Secrets of the Seasonal Vegan

Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season brings us in tune with the rhythms of the earth. Summer delivers a rainbow of colors and diverse produce choices. Autumn ushers in sweet flavors and hearty foods such as yams, potatoes, and winter squash that fill savory casseroles and compliment baked beans. Winter options like citrus fruits instill sweet and sour tones that complete soups and wake up sleepy pilafs. And spring signals fresh beginnings with an abundance of greens.

Taking advantage of the produce that is in season is possible for all, even if you don't have a garden, you can't make it to the farmers' market every week, and your produce comes from grocery stores. When you grow or purchase foods that are in season, you are choosing produce picked at the peak of ripeness as well as enjoying the bounty that grows in your region of the world. For most of the United States, this usually means peaches in mid-to-late summer and kale and potatoes in winter. If you want the sweetest and most flavorful melons, look for those in summer. For juicy, reasonably priced lemons, search for these gems in winter.

Produce availability fluctuates with the seasons across North America. Growing seasons extend from tropical (Florida) to cool temperate (South Dakota). Even in my own state, Washington, produce harvests are staggered. For example, east of the Cascade Mountains, tomatoes ripen in July, but for many backyard gardeners west of this range, tomatoes rarely show up until August. Likewise, stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines, thrive in the dry climate east of the Cascades, but the same varieties may be plagued by fungus in the damp conditions near the coast.

If you want to know what's available state by state each month, visit . Just click on articles and guides, and check out the peak season map. Find your state, pick the month you're interested in, and discover what's in season.

The recipes in this article are designed to use yearround; just shift ingredients as the seasons change. For instance, when contemplating a simple steamed vegetable side dish, I combine a simple sweet-and-sour sauce with lemon and agave nectar for spring asparagus, summer green beans, fall carrots, and winter beets.


(Serves 2)

The secret to making creamy-tasting fruit smoothies without adding dairy or soy is adding a Tablespoon or two of nut butter (almond or hazelnut) and a banana. Sometimes, I add a little lemon zest or a pinch of fresh lavender buds during the summer. When winter arrives, I make citrus smoothies from the juice and zest from two oranges, two ripe bananas, and almond butter (no water).

  • 2 cups berries or pitted and sliced peaches, nectarines, apricots, or cherries
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons no-salt-added almond, cashew, or hazelnut butter
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Add more water if you would like a thinner consistency.

Total calories per serving: 200 Fat: 10 grams
Carbohydrates: 28 grams Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 4 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams

Seasonal Produce
Beets (baby)
Brussels sprouts*
Fava beans
Green garlic
Spring onions
Sugar snap peas
Turnips (baby)
Wild greens
Beans (green, shell)
Squash (summer)
Squash (winter)*
Asian pears
Beans (green, shell)
Brussels sprouts
Burdock roots
Jerusalem artichokes
Key limes*
Parsley roots
Squash (summer)
Squash (winter)
Star fruit**
Bok choy
Brussels sprouts
Soybeans (green)
Squash (winter)
Star fruit**
Sweet potatoes

* Florida, Texas, Arizona, or California

** Florida

*** Fewer varieties of greens in the South and Southwest and in drought-stricken states


(Serves 2)

In the winter, I make smoothies with many kinds of dried fruit. Try a blend of apples and cherries, or perhaps a combination of apricots and dates.

  • 1 cup loosely packed dried fruit
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1-2 Tablespoons no-salt-added almond, cashew, or hazelnut butter
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Combine the fruit and water, and allow fruit to rehydrate overnight.

Combine all of the other ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Add more water if you would like a thinner consistency. For a thicker consistency, add more bananas.

Drain the dried fruit, if necessary. Add to the ingredients in the blender and purée until smooth.

Total calories per serving: 281 Fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 59 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 21 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams


(Serves 4)

Seasonal fruit provides a revolving kaleidoscope of flavors for this fun fruit salad anytime of year. In the spring, add strawberries and garnish with mint sprigs. During the summer, try melon chunks or peach, nectarine, or plum slices. Berries taste best in spring through fall. In winter, try apples, pears, chopped dates, and chopped nuts. If you want to add dried fruit, try ½ cup dried and the remainder fresh.

