It’s finally here…spring. The breezes are growing warmer, wafting through our open windows with the perfume that tells us the chill of winter is behind us and it’s clear sailing into summer. We begin to develop a deep desire to clear our homes of accumulated winter clutter; we dust, wash windows and change bedding to lighter, airier linens. Bulky sweaters and boots are carefully put away for next winter and are replaced with lighter cardigans and our breezy summer clothes.
Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal and transformation…of our homes, our clothes…and our health.
That the urge to clean and purge your home after winter is a sign that your winter-weary body wants to do the same thing.
It’s time to sweep the cobwebs from your corners…metabolically speaking…and it’s up to your liver to handle that…and up to you to give it the support it needs for the job. During winter, your metabolism naturally slows a bit to conserve energy to ward off cold weather. Come spring, your liver may be feeling a wee bit sluggish and not up to snuff.
But it’s easy to rev your engines and support the function of your liver. And no, this is not where I go all de-tox on you. While they can be useful, simple changes in how and what you eat will achieve the same end results as a cleanse without the drama that can often accompany de-toxing. As your metabolism comes alive once again, the foods Mother Nature supplies during this gentle season are designed to help your body rid itself of stagnation and be ready for the warm weather to come.
So let’s give our bodies…as well as our homes…a great spring cleaning.
Eat Your Way to Fresh
Add leafy green vegetables to your diet every day. I feel a bit repetitive with this but I can’t stress it enough. Raw, cooked, in soups, salads or juices, greens like kale, collards, watercress, arugula, spinach, bok choy, broccoli (to name a few) are jam-packed with chlorophyll which is essential to ridding the body of environmental toxins, as well as working to protect the liver. Lightly diuretic, leafy greens, especially watercress, dandelion and arugula will work with the liver to flush out toxins, but their rich mineral content keeps you strong.
Daikon is a wonder for cleansing…deliciously. Known as ‘icicle radish,’ this peppery flavored root veggie looks like a large white carrot. Rich in the best vitamins and minerals to stimulate weight loss including riboflavin (for normal thyroid function), niacin (part of the glucose tolerance factor that releases every time blood sugar rises), pantothenic acid (assists in energy production and adrenal function), vitamin B6 (essential to thyroid hormone production and metabolism), choline (a compound made in the liver; responsible for fat metabolism), vitamin C (aids in the conversion of glucose to energy in our cells), chromium (a mineral required for the metabolism of sugar), manganese (which also helps regulate the metabolism of sugar) and zinc (which helps regulate appetite and the release of insulin). Use it in soups or salads for a slightly spicy kick of flavor.
Most of us know that one of the greatest cleansing foods is lemon. A rich source of vitamin C, the ultimate de-tox vitamin, lemon helps convert toxins into their water-soluble form so they are easily flushed from the system.
Garlic activates liver enzymes that aid the body in filtering out anything you don’t want hanging around. On top of that, garlic stimulates circulation and contains anti-bacterial compounds to help the body to cleanse efficiently.
Broccoli Sprouts are especially great at cleansing. While all sprouts aid the body in breaking down fats, broccoli sprouts are at the top of the heap. With up to 50 times more cancer-fighting, enzyme-stimulating activity in each bite than the grown up veggie, broccoli sprouts should have a proud spot atop salads and sandwiches on a regular basis.
And most important…water. If you aren’t properly hydrated, all your cleansing efforts will be compromised. Making up about 60% of your body weight, every system in your body relies on water. Responsible for everything from great, supple skin to regular bowel function to flushing out toxins and carrying nutrients to cells, it is essential that you keep your body properly hydrated. The formula? You lose about 12 cups of water a day through urine, sweat, breathing and bowel movements. Food accounts for about 20% of your intake of fluid, but only if you are eating lots of veggies and whole grains. You need to drink water to make up the rest, hence the ‘8 glasses a day’ rule. So base your water intake on your consumption of veggies, fruits, grains and exercise level.
And now…try these cleansing recipes to stimulate your spring reset…deliciously…
This spicy, pungent tea is designed to help dissolve hardened fat deposits that have accumulated in various organs, making for sluggish function and lethargy--and as such, is a great kick-start for weight loss. Working deep in the body to restore balance, this drink works to dissolve the fat, while adding minerals to create strong blood quality. As hardened fat begins to break apart, the weight loss process can begin. For the best results, take this tea every other day for 2 weeks; then stop for 2 weeks, repeating again, if needed. If you have begun losing weight during the first round of this drink, hold off before going again for another two weeks. Let nature--and life changes--do their job.
Makes 1 Serving
½ cup finely grated carrot
½ cup finely grated daikon
1 cup spring or filtered water
splash organic soy sauce
1/3 sheet toasted sushi nori, shredded
1/3 umeboshi plum
Step By Step Instructions:
Combine grated vegetables with water in sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil, uncovered, over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3-4 minutes. Add soy sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes more. Stir in shredded nori and ume plum and simmer 1 minute more. Drink the tea and eat the vegetables, while the tea is quite hot.
COOK’S TIP: For a stronger tea, you may eliminate the nori and ume plum, using only carrot and daikon. It is quite potent this way, so you cannot use this tea for as long a period of time--it’ll make you feel tired...so be careful. Purchase ume plums at any natural food store.
Dried Daikon with Kombu, Shiitake and Winter Squash
Daikon could easily be marketed as the greatest beauty product known to man--or woman. It possesses the uncanny ability to cleanse the body of accumulated fat that can make the organs’ functions sluggish--and us looking as stale as we feel. As a root vegetable, daikon travels deep into the body, with its peppery taste doing the clean-up.
Dried daikon has had all its moisture removed, concentrating its cleansing properties, allowing it to travel even more deeply to cleanse and freshen various organ systems. Combined with sweet onions and winter squash that relax the middle organs, lemon juice and shiitakes to help the liver relax and rid the body of toxins, making for great heart health.
Makes 3-4 Servings
1, 3-inch piece kombu, soaked until tender, julienne pieces
1 yellow onion, thin half-moon slices
1 cup fine match stick pieces winter squash (red kuri, butternut, buttercup are best)
3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until tender, thinly sliced (stems removed)
½ cup dried daikon, soaked until tender
organic soy sauce
spring or filtered water
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, for garnish
Step By Step Instructions:
Layer kombu, onion, squash, shiitake and daikon in a sauce pan. Add a dash of soy sauce and enough water to half cover the ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Season lightly with soy sauce and simmer, covered, for another 7-10 minutes. Remove the cover and cook until any remaining liquid is absorbed into the dish.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve garnished with parsley.
Cook’s Tip: As spring grows warmer, switch out the winter squash for julienne carrot pieces
PS: Stay tuned later this week to see some of your best tricks, techniques and tried and true tips for making healthier choices!