Spring into Fresh Healthy Eating
As the first blossoms appear on fruit trees and tender vegetable sprouts push forth from the earth, it’s time to celebrate the best of fresh spring produce. Yes, you can now move beyond your winter supply of canned and frozen produce to all things fresh and delicious. Say goodbye to winter-time warming meals, such as soups and stews and say hello to crisp, cool, colorful meals, such as salads and light, veggie-centric entrees. This switch in seasonal eating patterns is not only delicious, it can also invigorate your health as eating more vegetables has been linked with a plethora of benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. That’s why adults should aim for 2 – 3 cups per day of these healthy plant foods, according to the USDA. So, spring into a healthy veggie-rich eating style with my Top 5 Tips for Springing Up Your Diet with Veggies.
Top 5 Tips for Springing Up Your Diet with Veggies
1. Shop and plan right. Try to shop for fresh vegetables at least once a week. When you’re doing your meal planning, use the more perishable vegetables first, such as lettuce, greens, herbs, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and peas. Use the more sturdy produce later in the week, such as carrots, eggplant, squash, radishes, and potatoes.
2. Start the day right with vegetables. Did you know that many cultures, such as in Japan and the Mediterranean, enjoy veggies for breakfast? Try sautéing vegetables to serve with black beans and a corn tortilla, slice radishes over toast (as they do in the Netherlands), or enjoy a breakfast sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce.
3. Pack your spring veggies to go! Nothing says fresh and healthy like a baggy or container of fresh, crisp veggies for snack time. Try crisp radishes, broccoli or cauliflower florets, asparagus spears, and snow peas for starters.
4. Feast on an awesome entrée salad for lunch. Here are my favorite instructions for creating a plant-powered lunch salad made in heaven:
• Line a plate (or to go container) with deep green leaves, such as kale, chard, spinach, or romaine.
• Top with ½ cup canned, drained beans, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, or black beans.
• Top with 3 – 4 of your favorite veggie toppings, such as peas, tomato slices, bell pepper slices, and cucumber slices.
• Sprinkle on 1-2 tablespoons of chopped nuts or seeds for flavor, crunch and health, such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or sunflower seeds.
• Add a sweet touch with ¼ cup dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, cherries or blueberries.
• Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
• Dig in to this balanced meal of slowly digesting carbs, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will stick with you all the way until dinner.
5. Paint your dinner plate with vegetables. For dinner, just go crazy with vegetables! Try grilling (or roasting) vegetables with a touch of olive oil, such as eggplant, squash, or green onions. Create a light, veggie-centric meal, such as ratatouille, pasta with chard and beans or salad pizza. Serve a cool, veggie-grain salad on the side, such as a radish salad, kale quinoa salad, or brown rice salad.
For some of my favorite spring plant-based recipes, check out:
Image: Arugula Salad with Radishes and Avocado and Truffle Lemon Vinaigrette, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN