Features / 16 February, 2017 / James Duigan

How To Be Clean and Lean In The Kitchen

I’m a huge fan of the Duigans. They say that eating clean does not involve diet or deprivation, which is music to my ears. As a matter of fact, the Duigans’ Clean and Lean philosophy is simple: be kind to yourself – something I think we could all be doing a lot more of! Here’s an extract from James Duigan’s Clean and Lean for Life, with lots of tips on the foods you should be eating and how to get the whole family involved. 

Clean and Lean FLAVOURS

If you add your own Clean flavours to your dishes you won’t need to rely on the fake, sugary alternatives you find in shop-bought (and factory made) salad creams, dressings, marinades and ketchup. Clean flavours also bring out the natural flavours in meat and vegetables, making them even tastier, which makes becoming Clean and Lean even more enjoyable.

  • Basil-infused olive oil
  • Garlic-infused olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil (the best you can buy)
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Walnut oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Chillies
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh mayonnaise such as Delouis Fils (keep refrigerated)
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free and can be used instead of salt)
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Thyme

Clean and Lean PROTEINS

Don’t feel like you need to have meat every day. It’s far healthier (and cheaper) to buy good-quality, organic, locally reared meat from your local butcher and enjoy it once or twice a week rather than bulk-buying cheap meat at the supermarket and having it every single day. And be mindful about your meat – if you can buy two whole chickens for £5, question the quality of that meat and the integrity of the farming methods involved.

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Lamb
  • Liver
  • Turkey
  • Fish and shellfish (to limit mercury, just stick to one serving of tuna or swordfish a week)

You’ll notice there’s no pork in this list. Someone once told me that pigs are as intelligent, if not more so, than dogs. And I once watched a pig happily roll around in its own poo for 30 minutes. So I just can’t bring myself to eat pork or recommend it. I know that there are lots of angry vegans (I love you by the way and I thank you for helping save the world with your choices) who will accuse me of being a hypocrite because I recommend eating other animals. I have no excuse and no leg to stand on. You’re right. But essentially I just want people to choose more kindly and less cruelly. Go for free range and ask about the treatment of the animals.

As I have become more mindful I am finding I eat less meat and choose it far more discerningly. True change comes through inspiration rather than shame and guilt. Anyway, I’m trying my best, so please read on!

I especially LOVE…


This is one of my favourite Clean flavours. It helps keep your blood sugar levels steady, which reduces sugar cravings, and it also acts as an anti-inflammatory so it can help with aches and pains. You can sprinkle it on your coffee (use this in the place of sugar for Clean sweetness) or add it to desserts.


I love garlic more than anything. It adds delicious clean flavour to almost any dish, it’s antiviral, an antioxidant and is great for your heart health and immunity. It also helps the healthy bacteria in your gut to thrive. So add whole cloves to casseroles or slice it into stir-fries or crush it up to really bring out the flavour.


Rosemary has been used for centuries to boost your mood. Add it to salads, stir fries and lamb dishes. It has also been said to be a blood cleanser and that’s kind of amazing.


This is a fantastic purifier, antioxidant and anti inflammatory. It’s also good for indigestion.


This bright yellow herb is an incredible anti inflammatory and can be used for muscle and joint pain. It’s also a very powerful antioxidant and great for your liver. Watch this one – it will be the new celebrity ingredient in the coming years – so get in now!

Clean and Lean VEGETABLES

Still not convinced about organic fruits and vegetables? Remember, they contain twice as many vitamins as non-organic ones, and the more nutrients your body consumes, the less hungry it feels and the less it wants sugar. If you can’t afford organic, head to your local greengrocers instead – the fruit and veg there is likely to be locally sourced so it’ll contain less toxic preservatives. This is why the tomatoes you buy locally go off quickly, while the ones you buy in your big local supermarket stay hard, red and shiny for weeks and weeks. Remember, be mindful of your food – question what’s keeping them that way? And while we’re on the organic versus pesticide-sprayed debate, there are piles of research to support both, so for me it comes down to simple common sense. If something is sprayed with poisons that even bugs won’t eat, then surely something that hasn’t been sprayed with this stuff is better, right?

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Mangetout
  • Onions
  • Sweet peppers
  • Rocket
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watercress


It’s especially important to buy organic meat, eggs and dairy. However, if you can’t afford it take this top tip – always remove the skin from non-organic meat (like chicken) because that’s where most of the toxins are stored. And if you don’t buy organic fruits and vegetables, scrub and wash them well before cooking or eating. It takes two minutes so yes, you do have time

TOP TIP! Just about any vegetable is Clean and Lean. Remember -have something green every day (ideally with every meal).

Clean and Lean NUTS AND SEEDS

Eat raw nuts whenever possible – the roasting process can increase free-radical damage in your body. Or roast them yourself with a little Clean flavour added.

