The time change bringing longer days, brighter sunshine and warmer weather is an annual reminder that change is an inevitable part of our humanity. After the cold and dryer season, let’s embrace the fresh personality of Spring. Like the spring bulbs stretching up from the ground, let’s also stretch and take inventory of where we can add movement, fresh ingredients, and refreshment to our routines.
Taking inventory of what is in your refrigerator and your pantry, and more importantly, the foods you are consuming is the first step to spring cleaning your meal routine. In Traditional Chinese medicine as well as Eastern medicine practices such as Ayurveda, the transition in seasons and temperature changes recommendations for how to consume foods. Spring is a season where more raw foods are tolerated. Since most fresh spring greens and vegetables are stored in your refrigerator, let’s start here. As you look inside, stand back and survey the contents:
- Review your condiments: Go through all the condiments and remove those items with high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and anything with food coloring (color additives) or artificial preservatives. Partially hydrogenated oils contain heart-unhealthy trans-fats; and, artificial coloring agents and artificial preservatives can aggravate Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. There are so many new higher quality condiments that are not made with refined vegetable oils such as soybean and canola oil. Next time you are at the grocery store, look for Primal or Paleo condiments that use avocado oil and olive oil as their primary oils to replace old mainstays. As you evaluate your condiments, look at the expiration dates and discard expired products or that you do not use.
- Deep Clean Your Refrigerator: After you have edited your condiment selection the next step to spring cleaning your refrigerator is to pull out all of your food and place it in a cooler while you give your shelves and drawers a good clean. We recommend trying a chemical-free cleaning solution made from ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen: https://helloglow.co/how-to-deep-clean-your-refrigerator-and-disinfect-deodorize-it/. If you need extra help deodorizing your refrigerator, think about using essential oils, lemon juice, or coffee grounds to neutralize odor and prepare your refrigerator as well as your senses for the healthy season ahead.
- Choose Grandma’s Butter or Best Quality Vegan Alternatives: We do not recommend butter spreads such as margarine because they often contain processed vegetable oils and historically have been a leading source of Partially Hydrogenated Oils. If you are not sensitive to butter, we recommend organic grass-fed or pasture rasied butter or ghee (used in moderation) as a healthier option. If you are sensitive to dairy, Earth Balance Buttery Spread or Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Butter are delicious butter substitutes and are readily available in most grocery stores! You can also try cooking with cold- or first-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil. Buy brands in dark glass or opaque containers, to prevent light from oxidizing the oil. Do not buy “light” or reduced-fat versions, and store your olive oil in a dark, cool spot in your pantry.
- Glass storage is best for food: Glass containers have several benefits and are a nice update for a clean refrigerator. They are a time saver, as they allow for a quick visual assessment of what food you are storing. We only recommend reheating or freezing meals in glass rather than plastic because there is no concern about the release of harmful chemicals (like BPA and phthalates) into your food. While the initial cost of glass containers can be more expensive, they will outlast and outperform their plastic counterparts. Glass doesn’t bend or melt in the dishwasher or microwave, and unlike plastic, it doesn’t stain. In the long run, glass is more cost-effective and more environmentally responsible since you won’t throw it away as often.
For more help on stocking your refrigerator with whole foods, schedule an appointment with our dietitian, Katherine Mattox today.
We have some cookbooks available in the AIM Lifestyle Store to help educate you on how to prepare your kitchen, prepare vegetables, and that are full of gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or soy- and egg-free recipes.
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook & Nourishing Meals are both authored by Tom Malterre MS, CN, and Ali Segersten. You can find some of their recipes and read their blog at http://www.nourishingmeals.com/.
We also love The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini for those who want to add more vegetables into their meals or those looking for new ways to prepare vegetables to eat!