Eating for the Seasons – Spring

It’s the first weekend of Spring, and while the Midwest and Eastern sides of the country are still bundled up Seattle is in full bloom; cherry blossoms and daffodils are bursting onto the scene in a joyous visible choir of life.
The farmer’s market is still shelling out the last of the winter produce – lots of hearty greens, tubers, and carrots, but the larger grocery stores are reminding us of what is to come with berries and asparagus flown in from Latin America. Thanks, Whole Foods, but I think I’ll pass until I can get the home grown stuff!

Spring is a season of cleansing and renewing, when both the Earth’s natural abundance and our internal desires often turn to that which is energizing, fresh, revitalizing and alive. The allure of heavy stews and mashed potatoes fall away and, I at least, start fantasizing about finally buying that juicer and stay up too late exploring all the different ways I can prepare watercress on Google. Many people start sending in email inquiries or calls regarding cleansing and detoxifying; the extra daylight hours and warmer weather wake up the populace and stir motivation to take action!

This season is very supporting of a cleanse, and definitely the best time of year to take one. It can be very helpful for digestion, seasonal allergies, and also offer a mental shift for those who crave a program to get on track with healthier eating.

If you are unable or uninterested in taking on a formal detoxification program, you can still get a gentle ‘cleansing’ effect simply by focusing on the local produce this season. Berries, tender leafy greens and sprouts (omg – have you ever had garlic scapes?!? They are the sprouts off garlic and they are quite lovely – and only available about 2 weeks out of the year!) …where was I? Oh, yes – berries, sprouts and especially the tender greens of spring have a gentle cleansing effect on the lungs and liver; according to Chinese medicine, if the liver’s energy is sluggish or burdened it can show up as seasonal allergies. One of the ‘side effects’ we see with eating spring foods in our detoxes is a lightening or absence of seasonal allergies. The foods of spring are also low in calories and high in nutrients and fiber; this is a naturally fabulous combination to have when looking to shed excess winter fat from the body.

Spring greens are a great intro as far as green leafies go; their milder taste is better suited to an American palate (which tends to turn it’s nose at heavier, bitter winter greens). They also require very little food prep and are best enjoyed raw, and thus are easy to prepare.

Greens can be intimidating to work with if you are unfamiliar with them, but often keeping it simple is the best way to go – it eases the transition in introducing the vegetable to your palate and allows the green to retain some of it’s individual characteristics so you can get to know it better than you would were it drowning in butter or a heavy dressing (which spring veggies don’t typically do well with, anyway). Serendipitously, I came across the recipe book below while writing this post: Here are 18 lip-smackin’ recipes from our alma mater Institute of Integrative Nutrition, offered up with spring in mind!

Comment below and let me know what your favorite part of spring is! I’m excited for all the great produce heading into town; how about you?

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