May is a time to observe the beauty around us, with all of the gorgeous bright tulips/daffodils popping up. The rich colors and fragrant smells can have emotional and sometimes physical healing qualities! It’s also a time to think about increasing your fruit and veggie intake, particularly for those that can assist with lifting our mood! The Produce department is a great place to start to find that awe-inspiring “Rainbow” of brightly colored fruits and veggies. Not only are they pretty to look at, but produce contains nutrients such as selenium, magnesium, zinc and Vitamins C, E and B vitamins, which help your brain function properly.

Nothing says spring to me, better than fresh, wild asparagus from my favorite farm in Schoharie Valley! The month of May is the time when these succulent spears are at their peak! I like to roast mine with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped, fresh garlic. They are also great tossed into pasta or thinly sliced into a raw asparagus salad.

Here are some ways I like to include bright, phytonutrient-rich produce within my day’s menu. For breakfast, my go-to is taking a handful of frozen wild blueberries (when fresh aren’t yet in season) from the freezer, defrost in micro for few seconds, and add to a bowl of plain Greek yogurt, sprinkled with your favorite granola (packed with mood-boosting nuts and seeds) that can also boost your mood and make for a satisfying breakfast. A great lunch option is a curried tuna (mood-boosting fatty fish) salad made with chopped celery, onion and chopped fresh avocado, served over a bed of your favorite greens or on a whole-grain pita. For dinner, I love baked salmon (rich in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids) with a lemon sauce (2 Tbsp margarine 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp parsley flakes), baked sweet potato fries (rich in Vit C), with a kale sauté (fresh kale, olive oil, garlic, dried craisins). Kale’s high folate content can help improve mood, and the craisins add just enough sweetness to take away any bitter flavor.

Don’t forget to include snacks into your day to help bridge the gap between meals and maintain good energy! Produce is a great way to accomplish this, mixed with a protein-rich source, such as almond butter spread onto fresh apple slices, or dried apricots dipped in chocolate hummus.

Spring is time for new beginnings and mindful food choices. Our food choices can play a big role in overall health and well-being. Careful meal planning paired with mood-boosting produce can not only boost your mood but help to improve your overall nutrition.

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