Spring clean your diet

Spring clean your diet

Many of us spring clean our houses but how many of us spring clean our diets? Perhaps it’s time to add a few new elements to your diet this season.

Spinach
Ignoring it’s reputation for fuelling Popeye and being a superfood, spinach is called a superfood for a reason: It's packed with vitamins A, C and K, which are essential for eye health, immune function and many other body processes. Spinach also contains folate and iron, which help prevent anemia.

Serve spinach salads or sautéed with meat and fish. Spinach has a mild flavour so aboid putting it with strong flavours which will dominate unless you want to in which case it makes a great addition in soups, sauces and meat dishes to get children to eat vegetables.

Spring onions
A simple vegetable which makes a salad or dip seem so much more than it is. A yoghurt dip is dull, a yoghurt dip with spring onions finely chopped is sophisticated. Salad? Boring salad with spring onions added has just enough zest to lift it to be something more. It’s a really simple food and yet one which adds so much to even the simplest of meals.

Yoghurt
OK obviously yoghurt is available all times of the year but it goes well with so many foods that people think of as spring foods. Rich in calcium and protein. Greek yoghurt is a more intense flavour richer in protein but poorer in calcium. I’ve never been a great fan of Greek yoghurt, preferring to use yoghurt as a base for recipes and dips in which case it needs to carry those other flavours in it’s texture and not overwhelm them. It is also reputed to promote good digestion and intestinal bacteria (which revolting as it might sound is a good thing). So forget the fancy expensive yoghurt drink supplements and just but a large tub of natural yoghurt for a fraction of the price.

Strawberries
This isn’t really a spring food but with modern farming and huge greenhouses the season now starts in spring and not sometime around Winbledon. Which is great because strawberries are packed with vitamins and minerals and so acceptable to almost everyone that you could probably even persuade a fussy child to eat them.

Great eaten plain or with other foods but look beyond the traditional strawberries and cream. If you have the luxury of a greenhouse probably the best way to east them is fresh and warm off the bush. For the rest of us try adding them to desserts to move simple sweet desserts into something a bit more interesting or put them with yoghurt for a breakfast that is healthy but will feel indulgent.

Asparagus 
Excellent for vitamins and iron and available in a whole range of varieties. The one catch is that asparagus must be fresh and that means nothing imported, preferably nothing from the supermarket and ideally something you picked yourself. For a simple starter just lightly saute and serve with garlic butter, for a more adventurous starter serve with quails eggs and garlic mayonnaise but in all cases the rule Is don’t overdo it. Asparagus is the star here and it doesn’t need too much added to it.

With the exception of the yoghurt the key thing in spring eating is freshness. These are not the long term winter storage foods of potatoes, beets and swedes which are excellent for storage and carbohydrates. These are the food exquivalent of opening your windows and getting a breath of fresh air after sealing the house up over winter. So avoid the imports, avoid the supermarkets and buy fresh.