In a society where we are constantly sold fad diets, better-for-you alternatives, and “clean” ingredients, it’s shockingly difficult to actually eat clean. The reason is, half of these “good for you” treats and foods aren’t actually good for you. They might be low in sugar but they’re incredibly processed. Alternatively, they might be low in fat but high in sugar. They are purely a marketing scheme and sadly don’t have nutritional benefits, or at least don’t have as many as they could. The trickery goes on and on but someone I always find myself coming back to for real clean food is Charlotte of Clean Foodie Cravings.
A Minneapolis resident, Charlotte spent the first ten years of her life living in Liberia and by 8 years old was making full meals for her family. Charlotte knows how to make real, simple, clean ingredients taste incredible. She doesn’t focus on buzzwords just to make her recipes pop and in turn, her recipes have taken the internet by storm. They’re delicious, good-for-you and for the most part, pretty simple to make.
Sick of snacking on the same thing everyday during quarantine? Check out her apple butter granola recipe. Just realized your standard PSL order actually is what’s causing your stomach to hurt? Charlotte has a clean dairy-free version that you’re going to love. Whatever it is you are looking for recipe-wise, Clean Foodie Cravings has it. Check out our interview with Charlotte below where she shares her Clean Foodie Cravings Liberian Pepper Chicken recipe as well as kitchen must-haves, products to help clean up your skincare routine as well as her morning routine which I aspire to implement into my life ASAP!
What is your favorite recipe? How did you learn to make it?
“My favorite recipe at the moment is Liberian Pepper Chicken. I am Liberian (West African), and this dish is one that means a lot to me. Some variation of this dish is almost always on the menu at many Liberian celebrations because it’s easy to make a big batch. Not to mention it is insanely delicious. I learned how to make it from my Grandmother. She’s a master in the kitchen and I’ve picked up a few things from her.”
- 2 tbsp grass-fed ghee or fat of choice
- 1.5 lbs. chicken drumsticks, thighs or wings
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 1 large onion, cut into cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into cubes
- ½ green bell pepper, cut into cubes
- 1 habanero pepper (This pepper is very hot and may not be for everyone. If you don’t like spicy food, or are feeding kids, you can omit this all together. You can try using a half of it or using crushed red pepper flakes instead.)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ tsp garlic seasoning
- ½ cup chicken bone broth
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley or Thai basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add the ghee or your choice of fat. Season the chicken with the paprika, turmeric and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Sear them for 3-5 minutes on each side. While the chicken cooks, add the peppers (bell peppers and habanero), onion and garlic to a food processor and purée.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and add the puréed vegetables along with the tomato paste, coconut aminos, almond butter, and garlic seasoning. Sauté the mixture over medium-high heat until the puréed vegetables are just about cooked through and all the liquid is almost all dried up, about 7-10 minutes. Season the mixture with a couple pinches of salt to taste. Then stir in the bone broth and olive oil.
- Return the chicken to the pan, and stir to combine the chicken with the sauce. Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature of the chicken should read 165˚F-170˚F). Stir the mixture every 5 minutes so the sauce doesn’t burn on the bottom.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or Thai basil and serve with white rice, cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles or yams.
5 pantry, 5 fridge & 5 freezer essentials?
PANTRY: olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), coconut aminos, cans of tomato, broth
FRIDGE: fresh veggies and greens, almond milk, kombucha, sparkling water, cold brew
FREEZER: frozen vegetables, chicken thighs, ground beef, smoothie essentials, Balanced Bites Meals (paleo meal delivery service with incredibly delicious meals – perfect for those days I am not in the mood to cook).
What does a normal food day look like for you?
“Well, I’m not big on breakfast, so I usually opt for a yogurt and granola or scrambled eggs. One thing I can not miss is my morning cup of coffee. It’s almost a ritual now. I value the time it takes me to make my espresso and enjoy it. Lunch on a normal work day is usually a quick salad or stir fry and it’s usually devoured at my desk. A few hours before dinner, I will have a tuna salad with some crackers or an avocado toast.
Dinner I like to have fun with. Some days I will make a recipe from my blog or my cookbook but most days, I’m just winging it. My off the cuff dinners usually end up being recipes on the blog so it’s a creative process as much as it is me trying to make a fast and easy meal.”
What does your morning routine look like?
“My morning routine mostly depends on how I’m feeling that day but it always consists of me taking time to make my cup of espresso and doing my skincare routine. I wake up between 8-9am. I usually turn on the diffusers in the house (I’m loving the autumn oil blend from Primally Pure right now), turn on some music (usually country, I love Luke Combs, or ill put on my morning playlist with a variety of artists).
Then, I take a few minutes to tidy up in my room and around the house because I’m a but insane about organization and keeping my space clean. While I’m tidying up, I am drinking a glass of lemon water to really help me wake up.
Now, I head to the bathroom. During the winter months, I take a shower at night so in the morning I go straight into my skincare routine. My morning and night skincare routine are very serious. I’ve always been more into skincare than makeup for most of my life. A few years ago, I became more aware of the toxins I was introducing to my body through most of the products I was using. So I decided to switch all my skincare and beauty products to safer products. My skincare regimen usually consists of Beauty Counter and Primally Pure products. In the morning, I start with cleanser (BeautyCounter Countermatch foam cleanser or the Charcoal bar), then I spray Primally Pure’s lavender complexion mist all over my face and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then I use another toner/skin prep which is the BeautyCounter countertime mineral boost hydrating essence. After pressing that into my skin, I apply the BeautyCounter counter+ all bright C serum. Then while that serum soaks into my skin, I go ahead and brush my teeth.
After my skincare routine, I change into some comfy clothes, or if I am going to be on camera for work that day, I’ll put something nice on and usually apply tinted moisturizer, do my brows (I use BeautyCounter’s brow pencil and brow gel) and apply blush and lipgloss (both BeautyCounter).
Now, I will make something for breakfast. Usually it’s scrambled eggs or yogurt and granola.
Then I make my espresso. I got into the Nespresso machine about 2 years ago and I tend to upgrade my system every year, but I absolutely love it. I will take my food and coffee to my desk and enjoy breakfast while I check my emails and I’ll also take this time to interact with my internet fam on my blog, instagram and facebook.
After that, I go over my calendar and then start my work day.”
What are 3-5 kitchen essentials?
“I’ve always believed in order to be successful in the kitchen, you need great tools. I like to make sure I have quality tools that do multiple things instead of having a bunch of unnecessary products around the kitchen.
A good chef’s knife is very important to me. I’ve always used JA Henckels knives, and I still do but I recently got my chef’s knife custom made by a shop I found on Etsy (JonesCuttingBoards) and it has been life changing. He also made my cutting board which is another one of my essential kitchen tools. A good wood board is very important and then I always think it’s a good idea to get a couple cheap plastic boards to handle raw poultry and fish.
Now, if you don’t already have one, you need to get you a cast-iron pan. It’s essential because it really is the ultimate nonstick. It does not need to be expensive. Some of my favorite pans are Lodge Cast-iron preseasoned pans. And I also think everyone should have a great blender like a Vitamix that can handle cold and hot dishes like soup.”
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What are a few of your favorite podcasts, books, or IG accounts to follow?
“Well, I am a huge fan of true crime so I have a few true crime podcasts on my playlists: the Mile Higher podcast with Kendall Rae and her husband Josh, Redhanded with Hannah and Suruthi, Crime Junkie with Ashley Flowers, just to name a few.
As for Instagram accounts, I love following other foodies and learning from them but I’ve really been loving following Heather McMahan for a couple years now. She is hilarious and I love it. Books, I recently finished Trevor Noah’s, “Born A Crime“ and loved it. But it would be a crime if I didn’t mention my new cookbook “One Pot Keto Cooking” as one of my personal favorites right now. Shameless plug, I know but it had to be done.”
What are some of your favorite safe beauty products?
So many but I’ll name a few:
- Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence
- Countermatch Adaptive Lotion
- Counter+ Balancing Charcoal Mask
- BeautyCounter Sheer Lipsticks
- BeautyCounter Skin Twin Foundation
- Primally Pure plumping serum
- Primally Pure body butter
If you could spend the day in the kitchen with one person, who would it be & what would you make?
“This is hard and easy at the same time. Trevor Noah! I would just want to ask him so many questions and listen to him educate me while being incredibly funny. And we would definitely make something rich in African culture. Maybe Jollof rice, which is mostly a West African dish, but I know he would love it for sure.”
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