*

With Spring upon us and rolling into summer soon there are some great healthy foods out there to be looking for. Leafy greens and in season fruits will make for a great summer salad. Mixing in some grain options like quinoa and barley will help with fiber and overall energy levels.

Spinach, dandelion greens, and nettles are good options to consider. More than just some salad greens they can be used in things like dips or soups. These ingredients are high in vitamins and anti-oxidants. Nettles in particular contain appetite suppressing qualities that can help with feeling fuller for longer periods of time.

Apricots, cherries, blueberries, and grapefruit are all into, or coming into, season. Sweet and satisfying these commonly found items are all beneficial in their own way. They are also perfect for any meal, including dessert. Enjoy them at breakfast with some yogurt, lunch as part of a summer salad, stand alone as a snack, simmer them down for a delicious glaze for chicken, or enjoy them with a pinch of ice cream for dessert.

It is important to note that fruits, as good for you as they are, can be problematic if you are diabetic or you know that your body doesn’t respond well to sugars. Fruit sugars are far better than processed sugar found in candy or other sweets, but they are sugars none the less. Consult your doctor or a licensed nutritionist to find out if some hearty fruit servings fit into your diet plan.

Finally, some complex grains like barley, brown rice, or quinoa will help to provide fiber and absorb water so that you feel fuller longer. Yes, these ingredients have carbs in them, but they also contain higher amounts of protein and fiber than other standard carb fare. They can be served as the bed upon which your meal is plated, and even cold  in salads. They also make a great base in burritos and wraps.

True story from the kitchen: quinoa can be a bit of a flavor absorber. That can be good or bad depending on what you want to do. Most times you might need to season or spice it up as you cook it. Other times you may leave it as is to take the tart edge off something like some grapefruit. Experiment! Let us know what you come up with.