Diet & Nutrition
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15 Foods You Don’t Need to Buy Organic—and Tasty Ways to Eat Them

Delicious (and easy!) recipes using the Clean 15, fruits and veggies with little to no pesticides.

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By Taylor Lupo

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) selects the Clean 15, or the 15 fruits and veggies with the least amount of pesticide residue. What’s new this year? Corn, cauliflower and cantaloupe made the cut.

These fruits and veggies are tasty on their own, but added to other wholesome ingredients, they taste even better. We asked Frank Chae, MD, a bariatric surgeon with Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colorado, about ways to use this year’s cleanest crops.  

Before sinking your teeth into these foods, Dr. Chae recommends giving them a good wash. To remove dirt and bacteria, place your food in a colander and rinse with water for three to five minutes. 

Once your produce is prepped, read on to learn how you can enjoy these foods throughout the day. 

Creamy Guacamole Dip

2 / 8 Creamy Guacamole Dip

This dip is perfect for dunking carrot and cucumber slices, it’s delicious scooped onto a turkey burger or eggs and it’s a great way to incorporate three of this year’s cleanest foods—avocado, corn and onion.

In a mixing bowl, mash one ripe avocado with one-fourth of a diced onion, a clove of chopped garlic, a fourth of a cup of sweet corn and one tomato, diced and seeded.

Finish the dip with a generous squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of your favorite herbs and spices, like fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, ground cumin and cayenne pepper. If you like a bit of a kick, add some diced jalapeno. Half of the batch contains just over 190 calories, so dig in without guilt.

Unfortunately, one of this dip’s ingredients—tomatoes—landed on the Dirty Dozen list, the EWG’s selection of produce with the most pesticide residue. These fruits are still safe for eating—just try to buy organic.

Digging this dip? Give some others a try!

Sweet and Spicy Slaw

3 / 8 Sweet and Spicy Slaw

A crunchy slaw is one way to eat your veggies even if you’re not a big fan of leafy salads. Atop the cabbage base—another Clean 15 food—Dr. Chae recommends adding low-fat and low-calorie ingredients, like vinegar, pepper and nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

To create this killer side dish, combine one head of shredded cabbage with two washed, peeled and grated carrots and half of a white onion, sliced into thin strips. Mix in half a cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a generous sprinkle of salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Top your slaw with a cup of grapefruit segments or pineapple slices—two clean fruit options—for a dish that contains only 140 calories. This recipe is packed with vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining strong bones, teeth and gums, and vitamin K for proper blood clotting. 

This simple recipes makes four servings, so there’s plenty to go around.

Nutrient-Rich Smoothies

4 / 8 Nutrient-Rich Smoothies

Smoothies are quick to make, easy to drink and oh-so-tasty. Fortunately, the Clean 15 is full of smoothie-friendly ingredients, like papaya, avocado and pineapple. “Minus the onions, you could pretty much incorporate any of [the Clean 15] in a smoothie,” Dr. Chae says.

Pack your blender with fruits like pineapple, mango, papaya and kiwi for a tropical smoothie with just over 200 calories. Slice a half-cup serving of each and blend with a handful of ice and a cup of unsweetened almond milk.

You can even load your smoothie with veggies for a punch of nutrients like vitamin C and folate, which promote wound healing and DNA formation. Enjoy a green smoothie by blending half an avocado and a cup of unsweetened almond milk with half a cup of each: cauliflower, pineapple and cantaloupe. This 275 calories smoothie makes a great alternative to your typical breakfast.   

Want more? Give these seven slimming smoothie recipes a try, too. 

Grilled Fruit Salad

5 / 8 Grilled Fruit Salad

Fruits are sweet on their own—all thanks to their natural sugar. But what makes nature’s treats even sweeter? Tossing them on the grill and topping them with a yogurt dressing.

Skewer 1 cup of diced papaya, pineapple, mango, cantaloupe and honeydew, and place them on a heated grill. Grill both sides. When your fruit begins to caramelize and deep grill marks appear, you’re ready to eat. Well, almost.

Slide the grilled fruit off the skewers and top with a yogurt dressing—half a cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of lemon juice and a drizzle of honey. A cup of this sweet salad contains just 98 calories. 

If savory salads are more your speed, toss corn, eggplant and asparagus on the grill and whip up a warm salad

Hearty Eggplant Stew

6 / 8 Hearty Eggplant Stew

Eggplants are at the peak of ripeness from June to October, so enjoy them while you can. Paired with other veggies, eggplant makes a delicious base for soups and stews, which are usually low in calories, but often loaded with salt. Making a pot at home eliminates most of the sodium typically found in canned varieties.

Over medium heat, sauté one diced onion and a clove of minced garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add a diced eggplant, one sliced zucchini, 1 cup of no-sugar-added tomato sauce and a ½ cup of low-sodium vegetable broth. Season with herbs and spices like cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper and basil, and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, until the veggies are tender.

Serve yourself one-fourth of the batch and enjoy it warm on a chilly autumn evening or dish this up gazpacho-style on a sunny summer afternoon. However you scoop it, this stew contains just over 100 calories per serving.    

Healthy Veggie Tacos

7 / 8 Healthy Veggie Tacos

Skip the ground beef and load your crispy taco shells with veggies, instead. Chop 1 cup each of eggplant, cauliflower, onion and asparagus, into bite-sized pieces, and toss them into a sauté pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and your favorite taco seasonings. When your veggies are tender, add a heaping handful of sweet corn kernels to the mix.

Per cup, this veggie medley contains about 100 calories (the entire recipe makes about five). Load your mix onto a bed of mixed greens, over a serving of brown rice or layer it inside a few taco shells.

Be mindful of your additions. Toppings like sour cream and cheese can quickly turn this diet-friendly dish into a calorie bomb. Fresh salsa, however, is a tasty, low-calorie topper.       

Dr. Chae says: “I think portion control is key. It’s true, these are great foods and it's really difficult to get obese from eating them, but if you put unhealthy ingredients on top of them, it almost defeats the purpose of eating well.”

Nourishing Buddha Bowls

8 / 8 Nourishing Buddha Bowls

These photo-worthy creations are a great way to use up leftover veggies. Start by adding a half-cup serving of cooked brown rice to a bowl with a cup of washed and chopped greens, like kale, spinach or arugula.

Slice 1 cup of your favorite veggies, like cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms or bell peppers, and place them on a baking sheet with a teaspoon of olive oil and season well. Give your bowl a Mediterranean kick by adding parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary.

Roast your veggies until tender before adding them to your bowl. For a healthy dose of plant-based protein, add a ¼ cup of chickpeas and a fourth of an avocado for a serving of healthy fats. Arrange your ingredients and dig into a meal with just 350 calories.     

If you choose veggies on the Dirty Dozen list, like bell peppers or spinach, check your supermarket for organic options.