Spring: An Important Time For Food Consciousness
By Ellasara Kling
Spring Season Is Presided Over By The Liver/Gall Bladder System.
As Winter energetically recedes, Spring’s energy increases and we enter into the morning of the year. The energy of the season is rising. If we take, for a moment, the idea of a seed that has waited quietly for the right time to begin to sprout, we have the feeling for the beginning of Spring coming forth from our restorative Winter. This awakening is reflected in the relationship patterns illustrated on the Five Element Chart below which highlights this Season. Wood is the element of the season and the image of a tree reveals some of the main principles of this time. Trees reach upward, grow outward and do so with great freedom of expression of their nature. This innate courage is also part of the Spring energy and opportunity. Green is the color of the germination of new grass, budding leaves, shoots, new stems, etc.- all reflecting new growth and new beginnings. Green vegetables and sprouts are harmonious foods for this season.
The rising energy of Spring often brings to the surface unresolved feelings and awareness of stagnation (of being “stuck”). Many times we experience greater impatience and annoyance in Spring. When we experience frustration or anger, our bodies tighten and contract. The muscles (ruled by the Stomach/Spleen and Late Summer) and Tendons become rigid and inflexible which unrelieved overtime would cause energetic stagnation. Bringing increasing flexibility and a “go with the flow” attitude to your life relieves these feelings. Practice more qigong, taiji, meditation or yoga. Do stretches to relax the tendons and your mental energy. Bring the meditative lessons of internal quietude innate in the Winter season forward into the Spring.
Although Sour is the Spring flavor, inherent in new sprouts for example, too much sour is not recommended, especially for people who experience chronic pain. (Below are recipes that combine the astringency of sour with other flavors to create healthful dishes.) Sour is a contracting flavor and therefore, can be used to regulate over expansiveness in foods. The combination of Sweet/Sour in foods is highly appreciated by most people as they so naturally complement each other in the same way as the Wood element and Earth (Sweet) work together to help create harmony. For example, trees/plants help prevent erosion of soil and soil nourishes trees and plants. On the surface this may seem very simplistic; however, there are a myriad of ways that this simple principle can be applied to one’s life and create a deeper understanding.
The Liver/Gall Bladder system is a root for health and healing. Because of the functions of this system, the influence of internal/external stress, our life attitudes, the harm caused by energy stagnation, and so on, it is of prime importance to pay heed to the health and smooth functioning of our Liver/Gall Bladder energy system. Here are a some indicators of lowered functionality of this system: indigestion and bloating; headaches – especially on the left; PMS and menstrual problems; tendon problems; eye irritation; brittle finger and toe nails; emotions that are mercurial; flashing anger; being easily irritated/often impatient; anger/easily frustrated, problems on the left side of the body in general, dizziness, and yeast infections. All of these symptoms reflect internal imbalances that can be addressed by Chinese Medicine, qigong energy healing which can bring Harmony and Balance to this energy system.
Nurturing our eyes: According to Five Element Theory the eyes are the opening for Liver. In our modern lives our eyes do not always receive the rest and revitalization that they need. We spend lots of time looking at computer screens, iPhones, iPads, and so on. We are more often indoors or in city situations without having the benefits derived from looking into the far distance. All of this can cause eye strain. A simple way to rest the eyes is to look at something in the distance such as a beautiful majestic mountain or a distant peaceful pasture. Since the eyes do not distinguish between a photo of a long distance view and the view itself, a photograph will cause the same shift in the eyes as “the real thing”. Place a photograph of a beautiful long distance view near your computer where you can look at it easily and take a moment here and there throughout your day to let your eyes rest upon it. A view of something green, beautiful, distant and restful is highly recommended. These moments of long distance gazing (not staring) will rest your eyes and also feel generally relaxing.
Some Foods That Are Particularly Good For The Spring Season:
Artichoke, Bamboo shoots, Bean Curd (tofu) – use non GMO, organic, Beef Liver, Bee Pollen, Beets, Broccoli, Broccoli rabe, Bok Choy, Cashews, Celery, Chicken , Chicken Liver, Clams, Crab, Dandelion greens, Dill, Eggplant, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Green veggies in general, Green Bell Pepper, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime , Lotus, Mulberry, Nettle Tea, Oats, Parsley, Pickles, Rye, Safflower oil, Scallion, Spinach, Sprouts, Vinegar, Wild Rice.
1 package unflavored gelatin
14oz coconut milk
1 1/4cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
2 tsp grated ginger
3 TB lime
Dissolve gelatin in warm water.
In a medium pot, boil coconut and cow’s milk, sugar, and ginger.
Cover and let steep 10 minutes. Add gelatin; and lime juice.
Strain through a cheesecloth
Let cool to room temperature.
Pour into a mold/bowl; refrigerate two hours.
Garnish chilled panna cotta w/mint sprigs
2 med. Blood oranges
½ tsp grapeseed or walnut oil
1 TB minced garlic
3 TB minced ginger
½ tsp salt
2 large oranges for cooking
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
Carefully wash the leaves of Kale. Remove the tough stems at the base of the leaves. Cut the Kale leaves horizontally into 2” ribbons. Set aside.
Remove the peel from the blood oranges and slice horizontally into rings. Lightly brush the orange slices with the oil. Place on a baking sheet and in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Heating the oranges through, but not baking them. Cut into small wedges and Set aside.
While the blood oranges are heating. . .
Heat a large saucepan or wok.
Squeeze the juice of two oranges straining it as you squeeze to ensure the pits stay out of the pan. Add the garlic and ginger and ½ tsp of salt. Heat the mixture for about 30 sec to 1 minute. You do not want to burn the garlic or evaporate all the juice.
Add all the kale and toss through gently, Cover the pan for about 2 minutes.
Check the Kale, toss again.
You want the kale to become tender and wilt, and it will decrease in volume as it cooks, but you don’t want it to wilt so much that there is nothing left.
When the Kale is finished, plate it, garnish with blood oranges and sprinkle the toasted walnuts over all.
2 TB walnut oil
1 lb of fennel bulbs only – sliced
6 large scallion whites only – sliced
2 carrots – sliced
1 organic lemon – juiced and grate the peel (set the grated peel aside)
3 cups of water or chicken broth that is very light.
1 cup almonds or walnuts or cashews – lightly toasted and crushed
2 TB Dill leaves
Heat the oil in a wok or heavy large skillet
Lightly sauté the vegetables in the oil
Add the vegetable and sauté for a couple of minutes
Add the water and simmer for about 15 minutes
Add the lemon juice and stir thoroughly
When cooked through, add the nuts
When serving, garnish with dill and lemon zest
Teas For The Season
Dandelion is probably the most useful plant. There is no part of it that does not benefit health in some way. Cooked dandelion leaves can make a lovely vegetable on your plate or be the prime ingredient for soup. Also, you can take dandelion leaves fresh or dried and make a simple tea from them. If fresh, crush a couple of tender young leaves in a large bowl and pour water that is below boiling – about 185 degrees (212 is boiling) over them. Let steep 5-8 minutes. Add honey to your cup and have a cooling tea that harmonizes with the Liver/Gall Bladder system.
Generally speaking, green teas are best for the Spring. Try different kinds of loose teas and create some of your own favorites.
Wishing you good health! Remember to smile from the heart at all things.
Ellasara Kling – The information in this article is based on the theories and principles of Chinese Medicine. Ellasara has been studying with Master and Dr. Nan Lu for many years and has participated in special classes through TCM World Foundation and the Tao of Healing in New York City. For comments, questions, consultations, firstname.lastname@example.org