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Spring Cleaning Your Diet

Charlyn Fargo on

Living in the Midwest with its range of seasons, I have the annual task of switching my closet from the current sweaters and turtlenecks (surprisingly, black and gray) to the lighter, brighter T-shirts 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 cutting back on 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 closet, we often want to add a new spring outfit. With our spring diet, think about trying a new fruit or vegetable. Try the new kiwi berry (no fuzz, super sweet, like a big grape) or some 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 clean 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 people who skipped breakfast had more fatty buildup in their arteries, an early sign of heart disease.

If weight loss is one of your spring goals, pull back on portions. Use a smaller plate, share a dinner or save half for tomorrow's lunch. 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 to all organ systems. Swap it in for a soda, jazz it up with lemon or lime or add some fresh mint.

Spring is also a great time to clean out the fridge and pantry. Clean it out with an eye for health. Ditch the chips and try those 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 will save you calories, sodium and money -- and you'll be ready to enjoy the spring weather.

Q and A

Q: Should I wash my greens even if they are in packages that say they are "prewashed"?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 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 the outer leaves of cabbages and lettuce heads and rinse the remaining greens under running water, rubbing them gently to help get rid of dirt and germs. The CDC does not recommend soaking, as that may allow germs from one leaf to spread to other leaves. And the CDC does not recommend using produce wash, soap or any other chemicals on foods.

RECIPE

If you've got a skillet and 15 minutes, you can make this healthy chicken, asparagus and mushroom skillet. It's from Allrecipes magazine.

CHICKEN, ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM SKILLET

Servings: 4

2 tablespoons butter

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (8-ounce) package button mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds

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

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cups hot cooked brown rice

Heat 1 tablespoon each 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 and asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes more. Remove from skillet. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon each butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 to 7 minutes per side, until browned and a thermometer registers 165 F. Remove chicken from skillet and slice into strips. Stir wine, parsley, basil, oregano and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt into skillet. Simmer over medium heat for 30 seconds. Stir in mushrooms and asparagus; cook until heated through. Serve vegetables with chicken strips and cooked rice. Serves 4. Serving size: 5 ounces chicken, 1 cup vegetables and 1/2 cup rice.

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

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

 

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