Spring cleaning your diet | News from the town of Ponça

Living in the Midwest with its array of seasons, I have the annual task of changing my closet from the current sweaters and turtlenecks (surprisingly, black and gray) to lighter, brighter tees and skirts.

It’s also a great time to spring clean your diet by rethinking old eating habits, making healthy food swaps, and rethinking food choices.

Start by reducing your intake of alcohol, added sugars, salt and refined grains (think cakes and cookies). Then you can add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and probiotics.

With our wardrobe, we often want to add a new spring outfit. With our spring diet, consider trying a new fruit or vegetable. Try the new kiwi berry (no fuzz, super sweet, like a big grape) or roasted chickpeas (Bombay spice or lightly salted). Both are fun and healthy. For healthy fats, try avocados, nuts, eggs, salmon, tuna, olive oil, or dark chocolate.

Start your spring cleaning with a healthy breakfast. A good breakfast fuels your day, and studies show that eating breakfast can help prevent weight gain. A 2017 study in Spain found that people who skipped breakfast had more fat buildup in their arteries, an early sign of heart disease.

If weight loss is one of your spring goals, reduce portions. Use a smaller plate, split a dinner, or save half for lunch the next day. Mindful eating — taking more time to chew and explore tastes and textures — can help with weight loss.

Add another bottle of water to your spring routine as well. Water is vital for all organic systems. Replace it with a soda, spice it up with lemon or lime or add fresh mint.

Spring is also the perfect time to clean out the fridge and pantry. Clean it with an eye for health. Ditch the fries and try these roasted chickpeas (6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving).

And since it’s spring, heat up the grill and cook at home instead of going out. It’ll save you calories, sodium, and money — and you’ll be ready to enjoy the spring weather.

Q&A

Q: Do I need to wash my greens even if they are in packages that say they are “pre-washed”?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that prewashed leafy greens in packages that say “ready to eat”, “triple washed” or “no washing necessary” do not need to be washed again. For all other greens, washing is important. Remove any torn or bruised leaves and outer leaves from sprouts and lettuce heads and rinse remaining vegetables under running water, rubbing gently to help get rid of dirt and germs. The CDC does not recommend soaking because it can allow germs from one leaf to spread to other leaves. And the CDC does not recommend using detergent, soap, or any other chemicals on food.

RECIPE

If you have a skillet and 15 minutes, you can make this healthy Chicken, Asparagus and Mushroom Skillet. It’s from Allrecipes magazine.

PAN OF CHICKEN, ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOMS

Servings: 4 2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package (8 ounces) button mushrooms, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and quartered

4 (6 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cups hot cooked brown rice

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown and asparagus are bright green and tender, about 3 minutes more. Remove from skillet. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook, 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until golden brown and a thermometer reads 165 F. Remove the chicken from the pan and cut it into strips. Stir the wine, parsley, basil, oregano and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt into the skillet. Simmer over medium heat for 30 seconds. Stir in mushrooms and asparagus; cook until heated through. Serve the vegetables with chicken strips and cooked rice. For 4 people. Serving: 5 ounces of chicken, 1 cup of vegetables and 1/2 cup of rice.

Per serving: 475 calories; 45 grams of protein; 30 grams of carbohydrates; 18 grams of fat (6 grams saturated); 4 grams of fiber; 4 grams of sugars; 567 milligrams of sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at charfarg@aol.com or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To learn more about Charlyn Fargo and read articles by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

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