Dishing up Easy Recipes and Forkin' Fun
How to: Spring Clean Your Diet

How to: Spring Clean Your Diet

"Spring is natures way of saying 'Let's party.'"
-Robin Williams

Some party. Taking her lead from the chipper, chirping birdies, my ever-so-peppy sister has saddled me with the cruelest of challenges…for 7 days, I’ll be forced to chuck the junk and start eating chia, along with 9 other mega-healthy, often overlooked bird foods.

Though I’m never one to back down from a dare, I secretly wonder whether cayote can replace my to o’clock Twinkie, if ramps can stand in for my three o’clock Musketeers or if I can swap out the French fries for the fiddleheads.

Regardless of having skillfully negotiated Hawaiian Punch cocktail (IT IS chock full of apricots, guavas, apples, etc) into our deal, my week is going to be more Nutrition Nation than Candy Land. Here’s what I’ll be eating:

A form of cabbage, this leafy green vegetable is a calcium powerhouse and supposedly lowers cholesterol. Perfect…I’ll eat it alongside a big and juicy, artery-clogging steak.

(aka yam bean, Mexican turnip)
This crisp tuber is a cross between the texture of a crunchy raw potato and the taste of a sweet, juicy apple. I’ll pile jicama (fyi: pronounce “j” as “h”) atop salads or eat it sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder.

(aka salvia hispanica)
Yes. As in Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia. The clay pets. Around since the ancient Aztecs, the chia seed is rich in fiber, calcium and omega-3s. I’ll sprinkle the seeds on my yogurt, but if I start sprouting wispy green hair, I’m out.

(aka wild leek, wild garlic)
Consider yourself warned, Lisa. After eating what food writer Jane Snow describes as “fried green onions with a dash of funky feet,” I’m coming for you. Ramps are the distant cousin of onions, but have the added benefit of packing a pungent garlicky bite.

(aka mirliton, vegetable pear)
A pear-shaped, wrinkly, light green vegetable, the chayote has a crunchy texture, mild, cucumber-like flavor and can be prepared as I would summer squash. How do I prepare summer squash, again? Lisa?

These leaves of pea plants supposedly burst with intense pea flavor and promise vitamins A, B6, C, E and K. I didn’t even know there was a vitamin K.

Watercress is the oldest green vegetable known to man. The crisp, dark green leaves carry a peppery, slightly bitter taste, along with oodles of iron, calcium, folic acid and cancer-fighting properties. Yum.

No problem with this one – I love mushrooms and May is the month that the rich, nutty and meaty-flavored morels are harvested life will be fungilicious when I sauté them up with a bit of butter.

Rhubarb is another food I’ll enjoy for many reasons, not the least of which is that I can stew it with sugar and spoon it over ice cream. Just a few notes of caution to myself – rhubarb is a powerful laxative and the leaves are lethal.

Not hard to figure out how these tightly coiled edible shoots got their name – they look like the scroll at the end of a string instrument. With their short growing season almost over, I better hop to it if I want to get my iron, fiber and omega 3s.

Chirp, chirp.