How to lighten up your diet for Spring

Meal ideas and cooking techniques better suited to the warmer months

Spring is in the air and the promise of warm summer days are on the horizon. The time has come to begin lightening things up in the kitchen to suit the warmer months ahead. Here are some healthy and delicious meal ideas to try. 

Light and satisfying protein choices

Hearty winter favourites like roasts and casseroles often take a backseat in the warmer months. Make these protein foods the star of your dishes in spring. 

1. Eggs are a really versatile protein that are easy and quick to cook. Combine them with spring vegetables to create an impressive frittata, add boiled or poached eggs to a salad or make a no- fuss weeknight omelette. 

2. Seafood contains mood boosting omegas 3 fatty acids, and oily fish like salmon and mackerel are a good source of vitamin D, which many of us tend to be low on coming out of winter. Bake your fish in the oven with herbs, lemon and ginger for a light and aromatic flavour, while . prawns are great skewered with vegetables and barbequed. You can also try making prawn burger patties by finely chopping raw prawn meat, binding with an egg and breadcrumbs and flavouring with garlic, spring onion, ginger and chilli.  

3. Beans and legumes are a light vegetarian protein choice packed full of fibre. Tinned cannellini beans, chickpeas and lentils make a tasty addition to spring salads. Pureed white beans make a fabulous meal base when blended with crushed garlic, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Lighter cooking techniques 

  • Mashed sweet potato is a lighter, less stodgy   and more flavoursome alternative to mashed potato. Spice it up by adding ground cumin powder or coriander.
  • Short crust and puff pastry are both high in kilojoules and fat. Swap these for filo pastry, which is a much lighter choice as there is no fat in the thin, tissue like sheets of pastry - only flour and water. This allows you to control the amount of oil or butter that is used between layers as a large amount is rarely needed to get a crunchy texture. Filo pastry can be used as a pie topping, quiche base or to make savoury triangles that can be frozen and reheated for a quick meal as needed. 
  • Using evaporated milk instead of cream in pasta dishes and curries is a great way to get a creamy texture without overloading on fat and kilojoules. Thicken with a few teaspoons of cornflour during cooking. 

Sprightly side dishes

  • Asparagus really shines in spring. Make the most of this vegetable by lightly grilling and seasoning with rosemary, or add an Asian-  style dressing of soy, sesame oil and ginger.
  • Dress steamed vegetables like green beans and broccoli with red wine vinegar, olive oil and roasted hazelnuts or slivered almonds.
  • Serve steamed sugar snap peas with freshly torn mint, lemon juice and ricotta.
  • Make a refreshing vinaigrette for salads using soft spring herbs, mustard, lemon juice and olive oil.  
NAQ Nutrition

NAQ Nutrition is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation. We aim to shape the health and wellbeing of our community through informed food choices. Food is life. Food is you. 

Healthy Food Healthy Planet is NAQ Nutrition’s community meal planner and recipe website. It aims to provide people with simple, healthy recipes that are tasty and won’t break the bank.