The Clean Plates Cookbook

Sustainable, Delicious, and Healthier Eating for Every Body


By Jared Koch

With Jill Silverman Hough

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Jared Koch’s first book, Clean Plates Manhattan, demystified “clean eating” and mapped out healthy restaurant options all over New York. Continuing in the extremely timely topic of eating clean, organic, and well, his second book, The Clean Plates Cookbook, offers sensible, sustainable, and healthful home cooking for anyone interested in integrating good foods into their lives. It shows readers how to shop for the best ingredients no matter what their diet (omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans can all “eat clean”) and how to prepare food that’s simple and delicious. Tips and inspiration from chefs and nutrition experts appear throughout the book, and the invaluable resources section breaks down the recipes by category and offers more of his clear and useful shopping guides.

Clean eating is anything but boring: recipes cover beverages, breakfasts, snacks, inventive entré, and desserts with things like Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Cracked Wheat Sushi, Wild Mushroom Gratin, Lamb Tikka Masala, and Cocoa Cherry Brownies.



It truly amazes me how many hard working, talented people it takes to create something. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with so many of you on this project—and I admire, respect, and appreciate all of your contributions.

First and foremost, I want to express my deep gratitude to Jill Silverman Hough for working tirelessly in the kitchen creating amazingly fun and delicious recipes, and for consistently offering her wisdom in so many areas throughout the process. Jill and I would also like to thank her fantastic group of recipe testers, angels who generously spent their free time to help us do our work—Lori Adleman, Kate Aks, Kay Austin, Melissa Austin, Lori Bowling, Claudia Brown, John Danby, Lynn Forsey, Susi and Paul Heidenreich, the Javier Guerrero Family, Terri Hughes, Jan Kroeger, Michael and Lanniece Hall, the McIver Family, Deirdre Spero Nair, Susan Norman, Alexander Ocker, Susan Pruett, Hilary and Mike Rak, Lisa and Richard Rhoan, Keven Seaver, Charlene Small, Andrea Stupka, and Suzanne Young. Thank you so very much.

Of course, a very special thank you to the talented chefs who contributed recipes, as well as for their dedication to serving healthy and delicious food—Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Jeremy Bearman of Rouge Tomate, Ed Cotton of Plein Sud and now, Fishtail by David Burke, Marc Forgione of Marc Forgione, Ann Gentry of Real Food Daily, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop, Sarma Mengalis of Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck, Jamie Oliver, Joy Pierson of Candle 79 and Candle Café, Hadley Schmitt of Northern Spy, Shigefumi Tachibe and Lee Gross of M Cafe, and Bill Telepan of Telepan.

To our agent Jennifer Griffin at Miller Bowers Griffin and to Kristen Green Wiewora and the entire team at Running Press, our deepest gratitude for making this possible and for caring so much about it along the way.

A big thank you to Ashley Spivak, CNP ( for helping in countless ways. And to Ellen Daly for helping to shape my ideas and making me a better writer. And to Angela Starks and the late, but not forgotten, Bunny Wong for their invaluable contributions.

Thank you to Megan Murphy for facilitating the chef recipes and writing their introductions.

Thanks to Nicole Fiscella, MS, CNS, for her invaluable nutritional feedback and suggestions.

Thanks to the rest of the team at Clean Plates, including but not limited to Niles Brooks, Laura Mordas-Schenkein, and Tory Davis, for their dedication and efforts toward realizing the Clean Plates mission.

I also want to thank my nutrition and science teachers throughout my journey, including but in no way limited to Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, Mark Hyman, and Joshua Rosenthal, as well as my spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen and everyone at EnlightenNext. In countless and unimaginable ways, you have shaped my thinking.

Perhaps my greatest teachers of all, however, have been my clients. Through their willingness to be vulnerable and their commitment to improving their lives, they have deepened my understanding of what leads to change. My sincere thanks to each and every one of you.

Jill adds her appreciation to her husband, family, and friends for their love and support, in this and all things.

And of course, a heartfelt thanks to my dear family and friends, who fill my life with love and joy every day.


