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 Medicine, spring's flavor 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 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 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.
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.
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.
Smoothie or juice (more juice and smoothie recipes on my blog)
Apple or orange
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.