As the weather starts to get warmer, we tend to naturally crave food that’s a little lighter than the heavy foods we’ve been indulging in all winter. But it can be hard to make the transition to healthier eating, which is why we spoke to Aline Fiuza, the owner of Aline Healthy Chef, a personal chef on Thumbtack in Redondo Beach, California who is passionate about healthy cooking. Here are her tips for where to shop in the spring, what to buy, and how to make it taste delicious. Read on to get her idea about cooking and eating to the fullest this season.
Shop at the Farmer’s Market
If you want to eat food that is fresh and in season, the best thing you can do is shop at the farmers’ market. “I love farmers’ markets,” Aline says. “It’s a fun place to go, but you have to see it as a pleasure, not a stress.” She suggests you take your time, walk around, and talk to the farmers about what they’re selling. If you aren’t sure what to with an ingredient, just ask and they’ll give you suggestions.
Eat All of the Spring Fruit
Aline says in particular the farmers’ market is a great place to buy fruit. “It’s sweeter because it’s fresh picked,” she explains. Spring is a great time for apricots, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, kiwis, kumquats, grapefruit, passion fruit, and pineapple.
Mix and Match New Things
Aline likes to mix ingredients you may not think to put together. Some of her favorites are a quinoa and kumquat salad (“I cook the kumquats a little bit because the skin can be bitter and add fennel”) or putting roasted rhubarb in a salad. One of her other favorites is roasted cauliflower with orange. “Spring is the time to start combing and lightening flavors, like sweet and sour.”
Fall for Fennel
“Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables,” Aline says. “I use every singe part of it. I use the bulb to make salads or in roasts, I use the top of it for juice. It’s good for healing.”
Don’t Get Stuck in a Salad Rut
“Spring is a time to eat lighter fare,” Aline says. “But you can’t only make salads because it’s not summer yet so you don’t want to just eat raw vegetables.” She makes a lot of roasted salads with roasted fennel, pepper, and cauliflower mixed with arugula and pine nuts. “Watercress is also coming into season and I love making salads with it because it’s a peppery leaf.”
Don’t Forego Beans and Legumes
“Put beans and legumes in a salad instead of a stew,” Aline says. She suggests using fava beans or, if you’re not in the mood for a salad, to do a stew with a light broth instead of the thick and hearty types of stew you eat in the winter.
Get Out the Grill
People tend to wait until summer months to cook on the grill, but Aline says there’s no reason to do that. “Pineapple and apricot are both great to grill because it gives them a different flavor and texture and makes them sweeter.” She suggests pairing grilled pineapple and pork or grilling chicken with the apricot.
Mix raw and cooked
“Between winter and summer, I roast a lot of vegetables, but then add fresh greens like arugula, watercress, or spinach.” One recipe she suggests is blending a clove of garlic with lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano, putting that on top of roasted yams or potato, and then adding fennel and spinach. It’s heartier than just a salad, but not as heavy as what you’d eat in the winter.
Cut out High-Fat Foods
“We’ve been loading for the winter with cheese, cream, and butter, but spring is the time to cut out high-fat foods. The best way to do this is to add more vegetables. They don’t have to be raw; add some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them in the convection oven so the skin gets crispy.” Aline adds, “There’s no secret for a healthy diet besides adding more vegetables and cutting out meat. Make the plant-based ingredients the main part of your plate instead of a side dish. That will help you lose weight and feel better for summer.”
Eat with the Season
“When fruits and vegetables are in season, that’s when the flavor is the best,” Aline says. “If you follow the reasons, your body will be happy because everything around you is also inside of you. It’s all part of the same energy, so you’ll have an easier time processing and digesting.”