We are what we eat, and most Chinese dietary guidelines follow on from nature. According to Chinese Medicine philosophies, if we eat seasonal foods that are similar in nature to the external environment, we remain in harmony with the environment, adapt better to changes in season and stay healthy.
During Spring, we want to reduce the intake of sour flavors and increase sweet and pungent flavors because this facilitates the liver to regulate the energy throughout the body. Think Spring green. Examples of recommended foods for the spring include onions, leeks, mustard greens, Chinese yam, wheat, dates, cilantro, mushrooms, spinach and bamboo shoots. Fresh spring greens and leafy vegetables should also be included in meals and sprouts from seeds are also a great addition. Raw, frozen and fried foods should only be taken in moderation since these are harmful to the spleen and stomach if consumed in large amounts. If you’ve overeaten during the cold winter months you may develop a heat imbalance in the spring, which leads to dry throats, bad breath, constipation, thick tongue coating and yellowish urine. Foods like bananas, pears, water chestnuts, sugar cane, celery and cucumber help to clear the excessive heat.
In wintertime we tend to bake our food to more deeply warm our bodies, however in the Spring steaming and stir-frying is more appropriate. As always, I recommend to eat what is locally grown and in season, as much as possible. Visit the local farmers market to get the freshest seasonal items. I was just at the Peachtree City Farmers Market over the weekend and got fresh onions, greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, sprouts and carrots. See what you can find this Spring. Be sure to try the Pan Crisped Greens with Eggs and Sweet Potato recipe for an easy healthy way to include these suggestions into your diet.