The weather is finally getting warmer. What better time to lighten and brighten your kitchen — and your cooking? Here’s how to start fresh.
1. Clean out your cupboards
Turns out canned goods do expire. “Sort through your pantry, and if you find anything that’s been in there two years or longer, toss or compost the contents and recycle the can,” says Patricia Chuey, a B.C.-based registered dietitian and nutrition consultant.
Purge last summer’s condiments, replacing them with fresh-cut salsa (half a cup counts as a serving of veggies!) and fruit butters.
Sort through the freezer and dump anything discoloured or covered in ice, especially if you haven’t followed the “first in, first out” rule. Refresh your spices — they lose their zip after three years, says Chuey. To avoid waste, buy small quantities in bulk and store them in labelled, airtight containers.
2. Dress up your plate
“So much of eating is visual,” says Chuey. Garnish with pretty palate pleasers such as a slice of grapefruit, a wedge of watermelon or sprigs of parsley, cilantro or watercress. “They’re free of fat and sodium and contain virtually no calories.”
Bonus: A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found watercress may combat breast cancer by suppressing cancer-cell growth.
3. Go for seasonal foliage
Think pea sprouts, rhubarb and lettuce greens to start, along with lots of other fresh local produce. Why not go for a serving of asparagus? It’s low in calories (fewer than four per spear) and contains folic acid, potassium, fibre and vitamins A, B6 and C. (Store it up to five days in the fridge by wrapping ends in damp paper towel covered with plastic wrap.) Another healthy seasonal treat? Strawberries. They’re a great source of vitamin C, packing as much as oranges, bite for bite, and they also contain fibre.
4. Power up with probiotics
If winter colds wreaked havoc on your health, antibiotics may have depleted your body’s good bacteria. Chat to a doctor about probiotic pills, and stock up on yogourt with “live active cultures.”
Make it a habit: Have plain yogourt with fresh berries for dessert every Sunday night.
5. Eat more fresh fish
Spring signals the start of halibut season, so forgo the red meat in favour of this firm, mild-tasting fish, which is a good source of lean protein and B vitamins, magnesium and omega-3s.
6. Cleanse & detoxify
Detoxing can be an easy way to kick-start healthy choices, but trendy plans can be harmful, warns Chuey. She recommends choosing one that fosters smart habits, like following the three Fs:
Fibre: Women need 25 grams of fibre a day to maintain a healthy digestive system, says Chuey. Read food labels (anything over 2 g counts as a source of fibre) and enjoy a diet high in fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds to guarantee you’re getting your daily dose.
Fluids: Aim for six to eight cups of hydrating fluids a day (including water, 100 percent real fruit juice, tea, milk and watery fruits and vegetables). Not sure you’re getting enough? If you have to visit the loo every one to two hours, that’s a good sign, says Chuey.
Fitness: “Exercise is key when it comes to bowel regularity,” Chuey says. Keep things moving with a minimum of about 20 minutes of exercise a day, for a total of 150 minutes per week.
7. Make produce pretty Eat more fruits and veggies by playing with presentation. Get an apple corer for apple and pear rings, a crinkle cutter for carrots and a paring knife for radish flowers.
How to create an easy radish flower
1. Trim roots and tops, leaving two inches of stem with leaves attached. Wash thoroughly.
2. Starting from the equator of the radish, carve a thin petal into one side, stopping just short of the stem of radish (do not cut all the way through). Make four more petals around stem of radish, turning it as you go.
3. Starting at the tip of the radish, carve a thin petal (2 cm wide) down to the equator of the radish, without cutting all the way through. Make four more petals around radish, turning as you go.
4. Soak radishes in ice water for about an hour and a half to open the flowers.
Roasted Halibut with Tomato-Mint Salsa
6 ripe plum tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
4 halibut fillets, about 180 g each
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.
2. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato. Drop into boiling water for 30 sec.
3. Immediately plunge tomatoes in ice water and peel. Cut into quarters, remove and discard seeds. Finely dice.
4. Stir all but 1 tbsp oil with mint, lime juice, onions, garlic, 1/8 tsp salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in tomatoes.
5. Sprinkle fish with remaining salt and pepper. Heat frying pan over medium-high. Add remaining oil, then halibut, skin-side up. Cook until golden, about 3 min. Place skin-side down on prepared baking sheet. Roast in centre of oven until a knife tip inserted in centre of fish feels warm, 5 to 7 min. Serve with salsa.
Serves 4. Per serving: 382 calories, 39 g protein, 6 g carbs, 22 g fat, 2 g fibre, 250 mg sodium.