April 5, 2017

Spring Cleanse

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. 
Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits. 

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Five Element Theory (TCM), the flavor of Spring is sour. 
The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, horseradish, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, millet, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind.


Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring. In India’s time-honored tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the European / Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.



Food-Based Cleanse


Spring is also wonderful time to cleanse the internal organs with delicious fruit and vegetable juices. If you do not have a juicer, just use a food processor and strain out the pulp before drinking the juice. You can keep juice in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Juice recipes and health benefits:
  • To strengthen digestion - 1 granny smith apple, 2 carrots, 1 beet
  • To support the liver - beet greens, 1 beet, 3 stalks celery, 2 inches fresh ginger root
  • To cleanse the blood - 1 beet, 2 carrots, 1 granny smith apple, 2 handfuls fresh parsley
Enjoy! Drink a small glass of juice three times daily, from just after you wake up to times of low energy between meals.

If you like, you can take the leftover pulp and bake it into bread or savory muffins!
Mix:
2 cups pulp
1 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bake at 350 degrees in an oiled pan for 35 minutes.
Spread with tahini, lemon and olive oil for a delicious spring breakfast!

Regardless of whether or not you are able to drink fresh juice, you can lighten your diet and include more lacto-fermented vegetables, bitter greens, lemon juice, and whole grains in your meals.
For a week, try to eliminate the following foods, which can tax the liver, gall bladder, and lymph over time:
  • alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages
  • meat: white fish is ok once during the week if it helps you meet your protein needs
  • cheese, cream, ice cream: choose avocados, coconut milk, roasted root vegetables, baked apples
  • popcorn, crackers, cookies
  • products containing sorbitol or xylitol (sugar-free gum and candies)
  • refined sugar: choose raw honey or maple syrup
  • gluten and processed grains like pasta/bread: choose spring grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet
Instead, enjoy the fresh nourishment of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Garnish food with high quality olive oil or flax oil and lemon juice.

Breakfast ideas:
Quinoa porridge with carrot spread and almonds
Baked sweet potatoes with hard-boiled eggs
Scrambled eggs with spinach and quinoa
Roasted roots with hard-boiled eggs
Baked acorn squash with tahini (roasted sesame seed butter), coconut butter, and cinnamon

Lunch and Dinner:
Use recipes from the "spring" category of this blog.

Keep these on hand along with chopped carrot and celery sticks when you need a snack as you are cooking! Remember that flavor, which comes from spreads and spices, is crucial to enjoying your food.

Snacks:
Miso broth
Granola bar
Smoothie or juice (more juice and smoothie recipes on my blog)
Apple or orange

Liquids:
Dandelion root tea and a glass of warm water with lemon juice in the morning
At least 3 quarts water daily
Herbal tea in the evening: Traditional Medicinals’ Detox tea is a nice choice

Would you like more specific guidance, meal plans, and recipes for your cleanse? Try my two-week, food-based cleanse. Learn more here.

1 comment:

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i have never tried it, but i am sure that it will come out great. the recipe is quite easy and delicious, keep posting more recipes like these. i really like your blog.

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