Spring Cleaning, Kitchen-Style

Original was written to be featured on another site, and can be viewed here:  http://www.foodnutritionscience.com/articles/spring-cleaning,-kitchen-style/

Spring cleaning season is here! Instead of just swapping out wardrobes and cleaning house, this year, add your kitchen to the list! Whether losing those winter pounds, training for a run, or just trying to keep up with the kids, changing the menu to healthier fare can help that summer wardrobe fit as well as it did last year while boosting energy at the same time. With a little creativity, the menu can go from winter weary to spring time cheery in no time!
·       Cool down the menu as the mercury starts to rise: Wintry menus with steaming hot soup, chili, and stew can be swapped for a cool solution! Fill that soup bowl with crisp springtime favorites, like a mixed green salad topped with snap peas, or roasted asparagus served up next to a lemony chicken. Swapping sides can bring that fresh springtime season to the table. Crisp vegetables and naturally sweet fruit provide springtime color and loads of nutrients to any menu.
·       Seasonal sensations: Celebrate the season at every meal by choosing seasonal fruits and vegetables! Stir favorites into pasta dishes for a springy primavera, toss into salads for extra crunch, and keep casseroles on the menu for a quick way to get a balanced meal on the table with veggies included. Picky eaters won’t mind the extra nutrient boost in meatloaf with diced tomatoes or mashed potatoes (with skins left on for more fiber) and a bit of sweet potato (for extra beta carotene). And don’t forget the fruit! Bitter greens become sweeter with sliced strawberries or oranges. Plus, the iron is better absorbed from the greens when matched with the vitamin C in these fruits. Keep it simple for snacks and serve delicious whole fruits or crisp veggies with a light ranch dressing.
·       Fight entertaining doldrums: Keep snacks and entertaining as fresh as spring! Try mixing a zippy salsa with drained, canned black beans served with carrot chips or baked tortilla chips. Nothing says gourmet like roasted asparagus spears, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and bell pepper or zucchini strips brushed with a small amount of olive oil and herbs. Guests will rave, but it’s easy enough to spruce up any weeknight meal, too.Freshen the palate with fruit, and more fruit. Lighten up the heavy winter menu simply by adding sliced fruit served with a low fat vanilla yogurt for dipping. Kabob a snack by alternating light cheese cubes, strawberries, pineapple chunks, and grapes for a fun presentation with two food groups present. Kabobs are also great with veggies roasted on the grill for those unseasonably warm early springtime days, too.
·       Dress up dessert: Make fruit fun by calling it dessert! Layer fresh berries with a frozen whipped topping, or sprinkle fresh fruit and granola over low fat ice cream. As an elegant treat, serve frozen fruit salad (without syrup or sauce) right from the freezer in a parfait glass garnished with fresh mint. Another fun way to get fruit on the menu? Freeze fruit like grapes or berries into 100% juice ice cubes, and then stir into a sparkling water or unsweetened tea. This great idea makes eating fruit fun.

 Here’s an easy recipe to get you started on your spring kitchen cleaning:

 Springtime Ham and Spinach Salad
Submitted by: Didi Fraioli, courtesy of http://www.allrecipes.com
Servings: 6
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse grained prepared mustard
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked ham, cubed
  • 8 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup diced cantaloupe
  • ½ cup diced peaches, drained
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced


1.    In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, juice, vinegar, mustard and pepper.
2.    In a large bowl, toss together the ham, spinach, cantaloupe, peaches and onion. Pour dressing over all and toss to coat. Serve immediately.