Most people have heard that eating by the season supports your overall health and well-being. But, how do you know what recipes to choose for spring?
I’ve previously written about how Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at each season and how to use that wisdom to optimize your health in spring.
In that article I spoke about the key elements including the importance of nourishing the liver, incorporating movement, and a number of other tips to align with the energy of spring for your health.
For this article, we’ll look more specifically at how to pick recipes for spring that nourish the liver and optimize your health. I’ll also share a tasty recipe that does an excellent job at aligning with these principles.
Guidelines on How to Pick Recipes for Spring that Nourish the Liver
- According to TCM, spring is the time to nourish the liver, which means cleaning up your diet. Cleansing the liver is a good way to avoid common spring conditions like allergies, eye disorders, and any other heat conditions.
- Also remember, wood is the element of spring and the color of this element is green. Therefore, eat lots of green foods to nourish the liver.
- Additionally, sour foods stimulate the Liver Qi. So, including lemons in your water or meals is an excellent way to nourish the liver in spring.
- Last but not least, other good foods to incorporate in spring for liver cleansing qualities include garlic, grapefruit, apples, and beets. Foods like celery, cucumber, bananas, and pears will help to clear excess heat that may be accumulating in your body. You will know there is heat accumulating in your body if you notice signs such as bad breath, constipation, darker urine, and a thicker tongue coating.
An Excellent Spring Recipe: Mung Bean Soup
One of the reasons I love the recipe below for spring is that it does an excellent job of incorporating a number of the spring food principles I mentioned above for nourishing the liver in the spring.
Mung beans are excellent for clearing accumulated heat in the body and you can typically find them in the bulk section at your local coop.
Also, the lemon in this recipe adds just enough sourness to be tasty and nourish the liver.
Additionally, the spinach meets the color of green (you can use any type of fresh greens if you don’t care for spinach).
Finally, the garlic as well as the celery in this recipe round out the flavors and additionally support the liver.
We love making this spring recipe, especially when it’s just starting to warm up. The original recipe is here: https://www.heynutritionlady.com/mung-bean-soup/
When we cook it at home we don’t make very many modifications–it’s really good as is. The one exception, we prefer FRESH spinach.
When the soup is just about done, just add the fresh spinach gradually in handfuls and the heat from the soup will wilt the spinach perfectly without overcooking it.
Here’s the recipe with our minor modifications:
- 1 cup mung beans rinsed and checked for stones
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups diced carrot (approx 3 large carrots)
- 1 ½ cups diced potato (approx 1 large)
- 1 cup diced celery (2-3 stalks)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves fresh garlic (crushed)
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1-2 large lemons juiced
- 2 Tablespoons fresh dill chopped
- 6 ounces fresh spinach or other fresh spring greens
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the mung beans into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat off, and put a lid on the pot. Set aside to soak while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients for the soup.
- While the beans are soaking, prepare the vegetables. Slice the leeks, peel and dice the carrots, dice the celery, dice the potato, and crush the garlic.
- Heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the sliced leek, and sauté until it softens and becomes a bit translucent.
- Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, crushed garlic, and bay leaves to the pot and stir to combine.
Sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
- Drain the mung beans and give them a quick rinse.
- Add the beans to the pot with the vegetables, along with 5 cups of vegetable broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and put a lid on it.
- Simmer until the beans are tender, about 15-20 minutes if you have soaked them first.
- Once the beans are tender, add the lemon juice, dill, and fresh spinach (or other greens). Tip: add the spinach a handful at a time and stir until it begins to wilt.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot, with lots of dill on top for garnish.
Our aim is always to help your body, mind, and spirit fall back into their natural rhythms. Soups like this represent a good variety of ingredients mentioned in my tips on how to pick recipes for spring that nourish the liver.
Eating in alignment with the energy of spring is one of many ways to optimize your health in spring. For additional information and ideas, remember to check out our article that includes additional tips to optimize your health in spring.
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About the Author - Michael Hurley, L.Ac.
Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center. He specializes in Women's Health and Fertility--a passion born from he and his wife's own fertility journey. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Additionally, Michael is certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.
Cup of Life Healing Center has two locations: 82 Washington Street, Suite 2, Keene, NH and 400 Amherst Street, Suite 402, Nashua, NH. The clinic can be reached via phone or text at (603) 352-3625.