Spring is a time of growth, when the shoots that have been sleeping all winter, begin to awaken. In order for those shoots to survive, they must have within them the ability to bend and stay supple. Any rigidity in the plant will cause the new growth to break off and die. The wood element gives us the flexibility in life to grow, but if we hold on too tightly and become rigid, nothing happens. The liver and the gallbladder are the organs associated with the wood element. We must feed them the right food in order for them to stay in balance. In winter, our food was heavy and warm, in spring we begin to lighten up, and may even fast on occasion to get rid of the excess baggage of winter.
The color of wood is green as I mentioned earlier, the odor is rancid, the sound is shouting, the emotion is anger and the taste or flavor is sour. You may notice in spring, the tendency towards irritation in yourself or in others. Choosing the appropriate foods can help to lighten your moods. There still tends to be a chill in the air during this time of year and it is therefore still appropriate to eat mainly cooked foods. The heavy oils and nuts of winter are replaced with spring greens, sprouts and fresh herbs and spices. Quickly sautéing food or lightly steaming is the preferred method of cooking. Below you will find some recipes to help smooth the liver and aid in your personal spring growth.
Grilled Asparagus and Shitake over Pasta
*Depending on the variety, asparagus can be slightly warming in nature, with a bitter and mildly pungent flavor. It can help to reduce phlegm and mucus, which are often side effects of spring allergies. Shitake mushrooms strengthen, detoxify and restore. Another great addition to the diet if prone to allergies. The addition of the vinegar helps to energize liver meridian and aids in digestion.
1 1/2 Tbs. sesame oil
1 Tbs. fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2-c. shitake mushrooms
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. tamari
1/4 c. parsley
1/4 c. pineapple juice
1 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 pound asparagus spears
4 cups cooked pasta
Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add ginger, pepper, and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook for two minutes. Add vinegar, tamari, parsley, juice and maple syrup. Cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Soak the asparagus in mushroom-vinegar for 5-10 minutes. Grill (or broil) the asparagus for 3 minutes. Place on pasta and top off with sauce.
*Everyone has his or her own version of hummus. I like mine with lots of lemon and just a tad of garlic. Lemon is perfect for spring – with its sour flavor and acidic nature – it helps to support liver function. Parsley can also help to support the gallbladder by preventing gallstones.
2 c. chick peas
1-2 Tbs. tahini
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1/4 c. cooking liquid from beans or water to desired consistency
Place cooked chickpeas in food processor or blender with tahini, salt, lemon, garlic, and olive oil; blend until smooth. Add cooking liquid from beans or a little water to get desired consistency. It will store well in the refrigerator for at least one week.
*This salad is great as a starter to a meal. The carrots help to smooth the liver and the green apple aids in the cleansing of the liver and gallbladder and can help to soften gallstones.
1 clove garlic, minced 3 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
1/8 tsp. pepper 3 large carrots, coarsely shredded
1 Tbs. lemon juice 2 Tbs. olive oil
1 green apple, chopped 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard to dressing
Combine dressing ingredients. Add parsley and carrots. Mix well.
*If you are feeling a little congested from the heavy winter foods, try a simple fast or add this detoxifying lemonade into your diet. Remember to lighten up on your foods at the same time for a more beneficial cleanse.
1 lemon, juiced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. maple syrup or small amount of stevia
8 oz. water
Mix above ingredients together and drink. Use as few or as many glasses per day as you want. Recommended dosage: one glass before each meal.