A breeze of warm spring air, for some, stirs an urge to purge and spring-clean. Clearing out cupboards, tossing what’s not useful anymore and re-organizing the home.
In the kitchen, spring-cleaning can include a clear out of expired food packages in the cupboard and lingering at the back of the fridge but also re-arrange what’s on the menu to lighter, more colourful, simpler fare.
The end of the winter season of comforting meals, and evenings spent on the couch in TV land with snacks and nibbles a thing of the past, that extra winter ‘padding’ may still be hanging around your middle.
As spring rolls in, eating lighter and becoming more active are as welcome as the daffodils and tulips poking up in the backyard.
For some, doing a cleanse at the change of season is the way to go. Purging the heavy, stoggy food groups for lighter, more vegetarian meals allows the digestive system to clear out and take a well-earned rest. If that sounds beyond what the family can handle, here are some tips to for a lighter meal and a lighter you:
- Starchy, heavy meals be gone. Lighter meals including more vegetables than usual but mostly greens of spinach, kale, chard, and darker lettuce. They not only offer more nutrients but also are alkalizing foods for the body. Starchy, processed, and protein heavy meals are more acidic leaving your body more prone to illness.
- Go for colour. A colourful plate of fruits or vegetables makes any meal more appealing. Get the kids involved in choosing what colours to include at breakfast or dinner. As the growing season progresses, more in-season, local produce makes heading to local markets an inspiring weekly shop.
- Eat smaller portions more often. Cut back on your meal size by about 15% and eat regular mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. Snacking helps to keep energy stable throughout the day and in turn, makes it easier to cut back at mealtime. A full breakfast including eggs, plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese (high protein foods) along with fruit and carbohydrate from a grain such as oats; granola, muesli or oatmeal, is likely reduce the urge to snack in the evening.
- Drink, drink, drink. Water, herb teas, diluted juice and coconut water are excellent hydration. Coffee, tea, juice and soft drinks have the opposite effect by causing dehydration and zapping energy after their initial boost. Drink a glass of warm water with a splash of lemon each morning before eating or drinking and your kidneys and liver will thank you for supporting their job of detoxification.
Spring cleaning needn’t be just about purging your belongings, it’s also about internally cleansing and shedding a pound or two and feeling re-energized in the process.
To get you going with eating your greens and snacks, try out the Beany Green Dip below. This recipe is so easy and packed with nutrients and flavour, you’ll be hooked after the first bite!
Beany Green Dip*
Bursting with fresh flavour!
- 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) cannellini beans
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup basil or cilantro, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup extra-virgin or flax oil
- 4 tsp (approx.) lemon juice
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cumin
- Handful dinosaur kale, chopped (optional)
- Purée all ingredients in a food processor or with a hand blender. Ready to eat! Makes about 1½ cups (375 mL). It’s best eaten fresh but can be frozen.
A good source of fibre, protein, iron, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, and calcium.
*Excerpt from Sprout Right – Nutrition from Tummy to Toddler published by Penguin Canada with permission of the author, Lianne Phillipson-Webb.
Kale Avocado Salad
Adapted from Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont
- 1 bunch curly kale (green or purple), thick center stem removed
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 avocado, halved and flesh scooped out of the skin
- 2 tbsp sesame or pumpkin seeds
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 tomato, finely diced (optional)
- Finely slice kale leaves, and then go over again until the kale is finely chopped.
- In a large salad bowl, toss kale, salt, and lemon juice together and squeeze as you mix to wilt the kale.
- Add avocado and massage into kale until evenly coated.
- Add seeds, onion and tomato, toss again and serve immediately.
Other additions can include; pecans, olives, chopped fresh herbs or spices such as curry.
Un-stodging your diet may offer all sorts of benefits, including a lot less time spent in the kitchen making roasts and heavier family meals.