The Energetics of Spring (and the foods that make it magical)
I don’t know about you, but this past winter was one of the hardest I’ve ever had. From the long, hard months of frigid cold to the extreme ups and downs of sunshine and snow and the early onset of darkness, I had retreated into a hibernation hole so deep not even my dependable herbal allies could pull me out. Every single year we always have a winter (both seasonally and emotionally/physically), and each time it comes around it always presents new challenges (and joys too, of course).
I have always held winter as my natural hibernation time – a time to just say “no” to most activities and engagements, a time to settle into my nesting tendencies (blankets, LOTS of sleep, soups, stews, teas, warmth as much as possible…) and just overall stay home and cocoon myself. All the plants are asleep, my garden is unproductive, the birds are hiding. The season seems to allow for that pretty nicely. Thanks goodness for the onset of spring, or Seasonal Onset Depression would run rampant. The energetics of spring could not be more opposite than winter, and our bodies are often more than ready to accept some added energy.
Spring has an undeniable UPWARD energy in every form. Flowers are popping up and bursting with color, the trees are filling in the spaces with tiny bright green leaves, the birds wake us up in the morning (while the sun is actually shining!), spring sports are beginning, the daylight is lasting longer into the evening and warm breezes make us want to stay outside longer and soak in the refreshing warm air. Our bodies naturally want to crave more COLOR and fresh produce which is becoming more available. We gravitate towards fresh smoothies and juices and shy away from the roots, rhizomes and tubers of winter harvests. This is a major way we stay in partnership with the earth through the seasons – by eating the precious foods that are offered to us. Spring allows us berries galore, crisp greens and colorful dishes (and if you want to know the properties of each color, check out my recent blog post “Detoxification: What it means and why COLOR matters” from Richmond Natural Medicine.)
Some of my favorite spring veggies and fruits include asparagus, green onions, leeks, lettuce (soooo many!), mint, mushrooms, peas, radishes, spinach, strawberries, wild greens, bitter dandelion greens and rhubarb. Ellwood Thompson’s always has great local spring harvests with unique ingredients that will keep you inspired to prepare new foods. If eating seasonally is a new concept for you, set a goal of eating a local, seasonal meal twice a week and expand from there. You can also try your hand at growing something edible, even if it’s in a pot on your porch! Here’s a quick video and recipe for a watercress & asparagus soup from VIDYA cleanse, one of my favorite spring additions. In Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with the Liver, and this is often why cleansing is so popular this time of year. Eating lighter and more raw foods helps the body’s natural detoxification process and supports the liver to process any stagnation that has accumulated during the heavier winter months.
Here are some of my tried and true tips for welcoming in Spring:
- Eat as much color as possible with every meal. Aim for at least 3 different colors on every plate (and try not to make white count as one)
- Incorporate bitter greens into salads like dandelion and arugula to support the digestive system and natural digestive enzymes.
- Eat a cleansing diet of fresh greens, fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
- Drink plenty of extra water to help purify the liver and aid in elimination
- Focus on outdoor activity like bike riding, tree climbing, gardening, eating outside and going on long walks.
- Take some time every morning or evening to sit quietly for 15-20 minutes and maintain a stillness to focus on clarity and goal setting. Spring is an excellent time to move forward with new plans and set your ideas into action!
- Pick a new project and start working! Incorporating something that brings you joy is essential every single day.
My recent early spring project has been to expand my garden pretty dramatically (and I’ll have a whole blog post on that in mid April!). I’ve planted several starter trays indoors, and seeing the new sprouts brings me so much joy every day I can’t hardly wait to transplant them outdoors after our last frost. Now is the time to devote some of that upward energy to the garden space – and did you know that Ellwoods gives away FREE compost form their juice bar??
I’d love to hear some of your favorite spring recipes, projects and activities. Share some for the community!
Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com