Spring is in the air, but it's also in our foods. So, along with our yearly Spring Cleaning of our homes, we should also Spring Clean our diets. The best way to that that is to throw out all the 'junk' food (it's okay to treat yourself now & then) and replace them with healthier options. It starts with the basics, which truly work!
Step 1: Stock up on Spring Superfoods like fruits & veggies
Superfoods are where it's, nowadays, and a lot of the veggies we love to eat are just as super as your favorite comic book hero! Seasonal fruits and veggies are best bought at their peak, which is when they are packing the most nutrients they can. It is recommended buying them from farmers' markets, because you know exactly how they've been grown, as natural and organic as possible.
Here is an exhaustive list of powerhouse, fresh foods to get...green beans, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, radishes, green onions, spinach, spring squash. Not to mention, mixed berries, apricots, cherries, apples, bananas and the like.
Usually, any seasonal fruit is better than cake, cookies and brownies, so do some research before purchasing fruits that are with a lower sugar content.
Step 2: Consume leaner meats
It's okay to eat red meat, but if we're being honest, most of us eat too much of it. Cutting down red meat to at least 1-2 times per week is ideal. And, don't forget that portion control is key, because an average person is supposed to eat about 3-4 ounces per meal, which is basically the size of your palm. And, adding more chicken and fish to your diet usually suffices your cravings for red meat.
Remember, to lessen your chance of mercury exposure, opt for 'light' tuna over white Albacore tuna, which is usually caught when the fish is larger and older, so it has had much more time to accumulate up to three times more than the 'light' tuna. Also, look for wild or ocean caught fish to steer clear of the GMO farmed variety.
When choosing chicken, don't opt for white meat, even though it's been said that it may contain fewer calories, it does contain less vitamins and minerals that our bodies really need. By the way, dark meat has a more flavorful taste.
As with beef, do choose cuts that have the least amount of visible fat. Sirloin, top & bottom, eye of round, sirloin tip (roast or steak) are the best cuts of beef to purchase.
It's best to limit your consumption of organ meat to around once or twice a month. Liver has been known to pack cholesterol, so if you have to eat them, it's best to do it on cheat days.
Step 3: Omit over processed cereals & breads
White bread, even the enriched white breads, are made of only three nutritious parts of the wheat berry, which is called the endosperm. Which means, most of the much needed nutrients, like fiber, vitamins and minerals are basically stripped out.
When looking for bread, go for wheat, instead. Though, not just any wheat will do. It should be 100% whole grain or stone-ground and not the enriched wheat flour. If you can't pronounce any of the ingredients, then it's good cause not to buy it. 120 or less calories is best, as is, 3 or more grams of fiber.
Your best bet would be to purchase a bread machine or knead your own breads. It's much easier than you think, once you get the yeast thing down. There are lots of great simple and easy bread recipes out there.
Step 4: Get more healthy foods into your diet
There's a possibility that some of the Spring Superfoods we listed previously does not like your palate, but they are some ways to sneak them into your plate.
- Pureeing yellow squash and heating them up with a few ounces of flavorful and tasty cheeses such as sharp cheddar, jack cheese, Parmesan or ricotta and your favorite spices will make it savory.
- The new craze nowadays is making spaghetti from veggies such as zucchini, squash, etc and topping with your favorite tomato or pesto sauce, which can also be made with added spinach and artichokes.
- Making a salad of leafy greens, diced radishes or beets, broccoli florets, beans, green onions, etc., and then, topping them with homemade strawberry or raspberry vinaigrette.
- You can also make your own pesto using spinach, radish leaves and arugula, which is actually more tastier than traditional pesto. Pour it over some whole-wheat pasta or lean protein meats like shrimp or chicken.
- Make some refreshing smoothies with frozen yogurt and some mixed berries, and even, add in some kale or arugula. The yogurt and fruits will wash out most of the veggie taste.
- Serve steamed veggies with ranch or dijon-based sauces to add more flavor.
Here are some simple and easy recipes to try...enjoy!
2 teaspoons canola oil
6 (6-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled ripe avocado (about 2)
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt
6 strips bacon
1/2 cup plain yogurt (not nonfat)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 romaine hearts, cut crosswise into half-inch strips
2 cups diced cooked skinless rotisserie chicken
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado, diced
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled