Spring is the time of year for renewal and rebirth. After a long winter of eating heavier and fattier foods, it is time to cleanse and detox our bodies and get them ready for spring. It is important to start this process approximately six weeks prior to the start of the actual season.

This is done by eating foods that are grown and ready to eat in the spring along with the use of lighter cooking styles, such as blanching and quick sautéing – rather than heavier cooking styles like deep-frying and baking.

Vegetables to emphasize in the spring are broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, parsley, bok choy, kale, mustard greens, leeks, watercress, napa cabbage, daikon and dandelion greens, scallions and sprouts. Leafy greens help cleanse the body by discharging fats and toxins. Fresh lemon juice squeezed on steamed or sautéed greens right before eating helps nourish the liver, which is the organ that cleans and repairs the body.

The whole grains and grain products to eat incorporate into your diet right now are hulled and pearl barley, oats, rye, wheat, quinoa and seitan (a wheat product).  Not only are they a great source of energy but will provide more fiber in your diet, which will also clean out fats and toxins.

Beans are a wonderful form of protein because they lack saturated fat and cholesterol and are easier for your body to digest than animal protein. Black-eye peas, green lentils, lima beans, mung beans, split peas and tempeh (a fermented soybean product) are the beans and bean-products to eat in the spring.

If you add these foods and cooking styles into your diet, they will help your body detox from the winter and adjust to the spring season. No matter what season it is, it is important to eat foods that are in that season. This will help you acclimate to the weather and feel more comfortable during that season.