Springtime is characterized by growth, movement, and expansion. Nature is awakening from a time of storage and slumber. The body’s qi begins to flow strongly again and seeks to expand freely. The Yang Qi moves to the surface of the body to protect against external pathogens. Food during spring should supplement Qi, allow it to course freely, and support Liver/Gall Bladder functions, as well as Spleen/Stomach.
Mildly warming foods w/upbearing movement help support the natural movement of this season's energy. Acrid flavors are also helpful for instances of leftover dampness from colder months. Sour flavors stabilize Liver Yin and can regulate uprearing Liver yang. Green foods can be consumed in abundance as green is the color of the Wood element associated with the Spring.
Wind is often a dominating force of the weather in Spring. This can cause an increase in environmental allergies and colds/infectious disease. Eating mild pungent foods such as green onion and chives helps the body to release wind/expel external pathogens.
Pungent (dispersing) & sweet (harmonizing) flavors encourage the breakup of internal energy stored by the body to stay warm through the Winter and transform into active energy for the Springtime.
Springtime Sweet Potato & Leek Soup
In this recipe the Sweet Potato nourishes the Stomach/Earth organ, while the pungent herbs move Qi. The vinegar provides a sour component which aids this dish in nourishing the Liver.
1 TBSP oil (any good quality oil with a high smoke-point. We used organic sunflower oil.)
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
1 cup sweet potato diced into small to medium cubes
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 Leek, dark green part removed, cut length-wise and sliced into thin strips
1 quart broth (we used chicken broth, you can use any meat or meat-less broth of your choosing)
2-3 TBSP each chives, green onion, and flat leaf parsley
1 TBSP miso
2 TBSP rice vinegar
Begin with a medium/large soup pot on stove. Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add diced onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions begin to sweat and become slightly translucent. Season with a pinch of salt. Next add sweet potato and garlic. Cook with onion until sweet potato just starts to become soft 2-3 minutes. Add leeks and another pinch of salt. Cook just until soft, about 1 minute. Add broth to the pot and cover with lid. Bring pot to a low boil, 8-15 minutes. Once pot is boiling add the chopped green onion, chives, and parsley along with another pinch of salt and boil for an additional 5 minutes. Take pot off of heat and wait for it to stop boiling. Mix together the miso paste with the vinegar. Add the miso/vinegar mixture to the pot. Stir together to incorporate the paste. Add any additional salt to taste.
Lions Head Meatballs/Shi Zhi Tou
This recipe is a traditional dish for Chinese New Year. To support the body as it transitions from Winter into Spring. This meat dish nourishes Liver blood and essence in order to supply healthy Qi for Springtime. The meatballs are formed to be large and smooth. This represents abundance, prosperity, and smoothly rolling forward into the New Year.
¾ lb Ground pork
3 TBSP Cooking sherry
3 TBSP Soy sauce
1 TBSP Ginger (finely chopped or grated)
½ cup Daikon radish (finely grated, drained of all excess liquid)
3 Green onions (thinly chopped)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
4-8 TBSP Rice flour
Small handful Black Woodear mushrooms
3-4 baby bok choy or leafy greens of your choice
Prior to beginning recipe soak woodear mushrooms in hot water for 1 hour. Place ground pork in medium sized bowl. Add cooking sherry, soy sauce, egg, ginger, green onion, daikon radish, salt, sugar, and 4 TBSP rice flour to the bowl with the pork. Mix together until all ingredients are evenly distributed. If the texture feels too soft or wet add 1-4 more TBSP of rice flour as desired. Form into 5 equally sized balls. Fill medium pot with 1” water, enough to almost cover the meatballs. Bring water to a rolling boil. Add meatballs to boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. Reduce stove to medium heat, add black woodear mushrooms to the water, and cook for another 15 minutes. While meatballs are cooking, in separate pan steam or saute bok choy until tender.
Arrange sauteed bok choy on plate. Place cooked meatballs over bok choy. Garnish as desired. We used goji berries (red) and tangerine peels (yellow) in addition to the (black) woodear and bok choy (green and white) in order to represent all 5 colors of the 5 elements.
Most importantly: enjoy with a happy heart and a happy tummy!