Never in modern history has there been such an interest in food and at the same time, such a lack of confidence in the basic quality of food. In my four decades of teaching I see the mass confusion around diet and nutrition escalating each year. Change today for a better tomorrow. If you want to change your future health you need to change your present health to one that enlivens you daily.
When you rise in the morning it is important to ‘hydrate your cells’
with water. We lose approximately half a cup of
water each night when we sleep.
My work is based on teaching the principles of Living with the Seasons – The Five Transformations of Energy as known in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Macrobiotics. Springtime is known as the Wood Element and corresponding organs are the liver and gallbladder. Longer days, rising temperatures, daffodils and new buds on the trees and bushes is an indication that spring has arrived. It is a time of new growth and seeing nature’s energy rising. Spring is the ideal time to cleanse, not only your closets but also your body.
4 Tips for Spring Cleansing
1. Exercise – Alleviate stress by exercising regularly and making time to take enough rest and relaxation. Outside power walking is a great way to give your metabolism a boost and help remove any winter pounds you may have gathered around the middle. Try focusing your yoga practice on stretching the liver and gallbladder meridians.
2. Eat – Eat a cleaner lighter diet such as stir-fry vegetables in water or vegetable broth with zero oil. Detoxify by drinking kombu/shiitake tea, dried daikon soup and removing or limiting alcohol and coffee. Try drinking filtered water, kukicha or green sencha tea.
3. Chew – Chewing well is of paramount importance. I cannot stress this enough. When most clients I see with digestive problems relearn the ‘art’ of chewing many of their problems disappear.
4. Drink – When you rise in the morning it is important to ‘hydrate your cells’ with water. We lose approximately half a cup of water each night when we sleep. The cells need hydrating when we awaken to start a new day. I suggest to all my students and clients they embrace my format of drinking two glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner. I recommend avoiding drinking whilst eating as it dilutes the digestive enzymes. We produce less hydrochloric acid as we age so we must support our stomach by hydrating before eating otherwise the body leaches water from other areas. When we are born, we are like juicy plums, as we age we can resemble a dried-up prune. It’s important to nourish the yin fluids for slowing the ageing process. It’s crucial to remember that the brain is 80% water, so you will feel more alert when you give the body what it needs. This is a wonderful way to clean out your liver which is the main organ responsible for processing toxins that enter your system. Your liver gets tired.
What to Remove From Your Diet
Avoid dairy (milk, butter, yoghurt, cheese), all meat including fish, eggs, sugar (sweets, cakes and puddings), white rice, white bread, and processed ready-made meals.
If you are eating heavy foods and drinking more alcohol than usual, your liver will start to get overburdened and you may experience: sluggishness, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, indigestion, depression, irregular menstruation, headaches, fits of anger, tense muscles, and more!
Suggested Foods for Spring
Fruit and vegetables in season, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, vegetable soups, green soups. Your body will love the antioxidants and chlorophyll. Eat whole-grain brown rice, as well as lighter whole grains like bulgur, and quinoa salads with loads of spring greens and fresh herbs. Try miso soup or try delicious homemade breakfast granola with plant-based milk. Green lentil soup on the side with a tempeh sandwich made on whole-grain bread is a perfect plate for spring.
Barley grass (or wheatgrass) is the perfect addition to your spring diet. It delivers enzymes which helps to aid in the absorption of your food.
Eat foods as near to their natural state (unprocessed) as possible. Start sprouting your seeds, mung beans, lentils, alfalfa, broccoli and chickpeas. This is the time to sprout seeds in abundance, particularly mung beans which aid in cleansing the liver. Try sea vegetables such as hijiki or arame or use kombu seaweed as the base for soup stocks. You can follow the seasonal guide in my book Macrobiotics for all Season.
Step Into Spring With Marlene’s Mung Bean Soup
This cleansing Mung Bean Soup is a great way to give your liver a break and get you back on track. It doesn’t take much time to cook mung beans. They are done in about 30 – 45 minutes. This thick and hearty soup makes about 3-4 servings.
1 cup mung beans
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled, cut lengthwise and then sliced into half-moon shapes
2 Tbsp organic tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
Sea salt, grounded pepper and red pepper flake to taste (all optional)
- Wash the beans and transfer them into a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to boil and simmer until beans are cooked.
- Meanwhile, sauté the onions in a little water for about 5 minutes and then add the carrots, let the carrots cook for 10 minutes on low heat.
- Add the tomato paste, spices and mix into the vegetables. Transfer into the saucepan with boiled beans; add enough water to cover the beans.
- Bring to low simmer for 5 minutes and serve.
About Mung Beans
Mung beans are originally from India but long ago became a part of Chinese cuisine and medicine; this is a cleansing food which falls into Chinese medicine traditions. Mung beans are cooling, sweet, beneficial to the liver and gallbladder, and nourish yin (the fluids of the body). Usually, mung beans are used in the summertime to cool hot conditions and keep the body regulated, but they can also be used to cool hot conditions or liver-related toxicity during other times of the year.
Spring Tonic Tea: Daikon, Shiitake and Kombu Drink
This is a wonderful spring tonic.
1 dried shiitake mushroom
½ cup dried daikon
1 inch strip Kombu seaweed
3 cups water
- Place the shitake, dried daikon and Kombu in a small pot and then cover with water. Leave to soak for about 30 minutes.
- Slice the mushroom, add the water, cover and bring to a boil on a medium flame.
- Reduce the flame and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove and discard the ingredients.
- Drink the tea whilst hot.
Tip: you can also add a half cup of leafy green vegetables such as kale, cabbage or watercress. Add the chopped leafy greens at the end and simmer for a further 2 or 3 minutes.