Spring is in the air and for many of us that means spring cleaning our home and gardens. But our bodies and daily lives need attention too!
From the moment I breathed in the sweet, fresh air of my mother’s garden in England, I felt connected to nature. Funny how it all started with a garden. For many, the love of food comes from the kitchen, but for me, it all started with the growing. I spent as much time as I could in that delicious wonderland, picking raspberries, cherry tomatoes and finding new flavors to play with in the kitchen. As a child, I was enchanted by the tastes and flavors available but then things changed and that natural goodness of food seemed to get lost. When I went to the grocery store I was struck by how similar everything looked. I was greeted with miles of one type of tomato when I entered the produce section. Why weren’t the varieties, colors and flavors that I knew existed available here? This new idea of how food should appear seemed to be eclipsing that and I became impassioned to show that great tasting food starts with a single seed.
This passion inspired me to write my first book, “Gorgeously Green” and tour the country teaching others to live a joyously healthy lifestyle. It was important to find, discover and support other initiatives that were helping people connect to the foods they were eating, like the Seeds of Change Grant Program. Getting more people comfortable with growing foods and taking their meals from the seed to the plate is an exciting adventure I am thrilled to be on.
It’s simple to start that journey with my simple steps to spring clean your diet and your life.
- Learn to appreciate “slow food” and the care and time it takes to grow just one carrot. We often take food for granted but when we grow our own, we start to realize how precious fresh, organic food really is. So, instead of store-purchased vegetables, take the time to grow your own. If you are just starting your own garden, herbs are a great way to learn to grow.
- The most important thing is that green living is 100 percent about health. It’s not something out there somewhere, it’s as close as the products you put on your skin and the food you put in your body. Try alternating your food by swapping out well-known foods for ones that may not be as main stream but can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Swap out dairy-based cheeses for almond cheese or cashew cheese. Almond cheese in particular is very nutrient dense, high in protein, calcium and healthy fats.
- Swap out eggs for chia and flax seeds when baking. These superfoods are filled with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
- Swap out your beef patties for portobello mushrooms in burgers and other grilling. They are high in nutrients, low in calories, a great source of fiber and are fat-free.
- Swap out chicken for tempeh. Made from soybeans, tempeh is low in fat, high in protein, fiber and essential antioxidants.
- Swap out butter for coconut oil when baking. Coconut oil contains essential fatty acids and antioxidants that help in the absorption of other minerals. It also has heart healthy benefits.
- Bring Zen into your life. Disconnect from your phone and computer and connect to what is real. We are constantly connected these days by phones, computers and television that sometimes we need to turn all of these things off, disconnect from the static and truly reflect on the goodness and beauty that is around us.
- Better the lives of those in your community. Get involved with your local community garden or start one of your own.
- Make it a habit to look beyond the “organic” label and read the full ingredient list of every food and skin care product you purchase. Products with 70-95 percent organic ingredients may use the USDA Organic label.
- Organic living can make you healthier and save you money if you are smart about it. Switching to a plant-based diet, especially one you grow yourself saves you a great deal financially and these savings you can invest in organic produce from a local farmer’s market or ordering a CSA farm box delivery.
- Don’t underestimate small changes. Try a refillable water bottle in place of a one-time use plastic bottle. Refillable water bottles are environmentally friendly and are a great way to move towards sustainable living. Many people believe that bottled water is cleaner water but that is simply not true. Plastic water bottles can contain BPA which is harmful to your health while refillable bottles are BPA free.
- Last but not least, have fun living an organic, green life. It truly is a delicious and wondrous one!
Sophie Uliano is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and green and healthy living expert.
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