IN MORE THAN A DECADE OF STUDYING NUTRITION, health, and meditation and my many years working as a nutritional consultant, I’ve discovered one key to improving my clients’ well-being and enabling them to eat healthier and feel better. It’s not a miracle diet, or a superfood, or a scientific breakthrough. It’s simply this: practical advice. As a culture, we tend to be obsessed with what we should eat, but we rarely stop and look practically at how we eat. Of course, what we eat matters—a lot—but simply knowing what’s good for us won’t necessarily get us to change our deep-rooted habits. Most people do not hesitate to say they want to eat healthier, and many can even explain what foods they should be eating, but actually doing it, consistently, is another matter altogether. What I have discovered with my clients is that when I give them practical advice and tools for making better choices, they start to change immediately.

It all began with my restaurant list. I live and work in Manhattan—a city of over twenty-four thousand restaurants. New Yorkers like to dine out—but often they pay the price with their health. I believed that it was possible to eat healthier and still enjoy the culinary diversity of NYC. I wanted to be smart about my food choices without having to sacrifice the pleasure of eating. So I started compiling a list of what I considered to be healthy restaurants—places I could eat with no sacrifice and no guilt. As I shared this ever-growing list with my clients, they actually started implementing changes and feeling better—a fact that inspired me to turn my list into a book: Clean Plates Manhattan. I expanded my research, hired an amazing food critic, and set out to create a restaurant guide that told New Yorkers where they could go to find food that was healthy, sustainable, and delicious.

Three years later, my original guide is in its third edition, Clean Plates Brooklyn and Clean Plates Los Angeles have launched, we have a new website ( and iPhone app, and more guides are on their way. But I also found that readers want a way to bring my practical approach to nutrition and diet into their home, their trips to the grocery store, and all the places where they make their food choices each day. That’s what this book is about. I see it as a way to contribute to a growing awareness of healthy, responsible, and sustainable eating, and most important, to empower people to make better choices.

After intensively studying nutritional science and dietary theories, learning from experts in the field, observing and talking to hundreds of people at my talks and events, and coaching individual clients from all walks of life, I want to offer what I think is a reasonable assessment of the nutrition landscape. While my approach is informed by the very latest discoveries in health and nutrition, this book is intentionally light on science. It is meant to be practical. I read countless nutritional studies, and understand how they are conducted and evaluated. And this has only confirmed my belief that while studies can be very helpful, they are also limited. I can almost guarantee that for any study you find, there is another that directly contradicts it. One expert will declare, based on his extensive research, that you must eat meat to get enough essential protein. Another will insist that a raw, vegan diet is the only one that offers the nutrients you need. Who is right?

I would suggest that, in fact, this is not the most important question. Too many of us are just seeking “the answer”—the perfect diet that will allow us to finally stop worrying about what we eat. What you will learn in these pages is that there’s more than one right way to eat—a theory called bio-individuality. In keeping with that principle, this book is not a diet book. It is a guide to help you navigate the vast cultural experiment that is taking place around food and nutrition, and learn how to independently make better, more informed choices for yourself. My goal is to bring a rational and practical approach to this confusing topic, free from stress, fear, and guilt. Our relationship with food is one of the most intimate relationships we have, but it is often fraught with these unhealthy emotions. I hope that this book will help you not only to figure out how to eat healthier, but also to have a healthier relationship to food.

This book is divided into three parts. In Chapters 18, I will share with you my approach to nutrition, and the Five Precepts that I use as guiding principles in making healthy choices, as well as a practical guide to the different kinds of foods you are likely to encounter. In Chapter 9, you will find more than 120 recipes that you can prepare at home, including contributions from some of our favorite Clean Plates chefs and restaurants, such as Jamie Oliver, Iron Chef winner Marc Forgione, and many more. Using ingredients that are easily available at most supermarkets, these recipes are designed to help you thoroughly enjoy and celebrate clean eating. And in Chapter 10, you will find practical resources and recommendations to support you in making the transition to a healthier lifestyle and sample menus to help guide you in planning your meals.

You will see my personal leanings sprinkled throughout this book, but my goal is not to impose them on you. Most people I meet want to know what conclusions I’ve come to myself and what choices I’ve made. I consider myself an experiment, and I hope that my example will inspire you not to simply adopt my conclusions, but to experiment with your own diet in the same way. Together, let’s shatter the myth that healthier eating is a sacrifice and prove that we can do it without the guilt, inconvenience, boredom, and sheer lack of long-term success that characterize the usual diets.

