Hello, May! The earth is thawing, daffodils are blooming, and bare branches are turning green—finally. Here in the Rocky Mountains, spring is unparalleled. Like other temperate climates, we welcome it with open arms. With warmer temps here to stay, it’s time to crack open the windows, spring clean cluttered cabinets, and transition into spring eating. As new fruits and veggies fill the produce aisle, we can take advantage of diversifying our plates and supporting local farmers. Today, we’re diving into what’s in season for May. Consider this your May 2023 produce guide: a cheat sheet for what’s in season this month.
HOW TO EAT IN MAY, ACCORDING TO AYURVEDA
Ayurveda, a holistic system of medicine, advises local, seasonal eating. In other words, acquiring and consuming foods that are picked or harvested during a particular time of year. From an evolutionary standpoint, this was the way our ancestors ate. Since then, accessibility has come a long way. We’re blessed to have access to a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, year-round. It allows us to eat diversely and healthfully (despite the change in seasons). That said, it’s beneficial to eat seasonally and locally—for your health, your community’s economy, and the planet at large. May is a wonderful month to start.
EATING LIGHTER IN THE SPRING
Spring is a great time to rejuvenate your eating habits and start incorporating lighter, fresher foods into your diet. Below are a few tips on how to eat lighter in the spring:
focus on seasonal produce
No surprise! Spring is the season for microgreens, mangoes, radishes, peas, and strawberries, among other antioxidant-rich ingredients. Incorporate these as often as possible.
eat more salads
Salads are a great way to incorporate fresh, seasonal produce into your diet. Experiment with different combinations of greens, vegetables, proteins, and dressings. This chilled salmon salad is a fabulous spring recipe!
Opt for lighter proteins
May is an ideal time to try leaner proteins like shrimp, chicken, turkey, fish, or tofu. Batch cook hard-boiled eggs or bake a tray of tempeh for protein to eat all week.
Try a different cooking method
Instead of heavy stews or casseroles, try air frying, grilling, baking, or roasting vegetables and proteins. You can also try pickling! These methods of cooking bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients and result in a lighter meal.
Stay hydrated with electrolytes
With the warmer weather, it’s important to stay hydrated. Keep your body hydrated and refreshed with electrolytes.
Remember, eating lighter doesn’t mean depriving yourself of your favorite foods. It’s all about finding balance and incorporating fresh, seasonal ingredients into your meals!
May 2023 Produce guide
May is all about late-spring fare. Take what’s in season in April, and add the following: apricots, cherries, mangoes, okra, pineapples, strawberries, Swiss chard, and zucchini. Get ready for berry pies, crumbles, and cobblers. In the spirit of keeping up with spring’s most delicious produce, below are the ingredients to focus on in May.
The U.S. grows about 90 percent of apricots, worldwide! And most of the apricot production and storage happens in California. This fruit is loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and fiber. Knowing when to pick and eat an apricot makes all the difference — apricots should be a yellow-orange color and feel slightly soft. You can create your own apricot jam, eat them as a blood sugar-balancing snack with raw nuts, or chop them and add them to a bowl of Greek yogurt with chia seeds.
Look for artichokes that feel heavy when you pick them up, and whose petals (leaves) haven’t opened wide. New to artichokes? Check out this guide on how to cook and eat them.
Although we’re weaning out of peak asparagus season, take advantage of this bright green vegetable. Roast, grill, steam, or boil them. They’re great with any protein, leftover in a salad, or even on a pizza.
Cherry season starts in May, although depending on where you live you might not see a lot of fresh cherries until June. Here in Colorado, we don’t tend to see them at the farmers market until the middle of summer. When shopping for cherries, look for bright green stems, which are signs of freshness. You want cherries that are firm, plump, and dense, with shiny skins and saturated color. Avoid bruised or wrinkled cherries. My favorite cherries are these!
The most commonly consumed fruit (world-wide), mangos are high in vitamin A and C. There are many, many different varieties, but mangoes are best when they have a sweet aroma and feel slightly soft, yet firm to touch. Mangoes are delicious in smoothies, salads, salsa, and alongside a protein-forward breakfast.
Of all the spring produce, okra tends to fly under the radar. An underrated vegetable, okra is delicious! Okra is a staple in the South, but some regions of the U.S. are largely unaware of it. Okra is super versatile—you can boil it, fry it, pickle it, and grill okra.
Although widely available year-round, peak pineapple season lasts from March until July. This is when you’ll find the sweetest, juiciest pineapple. A ripe pineapple should have a firm shell but be slightly soft with a bit of give when you squeeze it. To limit the impact on blood sugar levels, pair pineapple with protein or healthy fats to minimize a potential blood sugar spike.
Tender enough to eat raw and hearty enough to stand up to a sauté, Swiss chard is a super versatile green. It’s one of the first spring greens ready for harvest, making it one of May’s best farmers markets finds. Chard can be steamed or sautéed, and it’s great in soups, stews, frittatas, and more. Chard always has green leaves, but the stalks can be a variety of colors.
Summer is the perfect time to savor just-harvested zucchini, but you may see zucchini at the farmers market now. Its peak season is June through August. Look for zucchini that are small to medium-sized. They should be firm to the touch. Really fresh zucchini will bristle with tiny hairs! Keep zucchini tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. This is my go-to zucchini bread recipe.
Check out my guide on how to store fresh produce so it lasts longer!
The 7 Best seasonal eating cookbooks
Armed with everything you need to know about produce in season, this May, these are the best seasonal eating cookbooks. Happy spring cooking!
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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