Pretty Healthy … Clean Eating 101.

Almost everybody I know recognizes the need to adopt a healthier lifestyle. No matter the reason ~ weight loss, tone up, maintain, brighten the complexion, post-operative necessity, heck just to feel better. Whatever the reason, the experts will say begin by eating healthier.

Lately, much of what I’ve read or watched about healthy eating it is frequently accompanied by the term, “clean eating.” Is this another trend? I think not. But, what is clean eating?

A dear friend, Nicole Nichelson, owner of Nik’s Nak Events and Stationery, a boutique custom event and stationery design firm that specializes in home entertaining, has recently turned her passion for cooking and entertaining into promoting a healthy lifestyle and preparing clean meals.

I recently sat down with Nicole and asked her to share her expertise around clean eating with Pretty Domestic.

Nicole Nichelson

PD: I know that your “day job” involves running a successful event planning business, Nik’s Nak Events and Stationery, that said, how did you get involved in clean eating?

NN: For the past few years, I have been transitioning my event planning business of 10 years into a home entertaining/lifestyle venture. With this change, came opportunities where I found myself sharing and teaching tips that I have developed over the years to those interested in pulling off the perfect home party. While sharing those tips, people noticed my love of cooking, and I eventually started sharing my recipes for how I eat and cook for my family.

PD: What exactly is clean eating?

NN: The way I eat and cook is called “clean eating.” Many of you may have heard that term, but aren’t quite sure what it is. Well, clean eating is simply eating your food in its natural state. Eating REAL, WHOLE, NATURAL foods and avoiding our processed friends that are so convenient to grab, eat and feed to our families.

PD: What are the benefits of clean eating?

NN: This is what I’ll say. Eating and cooking clean is not necessarily dieting. It should be approached as a lifestyle that is sure to create a healthier you. I describe how I eat as if I have every disease on the planet, and I’m combating them holistically and eating natural foods. Call me weird but, I absolutely love learning about the benefits of various vegetables and how they combat illnesses.  So, while I may not be ill, I don’t want to be; so, I eat accordingly and flood my body with all things “good.”

PD: What tips would you give about shopping for clean eating menu items?

NN: If you feel that you want to take the leap into this lifestyle, I suggest reading and trying Dr. Oz’s 30 day Clean Detox. This plan asks you to avoid processed sugar, coffee, soda, alcohol (I know! I know!),  gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, corn oil, creamed vegetables, peanuts, soy, pork and beef for 30 days. I still do not eat much on this list but, I have added eggs and limited amounts of dairy, wheat, pork, beef, and yes, the occasional cocktail back into my diet.

When shopping clean and visiting my neighborhood Giant, I find that I now only shop down five sections of my grocery store – fresh produce, meats, seafood, rice (for my brown rice and grains and beans) and organics (for my gluten free pasta products). I still stick to the same formula, but will explore more sections when I frequent my beloved Trader Joe’s, Mom’s or Whole Foods.

PD: Can you share a “starter” recipe for us “clean eating” newbies?

NN: Here is one of my favorite, and easy, clean meals that you can try to jumpstart your journey:

Oven Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli


1 pound of jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 pounds of fresh broccoli crowns, cut into pieces

¼ cup sweet red pepper, julienned

¼ cup yellow onion, halved and sliced

3 tbsp olive oil

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, low to moderate sprinkling

Freshly ground pepper, liberal sprinkling

Trader Joe’s 21 Spice salute, moderate to liberal sprinkling

Directions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl being sure they are coated with the olive oil and seasonings. Arrange on a large cooking sheet and place in the oven for about 7-10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it, and once your shrimp becomes pink and opaque pull your tray out of the oven.  You do not want to overcook your shrimp where they will be chewy and tough. Serve hot over a bed of fresh spinach or a fist size portion of brown rice.

Portion control tip: Many of us don’t know how much we should actually eat. Follow these tips when practicing proper portion size while working to maintain a healthy body weight. Your protein should be the size of your palm, your starches should be the size of your fist, and your veggies can be at least the size of 2 fists. You should eat at least 5-6 small meals (3 main w/protein, veggies, etc. and 2-3 snacks) a day to insure you have the proper caloric and nutritional intake to your body.

I hope you find this information helpful and will strive for a healthier you!

PD: Thanks Nicole! Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince you to share some more clean eating recipes with Pretty Domestic in the future.

More Clean Eating Tips:

Eat five to six times a day. Three meals and two to three small snacks.

Drink at least two liters of water a day. Preferably from a reusable canteen, not plastic

Get label savvy. Clean foods contain just one or two ingredients.

Avoid processed and refined foods. This includes white flour, sugar, bread and pasta.

Know thy enemies. Steer clear of anything high in saturated and trans fats, anything fried or anything high in sugar.

Shop with a conscience. Consume humanely raised and local meats.

Choose organic whenever possible. If your budget limits you, make meat, eggs, dairy and the Dirty Dozen your organic priorities.

Consume healthy fats. Try to have essential fatty acids, or EFAs, every day.

Learn about portion sizes. Work towards eating within them.

Reduce your carbon footprint. Eat produce that is seasonal and local. It is less taxing on your wallet and our environment.

Slow down and savor. Never rush through a meal. Food tastes best when savored. Enjoy every bite!

Take it to go. Pack a cooler for work or outings so you always have clean eats on the go.

Make it a family affair. Food is a social glue that should be shared with loved ones

Source: Clean Eating Magazine

About Nicole: Nicole Nichelson is the owner of Nik’s Nak Events and Stationery, a boutique custom event and stationery design firm that specializes in home entertaining. Her passion for cooking and entertaining has helped her make an easy transition into promoting her healthy lifestyle of preparing clean meals. She now assists and prepares clean meals for many of her friends and family members. Nicole is a native Baltimorean, who is a graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Morgan State University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and resides in Owings Mills, Maryland with her husband, Kai and their beautiful daughter, Devin

Until Then,

~ L.

The Pretty Domestic