March 20th marked the vernal equinox, where day and night are of equal length. This year, the equinox is followed within hours by the first full moon of spring and, in the Northern Hemisphere, by the re-emergence of gradually longer days, tender sprouts breaking through the soil, and a general sense of re-awakening and re-creation.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with the element of Wood, whose energy moves upward and outward, as does the sap within the tree. It also corresponds with the Liver and Gallbladder system, which likewise moves blood and bile within our bodies, keeps our channels clear, unobstructed.
However, we are only at the threshold of this new season, we are not fully there yet!
We would do well to observe how nature transitions into this next cycle, and follow her example. Spring arrives tentatively: there is still much instability in the weather, and the excessive winds (the “thief” of Liver Qi) of its early months is something to protect ourselves from.
So we continue to take care, keeping one foot in winter practices while the other reaches into spring. We continue to consume warm, cooked foods and liquids as we slowly introduce the more cleansing foods - the baby greens and spring onions that purify the Liver-Gallbladder - as they first appear from the thawing earth.
To fortify ourselves in the face of seasonal allergies and spring colds, consider this immune boosting miso soup. The astragalus, shiitake and miso are immunity strengtheners; as a fermented food, the miso enhances digestion and the kombu supports detoxification. The ume plum paste and green onion provide a touch of the sour and cleansing properties we begin to offer our bodies as spring approaches.
- 4-5 slices dried astragalus root
- 3” strip kombu sea vegetable, rinsed and patted dry
- Tamari to taste
- 5 fresh shiitake mushrooms (sliced and sauteed briefly with a touch of tamari and mirin cooking wine)
- 1 bunch watercress
- 2-3 Tbsp aduki bean miso
- 2 Tbsp ume plum paste
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- Finely chopped green or spring onions (scallions)
- Lemon zest (from an organic lemon)
Into a large pot, add 3 1/2 cups of filtered water, the astragalus, kombu and tamari. Cover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the astragalus and kombu; chop kombu finely and return to pot. Place miso and ume pastes into a small bowl; add a ladleful of broth into the bowl and stir to dissolve. Return to pot, along with the sauteed shiitakes and watercress. Use your hands to squeeze the juice of the grated ginger into the pot.
Serve topped with green onions and lemon zest, and enjoy this soup that builds a bridge to spring.
ABOUT PATRICIA LOPEZ AND ANDREA LOMATO OF THE ACADEMY HEALING NUTRITION LONDON
Academy of Healing Nutrition is one of the longest established, and most comprehensive, natural healing curriculums in the world, with branches in New York and London. This accessible, interactive, and comprehensive course has taught over 5,000 students how to achieve, sustain, and promote optimal health through Eastern and Western traditions like Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, longevity science, and the connection of mind, body, and spirit.
Academy of Healing Nutrition’s food-as medicine approach to nutrition provides simple ways to implement positive eating habits, powerful anti-aging techniques, and practical healing methods into your daily life.
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