Dressing:
4 tablespoons low-sodium tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the tamari soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, oregano, and lemon zest until well combined. Add slightly cooled cooked barley to the bowl and toss to coat.
Add the shelled edamame and arugula and toss gently to combine. To serve, divide the barley salad among four bowls and top with tofu and avocado slices.
*Hulled barley is barley in its most natural state, which means it needs to cook for quite a bit longer than pearl barley—1 to 1 ½ hours longer. Pearl barley has the hull removed and is therefore less tough. Adjust your cooking time based on the variety you choose.
All recipes and photos courtesy of Harper Wave.