Even if you haven’t been indulging in rich, comforting meals all winter, chances are you’ve accumulated more unhealthy foods in your freezer, fridge and cupboard than you realize. To start the new season on the right foot, spring cleaning your food supply might be in order. Keep reading to learn our top 5 tips on how to spring clean your diet!
1. Clear your cupboards: For a healthy, well-stocked kitchen, avoid packaged foods that have more than 10 grams of sugar and have at least 3 grams of fibre and protein per serving. Store your pantry with whole grains such as quinoa, barley, oats, brown rice and whole wheat pasta, and low-sodium beans for a punch of protein and fiber. Keep cans of fatty fish like tuna, sardines and salmon to get those nutrient dense omega-3s. When cleaning your pantry, it is a good idea to rotate your stock – place the older cans in front and the newer cans in the back.
2. Swap in seasonal produce: To boost the flavor of your meals and increase variety in your diet – choose produce that are in season. Spring produce include asparagus, endive, apricots, radish, strawberries, broccoli, artichokes, and fennel. Produce picked and eaten at its peak harvest time generally has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than foods harvested before they are ripe and then shipped long distances. An added bonus: seasonal produce tends to be cheaper since travelling expenses and storage costs are lower – this reduction in cost is passed on to consumers. Check out this delicious shaved asparagus salad recipe.
3. Careful with storage: Make sure that your food is stored in the correct place to stay at its peak freshness. Foods that contain healthy fats such as olive oil, fish oil, nuts and seeds are packed with powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants. When these healthy oils are exposed to oxygen or heat over a prolonged period of time, they can go rancid and have an off taste with diminished nutritional value. Keep your oils stored in a cabinet away from sunlight and store nuts and seeds in the fridge or freezer to preserve their freshness. Having a hard time keeping your carrots and celery crisp after a few days? Place celery upright in a pitcher of water. This also works very well for fresh herbs; trim the bottoms and stand them upright in a small glass of water. Slip a plastic bag over top and you’ve just increased their life by at least a week. If you do find limp carrots or celery in your refrigerator, chop them up and store them in freezer so you can use them next time you make soups, stir-fries or stews.
4. Place healthy foods at eye level: To make sure healthy habits stick, it’s important to put some thought into the way you store your foods. From the pantry to the fridge, place the nutrient-dense items at eye level, front and center, and put any treats in the back. This way, the healthier foods will be the first thing you see when you are searching for something to eat.
5. Stock up on smarter snacks: Many of the packaged snack foods such as granola bars and cookies are not much better than a candy bar which offers very little nutrition. Instead, choose whole foods such as raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, portioned out cheese wedges, hard boiled eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and air popped popcorn for a hearty dose of protein and fibre to keep you fueled between your meals.