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Unless you’re on of the lucky few who happen to live in a magical place that’s eighty degrees year round, the sun shines every day and the sounds of the ocean lull you to sleep every night the word winter probably brings to mind cold, white washed days bundled up inside eating warm, rib sticking meals to fight off the chills. Come spring, however, people spend more time outside, away from the kitchen, with their families and friends. Spring means light, flavorful dishes that are easy to make, don’t take a lot of time and leave one feeling fresh for a night of lounging in the backyard or around a bonfire.

The light not quite sweet, not quite savory flavors of spring bring back reminders of fresh cut grass and gentle breezes coming in through open windows, and our food should reflect this wonderful bliss in all of its glory.

Breakfast in the spring time should be light enough to keep one going through the hustle and bustle of the day, whether that be work, school or tidying up the house after a long winter. So put those heavy breakfasts aside and instead settle down with some fluffy oatmeal pancakes with fresh garnished with fresh strawberries on top. Another fantasticly light solution to those morning hunger pains is a few eggs, cooked to your own liking, garnished with fresh spinach or kale. This is also the perfect season for quick on the go breakfasts that can be prepared the night before and eaten over the week! Muffins can be a healthy, energetic morning kickoff for those with an early start to the workday, or for the kids as they make their way to the bus for school.

Keeping with the healthy trend that accompanies spring, this is the perfect time to prepare a fresh garden salad at home for the family or for work. Gone are the days of winter when lunch is typically a quick run for fast food in and out of the cold as fast as possible. Fresh garden vegetables with a simple dressing made with dill, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and a bit of honey with some oil for a light, healthy meal or mid-afternoon snack. You can substitute all kinds of ingredients in the dressings to suit your palette, such as ginger or raspberries if you want something more tangy. Of course if you still find yourself craving after just a salad spring offers the opportunity to hit the outside and fire up the grill for a flaky fish or juicy chicken breast marinated in an acid, such as lemon or lime juice, and an herb. These two things compliment each other very well, while the acid gives the meat a unique tang and makes it tender, the herbs give it that spring taste that everyone loves.

Dinner is the time when most people have issues in getting that signature spring taste into their meals, while keeping it heavy enough to satisfy everyone’s hunger. Luckily spring is the season for replacement foods! You can still make your spaghetti or meatloaf, but try substituting Spaghetti squash for the noodles, or eggplant for the beef. Seafood is also a fantastic option for dinner. Making a quick crab stew with onion and celery is a fantastic meal you can prepare early in the day and store away, allowing the flavors to develop making it taste even better once dinner rolls around. Burgers are, of course, a spring and summer staple, letting everyone add toppings to make their perfect creation. Caramelized onions, every cheese under the sun, and plenty of crispy greens with all the spices and condiments one can imagine, with veggie burgers allowing vegetarians and vegans to join in on the outdoors fun as well.

Drinks and dessert are a must have. Light, fluffy cheesecakes and whipped desserts dominate the spring months, leaving the mouth off on a fresh note that isn’t too heavy and doesn’t leave you feeling too full afterwards. The possibility for drinks is endless, cooling yourself off after work or a day full of outside activities with lemonade is almost cliche, but still so perfect. You can put a twist on it as well, making drinks from any fruit you please, watermelon is especially thirst quenching and simple to make using just fresh watermelon, some natural sugar and a bit of mint! An adult spin can even be put on them with a little bit of your favorite liquor.

Late night, when you’re settling down to a good book or a movie with your loved ones and friends, what’s better than a light snack to top off the day? Unsalted, un-buttered popcorn drizzled with a little bit of caramel or butterscotch makes for a deliciously sticky concoction that isn’t likely to make it past the first half of a movie.

The potential for fresh herbs, tangy dressings and flaky meats hot off the grill simply is unlimited. Whatever you might crave, spring offers it up and with the healthiest, tastiest spins available.

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