Think of spring cleaning when you think of spring? This time, why not go one better and spring clean your body, your mind and our precious planet?
Dietitian, Ravinder Lilly from Lilly’s Ethical Edibles shares eight kitchen hacks to help you eat smarter for you — and eat kinder for the planet.
1. Clean out your cupboards
Want to eat more healthily? Studies show that if they’re in your cupboards, you’re more likely to succumb to treats and less-than-healthy eats. There’s never been a better time to get cleaning. Clearing and reorganising will help put you in the mood for a more upbeat attitude and more positive routines.
Get processed picks such as chips chocolates and other junk out of your sight and your reach. Replace them with healthier alternatives — unsalted nuts, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit such as plums and mango, dark fair trade chocolate, natural popcorn, wholegrains, extra virgin olive oil, tapenades.
2. Go seasonal
As well as being better value, seasonal veges and fruits haven’t been hanging around in dark places for months on end, so they’re more likely to be higher in delicate vitamins such as C and folate (which are easily lost by exposure to air) — and that includes being stored for long periods. Buying local when you can is a great choice as it also means that your food has not had to travel as far as it might have to get to you with the potential large fuel miles and associated pollution.
3. Drink vege juices
Not all juices are created equal. Juices tend to get a bad rap because they tend to be high in sugar and lack fibre. But juice made from cold vegetables and low sugar fruits are rich in protective antioxidants without a sugar hike. If your tastebuds are expecting sweetness, these kinds of juice may not appeal. Tomato juice will give you a healthy kick of lycopene and there’s plenty of beta carotene in carrots. Try adding kale, spinach, pear, lemon, lime, and ginger. Like a bit more sweetness? Add a little pomegranate, prune or your favourite fruit juice. If your drink is sweet or very acidic though, swish around your mouth with water after drinking to remove sugar/acids and help your saliva do its mouth-cleansing work. Don’t brush, though — if enamel has been softened by acids, you could literally brush it away.
4. Look at the label
Manufacturers can be sneaky — adding all sorts of ingredients to your food. Even healthy options can include unwanted nasties. Take palm oil, for example, around 80 per cent of this is harvested from Malaysia and Indonesia and the massive demand for it is causing deforestation on a massive scale. Beautiful animals such as the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Asian rhinoceros are under threat of extinction because of it. Any label on a food — including vegetarian food — that contains saturated fat may contain either coconut oil or palm oil. Another name to watch out for is palmitic acid. If your food contains this, the safest option — for endangered animals — is to avoid it. Read more here.
5. Get organised
Could you set aside half an hour on a Sunday morning to plan meals and make up a shopping list? Allowing another hour or two to prepare/cook foods ready for the working week ahead. Curries are a great option — Indian types get better after a day or two as it gives the spices a chance to suffuse. For a delicious dish, find out more here. Or, make up a batch of curry paste for a quick dish. Or…
6. Enjoy fresh herbs
As far as quantities are concerned, you don’t tend to consume as much herbs as green veges, but they do pack a powerful nutritional punch. For example, coriander has been shown to remove heavy metals from the body, parsley is rich in immune boosting vitamin C, rosemary contains Rosmarinic acid that has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion (studies use extracts of Rosmarinic acid). You can add gorgeous fresh flavour with fresh herbs.
7. Search out seeds
Growing just a little of your own foods is easy — and can be surprisingly quick. You probably have seeds in your cupboard for cooking purposes — from coriander to fenugreek and mustard seeds, mung beans and chickpeas — all can be sprouted in a little damp soil on your windowsill. Sprouted seeds are very rich in vitamins such as vitamin C and protective plant pigments. Spring is a great time to start growing tomato seedlings. Either from seeds in the tomatoes you love or from the garden centre. Keeping them in the kitchen means they are always in your sight and can help you grow delicious, organic, healthy tomatoes in the comfort of your kitchen.
8. Vote for kindness
If you eat meat/eggs try to buy only humanely treated, pasture-raised meat and eggs. Try to eat more vegetarian/vegan meals — every choice you make can have a positive impact. Select only sustainable seafood. When selecting chocolate and coffee, look for the Fairtrade symbol. A kind word of compliment can make someone’s day. A kind deed can help them live a happier life. Or just live.