Eating Clean with Healthy Living Market and Cafe


{DISCLAIMER: We have partnered with Healthy Living to bring you this information. However, all opinions are our own! Thank you to Healthy Living for helping us teach our readers about eating clean and living healthy lifestyles!}

I don’t know about you, but my happy place is Healthy Living Market and Cafe.

I’ll be honest: I love all grocery stores. They vibrate with the delicious promise of new culinary challenges and old favorites shared with family and friends. I am passionate about everything food related, including sourcing, shopping, preparing, and eating. In fact, I can remember almost everything I’ve eaten in my life. My taste memories are ingrained, as much a part of my past as the fading photographs assembled in my childhood scrapbooks. I remember the unfathomably dry meatloaf and sugary sweet strawberry shortcake my grandmother used to make. I remember the chili that was so good that our dog ate the entire pot full, as well as the spoon used to stir its ingredients. I remember nearly inaudibly mumbling “half a bread and cheese, and a Coke” when I was in grade school in the Caribbean, and using my twenty-five cents in change to buy one cube of cinnamon Freshen Up gum, the gum with the liquid center, all melty and gooey in the heat of the Caribbean day. High school, boarding school, is bacon and onion pizza, microwave popcorn, Indian food at Susan’s house, and stale bagels with cream cheese that Lily would bring me from brunch because I wanted to sleep in. College… Peace Corps… you get it. My memories have flavors. And there is nothing more alluring to someone who loves food than walking into Healthy Living.

You can imagine my initial delight when Burlington Vermont Moms Blog asked me to do a little shopping at Healthy Living, and compose an article about “eating clean.” I recoiled, however, at the expression “eating clean.” When people start categorizing food into “clean” and “dirty,” I feel uneasy. Food is neither bad nor good; healthy choices tempered with delicious combinations and a working knowledge of how what I consume impacts my health, my community, and the environment  is how I choose what I eat. I particularly appreciate Michael Pollan’s food tips, which are based on both common sense and science. Like Pollan, I believe it’s important to avoid processed foods, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in bright, different colors, avoid refined carbohydrates, and eat less meat. I think it’s equally essential to enjoy your food, and to eat foods that honor your family and culture.

Real talk, friends. I’m a fat person who knows about nutrition.

I abhor fad diets, and the diet industry in general, because it exists by making people like me feel badly about themselves. I think that processed foods, fast foods, and our terribly sedentary lifestyle are harming us, as a nation. Increasingly, however, there is evidence that shows that obesity alone isn’t necessarily a risk factor for death and disease. Lack of regular exercise and poor food choices are insidious. I also have an aversion to jargon- words or phrases that, without context, are essentially meaningless. Like, for example, “eating clean.” Unless “eating clean” is the campaign slogan of the Anti-5-Second-Rule Crusaders, it is meaningless drivel to me.

But, shopping at Healthy Living is so incredibly pleasant that I decided that I would swallow my considerable distrust of the expression, “eating clean” in favor of a really fun field trip. Plus, who in their right mind can resist a store that offers fresh and beautiful local and organic ingredients? To satisfy my internal conflict over “eating clean,” I decided to do a little research. According to Cooking Light magazine, “eating clean” includes:

  • Eating whole foods over processed foods
  • Eating well balanced meals that contain proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
  • Avoiding excess fat, sugar, and salt
  • Moving your body

Surprisingly, the fundamental guidelines for “eating clean” are reasonable, and founded in both common sense and science. I hate having to admit that I am wrong, but “eating clean” makes sense to me.

Another compelling reason to shop at Healthy Living happens to be a dear friend of mine, the Coordinator of the Learning Center, Clarina Cravins. Clarina is in charge of Healthy Living’s Learning Center, and is an incredible chef. She is always available (with an appointment: [email protected]) to help Healthy Living customers plan menus, shop, and get food inspiration. When thinking about a “clean eating” menu, I immediately got in touch with Clarina, who had a million inspired ideas for possible menus.

We ultimately ended up with two dinners, which cost $61. I could have spent less, but opted instead to make enough meatballs to freeze for several meals. They take about 20 minutes to mix, and 20 more minutes to portion out, and roll into balls- so why not do this one time, for multiple meals? Additionally, almost everything I bought was organic, and quite a bit was local too. That adds a bit to the overall cost, although not that much, and is absolutely worth it for health and environmental reasons. Furthermore, almost half of what I spent went to the organic ground pork and beef, and the wild salmon. It would be challenging to make meatballs without meat, but I could have saved money by adding tofu to my Masaman curry, instead of salmon.

