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Kitchen Confidence: Spring cleaning for the body (column)

Grilling asparagus is a fast and delicious way to cook it.
Courtesy Tom Castrigno |

Spring cleaning is one of those things that we resist doing but feel so good after it’s done. When it comes to our eating habits and personal health and well-being, there are two factors that I’d like to talk about here. One is releasing habits acquired over the winter, and the other is including foods that have cleansing qualities. But first, let’s revisit why improving eating habits is important to each of us.

For me, my main motivation to embrace healthful eating habits is I know I just feel so much better when I eat well. I have more energy to do the things I love, such as being outdoors in the mountains. My sleep is restful each night, and body aches or stiffness is pretty much limited to those occasions when I overdo it a little in the physical activity department. Because I rarely get sick, the happy side effect is that I spend little to nothing on over-the-counter medications or doctor’s visits. Enjoying a high quality of life and saving money on health care are two very big “Whys” to give me the confidence to practice conscious eating.

Now, about releasing poor habits we may have acquired over the winter. The biggest one for a lot of people is sugar. Do you find that you tend to eat more desserts during the cold months of the season? That could be because they are simply more available throughout the holidays (which now stretch all the way from Halloween through Easter) or because we are generally attracted to the sweet flavor during colder periods. How about drinking more coffee or tea? I would guess it’s sweetened with cream and sugar. Maybe worse, some type of flavored syrup.

As humans, we have this little voice called our ego that is always trying to protect itself. It resists change heavily. It might say, ‘this isn’t a good day to cut sugar, Aunt Susie just baked me this delicious pie and it would be disrespectful to her not to eat all of it. Tomorrow’s a better day.’ Or any variation of arguments to keep the status quo. So, right here, right now, why not make a decision to reduce your sugar consumption by half. Just begin to pay attention to where sugar is hiding in the foods you’re eating each day. Then begin to reduce the amount you are eating by cutting back on the sugar-laden foods or simply using less when you add it to foods yourself.

In addition to paying attention to what’s going into our bodies, it is also important to support our bodies ability to flush out old accumulation and residue from poor eating choices. One of the primary flavors that can aid this process is the bitter flavor. As Americans, bitter is the flavor least present in our diet. Aside from asparagus, celery or rapini, a great seasonal source of bitter flavor is dandelion greens. Look for them in the produce department, most likely in the organic section. This is a seasonal item only available for a few weeks, so get it while you can.

Like many leafy greens, dandelion greens benefit from light cooking. Simply wilting them in a pan is often enough to make them tender and tasty. A splash of cider vinegar can help liven them up. Once prepared, they make a great bed to serve your favorite protein over. Personally, I enjoy a glazed fish fillet. You can see a YouTube cooking demo here https://youtu.be/vFQIx4EexXU.

Armed with the confidence of a two-step approach, spring cleansing can be a gentle and easy way to keep your health strong. Trust me, once you get past the resistance your ego will try to put up you’ll feel so much better and glad that you did.

Tom Castrigno from Frisco, Colorado, cooks and writes about food. Tom has several of his books on Amazon and writes a blog called “The Confidence Diet,” at theconfidencediet.com. Send comments to Tom@AmobilechefCO.com.


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