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Macadamias
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Linseed (ground only)
  • Peanuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds

How to be CLEAN and LEAN in the KITCHEN

1.Don’t be afraid to experiment – or make mistakes

There is no right or wrong way to cook (within reason). So have fun with it and never be afraid to experiment. If you want to cook one of the recipes in the following chapters but it uses a flavour or ingredient you don’t like, just leave that ingredient out or substitute it with something else. See recipes as a guide, not as a set of rules. Once you master one or two recipes you can then tweak them and start swapping flavours or ingredients around. You don’t need to be a chef to be a good cook. Chrissy and I aren’t chefs. We’re not trained in cooking but we know how to put food together that tastes great and keeps us healthy. I have no idea what I’m doing half the time, but I do know what tastes great, so I throw in a lot of my favourite things and see what happens. One of the nicest emails I got after the first Clean and Lean book came out was from a lady who said, ‘Thank goodness – a book that doesn’t require a degree in cooking!’ So keep cooking fun. That way you’ll see it as something enjoyable rather than a tiresome chore you need to do quickly.

2. Be mindful

I talked about this in the previous chapter, but it never hurts to be reminded. So when it comes to cooking, be mindful. Think about the ingredients you’re using – how do they smell, feel and taste? Are they fresh? Are they real? Or do they have a weird, toxic, fake smell and appearance (if so ditch them for something Clean). Don’t rush through the process of cooking. Enjoy it, savour it, get involved and be in the moment. Even the simple act of food preparation can become a lovely experience if you’re mindful about it.

3. Get the family involved

Get the family involved in cooking. Most evenings Charlotte and I cook together. She’s three but she can do basic stuff like sniffing the herbs and spices and then sprinkling them in the pan if she approves. This is such an amazing way to connect with her and if you have children I beg you to try it. It also gives her a deeper appreciation of food and a connection with the very thing that’s keeping her healthy, strong and alive. I hope it helps her relationship with food and health in the future. I put my phone down and we get stuck in.

4. Feed your kids how you feed yourself

Lots of parents make themselves eggs for breakfast (very Clean and Lean) and then give their children a bowl of sugary cereal (not at all Clean and Lean). Why is that? Why not just all eat the same? One reason is the food manufacturers have made a very nice living from telling parents that their children need sugary cereal with various health claims on the packet. The truth is, children should be eating the same food as adults (as long as it’s age appropriate and mushed up enough if they’re really young). Take my breakfast for example – I love putting oats, nuts and seeds in a bowl, topping it with almond or rice milk and letting it soak overnight. In the morning I sprinkle a handful of berries and some chia seeds on top. Charlotte loves it! Obviously you need to be careful with seeds or anything that small children can choke on. And please don’t ever say, ‘But all they’ll eat is cereal’, because that’s a cop out. Don’t buy it in the first place – your two-year-old doesn’t order the online grocery shop on the internet or walk to the shop themselves. Be a loving guardian of what they experience and eat.

5. Make too much of everything

Whenever you’re making food, make too much. Then put the leftovers in the fridge for tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. This also helps with the ‘I’m too busy to eat properly’ dilemma.

6. Keep it simple

Recipes can sometimes have just one or two ingredients. I often take an apple, bake it and then add a spoonful of Greek yogurt. It’s so simple. My meals are made in the cauldron of real life busy. I don’t always have 10 hours to boil bones (in case you didn’t know, making your own bone broth is a thing now, see page 100). I don’t have lots of time to cook – I want quick and simple meals, as I’m sure you do. By the way – if you do have time, bone broths are amazing. So if you can, go for it!

7. Invest in some Laboursaving


OK, I know I said at the start of this chapter that you don’t need a state-of-the-art kitchen with lots of fancy gadgets but if you can afford it, there are a few things that will make life more fun (and healthy) in the kitchen. A blender is a great addition because you can make smoothies, juices, sauces and dips with it. I also love griddle pans – there’s something about griddling a vegetable that enhances its flavour, and I also love making an omelette and then gently griddling

Get griddling people! Lastly, if you can afford it, get a spiraliser (at the time of writing they cost around £10 to £20, so much cheaper than a blender). You may have heard a lot about them recently because they’ve become hugely popular. Well, they’re basically gadgets that turn vegetables into noodles. Soft, easy to slice vegetables like courgettes are very easy to spiralise, or you could try sweet potato, or even apples. The fruit or vegetable has to be slightly tough to work though – a banana is too soft and would just mush up. Then you can add these ‘noodles’ to stir fries or top them with meatballs and sauces rather than having pasta.

8. Make it slowly

Another good tip for people too busy to cook in the evenings is to put your meal on before you leave the house. This is also good for weekends or when you’ve got a lot of friends coming over for dinner and you don’t want to spend all your time in the kitchen. I often put meals in my slow cooker or in a large casserole dish and put them in the oven for seven or eight hours. One of my favourite recipes is lamb shoulder, chopped leeks, sweet potatoes, rosemary, garlic, onions and any other vegetables I have lying around, thrown in a casserole dish with a little bit of stock, covered and left to cook slowly. It takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and it’s amazing. When you take it out of the oven the lamb falls off the bone and is so tender. My other favourite is a simple chicken covered, stuffed and rubbed with coconut oil, lemons and garlic. Make these and you can thank me later.


Chop up a few vegetables on a Sunday night and put them in sealable containers in the fridge. They can then be added to soups, stir fries and casseroles for some lovely Clean flavour throughout the week.

Extract Taken from Clean and Lean for Life by James Duigan. Published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99.
Photography by Kate Davis-Macleod and Clare Winfield

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