Tag Archives: seasonal eating

Eat For the Season: A Spring Recipe to Soothe the Liver and Keep the Qi Flowing

asparagus“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

There is a symbiotic relationship between man and nature, both of which can thrive when we choose to live in harmony with the space that we occupy. Eating seasonally and locally is about much more than just being socially and environmentally conscious. The health implications can be quite profound.

In every season the foods that grow in our region have the added bonus of providing us with the taste and temperature properties that help our bodies adjust to the season. The cycle in which plants flower, and fruits and vegetables grow and ripen, corresponds with the changing needs of our bodies from season to season.

In Chinese Medicine theory, Spring is the season of the Liver meridan, who’s function is strongly associated with nourishment, movement, and the smooth flow of qi. When the channel is out of balance, symptoms such as anger, irritability, muscle aches and pain, stiff joints, spasms, headaches, red itchy eyes, constipation, and feelings of heat or agitation appear.

Foods that help to keep this channel system functioning well tend to be sour in flavor and green in color. Examples include citrus, berries, leeks, leafy greens, and vinegar. Conversely, greasy or spicy foods, alcohol, and amphetamines can have a negative impact on this channel system.

If you’re feeling irritable or stuck, or allergies are stalling your momentum, try this simple but delicious spring recipe to help get your body back on track!

QUINOA SALAD WITH SPRING GREENS & LEMON BASIL DRESSING

Serves: 4-6, Prep Time: 5 min, Cook Time: 30 min, Total Time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

For the Dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small bunch asparagus, about 15 spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar snap peas, remove stem and string and cut in halves or thirds (original recipe calls for frozen peas)
2 cups fresh arugula (original recipe calls for 1 avocado, chopped)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped basil

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a small bowl or medium jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Whisk to combine or shake with the jar lid on tight. Set aside.
2. Add water, quinoa, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
3. While the quinoa is cooking, cook the asparagus and sugar snap peas. In a large
skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus, peas, and fresh
lemon juice. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, asparagus, sugar snap peas, and arugula. Pour
the dressing over the salad and stir until well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the fresh basil and serve.

I found this recipe on: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/

Modifications to the original recipe are indicated in parentheses. Enjoy!

Eat for the Season: Foods to Help You Keep Your Cool This Summer

mint waterSummer has arrived and the heat is on! As with every season, the earth has provided us with a plethora of foods to help us keep cool in the warm months to come. Foods that are available this season naturally contain the properties our bodies need to stay cool and hydrated during the warm months of summer.

Follow these seasonal diet tips to keep your cool when the weather is hot.

1. Clear Heat: Watermelon – It is no coincidence that watermelon is a staple of the summer. For those days when you’ve gotten a little too much sun, watermelon helps to clear heat, replenish fluids, and quench thirst. The rind can also be used to reduce swelling from summer heat.

2. Stay Cool: Mint – In most hot regions, you will notice that mint tea is consumed regularly. Cool and acrid, mint helps to disperse heat and cool the body down – particularly the head. Steeped in tea, mixed into your favorite dishes, or added to salads for a refreshing pop of flavor, mind is a great herb to incorporate into your diet this summer.

3. Hydrate: Coconut Water – There is no part of the coconut I do not love. I’ve even seen the shell used as a bowl – the perfect food! Coconut water is high in potassium and contains natural electrolytes, helping to keep you hydrated. And it’s healthier than your average sports drink. So on the hot days to come, try rotating in some coconut water with your daily water intake.

4. Want a treat? – Throw 1-3 in a blender for a refreshing summer beverage! Or freeze into popsicles. Endless possibilities…

5. Hot & Sluggish? Go Bitter – Foods that are bitter tend to drain and purge, reducing water retention and clearing heat on those hot sticky days. They have the added bonus of reducing anxiety, decreasing agitation, and promoting good sleep. Some examples include: artichoke, asparagus, celery, chicory, dandelion leaf/tea, kale, watercress, rhubarb, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, and turmeric.

6. Prevent Fluid Loss: Eat Sour – Foods that taste sour have the ability to stabilize and bind, preventing the loss of too much fluid and keeping a harmonious flow to the body. They are also a great go-to if you are feeling stressed or irritable. Some examples include: leeks, tomato, apple, apricots, citrus, berries, grapes, kiwi, plum, pomegranate, coriander, vinegar, and raspberry tea.

With these simple dietary modifications you can beat the heat and have a happy healthy summer!

5 Tips for Transitioning Smoothly into Spring

shutterstock_182622356“Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates, one should attempt to correspond to it directly by being open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally.” –Nei Jing

One of the most anticipated seasonal transitions is winter to spring. After a long period of hibernation and reflection, our bodies are primed and ready for movement and active expression. As the days get progressively longer and incrementally warmer, our spirit, much like the buds starting to form on the trees, is longing to burst forth and bloom. While these erratic transitional weeks can feel restraining, by employing these simple steps we can handle the fluctuations with grace and enter into the next phase of nature’s cycle with ease.

1. Get Up and Go! – Spring is the season of the Liver channel and it’s corresponding element of Wood. It is a time of rebirth, reawakening, growth and expansion – a metamorphosis best realized through action. To keep joints healthy and muscles and tendons supple, we are encouraged to create heat in the body and extend our limbs. So open up and stretch toward the sun, raise your heart rate, explore deep twists and side bends, tap into your creativity and give physical expression to your ambitions!

2. Get Ahead of your Allergies – While seasonal allergies can put a serious damper on our enjoyment of the warmer weather, don’t fear the impending pollen! Herbal medicine combined with regular acupuncture can get you through the season virtually symptom free. For best results, start treatments before your symptoms appear. If you do suffer from seasonal allergies some good foods to incorporate into your diet include ginger, onions, garlic, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beets, carrots, leafy greens and yams. Some foods to avoid are wheat, citrus, chocolate, shellfish, dairy and potatoes.

3. Eat for the Season – Anyone who’s had a treatment from me has had the discussion about why it’s important to eat locally and seasonally. Foods that are available in your region at any given point in time tend to contain the temperature properties that your body needs in that season. To stay balanced in the spring, it is good to start introducing sour foods back into your diet. This includes things like lemon, vinegar, berries, apricots, grapefruit, kiwi, tamarind and coriander. The liver also benefits from natural detoxifiers such as spinach, dandelion, green apple and kale. If you’re feeling tense, avoid alcohol and greasy or spicy foods.

4. Stabilize the Emotions – In TCM theory, the Liver channel is responsible for the unencumbered flow of emotion.  When liver qi stagnates it can cause emotional depression or a feeling of tension. If left unchecked, it can lead to anger, irritability, or rage and inhibit our judgment and ability to make sound decisions. In this period of expression, let no obstacle block you from the fulfillment of your desire. Relieve tension in the way your body responds best, avoid external stressors, and use the momentum of the season to execute the plans that most excite you.

5. Cover Your Neck – I always administer this piece of advice in the spring and fall. Spring is the season of wind and when the wind enters the body it can manifest as tremors, dizziness, muscle spasms, stiff neck and headaches. The easiest way to protect yourself is cover your neck. With drastic temperature swings from day to day, it’s hard to choose your outerwear, so keep your neck protected by wearing a scarf.

Have your own seasonal tips to share? Post them here! Embrace the change and have a happy healthy spring!