Remember, the goal in life is not to have the perfect diet. The goal is to eat food that supports the body rather than depletes it, and to have a healthy relationship with food, free of guilt and full of pleasure, so you have the energy and clarity of mind and time to live life to your fullest potential.

In good health,

Jared Koch


Clean Eating: The Practical Approach to Food

“I’VE BEEN A VEGAN ALL MY LIFE,” SAID THE YOUNG woman in line ahead of me at Whole Foods, looking at me earnestly over her cart piled high with vegetables. “Did you know that the animals slaughtered for food adds up to more than nine billion per year in the United States alone? It’s a genocide going on right under our noses! And did you know that it’s been scientifically proven that eating animal products causes heart disease, cancer, and diabetes?” I listened sympathetically, but did not attempt to hide the pasture-raised eggs and grass-fed beef in my cart. Later that same night, at a party, I found myself talking to an athletic-looking man in his forties who told me his life had been completely transformed by adopting a diet of meat and vegetables, rejecting grains and all processed foods. “It’s the way evolution designed us to eat,” he told me. “It’s written in our genes. Our Paleolithic ancestors ate this way. It’s been scientifically proven: This is what is best for the human body.” Again, I listened sympathetically, but did not reject the brown rice sushi when it came my way.

Most people reading this book have probably had moments like these. Different people we meet will confidently give us completely contradictory advice, absolutely convinced that theirs is the only “right” answer, and backed up with seemingly credible scientific evidence. We tend to get our ideas about food from our family, our friends, and above all, the media. Every time our children sit down in front of the television, they are getting nutritional messages. Their heroes are promoting certain products, and so the message is clear: Drinking soda will make you a superstar athlete. We’re conditioned to want these processed products and even to believe that they are good for us. Even the health foods industry can be misleading—promoting such terms as organic, vegan, or local as if they guarantee that a food is good for you. Just because a cupcake is vegan doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Organic sugar is still sugar. Adding to all this misinformation are the recommendations of our government via the USDA. While I was encouraged recently to hear that the USDA had changed its requirements for school cafeterias to include more vegetables, I was less than encouraged when I discovered that pizza is classified as a vegetable because the small amount of tomato paste on the pizza is enough tomato to constitute a vegetable (regardless of sugar content in that paste). Clearly, we have a long way to go.

When I started studying nutrition more than ten years ago I was immediately struck by the lack of knowledge (both my own and society’s) on the subject. Even most doctors are not well educated on the subject. As a second-year internal medicine resident at UCSD told me recently, “A healthy diet is increasingly accepted as a fundamental pillar of health and yet education on healthy eating in Western medical schools and during subsequent training continues to be subpar.” Nutrition is a relatively new science. There is so much waiting to be discovered. Every plant contains thousands of nutrients, and each of these has different properties and effects, and interacts with our body and with other nutrients in unique ways. Every new process we use to produce, prepare, preserve, and present our food changes its nutritional makeup. When you consider how many questions are still unanswered, it is hardly surprising that there is such an abundance of conflicting information. Adding to the confusion is the fact that many of the studies are evaluated based on particular biases and are funded by organizations with an investment in particular outcomes.

We hear about new nutritional studies every day, it seems, from the frightening (“Inflammatory Food Toxins Found in High Levels in Infants”) to the ridiculous (“Chocolate Cake for Breakfast Helps You to Lose Weight”). But there is a much larger experiment going on in our culture right now—one that too few of us seem to be aware of, but that we are all part of. What effect does eating a diet of highly processed and chemically produced foods have on the human body? This experiment began back in the Industrial Age, when human beings in the more developed parts of the world discovered new ways to process foods. Rather than cooking and eating things in the forms in which they grew from the land, we outsourced food preparation to industry, which, through large-scale processing, altered the very nature of what we were used to eating. With the population shifting from the rural farmlands to the fast-growing cities, this was an essential wave of innovation, enabling more and more people to have affordable access to food at greater distances from the farms where it was grown. Centuries later, the results of this experiment are written all around us, and you don’t need to be a scientist to interpret them. The incidence of all major diseases is increasing and they seem to be showing up more frequently at younger ages. Obesity is becoming an epidemic.1 According to CBS News, more than 190 million Americans are overweight or obese, and obesity-related diseases cost $147 billion in medical expenses every year.2 Childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years.3 Diabetes is increasingly common, affecting 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3 percent of the population.4 Children suffer from all kinds of allergies that we have never even seen before.5

