By Tami Broderick
Tomorrow we celebrate the Vernal Equinox, better known as the First Day of Spring. As the weather gets warmer, the annual “Spring Cleaning” of the house begins. Now is also the perfect time to spring clean your diet, starting with the fridge and pantry.
1. Eliminate unhealthy and expired foods
February is gone, as should be all of the Girl Scout Cookies. If not, it’s time for them to go – donate any leftover boxes to your local food kitchen. Take a look at all of those soup cans and boxed mixes hidden in the back of the pantry. If you can’t remember when you bought them, it’s time for them to go, too. Don’t forget about your spice rack. Although spices won’t spoil, they will lose their strength over time. Always date your spices, and keep for no more than 2 years.
2. Swap In Healthier Alternatives
Replace high-fat, low-nutrient foods like mayonnaise and ranch dressing for the healthier options like guacamole, Greek yogurt and hummus. Replace blocks of cheese with light string cheese sticks and try flavored mustards and salsas on sandwiches and wraps. Keep cans of tuna, salmon and beans on hand for quick-cooking protein options.
3. Have Healthy Snacks Available
Replace full size bags of regular chips with the individual snack size, preferably baked. Buy single serving packages of trail mix and get the 100 calorie snack bars, such as Think Thin and KIND Bars, for when you need just a little something. Keep cut up veggies and fresh nut butters such as almond or peanut butter for when you need a little crunch.
4. Freezer Swap
We no longer need cold weather comfort food, so get rid of those packages of frozen lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets. Replace them with frozen fruit and vegetables, turkey burgers, and already cooked brown rice. Use the frozen fruit in protein shakes; steam the veggies and rice to serve with freshly cooked grilled chicken.
Replace ice cream with no-sugar added popsicles.
5. Fresh is Best
Buy seasonal produce for the best flavor and the best value. Frequent your farmers’ market and roadside stands for just picked fruits and vegetables. This time of year, the produce is plentiful and affordable with many options to choose from … apricots, artichokes, asparagus, beets, carrots, cherries, kiwis, kumquats, leeks, lemons, mint, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, and sweet onions, just to name a few.
Let spring and its abundance of fresh produce jump-start you on your way to a season of health and vitality. Making just a few changes can boost your metabolism, balance your nutrition and help you shed any unwanted winter pounds. Happy Spring!
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