How to Stay Committed to Clean Eating When Life Inserts Itself


It’s been quite an interesting Winter, one that was predicted by the Farmer’s Almanac to be cold and wet.  Cold?  Not so much.  Wet?  Painfully so!

Parts of it have been beautiful, though, including an unexpected snow storm in January that covered our area in 10 – 12 inches of the fluffy white stuff, the kind perfect for sledding and making snowmen.  Schools and businesses were closed for a couple of days providing lots of time for kids to congregate at the snow hills and for adults to take long snow walks.  Yes, all was great until this happened...

I slipped on an icy sidewalk and fractured my radius bone at the wrist.

The blow to my athletic-minded ego was painful enough but the inconvenience of this fractured wrist was positioned to turn my life upside down.  As a household of clean eaters, we cook most of our meals from scratch using fresh, whole foods.  How was I going to manage in the kitchen with just one functional arm?

Recognizing that life’s merry-go-round was not about to let me off for 4 – 6 weeks while I pampered myself, I did some mental regrouping and developed a plan.  After all, my broken wrist was only one example of life’s many complications that could knock any of us off our health goals. Similar stuff happens to people every day -  a new baby, a household full of sick people who keep passing a virus from one to another, a huge work project that demands 60 hours a week, graduate school, caring for a sick family member...this list goes on and on.

With life's twists and turns, it's more important than ever to have a clean eating game plan #saslife Click To Tweet

So, here’s how I survived Life Episode 1001 and you can too:

1. Stay committed to your intention of good health and clean eating. 

When you’re recovering from an injury or illness or struggling with extra stress (stress is like an illness) you especially need good nutrition. This is not the time to pamper yourself with sugary comfort foods.

2. Plan some quick menus and a grocery list so you know which foods to buy.

Go to the grocery store or send a family member with your list.

Tip: Make a trip to Trader Joe’s if there is one in your town (even if it’s not convenient – drive there anyway) because this will save your life!  If you don’t have access to Trader Joe’s, no worries.  See #7 below.

3. Solicit family members to help with kitchen tasks.

If you have good sharp knives and a few handy kitchen tools, others will be more willing and able to help.  My sweet husband has become an incredible sous chef.  He has learned so much about food prep since I fractured my arm.  (Hugs, TB!)

4. Use Sundays to batch cook items that can be used during the week.

For more information and tips on batch cooking, check out Prep Once, Eat All Week.

5. If you’re cooking protein on a weeknight (or anytime), cook 3 – 4 times what you need and freeze the rest for later meals:

  • Grill 3 pounds of chicken breasts or thighs at one time and freeze in meal sized portions.
  • Stir fry 3 – 4 pounds of beef strips and freeze leftovers in meal sized portions to use in week night stir fries. Use vegetables from a salad bar to create the stir fry.
  • Roast 4 – 8 pounds of Chicken Wings (see recipe below).  Eat 5 - 6 wings per person at your first meal, then freeze the rest.  Take out what you need at each subsequent meal.
  • Make a double batch of Homemade Breakfast Sausage and Steel Cut Oat Hockey Pucks and freeze them so you can heat up a serving in the microwave on your way out the door or once you get to work.

6. Consider making low sugar, low fruit breakfast (or dinner) smoothies.

I resisted smoothies for years but now I’m hooked.  They have been a great, quick way to get good nutrition to my healing arm. I’m going to keep this habit.

You’ll need the following:

  • a high quality protein powder
  • a variety of seeds (flax, chia and hemp hearts)
  • a non-dairy milk like coconut or almond or cow’s milk
  • vegetables of choice
  • fruits of choice

Smoothies done right are a great way to get a complete meal in a glass.  You can even drink this Sunrise Citrus or Blueberry Coconut smoothie for dinner if you are not up to cooking one night.  Ditch the bowl of cereal for dinner! (Unless you have the flu and then you get a Hall Pass!).

Many smoothie recipes make 2 servings so you can drink one now and freeze one for another day.

Extra Quick Tip: It’s a huge time saver in the morning if you measure out the ingredients the night before and put them in the fridge.  Also, set up your high-speed blender before going to bed.  Then, just throw everything in the blender in the morning which takes only a couple of minutes.

7. Buy pre-chopped veggies from local grocery stores. 

Pre-chopped stir fry veggie bowls from Trader Joe’s

This is a critically important step.  Pre-chopped veggies can turn many recipes into 15-minute meals.

You can easily find the following pre-chopped or spiralized veggies at Trader Joe’s, Harris Teeter and Publix:

  • shredded cabbage
  • cut or shaved Brussels sprouts
  • broccoli florets
  • shredded carrots
  • cubed butternut squash
  • cubed sweet potatoes
  • cauliflower rice (fresh or frozen)
  • broccoli rice
  • spiralized butternut squash, sweet potatoes, beets and zucchini
  • stir-fry veggies (see pic above from Trader Joe’s)
  • pre-chopped onions, garlic and celery.

Here are some of my quick meals made with pre-chopped veggies:

Egg Roll in a Bowl (using pre-chopped coleslaw veggies)

Roasted Spiralized Sweet Potatoes (found in most supermarkets) with Roasted Chicken Wings (see recipe below) and Cauliflower Rice (found in most supermarkets)

Stir-Fried Veggies (fresh chopped from Trader Joe’s) with Sauteed Pork Chops and Brown Rice (pre-cooked frozen from Trader Joe’s – 3 minutes in microwave)

8. And, finally, lighten up on your expectations from yourself.

If you need to insert a fairly “clean” meal from a quick, casual restaurant one or two nights a week, do so and find the healthiest options available.  You can easily tweak a menu item to make it healthier.

My Go To “Adapted Meal” at Pei Wei Restaurant is Stir-Fry Beef or Chicken - ask them to add Double Extra Veggies (it comes with no veggies)- with very, very light sauce (sauces often contain Added Sugar) and a small amount of brown rice.

Mongolian Beef with Double Serving of Stir Fried Veggies and Brown Rice

Remember, one mis-stepped meal will not break the bank.  Simply get back on track at your next meal.

Broken Bone Update: I’m pleased to report that my fractured bone healed beautifully and my cast came off  in 4½ weeks instead of 8 as was originally predicted.  Cheers to clean eating and healthy living!  It is worth the effort!

So, what are your favorite short cuts for clean eating?


Sunrise Super Smoothie
Recipe From: Simply Nourished Recipes
Makes 2 Servings


  • 8 oz homemade almond milk or coconut milk
  • 2 small carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium orange, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled OR ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric, peeled OR ⅛ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1-2 scoops unsweetened, clean protein powder of choice (such as Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant Protein Vanilla)
  • 1 scoop or 2-3 Tbsp unflavored, clean collagen peptides powder, optional (such as Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides)- omit for vegetarian/vegan
  • 1-2 cups ice


  1. Place milk, orange, carrots, ginger and turmeric in a high-powered blender and start blending.
  2. Slowly add hemp hearts through the top opening of the blender canister.
  3. Add protein powder and collagen powder (optional).
  4. Add 1-2 cups of ice cubes, depending on desired thickness.
  5. Blend about 30-45 seconds until ice cubes are fully blended.
  6. Divide into 2 servings.
  7. Share or freeze the other serving for later.


Roasted Chicken Wings
Makes 5-6 Servings


  • 4 lbs chicken wing drumettes and/or wingettes, preferably pastured, free range
  • 2½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp melted butter or ghee,preferably grass fed (optional)
  • 1 tsp Homemade Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper


1. Pre-heat oven to 400⁰F.
2. Wash wings and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.
3. Place wings in zip top bag or bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and ghee/butter (ghee or butter are not essential but either one helps wings brown to a golden brown and adds                yummy flavor). Toss until evenly coated.
4. Place wings, skin side up, on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Leave good space between each wing.
5. Sprinkle each wing with a dusting of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (homemade or store bought) and a pinch of black pepper.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, rotating pan 180⁰ after 30 minutes of cooking.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of the Sunrise Super Smoothie and Roasted Chicken Wings recipes. 


About Author

Cathy Greer Mazanec, MPH, RDN, LDN

Cathy is the Senior Manager of Nutrition and Healthy Living Programs at SAS Institute Inc in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine nutritionist, blogger and food photographer. Cathy's specialties include integrative and functional nutrition, gut health, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition. She is also a Certified Biofeedback instructor. An avid lover of the outdoors, Cathy spends her free time biking, golfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, sitting under the stars and spending time with her grandson. Follow @CmazanecRD on Twitter.

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