Spring is a time of waking up; of bursting forth into the world. Winter’s stillness is replaced by a surge of energy and action. It’s also a time of clearing out any clutter that has accumulated over the cold, dark slower months of the year. We harness the season’s energy as we embark on spring cleaning projects that come more as instinct than as obligatory tasks.
It’s time to renew. This applies to our outer worlds as well as to our inner worlds. Spring has traditionally been a time to jumpstart the liver and gently cleanse our bodies. The natural world, with its infinite wisdom, provides us every opportunity to do just this. Bitter and nutrient-packed greens come to life, and for those of us paying attention to nature’s hints, provide us with delicious and nutritious Spring tonics.
Here are a couple of recipes that include some of our favorite spring tonic plants. Together they make the perfect light meal!
Dandelion greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, and also provide a bitter kick that helps support liver function. This is important during spring because hepatic function can become naturally a little sluggish after a more sedentary winter filled with rich seasonal food. Violet greens and chickweed are super-packed with nutrients, making them just the spring pick-me-up your body needs. Young greens of dandelion and violet especially are ideal, for both texture and taste reasons. You’ll need to find a good place to harvest your wild greens–fields or lawns that are not sprayed and that don’t get a lot of dog traffic (ie avoid the side of a trail in a busy park where dogs constantly relieve themselves), and that are at least 20 feet away from the road. Note that if you don’t have access to wild greens, most natural foods stores carry fresh dandelion greens. You can eat them straight up or replace the violet and chickweed with any other salad greens.
(Note, this recipe makes dressing for more than one salad. Save what you don’t use in a jar for next time.)
Mix the greens and grated carrot in a salad bowl. Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Add 3 Tbsp of dressing to the greens, tossing well. Sprinkle violet flowers over the greens and then serve.
With the probiotics of miso, the prebiotics and bitter flavor of burdock root, the nutrient density of nettles, and the circulatory support of ginger, this simple soup is nirvana for any body ready for a gentle reset. For the nettle tops and burdock, follow the same guidelines for wild-crafting from the recipe above, or purchase from your local farmer’s market or natural foods store. While many herbalists suggest harvesting burdock in the fall, spring-dug burdock is generally more bitter making it an excellent liver tonic.
Bring water to a boil on stovetop. Add nettles, reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Add burdock and garlic and simmer, covered, for another 3 minutes.n Remove from heat and add grated ginger and sesame oil.
In a small bowl, combine miso paste with ¼ cup of hot liquid from the soup, using a spoon or fork to fully incorporate the miso into the water.
Return the miso mixture to the soup pot. Stir well and serve.
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