Melbourne nutritionist and Insta-influencer Melanie Lionello shows us how to spring into the new season fuelled by a diet filled with nourishing produce.
Spring brings longer days and an abundance of new flavours to revitalise the body after a winter of comfort foods and less time outdoors.
To help our bodies adjust to the new season, she advises adding extra hydration and nourishment from a healthy spring diet.
“Make sure you’re drinking enough water – the humidity changes and we’re sweating a bit more as we spend more time outdoors,” Melanie says.
“We tend to feel a little more heavy and sluggish after our winter meals, so try to incorporate more veggies into each meal.
“Aim for at least a cup, or two cups, of vegetables at lunch and at dinner.”
With more than 145,000 followers on social media, Melanie regularly posts healthy recipes to her account.
Her salads with hearty centres and vegetable frittatas are on high rotation this time of year.
New growth means a new line-up of superfoods, and Melanie gravitates towards a favourite in the Mediterranean diet for its nutritional properties.
“I’m a big fan of wild greens, like nettle, in spring because they provide you with vitamins, minerals and fibre.
“They also help aid digestion by stimulating gastric acid, making it easier to digest food and absorb nutrients,” she says.
“Bitter foods are a key part of Mediterranean diets, and sadly a lot of us don’t get enough.”
“Eat kiwifruits on their own, or add them to porridge. I like to mix some ricotta with a little bit of honey, bake it and then top it with kiwifruit that has been sitting in a spoonful of lemon and orange juice.”
Another popular food group featured in Melanie’s recipes tends to be a simple pantry staple.
“Peas, beans and legumes are so underrated but so great for you, and cheap, which is really important, too,” she says.
“They’re high in vitamin C, which is great to keep the immunity levels up after coming out of winter, and they’re high fibre.
“Some stomachs are sensitive to them, but their role as a prebiotic is to put good bacteria into the stomach.”
Melanie’s key advice is that a healthy diet doesn’t have to be expensive.
“You don’t need to spend money on superfoods; you can create a healthy intake with everyday foods, like cheap legumes and frozen vegies,” she says.
“Food is so powerful, you can get everything you need physically from a good diet.”
And don’t be too strict or hard on yourself, or deny yourself that chocolate biscuit, she stresses.
“Society drills into our heads that we should feel guilty about eating certain foods,” Melanie says.
“People have birthdays, we want to eat cake, and that’s OK. Just be moderate and balance it out by eating enough vegetables, fruit and wholegrains.”
Inject some vegetables into your baking with Melanie’s Savoury Butternut Pumpkin Muffins – naturally sweetened by the inclusion of pumpkin, they are also packed with fibre.