Pensacola, Florida
Monday September 22nd 2014

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A Different Type of Spring Cleaning

By Sarah McCartan

The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, which can only mean one thing—spring has sprung. In addition to seasonal delights like longer days and rising temps is a practice that has become synonymous with the turning of the seasons: “spring cleaning.”

Of course, this cleaning isn’t limited to scrubbing floors and cleaning out closets. There are a variety of ways to welcome this idea in your life—like in eating and exercise habits and even mental health. Here’s a look at three areas that can probably afford a good, clean sweep this spring.

YOUR PLATE
Whether you are looking to embark on an entirely new eating plan, or simply clean up your plate a bit, spring is the prime time to take advantage of working more fruits and vegetables into your meals and getting creative in your kitchen.

Hit Up the Markets
Just in time for spring, we now have not just one, but two local markets, being held weekly in downtown Pensacola. Both offer a fresh selection of local produce, specialty baked goods, honey, jam, sauces and more. You’re probably already familiar with Palafox Market (which is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Martin Luther King Plaza), but the newer market is worth checking out too. The Market at Al Fresco is now open weekly on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at 501 S. Palafox.

Attend a Class
Weekly on Thursdays at 10 a.m., Pensacola Cooks hosts an Heirloom Gardening and Cooking Fun-Da-Mentals class at Ever’man Natural Foods Community Kitchen. Participants get to practice a variety of cooking techniques while working with menus promoting wholesome recipes. Individuals also participate in weekly container planting of different varieties of heirloom tomato seeds, plus the seed of the week from the heirloom plant on the menu. Not only do you get to take home four heirloom plantings per week, you enjoy a three-course heirloom lunch and recipe cards. Protein options are available for vegetarian and vegan students. 315 W. Garden St. $40. 456-0743, or penacolacooks.com.

Cooking classes aren’t the only thing hosted onsite at Ever’man. From 6 – 8:30 p.m., Thursday April 10, the Natural Awakenings and Herb Study Groups host a “Wellness Rocks Event” with demonstrations on natural healing, food, herbs, detox remedies and more. For a look at more upcoming wellness-centered events taking place in the community room, visit everman.org/events.

Spring for Smoothies
Smoothies can be enjoyed year round, but spring is a wonderful time to start experimenting with new recipes. Crafting a good smoothie is as simple as selecting a base, adding extras of choice and blending to perfection.

Here’s a recipe for a power-filled green smoothie. If you are wary to throw the peanut butter into this otherwise tame equation, fear not. It’s not out to steal the attention from the other ingredients. It merely adds a surprise punch, and offers an extra creamy element of balance.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 banana
2 small kiwis (or 1 large)
1 cup greens (baby spinach, spring mix or select greens of choice)
8 large ice cubes
2 Tbsp. peanut butter

Directions:
Combine the almond milk, orange juice, banana, kiwi, greens and ice in your blender.
Blend on high, until blended completely. Depending on your blender’s power, you may need to gradually add the ice, 1-2 cubes at a time.
Add the peanut butter and pulse on low until blended thoroughly.

YOUR ACTIVITIES
Spring in Florida means that it is warm enough to get outdoors and still cool enough to actually enjoy it. This makes it a perfect time to take a walk, pump up those bike tires or embark on an entirely new fitness regime. Here are a few outdoor activities to consider if you are looking to add some extra movement and momentum.

Head Off to the Races
One of the most highly awaited events of the season is the Fiesta of Five Flags 10K and 5K run and walk. Held on Saturday, May 3, this year marks the 40th annual occurrence of this signature event. This race makes a great opportunity for a first 5K or test out a new distance and aim for the 10K.

If running your very first 5K this spring sounds enticing and you are looking for some training assistance, there is still time to sign up for Running Wild’s “My First 5K” Summer 2014 training group. The class begins April 7 and culminates with the patriotic Firecracker 5K on June 28. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. If trail running is more your style, and you are ready to take on a longer distance, consider signing up for a 10-mile trail race through Blackwater State Park, Saturday, April 5. Visit werunwild.com for more information.

Nearly every spring weekend is filled with one if not multiple area running events. For a closer look at the upcoming race calendar, visit pensacolarunners.com.

Zip Through the Trees
Not only is Adventures Unlimited a destination for tubing, camping, canoeing and kayaking, their zip line adventures offers an adrenaline rush while zipping through the natural beauty of the longleaf pine forest above Coldwater Creek. Spring allows you the opportunity to take a zip trip before this adventure-destination is flooded with tourists on summer vacation. 8974 Tomahawk Landing Rd., Milton, Fla. adventuresunlimited.com or 623-6197.

Take a Hike
Chances are if you are a local, you’ve explored Fort Pickens to some extent either by foot or bike; however what you might not have realized is this historical site doubles as hiking territory. Florida Hikes offers an overview of a 7.3 mile sun-drenched hiking endeavor along the Florida Trail, which comes to an end at Ft. Pickens. If you are looking to get out of town, the website also maps out hiking options across the state of Florida. floridahikes.com/ftfortpickens

YOUR MIND
In addition to the clutter that builds up around households that needs dusting off and tending to, clutter can just as easily build up in your mind. Here are a few simple practices to help recharge and clean your mind this spring.

Disconnect to Reconnect
It will soon be a year since the IN did its inaugural disconnect issue, and while we aren’t embarking on another official group disconnect challenge just yet, one might suggest that spring is a great time to disconnect from something you are spending too much time on. It allows you to reconnect focus and find some peace of mind. For some this might be as simple as not leaving Facebook open all day, for others this might mean putting your phone on silent during times you are not alone and shifting your energy to the real life happening in front of you.

Practice Yoga
While yoga offers plenty of physical benefits, the mental benefits rank just as high. Yoga provides a designated time you can allot to taking slow deep breaths and quieting your mind. Ultimately, it gives your body and mind a time to refocus and feel rejuvenated. Thanks to the bustling yoga community in the area, there is always yoga to take advantage of. Visit yogapensacola.com for an aggregated look of upcoming studio classes. And for those who may be new to yoga and are perhaps intimidated by the studio realm, or simply prefer taking yoga in the same proximity to other workout endeavors, many area gyms offer yoga classes that make a great place to experience the practice.

Take a Retreat
This retreat could be as simple as treating yourself to a long overdue massage or spa day. Or if you are itching to take things further, a true retreat may demand a change of geographic locations. This could mean trekking to place your eyes on new, inspiring scenery or simply taking a timeout and driving out to soak up the wonder of the breeze and sunset that can be found on our local beaches. I will go ahead and bet you that changing your scenery and getting away from tasks at hand will not only allow you to clear the clutter in your head, but will help you meet said tasks with heightened effectiveness and revived energy when you return.