9 Clean Eating Principles for a Ballerina’s Diet


Dancer : Rachel Ferring
Photo by : Geek With a Lens

If you ask most dancers, they will tell you they’re on a diet.  There are so many different diets out there from Atkins to Paleo.  There are diets that are of a specific global region like the Mediterranean or French Women Don’t Get Fat diets.  There are diets that center on certain foods like the cabbage soup and grapefruit diets.  There are cleanses, pills and supplements.  There are whole industries centered on dieting from Slim Quick to Jenny Craig.  It’s exhausting.

Here’s the thing, I don’t really believe in diets.  Any time people are told to cut out whole food groups, count calories, eat prepackaged meals or only drink shakes, I think there’s a good chance that it will lead to malnutrition, exhaustion, frustration and failure.  There is one thing that’s trending however that I think is amazing.  I guess I’ve always pretty much believed in it and more or less lived by most of its principles even though I didn’t have a name for it.  I guess I would call it a lifestyle and not a diet and it’s something I’ve been recommending to my dancers for years without even knowing it…it’s called Clean Eating.  Clean Eating is not exactly a new concept, but is gaining a lot of momentum, and for good reason, it makes a lot of sense.

What we’re really talking about here is instead of eating the banana nut muffin, eating the banana and nuts.  It’s about simplifying what you eat.  It’s about making things that you can yourself, not buying them from a store.  Here are some of the main principles behind Clean Eating: 

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Broccolini with Garlic


  • 1.5 pounds broccolini
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped



  1. Trim broccolini of ends.
  2. Place stalks into a skillet and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add salt and reduce heat.
  3. Simmer broccolini 6 to 7 minutes, until tender and bright green. Drain the broccolini.
  4. Return empty skillet to stove over medium heat.  Add extra virgin olive oil to pan, then garlic. Cook garlic 2 to 3 minutes. Add broccolini to the pan and coat in garlic and oil then serve.


Buffalo Chicken Salad


  • 1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta plus 1/4 cup, divided (can be made with blue cheese as well, but I prefer feta)
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk (shake well)
  • 4 teaspoons red-wine vinegar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce (add more if you like spicy)
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped


  1. Combine 1/2 cup feta cheese in a small bowl with buttermilk, 2 teaspoons vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; mix well, mashing slightly with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in another bowl; sprinkle with flour and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper and toss until coated.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until just cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in hot sauce and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar and cook, stirring often, until the chicken is coated, about 1 minute.
  4. Combine lettuce, carrots, celery and cucumber in a large bowl; add the reserved dressing and toss to coat. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top each with an equal portion of chicken and 1 tablespoon each of the reserved feta cheese.

Roasted Shrimp

2lbs of uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined


Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

  1. Preheat the oven for 400 degrees.
  2. Place shrimp on a sheet pan with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  3. Spread them out in a single layer and roast for 6 to 8 minutes until pink and cooked through.


These are amazing and so versatile!  You can add them to whole wheat or quinoa pasta with your favorite sauce, salads with vinaigrette or just eat them plain or on top of brown rice after squeezing some lemon juice over top.

Basil Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

4 cloves garlic (you can cut that in half, but I love garlic)

¼ cup toasted pine nuts (Just put them in a dry pan over low heat and toast until golden)

¾ c good EVOO

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I just put a chunk in the food processor to speed up the process)


  1. Combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add EVOO and process until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
  2. If you use it immediately for the week, stir in the cheese at the end.  You can keep it up to a week in the fridge, just make sure you put a layer of oil on top each time you use it to prevent it from turning black.  If not, freeze in a container with a layer of EVOO on top and stir in the cheese after thawing.


It’s so good for you and so flavorful; I use this pesto for everything.  I add some extra EVOO and whisk for vinaigrette; I use it as a sauce for pasta.  I pour it over chicken, steak or seafood to give the proteins an extra punch.  You can even use it as a vegetable dip.  Delicious and so healthy!