It's easy to get stuck in a rut during the winter because of the low vitamin D levels, chilly temps, lack of sunlight, and relatively limited availability of fresh, seasonable produce. But now that the sun is shining and spring veggies are coming into season, it's time break away from the slow-cooked wintery stews we’ve been surviving on for months and toss together some fresh salads! It’s time for a little nutritional spring clean-up, and by spring clean-up, I’m not talking about juice cleanses or any other mainstream fad, but detoxing with REAL food (sound familiar?).
My main tips for spring cleaning your nutrition:
Focus on Fresh. Maybe you enjoyed some comfort foods like warm pie and hot dishes on those cold, dreary winter nights, but if you’re like me, you’re getting tired of pot roast with roasted carrot and onion (not that there’s anything wrong with it, I’m just ready for a change!). What better time than spring to load up on beautiful baby greens, asparagus, snap peas, fresh herbs, rhubarb, radishes, and spring onions. With new fruits and veggies coming into season each month and gardens beginning to bloom all around, we can rely less on canned and frozen items and, instead, fill our shopping carts with fresh fruits and veggies. In Minnesota, many farmers markets do not start up until mid-May, but the big ones (Minneapolis and St. Paul) run all year round, and you’ll start seeing the early spring vegetables coming in soon! If you’ve signed up for your CSA box (most have a sign-up deadline of late March or early April—so get movin’ if you haven’t chosen one yet!) you can expect to see your first box sometime in May! CSAs are a great way to try new vegetables you normally wouldn’t buy and get to know when things are in season. You’ll likely end up eating much fresher produce at a drastically reduced cost!
Clean out the Cupboards. You’ve cleaned out your closets and boxed up the clothes that are weighing you down, now it's time to do the same to your pantry and toss out the foods that have accumulated and are keeping your from reaching your goals! Purge your kitchen of anything packaged, processed, or with ingredients you can't pronounce: sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, diet products, sugary and salty snacks, and low-fat junk. Anything and everything, toss it all. Be sure to look closely at labels on condiments; they are notorious for having hidden sugars like high fructose corn syrup or even artificial sweeteners and trans fats. Replace cereals, noodles and granola bars with nuts, seeds, almond butter and fresh fruit. Remember that anything in your kitchen has the potential to end up in your body, so if it’s not going to make you feel or look awesome, then it doesn’t belong in your cabinets!
Pigment your plate. Add color to your meals by embracing spring's finest gifts. Load up on antioxidants by eating a rainbow of veggies and fruits. Try a new fruit or veggie every week!
Go green and garden. Nothing can beat home grown food. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or have never planted a seed, spring has sprung and now’s the time to get gardening. The benefits of growing your own food range from knowing where your food is coming from (this means no harmful pesticides!) to unlimited amounts of fresh fruits and veggies right at your doorstep all season long. You may be thinking, “I don’t have room for a garden,” but the truth is even if you live in an apartment, you can become an expert gardener. Start by growing the plants that will give you the biggest benefit for the least amount of work, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini and peppers and herbs like basil or cilantro.
Salads are in season… BUT don't forget your protein and fat! Salads are a great way to get in your greens, but the biggest mistake I see people making when they eat salad is skimping on protein and healthy fat. No wonder you’re hungry an hour after lunch! Make sure you're getting your palms width and circumference of protein and a couple tablespoons of healthy fat at MINIMUM—even when you're eating a salad. And although healthy fat tends to come in bite sizes on salads (cheese, sunflower seeds, etc) you need to be sure you’re getting in a good serving). Make up a new homemade salad dressing each month with olive oil, some herbs from your garden, and lemon juice. Get creative with flavors!
Off you go now! Get away from your screen and out into that sunshine! And grab my BEST tips to BOOST your metabolism by clicking the pink button below!