Love Your Liver!
Foods for Springtime

According to Chinese medicine, every season corresponds to both an organ and an organ meridian. In the spring, this is the liver. Traditionally, spring is the season when we clear out. We spring clean our closets, our drawers, the garage, the flower and garden beds. But it can also be a time to spring clean our bodies—move out the old, stagnant energy and detoxify the body so we are ready for the activity of summertime.

Many people do cleanses in the spring, from fasting to cleansing programs under the guidance of a health practitioner. We can help our bodies during this time by paying attention to what we eat and including specific foods in our diet. What we eat matters to our health and overall well-being, and we can leverage springtime energy by eating spring foods. I encourage you to try some of them and see how you feel!

Mother Nature provides us with the perfect foods to help us spring clean our bodies. The color is bright, spring green, and the flavors are bitter, pungent, and astringent. In Chinese medicine and the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, the flavors of spring meant to encourage movement and detoxification and make way for new life. Tis the season to add more vegetables to your diet, and to make some of them raw. Look for foods full of life force and vitality: green foods, full of the energy of spring.

Two seasonal favorites are champions at spring cleaning—asparagus and dandelion greens. Asparagus is a wonderful blood cleanser. It should be cooked until just done or still firm or lightly steamed to retain maximum vitamins and minerals. When cooked correctly, the color of asparagus brightens.

Dandelion greens strengthen the liver and aid kidney function. They act as a very mild diuretic and are rich in calcium, folic acid, potassium, iron, choline, trace minerals, and vitamins A, B1, and B2. Like all vegetables, they are best when organic, fresh, and locally grown. Eat dandelion greens raw, tossed in with your other salad greens to retain their vitamins and vitality. You may also gently steam (wilt, really) or sauté them with other greens such as chard or spinach. You can make yourself a liver-cleansing dandelion root tea by pulling up the roots of these beauties right in your yard (not yards treated with pesticides, please), then chopping them up and decocting them (bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes). Yum!

Some other foods for spring include arugula, radishes, daikon root, Chinese cabbage, lemon, parsley, spinach, green onions, garlic, snap peas, micro greens, and baby greens of all sorts. Helpful spices include ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili pepper.

Let’s talk about lemon! We know it is astringent because of the way we pucker up when it hits our tongue. Squeeze fresh lemon over salads or your favorite vegetables to promote digestion and cleansing. Consider starting your day with a mug of hot water and fresh lemon juice to help wake up your liver and get it ready for its workday of cleansing and detoxifying. (A pinch of turmeric or cayenne is great too.)

Along with eating to cleanse and clear out, there are other ways to include the season in your diet. You can experience the bursting energy of spring right on your windowsill or countertop by growing your own sprouts. It is simple to do, and how quickly they sprout! You can toss them raw in salads, steam them, or sauté them. Either way, drizzle them with some good-quality raw, unfiltered olive oil (there’s some more green for you) and a squeeze of lemon.

May your journey to wellness this spring be delightful and delicious.

Sprouting Beans or Seeds

Put a little spring on your windowsill and in your diet by sprouting beans or seeds. Sprouted beans need to be cooked before you eat them so they will be easy on your digestive system. You may eat seed sprouts raw on salads and the like.

Beans to sprout: mung beans, adzuki beans, and lentils are wonderful sprouted and are very high in nutrients. As for seeds, you may sprout radish, broccoli, peas, and others for some variety and a bit of spice to your life.

Fill a wide-mouth quart-size glass jar with about an inch of seeds. Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Rinse. Cover with filtered water and let sit overnight. Drain in the morning and rinse with fresh water. Invert the jar at a diagonal to encourage drainage and discourage mold. Place on windowsill. Rinse 2–3 times each day with fresh water until you see sprouts. Eat when sprouts are half an inch to an inch long. Yum! Eat sprouts, eat spring!

For more information on how and why to sprout seeds (as well as nuts, beans, and grains), see the section on seeds in my book The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet.

Sources

Images from Monica Corrado. 

Monica Corrado, MA, CNC, CGP, is a teaching chef, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and Certified GAPS Practitioner who is passionate about illuminating the connection between food and well-being. She is a dynamic teacher, speaker, consultant, and author who lives to share the tools, knowledge, and inspiration to cook nourishing, traditional food. Monica has been teaching food as medicine for more than 13 years after 18 years in sustainable food sourcing and preparation, menu design and management. She is a member of the Honorary Board of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and is the GAPS Executive Chef on the GAPS Training team with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Monica started her own Cooking for Well-Being Teacher Training program in 2012, and has graduates all over the US, Hong Kong, Canada, and Mexico. For more information about Monica, her books, charts, and the Traditional Foods Teacher Training program, or to schedule a consultation, or to book her to speak at your event, visit Simply Being Well.

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