A new season is here and with it comes longer days, warmer weather, and a greater variety of available produce. Spring is the season of new life; now is the perfect time to establish new habits as they pertain to dietary and lifestyle choices.
Taking advantage of Spring’s bounty supplies you with a boost of essential vitamins and minerals as well as heart healthy fiber. Including seasonal favorites such as asparagus, strawberries, spinach, and beets in your meals throughout the day add great taste and nutrition. While harsh winter weather calls for hearty, warm meals, spring fever begs for lighter fare prepared simply and deliciously. Utilizing fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, dill or rosemary and lots of citrus juice from lemons and limes adds a ton of flavor without relying heavily on oils, sugar, or salt.
Have you been wanting to adopt more of a plant based dietary pattern? Swapping meat with protein packed legumes including beans, lentils, and chickpeas reduces the amount of heart unhealthy saturated fat while increasing the amount of fiber and disease fighting antioxidants. To start you may consider “stretching” your meat by swapping out half the amount for plant based ingredients. For example, blending ground turkey or chicken with brown rice or quinoa and mixing ground beef with chopped mushrooms makes for flavorful, hearty dishes; especially when you add additional veggies to the mix including kale, spinach, or carrots!
As the temperatures rise, we may find ourselves reaching for cold, thirst quenching beverages. Reduce the amount of added sugar in your beverages by making your own infused waters. Lemon and lime wedges are classic, but use your creativity and experiment with different combinations such as blackberries, orange, and ginger or honeydew, cucumber, and mint. Alternatively, juicing fruits yourself or watering down juice with water or seltzer allows you to control the amount of added sugar.
Take inventory of your pantry and refrigerator. When shopping, look at the ingredient list. Try to purchase items that have the least amount of ingredients as possible. Keeping staples on hand such as whole grains, beans, nuts and nut butter, low fat dairy or plant based milks, frozen fruits and vegetables and wholesome snacks such as hummus, guacamole, and hard-boiled eggs makes it easy to consistently choose nourishing options. When possible, try purchasing fruits, vegetables, and dairy products from your local Spring Farmer’s Market to help enhance the health of our environment as well. Buying local means reduced carbon emissions, fresher produce, and a strengthened local workforce.
Lastly, celebrate Spring by heading outside! Soak up the sun and enjoy the flowers in bloom around you while you walk, bike, jog, garden, or any other outdoor activity that you enjoy!