Spring is finally here (woo hoo!) after a rough winter for most of us. I know that the slightest bit of warmer weather feels amazing on your skin and to your spirit. You may start to feel some energetic shifts inside of you this time of year. Maybe you feel more bursts of creative energy or a desire to be outside in nature more for walks or hikes or walking to do errands, or maybe you feel motivated to wake up earlier. It is totally natural to shift with the seasons and intuitively tune into what your body is telling you.
Just as you change your clothes for each season, it’s also natural (and important) to adjust your diet for the rebirth of spring. You may start craving some lighter and more cleansing, raw foods, to help clear out the stagnation of winter. There are some fantastic, in-season foods for spring which can really be beneficial in helping you do just that, which is what I want to talk to you about today.
Some of these foods you may or may not be super familiar with now, but I recommend trying them! Spring is a great time to be adventurous. :) Let’s dive right in.
- Bitter Melon: It is a little funny since bitter melons are a beauty food, but I will lovingly admit that they are indeed quite ugly themselves! The look like deformed, gnarled old cucumbers. Besides their outer appearance however, they are a wonderful tropical fruit that has several compounds, including charantin and plypeptide-P, which makes them a powerful food for blood sugar control and helping us process sugars well. Too much sugar in our system can lead to inflammation, which can lead to cross-linking and then wrinkles, as well as energy crashes. Bitter melons help reduce these aging processes in your body, and can also help suppress your urge to overindulge in sweets. Bitter foods are also great for cleansing and detoxifying, which is integral to spring.
You can juice bitter melon or work it into your salads, if you don’t mind bitter things. My Ayurvedic teacher sautés them in mustard seeds and curry paste. Many farmer’s markets and local health markets now carry it. I find bitter melon in virtually all the farmer markets I visit in California, as it grows well here. Check it out for yourself!
2. Dandelion: Yes, the weed! Instead of being looked on as a pesky nuisance, dandelion is quite useful for us to ingest. :) It is best known for its important benefits for restoring and supporting liver tissue, thereby helping us detoxify. You can find dandelion leaves at health stores, as it is coming into season now, and work it into your Green Smoothies. Be careful though, as the taste is quite strong. A few leaves at a time are good. There are also good herbal teas which have Dandelion, such as the Yogi Detox and Peach Detox tea, which I really like!
3. Kelp: Sea vegetables are wonderful beauty foods that everyone should include in their diet. Kelp is one of my personal faves- it provides over 60 minerals and trace elements, and 21 amino acids. It helps promote the health of our glands, including the pituitary, adrenal and thyroid. Because it contains iodine and helps stimulate the thyroid gland, and thereby our metabolism, it has been noted by some that it helps with weight loss. Some research claims that kelp and other similar sea vegetables can even help neutralize heavy metal pollution (which is a source of free radicals) and radiation in the body. It is also amazing to make our skin and hair healthy. Soak whole kelp and add to salads or salad dressings. It also comes in a ground form that can easily be added to salad dressings as well.
4. Nopal cactus: Aka prickly pear cactus. This is traditional food throughout Latin America. This happens to be one of the highest food sources of calcium. It also helps us process sugars efficiently. If you can find it, slice up and eat raw in salads!
5. I’ve talked about this wonderful herb many times before, but it bears mentioning again. It has amazing antioxidant properties and helps prevent oxidation- that we can think of as the internal rusting on the insides of our body. Not beautiful! Oxidation occurs with free radical damage, which turmeric can help prevent. It also helps clean up metabolic waste and protects and restores the liver. I throw a bit into recipes and salad dressings. It will turn your dish bright yellow! Check out my recipes for Sunchoke and Beet Kitcheree and my Raw Tabouli Salad…delicious!!
Let me know once you try some of these food how you enjoy them. Have an amazing, beautiful, start to the week and spring! Remember Beauty, if you slipped up a bit on some of your New Year’s resolutions or some of your health or life goals, NOW is a great week to restore those promises to yourself. No time like the present to take advantage – while forgetting anything we’ve done, or not done, in the past. Spring is an amazing time for reflection and using your newfound energy to really get crackin’ on all the things you want to accomplish!