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"Let Food Be Thy Medicine"
May 2017
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Jean Varney
Jeannie Varney
 Nutrition Consultant


I hope you're enjoying spring! I love this time of year. Yards green, flowers bloom and the barren trees come to life as the longer, warmer days allow for more outdoor activities and fresh air. With the change in season, I notice my mood improves, my energy rebounds and my diet changes. The Farmers market is overflowing with seasonal greens, herbs, carrots, strawberries, radishes, beets, peas, onions, artichokes and asparagus and the fish market is swimming in wild caught, fresh seafood all of which take center stage in my diet. These cleansing foods replace the heavier animal products and starches that comfort my family in the colder months and help us shed the weight of the winter. They also prepare our bodies for the anticipated heat of the summer and cooling, hydrating fruits and vegetables that are in season come June.

Does your diet change with the season? If not, I encourage it. Doing so will help ensure you're getting the freshest and most nutrient dense, whole foods available. So often we fall into a pattern of eating the same breakfast and lunch - grabbing the same fruit for snack or filling our salad with the same lettuce and vegetables despite the time of year. This can lead to boredom and nutritional deficiencies. Each whole food offers a different nutritional profile, most of which we need to remain healthy. Yes, almonds are wonderful for us but cashews, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts offer a host of different nutrients which are also necessary. Ditto for greens. Kale is loaded with Vitamins K and C and even calcium, but Swiss chard, arugula, collards, Mache and spinach also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for our health.   Taking advantage of the natural variety of whole foods each season will keep your taste buds tantalized and your body properly fed.

Below I've listed some easy swaps to help you eat lighter and healthier while effortlessly shedding the winter layers. Try my suggestions for a month and see if you don't notice a spring in your step, a sunnier disposition and a smaller waistline.

Happy Spring,

Springtime Swaps!
Click here For Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables

Click here for Seasonal Seafood

Click here to locate a farmers' market near you

Try these Swaps:

Pasta: Swap all forms of pasta with zucchini or beet noodles - known as "zoodles." You can find them in the produce section of your local grocery store. Blanch them for just 90 seconds in boiling water, drain well and coat with pesto sauce. Top with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, onions and fresh tomatoes and pair with grilled or sautéed shrimp.

Rice: Substitute all varieties of rice with sautéed or steamed cauliflower rice. Most grocery stores carry bags of this pre-diced cruciferous veggie in the produce or freezer section.

Potatoes: Steam your cauliflower florets, drain and mash. Add some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and serve like you would mash potatoes. Your family won't know the difference. Replace your sweet and baked potatoes with roasted beets or roasted sugar snap peas. Olive oil, salt and pepper are all you need to make these spring gems a tasty side dish.

Craisins: Exchange the dried fruit in your salads with fresh strawberries, blackberries, apricots or watermelon. All are in season this time of year and readily available at your local grocery store. Pair your seasonal fruit with arugula or mache, avocado, pistachios, and grilled Vidalia onions and serve with sautéed scallops for a simple, seasonal and delicious dinner in just minutes.

Filets, ribeyes, lamb and pork chops: Replace these high fat red meats with a firm, steak-like fish. Tuna, swordfish or wild salmon top my list.  Douse each filet with fresh lemon juice, let sit for 5 minutes, generously cover with  Potlatch seasoning (salmon) or Denny Mike's seasoning (Swordfish) and bake for roughly 12 minutes in a 400 degree oven. For the tuna, simply salt and sear in olive oil and garlic.

Red meat - (Beef, lamb or pork): Visit your local fish market and pick up the bounties of the sea - wild caught halibut, sea bass, salmon, haddock, cod, rockfish, shrimp, oysters, squid and mussels are back in season. Replacing your red meat consumption with these omega 3 rich fish and seafood will reduce your risk of chronic and age related diseases not to mention help your waistline.

Breakfast cereals, bagels or pastries: If you haven't tried eggs from farm- raised chickens, treat yourself this spring. They're to die for and in abundance at farmers markets these days. Poach, scramble or fry and serve over a bed of steamed, fresh spinach. Top with avocado and enjoy!

Chili and meat based stews: These heavy soups are so comforting in the fall and winter but they slow us down come spring. Replace them with gazpacho, asparagus or veggie soup that's loaded with carrots, onions, corn, celery, zucchini, tomatoes and fava beans. Pair a bowl of homemade soup with freshly harvested oysters, mussels or piece of fish for a light and refreshing dinner.

Salt: While a sprinkle of salt can enhance the flavor of most foods, especially vegetables, most of us need to watch our intake. Too much can lead to elevated blood pressure. Try cutting back on your intake by squeezing your fish, seafood and vegetables/salads with fresh lemon and herbs. My favorite springtime herbs are flat parsley, basil, mint and cilantro.

Other suggestions, consider:

Carrots, snow peas and cucumbers instead of pita bread with hummus
Celery instead of chips with salsa
Grilled portabella mushroom caps as turkey burger buns
Lightly sautéed squid, oysters, crab, shrimp cocktail or mussels as an appetizer
Watermelon for dessert
Fresh strawberries instead of raisins in your oatmeal
Fresh apricots instead of crackers with low fat cheese

This article is for informational purposes only, is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is not a substitute for medical advice.
Recipes of the Month

About Jean Varney 
Jean Varney is the founder and president of Eat Right, Be Fit, Live Well LLC, a health and nutrition consulting firm committed to empowering men and women to improve their health through sustainable changes to their diet and lifestyle.  Based in the Washington DC metropolitan area, Jean coaches clients nationwide by phone and in person.  She focuses on helping individuals make smart choices about the foods they eat in order to maintain high energy levels, avoid unwanted weight gain and decrease their risk of heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes and other chronic illnesses.  Jean received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City.  To learn more about her practice, please visit her website at: