Seasonal Spring Recipes and the Benefits of Outdoor Dining

Enjoying Seasonal Produce

If you’ve found yourself in a cooking rut, always gravitating towards the same 3 to 4 recipes, spring is the perfect time to break out and try something new. The three recipes in this blog are easy to make and feature a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. As a bonus, these dishes are all vegetarian and can be made vegan with just a few modifications.

No matter where you get your produce from – whether your backyard garden, local farmers’ market, or the grocery store – we hope you enjoy the fresh flavors of spring with these recipes. If you’re up for it, they’re also designed to be enjoyed all together – picnic styl

Benefits of Eating Outdoors

As the weather starts to warm up, you’ve probably noticed more and more people enjoying picnics, cookouts, and dining outdoors at restaurants. Intuitively, we know that food just tastes better when enjoyed outdoors. But this phenomenon is also backed up by research demonstrating that eating outdoors comes with numerous health benefits. 

Dining al fresco (in the open air) is a great chance to enjoy the fresh spring breeze. According to the EPA, indoor levels of pollutants may be up to 100 times higher than outdoor pollutant levels. Air pollution negatively impacts almost every aspect of our health, from our cardiovascular systems to our immune systems. To maximize air quality, try spending as much time as possible in natural green spaces with high air circulation, such as wooded areas or near bodies of water. Furthermore, spending time outside significantly decreases your risk of respiratory virus transmission. 

Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, once said, “It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick, that second only to their need of fresh air is their need of light.” Approximately 42% of adults in the US are deficient in Vitamin D, but according to Harvard Health, “Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your face, arms, back, or legs without sunscreen a few times a week is enough to generate your body’s vitamin D needs for a week.” Meal times are a perfect time to boost your levels of this essential vitamin. Get started with these three simple, spring-inspired recipes that we developed.

Vegetarian Chickpea Salad

This recipe features green onions, also known as scallions, which are young onions that are harvested in the spring. The white part of the stalk has a distinctive sharp onion flavor, and the green part is milder. The best part about green onions is that you can regrow them from scraps! Just cut off the white portion of the onion, leaving the roots attached, and place the cuttings in a shallow glass of water. Then, snip off the top green parts whenever you need them for a recipe.

This chickpea salad makes a delicious plant-based sandwich spread, which is a great opportunity to enjoy other spring produce such as fresh lettuce and microgreens. Microgreens may be small, but their nutrient levels are concentrated, often containing higher nutrient levels than mature greens. 

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 green onion tops, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 pickle, chopped
2 T mayo (or vegan alternative)
½ T mustard
juice from ½ lemon
½ tsp dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl
Using a potato masher or fork, mash until about half of the chickpeas are smooth
Enjoy with pita chips or on a sandwich with your favorite toppings. We recommend avocado, tomato, pickles, microgreens, and lettuce!

Lemon Asparagus Pea Pasta

Featuring asparagus, sugar snap peas, and lemon, this pasta is bursting with fresh spring flavors. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, and it’s a great recipe to meal prep at the start of the week. The variety of fresh produce in this dish provides high levels of vitamins C, A, and K, as well as iron and dietary fiber. It’s also very quick and easy to make, coming in at just 10 ingredients.

1 lb. whole wheat pasta
2 T olive oil
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped
8 oz. sugar snap peas, chopped
3 cloves garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 oz. fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 T butter (or vegan butter)
salt, pepper, & red pepper flakes to taste
Boil pasta according to package instructions. Before draining, reserve ¼ c pasta water.
In a pan over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, asparagus, peas, and garlic. Cook for around 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. 
When the pasta is cooked, add it to the vegetable mixture along with the lemon zest and juice, basil, butter, and more seasoning as needed. Stir to combine and enjoy!

Cherry Ginger Limeade

Everyone loves a good drink, and while it’s okay to indulge occasionally, many sweet drinks contain high-fructose corn syrup that damages our health. Research shows that high-fructose corn syrup has played a major role in the global obesity epidemic, while also contributing to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Naturally sweetened with honey and bursting with fresh in-season cherries, zesty lime, and ginger, this beverage is packed full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and medicinal properties. 

10 oz. fresh cherries, pitted and stems removed
¼ c honey (or simple syrup for vegan option)
½ c water
1-inch knob of ginger, grated
zest of juice of 2 limes
36 oz. sparkling lime water

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, honey, water, and ginger. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the cherries begin to soften and break down. Set aside to cool for a few minutes, then blend the mixture with an immersion blender or stand blender to form a syrup.
Combine the syrup with the lime zest and juice and sparkling water. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Fresh Food of the Season

We hope these spring recipes inspire you to take advantage of the season’s fresh produce. The warm months are a wonderful opportunity to experiment with growing your own food, as well as support your local farmers. Wherever you source your produce, we hope this season you enjoy many delicious meals in the sun with those you love.