Recipes for Spring Renewal

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, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, 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.

Spring is a wonderful time to engage in a food meditation while cooking. As you chop, stir, and smell, try to be quiet and pay attention to the alchemy of cooking. This practice, along with the inclusion of sour foods and bitter greens, will help you feel more patient, calm, assertive, flexible, and alert.

Creamy Green Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • 1 large bunch kale, collards and/or chard

Chop onions. 

Add oil to a skillet. When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover. Add a splash or two of water. Add salt and black pepper.

Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a medium stock pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

Rinse and chop  kale, collards and/or chard. Add greens to the pot, cover, and reduce heat to low. Braise greens for 5-10 minutes.

Add greens to onions. Stir well to incorporate and purée with immersion blender or food processor. Enjoy as a condiment for grains, as a delicious sauce for salmon, and as a sandwich spread.

Walnut Leek Paté

Chop one large leek into crescents and place in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes on low heat. Add a splash of lemon juice and turn off heat.

While leek is cooking, place ½ cup walnut halves/pieces in a skillet.Toast on medium heat, tossing often with a spatula, for about 3 minutes or until walnuts are lightly browned.

Once leeks and walnuts are cooked, place them in a food processor and add 3 Tablespoons olive oil. You can also place all ingredients in a deep bowl and blend with an immersion blender.

Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Taste for salt.

Serve and enjoy with biscuits or savory breads or as a dip with steamed broccoli. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

Dandelion Pesto

In Italian, ‘pesto’ simply means ‘stomp’. You can ‘stomp’ any fresh herbs or greens you like into pesto. Get creative! Try a combination of parsley and cilantro, basil and parsley, or dandelion and nettles.

Harvest as many fresh, tender dandelion greens as you can. Aim for about 3 packed cups. Rinse well.

In a food processor or blender, blend into a thick paste:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ¼ cup best olive oil (labeled with acidity of less than 0.5%)

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Add dandelion greens. Pulse to incorporate.

Freeze large batches or enjoy with sourdough rye bread, over freshly cooked quinoa, or as a topping for poached white fish or white beans. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

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Fall Meal Plans

In honor of tomorrow's full moon, which will be very close to the earth and undergoing an eclipse, I invite you to simplify your diet.

Choose foods that gently cleanse the blood, like cilantro.

Focus on foods that support immunity, like cinnamon and garlic.

This shift, which you can make for 3 days, will set you on a good path to be well all winter long.

Here is a recipe to inspire you.

Click this link for a complete 3 day meal plan with recipes.

Quinoa Black Bean Bowl with Avocado Sauce

For the quinoa bowl:

  • 2 sweet potatoes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin and cinnamon

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup cooked black beans* (or 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained – I like Eden organics)

  • 1 packed cup arugula

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

For the sauce:

  • One ripe avocado

  • 4 tablespoons tahini

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems

  • 1 small clove of garlic

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • Lime juice

*To cook the black beans:

I like to do this after dinner to prepare for the next day's meal.

In a stockpot, place 1 cup of beans in 5 cups of boiling water; boil for 2–3 minutes, cover and set aside overnight.

The next day, most of the indigestible sugars will have dissolved into the soaking water.

Drain, and then rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking.

Cook dry beans for 50 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top.

To prepare the bowl:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with spices and toss with olive oil.

Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, take 1 cup quinoa, rinse it well, and cook it in 2 cups of water in a small stock pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until all water is consumed. 

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt as it cooks.

Then, pulse all the dressing ingredients in a food processor / blender until smooth.

Toss the beans, quinoa, arugula, and sweet potatoes with the dressing. Enjoy!

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Favorite Breakfasts with 3 Ingredients Each

Each one of these breakfasts provides protein, fiber and flavor for balanced energy that jump starts metabolism and provides satisfaction.

I love sweet potatoes. They are a staple in my diet because they support the reproductive system, satisfy the sweet flavor, and feed beneficial gut bacteria. They are also rich in anthocyanins to recude inflammation and plenty of dietary fiber to stabilize blood sugar.

Grocery store labeling can cause much confusion. What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? 'Yam' comes from the Fulani (West African language) word 'nyami', which means 'to eat'. Native to Africa and Asia, these root vegetables belong to the Dioscoreaceae family

.Sweet potatoes, instead, are members of the Convolvulaceae, or morning glory plant family. They are more commonly grown in the United States. Breakfast can be easy and delicious. Watch the video and try these recipes and see for yourself! 

Prepare these dishes ahead and have them ready for the week to come.

Kasha Sweet Potato Pie

You will need:

  • Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

  • Olive oil

  • Roasted sweet potatoes

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cube and roast sweet potatoes with olive oil (4 tablespoons) and salt (1 teaspoon) on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, place kasha and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, add 1 teaspoon salt, and stir occasionally.

Once sweet potatoes are roasted, remove them from the oven and lower the temperature to 375 degrees.

Oil a pie plate with olive oil. Once the kasha is cooked, spread it into the pie plate. Top with roasted sweet potatoes and bake for 15 minutes.

Enjoy with a spoonful of your favorite nut butter. I like tahini.

Sunflower Sweet Potato Flatbread

You will need:

  • Cornmeal

  • Sunflower Seeds

  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with olive oil.

Bring 3/4 cup sunflower seeds in a spice / espresso bean grinder until they reach a flour-like consistency. 

Combine with 1 cup cornmeal and a pinch of salt. 

Add 1 cup roasted sweet potatoes (see preparation directions above) and enough water to make a thick, chunky batter - about 1/2 cup.

If you would like a smooth consistency, blend in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Spread into loaf pan and bake for 15 minutes.

I like to slice it, toast or fry it, and serve it with parsley pistou

.

Coconut Sweet Potato Cakes

You will need:

  • Coconut flour

  • Shredded coconut

  • Roasted sweet potatoes

To prepare:

In a bowl, mix equal parts coconut flour and shredded coconut. 

I also like to add a teaspoon of cinnamon. 

Mix in 1 cup roasted sweet potatoes (see preparation directions above) and smash them with a fork.

Add enough water to make a thick, dough - about 1/2 cup.

If you would like a smooth consistency, blend in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Oil a cookie sheet or baking dish with olive oil. Shape dough into patties and place on the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy!

I like mine toasted and drizzled with honey or maple syrup and a spoonful of almond butter.

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