Mori-Nu makes a great shelf-stable tofu, and it is often found in the international aisle in natural foods stores.

  • One 12-ounce package shelf-stable silken tofu
  • 1 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • Agave nectar to taste
  • 4 ½ cups seasonal fruit (whole berries; bite-sized melon cubes; sliced peaches, nectarines, apples, and pears; etc.)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons finely chopped nuts or grated coconut (optional)

Combine tofu, pineapple, bananas, lime juice, and agave nectar in a blender. Blend until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Gently mix in your choice of rinsed and cut fruit. Sprinkle with chopped nuts or grated coconut, if desired.

Total calories per serving: 189 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 38 grams Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 8 milligrams Fiber: 7 grams


(Serves 6)

Potatoes are in season most of the year. Parsley is available year-round, but it's seasonal in spring and summer for most of North America.

As the seasons shift gears, this salad can sparkle with vegetable variety. In the summer, add slices of colorful peppers, garden fresh peas, steamed green beans, or corn fresh from a cob. In the fall, try bite-sized chunks of peeled and steamed yams or winter squash. In the winter, savor rutabagas, turnips, or raw grated parsnips. When spring arrives, add lightly steamed cut asparagus, sugar snap or snow peas, and chives.

  • 2 pounds white or red potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup white miso
  • 3 Tablespoons raspberry or rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard with horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed, or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups shredded or chopped seasonal vegetables (raw vegetables, such as peas or peppers, or lightly steamed vegetables, such as cut green beans or diced winter squash)
  • ¼ cup minced onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery (best in late summer or fall)
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)

Place the potatoes in a saucepan with water and steam until forktender, approximately 5-7 minutes. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Set aside and allow potatoes to cool slightly while you blend the salad dressing.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, miso, vinegar, agave nectar, mustard, celery seed, garlic, and cayenne. Blend with a fork, mashing and stirring until smooth and creamy.

Add seasonal vegetables, onions, and celery to the warm potatoes. Gently stir in the dressing and sprinkle parsley over potato salad to finish. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold later.

Total calories per serving: 211 Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 39 grams Protein: 5 grams
Sodium: 517 milligrams Fiber: 7 grams


(Serves 5)

*Pictured on the cover. Kale and collards are hearty greens that grow year-round in many areas through out North America. Carrots are another almost year-round option for many of our growing zones. Fresh corn, parsley, and diced red and yellow peppers make colorful summer options, while in the fall, I add steamed, chopped golden beets or finely chopped raw apples.

  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 bunch (approximately 6 cups) seasonal greens, such as kale, collards, or mustard greens, washed, patted dry, and finely chopped
  • 1-1 ½ cups cooked bite-sized chunks of seasonal vegetables (optional)
  • One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

In a small saucepan, combine the water, garlic powder, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, add the quinoa, and bring to a second boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed all of the water.

While the quinoa cooks, heat a skillet and add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, and stir and cook until soft. Add the chopped greens and cook until the greens are tender, approximately 5-10 minutes. Combine the greens with the quinoa and add in the seasonal vegetables. Gently stir garbanzos into this mixture.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, and cayenne. Whisk to blend and gently stir into the salad. This dish is great warm or chilled and served as a whole meal salad later.

Total calories per serving: 355 Fat: 9 grams
Carbohydrates: 60 grams Protein: 12 grams
Sodium: 359 milligrams Fiber: 8 grams


(Makes 2 cups or sixteen 2-Tablespoon servings)

This unique hummus incorporates seasonal vegetables. Since carrots are in season most of the year, I usually make carrot hummus. I've also used edamame or fava beans instead of garbanzo beans. Use the water from the steamed vegetables, adding just enough for a creamy texture.

