The time of year has arrived for us to shed our winter coats and prepare for the warmer weather and longer days of spring. It is a time to plant the seeds of summer both inside and out. While many of us take advantage of this time by reviving our lawns and planting outdoor gardens, refreshing the inside of our homes should not be overlooked. But we’re not talking about cleaning out closets. Take spring cleaning a step further…into the kitchen by replacing your packaged foods for the healthy, fresh selections of spring and summer.

The spring time is an opportune time to take a refreshed look in our kitchens by clearing out the processed food we have been gathering and storing in our pantries and cabinets over the past few months. By the time spring comes around, we may discover foods hidden in our kitchens that we intended to use but never got the chance. With the freshness of spring in mind, it is a good opportunity to replace these foods and reinvigorate our resolutions to make healthier food choices. After all, March is National Nutrition Month.

Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors the National Nutrition Month. According to their website, “The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical habits.” Indeed this is a way of life encouraged by the Quran and the beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him [PBUH]). In the Quran, God informs us, “O children of Adam! Look to your adornment at every place of worship, and eat and drink, but be not wasteful. Lo! He loveth not those who waste” (7:31).

Packing our kitchens with food we don’t use is an example of waste. Another example is overeating. To avoid wasting, we can follow the eating habit of the Prophet (PBUH), who according to a Tirmidhi hadith said, “Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: one-third for food, one-third for liquids, and one-third for breath.”

For that one-third of food, we can satisfy our hunger by eating fresh vegetables and fruits that will soon crowd the fields and local markets. Make room in your kitchen for your seasonal favorites by cleaning out your pantry, one shelf at a time. Rather than tossing away your storage of winter foods, make sure the expiration dates have not passed and then donate them to your local food pantry, or ask your local Mosque or shelter for a list of needy families who would appreciate the donation. Once each shelf is clear, sanitize and dry off. Do not forget to check your refrigerator and freezer, which may be filled with half used bags of frozen vegetables and expired condiments. Some fruits, like berries, are only available fresh for a short time of the year, so prepare your freezer for storing them for later use. Frozen berries are the perfect addition to a cool smoothie on a hot summer day.

Remember, fresh fruits and vegetables are halal foods, and several of them are in fact mentioned in the Quran and Hadith for their nutritional benefits contributing to a healthy, Islamic lifestyle. From the Quran we know, “He sends down water from the sky from which We bring forth growth of every kind. And from that We bring forth the green shoots and from them We bring forth close-packed seeds, and from the spades of the date-palm, date clusters hanging down, and gardens of grapes and olives and pomegranates, both similar and dissimilar. Look as they bear fruit and ripen. There are signs in that for people who believe” (6:99).

May God make us among those who are true believers.

Asma Jarad holds an M.A. in English Language and Literature and a B.A. in Liberal Arts. She was born and raised in Chicago. She is a freelance writer and editor.