01 October 2010

Using Spring flavours for vibrant health

During the Winter, you’ve been having well-cooked food, usually with plenty of carbohydrate, fat and protein. All of that food energy has been stored deep in the body, to nourish the foundations of your body’s vitality in the Kidney organ energy system, creating the basis for longevity and robust health. Winter is a time of maximum Yin, with inward-moving stillness and storage.

Using pungent flavours
Spring represents a rapid transformation as Yang energy pushes outward. To help your body’s Yang energy burst forth in Spring, use the pungent flavour to encourage its upward and outward movement.

You can choose foods that suit your invididual type. If you tend to be more cold than hot, choose more warming pungents. If you have heat in the body, choose some cooling pungents. If you’re not sure what applies to you, ask your acupuncturist for advice.

Warming pungents:
• spearmint
• rosemary
• shallots
• onion family (including garlic, chives, shallots, spring onion, leek etc)
• cinnamon bark and branch
• cloves
• fresh ginger
• fennel
• chamomile
• anise
• caraway
• dill
• bay leaf
• mustard greens
• basil
• nutmeg

Hot pungents:
• dried ginger
• horseradish
• black pepper
• cayenne, chilli and other hot peppers
These are all pungent-flavoured but hot-natured, so should be used sparingly in Spring. Hot-natured food can imbalance the delicate Yin energy and unsettle the mind.

Cooling pungents:
• peppermint
• marjoram
• elder flowers
• white pepper
• radish and radish leaves

Neutral pungents:
• taro
• turnip
• kohlrabi

Using the “full-sweet” flavour
The sweet flavour helps to harmonise and balance the outward-moving energy of pungents.

“Full-sweet” flavoured whole-foods sustain and build energy in the body’s centre. The following are especially useful in Spring as they build central energy but also help upward and outward movement:

• sweet rice
• sweet potato
• sunflower seed
• pinenut
• cherry
• walnut
• cabbage
• carrot
• shiitake mushroom
• fig
• yam
• peas

Other “full-sweet” foods include:
• most whole grains and legumes
• beet
• button mushroom
• celery
• silverbeet
• cucumber
• eggplant
• lettuce
• potato
• squash
• almond
• chestnut
• coconut
• sesame seed and oil
• whole-food sweeteners like amasake, barley malt, honey, molasses, rice syrup and unrefined cane juice powder.

Meat and dairy are also sweet in flavour but please use sparingly in Spring as they are also heavy and mucus-forming.

Most fruits are cooling and cleansing, encouraging heat and other built-up residues to leave the body; so these foods are called “empty-sweet.” Empty-sweet foods don’t support the cultivation of Chi-energy in the body, but they are good when used in moderation to clear excesses like unhealthy heat.

For ideas for using these flavours in different kinds of Spring weather, see also: Gentle Spring detoxing and fasting

Source: Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

This post is brought to you by Lois Nethery, acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist at Ocean Acupuncture in Curl Curl.

Ocean Acupuncture is a natural medicine centre of independent health practitioners. The views expressed in this blog are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other Ocean Acupuncture practitioners.
The information presented in this blog, and on the Ocean Acupuncture website, is for interest and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for health or medical information or advice. For health or medical advice, please consult your health professional.

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