  • 1 cup cooked, drained garbanzos
  • 1 cup steamed vegetables (such as carrots, cauliflower, winter squash, potatoes, yams, rutabagas, etc.)
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • Juice (approximately 2 ½ teaspoons) and zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon agave nectar (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼-½ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro or finely chopped parsley to garnish

Place garbanzos, vegetables, tahini, lemon juice and zest, agave nectar, garlic, cayenne, and ¼ cup water in a blender. Purée mixture until smooth, adding more water to reach desired consistency, if necessary. Add salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Total calories per serving: 43 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 5 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 11 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram


(Serves 4)

This easy recipe is my favorite for adding pizzazz to steamed, roasted, or grilled vegetables. It's also a great addition to soups since it contains all the essential flavors—sweet, sour, pungent, spicy, and salty. Citrus fruits are more seasonal in winter, but I often keep a lemon or two on hand year-round to make this simple recipe.

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
  • ½ Tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients together. Drizzle over vegetables, gently toss, and serve.

Total calories per serving: 13 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 4 grams Protein: <1 gram
Sodium: 146 milligrams Fiber: <1 gram


(Serves 4)

I make extra mashed potatoes for one meal and use the rest for this great main dish. Sometimes, I add a sprig of rosemary or a generous pinch of thyme and oregano. I also like spicy food and often incorporate additional salsa or hot peppers to kick it up a notch.

In the summer, fresh cauliflower, English peas, fennel, and green beans add liveliness. Zucchini, corn, peppers, sweet potatoes, and golden beets grace this comfort food in the fall. For winter, halved Brussels sprouts, winter squash, rutabagas, or parsnips make staying home for dinner a welcome treat. In the spring, asparagus and sugar snap peas make this entrée sing. Consider the produce chart for other seasonal vegetable options, and imagine the possibilities.

  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 2-3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or safflower oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 5-6 cups of bite-sized seasonal vegetables
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot or 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons white miso
  • One 15-ounce can white, red, or pinto beans or black-eyed peas, drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked dry white, red, or pinto beans or black-eyed peas
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Blend salsa into mashed potatoes and set aside.

Heat a heavy ovenproof 10- inch skillet over medium heat. (I use cast iron.) When the pan is hot, add oil and onions, stir, and cook until onions are soft and lightly browned, approximately 10 minutes. Add a little water, if necessary. When onions have browned, add vegetables and ¾ cup water and then simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for a few minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

While the vegetables cook, blend together the remaining water, arrowroot or cornstarch, and miso and add to simmering vegetables. Stir in the beans and pepper and cook until vegetables begin to soften, approximately 5-10 minutes.

Remove vegetables from heat. Spread the potato-salsa mixture over the top and sprinkle with paprika. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the top is slightly browned. Serve with a simple green salad and crusty artisan bread.

Total calories per serving: 332 Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 62 grams Protein: 14 grams
Sodium: 417 milligrams Fiber: 12 grams


(Serves 4-6)

Seasonal fruit is the main attraction in this easy recipe. In the summer, combine berries and add ½ teaspoon of crushed fresh culinary lavender buds. For fall flavors, add ½ cup of fresh cranberries to apples and pears and slightly more sugar to compensate for the astringent cranberries. In the spring, rhubarb and strawberries call out for orange juice and zest.

You should adjust the amount of sweetness you add based on the kinds of produce you use. With sweet summer fruit like peaches and blueberries, use the least amount of sugar. With rhubarb, cranberries, tart berries, or sour apples, add up to half a cup of sugar.

  • 1 ½ cups flour, divided
  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
  • ¼ cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine or safflower oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4-5 cups fresh fruit (such as seeded, peeled, and sliced peaches, nectarines, or apples; seeded and sliced pears; chopped rhubarb and strawberries; or summer berries)
  • An additional ¼-½ cup sugar (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest, or more for additional flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine ¾ cup flour, oats, baking powder, and 2 Tablespoons sugar. Cut in the margarine or oil with a pastry blender or fork. Then, stir in the maple syrup. The mixture should be crumbly with chunks. Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine the fruit, additional sugar (if using), lemon juice, lemon zest, and remaining flour. Use slightly more flour for soft fruits, such as peaches, and slightly less for harder fruits, like apples.

Scoop fruit mixture into the bottom of a 1 ½- to 2-quart soufflé or casserole dish. Spread flour-oats mixture over the fruit to create a topping. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until top is browned. The top becomes crisp as it cools.

Total calories per serving: 412 Fat: 13 grams
Carbohydrates: 68 grams Protein: 8 grams
Sodium: 214 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams