It’s been a long winter and finally spring is here. It’s time to move the winter clothes to the back of the closet and dig out those sundresses and sandals. While you are at it, it is the perfect time to clean out your kitchen cabinets and get rid of the heavy, comfort food type stuff lurking around and make room for lots of fresh, wholesome ingredients. Where to begin?
Let’s start with the sugars. Take a break from sugars, sweets, and corn syrupy stuff and look at all the fruit that is available and looking great. No more candy, cookies, cake and ice cream. Change to strawberries, apples, blood oranges and fruit pops. Make a banana split with bananas, peanut butter and unsweetened coconut or raisins. Try water, unsweetened ice tea or seltzer instead of soda. Even diet drinks should be eliminated because they make you crave more sweets. Keep one small piece of dark chocolate a day if you like, as it does have some health benefits and will help with cravings.
Next; the starches. Get rid of the pastas, rice dishes, and breakfast foods like bagels and French toast and opt for more wholesome grains. Quinoa, wheat berries, sweet potatoes and barley are great for lunch or dinner, and steel cut oats are perfect for breakfast. Try having dinner a few nights a week with no carbs (yes it’s possible).
Watch the salt. It’s not good if you have high blood pressure plus it will puff you up (salt makes you retain water and gives you a bloated feeling). Don’t add salt and use a minimal amount when cooking. Avoid processed and canned foods like soups and sauces. Experiment with different herbs and spices. Buy low sodium versions of essentials or dilute, and get unsalted versions of favorite snacks like nuts.
Saturated Fat. It’s worse for your cholesterol than cholesterol itself, so watch it. It’s found mainly in animal products, such as butter, cream, red meat, cheese and also in fried foods and prepared foods. Switch to non-fat milk, almond milk, or soy milk (can alternate), lean chicken or turkey, and non-fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Get moving, as long as you are in good health there is nothing better that getting your heart rate up with aerobic exercise and building bone strength with weight baring exercises. Exercise increases your metabolism and helps you feel great. It is fun to do alone or with friends, and you can spend as much or little time with it as you want.
Ingredients: Spring roll wrappers, leaf lettuce, torn, spicy peanut sauce (recipe below), rice noodles, cooked, rice wine vinegar (to add to the noodles so they don’t stick), carrots shredded, cilantro, torn, mint, torn, basil, torn, napa cabbage, chopped, cucumbers, chopped.
Soak the wrappers, one at a time in warm water until pliable. Put on a plate and top with lettuce, 1 T. sauce, some noodles, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage and herbs and then wrap up like a burrito. Cut in half on the diagonal and serve when ready.
Spicy Peanut Sauce: Cook ¼ cup chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves (with optional red pepper flakes) in 2 T. oil until onion is translucent, then add 2 T. natural peanut butter, ¼ cup water, 2 T. hoisin sauce, 2 t. tomato paste or ketchup and 1 ½ t. sugar. Cook about 5 minutes on med- low heat.
Carena Lowenthal, MS, RD, CDN