Sharla Chao-Zi Cooper
Spring is a time of renewal and regeneration, when plants wake from winter’s slumber and poke their tender leaves through the soil. Yin changes into Yang, and stored energy moves upwards, stretching out in a burst of growth. In Chinese medicine, spring is also referred to as the time of the Liver, which belongs to the Wood Element rubric.
Just like a tree that stores vital nutrients in its roots to survive the long harsh winter months and releases it into its branches where budding leaves start to grow, our Liver acts in much the same way. It stores blood, Qi, and nutrients; releasing them when the body is in need of such nourishment.
The Liver is associated with rapid growth, regeneration, awakening, restored vision, smooth flow, the color green, and sour flavors. Chinese medicine ascribes the bitter flavor for liver cleansing, the pungents for circulating the liver Qi energy and nutrients, and the sweet flavor (e.g., licorice root herb and most pleasant-tasting whole foods) for sedating an “angry” liver.
Spring is a good time to plant seeds for new ideas and to refresh your mind, body and spirit with foods that harmonize Liver energy. One must take special care transitioning from the cold winter months to more warming temperatures by adding lighter and more cleansing foods gradually to the diet.
Diminish the rich, heavy, salted and fried foods and emphasize sprouts, green foods, some raw foods, and live ferments such as unpasteurized sauerkraut.
Cooking food for a shorter amount of time at higher temperatures, such as stir frying, light steaming and simmering will help seal in nutrients and enzymes. Bringing creativity and inspiration into your cooking will help to harmonize with this dynamic season. Note that the food energetics of springtime and the principles of liver renewal can be applied in any season in which you require rejuvenation.
7 Day Spring Detox Menu
If you are currently on medication or have health issues, please seek medical advice from a Naturopathic physician before engaging in a dietary cleanse.
Below is a suggested menu. This may be supplemented with as much herbal tea as you like.
For convenience, steam many servings of vegetables ahead of time and save the vegetable water; it’s part of the menu.
Upon rising: Drink two glasses filtered water—one glass with half a lemon squeezed in.
Breakfast: Eat one piece organic fresh fruit such as apple, pear, banana, grapes (about a cup) or citrus fruit.
15 to 30 minutes later: Eat one bowl cooked organic whole grains, specifically millet, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa or buckwheat. Flavor grains with 2 tablespoons organic fruit juice for a sweet taste, or add a teaspoon of “Better Butter” (recipe below) with a little salt or tamari.
11 a.m.: Drink one to two cups warm veggie water, saved from steamed vegetables. Add sea salt or kelp and drink slowly.
Lunch (noon to 1 p.m.): Eat one to two medium bowls steamed organic vegetables such as potatoes, yams, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, asparagus, chard, kale and cabbage. Use a variety and include roots, stems and greens.
3 p.m.: Same as 11 a.m.
Dinner (5 to 6 p.m.): Same as lunch
Evening: Herbal teas only
Better Butter: Mix 1/2 cup cold-pressed flaxseed or olive oil into two room-temperature sticks of butter and refrigerate. Use 1 teaspoon per meal or a maximum of 3 teaspoons daily.
Note: You may feel mildly weak the first couple of days. This will pass. Clarity and vigor should appear by day three or four, if not before. If you feel overly weak or hungry, assess your water intake. If needed, eat a small portion (3 to 4 ounces) of protein in the midafternoon. Opt for low-mercury fish (find a list of “lowest in mercury” fish in EWG’s Fish List); free-range, organic chicken; or beans such as lentils or black beans.