Jemima’s Healthy Meatballs (makes about 50 meatballs)

  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 1 white onion:  1/3 grated, 2/3 minced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 bag frozen spinach, minced
  • 5 large button mushrooms
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar of organic spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • dash or two of Worcestershire sauce

Mix meats, eggs, grated carrots, grated onion, panko, minced spinach, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Use your hands, and combine until everything is evenly distributed. Form into balls that are about the size of an egg yolk- about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. It will look like this:

Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Spaghetti Squash

As soon as you get your meatballs into the oven, get to work on your spaghetti squash! It needs to cook at 375 for about an hour. First, cut it in half, then scoop out the seeds. Put both halves into a pan, with about 1.5 inches of water. Cover loosely with tin foil. When it is soft, remove it from the oven, and use a fork to scrape out spaghetti-like strands of squash. If you want to be fancy, like me, keep your spaghetti squash in the squash shell for serving.


Make this sauce as soon as you get the spaghetti squash into the oven, please.

I have to confess that this sauce recipe is the quick version of my more detailed sauce. But it doesn’t matter. Make this sauce, add the meatballs, and you’re good.

Add olive oil to a deep pan. Wait until it’s medium hot, and add the minced onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and mushrooms. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add jar of sauce to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add as many meatballs as you plan on serving. Simmer, on low, for about 15 minutes minimum, and longer if you have time.

Spoon sauce and meatballs over spaghetti squash, and enjoy!

Eating clean version of spaghetti and meatballs
Dinner is served!

The second meal Clarina suggested is pan seared salmon over vegetables in a Masaman curry broth.

And this, my friends, is why I call Clarina the Food Guru. She comes up with menus like this in a second. She is incredibly skilled, and her cooking classes at the Healthy Living Learning Center are not to be missed.

Salmon over Vegetables in a Thai Curry (serves 3)

*This meal takes about 30 minutes, start to finish, to prepare.

Cut all vegetables into bite sized pieces, unless noted.

  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 yellow carrot
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, from the bulk section (don’t cut these at all. They are only in this dish as seasoning. Don’t eat them.)
  • 6 slices of fresh ginger (for seasoning, not to be eaten.)
  • 1 small can of masaman curry
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • rice noodles (1/3 of the bag)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1lb salmon
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup of chopped peanuts, from the bulk section

Melt coconut oil in pan over medium heat. Cook entire can of curry and ginger for a few minutes. This curry is not spicy, not even to my 5 year old. Add can of coconut milk, and about 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Add hardest vegetables, as they need the longest to cook (carrot, squash, and broccoli stems) plus the onion. Add kaffir lime leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes.

While your hard vegetables are simmering, put a pot of water on to boil. Add a few pinches of salt to the water.

Add remaining vegetables to your curry. Simmer for 5- 10 more minutes, or until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

Add about half to one third of your package of rice noodles to salted boiling water. Cook for 7 minutes, or according to package directions. Serve about 2/3 cup noodles per person.

Cook your salmon. Salt the not-skin side of the salmon, and sear it in a medium hot pan, with . Cook for about 4 minutes, on medium, loosely covered (I keep the lid part way on) skin-side down. Flip your fish, and cook for about 3 more minutes, covered. The thickness of your fish will impact how long it needs to cook.

Plating: add noodles to a shallow bowl. Top with vegetables and Masaman curry broth. Nestle pan-fried salmon on top. Garnish with crushed peanuts, and lime juice. Delicious!

Happy and healthy eating, friends! I hope you enjoyed learning about eating clean, exploring Healthy Living, and hearing about the Learning Center as much as I did! Please contact me if you have any problems or feedback about these recipes.


  1. Thank you, Leah! I bet we would have the most fun grocery shopping together. I’d love to read a post about your food memories! Please always update our group with your posts.

  2. Love this article! Wonderful writing – especially about the taste memories! I also love to spend a few hours wandering around a good food store with no specific plan in mind, seeing what’s available and what food combinations taste good! More please!


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