This is the study we should be paying most attention to: the one we are all participating in. Experts may be arguing about whether a low-fat or a low-carb diet is the way to go, or whether vegans live longer than omnivores, but they all agree on some things, whether they state it or not. For example, I’ve never seen a study that says vegetables will harm you. No one is arguing for the health benefits of refined sugars. And most experts agree that it would be good for most of us to eat a lot less overall. No one has “the answer,” but we have a lot of information that can help us make better choices. Of course, much of that information seems to conflict, but when we have some basic guiding principles to help us navigate, we can start to take greater responsibility for our daily decisions. That’s the approach this book is based on. It’s a common sense and rational assessment of the nutrition landscape as far we can see it, organized in such a way as to give those who want to be healthier the practical tools and advice for making better choices in daily life, free from stress, fear, and guilt.

What Is “Clean” Eating?

One of the greatest challenges we face in navigating the maze of nutritional choices is a lack of clear criteria to base our choices on. Many of us simply choose foods because we like how they taste. Others make choices based on what they think is good for their health. And these days, an increasing number of people recognize the impact of food production on animals and the environment, and make choices based on minimizing their negative effects. I think all of these criteria are important. I don’t think we should have to sacrifice taste for the sake of health. And I don’t think our planet should have to sacrifice to feed us. That’s how I came up with my definition of “clean” eating, and the criteria on which I base my nutritional advice and the restaurant reviews in my Clean Plates guides.

Clean eating, as I define it, is eating that’s good for your health, good for the planet, and good tasting. In other words: healthy, sustainable, and delicious. For many, the idea of healthy eating often evokes images of bland vegetarian food. For me, clean eating transcends the issue of whether you are a vegan or a vegetarian or an omnivore. It means eating high-quality real food as often as possible, based on what is right for your body and what stimulates your taste buds. Over the years, I have boiled down my advice for how to achieve this into Five Precepts, which I’ll be explaining in depth, and with plenty of practical tools and advice, in the chapters that follow:

1.There’s more than one right way to eat.

2.The overwhelming majority of your diet should consist of real, high-quality, and whole foods.

3.Everyone would be better off if a larger percentage of their diet consisted of plants—mostly vegetables (in particular, leafy greens), and some nuts, seeds, and fruits.

4.If you choose to eat animal products, consume only (a) high-quality and sustainably raised animals (ideally pasture-raised and grass-fed, but at least hormone- and antibiotic-free); and do so (b) in moderation—meaning smaller portions with less frequency, and (c) cooked using the most healthful methods.

5.To feel better immediately, simply reduce your intake of artificial, chemical-laden processed foods—especially poor-quality oils and refined sugars.

If this sounds like a lot to take in, don’t worry. I’ll be walking through each of these precepts slowly and practically. But first, take the time to think about why you would want to embark on this journey. It might be for personal reasons, such as improving your own health or looking better. It might be for the sake of your family. Or it might be for altruistic or ethical reasons, such as saving the environment or not supporting the factory farming of animals. Whatever your motivation is, make sure it is powerful enough to inspire you. Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the reasons you might want to embrace this way of eating.

Clean Eating Is Good for Your Health

Financial columnists like to point out that ordering a $3 latte every day adds up to $1,000 a year that otherwise could have been accruing interest in a CD. Our daily food choices operate according to similar principles; instead of just building up our financial assets, however, we need to build our health resources.

To illustrate: You wake up, yawn, get dressed, and (A) start the day with a cup of herbal tea or glass of water with lemon to accompany your bowl of oatmeal and fruit; or (B) purchase a coffee with sugar on your way to work, skipping breakfast. Later the same day, you and your co-workers order in (A) wild salmon with vegetables and brown rice; or (B) fast-food hamburgers and fries. You get the picture: Going for option A adds multiple nutrients to your health resources, whereas option B is taxing your already depleted nutrient resource bank.

Our health may be affected more by the foods we eat than by any other factor. I think that’s great news, as it means we can do something about it. Of course, exercise, sleep, and genetics—not to mention our relationships, career, and spirituality—count, too. But the reason “You are what you eat” has endured as a phrase is because what we consume literally builds, fuels, cleanses, or—unfortunately—pollutes our cells.


