Recipes to celebrate Spring!

Recipes to celebrate Spring!

In Chinese medicine the seasons are matched with organ systems in the body. It is a simple yet elegant way of perceiving our connection to Nature. By following as closely as we can to nature’s way we can maximize our health and our state of being

Spring is the time of the Liver organ system. It’s about growth (new buds & sprouting baby plants) and planning (starting a garden) and the exuberance of life’s potential (shifting weather: sun, rain, wind). A good analogy for a healthy liver is the clear, far-seeing vision of the eagle in flight.

How do we support our Liver?

1)      Eating bitter greens and easy to digest oils such as olive, flax, hemp, sesame.

2)      Taking walks in nature especially during the spring when the eyes are nourished by the beautiful and bountiful green. Gardening, if it is fun, is also good.

3)      Receiving acupuncture or practicing Qi Kung, both of which move the Qi. (The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi in the entire body).

4)      Avoiding difficult to digest fats such as ice cream, chocolate, chips, cheese, butter, fatty meats, peanut butter ( almond, etc. okay).

5)      Avoiding drugs of all kinds, especially coffee and alcohol as these have the property of heating up the liver.

The following recipes are designed for those who don’t really like the flavor of bitter. My 12 year old daughter, Althea, is the inspiration.

Yummy bitter greens:

Half head of lettuce of any kind (I like romaine for its crunchiness)

One bunch of parsley

One bunch of arugula or dandelion greens

One fennel bulb, stems removed & sliced thinly with a mandolin slicer

Prepare all greens into bite size pieces & combine with sliced fennel bulb. This salad keeps well, prepared ahead, as long as not dressed. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette.

Leslie’s balsamic vinaigrette:

Place all ingredients in a blender & blend until smooth:

3/4th cup olive oil

1/4th cup Napa Valley Naturals grand reserve balsamic vinegar

(I have used other balsamic vinegars and they just don’t rate for this recipe)

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 “branch” of fresh rosemary 4 to 6 inches long with needles removed for use

1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. tamari (or salt to taste)

Arugula roasted beet salad:

(serves 4)

1 bunch arugula

2 beets roasted at 400 degrees for 1 hour & then thinly sliced

(beets can also be sliced & then steamed for @ 15 minutes, but roasted are much sweeter)

4 tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds

4 tbsp. chevre goat cheese (optional)

Balsamic vinaigrette

Arrange arugula whole leaves on a small salad plate in a circle, with stems in the middle and rounded end on outer perimeter of the plate. When arranged this way it looks like a green flower. Add ½ of a sliced beet arranged in the center of the “flower”. Drizzle vinaigrette over whole “flower” in a spiral starting with outside edge & continuing to the center. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of pumpkin seeds, and if desired one tbsp. of chevre broken into small pieces & scattered over whole “flower”.

The following recipe is for those of us who (oddly) enjoy the flavor of bitter greens.

Spring dandelions:

Pull up dandelions, root & all, from your yard (or a friends!): wash thoroughly leaving them whole. For deliciousness they should be only about a maximum of  4 to 5 inches across with a 2 to 3 inch root. The slight bitter flavor turns overwhelming when harvested too late in the season. The time is now!

Serve with olive oil, fresh lemon or lime, & a little salt. You can also use vinaigrette, but I really enjoy the simple dressing best.

Hope you and your loved ones enjoy these recipes as much as our family does. Bitter greens are a natural expression of spring’s beginning & are an important addition to the diet to help our livers be healthy and happy. Bon appetite!