Foods to Favor in Spring

Published by Annie Barrett: 
March 31, 2022

Ayurveda recommends following nature's rhythms when it comes to eating.

In most of North America, late March makes transition from winter to spring. Snow begins to melt. Sap begins to run in the trees. The moisture that was bound in snow and ice starts to melt. Nature begins the process of clearing and lightening up. As this happens, we find that our body’s desire for the heavier, richer foods we eat in the winter shifts to a desire for lighter, drier, simple foods. We start to crave more fresh fruits, greens, and vegetables.

Spring is a great time to lighten up and eat a more cleansing diet.

We can cleanse the body by eating more plant based foods and adding more of the flavors of pungent, bitter, astringent tastes found in seasonal, bitter greens, berries, ginger, turmeric and simply prepared veggies and vegetable soups. 

How to eat for spring

Increase foods, flavors, and experiences that are warming, light, dry, mobile, sharp and penetrating to counteract the damp, cool weather of spring,

Foods to favor

  • Greens such as kale, arugula, spinach, chard, fresh herbs
  • Pungent spices such as ginger, black pepper, lemon, turmeric
  • Lighter grains such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and couscous
  • Seasonal and more astringent fruits such as apples, pears, fresh berries, prunes
  • Legumes and lean proteins such as chickpeas, beans, lentils, egg whites, chicken, fish
  • Seasonal vegetables such nettles, dandelion greens, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli
  • Healthier, lighter sweeteners such as raw honey in moderation

Reduce foods, flavors and experiences that are cold, heavy, oily, static, dull, and slow.

Foods to reduce:

  • Anything cold
  • Dairy products
  • Sweet heavy fruits (dates, figs, bananas)
  • Breads and refined carbs
  • Heavy, oily, fried foods
  • Roasted nuts
  • Salt – because it adds to fluid retention
  • Animal protein – eat in moderation during spring

Learn more! Join our Spring Reset!

Spring Recipes

Asparagus and White Bean Soup

This recipe is adapted from the recipe of the same name in Everyday Ayurveda by Kate O’Donnell

  • 1 bunch asparagus stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups water or broth
  • Olive oil

Saute leeks and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add chopped asparagus and let saute until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in cooked white beans and broth. Simmer until tender. Blend with an immersion blender. Add in grated zest and lemon juice. Add a little more salt and pepper. Serve with gremolata sauce (recipe below).

Easy Gremolata

Gremolata is a nutrient packed and flavorful pesto like topping you can add to the asparagus soup above or enjoy with other vegetables, protein dishes or grains.

  • One bunch parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil - 1-2 T

Clean and chop parsley coarsely. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until you have a pesto like consistency. Serve with soup, break, roasted vegetables or meats. This goes well with any Mediterranean type meal.

South Indian Sambar

A sambar is a lentil stew. This recipe is adapted from the recipe of the same name in Everyday Ayurveda by Kate O’Donnell.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup split mung bean or red lentil (I recommend soaking the lentils in water overnight)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 pinches hing (asafetida) - this is optional
  • 2 tsp sambar powder (sambar powder is a spicy curry powder from South India. You can substitute any type of curry powder)
  • Ghee, coconut oil or neutral flavored oil

Saute onions, garlic, and ginger in ghee or coconut oil.. Add turmeric and carrots. Then add lentils. Add water and simmer for about 30 minutes, until lentils are soft. After about 20 minutes, add the green beans. When the lentils are soft, turn the heat down. Salt to taste. Add chopped tomatoes and put the lid back on. In a separate skillet, heat ghee or coconut oil, add in mustard seeds, hing, and sambar powder. Saute for 2 or 3 minutes until spices have released their fragrance. Then, stir in the spices and oil to the lentil mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with cilantro coconut chutney or plain cilantro.

Cilantro-Coconut Chutney

This chutney can be served with most Indian dishes.

  • One bunch cilantro, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup dried grated coconut
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 - 2 T honey

Add all of the above ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until you have a pesto-like consistency. Serve with South Indian Sambar or any other Indian style dishes.

Green Garlic-Nettle Walnut Pesto

If you are like me, you know you can make pesto out of anything green!  Green garlic pesto is a total treat.  If you have nettles on hand, throw them in.  Throw in any other edible greens or fresh herbs you have in the garden. 

Here is my latest spring pesto:

  • big bunch of green garlic
  • 1 cup of steamed nettles
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • several glugs of olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • optional: grated romano cheese or creamy goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend in the food processor until smooth.  Serve on pasta, toast, roasted vegetables, or with crackers, fish or poultry.

Spring Detox Nettle - Dandelion Root Chai

Nettles are a spring super food. Nettles can be wildcrafted and picked with care. They often grow in meadows alongside forests. They can also be found fresh in some grocery stores, and are widely available dried and in teas. This chai recipe has 

Ingredient amounts are approximate!

  • 1 T dried nettles, or 1 cup fresh nettles
  • 1 T dried dandelion root
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 T dried licorice root
  • 4 cups water

Add ingredients to a big pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Serve chai as is or add in milk of choice and honey.

Check out the video

I made a video with my friend and colleague, Alexandra Epple, about how to eat as we transition from winter to spring.

Learn more! Join our Spring Reset!