As nature transitions through its seasons, so too should our plates reflect the changing abundance of fresh produce. Plant-based seasonal eating not only supports local farmers and reduces environmental impact but also ensures that we’re nourishing our bodies with the freshest, most nutrient-dense foods available. By eating seasonally, there is more availability of the in-season foods, and with more availability comes lower prices. In this seasonal eating guide, we’ll explore the principles of seasonal eating and delve into the delights of spring and summer produce, offering tips on what to eat, how to prepare it, efficient shopping practices, and smart food storage strategies.

Understanding a Seasonal Eating Guide:

A seasonal eating guide is rooted in the idea of consuming foods that are naturally available during a particular time of the year in a specific region. By aligning our diets with the seasons, we can enjoy peak flavors, maximize nutritional content, and minimize the carbon footprint associated with food transportation. While guidelines may vary based on geographical location, the general principles remain consistent: embrace local, fresh, and in-season produce.  For example, fall eating features hearty root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets, which are at their peak of sweetness. Earthy delights such as pumpkins, squash, and Brussels sprouts make for comforting soups, stews, and roasted dishes, perfect for warming up on crisp autumn evenings. Apples and pears abound, offering a sweet contrast to savory dishes and a plethora of baking opportunities.  Winter eating embraces the cozy traditions of simmering pots of hearty bean chili, baking wholesome bread, and enjoying warming bowls of oatmeal topped with seasonal fruit and nuts. Warm and hearty are the keynotes to fall and winter eating.

Let’s Dig into the Spring and Summer Seasonal Eating Guide:

Spring and summer herald the arrival of a vibrant array of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, bursting with color and flavor. From crisp asparagus spears to juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil, these seasons offer a “cornucopia of culinary delights.” Load your plate with a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. In spring, look for tender greens like spinach, arugula, and kale, as well as early crops such as peas, radishes, and artichokes. As summer arrives, savor the sweetness of fresh corn on the cob, berries, stone fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers. Think CAULIFLOWER TACOS WITH ZESTY CABBAGE SLAW and the perfect easy weeknight meal or potluck ZESTY VEGGIE PASTA SALAD. There is an abundance of such a variety of fruits and vegetables that you can even consider canning to keep the freshness going into the fall and winter seasons, too.

Planning For Seasonal Eating

Planning for seasonal eating involves thoughtful consideration of the fresh produce available during all seasons, especially the spring and summer because that is when the greatest opportunity for fresh produce will come about.  You want to ensure that meals are not only delicious and nutritious but also aligned with the rhythm of nature. It’s best to create a 5-7 day meal plan, and essential to prioritize the consumption of expiring produce to minimize food waste and maximize freshness. Begin by taking inventory of your refrigerator and pantry, identifying any perishable items that are nearing their expiration dates. Incorporate these ingredients into your meal plan for the coming days, focusing on recipes that showcase their flavors and textures. Build your meal plan around these seasonal gems, incorporating a variety of colors, flavors, and nutrient profiles to ensure a well-balanced diet. Consider meal prep and batch cooking to streamline the cooking process and make the most of your seasonal bounty. With some planning involved, you can minimize food waste and save money at the same time.

Shopping with a Seasonal Eating Guide in Mind for Spring & Summer

Visit local farmers’ markets, where you’ll find an abundance of freshly harvested seasonal produce. Engage with farmers to learn about their growing practices and discover new varieties. Try something new! If farmers’ markets aren’t accessible, seek out grocery stores that prioritize locally sourced and organic produce. Prioritize shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, widely known to be healthier than the processed sections of the inner store.

Managing Food Storage

To prolong the freshness of your seasonal bounty, practice proper food storage techniques. Leafy greens should be rinsed, dried thoroughly, and stored in breathable bags or containers in the refrigerator. Tender herbs can be stored in a glass of water, like a bouquet, or wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a resealable bag. For heartier vegetables like carrots and beets, remove greens, if attached, and store in the crisper drawer. Berries and cucumbers should be stored unwashed in a single layer to prevent molding, while tomatoes are best kept at room temperature until ripe. This SELF article HERE’S HOW TO STORE PRETTY MUCH ANY KIND OF PRODUCE is one of our all-time favorites to learn how to store every fruit and vegetable to maximize freshness.

Preparing Spring and Summer Seasonal Foods: 

Celebrate the flavors of spring and summer with simple, seasonal dishes that let the produce shine. Enjoy salads bursting with fresh greens and herbs, grilled vegetables drizzled with olive oil and lemon, vibrant fruit salads, and refreshing gazpachos. Experiment with raw preparations, light stir-fries, and hearty grain bowls filled with roasted vegetables, grilling whenever you can.

Embracing a plant-based seasonal eating guide in spring and summer offers a plethora of culinary delights while supporting local agriculture and promoting environmental sustainability. By incorporating fresh, in-season produce into our diets and adopting mindful shopping and storage practices, we can nourish our bodies and delight our taste buds with the bounty of the seasons. Let’s savor the flavors of spring and summer, one delicious bite at a time.