Spring offers us a great opportunity – it gives us the chance to bid adieu to the worries of winter and bring about a new sense of self for the fresh season. Instead of working around the house and doing our annual cleaning, we should focus on cleaning up ourselves, and the best way to start is with some modest modifications in our eating habits.

Sweeten without sugartomatoes-stuffed

Instead of sugar, opt for agave nectar instead. It works perfectly in sauces, dressings and even for caramelizing. In baking, reduce the wet ingredients by 25 per cent, and use about 2 /3 less amount of agave nectar than the sugar that it is called for. It can be exchanged 1:1 with honey or other liquid sweeteners. Dates, in their natural sweetness, also can be pureed with water to make a paste making a perfect sugar alternative.

Bye-bye boiling

When you boil your vegetables in a pot of water, you lose the majority of the nutrients in the liquid (which often just gets dumped down the drain). Try roasting your vegetables instead — not only does it keep the nutrients in the vegetables where they belong, but it also creates brand new flavours you’d never know existed in your produce.

Cut the cream

Swap heavy creams in sauces with non-dairy milks instead; they are thicker than skim milk and cholesterol free. Use ample flavour, like fresh herbs and garlic, and thicken with arrowroot or whole grain flours.

Veganize your meals

If you aren’t already following a vegan diet, try incorporating a vegan meal into your week, minimally thrice weekly. Eating vegan isn’t just animal-friendly, but also greatly reduces the impact on the environment. For example, in 2007 The American Science Journal reported that a kilogram of beef emits the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide as a car does driving 250 kilometres combined with simultaneously burning an 100-watt light-bulb for 20 days. A vegan meal also provides positive health benefits; reducing animal ingredients also greatly reduces cholesterol and saturated fat in the diet.

Factor in your fats

Healthy fats — the unsaturated variety — are found abundantly in nuts and seeds. Almonds are rich in fibre, walnuts pack in omega 3s, and pumpkin seeds have been touted to lower cholesterol — and this is only a sample of the success from a little daily nut snacking. Switch out your saturated fats and replace them with the heart-healthy varieties.

Make your side dishes rainbow worthy

Choose a wide variety of colours on your plate every day. A good rule of thumb? Include, minimally, one serving of a dark leafy green (like kale or spinach) and bring in orange vegetables (such as squash or carrots) daily to ensure vitamin intake from all across the board.

Don’t neglect anything new

A little wary about warming up to new cuisine? It’s time you set those thoughts aside and sampled something a little out of your comfort zone. Foods rich in vegetable-based ingredients, fresh herbs and intriguing spices always result in a recipe for success — and they just might need a little tweaking to fit your tastes.

A few simple switches, an open mind, trying new tastes and adopting new techniques can result in big changes that help rejuvenate you alongside the new season. Not sure where to begin? Email us with your questions or post them below, and we’ll post a Q & A with some more tips.

Image courtesy of foodtv.ca

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