If you’re healthy, you’re more likely to:

1.Have more energy to enjoy life and live to your fullest potential

2.Enjoy greater mental clarity for work and play

3.Maintain emotional equilibrium and a pleasant mood

4.Suffer from fewer minor ailments, such as colds and allergies

5.Reduce your risk of contracting potentially fatal diseases, such as cancer and heart disease

6.Age more slowly and gracefully, staving off problems such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s

7.Save money by having fewer health-care bills and less time off work

8.And… look better with clearer skin and a trimmer physique

Clean Eating Is Good for the Environment

Whether you choose to be vegetarian or not, there’s no question that eating fewer animal products—poultry, beef, fish, dairy, and eggs—is a powerful way to help the Earth. Precious resources in the form of water, land, and energy are consumed in the process of producing animal foods. For example, it takes about 600 gallons of water to produce the meat for just one hamburger.6 That’s more water than the average hot tub holds. And it takes ten times more fossil fuels to produce a meat-based diet than a plant-based one—a statistic that led the United Nations to declare, “Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.” And then there’s the waste … just imagine the amount of sewage generated by farm animals, which outnumber the planet’s humans three times over.

Going organic is another way to positively change the environmental impact of your food choices. More toxic than ever before, pesticides and herbicides contaminate the soil, water, and air, which in turn poison both humans and wildlife.

Choosing locally grown foods when possible reduces the need for packaging, the production of which wreaks its own havoc on the environment, plus it avoids the pollution created by the long-distance treks that much of our food takes. Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle puts it this way, “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”

Steering clear of genetically modified organisms, a.k.a. GMOs, can alleviate some environmental concern. These artificially altered crops cross-contaminate other crops and harm wildlife. The majority of soy (as in tofu), corn, and canola crops are now GMO plants. If these items are staples in your diet, you can tread more gently on the Earth (and your body) by buying organic versions, which are not genetically modified.

In addition, clean eating can have a powerful impact on the economic environment that affects all of us. For example, economists from Cornell and Lehigh universities have estimated that obesity is now responsible for 17 percent of America’s annual medical costs, which amounts to about $160 billion per year. Reducing the waste and health costs associated with food production and poor dietary habits is the kind of economic stimulus I’ll vote for.


Just because locally grown and organic foods are better for the environment doesn’t mean they’re always healthier for our body. Locally grown organic sugarcane? Sorry, still sugar to your body.

Clean Eating Is Good for Your Taste Buds

Our taste buds have been desensitized by a lifetime of eating over-salted, oversweetened, chemically enhanced foods. Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda are up to six hundred times sweeter than sugar—is it any wonder that we find it hard to enjoy the simple sweetness of a plum? As you begin to change your eating habits, you will slowly become more sensitive to the subtlety of flavors that are found in real foods. You will come to appreciate the fragrance of fresh herbs, crave the crispness of vegetables, and relish the piquancy of spices. Eventually, chemically enhanced foods will start to lose their appeal.

The pleasure we derive from eating is one of the great joys in life. Many of us associate healthy eating with the loss of that pleasure—seeing it as a sacrifice to be made for the sake of health or beauty. I don’t believe this has to be the case. Eating is something we all do every day, and we want it to be a positive experience. If our relationship to food is defined by guilt, self-deprivation, or sacrifice, we create a negative state of mind, which has been proven to exacerbate some unhealthy patterns. For example, stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that has been linked to higher blood pressure, weakened immune system functioning, and weight gain. Joy, on the other hand, creates a different hormonal balance in the body.


On Sale
Dec 25, 2012
Page Count
240 pages
Running Press

Jared Koch

About the Author

Jared Koch is a health coach, nutritional consultant, and the author and publisher of Clean Plates Manhattan, a guidebook that has sold 20,000 copies in two years. Koch and the Clean Plates web site have been featured in multiple mainstream press outlets, including ABC News, NBC New York, Good Day NY, Martha Stewart, and Good Morning America Health. Koch is also a sought-after speaker, including engagements at Google, MTV, Sony, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Wellpoint Insurance, Time Warner, and Whole Foods. Clean Plates has been endorsed by numerous well-known doctors and celebrities, including Deepak Chopra, Mark Hyman, Dean Ornish, and Mariel Hemmingway.

Jill Silverman Hough is a cookbook author, food and wine writer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor. She’s written 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love and 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love. Other book projects include developing the recipes for Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, a New York Times bestseller.

Learn more about this author