We all get stuck in food ruts when we eat the same thing day after day, leaving us feeling bored and unmotivated with our meal plan.
Even though we’re bored, sometimes it’s easier to stay in the rut than to get out and try something new because it takes a little effort.
With warmer temperatures around the corner, it’s a great time to break free from the winter food rut. It’s a perfect time of year to “spring clean” your diet. That means out with the heavy winter foods and in with lighter, healthier eats.
The solution is to eat foods that are in season. This allows you to eat foods that have greater nutritional values, and your diet changes based on the time of the year. It has allowed us to thrive for thousands of years, so why change it now?
Spring is a great time to focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent the fresh, new growth of the season. Greens to add to your plate include Swiss chard, spinach, romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, basil and asparagus. Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber – nutrients that many people don’t get enough of. Eating more salads or lightly sautéing them are great ways to get them into your meal plan.
Keep in mind that in Colorado, harvest times vary from year to year depending on frosts, pests, temperatures, snowfall and rainfall. Naturally, in the warmest years, seasons start earlier and last longer. In colder years, harvest times begin later and end sooner.
Eating food in season will save you money because it is more abundant. For example, you’ll pay a hefty price for asparagus in the winter. In spring, it is abundant and affordable.
Food in season typically has a higher nutrient punch. The foods with the most nutritional value are those picked after being ripened under the warm sunshine. However, our food is usually picked early and ripened in a warehouse or shipping truck while in transit to the local grocery store. By the time the produce makes it to your refrigerator crisper, the fruit or veggie has been in transit for some time. This is why store-bought bananas turn brown or apples get mushy or strawberries mold so quickly. The components of the fruit or vegetable start to break down. This is food chemistry at its finest.
I challenge you to buy local greens this season and pay attention to how much longer they last compared to your store-bought, bagged salad greens.
Finding your spring eats locally is the healthiest way to go. It’s also a great way to support your local farmers and economy. There are a few options you can explore. First, you can visit your local farmers market during the growing season. Another option is to participate in a community share agriculture program, which lets you subscribe to foods grown at a certain farms. Both options have you buying healthier food directly from the farmer. Not only are they in season and packed with vitamins and minerals, but this keeps you out of a food rut as you discover amazing foods you didn’t even know you liked.
Fran Sutherlin, RD, MS is a local registered dietitian, digestive health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.