Springtime at last! The cold winter is coming to an end, and we can look forward to warmer temperatures and nature’s beautiful colors emerging once again. Our food should reflect that beautiful color, lighter energy, and refreshing taste associated with spring. Sour is the signature flavor of spring, and it nurtures our liver and gallbladder. To season our dishes with the refreshing tastes of sour, we can use lemon juice and vinegars.
Leeks are a signature vegetable of springtime.
Their beautiful white and green colors add a splash of spring color to any dish. Leeks are in the onion family, and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are high in vitamins C, K, and A, important for helping your blood to clot, and also high in iron, manganese, and fiber.
Asparagus is another signature spring vegetable, and one of my favorites. It can help lower blood pressure, improve digestion, and its high water content helps to cleanse toxins from the body. Asparagus is also high in vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and folate.
When cooking spring dishes, it is important to include green leafy vegetables such as escarole (high in calcium, iron, and chlorophyll) or kale, not only for their bright green color but also for their ability to help cleanse the liver.
You might also include high-protein green lentils. Just make sure you put in a small piece of kombu when cooking them. Kombu is a sea vegetable (seaweed) that helps break down the protein and aids the digestive process, thus helping to eliminate any gas that may result from eating beans or legumes.
Radishes and carrots are also a great complement to add color to your dish, as well as great flavor and freshness.
Green Lentils, Leeks, and Asparagus Spring Dish
1 cup green lentils
2 inches kombu
2 cups water
1 leek (cut in thin slices)
2 cups butternut squash (cut in cubes)
2 cups cauliflower (cut up)
1/2 lb. asparagus (cut in 1/2 inch pieces)
1 cup chopped escarole (or kale)
2 radishes (diced small)
1 carrot (grated)
1 T. olive oil
Approximately 3/4 loaf of sprouted whole grain bread
2 T. ume vinegar
2 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. sea salt
Put the water and kombu in a pot. Soak the kombu for a couple of minutes until soft. Remove kombu, cut in very small pieces, and put back in pot. Add the green lentils to the pot, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Layer the leeks, squash, cauliflower, and asparagus on top of the green lentils. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Turn off heat. Add the escarole, radishes, and grated carrots. Put lid back on, and let sit for 5 minutes to lightly steam the vegetables. Add the olive oil, ume vinegar, lemon juice, and sea salt. Mix all together, and serve warm.
Article adapted from Year Round Healthy Holiday Cooking, copyright 2019, Valerie Wilson.
Chef Valerie Wilson, a.k.a, Macro Val, has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. Visit her website to purchase her new cookbook, Year Round Healthy Holiday Cooking, set up a phone consultation, or listen to her radio show, http://www.macrval.com. Facebook, Macro Val Food.
Excerpted with permission from the Spring 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.