Kitchen Confidence column: Spring cleaning for the body |

Kitchen Confidence column: Spring cleaning for the body

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 mention. One is releasing habits acquired over the winter, and the other is including foods that have cleansing qualities.

Eating Habits

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 and 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.

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.” So, right here, right now, why not make a decision to reduce your sugar consumption by half? 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.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Bitter flavor

In addition to paying attention to what’s going into our bodies, it is also important to support our body’s 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. Along with asparagus, celery and rapini, a great seasonal source of bitter flavor is dandelion greens. Look for these springtime treasures in the produce department, most likely in the organic section. These seasonal items are only available for a few weeks, so get them 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 them with a glazed fish fillet.

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, cooks and writes about food. He has several of his books on Amazon and writes a blog called The Confidence Diet at Send comments to

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