10 Ways to Cook and Eat Clean

"When you cook for yourself and eat whole foods you feel good, and when you feel good, your whole life just starts to improve,” says chef and author Candice Kumai."

“I really believe that when you nourish your body and treat it really well – and you don’t torture yourself – then it will respond to you.” And not torturing yourself starts with putting an end to the calorie-counting game.

“It’s about a lifestyle. I live by these rules: do what you want when you want and everything in moderation,” she says.

Here, 10 food rules from Kumai that’ll help you live a clean-eating lifestyle – without sacrificing pizza and pinot nights with your friends.

10 Ways to Cook and Eat Clean

1. Prioritize food that grows from the ground.

“This a basic tip that my mom gave me when I was a kid and I didn’t listen to her until I was older and I was like, ‘oh my God she’s right,’” says Kumai. “If you can eat real foods and stop eating the processed stuff, you really can change your whole life. It’s not magic.”

There are two adidas nutrition principles that play into this theme: #1 Purer is Better (reduce the processed foods in your life and consider growing a garden) and #2: Colorful is Powerful (they suggest you aim to get at least three different colors on your plate).

2. Have a good-for-you morning ritual.

Kumai is a big fan of kick starting her day with a cup of matcha tea.

“Matcha is trendy right now but it’s full of nutrients like vitamin C, antioxidants, phytonutrients that may help fight cancer, and it’s also full of L-Theanine which helps to keep you focused and chill at the same time,” says Kumai.

Plus, it’s one way to hydrate first thing in the morning. According to adidas nutrition principle #7, Hydrate Right, drinking a full glass of water first thing in the morning, before your tea or coffee, is another smart way to ensure you stay mentally and physically sharp all day long.

3. Fuel up for a workout with a clean snack.

Kumai’s workouts of choice: barre, pilates and yoga. She normally exercises in the middle of the day. “Pre-workout I usually do what I call a skinny chocolate shake: Frozen banana, with unsweetened almond milk, a touch of almond butter, vegan protein powder, and a handful of spinach – throw it in the blender and it’s creamy buttery and delicious,” she says.

4. Use cooking as therapy.

“Slicing onions, cutting garlic, picking off peppermint leaves – it’s all very therapeutic,” says Kumai. And it’s one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re eating clean since you’re in charge of the ingredients. If you think you’re not “good” at cooking, Kumai suggests taking a local cooking class, hitting the farmer’s market for inspiration, or following her recipes on the ALL DAY app. (Going to the farmer’s market is one way to keep things sustainable, which is adidas nutrition principle #8.)

"Cooking is a really rewarding activity that you can do with your boyfriend, girlfriends, mom, dad, little kids - it doesn’t matter - you can do it with anybody and there’s nothing better than sitting at a communal table together."

5. Find your balance.

This is adidas nutrition principle #9. It’s important, they say, to ensure you get a good balance of macro and micronutrients. Start with aiming for 40% of your daily calories from colorful carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from healthy fat. Then, make room for mindful indulgences.

“I kind of let myself off the hook if you’ll call it a cheat day – it’s me and my girlfriends getting together and I make an amazing vegan mac and cheese and sweet potato pizza. I love wine, I love champagne, I love chocolate – it’s my favorite thing and I wouldn’t be able to live without it.”

6. Focus on your gut health.

“More people should cook with fermented food which include miso paste, soy sauce, tempeh, and organic tofu,” says Kumai. (“Feeding your gut” is actually #6 in adidas’ Fuel Principles.) Her favorite fermented food? “I grew up eating miso paste – a fermented food from Japan – and it can boost your immunity and keep your microbiome really healthy,” says Kumai. “It also has umami – this unbelievable sense on your palate where you’re like ‘that is so f-ing good.’”

7. Get plenty of clean protein.

10 Ways to Cook and Eat Clean

“Protein is the building blocks – you need it to stay fit and to stay lean,” says Kumai. Clean sources include fish, lentils, and that aforementioned tofu. (This is adidas Fuel Principle #3: “Protein grows, renew, and builds your body, your muscles, every cell. The proteins you choose help you feel satisfied, strong, and rejuvenated.”)

8. Mix in spices.

Using spices is an easy way to add flavor while still keeping your meals totally clean. “Turmeric is one of my favorite brain-boosting foods and it also has anti-inflammatory benefits,” says Kumai. Another gem: “Curry powder has a plethora of different spices that all have anti-inflammatory or nutritional benefits.”

9. Make it personal.

10 Ways to Cook and Eat Clean

Adidas nutrition principle #10 is all about individualization. “What works for one does not work for all,” they say. Kumai brings up the point that this can become especially important when it comes to allergies and sensitivities. “We’re finding that many of us have food allergies – it’s actually quite normal,” says Kumai. Her advice: If you’re noticing you’re getting hives or scratchy throat, eat the way you normally do and start taking some items out and you’ll see what your triggers are.

You can also start a journal to record not only what you eat and drink, but also how that fuel makes you feel. Start to note any links between the two so you can dial in your own personalized nutrition plan that makes you feel your absolute best.

10. Live the rest of your life “clean” too.

“Mindfulness, gratitude, awareness – being that legit person that’s full circle – I really live and practice this lifestyle now,” says Kumai. Sleep is the most important thing, she notes, “I’d pay for more of it.” Socialization is also key. “Keep your friends really close and be really good to them.”