Eating for Spring

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I love the ‘zing’ of spring. Yes, that might be a cliché, but looking at all the beautiful spring flowers, enjoying the warmer weather, and feeling a bit excited for Halloween (southern hemisphere here!), how can one *not* feel a ‘zing’?

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Without further ado, here are some suggestions to ease you holistically into spring. The focus is waking and energising the body from the stagnancy of winter, and preparing you for the heat of summer. Ps we are talking a whole lot of seasonal vegetables here, whew.

Depending on where you live, these are the typical foods available for the season:

  • Avocado, dates, grapefruit, lemon, lime, loquat, olive, orange, plum, strawberry, tangelo, tangerine.
  •  Artichoke, asparagus, beets, beet-greens, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, celery, chard, chickweed, chicory, chives, cilantro, collard greens, comfrey, dandelion greens, green garlic, green onion, green peas, kale, leeks, lettuce, mint, mushroom, mustard greens, nettle, parsley, radish, rhubarb, sorrel greens, spinach, sprouts, sugar peas, watercress.
  • Barley, buckwheat, corn, rice, rye, wheat, sprouted grains.
  • Adzuki, garbanzo/chickpeas, fava, lentil, mung beans, sprouted beans.
  • Alfalfa, clover, radish, sunflower seeds- sprouted.

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As you can see by the lists above, there is a strong emphasis on sprouts and leafy greens. We all understand the deal about spring; the rising energy of the earth (yin energy), as winter ebbs, and life returns. New shoots from seeds, bulbs, all matter of germination, arise. We too, feel this physically. The desire to clean our homes, or maybe start a new lifestyle/fitness/study regime, all of this is “humans embracing the ‘yin'”. We get excited about new possibilities. Our mood picks ups along with the wind, and other rejuvenating weather patterns. Who doesn’t feel a sense of ‘cleanliness’ mentally, after some spring-time rain?

To support us in these desired fancies, eating lots of spring fruit, veg, and especially sprouts, will give us maximum energy to achieve these goals. Sprouts are the most energy potent little bundles of awesomeness. A wonderful gift for us from the earth to help us get our ‘zing’ on, after a potentially sedentary winter. Leafy greens also, are high in energy giving nutrients and chlorophyll, which helps the body metabolise residual-winter-waste, from said sedentariness.

This brings us to touching on the topic of the ‘spring time ‘detox”. Please, lets not think of detox as we have been lead to by commercial marketing entities. The body has a constant detoxification process, via the incredible immune system, wonderous organ filtering, and outstanding excretory processes. How effectively this continual process is working depends on our diet and lifestyle, for the most part. This of course is a whole other article, so to be brief.. spring is the perfect time to encourage this process to pick up a little pace. This doesn’t mean purchasing unsafe gimmicky drug store ‘cleanses’ or ‘detox’ packs. Nature, in its infinate wisdom, provides us each and every season with food and herbs that support the immune system and assist the organs with their detoxification and healing process. Lets clarify..

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the high yin energy of spring rising up from the earth, is said to directly enhance the liver and gall bladder meridian ‘Qi’. The foods available at this time, complement this, as they are bursting with the enzymes and nutrients that heal, nourish and stimulate these organs. The liver and gall bladder are seriously hard-working in so many of the bodies processes, especially detoxification. Therefore, eating seasonally and making a few other diet adaptations, nourishes the body to support the work it specifically focuses on, depending on the season. Another example; Autumn, which is obviously springs opposite, is the most ‘yang’ season energy or ‘Qi’ wise. The contractive/oppressive yang weakens the lungs Qi most, maybe no surprise then that we become more likely to develop coughs during this season.

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Citrus fruits are wonderful for revving up the liver, gall badder and kidneys. You may want to eat them daily, add slices to drinking water, or to also try the trusted “1/2 lemon in warm (not hot) water every morning” approach. Not only will this encourage metabolism, but adding them to your water assists in its absorbtion at a cellular level, resulting in better hydration. This is due to the enzymes present in citrus, especially lemons and limes.

As the weeks grow warmer toward summer, we will desire lighter meals prepared with less cooking time. Traditionally and instinctually-wise, we phase out the stews, our soups become lighter and even cooler in temperature. We fill our plates and bowls with more salads, lighter grains like barley and quinoa, and use a lot less oil and animal fats in our cooking. The lighter cooking methods (eg stir fry, blanching, light streaming) and the inclusion of more raw foods, ensures that our food is still full of the vitamins and enzymes so prevelant, and so important to our body at this time. Cooking fruit and vegetables can have a destructive effect on some vitamins and enzymes, yet other vitamins are made more bio-available to the body if cooked before digested. This is why it is important to maintain a balance of cooked and raw food. However, raw food is much more cooling, hydrating and energising to the body. This is why we increase raw foods in late spring and during summer, when our body requires more of these qualities from our food.

Spring is the perfect time to implement a daily juice or smoothie into your diet. If you want to know all about juices and smoothies, check out my previous post. Adding chlorella and spirulina powder to your juice and smoothie is a perfect choice this season (as well as any season!). These algae powders are full of nutrients, enzymes and fatty acids, that promote healing, energy, detoxification.. I could go on. Totally in alignment with our bodies expression of the season!

This is ending up a lengthly post, and I don’t want to overwhelm or bore you (; To recap, spring foods are an emphasis on;

  • Sprouts, sprouted grains/legumes/seeds
  • Hydration; via herbal teas & lots of water, with a twist of citrus if you find that appealing.
  • Increasing nutrients, enzymes, hydration and supporting organ healing; via increased seasonal vegetables(cooked and raw), juices and smoothies.
  • Supporting liver and gall bladder function. Think ‘clean eating & whole foods’.

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Springs highly expansive, expressive energy, means that we can be feeling most creative and fun-loving during this time. It is the season of love and romance, new life, and rebirth. Bury your feet in the earth, feel the ‘zing’ and do something amazing!

Much love, with flowers,

Sami Lou xx

All photos by the beautiful and talented, Elisha of Dark Moon Designs

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