Spring, diet and good health

It’s springtime!!!! One of the first things that many people think of when the weather starts warming up in Colorado is fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables.

In the last 10 years or so, there has been a huge growth in community gardens, growing your own food in containers if you don’t have space at home and going to local farmer’s markets that have cropped up in many parking lots and central plazas.

The great thing about all of this is it shows just how many people are looking toward nature for their food sources – and not the processed food aisle of the grocery stores.

Let’s look at some spring produce and fruit and learn how they can help you feel good and live with better health.

So how much is enough?

As Americans, we are taught the USDA food pyramid at a relatively young age (see http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ ). And over the years it’s shifted and bounced around a bit.

But overall, the pyramid has always shown that we should be eating 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. 5-9. That’s not a typo. Half of your plate at every meal should have produce or fruit on it.

Here’s the reason: fruits and veggies are low in calories, high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals.

Eating 5-9 servings daily is difficult for many people. Excuses, busy schedules, eating on the run, junk foods – they all conspire to keep us from getting enough nutrients into our diets. And that’s not good.

the solution?

Make vegetables and fruits easy to eat at home. Many of them – especially the spring ones – don’t need refrigeration. They are good to put into a fruit bowl on a counter or table for quick pick-me-ups. Apricots, cherries, mangoes, oranges – all are great for snacking.

And keeping spring mix lettuces, artichokes, asparagus, green beans, pineapple, honeydew, spinach, broccoli or Vidalia onions in your refrigerator is a great way to quickly make salads, side dishes and additions to egg dishes.

It’s easy to cut up a honeydew or watermelon and put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Then you can just scoop up a spoonful into a bowl when you are hungry. You can also make vegetables easy to cook and eat for the next few days. Cut and prep them, put them in containers or bags, and you have less to do while cooking.

Most nutritionists will say to “eat the rainbow.” This means the more color on your plate, the more nutrients, vitamins and minerals you will intake. So, keep it colorful and it will keep you healthy.

what are spring fruits and vegetables, Anyway?

Given the bounty that our country grows and imports for produce annually, you might not realize what are some of the vegetables and fruits that grow best during certain seasons. For spring – look at your choices.

Vegetables

Artichokes                              Fava Beans                  Red Leaf Lettuce

Asparagus                              Fennel                          Snow Peas

Belgian Endive                       Green Beans                Spinach

Broccoli                                  Morel Mushrooms         Spring Baby Lettuce

Butter Lettuce                        Mustard Greens             Swiss Chard

Chives                                    Pea Pods                       Vidalia Onions

Collard Greens                       Peas                              Watercress

Corn                                       Radicchio                       White Asparagus    

Fruits

Apricots                                  Jack Fruit                        Oranges

Barbados Cherries                 Limes                              Pineapple

Bitter Melon                            Lychee                            Rhubarb

Honeydew                              Mango                            Strawberries

a recipe to put spring in your step

Reading this post can make you a little hungry, so here is a recipe bound to make you feel good.

Spring Asparagus Salad

25 minutes/ 6 servings/ 95 calories

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Add all ingredients to list

 

  • Whisk together the rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and mustard. Drizzle in the peanut oil and sesame oil while whisking vigorously to emulsify. Set aside.
  • Bring a pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus to the water and cook 3 to 5 minutes until just tender, but still mostly firm. Remove and rinse under cold water to stop from cooking any further.
  • Place the asparagus in a large bowl and drizzle the dressing over the asparagus. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

Nutrition Facts:

Per Serving: 95 calories; 7.6 g fat; 5.8 g carbohydrates; 2.8 g protein; 0 mg cholesterol; 73 mg sodium. 

 

Start the Season on the Right Foot

There are so many ways of adding more fruit and vegetables to your day that it will soon become second nature to you.

You can even go so far as to “hide” vegetables in meals for your picky eaters. You can make a pasta dish, toss in berries, broccoli or spinach. Flavor dishes with fruits and vegetables rather than dressings and dips. Freezing fruit is also a great way to enjoy nature’s candy in the evenings, and cauliflower rice is a newer and tastier way to reduce carb intake by replacing with a vegetable source.

Keep your glucose in check by going lighter on the fruits and heavier on the vegetables to reduce sugar intake.

Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

 

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