The nature of spring is light, leafy and green, which is reflected in many of the seasonal vegetables.
Best cooking methods are lightly steaming, stir-frying and sautéing to retain the most nutritional value and spring freshness.
Lighter meals with less heavy foods than the winter diet are recommended.
The flavour associated with the wood element is sour… in moderation. Sour foods support the gall bladder to break down fats and lighten the metabolic load on the liver. However, excessive amounts of sour flavours can astringe fluids, drying body tissues and blocking the channels and mucosal linings with thick sticky phlegm. As always, create a healthy balance through moderation.
Foods to Focus on…
- Deep green leafy veg… kale, silverbeet, spinach, rocket, beetroot leaves, etc.
- Green vegetables in general… as much as possible.
- Sour foods… a small squeeze of lemon in warm water before meals or as a dressing with olive oil. Berries, yoghurt (for those who can digest dairy and cold foods well), keffir, sour condiments like pickles, capers, preserved lemon.
- Brussel sprouts, alfalfa, snow pea and mung bean sprouts, sprouted grains.
- Herbs and Spices: mint, spearmint, peppermint, spring onion, garlic, chives, fresh ginger, basil.
- Tea: Green tea, white tea, peppermint, spearmint, oolong, light floral herbal teas, honeysuckle, chrysanthemum and fresh ginger.
- For colds or allergies with copious clear nasal mucous have fresh ginger, peppermint and basil tea or good old honey and lemon with ginger added.
- For a cold, flu or allergy with a sore, dry throat and yellow or green mucous have honey and lemon or strong peppermint or spearmint with honey to soothe throat.
- Pungent foods clear phlegm and support the lungs and colon. They should be emphasized when treating immune disorders and acute seasonal illnesses. Spring onion, ginger, garlic, radish, mustard, onion, wasabi, leek, chives, fenugreek, cauliflower & basil.
Good Spring Meals…
– Steamed beetroot, mint and rocket salad with capers and olive oil and lemon dressing.
– Kale and baby spinach spring onion omelette.
– Lightly baked fish with lemon and ginger marinade and a side of wilted leafy greens and quinoa or basmati rice.
Foods to Avoid…
- Coffee, alcohol and other stimulants such as sugar, caffeinated drinks, chocolate or hot spices (chilli, cinnamon, dried ginger) are fire foods, which exacerbate inflammation in the wind. Wind flushes fire upwards to manifest in headaches, muscle pain and stiffness, irritated eyes, upper respiratory inflammation, fever and dry throat. Irritability, frustration, anger, erratic, impulsive and reactive behaviour is common when fire and wind unite.
- Greasy, fried, baked and oily food also generates fire in the body. Plenty of anti-inflammatory fats, however, soothe and cool the digestive system and blood… including fresh cold-pressed flax, olive, fish and coconut oils, plus raw unprocessed cow or goat milk, cream and butter. In cases of excessive mucous or phlegm dairy should be avoided as much as possible.
- The less known major inflammatory substance is sugar… in all its forms. Unrefined sweet foods such as dried fruits, honey and maple syrup are more nutritional than refined sugars, yet the sweet flavour itself is naturally stimulating and therefore inflammatory in nature.
- Heavy meals with highly processed foods (especially complex proteins such as textured vegetable proteins in vegie sausages etc) or large portions of red meat should be avoided, as they hamper the digestive system and liver, which needs to flow smoothly in spring.
- Cold natured foods have an energetic movement that opposes the upward and outward nature of spring (like the shape of a tree). Cold foods are contracting, inhibiting digestion and the free movement of qi and fluids in the body. Avoid ice cream, ice, cold drinks and frozen products as much as possible, especially when experiencing seasonal symptoms, mucous, phlegm or cold & flu.
- One final substance worth mentioning is MSG… mono sodium glutamate (labeled as flavor enhancer 621). MSG can exacerbate asthmatic conditions, stimulate panic attacks and breathing difficulties in some people with immune disorders or immune weakness. It can be highly dangerous for asthmatics, sufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and any constrictive airway condition. Those who suffer hay-fever or sinus congestion may experience exacerbated symptoms after consuming even a small amount of MSG, so please be aware of reading labels and ask the chef in Asian restaurants if it is in any of the sauces or condiments added to dishes (often ‘No Added MSG’ means they have not added it directly but many ingredients may contain it).
It is also important to eat in a relaxed way, have gratitude and respect for the nourishment of food, eat food warm or at room temp and have three regular meals daily. Eat, drink and be merry!
Fiona D’Elboux (BHSc, Acupuncture) 0425 064 655