As were transitioning form heavy winter foods to the first signs of fresh produce of the year, we want to take our time. Sweet tender early greens, spring onion, radish, artichoke and sugar snap peas are all the first out of the gate crops. Interestingly this green family of foods as well as the spring onion family all help cleanse and invigorate the liver system. Modern science has shown that green foods (particularly the cruciferous ones) contain something called indole-3 carbinol which is a key component for liver detoxification. I love it when modern science meets Ancient Medicine!
When adding in foods - it's best to start with just adding in small amounts of raw but mostly cooking your food in early spring. As the weather gets warmer and there's more fresh food available, you can start to add more raw or lightly cooked your foods into the mix (blanch, steam or lightly sauté).
Top Spring Foods:
GREENS (spinach, asparagus, green beans, dandelion greens etc.)
Spring is a time when all the new fresh green life is coming up. These greens are so nutrient dense and work directly on the liver system helping it detox and clear up all that heavy congesting food from the winter. They also help to build and cleanse the blood and are great for detoxification of the liver, which is helpful after the heavier often richer foods of the winter.
Beets and Beet Greens
Beets are also good for the liver system. They are also a little bit sweet which can help strengthen the digestive system and they also build the blood so great for women who need to build their blood. Beets also help to move the Qi energy and are slightly warm in property. We’re easing into the summer/hot months so having slightly warm foods and still lightly cooking our foods is important.
The beets are a great cold weather crop and can be planted as early as March or April depending where you live and the soil is above 10 celsius. Beets stored over the winter months have a slightly sweeter flavor which aids in digestion and early beets are are often more nutrient dense as the soil is richer after the long winter hibernation.
Lemon, Citrus and Vinegar
Citrus fruits such as lemons or limes as well as vinegars are great for the liver system and can really help to move the energy. They also help to break down fatty foods or congestion in the body which is particularly helpful after the heavier foods of winter as I mentioned before.
Try to make sure you still cook your foods in early spring, but shifting away from the slow roasting of the winter. Try for a lightly steamed or flash cooking and then slowly incorporating more raw a as the weather warms up. You can try warming up your salad dressing (see recipe on previous blog) or lightly sautéing some foods such as peppers, asparagus or green beans and then tossing them into your fresh greens to take the edge off the raw food and making it easier for you digestive system to break it down.
Most of all, listen to your body. If you’re someone who has digestive problems like bloating or fatigue after you eat, looser bowel movements or have difficulty losing weight, you’re going to want to stick to cooked food in general to help your body digest easily. If you’re someone who’s hot all the time and seem to burn through food fast, you can probably tolerate more raw fresh foods.
We’re all unique and understanding the messages our body is sending and adopting our lifestyle and foods to our particular state of balance AND to the seasons is one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves.
So happy spring and enjoy all the beauty out there as things come back to life!