My favourite way to welcome spring is to lighten my eating habits. As the weather gets warmer, as more local vegetables become available, and as I spend more time outside, I crave lighter, colder, more refreshing meals. I am still just as hungry, and eat pretty much the same amount of food, however, I choose to make some simple substitutions for foods that I would have typically eaten over the winter months.
Instead of the soups, stews and grains that warmed me in the winter, I opt for more green leafy vegetables, salads, smoothies, raw soups and juices. This not only results in simpler meals to prepare but I also feel lighter, more rejuvenated and more energized. As I get more in tune with my body, I realize it needs fewer starchy foods and more water-based varieties.
Let me share with you five ways to lighten your load this spring:
1. Eat more salads. Whether for lunch or dinner, I just grab a big bowl and fill it up with fresh local greens. I also think about choosing colourful vegetables, and different textures and flavours to make the meal more enticing. Click here for more salad ideas.
2. Drink my dinner. This isn’t ideal all the time, but some nights when I get home and don’t feel like making a meal or eating a heavy dinner, I just pull out my blender and make a yummy blended cold soup. I like to use treats like avocado to thicken it up and make it more filling. (Scroll down for one of my favourite soup recipes.)
3. Change the ratios on my plate. This is the easiest way to lighten up while sparing my body extra calories. Instead of taking an extra serving of grain, I might add more veggies, either steamed or fresh. That way I am spending most of my time munching on fibre and getting in good nutrients.
4. Use vegetables in place of grains. Don’t get me wrong, I love my quinoa and brown rice pasta, but in the spring, I often find myself opting for veggie versions. For instance, I grind up cauliflower instead of rice or use kelp and zucchini noodles for basic dishes or pasta recipes. Once I have these as a base, I can put any dressing or sauce on them and I don’t even notice the difference, apart from feeling lighter and getting full on fibre instead of starch.
5. Make juice. I find this the easiest way to lighten up in spring. Whether I have juice as part of breakfast, lunch or dinner, a tall glass of vegetable juice is an easy way to load up on nutrients instead of calories.
Green avocado cucumber soup
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2 large ripe avocados
½ cup spinach or kale
2 green onions, roughly chopped
2 apples (crisp and tart apples like granny smith)
2 1/2 cups coconut milk or coconut water
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Parsley for garnish
Optional additions: garlic, ginger, cayenne, dill
1. In a blender, process all ingredients until smooth. Chill until ready to serve and garnish with fresh herbs.
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.
Article originally published March, 2013.