March 20th marks the first day of Spring and a great reminder to dust off those new year’s resolutions and good intentions for the year and make some positive changes. It’s been a rough year for many, and it’s easier than ever to get stuck in a rut. Give yourself a boost by spring cleaning your diet and lifestyle with these top tips.
1. Clear out your cupboards and refrigerator
Did you panic buy last year and end up with a bunch of foods that you’ll never actually eat? Maybe you bought a lifetime’s supply of your favourite comfort foods and are now regretting it, having consumed more chips, biscuits, and sweets than you thought possible. Either way, now is a great time to take an inventory of your pantry and refrigerator and make some firm decisions on what is and isn’t serving you well.
If you have the space, move overstock items to a storage area in your home, removing the temptation to consume things just because they’re right in front of you. And take everything you won’t ever consume to the food bank or gift to family, friends, and neighbours with a doorstep drop-off (after checking!).
2. Stock up on fresh, lighter fare for a healthy Spring and Summer
After you’ve done a great job clearing out your pantry and refrigerator, reward yourself with some healthy fresh foods and staples to make lighter, healthier meals. Quinoa, bulgur wheat, chickpeas, and beans are great choices for the pantry as you can use these to make a base for a big spring salad and add lean protein to satisfy your appetite for longer. Combine with sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, grapes, cucumber, and fresh lettuce and spinach with thinly sliced carrot for a delicious and nutritious meal that’s super easy to throw together after a long day.
3. Shake up the routine with some helpful Sunday prep work
If work, home schooling, and all the other pressures of this last year have turned dinner time into chaos and confusion, consider starting a Sunday prep session. This is a great way to get a jump on the week and engage your kids and other family members with help in one short stint.
Easy enough to do, with tasks suitable for (almost) everybody of every age, this involves rinsing and chopping vegetables, soaking and cooking beans and grains, and creating individual containers with all the ‘to-go’ ingredients to throw together a healthy meal in no time at all. With some Sunday prep of sauce, pasta, and chopped vegetables, you can get a delicious, crowd-pleasing, veggie-packed vegan mac and cheese on the table in less than 15 minutes! Ketchup optional, of course. Some other meals that can be super fast with a little prep:
- Veggie tofu stir fry
- Three bean salad
- Rice paper salad rolls and peanut dip
- Roast vegetable gratin
The same trick works for breakfast too. Make overnight oats and have fresh fruit ready chopped for a fast, nutritious breakfast every morning. You might even consider mixing up a protein powder, spirulina powder, or other green food powder in a single Mason jar and cutting down the time it takes to make a smoothie.
4. Start a cookbook club
You probably don’t want more screentime, but one lovely way to stay connected with friends and family is to cook together! At a distance, of course.
If you have a friend who loves to cook, figure out a recipe you can all make together while you catch up on the week’s events. Instead of just staring at the screen, this makes things feel more like a regular old hangout and takes the pressure off. It’s also much nicer for kids, who can pop in and out of the conversation without hogging the screen to pull faces and use filters (we all know it’s true!). By planning ahead and getting the ingredients you need to cook together, you can all share the same delicious meal and maybe even discover new foods!
5. Treat yourself to some new sports gear
Being cooped up at home has made it hard for many of us to exercise, but with warmer weather coming and more people getting vaccinated, there’s hope (and spring!) in the air. Be careful not to overdo things on that first sunny, warm day though. And make sure to have the right gear for the occasion.
This might mean investing in a new pair of running shoes that offers proper cushioning for your first 5 K, or getting your bike checked over by a local bike mechanic before embarking on a cycle into the countryside. If hiking is more your thing, check that your shoes are still waterproof and comfortable and then get out there and enjoy the restorative power of nature!
6. Grow your own (herbs)
Finally, if you’re trying to cut down on sugar and salt from readymade sauces and seasonings, growing your own herbs is a great way to go. This also makes for a fun project for kids, with good options including basil, dill, coriander (cilantro), and parsley. For younger kids, cress, chives, and radish sprouts come up quickly and are fun to grow. All of these herbs add fresh flavour to meals while adding few calories, and growing herbs at home can help save money and foster a lifelong love of fresh home-grown food.