E

ven though it's snowing in parts of the country, February is winding down and that means spring and summer are just around the corner. That means farmer's markets are going to be opening back up soon, temperatures will be rising, and we won't feel the need to indulge in heavy, rich meals to keep us warm (theoretically, anyways). It's a perfect time to spring clean your diet—but how?

If you've become accustomed to dense, calorie-rich dinners from the crock pot, you can keep eating them, but it helps to add in more veggies. For example, if you've got a pot roast waiting at home, serve it alongside a spinach salad instead of calling the carrots and potatoes a sufficient side. Similarly, if your favorite comfort food is chicken and dumplings, add in chopped carrots and frozen peas to bulk up the nutrition.

Cutting carbs and adding veggies is a quick and easy way to spring-clean your diet.

You can cut some carbohydrates from your diet, too, if you're trying to cut some calories for the upcoming seasons. For pastas like spaghetti, you can shave strands of zucchini or carrots and top with the same sauces you used all winter long. It's not the same, nor is anyone suggesting it will be nearly as homey-tasting as a pile of noodles, but it's an easy way to get the flavor of the sauce without consuming hundreds of calories worth of white-flour pasta. If you don't want to go to that much of an extreme, switch to whole-grain pasta. It's still as calorie-dense as regular pasta, but it's got more nutrients thanks to being slightly less processed.

Casseroles benefit the same way that slow-cooked meals do: by adding more vegetables (and perhaps taking out some of the cheese, though that's less appealing, isn't it?). Sandwiches, the same—if you really want to clean those up, you can use lettuce leaves instead of bread.

Salads are an obvious shift to make if you want to eat more veggies. There are many different kinds of greens to choose from, and you can add different proteins and veggies as toppings.

Ditch white rice and try out brown rice. If you've already done that, check out quinoa, barley, or other whole grains.

Lentils and other beans can be used as a base for a meal or swapped in for ground meats for a lower-calorie/lower-fat option.

Since more produce will be hitting shelves—or rather, more produce that's in season—soon, it'll be easier to whip up healthy meals...just in time for spring break.