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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Seasonal Eating for a Rejuvenating Summer: Q&A with Café Evergreen

Jun 30, 2024 11:00AM ● By Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

When temperatures rise across Southwest Florida, I crave refreshing meals to cool myself down in the relentless summer heat. Can anyone else relate? It turns out, there is an underlying reason for this shift in our eating choices and preferences—one that’s rooted in the ancient, holistic practice of Ayurvedic healing.

As tradition states, our nutritional requirements change in accordance with each season. So, for this month’s Community Spotlight, I reached out to Ted Weinberger at Café Evergreen to learn how seasonal eating can restore our wellness and balance all summer long.

Natural Awakenings: Why is it beneficial to center nutritional habits around naturally seasonal ingredients, and how does this inform your menu at Café Evergreen? 

Ted Weinberger: I find there are many benefits in the use of seasonal ingredients. Seasonal eating is healthy for the environment—if you do not have to transport items from a distance, this will reduce your carbon footprint. Not to mention, the quicker a food item arrives, the fresher and more nutritious it will be. Peak in-season items generally cost less, too.

From a holistic wellness lens, seasonal eating offers biocharacteristic benefits as well. This is a belief that foods have specific qualities at certain times of year. For instance, in the summer, cooling foods can transmit cooling energy into our bodies.  

NA: Can you describe the process of curating a seasonal menu, testing out the flavor profiles, and sourcing fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients? 

Weinberger: When creating a menu, we take many factors into consideration—the availability of ingredients, the complexity of sourcing them, or the time and cost of transportation. Finding the combination of local, seasonal ingredients to use in a recipe is like a composer formulating the melody of a song. You can almost taste a delicious outcome when reading a recipe—just as a musician can sense how a composition will sound when reading the notes.   

NA: The Ayurvedic concept of dosha balance refers to the five elements and their impact on both physical and mental health. How can eating based on the earth’s seasonal cycles help reinforce this dosha balance from the inside out? 

Weinberger: It’s not uncommon to notice that you feel much better when eating seasonally. This is because the human body craves certain foods from one season to the next. For instance, in the spring, you’ll often gravitate towards sprouts, fruit, salads, or other light meals. Whereas in the winter, you’ll lean into heartier foods like soups or stews.

This is one of the core tenets of Biocharacteristic Medicine, which has been practiced for thousands of years across various ancient cultures—Ayurveda in India, Uhani Tibb in the Middle East, Chinese Medicine in East Asia, or Greek Medicine in Europe. Biocharacteristic  Medicine refers to disease or dysfunction as an imbalance, and a practitioner’s role is to assist the body in resolving that imbalance. For example, a cool herb can be used to treat a hot rash.

In Ayurvedic teachings, humans are born with characteristics that favor a specific dosha, rooted in two of the five elements (air, earth, ether, fire, water). There are three doshas—Pitta, Veta, and Kapha. Most of us are a fusion of each. Knowing your dosha can help strengthen both mental and physical health. Ayurveda is all about listening to the body, then honoring its unique, specific needs with seasonal food choices. At Café Evergreen, we call this pattern of eating, “healthy food for a healthy life.” 

NA: What are some of the seasonal dishes on Café Evergreen’s menu this summer that you are particularly excited about sharing with our local community? 

Weinberger: Summer ushers in the Pitta time of year (fire and water). Taking the Florida heat into account, our seasonal menu incorporates the Ayurvedic cooling elements. We offer iced tea beverages infused with hibiscus, peach, and green tea. We also have a “Summer Cooler” drink with watermelon, mint, and kefir water.

In terms of food, we use ingredients such as avocado, kale, cucumbers, legumes, broccoli, arugula, sunflower seeds, rice,  green beans, pumpkin seeds, peas, cauliflower, and other cooling foods. For omnivores, our Bison burger is ideal for its cooling effect on the body. Or for those with a sweet tooth, our coconut cream dessert with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries is sublime. Our best-selling appetizer this time of year is roasted cauliflower. It’s perfect for enjoying in this hot weather—check out the recipe below!

●       Ingredients:

1.      ¼ ounces of coconut oil

2.      2 cups roasted cauliflower

3.      2 ounces of peas

4.      1 pinch of minced garlic

5.      2 ounces of chopped walnuts

6.      Sea salt to taste

7.      Parsley to garnish 

●       Procedure:

1.      Heat the coconut oil to medium-high in a skillet.

2.      Toss in the cauliflower, then cook for two minutes.

3.      Incorporate the peas, then cook until heated.

4.      Stir in the minced garlic, then cook for one minute.

5.      Stir in the chopped walnuts, then cook for one minute

6.      Season with sea salt, then finish with parsley. 

Café Evergreen is located at 801 S Tamiami Trail, Nokomis. The restaurant hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 941-412-4334 or visit


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